Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So Far So Bad

The Democrats have gained control of both Houses of Congress. Representatives-elect of the majority party are now treating us to the kind of spectacle one would expect from a family reunion of dysfunctional weirdoes.

The first shot out of the barrel was Nancy Pelosi’s foisting Jack Murtha onto the House as Majority leader. She’s obviously not in touch with her colleagues. That gaffe was quickly followed by Charles Rangel’s statement that he intended to introduce legislation to reinstitute the draft. Right-o. The last time that measure came to the floor of the House, it lost by a huge margin; 422-1, if memory serves correctly.

The House has its problems, for sure. In the Senate, things seem to be split. John Kerry thinks he has another shot coming as the Democratic candidate for President. After his demeaning remarks of Americans serving in Iraq, he won’t carry much more than Massachusetts and San Francisco.

The good news coming out of the Senate is Barack Obama’s proposal on how to get out of Iraq. Neither “Stay the course” nor “cut and run” are appealing. At least he is showing that there is another way.

It would appear that the 110th Congress will provide ample material for the political cartoonists. Other than that, this might be a case where expectations should be lowered. . . a lot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The New Congress

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker Apparent, has just made a big boo-boo. Putting Jack Murtha forward as Majority Leader was as nifty a faux pas as the Republicans’ secret hearings on Mark Foley’s possible rumpy-pumpy with teen aged male pages.

A year ago, a Marine patrol blew away a couple of dozen Iraqis as a result of losing one of their own to a roadside bomb. One of those tragedies of war. The Marines claimed to follow the rules of engagement and that was that . . . for a while. An embedded reporter, an Iraqi who had been detained for five months on suspicion of aiding the Al Zarqawi terrorist movement, called the incident a massacre of innocents several weeks after the fact. Time Magazine got a whiff of scandal and initiated a hue and cry here in the states by “breaking” the story.

Three Marine officers were relieved immediately on the nebulous grounds that the division commander had lost faith in their abilities. Up until then, they were exactly the kind of guys I would want running the show if I were a grunt and the fecal matter hit the rotary cooling device.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has a lot to live down from having previously bungled high profile cases in a spectacular fashion, launched two investigations. The first into the conduct of the Marines on that patrol and the second into their command structure to determine if there was a cover-up.

Both investigations were in progress when Murtha insinuated himself into the situation while junketing in Iraq. He held a press conference pronouncing the Marines in question guilty of murder. Dubya had done the same thing in less direct language by saying we would punish the guilty.

Should the investigation yield facts that lead to prosecution, the outcome is tainted. No matter what the facts are, the accused will be convicted if the trial officers know what’s good for their careers. The convictions will in time be overturned by the Military Court of Appeals because of “command influence.” This leads to two outcomes, both bad. Guilty men will have their punishment cut short and innocent men will have to undergo the humiliation of a trial and several years of imprisonment while their case(s) work their way through the system.

Murtha is a “cut-and-run” Democrat who feels the time he spent in Corps during the Vietnam war makes him an expert on a course of action in Iraq. He is a poor choice to rally any sort of positive public opinion or build a consensus in the House.

Please rethink this, Nancy, all the while keeping in mind that fame is fleeting and this, too, shall pass. Sooner than you think if you keep doing this kind of dumb.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A New Internet Game

A while back I got more than a little fed up with the amount of sexually explicit spam landing in my mailbox. Yahoo does a good job (mostly) of sorting spam into a “bulk mail” file which I delete without opening.

The offensive stuff I’m talking about lands in my inbox. Actually there are two major categories of offensive material. The sexually explicit, I have already mentioned. The other is a Nigerian Solicitor, A South African Bank officer, or a Cote D’Ivoire twenty-something babe who has scads of bucks and needs a safe haven for it. I was selected to receive this windfall as the result of a thorough background investigation. As an aside, it couldn’t have been much of an investigation if it didn’t show the two books that are long overdue at the Campbell Library.

In any event, one day I had had enough. I hit the full headers button on the Yahoo mail page and googled the originating IP. That’s when I found a charming little web site named DNSstuff which can be found at

The IP operator’s email address pops up in semi-plain English, and I forward the offending email to it. Yahoo and Hotmail, domestically, mince no words and usually disconnect the offender in short order. The South African agency actually sent me a letter of apology along with telling me the “bank officer” had been dealt with.

Another form of phising is to send an E-Bay or PayPal spoof. I forward those (with full headers) to
spoof@ebay.com or spoof@paypal.com

My longest standing Yahoo email box (1998) was compromised by spoofers last winter. I found out when I received two vacation responses to emails I didn’t send. It was something of a pain in the whatsit to email all contacts to tell them to use another mail box.

I am slowly but surely getting a bit fizzed with script kiddies out there. If you are as well, join in. There's no limit to players.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The People Have Spoken

The mid-term election is complete, resulting in both houses of Congress changing rule from Republican to Democrat. News reports from around the world offer the opinion that the election was really a referendum on the administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq.

To further enhance that opinion, the President immediately ceded to the Democratic demand that there be a change in civilian leadership at the Pentagon. Even before the outcome of the Senate races were known, Donald Rumsfeld was history.

His departure had all the subtlety, grace, finesse, and dignity of a Marine division making an opposed landing on a hostile shore. In fact, it reminded me of the old Russian folk tales of throwing infants off the troika to help keep the wolves appeased. Truly.

Iraq might have been a rallying cry, but what needs to be kept in mind is the fact that Dubya had better than 50% approval rating of his conduct of the war until FEMA muffed the response to Katrina.

Historically, The president’s party usually suffers the loss of one or both houses in mid-term elections. This time around, there were a number of issues bearing on the change. Embryonic stem cell research, FDA’s obvious kowtowing on just who may or may not purchase the post-event prophylactic, Plan B, individual congress member’s legal and moral peccadilloes, and the general contentiousness this administration has brought to the political process. That’s to say nothing of the lack of progress in running Osama ibn Laden to ground, the alienation of traditional allies, the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies fostered by the change in Social Security, Halliburton profiteering, the Patriot act, a burgeoning intelligence apparatus that couldn’t find its way out of a closet, et cetera ad nauseum.

Iraq of course stands out like a sore thumb. Thousands and thousands of dead and hundreds of billions of dollars, but the other mentioned items and more are good cause for Americans to demand a change. What the Democrats had better keep in mind is we can get rid of your sorry butts the same way we got rid of those other bums.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

It’s often been said that hindsight is an exact science, or as my friend Dwight used to say, it is 20/20.

I’ve said time and again that invading Iraq was the wrong move. To begin with, it diverted resources from the task of ridding the world of Al Qaeda. In addition, Iran and NKorea both offer a considerably greater threat to peace than Iraq did under Saddam Hussein.

The premise for the invasion was pretty shaky. I can’t imagine Saddam and Osama agreeing on anything. Picturing them in the same room is ludicrous. That would be akin to a Southern Baptist preacher being appointed a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. According to the same intelligence agencies that blew the call on 9/11, Iraq was to be the Al Qaeda armory of WMD. The country was scoured from stem to stern after the Coalition gained complete control of it. Nary a WMD was found.

Once the WMD scare promulgated by the Government was proved to be a crockola, the new tack was to announce the joint effort of the Allied Coalition was now to establish a democracy in Iraq. Someone must have ducked out for a beer when the history of post-WWI was read.

Democracy is a very short commodity in Arab countries. Practically non-existent, as it were. Arabs tend to rule themselves through clan and tribal leaderships, and do it quite well when left undisturbed. Life does become disturbed when the different sects clash, however. Shia’a, Sunni, Druze, and Sufi go at it with murderous determination. At the moment things are very disturbed in Iraq. Sunnis and Shia’as are busy murdering each other in the name of God at the rate of thousands a month. The animosity extends even farther in this instance; Shia’a factions jockeying for position have raised and armed their own militias which aren’t the slightest bit hesitant to whack a co-religionist from another faction.

In their spare time between attacks on each other, the Iraqi Arabs set bombs for and shoot at Americans. They’ve dragged the bodies of Americans through the streets of their cities for the amusement of the local populace. Somehow, I just don’t believe the Iraqis see us as liberators.

The third major segment of Iraqis are the Kurds. When Imperial Turkey was broken up after WWI, scant attention was paid to Kurdistan and it was divided three ways among modern Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Turkey and Iran are very jealous of their territorial prerogatives and the Kurds are equally fervid in their desire to reunite as one country. Now the Iraqi Kurds have the income from the Mosul oil fields and ten years experience as a de facto nation, along with several divisions of troops equipped by America. Consequently, Iran and Turkey are both apprehensive.

The way things stand today is Shia’a and Sunni are busy killing one another, the Kurds are biding their time, Iran is continuing its nuclear enrichment program and NKorea has tested a nuke. The occupation coalition is crumbling as its members tire of the endless mayhem and call it Miller Time.

Iraq is cause célèbre in the current election campaign, and well it should be. The Republicans are into keep on keeping on, which is a course of action that has taken the lives of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis and denuded the treasury. The Democrats want to cut our losses and run. That appeals to me as I probably won’t live long enough to see these particular chickens come home to roost, but the notional grandkids will have to deal with the longterm aftermath.

It’s often been said that wars a lot easier to start than end. That is so true in this case. Pulling out of an unstable Iraq will condemn it to a bitter civil war with potential destabilizing consequences for the entire region.

There is a precedence and a model of taming a potential unruly conquered country. The Western Allies occupation of Germany was at once prudent and humane. Roadside bombs and pot shots targeted at Allies were rare and no corpses, American or otherwise, were set alight and drug through the streets. It should be kept in mind that Muslims are absolute pikers at fanaticism when compared to Nazis.

This is a huge mess and is diverting interest and resources from truly pressing matters. Al Qaeda is still out there. Taliban and Pashtun training camps are turning out more idiots who are taught that killing our non-combatant men, women, and children will bring them closer to God. Iraq, itself, has turned into a huge class room of terrorism thanks to us. Those terrorists seem not to have gotten past Lebanon to date, but give them time.

This mess has been foisted on the American public as part of the war on terrorism. The claim that one is soft on terrorism if one opposes the war in Iraq ranks right up there with the claim of WMD, Al Qaeda’s armorer, and democratization.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Slow Sunday

The rains have come and gone for a few days and it is a glorious fall day. The lackluster Niners are hosting the so-so Vikings this afternoon. I am anticipating lots of yellow flags and many turnovers.

The 7-0 Colts visit the 6-1 Pats for the night game. It should be good, particularly when John Madden provides the color commentary and Al Michaels calls the game.

Senator Dole has opined that Democrats are “Content with losing” in Iraq. Liz, sweetie, just what the hell can be won there? Tell me there is more to be gained than the hanging of Saddam in exchange for the thousands of dead GIs, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, and a third of a trillion dollars down the rat hole.

As long as Americans are there, the Iraqis will be shooting at them, and until the country comes under a stern ruler, Iraqis will kill each other. Democracy for that benighted bunch is decades away, if it happens at all.

A man has been charged with arson and murder for setting the 40,000 acre fire that took the lives of 5 firefighters. If he is convicted and sentenced to die for his crime, he will have several decades of comfortable living ahead. Great deterrent that death penalty.

That’s my kvetch for the day. Be cool y’all, and remember; for the upcoming election: Vote early and vote often.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mercury Retrograde, Rain, The Mid-term Election, And War As We Know It

I don’t see thing in the leader to cheer me up. Mercury retrograde usually brings on a disruption of communications, fender benders, and the like. I can substantiate that generality. I managed to knock the cornering lamp out of my T’bird yesterday. We have five computers on our at-home wifi and the only ones that didn’t give us trouble last night were the ones that were turned off.

The nice thing about rain this time of year is that rainy days are warmer than clear days. I have a good book. Guess what I’m going to do today?

The congressional electoral battles have turned into good old fashioned mud slinging/dirty tricks campaigns which are great fun to read about. The political climate puts me in mind of a story about LBJ I heard 40 years ago. Johnson came up with the stratagem of accusing his opponent of f***ing turkeys. His campaign manager demurred, saying that it couldn’t possibly be true. Whereupon Landslide Lyndon replied, “Yeah, I know. I just want to see him go public and deny it.”

The Iraqi debacle continues to devolve into chaos. Today’s news carried an article that 100,000 people are beating feet out of the country every month. They are leaving because the country is slipping into the throes of total civil war. Lebanon had something like that. It started as a Christian-Muslim tiff but soon slipped into sectarian and then inter-clan killing. It went on for fourteen years. I had long predicted that Sunnis and Shia’as would go at it, but now it looks like there is some serious trouble in Paradise what with Shia’a going after Shia’a. God sure was good to us when he gave us Dubya as Pres, huh?

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