Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Iraqis Drag Four Corpses Through Streets
AP Headline (See Story)

We are told by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that the Iraqis are grateful to us for knocking over Saddam. This latest outrage belies his Pollyanna chattering. They love us like we love all this prosperity Dubya brought us.

Now that you idiots have gotten us into this mess, what do you propose to do about it? Stop blowing smoke about WMD and ties to Al Qaeda. There aren’t any.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Uzbek Police Storm Militants' Hideout; 20 Dead
Reuters Headline (See Story)

As I understand it, The Uzbek republic is a repressive, Stalinist-like totalitarian dictatorship. It’s not high on the list of vacation spots, so St Tropez need not fear the competition.

The country is touted as being a major U.S. ally, and indeed the alliance is more than meets the eye. The Clinton administration used remote former Soviet airbases as staging areas to keep the CIA Officers and Armed Forces Special Operators in touch with the various factions of the Northern Alliance. Very little of this ever made the news and it was only after Abdul Haq, the most promising commander was assassinated by two Al Qaeda suicide bombers posing as television newsmen and the 911 attack two days later that it was revealed that Americans would be staged into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan.

While this information wasn’t exactly a topic for breakfast conversation in most American households, it certainly could not have been a secret from Taliban, Al Qaeda, and their shadowy coterie of wackos. The Islamists have never shown reluctance to attack the innocent citizens of nations which are at cross purposes to their aims. One does wonder why the terrorist attacks have come at this late date, but seeing the Uzbek response goes a long way to explain the why of it.

Glad to see they’re taking the right attitude about things and reading the bad guys their rights from the muzzles of AK-74s and seeing the need for due process met with RPGs.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Nanoparticles Toxic in Aquatic Habitat, Study Finds
Washingtonpost.com Headline (See Story)

Here’s a brand new technology which holds hope for host of products to make lives better/longer/happier. Just one tiny little catch; particles discharged into an aquarium caused neurological deformities in fish and eradicated a vital species at the bottom end of the aquatic food chain which is where all animal life began, if you are tuned into the Darwinist school of thought.

Defenders of nanotechnology have touted to be yet another industrial revolution.

Here’s what the article had to say:

The study, described at a scientific meeting yesterday, was small and has yet to be peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal. And although some companies anticipate making tons of the particles within the next few years, current production levels are relatively low, so the risk of exposure for humans and other animals is still quite small.

Nonetheless, the findings underscore the growing recognition that the hot new field of nanotechnology, which federal officials have said will be at the heart of America's "next industrial revolution," may bring with it a number of old-fashioned trade-offs in terms of potential environmental damage and health risks.

End Quote

Let’s see if I have this right; Global warming will cause more rain in the North Atlantic which in turn will cause a loss of salinity in the Gulf Stream which will in turn cease to flow thereby causing North Atlantic ports to ice over some for months, others permanently.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, The Pres thinks we ought to prepare for the day when the oil runs out by developing hydrogen based fuels. The problem with that is the energy exchange is wrong way in that the energy expended refining hydrogen fuel is more than the yield from that fuel. The advantage to liquid fuels are power for automotive, portable generators, and aviation fuels.

The alternative refining fuels are solar or nuclear. What with the Atlantic frozen solid, solar probably isn’t viable and the tree huggers will scotch nuclear by ranting about Chornobyl. No sense of humor, those people.

With nanoparticles wiping out aquatic life from the bottom up, fish oil isn’t going to hack the program either. Corn oil, or corn oil derived alcohol is an alternative that Brazil employed to remain independent from heavy reliance on foreign oil, but alas, so much land was taken up by cultivation of corn used as motor fuel that poor people couldn’t grow food crops. They in turn use slash and burn techniques in the Amazon rain forest, increasing global warming on two fronts; carbon dioxide release and diminishment of oxygen produced by the destroyed trees.

It would appear that some challenges lie before us. It would be nice if we had the leadership to help us meet them, but neither Democrats or Republicans have seen fit to bring forth such a person.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Last One To Get The Message

I took a job that requires me to have a cell phone. I’ve resisted it, lo these many years, but the time has come.

Big Mistake Number 1. I decided which carrier I wanted to use. Being an old pro internet shopper I went there. I ordered a phone that looked like what my friends carry without fully understanding all it’s features.

Had I shopped locally, I might have paid a few more bucks, but would have left with phone in hand and a rudimentary, if newly gained, knowledge of my new toy. As it was, it took a week to get here and had to wait most of the day for UPS to show up. They deliver when they deliver and if you aren’t there to receive it, you lose. Great philosophy they have.

The phone I picked weighs less than its instruction book. It is charging, at the moment, and I think I have the ring programmed, but I still have to set up voice mail, lock out, verbal dialing commands, ta-yada ta-yada. Does anyone have a ten year old kid they’ll rent me for a couple of hours?

E-Books: An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come—Yet

Lately I’ve been intensely interested in reading the sub-genré of Alternate History. While it does not fall solely in the realm of science fiction, science fiction writers have embraced it with a passion.

Baen Books is a science fiction publisher who introduces several new titles a month. One of his authors, Eric Flint has followed his vastly entertaining Belasarius series with 1632 which was followed by 1633 and 1634: The Galileo Affair. There have been two in between anthologies written by a host of other talented writers.

What has this to do with the title line? Baen Books offers its new releases for sale on the internet in soft copy a couple of weeks before hardcopies are shipped to book sellers. As I am hooked on the series I have already downloaded April’s releases. Fun stuff it is, too.

I was part of the beginning of ebooks back when. My sci-fi novel, A Damn Good Moon Story was posted on Spirit Virtual Books which is no longer in business. A good idea but a little premature.

Just love this technology, I do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Calififornia Sees Huge Drive to Save Coast
AP Headline (See Article HERE)

The month of March was a scorcher three years back. I decided I would like to go to the boonies and see wildflowers. I made reservations at a hotel in Eureka and set off north. The drive up US 101 was pleasant. In years gone by it was mostly two lane from 100 miles north of San Francisco to the Oregon border. Now it is almost all four lane.

The countryside between here and there ranges from heavily urbanized down to preserved mountain wilderness with huge, dense forests. Once north of Santa Rosa, there are only small towns through wine country and then tiny villages until one reaches Eureka.

Unbeknownst to me the annual Eureka Jazz Festival was in full swing, and my hotel hosted the Dixieland performances. Other venues around the old logging town held other persuasions of America’s art form. Needless to say a good time was had.

The next morning, I drove back south for a half hour, exiting the freeway for a two lane which would lead me to Ferndale and from there over the coastal range. While it was hot in Santa Clara and peachy warm in Santa Rosa, it really was still winter and when I got to Ferndale, that fact was indelibly imprinted on my mind. Low overcast and fog with temperatures suitable for California winter; not much above freezing.

The road from Ferndale to where I wanted to go was narrow two-lane mountain road. Not the thing I wanted to tackle with reduced visibility. Besides, I came to sight see and one of the sights I’m not particularly fond of is the inside of a dark cloud. Seen one, seen ‘em all, I say.

Ferndale looks like it never escaped from Norman Rockwell’s pre World War II America. It is a small town, often selected by movie companies to shoot period films. I had a coffee and found that the action in the little town that Saturday morning was a huge benefit rummage sale for the local volunteer Fire Department. I browsed for a while, buying the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe for whopping 50¢ before leaving for the mountains.

As soon as I reached the peak of the ridge the road ran along, The sky was clear and blue. I stopped to snap a few pictures in the brisk northwest wind blowing in off the Pacific. Please believe me, I didn’t dawdle about it. It was colder than a witch’s mammary appendage.

The road ran across the ridge top overlooking a narrow river valley. After a few miles I dropped down off the ridge, crossed the river, and drove by a sturdy looking older ranch house and out buildings before climbing back into the mountains. That’s the way the day went. Over hill, through dell, along the beach, and through the mountains. Other traffic was scarce, and the meandering, narrow road invited low speeds and sight seeing.

I got off what passed for the main path a couple of times, stopping every now and again to snap a picture.

Later that day I headed back to the main route, stopping for lunch at a picnic table overlooked by what at one time had been the world’s tallest tree. Topped in a storm, it was thought. Pretty impressive sitting near 4,000 year old plants while having a sandwich and apple juice lunch.

California’s northern coast is not heavily populated once away from the San Francisco Bay Area, and tends toward it’s own special and unique beauty. A real treasure. A few years back, a large oil reserve was found off the coast, and efforts to begin production drilling came to naught as a great number of people insisted the coast not be despoiled in the manner of Santa Barbara beaches by off-shore platforms.

For the moment, the coast would seem safe, but we do have a sitting president from the petroleum industry who has been handed extraordinary powers by Congress. It might be a good idea, if you want to see this scenic wonder to do it soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A Farewell to Childhood Memories

Canadian Press Online carried a story about computer simulation replacing the dissection of pickled animals, usually frogs, in high school biology classes. Teachers sympathetic to squeamish kids made the change.

Oh, well.

I took chemistry rather than biology, so I missed viewing the macabre scene, but stories of girls tossing their cookies abounded. Something future generations will only hear about in innuendo, I suppose.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Report: Shooting of Cameraman Tragic But Justified
Reuters Headline (See Article HERE)

An American gunner mistook a television cameraman’s equipment for an RPG and blew the poor man completely away. Another pointless death among a lot of other pointless deaths.

There have been a number of bizarre incidental homicides in the course of Iraqi Freedom. The one recalled most vividly was the case of a newsman who had equipped himself with an Iraqi battle helmet and was standing atop a building speaking into a microphone when the bombs arrived. Something of a Darwinian selection in that case. How were the men who were under sporadic artillery fire to know that he wasn’t a spotter?

The one that disturbs me most was the gunning down of an armed man trying to protect his store against looters during the turmoil unleashed by 3ID’s arrival in Baghdad.

To date there are 583 American deaths in Iraq since the war started and there is no telling when we can withdraw our troops. One major setback came as Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani announced that he will boycott the UN effort if they do not reject the interim constitution approved a couple of weeks back. (See Story HERE)

Iraqis seem to be really grateful we freed them from the tyranny of Saddam. They showed that gratitude by blowing away some more of our guys in Fallujah a couple of days ago.

Really fun stuff, huh? Thanks, Pres.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Whoa, Dude! Check it out!

I have a new pen pal from downunder who maybe has one foot in reality and I know not what elsewhere. For instance the salutation in today’s em was “Greetings, Earthling.” Is that cool, or what?

Anyway, she turned me on to Nexus Magazine online which should be a supermarket tabloid. The mag published a seeress by the name of Mrs. Phipps-Earl who saw world wide cataclysmic events, the most interesting two were California will fall into the ocean, soon. (One of these days one of these fruitbars will be right. Just which one it will be is open to debate until the event itself.) The other predicted event of interest is we will have a domestic revolution and Dubya will take it on the lam.

Let’s see—if I learn to surf, I can make it from here to Elko, Nevada, in a couple of hours, and I think I would look cool in one of those French sock caps with a tricolor on it.

Another thing of interest is the following article cut and pasted for your reading enjoyment.
One night, probably in 1880, John Swinton, then the preeminent New York journalist, was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:
"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.
There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.
"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread.
You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?
We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)

I think the way the press of this day and age handle people of Mr. Swinton’s perspicacity is to not hire them. My guess is that if you are bright enough to be a school teacher or an MBA, then you would be overqualified for a career in journalism.

Peace Marches, Cold Remedy, and Samba Music

The weather was phenomenal yesterday. The peace march was pretty much the same leftwing “love and tolerance” of years gone by. I will say this about that, however, if you’ve seen one gorgeous nubile female in tight short shorts and bikini bra, you pretty much need to see some more to make sure you’ve got it right. I’m not sure I got it right, I’ll probably have to try again.

I inhaled something a while back that wasn’t sinus friendly. Consequently, I have since used a whole lot of Kleenex©. The constant sinus pressure is a little disconcerting, so last night I decided to take active measures to see what I could do about the situation. I cooked up some more of my infamous dirty rice, with the addition of a goodly sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper. That was more like it. In the inimitable words on the side of the Carol Shelby Chili package, It’s not something you would want to serve to women, sissies, Yankees, or little kids.

The number of jazz venues in the local area wax and wane. At the moment, there are two a couple of blocks apart in the entertainment district of San Jose. Last night Nossa Bossa, a Brazilian samba band appeared at Ristorante Spiedo. Two sets of that lively music would improve the mood of the sourest grouch around. I’m a little tired today; sore neck from girl watching and a tired leg from toe tapping. I wonder if there is enough left over rice for lunch.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Fears Impacted U.S. Reporting on Iraq
AP Headline (See Story HERE)

One year on and doubts about the validity of the Iraq invasion are beginning to arise.

Somebody didn’t read their history. Do you recall the names Turner Joy and Maddox? Here’s a hint; The Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was the document we rode down in flames in Vietnam. Tens of thousands Americans and hundreds of thousands Vietnamese paid the big price of a press corps walking in lockstep with administration megalomania. The rest of the country paid the smaller price.

Years after the fact, a little cynicism set in and critical questions started being asked of the former crew members of the Joy and Maddox. Turns out it was a put up job. By that time the killing was going strong on the ground “in-country.” After that the press began bringing us the lurid details of the war. Evening news at dinner time with corpses, wounded, burning buildings, wrecked military equipment, and the pinched faces of our 19 year old men who were sent to the All DOD Outdoor Invitational Circle Jerk.

The immediate human cost was only the beginning. Vietnam was fought on credit. Do you remember the ‘60s? Our coinage contained precious metal and our paper currency was likewise backed. I can’t remember the last time I heard the financial reference to something good as being “as sound as a dollar.”

As a matter of fact, the last year we had silver in our coinage was 1964 which is the same year of the Tonkin Incident. At that time a family of four could live comfortably on a single income. Cars were big, comfortable, safe conveyances that could take that same family of four down a modern freeway at 80 miles per hour. I could go on about our decline in the past 40 years, but if you weren’t there, please believe me it was one of our Golden Ages.

Then came the war that divided our country and put a serious crimp in our lifestyles. A war for which the bill is still being paid.

Here’s what the cited article had to say on the gullibility of the press:
The journalists on the panels at the University of California at Berkeley this week blamed the Bush administration for leaking faulty information, but said the media also has itself to blame for not being more skeptical about the case for war.

"The press did not do their job," said Michael Massing, who wrote an article in the New York Review of Books that found The New York Times and The Washington Post particularly at fault.

Journalists fear they will be seen as unpatriotic if they challenge White House statements, said Robert Sheer, a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
End quoting article.

Just so you’ll know, all of the major news outlets in the United States are owned by six large conglomerates.

The next time you believe something you read in the newspaper, you might want to read another one before you bet the ranch on the accuracy of the first one. Prudent people would get a second opinion on the possible need of risky surgery. Starting an unneeded war will subject a whole lot of people to more risks than that.

Ex-Advisor Says Bush Eyed Bombing of Iraq on 9/11
Reuters Headline (See Story HERE)

CBS has dug up a couple of someones who have agreed to kiss and tell. Ah, shades of Watergate. This week it is Richard Clarke, back in January it was Paul O’Neill. Propitious timing, too, you must note. It is 227 days to election day. Maybe this kind of muckraking will get a little life into this campaign.

Here’s a teaser from the Reuters article:
"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection" between Iraq and al Qaeda, Clarke tells "60 Minutes."

"But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection,"' says Clarke.
End quoting article.

The weather is something to make the Chamber of Commerce proud and there is going to be peace marches all over the place. I am going to find myself a good vantage point and do some serious girl watching.

Friday, March 19, 2004

What To Do With Iraq

Modern Iraq was formed from disparate fragments (the three Turkish Vilayets of Basrah, Baghdad and Mosul) of the defunct Ottoman Empire by the British as a League of Nations mandate after the first World War.

It was just another case of Britain carrying the white man’s burden, which was to oversee the formation of a nation made-up of people with brown skin who really didn’t like each other. The Republic of Iraq was declared in 1922 and in 1932 the British turned nominal control over to King Faisal I who had ridden with T. E. Lawrence as one of the officers in the Arab Legion during the war against the Central Powers. The British kept a sizable military force in place just in the event the Iraqis decided to take matters into their own hands.

At the end of the second war, Britain was strapped. Nearly bankrupt, they pulled their forces out of Greece where a counter-insurgency against Communist backed Albanians was very much a hot war. Leaving a token force in what is now the U.A.E. they pulled back from the Persian Gulf. The Palestine Mandate became the state of Israel in 1948 and more Tommys left for home.

In five short years after the British left, Iraq was wracked by coup after bloody coup. First it was the army who overthrew the King. Then the Ba’ath Party overthrew the Generals, leading to a succession of dictators, each more brutal than his predecessor.

I lay all this out, so that the big picture becomes clearer. Britain bailed out of what is now Israel and the U.S. picked up the slack which is currently costing American Taxpayers some 6 billion deficit-triggering dollars per annum. They bailed out of Greece and America again picked up the slack. The body count from that little adventure remains classified – a hot war that nobody talked about, even now.

Now we are faced with what to do with Iraq. I think we should offer it back to the Turks and if they demure, then the U.K. If we can’t pawn it off on them, I suggest we ask the Lakota Sioux if they would be interested in a new homeland.

It’s for damned sure that any government we try to form will go the way of the last one. Coup followed by coup, leading to greater and greater inhumane brutality. Something to think about, what?


Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Bush administration said such attacks would not change U.S. policy. Redux

CAPPS II is coming! CAPPS II is coming! Paul Revere could have had a good time with this one. The Transportation Safety Administration is fixated on ensuring all airline passengers are good little boys and girls. They are introducing an automated screening program to make sure potential terrorists and violent criminals are not allowed on airplanes.

The way it works is a prospective passenger is required to provide information about him/herself that is intrusive. All identity thieves need to know to ruin a person is date of birth and social security number. The Fed asks for much more. Anyone who tells you that data is absolutely secure is blowing smoke. Any security system devised by humans can be overcome by humans.

There is a proposed provision to allow frequent fliers to pay a fee up-front to forego all the red tape. These people will be required to answer even more intrusive questions.

This is really closing the barn door after the horse has gone. The terrorists have moved on and the Fed is still futzing around to prevent the attacks perpetrated in years gone by. They admit there is no way to prevent a Moscow or Madrid type attack on public transit, so rather than find a way to meet that challenge, they will harass legitimate travelers. Good plan guys. Our Tax Dollars at work.

Anita Ramasastry who writes Find Law’s Legal Commentary parses privacy concerns in an excellent article on yesterday’s online issue HERE.

Overlooked is the definition of violent criminal. Out here in the Golden State, one can be prosecuted for a “Strike” violation for simple misdemeanor DUI. That’s not an every day occurrence, but I have seen it happen. A person is allowed two strikes and the third conviction of any offense brings a 25 year to life sentence. Violent crime ranges from domestic violence and simple housebreaking on up. An over enthusiastic disciplining of your children may mean that you will have to take the train.

The Bush Administration has used 911 as an excuse to invade Iraq and has implemented many programs to benefit the security technology sector. This is not a war on terrorism at all, and anyone who says it is, has missed the boat badly.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Bush administration said such attacks would not change U.S. policy.

Yeah, right. In the aftermath of 911, all sorts of bills were rushed through congress. It was as if all the paper they were printed on would stop more attacks. The department of Homeland Security was established. Something of an Amerikaner Schutzstaffel. I can’t wait to see the new spiffy black uniforms, high gloss jack boots, and high gloss Sam Browne belts and the cute little flap-covered pistol holsters.

Then there was the Patriot Act which will probably be thrown out by the courts.

On top of that, one has to practically surrender their rights as US Citizens to ride on airplanes. You’d think you stepped back into some third world cesspool by taking a commercial flight. Just driving to the airport, you can have your vehicle searched without a warrant, and the baggage inspectors can and will seize your property, also without a warrant.

There have been profound changes in American Policy – a couple of wars, alienation of historical allies, and abridgement of constitutional rights to mention a few – as a result of the 911 massacre of innocents.

Not that all of it is the slightest bit necessary, mind you. With all that huffing and puffing, Osama bin Laden is still at large, the organization that set the bombs in Bali is still happening, The Philippines still have active insurgents, bombs still kill innocents in a country we have conquered and should have under control, bombers are able to kill at will in NATO countries as well as Moscow.

The net result is we here are deprived of our way of life while the bombers keep bringing it on. What next do you think? Censorship? If the Feds can’t catch the bad guys, at least they can shut up people who will remind them just how inept their policies are. Otherwise, I will carp, complain, bitch, moan, whine, snivel, and express my discontent every damn day until the membership of Al Qaeda is dead and buried.

Foreign Tourists Enjoy Weak U.S. Dollar
AP Headline (See Story HERE)

This is good for some and not so good for others. I have a friend who works as an advertising copywriter for a large Moscow travel agency. She has her choice of being paid in US dollars or Russian rubles. For a long time it was no contest, the dollar option won hands down. That’s not true nowadays. When she gets her monthly pay packet, she promptly legs it down the hall to the cashier’s cage and changes greenbacks for Euros.

We have a 48 gigabuck trade deficit, China is attracting more foreign investment than the US, and more venture capital is going into Mumbai and Taiwan than into Silicon Valley or Route 128.

I just love all this prosperity Dubya brought us, don't you?


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Look, mom! No TV

I have clunker Sony 20” I bought over a decade or so ago. The only time it’s been on the past few years is during NFL games and the very excellent PBS series on blues music.

I inadvertently left it on a few months back and got to see NBC News air a most inane article about the sale of surplus biological lab equipment, strongly hinting that terrorists were lined up to buy it. Gimme a break! It was airplanes the cheesedicks crashed into the buildings, not culture incubators.

That cured me of television news for a while.

I just read that Bush is spending $6 million a week in advertising in 18 states and the Kerry is keeping up with him for the moment. Dubya vs. Rockjaw. What in the world did we ever do to deserve this? Where did we go wrong? Was it freeing the slaves? Giving women the vote? Maybe we should have treated the Sioux nicer?

Whatever it was, we need to make amends fast or this could drag on for another 7½ months. Just reading about it gives me shivers. I really feel sorry for the people who feel compelled to have their televisions on constantly.

'War on terror' suffers setback in Spain
Asia Times Online (See story HERE)

The Islamists scored quite a coup in Spain. By murdering 201 innocent people in a well planned, flawlessly executed bombing of Madrid’s subway during the rush hour the anticipated outcome of the national election was thwarted.

The new Prime Minister Elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has vowed to end Spanish involvement in Dubya’s Iraqi misadventure.

Quote the Times article:
"The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster," Rodriguez told a Spanish radio station on Monday, suggesting that Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "engage in some self-criticism" over their decision to invade Iraq.

"Wars such as those which have occurred in Iraq only allow hatred, violence and terror to proliferate," the new prime minister declared, reaffirming his position that Spain will continue to fight terrorism, but that its troops will withdraw from Iraq on July 1 unless the UN Security Council takes charge of the peacekeeping operation there, something Bush has long opposed.
End quote.

The Times has frequently published meticulously researched and well written articles on the turmoil created by the emergence of Al Qaeda and its seeming alliance with other Islamic radical groups who find it expedient to commit mass murder to score political points.

This particular piece details the growing concern at upper levels in the US Government that the Iraq invasion is turning out to be more than we can handle and is diminishing US efforts to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. It further goes on to intimate that the Basque separatist terrorists, ETA, are now operating in league with the Islamists and was indeed responsible for the slaying of six Spanish intelligence agents in Iraq recently.

What is omitted, and other western news organs overlook is the terror visited on Moscow time after time. Three large apartment buildings were blown up, the Nord-Ost disaster, and the recent subway bombing subway cars at Avtozavodskaya station. What one must keep in mind is this is not merely Chechen separatists versus Russia. Chechens fought beside the Taliban and joined Al Qaeda. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find a couple of them enjoying the hospitality of Camp Xray in sunny Cuba.

The bottom line is we have some serious enemies out there who have formed a world-wide underground alliance. We have pissed away 566 American lives in Iraq and untold treasure while the real culprits are free to strike innocents at will.

When will enough be enough?


Asia Times http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page.html

Monday, March 15, 2004

Bush praises man in speech on women's rights
Reuters Headline (Read Story HERE)

I was poking around on the net. Looking at stories from different countries. www.stuff.co.nz has consistently been in a class of its own. This is the place where I first read the lyrics to Ross Agnew’s Fart Tax Blues.

In any event it appears that Dubya has stuck his foot in it again. Good Going, Pres!

If that isn’t bizarre enough, Scott McClellan wants Kerry to “prove” who he is talking about when he says he has the support of foreign leaders. Probably not a good thing, there, Scott. I’d like to see how this recovery is going that Dubya bragged about in a recent speech in Ohio.

It is time for a little comic relief in this campaign, and we have damned near eight more months of this to endure.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Oh Boy We Got An Election Campaign And Oh Boy We Got Gun Control Redux
Continued from 3/9

Neither the big government or the Criminal Justice System crowds want citizens to have guns, and where they are “allowed,” ownership carries serious restrictions. I remember when the proper way to carry a hand gun from home to range was put it in its holster and wear it. No more. Nowadays it goes into a locked metal box and is hauled in the trunk of the car. Why that is is a mystery to me. There are seldom big government types or “clients” of the Criminal Justice System standing by the roadway between here and the range. (Damn the luck, anyway.)

I won’t go into all the silliness in the legislation. The “Assault Weapon Ban” of which Diane Feinstein is so proud is a farce and did not take a single assault weapon off the street or make any significant difference in the sales levels of the same weapons under different names. It is really hard to write meaningful legislation on complex matters in total ignorance. That fact hasn’t stopped the gun control crowd for a second.

Now is the time to play “What If.”

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in New Orleans a couple of years back ruled that membership in a formal “militia” (whatever that turns out to be) is not a requirement to “keep and bear.” That’s part of the answer, and I’m sure no one on either side of the issue wanted to hear it.

If this is ever adjudicated at the Supreme Court level, there are a couple of answers. The first is that the government can tell citizens when and how they may arm themselves granting to the government powers not given in the Constitution. That would be nothing new, however. (See Article. I. Section. 10. Clause 1 of your constitution and try to remember the last time your state paid off in gold or silver coinage. That hasn’t happened in my lifetime and I am really, really old.)

The other side of that deplorable coin is even worse. For a moment imagine that government is forbidden to deny citizens arming themselves in any manner they can afford. That is a big time Oh-Oh.

At first, all the gun nuts will go wild buying up whatever Colt or whoever is peddling. A few might purchase Barret’s and a rare few will run down to their nearest Boeing dealer and order up an F-16 or two.

How long do you think it would take for companies like General Electric or Dupont or Chevron to begin “sponsoring” citizen militias? In place of citizen militia read private army. Police forces can barely deal with armed gangs on the war path and would more than likely head for the hills in the face of competent, well armed, highly disciplined para-militaries. Can’t blame them; they want to live to collect their retirements as much as the next guy.

To add to that, the armed forces are prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 from involvement in domestic law enforcement efforts. That bill was passed to prohibit the sort of excesses Southerners suffered in the Re-Construction era.

I’m not sure law abiding gun owners like either of the alternatives, and I can believe none of us, no matter which side of this issue we are on, would want to see private armies running amok with no practical way to keep them in check. We need look no farther than Ireland or Lebanon to see the havoc unchecked armed crazies can wreak.

It’s really fun to be a US Citizen and I wouldn’t want to be anything else, but sometimes we are presented with issues that need sane, reasoned discussion rather than the histrionics of the last few decades. I’m not expecting to see anything of the like on the issue of firearms in my lifetime.


Saturday, March 13, 2004

Official Says He Was Told to Withhold Medicare Data
Washington Post Headline 3/13/04 (See Story HERE)

The Administration has but a single line and that comes from the White House. If you don’t march in step to their dictates they’ll do their best to get your ass. Joseph Wilson, a career diplomat, proved unassailable when he incurred Dubya’s wrath for pointing out that his State of the Union address was wrong on the matter of Saddam buying uraninite from Nigeria. They couldn’t get him so they went after his wife, committing a Federal felony and triggering an investigation by the FBI of the White House by so doing. Don’t expect any results from that investigation in the near future.

Now this. Another career civil servant was threatened with firing if he revealed the true cost of the medicare prescription program proposed by the administration. Congress passed the act in ignorance, but may well not have had the facts been available.

What is up with these people?


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Oh Boy We Got An Election Campaign And Oh Boy We Got Gun Control

As long as the gun control rhetoric remains up in the high dBs, I might as well put in my 2¢ worth.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution; "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

Don’t see guns or hunting or target shooting mentioned nowhere. It says “arms.” That’s it. What do you think was going through the minds of the men who wrote that? What did they mean?

The Second has never been adjudicated past the Circuit Court of Appeals level, so we don’t know. What we do know is neither the NRA or Anti-Gun Lobby want to try their luck in court. Nobody is up for that one roll of the dice. Did you ever wonder why that is?

If you have dyslexia or trouble counting past 20 without unzipping your trousers, you might want to quit right here or get somebody to explain it to you. The answer would pop a rivet or two in most people’s logic.

When the Constitution was framed, crime was no big deal. Few prisons and not much bed space in jails. A screw-up was embarrassed before the whole town by being locked in the stocks for a day for all his friends and neighbors to pelt with rotten produce. Big time screw-ups were hanged – promptly. End of story. Little crime and not much reason to fear criminals.

What gave dialecticians of the day the colly-wobbles was big, authoritative, mean-spirited government. That was the monster feared most. Jefferson wanted us to keep our guns so that if government got out of hand, the citizens to whom it belonged could get it back into line, one way or another. You can check that little gem out in the Federalist Papers. That’s where I got it.

Thomas Jefferson saw the armed citizen as the 4th branch of government.

So why the quaint wording? What’s this with the militia? Everybody knows the definition of militia, right?

Absolutely not! I have an older dictionary (circa 1941) that yields a definition that freaks out the gun control crowd. According to it, the militia is the body of men between the ages of 18 and 45 who are not members of any agency controlled by the government. If that was what the Framers had in mind, every non-military, non-police male individual is in the militia.

Later dictionaries define militia as Military Reserves. Big Difference.

Now to arms. Er to the term “arms.” Arms are just that; every weapon in the inventory from David’s sling to a MOAB to a nuke.

In the 1780s, citizens had the same arms the government did, and often had better and more of them. Andy Jackson’s riflemen at New Orleans brought their own long rifles to the party and the Texas Rangers during the short-lived Republic would not enlist a man without he owned both suitable horse and pistol.

Commercial trading posts on the frontier were often equipped with stockades and cannon, giving them the appearance of a military fort. It has only been since the 1930s that citizens were prevented from owning the same weapons the government. And then the prevention came in the form of pricey tax stamps. If you had the geld you could own all the machine guns you wanted.

So what’s all this boil down to?

Well, there is crime. That’s now big business. All you have to do is look at how many people make a damn good living off of it. Judges, lawyers, court clerks, court reporters, bailiffs, police, correction, and probation officers, and admins, admins, admins. The big money trough wherein a goodly number of well paid people feed. It’s called “due process.” If citizens started blasting away at low-lifes, all these other good citizens would have to find productive jobs.

Apprehending, jailing, trying, conviction, pre-sentence probation reporting, and imprisonment of one cheesedick provides employment for a whole passel of people, so if you take his worthless ass out with a 50¢ bullet, you have just stepped in whole lot of rice bowls.

Can’t have vigilantes, better take their guns away.

Then there is insurrection over the perceived mis-deeds of big government. The fact the government paid off without a whimper when Randy Weaver was awarded a multi-million dollar settlement for the wrongful deaths of his wife and son should be a hint that even the government thought it was in the wrong.

The Branch Dravidians in Waco come to mind. Big confrontational government and a colony of religious wackos. Bad mix, big mess. Tim McVeigh put a serious punctuation mark to the violence when he bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma. It will be noted that the Feds’ standoffs since then have all been strung out by negotiators and resolved because both sides succumbed to ennui rather than hot lead.

So what if we all packed? Not just a cute little pistol, but say some serious ordnance. For a while, there would be no need to practice safe sex for population control purposes. One can easily imagine the survivors being much, much politer.

To be continued.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Another Beautiful Day In Paradise

Here we are less than two weeks to the vernal equinox and the fruit and nut trees here in the Santa Clara Valley are in bloom. I wore shorts to go on a shopping and library excursion. The first time this year, and I still claim the title of “Whitest White Guy” bestowed several years ago by a friend who hasn’t much pigment in his hide either. Hopefully that will change as the days stay this gorgeous.

I am truly disheartened by the election news. Rockjaw is way too left and Dubya is a lying sack of [bleep]. Nader is a joke who had his 15 minutes of fame in ’66 and is still trying to get back in the lime light.

This is so bad that I may have to contemplate the future by contemplating navels on the beach at Santa Cruz for the next few days. Maybe I can shed my “Whitest White Guy” title and meet someone who would like to go hear a little jazz later on.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Dirty Rice

I really like rice, but hate the bland taste — or lack of taste as the case may be — and have experimented with recipes for a couple of years trying to perfect something nutritious as well as tasty.

My taste runs to spicy. Tonight, I sautéed minced onions in butter, threw in a goodly dash of jalapeño-salt, added the water along with healthy dash of garlic-pepper, added some chicken bouillon when the water boiled, followed immediately with the parboiled rice.

I’m here to tell you, the after glow would warm the cockles of anyone’s heart. God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

All is right with the world except for the killing of 14 Palestinians, 5 Haitians, and the wounding of an American in Baghdad. I feel so good after having that rice dish with sliced pork loin that I am willing to let it slide. Tune in tomorrow for political diatribes.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Kennedy: Tenet Must Come Clean on War
AP Headline (See STORY)

Kennedy Presses Tenet on Iraq Intelligence
Reuters (See STORY)

As the story goes, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet gave a speech a month ago in which he said Iraq was not an immediate threat to America or America’s interest at a time when Dubya was whipping up a war fever.

The Chicago Tribune (See STORY) had this to say at the time:
In his first public defense of the Iraq intelligence, Tenet told a friendly audience at Georgetown University, his alma mater, that his work "deals with the unclear, the unknown, the deliberately hidden," adding, "you are almost never completely wrong or completely right."

His speech appeared to be aimed at heading off a drive to scapegoat the intelligence community while boosting morale among agency officers around the world

No big surprise there. You would expect that no one really wants to be holding the bag when everyone wakes up to the fact there was no reason, not even a lame one for this war. Tenet is doing his best not to have the resulting splash land on him or his agency when that particular brick hits the cesspool..

If one is never really right or never really wrong, are all the people who came home in aluminum coffins not really dead?

How about the thousands of Iraqis who died from our pinpoint bombing or in factional disputes that have broken out since we destroyed their entire public safety infrastructure?

I think Saddam Hussein is a sadistic murderous slime ball and should have been gotten rid of long, long ago, but I don’t think it was our place to do it. And the way we did it is criminal. The looting and loss of life after the fighting was over is inexcusable. Conquest bears the responsibility of governance, and that is something we haven’t done.

Kennedy had this to say:
"Our men and women in uniform are still paying with their lives for this misguided war in Iraq. No president who misleads the country on the need for war deserves to be re-elected," Kennedy said.

I don’t often find myself in agreement with Ted Kennedy. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time. Even though it has taken a month for someone to wake up and ask these questions, I will be interested in hearing the answers.

How come when Jesse Jetstream screams for congress to hold hearings on the why and how of Aristede getting kicked out of Haiti we see action, but when it appears hundreds and hundreds of American lives are needlessly sacrificed only one senator can send up the call?

Maybe the chairs of the House and Senate chambers should be replaced with roosts more suitable for chickens.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Shiites Won't Sign Interim Constitution
AP Headline (See article HERE)

Here I am, a redneck hick East Texas high school drop out who’s not a bit surprised. If we can’t get our handpicked Iraqi sycophants to sign an “interim” (read sham) constitution, just imagine what future governments will get up to. These people have never seen a democracy and wouldn’t know one if it swatted them in the ass with a bull fiddle. Why is it Washington insists on pushing a string?

Here’s the defining paragraph of the article:
The council's squabbles squandered an enormous public relations and security effort for the ceremony, a stinging embarrassment for the U.S.-led occupation authority and its hand-picked Governing Council. Earlier, Bremer had appeared on morning television shows in the United States, touting the constitution on CNN's "American Morning" as "an extraordinary document, which is really unprecedented in Iraq's history."

It would appear that we have the tar baby right where we want him and will soon be teaching him some proper manners. Unquote Brer Rabbit


Bush Supporters Defend His New Ads
AP Headline

Well, now here’s a story. After upsetting a slew of relatives of people lost in the 9/11 atrocities, the spin doctors are telling us WHY this is proper rather than apologizing and getting on with it. Had apologies been forthcoming, all would be forgotten by election day. Pissed off people tend find energy to thwart that what pissed them off.

The AP article had this to say:

In January 2002, just a few months after nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, Bush told House and Senate leaders in a meeting at the White House that, "I have no ambition whatsoever to use this as a political issue" that election year.

"Sept. 11 changed the equation in our public policy. It forever changed the world," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary. "The president's steady leadership is vital to how we wage war on terrorism." (See story HERE)

First he says he will never use the attack politically. Then pictures of the smoldering wreckage are shown in his campaign ad. What’s really amazing to me is saccharine from White House flack.

Rather than go after Bin Laden hammer and tong, American troops were pulled back at Tora Bora, allowing him and his cadre to beat feet into Pakistan. Then on top of that comes the Iraq fiasco. Scott, you lying sack of [bleep], how do you call that steady leadership in waging war on terrorism? It’s becoming obvious to one and all that Saddam had nothing to with Al Qaeda.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

Some 9/11 Relatives Angered by Bush Ads
AP Headline (See story HERE)

The Presidential election campaign is off to a roaring good start. Bush did a series of fund raisers here in California and raised some megabucks. So what is the Bush campaign spending money on?

Heh! Heh! Their very first shot out of the barrel alienated the International Association of Fire Fighters Union. They have endorsed Kerry.

Two things about this.

a) I don’t recall anything like this happening this early in campaigns past. Anybody?

b) I read some pundit who recently opined that Kerry can’t win this campaign, but Bush can lose it. I wasn't expecting to see that prognostication become obvious this soon, but obvious it is.

What happened to all the very talented media people who kept the Great Communicator (also a Republican) communicating so effectively?

Leaflet Says Extremist Al-Zarqawi Is Dead

As Hiram Johnson is reported to have said, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” Yes he is. No he isn’t. Is too. Is not. Your tax dollars at work.

The government says this is a bad guy responsible for bombing attacks on Americans and Shi’ites. He’s big time Al Qaeda, according to them. Not so say a half dozen or so news reporters who are pretty close to the situation and out of US jurisdiction.

Now it seems that a number of organizations are saying the dude has been dead, lo, these many months. This is in the face of a posted reward up in the megabucks. (See article HERE)

This could be a pretty good gimmick for the Military Government. Every time something goes wrong they can blame this guy. Slick.

That’s like the WMD that aren’t there. They are proving to be hard to find.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Great Girl Scout Cookie Boycott

Down yonder in Texas the name Planned Parenthood is synonymous with abortion which to Catholics and fundamentalist Protestant Christians means the devil’s work. Just say the name and they start cleaning their rifles in preparation to shooting an abortionist or two. Nice to know they keep an open mind on matters secular.

The Girl Scouts became embroiled in this issue because they endorsed a class for pre-puberty children called “Nobody’s Fool.”

The Waco Tribune-Herald had this to say:

For 15 years, Planned Parenthood has sponsored Nobody's Fool, an annual three-hour sex education seminar that draws about 500 students from grades fifth through ninth. The Girl Scout council, which for years has been one of many nonfinancial sponsors of the event, withdrew that support last week. It also withdrew from a community sex education coalition that includes Planned Parenthood. (See article HERE)

A local Pro-life activist called for a boycott of Girl Scout Cookies and the brouhaha was on. One little girl who was selling cookies when asked her views on abortion — a concept she has trouble grasping — answered that she was selling cookies and didn’t know much about anything else.

Things were tense in the Pres’s home town of Crawford (Pop. 700). AP had this to say:

Some families are boycotting Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos and other Girl Scout cookies. Troop 7527 is down to just two members after the other girls were withdrawn by their parents. And Brownie Troop 7087 is no more. (See article HERE)

The net result was the cookie sale was a resounding success. It would seem that people who observe American Family Values are split down the middle on this issue

Here Comes The Bride or Whatever

Multnomah County, Oregon, (Greater Portland) will begin issuing marriage licenses to Gays and Lesbians today joining San Francisco and New Pfalz.

The county attorney when queried by two members of the Board of Supervisors answered that it would be a violation of state constitution to deny licenses on the basis of gender.

There are several other states that have no legal bar to same sex marriage. Enough so that any attempt to pass an amendment barring same sex marriage would not succeed.

Mr. Bush if you really want to strengthen American Family Values, please bring our family members home from Iraq.

Bombs Bursting In Religious Parades

Almost 200 people died in coordinated suicide attacks in two cities in Iraq and Quetta, Pakistan. When American medics approached the crowd in Baghdad to render aid they were driven back by a hail of rocks thrown by enraged Shiites.

Through convoluted reasoning America’s presence in Iraq was blamed for the carnage there. The deaths in Pakistan were attributed to slavishly following America’s war on terror. I think we’re back to blaming Dubya for Aristede’s fall and the cold snap in New England. Too bad we can’t register them to vote in this fall’s presidential election.

The Great Race

The parties have spoken; It will be a tax-and-spend liberal war hero cum peacenik vs an inarticulate, draft dodging war monger.

How in the hell did we ever get so lucky? Can’t claim righteous living and clean thoughts, I don’t believe.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Volvo Reveals Car Designed by Women
AP Headline

Volvo, a part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, introduced a new concept car at the Geneva International Motor Show and the headline is right. An all-women design and manufacturing team. See Story HERE See slideshow HERE

The consensus of Ford executives is that women’s expectations far exceed those of men. The machine features gull wing doors, a 5 cylinder gas/electric hybrid that develops 215 horsepower, is easy to park, easy to clean, requires little maintenance, and is a good looking vehicle.

For sure this time Ford has a better idea, but why has it taken this long?

And to the women responsible, Well Done, Ladies!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Mike Royko, Where Are You When We Need You?

Mike Royko, Chicago columnist and world class cynic, had a way with words equaled by few. For instance he once said something to the effect that being the best sports writer was somewhat akin to being the tallest midget in the circus parade. Like I said, a way with words.

Mike did not like the Reverend Mr. Jesse Jackson with something of a passion, bestowing the sobriquet Jesse Jetstream on him for some of the Reverend’s more outré theatrics.

Eventually, Mr. Jackson made his way to Washington and appointed himself “shadow” Senator (whateverinheck that is) and Mike moved on to juicer targets for his wit.

This week has seen the fall of the Haitian dictator Aristede who felt he was safely ensconced in the National Palace, because no fewer than 20,000 American Marines made sure he made it there. Feeling safe, Aristede plundered the country. He was so busy stealing, in fact, that he forgot to watch his back. Slick Willy moved on and was replaced by Dubya.

This time when his excesses could no longer be tolerated his people arose. With no help forthcoming from Washington, the choices narrowed down to two. Stay and fight it out, or splitsville.

Aristede seems not to be endowed with even a modicum of courage decided to take America’s offer of a chartered airplane to the destination of his choice. Once on the ground in the former French colony of the Central African Republic, he was on the phone claiming he had been deposed by US Army Special Force Soldiers.

Now here is where we need Mike. The Reverend Mr. Jackson has called for a Congressional investigation into Aristede’s allegations. My feeling is either Jesse Jetstream will do anything for ink or else he ain’t got both chopsticks in the chow-mein. One or the other.

I wonder what Mike would say.

Here We Go Again

The Iraqis handpicked by the Pentagon are on the eve of handing down their new interim constitution. Whoop-de-doo. The Asia Times, an online news source, points out the basic facts that Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds don’t really like each other and can hardly be expected to form a federal government for the simple matter that disapproval of almost any issue is expressed via truck bomb. That’s the sectarian and ethnic picture before one factors in the people who have no desire to be under a cleric’s thumb and want to return to a secular government.

The simple fact of the matter is the Shiites form 60% of Iraq’s population and will tend to establish dominance. As I pointed out in an earlier article, the Kurds will more than likely go independent only to be gobbled up by Turkey, the Sunnis will look to Damascus for their salvation, and Iran will annex the Shiites. Not good, not good, and plumb flippin’ awful. That’s not a result that will be achieved in short order, that’s the predictable outcome of a lengthy and bloody civil war which is all but assured once the Coalition goes home.

Attempting to imprint a western-style democracy where none has ever existed has yet to work. One only need look at the results of the break-up of the Soviet Union to see that. Russia is struggling, but might make it because of her natural resources. The Ukraine is a thieves paradise which brooks no criticism of its top politicians, Belarus is a communist dictatorship, the ‘Stans, the central Asian republics, all have authoritarian governments, and Mongolia joins the Belarussians in communism. Only in the Baltics does one find the beginnings of capitalist democracy.

To carry the comparison farther, only in Russia does there exist the level plurality of population/religious beliefs that is found in Iraq and they have their hands full with Chechen rebels, with Imams of Bashkorastan and Tartarstan (semi-autonomous regions called "Republics") calling for Jihad against the infidels, of which there are many in Russia.

It would appear that we will need to maintain an occupation force in the Persian Gulf for years to come. One hundred billion dollars and hundreds of American lives a year looks to be the cost.

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