Friday, December 3, 2010

#231 Returning Sooner or Later


... but most likely soon after the SUN reaches the point on the celestial sphere opposite the Summer Solstice (right ascension: 18 hours; declination:--23.5 degrees), at which the ecliptic is furthest south, the SUN appearing in the noontime sky at its lowest altitude above the horizon. See you then.

Likewise for Mosteller Musings.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

#230 The Bush/Obama War Exposed Again


Okay, back to Obama's War and the current counterpoint to Vietnam's My Lai Massacre, last entry. I posted the above atrocity back in April (DM #219-220), and I'll repeat it here, again courtesy of WikiLeaks, which gave it the headline "Collateral Murder." Scroll down to read, view, hear the whole abhorrent story of wanton civilian killage, including terminal child abuse by 30 mm aerial cannon fire.

Light 'em all up. Come on fire ... Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.

BECAUSE ... Wikileaks is in the news again TODAY, big time, as they have pulled a back-to-the-future "Pentagon Papers"-style coup of massive proportions, exposing over a period of a half-dozen years the blood-drenched futility of our doomed AfPak Adventure. The so-called "Afghan War Diary" is a compilation of 90,000 U.S. military records that "give a blow by blow account of unreported civilian killings as well as covert operations against Taliban figures"--what the British press has already characterized as "a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan." (See full AP story here.)

The earlier Wiki-"leak" above had its Keystone-Cop-esque consequences of its own--a la Vietnam Whistleblower Dr. Daniel "Pentagon Papers" Ellsberg forty years ago--early on as the alleged Leaker, one Army Spec. Bradley Manning, 22, was chased down and arrested in early June, and now faces 52 years in a military prison.

Meanwhile, the FOUNDER of WikiLeaks, an Australian bloke exotically named Julian Assange, has faced a virtual fatwa put on him by the Pentagon, ever since the "Collateral Murder" video surfaced. He's in virtual hiding. After Bradley's arrest, Ellsberg, himself a Vietnam Marine veteran who saw the light, recommended in an interview he'd best stay that way (here).

(Should it be at all surprising that events will continue to prove the incontrovertible parallels of the Middle East Wars with Vietnam?--as those in the know have known to be there all along.)

NOW, after Mr. Assange somehow got hold of an unbelievable 90,000 Pentagon documents and released them on WikiLeaks today, he'd best head for the wastes of the Outback. And find a Hussein Hole somewhere. For their content is altogether rather bad P.R. for the U.S. of A. Among other disclosures:

The leaked records include detailed descriptions of raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit called Task Force 373 against what the U.S. officials considered high-value insurgents and terrorist targets. Some of these raids resulted in unintentional killings of AFGHAN CIVILIANS, according to the documents. (AP)

For example: the AP cites one operation in June 2007 which "resulted in a death tally [!] that the U.S. military document said include SIX enemy fighters and SEVEN noncombatants--ALL CHILDREN." Shirts and skins ... the innocents win.

And the White House response to all this? The usual. It condemned the document disclosure, saying it "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk."

Good. The more the better in the righteous cause of getting us the hell out of there.
************

Sunday, July 11, 2010

#229 Good Libertarianism: On War


This is My Lai, but I make no apologies for throwing it up again as a reminder of the reality of interventionist foreign wars. We just never learn. If there's any doubt that America has gone "back to the future" and is now fully become the militaristic nation it was in the 60's and early 70's, it's should be dispelled by this recent headline and lead:

CASEY: U.S. COULD BE AT WAR ANOTHER DECADE--
General George Casey. the chief of Staff of the Army, said today the United States could face another "decade or so" of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. (CBS News 7-8-10 here)

A "decade or SO"!!!!!--welcome to the first half of the American 21st Century. To tangentialize a moment: this guy, George W. (!) Casey Jr., is 61 years old. He's a true "Junior" in that his father was also an army man, a First Cavalry Division commander shot down and killed in Vietnam in 1970. Son George Jr. was born in Korea, where his father was stationed during that ill-advised conflict, only one among ALL OF THEM since WWII, which is to this very day (check the news last month) an uneasy standoff, sixty years on, never having been won or lost. (This is in spite of the old joke that the M*A*S*H TV series lasted longer than the war it depicted. It really, and sadly, didn't) But the General is to the manner born, and his "siege mentality" would seem to be inbred. Isn't it nice to foresee one's security in the latter years of one's career, even unto retirement or death--no matter the tribute paid in thousands and thousands of human lives. In a former age Casey might have been called a warlord, if not surely a mercenary.

Listen, our bloated military-industrial complex, which Gen/Prez Eisenhower warned us about HALF a century ago, drains HALF the national treasury every year, and grabs HALF your annual Federal income taxes paid. Somebody's got to pay General Casey's salary. He mongers the war that he's getting paid to fight. A perpetual motion machine, if ever there was. But nothing new. And haven't they done a god job of it?! Afghanistan is now America's LONGEST WAR, finally surpassing Vietnam, its fraternal twin.

Yes, 50% of your annual tax bill goes to the misnamed "Defense" Department. Why aren't the self-proclaimed Taxed-Enough-Already/Tea Baggers on top of this? They should be all over it like white on angry old white men. Never comes up. Why?--because, also self-proclaimed, they are 80% Republicans, and that's just contrary to the party line. Convoluted irony of ironies: just last week, unlucky, incongruously-African-American RNC Chair, Michael Steele, got in trouble again for being a sleeper-cell Democrat, even though he was directly attacking the President! "It's Obama's War ... let's get the hell out"--or some such. This seriously brassed-off the foreign-interventionists of both parties, including even the anti-war faction of the Democrats, who would rather continue to blame the whole megilla on the two Bushes. They're right, but so too, at the same time, is Michael Steele.

It proves something else about the Tea Baggers. They are far from being classical Libertarians, at least in terms of what has always been a most important foundational pillar of the Party:

3.1 NATIONAL DEFENSE
We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to DEFEND the United States against aggression. The United States should both AVOID ENTANGLING ALLIANCES and abandon its attempts to act as POLICEMAN FOR THE WORLD. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

That comes right out of the Libertarian Party 2010 Platform (here), but is also right out of the Vietnam War and the American misadventures that followed, and are still going on. DEFENSIVE WARS ONLY, if you please. The platform righteously purloins the very terms another George W. used long ago--foreshadowing Ike many years later--"Beware foreign entanglements" of the military sort, said the Father of Our Country in his Farewell Address, and we wouldn't have to fight wars of any kind. We just never learn. (more)
************

Friday, July 9, 2010

#228 Have the Tea Baggers Killed Libertarianism?


In a "word," yes. Sadly, thanks to them, along with Fox News, Shock-Talk Radio. and wing-nut Congressional Republicans who have promoted and embraced them, it's a seven-syllable polymorpheme best buried in a time-capsule of good intentions.

I dasn't use it in mixed company anymore (ptui!), even when prefixed with "left"--as in Left Libertarian, my house-brand blend of the two Thomases: Jefferson's ideas of PERSONAL freedom and pursuit of happiness mixed well with Paine's SOCIAL consciousness that looks out for the freedom and happiness of others. Two sides of the same Libertarian coin, I've always believed, one dependent upon the other.

But, noooooo ... these creatures masquerading as historic Tea Party patriots are society's sociopaths, if anything, pariahs who will roundly cheer as millions of unemployed Americans, for example, were written off once again last week by the self-serving Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. This points up not only the extreme selfishness of these people toward their less-fortunate fellow-Americans, but also their incredible self-delusion--ironically to their own detriment For an overwhelming majority of economists on both left and right agree that the extension of unemployment benefits is best thing for the ailing economy right now. Unlike the "Bailouts" to basically middle-men of the Economy, unemployment money gets immediately back into the "free market" that the Tea Baggers purport to love so much.

Moreover, who in good conscience could want to be associated with political terminology that is, au courant, so thoroughly associated in the mind of the public, media-wise, with the likes of Tea Bag figurehead Sarah "The-Constitution-Is-Bible-Based" Palin; or KY primary-winner Rand "Dismantle-The-Civil-Rights-Act" Paul; or the highly-publicized, would-be Senator from AZ Sharron "No-Abortion-Even-For-Teenage-Incestuous-Rape-Victims" Angle? (The first and last baneful banshees fully answer the obvious question, "Does one need actual anatomical and sexually functioning BALLS to be a Tea Bagger?")

And I haven't even mentioned the pestiferous purveyors of Faux-News Tea-Bag/"Libertarian" propaganda like O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity, and Stossel. What right-minded (in the good way) person would want to be identified with these people? Or, heavens forfend, the odious Rush "Rant-Radio" Limbaugh, supporter and hero of every mother's Tea-Bagger son. They've ruined it for us all.

Pity, too ... because Libertarian ideals once offered such a nice alternative to the dysfunctional two-party monopoly of the Late-Sixties and Seventies. What was unique and defining in those days, and NOT shared by either/other political party in power, was the Libertarian position on TWO WARS--total opposition--going on at the time (and still going on): the Vietnam War and the War on Drugs. (Yeah, just replace Vietnam with Afghanistan--as if you didn't see that coming.) The former was destroying American lives overseas; the latter, here at home. Relevance right now, today? You betcha, gosh darn it--with apologies to you-know-who. (more)
************

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#227 Tea Baggers V--Sandbagging the Court


Eighty-percent of the Tea Baggers identify themselves as Republican; 100% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats in Congress (Southern Blue Dogs) are Republican; ergo: Socrates is a Tea Bagger.

That the Tea Bag "movement" (and you are free to assume cheap-shot connotations of the feculent kind in my use of that word) is an extension of the Republican Southern Strategy of racial hatred--especially as the 2010 elections start to heat up--we have only to look at the despicable attacks on the bete noir (literally) of school-desegregation, Thurgood Marshall, by way of his former law-clerk, Ellen Kagan.

The objections to this woman--it also doesn't hurt their bigoted cause that she's sexually "suspect," innuendo-wise--are shamelessly presented as "constitutional." She's linked to remarks that the late, great Supreme Court Justice and premier Civil Libertarian made about the founding document--that "as originally drafted and conceived" the Constitution was "defective." C'mon, of course it was. The Framers themselves knew that before the ink was dry on the original Articles. Result: the first ten amendments--the Bill of Rights--had to be solemnly promised before some of the States (like NC) would sign off on what might be called the "first draft" of the thing. More amendments would follow, including the 13th which abolished slavery, eliminating the major "defect" of the original, as everybody knows, and the one that Thurgood Marshall was talking about.

But it was upon the 14th that Thurgood rode to fame as a civil-rights lawyer for the NAACP. And Southern Strategists like the loathsome Jeff Sessions, Junior Senator from Alabama, who gave the Latina Sotomayer a racist going-over and once described the NAACP and other civil-rights groups as "un-American," doesn't want his Tea Bag constituents to forget that. As ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee (why is this former KKK sympathizer even allowed human congress, much less the halls of Congress?) he can do it, through Kagan. For under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment the good Justice Marshall had won Brown v. Board--the landmark Supreme Court (9-0) decision of 1954 desegregating public schools, a tipping point in American history that led to the Civil Rights Act (parts of which Tea Bagger Rand Paul would like to dismantle) ten years later, along with other anti-discrimination laws of recent times.

Local "color" sidebar: Thurgood's war is not yet won. Right here in Raleigh, Tea Bagger types from the suburbs and the predominantly white sections of town, supported by Americans for Prosperity and other radical-right-wing groups, helped take over the county school board (by a 5-4 margin) last year. The slim majority was able to vote out the decades-old "socio-economic diversity" (read: desegregation) policy that required some forced busing, and passed the euphemistic "neighborhood schools" (read: REsegregation) policy. The long-time, and beloved, Superintendent resigned in disgust. Protests began, sit-inners were arrested, NAACP and others filed a class-action suit. All this: ongoing and unresolved. Just like the good old days. Okay ... but obviously eternal vigilance on the part of right-thinking people is still required to preserve civil liberties for all our citizens. Especially when threatened by such strident and dangerous anti-social factions like the Tea Baggers.

And especially in deference to Independence Day just past, this writer GAGS (sorry) on their preferred moniker, Tea Partiers, as it represents a profound desecration of those brave and righteous acts of the freedom-fighters back in 1773 America. Good News, though. General approval of all that is Tea Bagging ... is flagging, so to speak. Always a minority, 39% of Americans (a drop, but still too high) view them favorably, while 50% of the population has an unfavorable view lately, according to a recent (post-Rand-Paul) WaPo/ABC poll (here). Even better news: there's now a strong disapproval rate among younger people. Only 27% of Americans 18-29 view the Tea Baggers favorably, while a healthy 60% don't. Things are beginning to look like--here's hoping--that they just might have to simply ... bag it.
************

Sunday, July 4, 2010

#226 Tea Baggers IV--One Malicious Bag Full


As in "Baa, Baa, BLACK sheep, have you any wool?" that is. Yes, lots of wool-gathering going on, i.e., lots of paranoid daydreaming amongst these rabble about how they were cheated out of the Presidency by the Democrats with of all things a Negro--nay worse: Mulatto--at their head. Not only is Washington controlled now by a bunch of secular communists who'd mingle the races and muddle the genders on the Supreme Court, but worse, these folk are Blacks, Jews, Latins themselves. That's what the Tea Baggers are all about.

Meet Dale Robertson, founder of TeaParty.org showing (along with his educational level) the organization's true "colors."

For when you take away their empty points of contention, the Tea Baggers true baggage is there to see. Out-and-out BIGOTRY. Nothing new, really. Just more violent and less covert (spitting, name-calling. signs like these or with monkey images) than the extension of the infamous Republican "Southern Strategy" to the McCain-Palin campaign of 2008 (see my DM #21, 45, 90). Now, not surprisingly, SHE'S at it again as the honorary (no, I didn't say titular, though tempted) pin-up girl of the Angry Old White Man movement.

(Maybe they're just Horny Old White Men at bottom, their angst generated by that primordial and subliminal FEAR of sexually-prowessed black men seducing lily-white virgins. Chief-of-State Obama has a beautiful African-American wife, but you never know when he'll stray outside the tribe and exercise his droight de seignior on some Caucasian wench. His father did it, after all.)

Bob Cesca has it just about right in his well-wrought HuffPost article on the Tea Bag Nation this March:

This isn't an epiphany by any stretch. From the beginning with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, "nigger, nigger, nigger!"

The latter fellow being that karmically-deceased architect of the forever un-dead, race-baiting Southern Strategy of the Reagan-Helms-Bush-Rove-Bush-McCain campaigns. Cesca goes on to say that when you "boil away all of the weirdness"--

... all of the nonsense and contradictions, there's nothing left except race. There's no other way to explain why these people were silent and compliant for so long, and only decided to collectively freak out when this "foreign" and "exotic" president came along and, right out of the chute, passed THE LARGEST MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUT IN AMERICAN HISTORY--something they would otherwise support, for goodness sake, it was $288 billion in tax cuts!--we're left to deduce no other motive but the ugly one that lurks just beneath the pale flesh, the tri-corner hats and the dangly tea bag ornamentation. (full article here)

Tea Bagger and WINNER of the KY Republican primary for the US Senate Rand Paul has since put the proof to it with his faux-Libertarian ideas about, in essence, re-segregating lunch-counters everywhere. Doesn't he know that the term is one half of the phrase, Civil Libertarian? (more)
************

Sunday, June 27, 2010

#225 Tea Baggers III--Empty Baggage


So, really, this is about all they've got. (Notice the Glenn Beck T-shirt.) Somewhat less than a null set.

But, okay, he's a Muslim. It's in his genes, of course. His father was not only guilty of the heinous crime of miscegenation, but of Islamization of the gamete. Don't these far-right religious Fundies know how good they've got it with Obama. He's altogether waaay too Christianist for most people who know better. Remember the President's more-than-cozy connection with the execrable Rev. Wright, and Candidate Obama's sucking up to the Prop #8 guy, Rick Warren. Or his continuation of Dubya's Christian-skewed,"faith-based" federal programs. Etc.

Okay, he's a Marxist too. He'd like to keep Social Security and Medicare the way they are, even though they represent precisely and socialistically this: "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need." We have a progressive income tax in this country--though right now at the lowest level (unfairly so), progressive-percentage-wise, in history. Substantial amounts of these revenues indeed go to those according to their need: the unemployed, unwell, and un-young. The retired folk among the Tea Bagging rabble accept this implicitly, even when they distractedly hold up a sign that reads, "Keep your gov't. hands off my Medicare." And don't they know, too, that 4o% of Americans get their paychecks, directly or indirectly, from public funding of one sort or another? Yes, we're downright Maoist.

Again, they don't know how good they've got it with the increasingly centrist and even--some would say--right-leaning Obama. Health Care Reform, because of far too many compromises, could be called a Republican and Big-Med victory in disguise. Same thing with the back-pedaled Financial Reform package. As for the Middle-East Wars, he's been cloning G. W Bush all along. This last being THE heartbreaking disappointment of an otherwise A-level game for our new President, for, against all odds, he has pretty well got the trains running on time, and in the right direction.

Likewise, the Tea BAGGERS' faux-historical nod to the original Boston Tea PARTIERS (lets all try to use the two terms to distinguish the latter from its illegitimate descendant), including the cute acronym T.E.A. = "Taxed Enough Already," won't wash either because

1) as mentioned already, these angry old white men are NOT being TAXED by some foreign power (oops, I guess they view Obama that way) across the pond, but by their duly elected local, regional, and federal REPRESENTATIVES whom they can, of course, vote in or out of office;

2) any and all taxes on personal income of Americans presently total a paltry 9.2%--the LOWEST SINCE HARRY TRUMAN (according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis);

3) as promised, 95% of Americans have seen their income taxes DECREASE under President Barack Obama--the BIGGEST TAX CUT SINCE RONALD REAGAN.

So where's the beef?--that is, beef? in either sense: substance ... none, valid complaint ... none. One thing is clear: there is certainly and a priorily NO connection at all with those "brave" tax-protesters of 1773, except perhaps in some little flamboyant costumery.

Ironically then, and fittingly too, the Tea Baggers' strongest link to any sort of external reality whatsoever is with that (now) infamous act of mutual oral/genital sex. (more)
************

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#224 Tea Baggers II--Mad Hatters


Yeah, they're nuts. And justifiably subject to ridicule, especially when the off-color connotations of "tea-bagging" became known to everybody but apparently themselves. Pundits on the left turned punsters quickly enough, making fun of TB slogans like "Lick the Liberals" and , of course, their incredibly-named leader, former congressman Dick Armey. Irony overdose. And visual puns too: look at this typical Bagger with tea-sack dangling from his "cocked" tri-corner hat. Even Rachel Maddow missed that little treasure trove of paronomastic fun.

My favorite is Bill Maher's quip of some months ago (can't locate exactage) that went something like this: "The Tea Baggers have taken something meant to be loving and beautiful [the oral-genital thing] and turned it into something ugly and hateful." As their pseudo-Libertarian darling Rand Paul proved with his Jim Crow remarks last week.

Point is ... you can throw all of the Tea Bag outrage "into a cock'd hat." And it would still be devoid of content. The original thought no doubt was to compare the Boston Tea Party protests of 1773 against the Tea Act, which imposed import duties/taxes that the colonists opposed. But since they were unrepresented in the British parliament, they had nothing to do with it's imposition, nor did they have the means, other than strenuous petition and boycott, to repeal it. Taxation without representation, and all that. The historical analogy is nothing more than mad-hattery around a crazy tea-table of empty cup-rattlers. (Whew.)

We're verging on almost geologic time here, I know, but for well over a hundred years the colonists had been PAYING various and sundry TAXES voted on and imposed by duly elected LOCAL and independent representatives of the separate colonies. The British were actually very enlightened imperialists in this respect. And 99% of "Americans" before the 1760s were proud to be called "Englishmen" because of it. (Incidentally--can't resist--the legendary call-to-arms for Lexington and Concord, "The British are coming!" ... "The British are coming!" would not have made sense. Everybody was British. More likely the word, if any, was "Regulars" or "Redcoats")

Here are the important differences. First of all, and most obviously: the Tea Baggers ARE REPRESENTED. Local and federal taxes are imposed by their/our elected officials. Duh. But the original Tea Partiers decidedly WEREN'T represented when it came to Parliament, and had no say-so nohow about any of those additional taxes/duties voted upon way across the pond and executed by His Majesty's gub'mint. Except in the that one fulminatory case, ALL of these were repealed during that contentious decade and, to be fair, the rate of taxation was minuscule, especially when compared to what residents of Great Britain had had to pay all along.

The Motherland was heavily in debt, due to the long war with Napoleonic France, some 0f which was fought on American soil. Just ask Col. G. Washington about that. Somebody had to pay for this expensive overseas war, and who better than the Afghans--sorry, colonial Americans--whom the British had been protecting from those nasty French and Indians. (Feel free to substitute Taliban. We never learn.)

But King George et alia decided finally to make a stand at the Tea Act. Big mistake. And the rest is history. (more)
************

Sunday, May 23, 2010

#223 Tea Baggers-- A Dirty Joke


After my two-week "spring-break" it's time to get back to some politics. The subject if this post was already in the hopper, when, behold, it has now exploded upon the national headlines in a new light--a light last week that exposes them in their true colors--with the primary-election of Republican Rand Paul of KENTUCKY. Just love these cosmic connections--because this poster-boy for the Tea Baggers is now called by many, by reason of his Jim-Crow, anti-civil-rights views, the "Kentucky Fried Candidate."

So I bring up these execrable beings for several reasons, not the least is that Mark Morford did (DM #221), and he compared them invidiously with that culinary masterpiece called the KFC Double Down. I feel protective. That aside, I'll just go ahead and agree--and make it a "double-down" bet for sure--that the so-called Tea Party "movement" (the scatological possibilities are endless) is the worst, gag-reflexive, vomit-inducing thing that has come down the tract, or back up, reverse-peristalsis-wise, since the John Birch Society.

But wait, those knuckle-draggers have already joined the Tea Baggers. Go ahead, lift up the fundament-bestained coattails of the latter and you'll see other racist rabble, including the anti-Semitic Lyndon LaRouchies and the white-separatist Council of Conservative Citizens scuttling about in the dark. In fact, none other than that Sta-Puf-Boy of the right wing, Karl Rove hisveryownself, has warned Republicans to "disassociate" themselves from this movement if it continues to prominently attract other such "cranks and conspiracy nuts"--
This includes 9/11 deniers, "birthers" who don't believe Obama was born in the U.S., and militia supporters espousing something vaguely close to armed rebellion. (WSJ 2-19-10)

But at least these creatures have a cause in common with Republicans. They don't like black people very much. Or most any other variously-colored Americans but white. Especially those people of color who recently had the "audacity" (Obama's apt word from his book) to take over the gub'ment of these United States. That's really what the Tea Baggers are all about, Kentucky-fried to a turn, and proven time and time again, at rally after rally. The N-word flies freely, and sometimes spit. And without this, they are rebels without a cause at all. The rest is bogus.

Take the name, "Tea Bagger" They're all drama-queenly offended by it now, reacting almost as if N-worded ... but they started it. I make much of this for the following reasons. First, these folk are so CLUELESS as not to know--or not to have anyone in their ranks who knew or could do a little research in the Urban Dictionary to find out--that the term is used in oral-sexual parlance to describe the placing of the man's scrotum in the mouth of his partner. Well, everybody knows it now (including me). But April 15-"Tax-Protest-Day" a year ago you had lily-white, little-old-ladies-in-tennis-shoes with tea bags festooning their hats running around with signs reading, "Tea Bag the Fools in D.C." and "Tea Bag the Liberal Dems before They Tea Bag You." Meanwhile, conservative pundits like Neil Cavuto and Charles Krauthammer had been blithely throwing around the term all of last year. (See Crooks and Liars 5-6-10)

Point is--as Forrest Gump's mama used to say, "Stupid is as Stupid does"--they rather embarrassingly mucked-up the title of their own organization right of the bat. It's only symptomatic. Except for their bigotry and racism, which has a kind of despicable logic, the public, sanitized reasons behind their "protests" are similarly moronic and, moreover, utterly without foundation. But these ignorant and hate-filled folk are a clear and present danger to all of us, nonetheless. (more)
************

Sunday, May 9, 2010

#222 Sloth


Yeah, this glorious summer-like weather has got to me, I guess. More to do than just write web-log entries ... or less. Can't hope to compete literally with those other "diurnals" in the blogosphere by the likes of Tina Brown or Markos Moulitsas, anyway. Or John Stewart on TV for that matter. I'd have to hire a staff. (Make your contributions payable to my nonprofit organization, Concerned Americans for Superior Homeblogs, by simply making out your check to C.A.S.H.)

It's been too late to re-title ever since I began this blog two years ago, and lately its twin. So look at "daily" this way: current posts and the wonderful archival treasures can be read at any time of day or night. By sunlight, even. Most often the bloggage is produced during daylight hours as well, co-terminus pretty much with my circadian bio-rhythms, too. The latter (and quite recent) compound-coinage is, by the bye, almost pure Latin: circa = "about" + diem (acc. sing. of dies = "day"), modified slightly for adjectival use. Aha. Now there would have been the ideal mast-head: The Circadian Mosteller--i.e., "about" or "approximately" daily. Too late, alas.

So much to write about--and lately it seems, as Hamlet said, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions"--yet sometimes ... you gotta just "hang."
************

Thursday, April 29, 2010

#221 Mark Morford Un-Foodied but Tasty


Since I picked on him peckishly a couple of weeks ago over at Mosteller Musings, let me give this SFGate guy a soupcon of time on this more topical/polemical wing of the family bloggerage. Though wildly off-menu in his food-nannyism about the "toxic zoo" at left (MM #48-50), Mark Morford doth rant often and well about other issues of more consequence, and closer to my heart ... in the non-cardio sense.

An opportunity for him to do so was afforded last week by the explosive reaction to that same anti-KFC-Double-Down article I attacked. The respondents to Morford's original column were overwhelmingly in support, of course, except for a "few oxygen-deprived souls" who only weakly (out of fan-loyalty, I must suppose) suggested to him that the Colonel's sandwich just wasn't all that bad, and that there were "far worse things out there" to get his animus animated about. No, no, says he to those few: you've missed the more important,"larger picture" (told you so). And here he admits to his true target(s) all along:

... all the pollution, animal abuse, INDUSTRIAL FARMING, chemicals, synthetic, antibiotics, hormones and just plain insidiousness of a company [losing syntax in mid-rant] concocting something this greasy and disgusting in the modern age. (full article here)
But while he's at it, okay, Why not admit rhetorically that there are indeed "those things that are worse for you than KFC's fistful of karmic hate"--and get some of them off his chest? So the remainder of "37 Things Worse Than a KFC Meatwich" does just that.

But first, a moment with Industrial Farming. If, Mr. Morford, saving the lives of millions of CALORIE-deprived souls around the world is of any consequence, then scientific agri-business must continue going about its business for years and years to come. Cute little organic "victory" gardens in everybody's utopian backyard--which even so canny a food-pundit as Michael Pollan seems to get misty-eyed about--just ain't gonna feed the SIX BILLION people, and counting, on Planet Earth. Thanks to "industrialization," the developed countries, including mainly us, have indeed been able SHARE our surplus groceries with the rest of the world. Moreover, our friendly neighborhood supermarket offers the most inflation-resistant, bargain-priced product you can buy in these hard economic times, or any other time for that matter. So very, very fortunately--think about it--it's THE product we can't live without.

However, here is a buffet of Morford's top seven, a tasty mix the sublime and the ridiculous, which I've seasoned with a sampling (in quotes) of his pungent prose:

1. Tea Parties. A recent rally featuring Sarah "Queen of Duh" Palin reminded him of the Lollipop Guild serenading Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz"-- "that bizarre acid-trip of a scene ... the moment just before a very stoned Dorothy skips away to hook up with her crazy gay pals and traipse through a giant Pink Floyd album, the moment when those three adult dwarves stumble out of the Munchkinland horde wearing little kid outfits, and sing their little surly song, replete with surly, out-of-sync leg spasms." Nicely done.

2. Floating garbage. Referring to that recently reported and news-piced "giant, rancid, thousand -mile swath of plastic collected over a period of years in a huge swirling vortex and choking off sea-life as far as the eye can weep." No bun needed.

3. Military spending. No argument from me, of course, about that vomit-inducing 53% of our annual tax bill. "We have the largest, most bloated war machine in the world. We SELL more guns, tanks, jets, and warheads to more dictators, regimes, and drug cartels than anyone on the planet. Are your local schools crumbling? Public hospitals failing? Entire state dumber than Glenn Beck's fact-checker? Blame the military ..."

4. Miley Cyrus. The ridiculous.

5. The Catholic Church. Worthy of quoting his full, sardonic treatment: "Sure, sure, the Double Down will enrage your colon, toxify your blood, disfigure your heart, greasify your skin, shrivel your genitalia, and dumb you down to the level of slug shoelace. But that's nothing compared to 2,000 years of abuse, lies, oppression, lack of sunshine and dead leathery skin that accompanies handing over your soul to the sinister clan of old men who run the Vatican. As for the Pope, well, it would appear the "holiest" man in the Christian empire cares more about PR than child rape. You know, just like Jesus wanted." More from me about all of that in a later post.

6. "Jersey Shore." For him it's the TV version of the Double Down, I guess. Why has Morford risked his gastro-intestinal health by watching even a moment of it?--one might ask. I suppose it's meant to be , like Miley Cyrus, another example of America's Double-Down-and-out sense of TASTE.

7. Republicanism. No argument here either. For me, the once proud party of Lincoln has become a weird religious cult of cold-eyed shamans leading a bunch of wild-eyed Kool-Aiders. For Mark Morford, the party "has devolved into a shrill, shrieking puddle of Glenn Beck's crocodile tears, Rush Limbaugh racists and surly white men who hate the fact that you might [in future?] have decent access to health care, can marry someone you love, and don't hate [as the Republicans do at present?] everything and everyone not inbred near a Texas football stadium." (The guy's rhetorical outrage doth betimes befuddle the plot of his sentences.)

8-37. Here he fudges. Morford put out a call on his FaceBook fan-page for suggestions to finish out his 37 "non-food items deemed far worse for you than a KFC Double Down." Check 'em out. They too range from the important to the inane--from Ann Coulter to a dioxin enema, from the Bible to unprotected bestiality (?!). Fun readage.

Okay, Mark Morford, time's up. I guess I'm a fan, too, because ... De gustibus non est disputandum. And you can Double-Down on that.
************

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

#220 IrAfPak--"Death to America"


Ah, Kandahar ... land of the pomegranate and the palm- and/or ballistic-grenade (see DM #154-156 for a fulsome rhapsode on that strange fruit's metaphorical and combatical implications) ... you EXPLODE upon the headlines once again--this time in the CIVILIAN MURDER department, apropos of last several posts. We just can't get enough of "takin' pot-shots at the Gooks."

Here's Monday's AP/HuffPost lead:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan--Afghans burned tires and chanted "Death to America" after U.S. TROOPS FIRED ON A CIVILIAN BUS near Kandahar, killing four people and wounding more than a dozen. Afghanistan's president [Hamid Karzai] accused NATO of violating its commitment to safeguard civilian lives. (full report here)
Ah, Kandahar ... of once-lovely place and vowelicious name, you threaten us with irony-overdose. Yes, you are the land of luscious pomegranate and lush-full opium-poppy, but also the fertile spawning-ground of the Taliban, and its major stronghold. You are also the birthplace of "democratically elected" Hamid Karzai, a former/major Talib himself, and will be once again, easily, if things don't go his way. For the execrable Mr. Karzai, as for all his Sunni-Pashtun brothers, Taliban or not, it's simply a matter of power-politics. Party affiliation, no more no less.

Hence the intractable, ultimately irresolvable problem--and why we must get the hell out--put in simple terms and Haiku-form for ease of memorization :

WE KILL CIVILIANS EVERY DAY,
AND SO DO THEY,
BUT THAT'S OKAY.
... because they're "one of us." The Americans, on the other hand, are the murderous foreigners, no matter the "collateral" justification. It was the non-overcome-able problem in Vietnam, and so it is in Pashtunwaliland. The awful fact is that NO AMOUNT of internecine slaughter-of-the-innocents by the Taliban will ever counter-balance the HATRED these people have for us infidel invaders--hatred, in microcosm, that can translate to a father (a Karzai-gov't employee who got off scot-free) stomping his daughter to death for fraternizing with a British soldier (DM #127 and ad nauseum).

All the innocent bloodshed is reflexively blamed on "America." Listen to this Afghani implicitly absolving the militants of any responsibility:

"The Americans are CONSTANTLY KILLING OUR CIVILIANS and the government is not demanding an explanation," protester Mohammed Razaq said. "We demand justice from the Karzai government and the punishment of those soldiers responsible."
Or this one:

"These FOREIGNERS have their enemies [someone/somehow or other], but killing Afghans is not the answer," said Abdul Hadi ... "Better yet, I would like to see them LEAVE Afghanistan," he added.
So might it just be possible that the following contains a grain of truth?--

The attack ... DEALT A FRESH BLOW to U.S. and NATO efforts TO WIN POPULAR SUPPORT [???!!!] for a coming offensive to drive the insurgents from the biggest city in the south. (AP 4-12-10)
The City of Pomegranates, Kandahar the Beautiful.
************

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

#219 Another "Fatal Vision" UPDATE--Video


Well, Karzai is still threatening to turn the color of his coat, and now yesterday exploding in the media is more damning evidence of "collateral murder"--WikiLeaks' headline--in our occupied territories. I'll admit to sensationalizing a bit when I anchored a post last week with a classic photo of the My Lai Massacre, but, really, so little has changed. And this video just come to light from 2007 Iraq proves it.

Reuters had been trying to get the scoop on on why two of their Iraqi journalists (arrows) among a totally non-combatant group of men were inexplicably killed in an attack by an American gunship. And, wow, did they finally get a scoop. It's fuzzy here, but quite clear in the full video, photographed and narrated by the killers themselves--"Light 'em all up. Come on, fire"--that we still can't resist "taking potshots at the Gooks" four decades after Vietnam. "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards," says one hero after the fact.

(See three versions of the WikiLeaks video/audio here, along with commentaries.)

All these guys in the picture are strafed and eventually killed. A wounded Saeed Chmagh tries to crawl away to safety but is sky-stalked and re-strafed. That's gut-wrenching enough, but here's the heart-breaker: an "innocent" van pulls up ... adult jumps out ... looks up at gunship ... proceeds anyway to rescue one of the wounded ... both strafed and killed ... gunner asks permission to open fire on van ... permission granted ... van strafed.

Moments after the attack was over, ground troops report to the gunship that there are TWO CHILDREN in the bullet-riddled van, now lying severely wounded by the helicopter's 30 mm cannon fire. Still on video and audio, one of the crewmen responsible for just killing their father responds:

Well, it's their fault bringing their kids to a battle.
************

Sunday, April 4, 2010

#218 IrAfPak: Obamas Fatal Vision IV--the Kids Again

But first, an I-told-you-so, news-flash update: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai Threatens To Switch Sides"--scream the headlines today. If his political situation doesn't improve, he and his minions may do what comes naturally, and turn their coats. Nothing new. Scroll down and take another look (#216) at those stolid guerrillas of a hundred years ago, turning on their British allies.

Karzai was once a staunch Talib, after all. And like them, a hard core Sunni-Muslim-Sharia-Pashtunwali-Tribal Pashtun. The Taliban may be a little stricter in their practice of of Sharia Law--cutting off heads instead of hands, and blowing up Buddhas--but they throw no fewer stones at an adulterous woman to get the deadly job done. They represent NOT some invading army--as I'm sure vast numbers of naive Americans believe--but an indigenous political movement borne out of reaction to foreign encroachment, and dedicated, in their militant-insurgent incarnation, to driving the Big-Boy Imperialists out. That's us, no matter how much we try to propagandize otherwise. We kill kids just like the Taliban do.

But let it be said, as ad nauseum I have: the adults aren't worth it in the first place. Not nice people. (I won't repeat it again, but for a refresher-in-microcosm revisit the father-murders-daughter story, DM #176) Our Vietnamese allies had at least entered the nineteenth-century in terms of cultural progress and (almost) social justice. These folk are no more than benighted barbarians emergent from some worm-hole-in-time connected to the fourteenth. Like the rest of the Middle East. Setting aside 9-11, if they weren't connected tangentially to the Great Oil Debacle that IS the Middle East, we would look at the AfPak-Pashtun people, if at all, with little more than scorn or pity.

However, the sins of the fathers must not be visited upon the children. Keep in mind a statistic that I will repeat: WE KILL TWICE AS MANY CIVILIANS as the "enemy" does. Their devious suiciders just can't top infantry operations and air strikes (incl. robo-planes) for killing innocent people. The child pictured above was caught in the latter. There is simply NO WAY to avoid it if the Bush/Cheney approach is followed by President Obama, and it seems to be. A military "solution" will NEVER "gain the loyalty of the people," much less "bring the insurgents to the negotiating table" (last post). How breathtakingly absurd is that direct quote?

If innocent "collaterals" are not killed or wounded willy-nilly from the sky, they're simply gunned-down deliberately. In a New York Times article ignored by other mainstream media, Obama's "man-on-the-ground" General Stanley McChrystal admits as much:

We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.
Great P.R. The article as redacted by HuffPost (here) continues:

According to the military's own figures, American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but as McChrystal noted, NONE OF THE VICTIMS PROVED TO BE A DANGER TO THE THE TROOPS. [Called in Vietnam: "taking potshots at the Gooks"]

Despite new rules put in place by McChrystal, aimed at REDUCING [not eliminating] THE KILLING OF INNOCENTS, such shootings have not dropped off. Although fewer than deaths from air-strikes or Special Forces operations, their continuance ... "has led to GROWING RESENTMENT among Afghans fearful of Western troops and angry at what they see as the impunity with which the troops operate--a friction that has TURNED VILLAGES FIRMLY AGAINST THE OCCUPATION."

So ... "Who ya gonna call?" The Taliban, of course. They're "one of us," after all, might reason the Afghan villager who has just lost a little daughter in an air-strike, or heard of Mohammed Yonus, a local teacher whose chest was ripped open by shots fired from a passing military convoy as his two sons sat in the bullet-riddled car (NYT). And the Taliban's WAR CRIMES, he might further think to himself, are no worse than the Americans'.
************

Saturday, April 3, 2010

#217 IrAfPak: Obama's Fatal Vision III--Troops and People


I know ... this is My Lai. But the parallels between Vietnam and IrAfPak get stronger every day, and that's no easy thing, considering that they were well-nigh INDISPUTABLE from the beginning! It's baffling, frankly, why Obama has stepped full-booted into this quagmire, and taken now a majority of Congress and the American people (by a slim margin lately) mucking along behind him. After all, Wasn't he a scholar/teacher (who should know better) before he became a politician?--oops ... I just answered my own question. Besides, I forgot that every U.S. President since WWII but Jimmy Carter has gotten foreign blood on their hands. It gets in their blood somehow, and they've killed foreigners so well, and in so many lovely countries.

This is why it's axiomatic, I guess, that "The United States of America does not quit, once it starts on something [like its very favorite] ... We will prevail." Or so saith President Johnson--oops again ... Obama--to his contract-killers at Bagram. More to arrive soon. And BE killed ... it's only fair. From the same AP report (here) cited in last post:

In total, 57 U.S. troops were killed here during the first two months of 2010, compared with 28 in January and February of last year, an increase of more than 100 percent, according to Pentagon figures ... at least 20 American service members have been killed so far in March, an average of about 0.8 per day [eight-tenths of a human-being on the general's clipboard--love it], compared to 13, or 0.4 per day a year ago [not counting the winged and wounded, maimed, and mangled, due to the spike in roadside sniper-attacks and IEDs].
That's the good news; here's the bad:

U.S. officials have warned that casualties are likely to RISE EVEN FURTHER as the Pentagon completes its deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and sets its sights on the Taliban's [read: those "other" Pashtuns] home base of Kandahar province, where a major operation is expected [or maybe not?] in the coming months.

"WE MUST STEEL OURSELVES, no matter how successful we are on any given day, FOR HARDER DAYS YET TO COME" [who is this retro-jingoist?] Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing last month.
The rhetoric is bone-chillingly THE SAME that we heard forty-odd years ago about Vietnam. Listen to this language:

... the Taliban [Viet-Cong] continue to plant bombs [we do it by air] at night and intimidate the locals, and the hardest part of the operation is yet to come: building an effective local government that can WIN OVER THE LOYALTY [insert "hearts and minds" here, in the Viet-speak of LBJ/McNamara] OF THE PEOPLE.
But there's "light at the end of the tunnel"--

The goal of both operations is to put enough PRESSURE on the Taliban [who live and die for it] to FORCE THEM TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE [how about in Paris?] to work out a POLITICAL SETTLEMENT to end the war ... "Until they [the opposition, but Afghans just the same] transition to that mode, then we will have fighters ready to take shots at us and plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices), said Lt. Col. Calvert Worth Jr., commanding officer of the 1st battalion, 6th Marines Regiment in central Marjah.
Translation: they're winning. As insurgents always will. Point is ... no matter the outcome, EVERY DAY IS A DEFEAT in an unjust war. Eight-tenths of an American soldier per day are eight too many tenths. And might even prove fatal. Meanwhile, innocent civilians are dying by the whole numbers. (more)
************

Thursday, April 1, 2010

#216 IrAfPak: Obama's Fatal Vision II--Troops and Tribes


But "The United States of America does not quit, once it starts on something ... " said the President. Neither do these redoubtable fellows pictured at right, Pashtuns ready to turnabout and give a good sniping to their British ALLIES (against the Russians once again) ... ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO. (See DM #197--love this painting. They are as staunch and immovable as the ancient boulder next to them.) The watchwords have forever been "keep the foreign bastards the hell outta here" (in Pashto), no matter who, and with whomever business is being done at the time. So it goes, still, in this Graveyard of Empires.

And yet we stay. For the "Afghan" people? No such thing, not even geographically. The Pashtuns themselves spill over into the implacable borderlands of AfPak and beyond. Occupying other areas are such ethnic groups as the Uzbeks and Tajiks (and more) with their own sub-multiplicity of tribes, and centuries-old tribal laws and traditions. The Pashtuns have simply outnumbered them historically within the artificial, surveyor-tape boundaries of what we now call Afghanistan. What has kept peace amongst them is their bedrock hatred of outsiders--unless trader-types just passing through on the ancient Silk/Opium Road. Nevertheless, the President would have his troops believe that

If this REGION slides backwards ... if the Taliban retakes this COUNTRY , the al-Qaida can operate with impunity; then more American lives will be at stake; the AFGHAN PEOPLE will lose their opportunity for PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY; and the world will be significantly less secure. As long as I'm your commander in chief, I'm not going to let that happen. (AP story again)
After several moments of stunned silence, the assembled troops burst into a mixture of jeers, razzberries, and hearty guffaws, while some were seen putting sidearms to their heads and clicking away furiously. Or running for the exits. It's April 1 ... but don't I wish.

As reported, the other pressing reason for Obama's visit was to drag President Karzai to the woodshed and give him a few retributive licks for the CORRUPTION and FRAUD (like in elections) blighting his puppet government. In the true tradition of Vietnam. Well, "Prosperity is just fine with us, Mista Obama, but progress?" To dysquote the string-puller. The woodshed dialogue might have continued thus:

Listen, when you leave, and if we're still standing, fuhgeddabout this democracy shit [a Pashto word] you've imposed on us. We'll always be governed by our ancient, pre-Islamic "Pashtunwali," the tribal code-of-life, now merged with Sharia law and adopted by even the non-Pashtuns under our control. What's a little fraud, to preserve these sacred principles? Besides, they're your rules, not ours. One more thing: stay away from our women, or we'll kill them.
And so for all this, the war escalates and the death-toll rises. "The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010, compared to same period last year," according to Pentagon figures, and we can expect a further increases in the dead and wounded--a very high rate for the latter because of IED's and the SNIPING that the Pashtuns, no matter whose side they're on at the time, have had so many years to perfect--a natural result 30,000 more troops yet to come. (AP story here)

So it follows--guess what--that the militants, to make a point, might just want to kill and maim as many more of the new guys as they can! No kidding, this is how one Pentagon spokesman tries euphemistically to describe the coming mayhem: "a reaction by an enemy to a new force presence." The soon-to-be-dead Americans have a space already assigned on his clipboard. (more)
************

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#215 IrAfPak: Obama's Fatal Vision


"The United States of America does not quit, once it starts on something. We will prevail ..." said their Commander-in-Chief to 2500 troops at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, during a "surprise" visit this week. His words must also have come as a surprise to any students of History in Obama's audience.

"But what about Vietnam, Mr. President?" one might have shouted. No, these were loyal troops, "fighting for our freedoms," as their mothers would have insisted halfway around the world. The President and former scholar/teacher (no less) might have have responded, at apparently an advanced stage of his denialism: "There's a huge difference ... and I'll think of it in a minute--but, soldier, you're comparing the two?! Look here, we sent more 50,000 of you people to their deaths in Southeast Asia; we haven't hit 1000 here in Afghanistan, and not quite 5000 for the whole Middle East megilla. Apples and oranges. Long way to go yet, men."

"I'm a woman, Sir. But let me follow up with: What then, or whom, are we fighting for?" This is how Obama put it, un-asked, to the troops (not a made-up quote):

Your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America's safety and security ... Those folks back home are relying on you. We can't forget why we're here ... We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al-Qaida and its extremist allies. (AP story here)
Some in the audience might well have been frozen in "The Two-thousand Yard Stare" (Tom Lea's WWII painting used once before in DM #185 "The Middle-East Quagmire"), if it weren't for the generic hoopla erupting after the President's gung-ho pep-talk.

No one to point out for the Head Honcho that these "extremist allies" are Afghans too--Talibans only militarily (in the mujaheddin tradition) with their own cadre of foreigners helping out minimally (al-Quida) to kick out those other foreigners--but otherwise they are non-Arab Pashtuns ethnically, Sunni Muslims religiously, and (like us, ironically) Indo-Europeans linguistically, just as is current President Hamid Karzai and his government. They were all true-blue Talibans only a few years ago. When we were Talibans too! Everybody is fighting everybody else, including themselves. These subtleties may have been lost on Obama's audience. Best to stick with "Kill al-Qaida!" (more)
************

Sunday, March 28, 2010

#214 Victory Choo-Choo III--"Foreign" KIds


And that includes our own.

But first, kudos to President Obama for signing yet another installment of the Nuclear Arms treaty with the Russkies--it's been twenty years--which reduces by 50% the 95% of all nuclear weaponry on earth "controlled" by us and them. Let's see ... that adds up to only 100% M.A.D. left to go. Not to mention the other 5% (un)controlled by mutually-assured, destructive madmen.

However, let's by all means keep up those symbolic gestures toward global peace, wheel-spinning though they are in real terms. Hey, our children won't be vaporized in a future nuclear war after all; they'll just keep dying in the good-old-fashioned, untidy way. More on that in a minute.

But talk about symbolic value! The US/Russia accord, signed after a year or so of intense negotiation (we're told) lends further credence, however belated, to Obama as Doer. Say what you might, and I have, Could our "new" President ever be accused, even by the wildest-eyed wing-nut, of NOT workin' his ass off at the job?! Consider this: two "master strokes" of the pen, involving THE two major areas of concern for any President--domestic policy with Health Care, and foreign relations with the Nuke Treaty. And it was all done with rather a flourish, both signings coming within days of each other.

The President IS on on roll, no doubt about it. Polls are up already this week. Can all this can be of much-needed help for foreign kids here at home, and those abroad?

YES for Immigration Reform. There were rallies all over the state of North Carolina last week (in conjunction with a general "march" on D.C.) protesting the need for more humane laws for "illegals"--especially in alleviating the plight of their children, who had absolutely no choice in ending up here, and their access to main-stream health care, educational opportunities, and gainful employment. Being an undocumented alien himself--well, Obama has certainly been singed by the flames of bigotry and xenophobia in that regard--he and the Congress should now be able to get something done.

Especially poignant at the Raleigh rally were testimonies from two young men of Hispanic heritage (yes, this is really what it's all about) just ready to graduate at the top of their high-school class. Outlook for college: bleak or non-existent. Our otherwise outstanding Community College system, for example, recently restored their right to matriculate (a long story, fraught with the usual prejudices), but these guys will still have to pay out-of-state tuition (that was the "compromise") at about three times the rate of in-state, even though they've been here virtually all their lives. Not fair. And they were well-spoken (perfect English naturally), intelligent young men whom I couldn't help compare with some of the inarticulate free-riders on NC State's and Duke U's basketball teams, interviewed at about the same time on the same local channel. "March" madness all around.

NO for IrAfPak. Because Obama's on the wrong side here, simply. Bite my tongue, but this fatal flaw will end up making him an LBJ--grudgingly remembered for his history-making domestic programs (Civil Rights, Medicare, etc.), but cursed forever for his foreign policy disasters. Lest we forget, President Johnson was responsible for the death, disfigurement, and dislocation of millions of people. Including innocent children, of course. Sound familiar? Look at it this way: for last-President Bush, Iraq is already on record as HIS Vietnam. No win. A bloody fraud of a war, and still going on. Moreover, to understate, he had less than zero domestic accomplishments to counterbalance it. Thanks to his inept and self-serving helmsman-ship we're still "underwater" in more ways than one. Obama will fix that I think, the way things are going, but When will he come to realize that the whole Middle East theater is now his very own Vietnam? And, so far, he's Bush.

It's so very, very lucky that Obama got some sort of health-care reform passed. And I'm sure there will be more social-justice measures on the books before too long. But JUST A WEEK AGO he was in real danger of becoming another G.W. Bush--rightfully ranked as the worst President ever-- failing not only on the foreign, but on the domestic front as well. Now if Obama would only stop killing kids overseas.
************

Saturday, March 27, 2010

#213 Victory Choo-Choo II---More Kids


"Suffer the little children to come unto ..." Obama and the newly motile Congress, for suffering enough hath come unto them, yea and verily-wise. Much still needs to be done--NEWS FLASH: as of this verily moment the Prez is trying to keep a roof over the heads of millions of them--but before we get into that and bank-fraud and unemployment and immigration and other things that need fixing if only for the sake of our kids, let me say one more word about the HCR Act ... and the kids.

Surprised to learn after a little more research--'tis an Act of Many Pages--that, besides the crucial OUTLAWING of the pre-existing-condition thing and EXTENDING coverage to age 26 (which would presumably get the most indolent of offspring through college and a little beyond), the new law provides for a comprehensive WELLNESS program for children in conjunction with pediatricians and appropriate health providers. Is this not RELIEF abounding for parents?! Or parents to be? The particulars are a bit complicated, so I'll refer you to an approving summary by Dr. Judith Palfrey, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, here.

She's just one, by the bye, of the the vast majority of medical people and health organizations ("A.M.A." says it all) who've been behind Obamacare--even when it had Public Option so named--since the beginning. Once again: if Republicans and Blue Dogs want to run their 2010 campaigns AGAINST all of this, my advice would be on the order of "suicide is painless," as the old M*A*S*H theme-song would have it.

Point is ... President Obama's on a roll and knows it. So immediately after passage of the HCR Act, he was hard at work bringing aid and comfort to millions of home-owning families hoodwinked by bank-fraud or crippled by the unemployment epidemic that Wall Street and the Big Banks are responsible for in the first place. Some sort of "mortgage relief" will be put in place to avoid the horrors of FORECLOSURE for parents who face the prospect of homelessness for themselves and their children. (NYT here)

And speaking of the Great Recession, efforts to get us out of it and avoid it happening again should gain momentum on the coattails of the HCR victory. Maybe the Congressional Democrats will start doing what the American people put in them in the majority to do. Really, since 2006. And if you please, forget the phantom of bipartisanship. Doesn't exist for the "Hell no!" party, as recently dubbed by Sarah Palin. The so-far dystesticular Dems have now got a proven hero in Obama, and my goodness can it be so hard to give him back essentially the same REGULATIONS for the economic sector that the Reagan era took away?--which was the root-cause of our recent financial almost-apocalypse. And millions of kids on the street, or sold for medical research.

Finish regulating Wall Street and the "Too-big-to-fail" Banks; put the new Consumer Protection Agency in place; meanwhile above all get JOBS for the parents of these kids. That's the Obama/Congress agenda, post-HCR. The unemployment crisis is most distressing right now for most Americans, say the polls. Specifically, we need about 11 million new jobs just to get back on track and stay about even. The Obama team and Congress are working on so-called "jobs bills" right now, according to reports. Good ... though from what I've read, the solutions under discussion--like tax-breaks for hiring the jobless--fall ridiculously short of the figure just quoted. Like in the 200.000 range.

The Real Jobs Solution, which an emboldened Obama and his Congress must enact now, is the wherewithal to put the unemployed Dads and Moms directly to work for the Federal Government. Everybody knows our INFRASTRUCTURE lies a-crumblin' while there are, ironically, millions out-of-work who could be a-fixin' it? Bridges, roads, sewers, schools, parks. C'mon, it worked for FDR and the blighted economy of his day. And let's be be honest: about a third of the people in this country are paid for their work with their very own tax-money, as it is. It's also called Corporate Welfare.

Listen, we've already loaned about a 100 billion to the Banks and Carmakers; can't we loosen up a "loan" of a paltry 4 or 5 billion or so (from what I understand) to get people directly into those "shovel-ready" jobs we've heard tell about? Wouldn't be nice for the peasants to get a "bailout" for a change? Moreover, it would be a loan, of sorts: lent against the returns of a recovering economy. After all, the newly employed are going to sink those wages in the local Kroger for the family groceries, and to buy gas and oil from Fred's Texaco to take their kids for a Sunday drive. Now that they've got the money, and the joy of a job. It all comes back. (more)
************

Monday, March 22, 2010

#211 HCR--Public Option Passes!!! (sort of)


Just as the Blogman predicted many posts ago. Okay ... it dare not speak its name, but the Public Option is a part of the Bill passed yesterday, at least in embryo. As long as we're into health-speak, let's call it "sub-public" or "pre-public"--analogous to the medicalese of "sub-clinical" or "sub-symptomatic" or "pre-something-or-other" (like cancer)-- all euphemisms that physicians are wont to use as ass-coverage for conditions that are not quite there, but not-enough-not for the medicos to bet their malpractice insurance on it. In this case the condition is benign, and in a healthy state of viability.

For just barely visible in the full-body scan of the Health Care Act of 2010 is the germ of government-run health care. The GLOBAL ideal, ultimately. The sub-pre-public-option symptomology is right here:

The uninsured and self-employed would be able to purchase insurance through state-based EXCHANGES with SUBSIDIES available to individuals and families with income up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL = $22,050 for family of four).

FUNDING available to states to establish exchanges ...

Individuals and families who make between 100 percent and 400 of the poverty level and want to purchase their own health insurance on an EXCHANGE are eligible for SUBSIDIES ... Eligible buyers receive PREMIUM CREDITS and there is a CAP on how much they have to contribute to their premiums on a sliding scale. (CBS.com summary)
What you've just read is a LEVER that can lift the world--or, as the "losing" side, the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems, will soon characterize it, a CANCER that will grow into full-blown "socialized medicine." (Let's hope so.) They will do this, mark my words, when they discover that their "government-takeover" propaganda just isn't going to work, because the new bill is so overwhelmingly PRIVATIZED, at least on the surface. The losing side has actually "won" a great victory--the insurance companies have been SAVED--at least in the short term. Our NC Blue Cross CEO, for example, is quoted as being quite fond of the outcome, as will the American people, soon enough.

I'll get back to those key provisions in a minute, but the fact is that the new bill IS a bipartisan one--the Republican nay-saying ironically brought that about--a bill no different in essentials, for example, from one that Nixon (yes) was trying to work out with a Democratic Congress years ago (Watergate intervened), or, most notably of late, the Ted Kennedy-Mitt Romney program (despite the latter's denialism) of near-universal health care instituted for Massachusetts, a state with a powerful insurance-company presence, by the way. And that's the point. Except for Veterans and Medicarians, it will be much the same old market-place, buy-and-sell, private health insurance business as usual, under the new bill. Big-Health-Insurance got a windfall, in fact: 30 million new customers! They're still nominally in charge, for awhile.

However, the "reform" bill (by no means an "overhaul") has just enough reform in it to TAME the private insurance monopoly, and over time, I believe, to kick it to the curb. Setting aside the long-overdue prohibitions on pre-existing-condition exclusions, lifetime-coverage caps, and important others, the key words in the quote above are EXCHANGES, FUNDING, and SUBSIDIES. It doesn't take a Fred Hayek or anyone from the Chicago School to recognize "The Road to Serfdom" (DM #94-95)--call me a happy serf, then, when it comes to health care. For, in fact, Who's really in charge? You guessed it: the gub'ment--whether State, or ultimately Federal. They will have enormous LEVERAGE to control what's going on in those "free-market" Exchanges.

Of course there will be healthy competition among the various companies in this "food-court" (it's been called) approach to buying insurance, but the Feds are going to be paying close attention to Who gets What-and-How-much funding, and Where the buyer-subsidies will be spent. Even to the point of setting up their own stall if the private companies don't cooperate, price-wise. It's conceivable, and the precedent for going to such extremes is in the bill. Here it is: up until 2014 health insurers don't have to cover ADULTS with pre-existing conditions, so the government will. A special "temporary" entity, administered and funded by some federal agency or another, will be set up to insure "high-risk" folk who will not be eligible for coverage by private companies until that time. What can we call this little wrinkle?--unadulterated Public Option.

The KIDS get it six months from now. That's why the little darlin' pictured above is making faces at the insurance companies and their bed-fellows in Congress. (Let's pretend.) She's got a pre-existing condition. And there's nothin' they can do about it. No separate federal program though: Big-Health-Insurance must expiate its cardinal sin of denying coverage to high-risk children virtually NOW.

I'd like to see the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems run their campaigns this year on a platform of repealing THAT. Make my day.
************

Sunday, March 21, 2010

#210 That Other Health-Care Vote--IrAfPak


And speaking of St. Dennis of Cleveland, here's the Mother Teresa of anti-war protesters, Cindy Sheehan, in her most iconic photo-shoot at an earlier demonsration. It could just as well have been taken yesterday, the Seventh Anniversary of the War In Iraq, where she got martyred in just the same way. Yes, St. Cindy (hyperbole, but NO sarcasm intended) and eight of her acolytes were arrested for "crossing" something or other (read: cops) as they were donating their flag-draped coffin-replicas outside the White House fence as usual once again. Not-arrested were THOUSANDS of others--GLAD TO REPORT-- similarly protesting the needless loss of American lives in the Middle East. (AP here)

All this--while at the Capitol a few blocks away Tea-Baggers and other toxic Dregs and Lees of Society were protesting a bill that would help stop the needless loss of American lives under our current health-care system. (HP here). Priorities, ah priorities.

Now on yet another anniversary of the unjustified and wasteful war in Iraq, the protesters can add Afghanistan Redux, whatever the cause of its earlier beginnings. Soon, our ground troops will follow the robot bombs dropping on Pakistan, and already contingency plans have been laid for intervention in Iran, Yemen, and Syria. Not to mention an old favorite, North Korea. "TOMORROW'S WARS ... that could tie up American troops for decades," said one meshugga Pentagon official with undisguised self-satisfaction (see THAT whole megilla in DM #179-180).

I've blogged and flogged, but America IS war-crazy, and I'm just not sure how we're going to get out of it. Well, "war-crazy" at the top, anyway. Neurobiological Science has discovered that, since WWII, American Presidents--whether Republican or Democrat--have undergone some sort of malign mutation that makes them want to kill foreigners. Hasn't fully affected the commoners yet--they're always in the majority against--but most of Congress seems always genetically inclined. With its permission, implicitly or otherwise, our Commanders in Chief over the last three decades have INVADED and/or BOMBED:

--Grenada
--Haiti
--Panama
--IRAQ
--Somalia
--Serbia
--Bosnia
--AFGHANISTAN
--IRAQ
--AFGHANISTAN
--Pakistan

So it's lucky we've got our own CRAZY PEOPLE out there to be on the side of REASON. Borderline lunatics like Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan (who lost a son killing foreigners) can be counted on--yesterday, in fact--to take up the cause. Nader maintained that Obama has essentially followed the policies of the Bush administration: "He's kept Guantanamo open ... continued to use indefinite detention," and so on. But I much prefer St. Cindy's less cerebral, more in-your-face, 60's style of protest. As she was being cuffed and led away, she gestured toward the White House and shouted:
Arrest THAT war criminal!
************