Friday, September 28, 2007

Did James Inhofe Use the Same Loophole as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

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In his recent appearance before students at Columbia University, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew much laughter for his announcement that there are no gays in Iran.

My first reaction, on hearing of Ahmadinejad’s statement, was to think back to the day when Oklahoma Senator James “Global Warming is a Hoax” Inhofe made a similar boast about "the entire recorded history of his family" on the floor of the United States Senate.

Now, from the UK Guardian, we find out how it is that Ahmadinejad can make such a statement. Apparently, in addition to the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death, Iran has widespread tolerance for transsexuals, leading many gays to seek gender reassignment surgery in order to fit their leader’s characterization of the country as “having no gays.”

So I couldn’t help but to revisit the family of Senator Inhofe, and wonder if he and Ahmadinejad were using the same rhetorical trick. I’ll let you decide, based on this photo I was able to dig up from a recent Inhofe Family Reunion:

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(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One More Time for the “House of Reprehensibles!”

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So now I’ve been censured by the democratic-controlled House, as well as the democratic-controlled "Sin-nate" for "disrespectful" name altering. And on the same day the Democrats in the Senate brought us one step closer to a war in Iran, as they went along with Cheney’s pipe dream (AKA: Lieberman’s wet dream!)

At least there was one useful thing to be learned from the Democrats today:
Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, a veteran Democrat, recounted how he left the Republican Party during the era of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., and said that lawmakers have an obligation to criticize their allies as well as their enemies when they go too far.
Thanks for the inspiration, Rep. Obey! I can now regale my friends and family with the story of how I left the Democratic Party during the era of Democrats enabling war crimes and censuring those who oppose them!

Of course, I still won’t be voting for Republicans any time soon, but I no longer consider myself someone trying to change the Democratic Party, of which I’ve been a member for all of my 28 voting years, from within!

Nor will I be flocking crawling to Ralph Nader! As a “decline-to-state” voter in California, I can still request a ballot that will allow me to vote in the Democratic Primary, if I feel there is a compelling candidate (or a really scary candidate!) on the list of Democrats. I can still contribute to individual candidates of any party, or any group (like, if I feel they adequately represent my views.

Aside from that, the Democratic Party can sit on it and twirl remove me from their ranks! Anyone care to join me? Perhaps when “decline-to-state” voters outnumber the Democrats and Republicans, candidates in both parties will have to start listening to their constituents for a change!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Are the Presidential Candidates a Crystal Ball for the GOP?

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Despite their many flaws, the current crop of Republican Presidential hopefuls appear to be good for something! They may be acting as a bellwether for how the GOP will treat George W. Bush when he is no longer in office.

I’ve touched on this theme before, when I wrote about an expectation of increasing irrelevancy for the post-power Bush - despite Karl Rove’s behind the scene efforts to build him a legacy.

I’ve also heard the other side of the argument: that his daddy’s rich and powerful friends will take care of him. But I’m not so sure! These people became rich and powerful by being opportunistic. Will they still show the same support for Dubya when he no longer has the opportunity to keep enriching them with more wealth and power? I doubt it!

Is there any reason to think that a man barely suited to be the decider of what brush to cut, and having a popularity rating worse than O.J., will be of more benefit to a business arrangement than he is to a political campaign? Not likely!

At this point, I like to compare Bush to the trainer who is tolerated, and even liked, because he’s the one who currently feeds the bear! But when he’s no longer in a position to keep providing the food, and the bear gets hungry, he’s quite likely to end up being lunch!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What The Senate’s Recent “Censure” Means to Me!

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As both a member of, and a blogger who angrily posted the "General Betray-Us" moniker well before the ad appeared in the NYT, it is quite a thing to know that I've been censured - by the same Senate that has, for nearly seven years, rubber stamped every illegal and immoral thing this President could dream up!

So, frankly, I don't give a damn about the "Sense of the Senate," because as a group, the Senate has repeatedly shown that it has no sense at all! As a group, it hasn't a shred of credibility on what is right or wrong for me or anyone else to say or do. None!

If I were running, I would have immediately responded by taking out another full-page ad in the NYT, condemning the "U.S. SIN-ate" for complicity in war crimes!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Here's How Much the Public Has Turned Against the War

I'm deep in the sea of conspicuous consumption that is Las Vegas, and what do I find? A new line of shoes in one of the exclusive stores that all feature prominently displayed peace signs. It seems peace is now trendy among those who shop for $400 shoes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yeah, What He Said! (Almost!)

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In a recent post, I offered a 3-paragraph summary of what the next President would do about Iraq if we were living in an ideal parallel universe. The next day, Barack Obama gave a great speech and, probably without even having had a chance to steal them from our site, basically included all of my major components.

Read the whole thing on Obama’s website if you haven’t already, but here a sampling (with my emphasis):

On the Moral Obligation to Clean Up Our Mess:
President Bush likes to warn of the dire consequences of ending the war. He warns of rising Iranian influence, but that has already taken place. He warns of growing terrorism, but that has already taken place. And he warns of huge movements of refugees and mass sectarian killing, but that has already taken place. These are not the consequences of a future withdrawal. They are the reality of Iraq's present. They are a direct consequence of waging this war. Two million Iraqis are displaced in their own country. Another two million Iraqis have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. This mass movement of people is a threat to the security of the Middle East and to our common humanity. We have a strategic interest - and a moral obligation - to act.
(Obama has been criticized by some on the Left for suggesting that he would leave troops in Iraq, rather than bringing them all home and letting the Iraqis deal with their own problems (including those we helped create.) Personally, I think those critics are a bit unrealistic, and that there is something to be said for Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn Rule.” The key is to get those remaining troops enough help from our allies to keep them safe while actually making a difference in cleaning up the mess we’ve made.)

On Diplomacy:
We need to launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history to reach a new compact in the region. This effort should include all of Iraq's neighbors, and we should also bring in the United Nations Security Council. All of us have a stake in Iraq's stability. It's time to make this less about what America is trying to do for Iraq, and more about what the world can do with Iraq.
(Unfortunately, although this seems like a “no brainer,” the Bush Administration has repeatedly shown that even “no brainers” can be ignored by those lacking both brains and compassion for other human beings. They have also shown that nations seeming to act without compassion are unlikely to be successful in their diplomatic efforts.)

On Punishing War Criminals:
Iraqis must know that those who engage in mass violence will be brought to justice. We should lead in forming a commission at the U.N. to monitor and hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes within Iraq. We must also put strict conditions on U.S. assistance to direct our support to those who want to hold Iraq together - not those who are tearing it apart.
(While I’m glad Obama specifically mentioned war crimes in his speech, I think our eventual ability to engage in successful diplomatic efforts will require the World to know that those who engage in (or authorize) mass violence anywhere, will be brought to justice. That means Bush and Cheney, as well as Iraqi tribal leaders involved in the insurgency!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Gambler

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There was recently a running discussion at Needlenose comparing the Bush/Petraeus effort to extend the Iraq occupation to the desperation of gamblers begging for more chips so they can stay at the table.

Fubar added the discussion of an interesting game that simulates market behavior during a bidding process and shows how players can be trapped by their own self-interest into making decisions that end up becoming increasingly detrimental, yet being unable to stop.

In the same spirit, and fitting my arrival yesterday evening for a week in Las Vegas, I offer another related analogy:

I also see Bush as a gambler, not sitting at a table but at a slot machine. He’s willing to keep throwing more and more silver dollars (soldiers’ lives) into the machine, thinking that he might eventually win back his rent money (future legacy), even as he is slowly losing everything he owns (the last 28 percent or so who approve of him.)

But the kicker is that this gambler is so deluded (stupid), that he refuses to notice that the machine he’s playing is so broken that the reels aren’t even spinning any more!

Friday, September 14, 2007

New England Patriots: The GOP of the NFL?

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So it sounds like Karl Rove is working for the New England Patriots now that he’s left the White House!

I always thought something was fishy when the Patriots rose from obscurity to win the Super Bowl, behind an unsung rookie, Republican-poster-boy, quarterback, in the same year that we got stuck with the "Patriot" Act!

It just seemed a little too obvious, so now I’m not surprised to find out just what the Patriots are willing to do to keep winning:
This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field," Goodell wrote in a letter to the Patriots.
This may be an insignificant, isolated event that has no affect on the future prospects for a Patriots season in which they are a huge favorite to win the Super Bowl. On the other hand, given their connection to the GOP (Belichick is also a Republican donor), it could also be the tip of a huge iceberg of deception that reaches from this incident all the way back to the secret, improper, and unethical influence on the NFL referees’ interpretation of the Tuck Rule!

I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bush Policy to Bequeath Huge Disaster to Successor

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Via Digby, I found a couple of articles that really go hand in hand.

The first is an analysis of Gen. Petraeus’ testimony for what it reveals about Bush’s real goal in Iraq at this point:
The talk in Washington on Monday was all about troop reductions, yet it also brought into sharp focus President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.
The second is a brilliant discussion of what America’s response to 9/11, led by this President, says about us – and how low Bush’s policies have taken us as a nation:
Like a vibration that causes a bridge to collapse, the 9/11 attacks exposed grave weaknesses in our nation's defenses, our national institutions and ultimately our national character. Many more Americans have now died in a needless war in Iraq than were killed in the terror attacks, and tens of thousands more grievously wounded. Billions of dollars have been wasted. America's moral authority, more precious than gold, has been tarnished by torture and lies and the erosion of our liberties. The world despises us to an unprecedented degree. An entire country has been wrecked. The Middle East is ready to explode. And the threat of terrorism, which the war was intended to remove, is much greater than it was.
Clearly, Bush’s successor is going to have a monumentally difficult job - one that almost seems impossible to envision. Nevertheless, here’s my somewhat utopian suggestion on where to start:

On Day 1, announce that the invasion of Iraq was a horrible and immoral mistake, but because the American people enabled it, we have an obligation to the rest of the World to follow through in order to help bring some degree of safety and security to the Middle East and to the rest of the World. Announce that we can’t do it on our own, and that we need to engage our friends in helping to undo what we have created, for the benefit of all of us. Announce that we will immediately turn Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. over to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to be prosecuted for war crimes - as a sign of good faith.

On Day 2, begin a major diplomatic effort to build a real coalition of nations united to fight terrorism throughout the world, starting in the Middle East (we could call it, say, the “United Nations.”) Perhaps, with the involvement of troops from many countries, in a model similar to the one used in the Balkans, we might actually be able to bring positive change to the region. If we can’t do it together, then the only option would be to pull out and focus, still in coordination with our partners, on containing the violence so that it doesn’t spread to the rest of the World.

On Days 3 through Infinity, be honest and gracious with those who contribute to the coalition, and be fair but firm in coordinating discipline for those who don’t. Hope that over time, our integrity and consistency will allow trust and admiration to replace scorn and derision from the partners we will need in order to keep the World safe!

Well, that, and ponies for everyone!

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Question for General Petraeus

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General Petraeus had already stated that the surge has produced “mixed results.” In his testimony today, he clearly tried to emphasize the positives and downplay the negatives. That’s natural, I suppose, but as with any investment with mixed results, what really matters is the net gain or loss.

Before Petraeus even got started, Swopa zeroed in on the most important question that would not be asked during today’s testimony about balancing the bottom line of this war:
Was the essentially non-existent political progress in Iraq the last six months worth 700 American lives? What progress can you guarantee during the next six months that will be worth another several hundred American lives?
Here's another one as I take a different tack in trying to appeal to those who might take a more conservative traditional self-centered approach to defining the bottom line:
You have described "mixed results" during the last six months in Iraq. Considering both the positives and negatives, and based on the “net yield rate” in terms of improvement during that time, how many more years would you estimate that we will need to keep spending $177 million per day in order to reach our goals there?
Even if you are one of those people who views your own life as nothing but a race to accumulate the most and best investments, the fact is that the Iraq occupation is a loser from a pure investment point of view (unless, of course, you're a war profiteer!)

I mean, how long would you keep investing in a mutual fund hoping to reach your retirement goal if the net progress toward your goal after five years suggests that you may never be able to retire?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Can She Write?

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I wrote an earlier post about the many books written by the Presidential candidates (or their ghost-writers.) In a way it’s good to know what kind of writers are vying for such a powerful position, because I figure someone who can put together a decent sentence, at the very least, is bright enough not to refer to the citizens of Australia as “Austrians!

So I just received a fundraising letter from the Hillary for President Campaign, and, despite her bestselling book, I’m starting to have my doubts about her writing ability. For example, here are the first two paragraphs (with my emphasis on the phrases that would be ripped to shreds by any freshman English teacher):
Dear (Seenos),

The campaign for President has started earlier and has become far more intense faster than any one expected. Our campaign has been filled with excitement and energy, and we have made some amazing progress.

The importance of early supporters has never been greater. And that is why I am writing to you today to tell you how critical your active participation is in, what I believe is, one of the most important campaigns of our lives.
Now I’m being a little nit-picky, of course, but considering that this is the candidate who is widely considered to have the most prepared and professional campaign staff, and the one with the most experience and least potential for mis-steps, this doesn’t bode well!

The letter then goes on to discuss, in somewhat annoyingly repetitious detail, the fact that she really needs money soon because of the many early primaries in delegate-rich states -a “larger number of key states than we originally expected.” As if the first few mentions aren’t enough to drive the point home, she begins her wrap up by restating:
It will be incredibly expensive because there are so many big states holding their primaries in such a short period of time.
Too bad there aren’t a lot of five-year-olds with wads of spare money lying around to donate to Hillary's campaign!

And then, she goes for the closer:
I truly appreciate you taking the time to let me make as clear and compelling a case as possible for your active participation in our history-making campaign.

If I have persuaded you to support my campaign, I hope you will take the important step of demonstrating that support with a generous donation right now.
Well, at this point, Ms. Clinton, all you’ve done is made a clear and compelling case for me not to buy your book!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Larry Craig 2: Return of the Un-Gay! [Updated]

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There’s certainly plenty of head scratching going on as people try to figure out the reasoning behind Larry Craig’s announcement that he may take back his resignation, after earlier announcing his intent to try to take back his guilty plea.

For my part, there is what I think is going on, and what I hope is going on:

I think he still intends to resign. However, he's probably been reminded by his attorneys that he made a mistake by resigning too quickly, giving up the small bit of leverage he had against the Senate Ethics Committee (by his threat to try to stick it out and turn the whole Senate into a circus!) My guess is that he was advised to use that leverage to head off any further investigation that might uncover new evidence against him. So far, the committee says they won’t call off the investigation. However, by hanging around rather than resigning, Craig can increase the pressure on them to do anything to get him to leave, including ending the investigation.

Realistically, at this point, I’ve got to think that Craig must be happy just to have his family still willing to buy his apparent charade. If he can cut off any further probes into his behavior (no pun intended), he can at least keep that part of his life intact.

As for overturning the guilty plea, I think this has the same hollow sound as O.J. Simpson vowing to “catch his wife’s killer!” Saying it keeps a tiny shred of doubt alive, so that he can have something to cling to during the rest of his life, but actually doing something about it is another story!

After listening to the tape of the arrest, there is no way he’s going to want to risk having to defend his actions in front of a jury of his peers. His own defense – that he panicked and agreed to a hasty guilty plea “to make it go away”- is a confession in itself! Clearly, the fact that he immediately knew the seriousness of the possible charges is an indication that the customs of “public bathroom cruising” were well known to him!

I mean, jeez, if I happened to be sitting in a stall tapping my foot to an imaginary I-Pod, and I accidently touched some guy’s foot near the edge of the stall, I would just apologize. If a hand holding a police badge appeared under the divider, my first reaction would probably be to ask him to explain exactly why in the World I should need to know that I was crapping next to a police officer!

Until I heard about Larry Craig, I wouldn’t have known: a) that I had done anything wrong, or b) that it might have had some sexual connotation. I certainly wouldn’t respond by saying “You solicited me” or “I don’t do those types of things because I’m not gay!”

On the other hand, what I hope is going on is something quite different. I would love to see Larry Craig try to clear his name at any cost, in defiance of Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP attack dogs who were so quick to turn on him.

By keeping the attention of the media, and the country, on his efforts to regain control of his reputation, he could turn the Republican Party, heading into the 2008 election season, into something very entertaining indeed.

The situation reminds me of the genre of movies where a protagonist spends the whole film trying to discern potential allies from those who are actually murderous, flesh-eating zombies – members of the Undead (who, of course, we know are actually dead!)

If Larry Craig is suspect, but continues to deny that he’s dead gay, then any of the Republicans are suspect too, even if we know they would deny that they are dead gay. The only way to know for sure is to always be ready to catch them feasting on human remains trolling for illicit sex in public bathrooms!

Could be a real thriller of a campaign season!

[Update] I don't usually get to gloat so soon (or ever, really), so I've got to add this new twist coming out today:
An ethics committee member, who spoke Thursday on background because of confidentiality rules, said it would be virtually impossible to conduct an investigation in a few weeks, and therefore the panel will not act if Craig resigns soon.
Small consolation though, because apparently my "hoped for" scenario ain't gonna happen!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How Stupid Would Californians Have to Be?

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I started wondering when the residents of my state elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as their Governor, but this poll on the recent proposal to split California’s electoral votes really has me worried:
The Field Poll found that 47 percent of registered voters back a change to California's system for electoral votes, with 35 percent opposed. Republicans generally support the change more than Democrats.

When pollsters explained the political implication that Democratic presidential candidates might lose some electoral votes under a proportional system, the numbers changed: 49 percent supported the change and 42 percent opposed it (my emphasis).
In-f**king-credible! You can argue for a national popular vote all you want, and I’ll be right there with you. But for any State with a clear majority of Democratic or Republican voters to consider a proposal like this, without having it apply equally to all other States, is patently ridiculous!

If you are a Californian who plans on voting Democratic in 2008, and you consider this a reasonable proposal, please consider the following “back of a napkin” analysis:

According to the most recent statistics, California has about 15.6 million registered voters and 55 electoral votes. That’s 285,000 voters per delegate. Currently, Republicans hold 19 congressional seats, so presumably this proposal would give those 19 delegates to the Republican candidate. That’s 19 x 285,000, or the approximate equivalent of 5.4 million votes.

If you are planning to vote Democratic in 2008, voting for this measure would potentially negate your vote, plus the votes of every other Democratic voter you have ever known, or will ever know, in your life! Hell, it would probably negate the votes of every Democratic voter you, or anyone else you know, will ever know in their lives! For most people, it would probably even go so far as to negate Kevin Bacon’s vote!

And the main argument presented in favor of the proposal – that it would increase California’s influence by encouraging candidates to campaign here? Absolute horseshit!!!

Consider that California currently has 55 electoral votes, and assume that under this proposal 19 of them would go to the Republican candidate, with the remaining 36 going to the Democratic candidate. If this measure were to pass, 19 Republican votes would cancel out 19 of the Democratic votes, leaving the state with the fifth largest economy in the world with the same electoral clout as the State of Michigan, which currently has 17 electoral votes; and exactly half of the electoral clout of the State of Texas, which currently has 34 electoral votes!

Any Democratic voter in California who even signs a petition to get this measure on the ballot deserves to be immediately lobotomized!

Not that I’m advocating lobotomies, mind you, because that would certainly increase the pool of Republican voters, and if this measure passes and the Republicans pick up another 6 congressional districts, California would be reduced to the electoral clout of the State of Utah!