Monday, July 31, 2006

We have a winner

As I read newspapers and magazines, watch cable and surf the internet I'm always on the lookout for world-class gold-medal statements of the insane order. I ignore the rantings from most ranters but when a western foreign minister says something so objectively insane, it's worth blogging about. Yes folks, we have a winner.

Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Monday, during a visit to Lebanon.

"It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the region," Douste-Blazy said in Beirut.

"In the region there is of course a country such as Iran - a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region," he told a news conference.

That's the gold-medal money quote. Iran as a stabilizing role in the region. This just shows you how intellectually corrupt France is. How willing they are to back the forces of disorder to sell nuclear plants to the Iranians. This great "stabilizing" force in the region funds Hezbollah to the tune of over $150 million a year. Has provided the thousands of rockets Hezbollah now rains down on Israel all on orders from Tehran. Iran has now hijacked Lebanese politics, and is trying to hijack Plaestinian and Arab politics as a whole. Hezbollah has sold itself to Iran lock, stock and gun barrel and considers itself Shiites loyal to Iran, doing Iran's bidding rather Lebanese helping Lebanon build a country and prosper. To the French, Iran is a stabilizing force although it funds Iraqi insurgents and sends advanced shape charges and other weapons to better attack U.S. forces. The "stabilizing" force known to France as Iran is furiously working 24/7 to build nuclear weapons capability to further "stabilize" the region. And once the "stabilizing" country, Iran, gets its nuclear weapons I wonder if Der Fuhrer Ahmadinejad will carry out his "stable" pronouncements of wiping Israel off the map. As he denies the Holocaust in the 20th century he calls for one in the 21st.

There must be more money than I can imagine in trade between Iran and France for a (presumably sane and sober) French Foreign Minister to say Iran is a "stabilizing role in the region." I guess it's not a real world war until France surrenders. I think they did.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hezbollah's motto -"The worse the better!"

Capt. Fogg, or as I like to say, Foggy, stole my blog topic today. It's a typical story after Kofi Annon claimed Israel "deliberately" attacked a U.N. post. Turns out that from the grave one of the U.N. observers killed is speaking through his emails and he wrote, "We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)." I should have posted earlier but I wanted to give the slackers who didn't read me yesterday to have a chance this morning to read the pearls I strung together twenty-four hours ago. No matter. I'll just plagarize from Thomas L. Freidman again and then throw in the latest flip-flop by the Republicans who have only one principle - do anything to get re-elected to cling to power.

"There is nothing that you can't do to someone in the Middle East today...We've seen Sunni Muslims in Iraq suicide-bomb a Shiite mosque on Ramadan; we've seen Shiite militiamen torture Sunnis in Iraq by drilling holes in their heads with power tools; we've seen Jordanian Islamist parliamentarians mourning the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, even though he once blew up a Jordanian wedding; we've seen hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombings of Israeli cafes and buses; and we've seen Israel retaliating by, at times, leveling whole buildings, with the guilty and innocent inside. Now we've seen the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, take all of Lebanon into a devastating, unprovoked war with Israel, just to improve his political standing and take pressure off Iran."

"When will the Arab-Muslim world stop getting its "pride" from fighting Israel and start getting it from constructing a society that others would envy, an ecomony others would respect, and inventions and medical breakthroughs from which others would benefit?"

"There will be no new Middle long as Old Middle Easterners, like Nasrallah, use all their wits and resources to start a new Arab-Israeli war rather than build a new Arab university...Without that we are wasting our time and the Arab world is wasting its future."

Couldn't have said it better myself so I didn't even try. Too bad the New York Times has put Freidman behind a subscription firewall. His columns should be available to everyone everywhere. At least I am.

BONUS POST: The Republicans in their latest desperate attempt to cling to power and prevent any investigation into high crimes (including stupid crimes) and misdemeanors have added to their flip-flop list and after being against an increase in the minimum wage are now for it. They still can't help themselves are are trying to attach another gift to wealthy contributors to the wage increase bill. November and escorting these power mad Republicans out the door can't come soon enough.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kill or be killed

In 1973 Israel was attacked on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, by Syria and Egypt. (Jordan and Iraq forces joined when it thought it was going to miss out on killing Jews.) It is known as the Ramadan War in the Arab world. (I guess it's o.k. to initiate a war during Ramadan while receiving one during Ramadan is an offense against Islam.) Israel, caught by surprise, was almost overrun by these forces. It went on nuclear alert and the lore is that it had three nuclear weapons loaded on F-4s ready to nuke Damascus and Cairo. It didn't have to do that as the military tide turned. But I wonder if Syria or Egypt had had nuclear weapons in 1973 would they have hesitated to use them against Israel on Yom Kippur. I have no doubt they would have happily nuked Tel Aviv and then danced in the streets handing out sweets and candies. Then as now Israel hasn't acted disproportionately but rather has restrained their actions and their military.

We hear of face-to-face combat in the town of Bint Jbail, Lebanon and ground troops being killed by Hezbollah terrorists. Ask yourself why doesn't Israel just flatten the town like Syria did to its own people in Hama killing maybe 20,000 Muslims. Remember, Muslims killing Muslims, as in Iran-Iraq war, Lebanese civil war, Jordan/Black September, Iraq-Kuwait war, Iraq civil war, Egypt killing protesters, Darfur (Arab Muslims killing African Muslims), etc., etc., etc. it's business as usual. Shi'ites killing Sunnis. Sunnis killing Shi'ites. Boys will be boys. But an Israeli killing a Muslim because the Muslim fires rockets into Haifa? Well, then the world must condemn it. Kofi and Chirac and Putin (having destroyed Muslim Chechnya) condemn Israel and call for a cease-fire so Hezbollah can re-arm and Israel can wait for the next rocket barrage because some blood-thirsty murderer in Bint Jbail decides to please Allah. But back to my question. Why doesn't Israel nuke Iran? Why doesn't it lay waste to south Lebanon instead of telling residents and terrorist alike where they will attack so they can lose infantry just to avoid bad p.r.? Why not? Because they're not blood-thirsty animals intent on targeting civilians like the Islamic terrorists do when they launch unguided missiles into Israel's third largest city. That's the difference.

Israel and its army has morals and the other side does not. Even the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" in among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of fighting. Egeland told reporters, "Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

The bottom line is Islamic radicalism or whatever you want to call it, these bomb laying rocket launching terrorists are ruining the world. Pick a side before they get nuclear weapons and pick one for you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No rules in a knife fight

Lebanon made a deal with the devil. It thought that if they ignored Hezbollah's control of the southern third of Lebanon they could live a good life. Never mind that Israel would get shelled or rocketed or attacked from south Lebanon, the cappuccinos kept flowing in east Beirut. Well, when you allow your tenant to keep a pack of rabid pit bulls in the apartment next to yours, don't be surprised if your party is interrupted by the neighbors sick and tired of being menaced and bitten by the pit bulls. Not according to Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.

Lahoud tells Der Speigel that Hezbollah freed Lebanon and that Lebanon had no idea where Hezbollah was and thus couldn't disarm them. Lahoud said Israel is wrecking the government's authority to deal with Hezbollah even though they never dealt with them, as required by U.N. Resolution 1559 which required Hezbollah to disarm, in the six years since Israel left Lebanon. When asked the obvious question about simply returning the seemingly forgotten kidnapped Israelis soldiers, something almost no reporter asks anyone these days, Lahoud said, "The exchange of prisoners has always worked perfectly in the past. The Germans above all were very helpful in this process. It is unclear whether that will happen this time. It's a charged atmosphere." Sounds like Lahoud considers Hezbollah's invasion of Israel to kidnap soldiers just a small part of a big game. "We steal your soldiers, you negotiate for their release. Wait, you can't bomb us! That's against the rules!" Sort of reminds of the knife fight scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. "Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!" At which point the declarant is kicked in the groin. Well Lebanon got kicked in the groin and their response is Israel is not playing by the rules in this knife fight. Maybe Lebanon should have thought about that as Hezbollah, the private militia of 20% of its Parliament and two of its ministers, pulled out the knife and put it against Israel's throat for the last six years.

And what does the President of Lebanon think of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah? "Hezbollah enjoys utmost prestige in Lebanon, because it freed our country. All over the Arab world you hear: Hezbollah maintains Arab honor, and even though it (Hezbollah) is very small, it stands up to Israel. And of course Nasrallah has my respect." Sounds like Lahoud likes those rabid pit bulls in south Lebanon more than he likes a growing middle class building a country and drinking cappuccinos.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pasting feathers together, hoping for a duck

"I just shot him, they killed him." That was the defense of Charles J. Guiteau during his trial for the assassination of President James A. Garfield. On July 2, 1881, Guiteau shot Garfield in the back and medicine back then was a bit primative. "At least a dozen medical experts probed the president's wound, often with unsterilized metal instruments or bare hands, as was common at the time." Garfield developed sepsis, a massive infection, which resulted from unsterile practices and contributed to his death." Garfield died 80 days after being shot. It also didn't help that his doctors "believing that the bullet might have pierced his his solid food intake" and fed him "rectally [with] beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey and drops of opium." "They basically starved him to death," said medical historian Dr. Ira Rutkow, explaining that "the president lost over 100 pounds from July to September." Guiteau "criticized Garfield's doctors, suggesting that they were the ones who had killed the president. I just shot him," he said they killed him. Guiteau was hanged on June 30, 1882.

In his new book, "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq" Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas E. Rick's writes of Iraq, "The U.S. led invasion was launched recklessly with a flawed plan for war and a worse approach to occupation. Spooked by its own false conclusions about the threat, the Bush administration hurried its diplomacy, short-circuited its war planning and assembled an agonizingly incompetent occupation. None of this was inevitable. It was made possible only through the intellectual acrobatics of simultaneously worse-casing the threat presented by Iraq while best-casing the subsequent cost and difficulty of occupying the country." There was no guidance for restoring order in Baghdad, creating stability nationwide, creating an interim government or providing essential services to the people of Iraq. A colonel assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority summarized his office's work in an end-of-tour report writing it was like, "pasting feathers together, hoping for a duck."

What you hear from the Bush administration and their enablers in Congress and on Faux News is that they didn't kill Iraq they just shot it. You know who these people are. They're the ones holding the glue and feathers.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Republicanism in a nutshell

Every day I see a number of news articles which could be re-printed here. I usually refrain from that because it's unoriginal and well, you could just get a subscription to the New York Times or Washington Post or Newsweek. I mean what great insight is there to just say, "read this," but that's what blogs do I guess. Like I said, I try not to do that but on Sunday, as I watched Tiger Woods win his eleveth major title at The British Open, I ran across a Republicanism in a nutshell article that cried out for re-printing.

The Pulitzer Prize winning writer, David Cay Johnston, whose book "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich -- and Cheat Everybody Else" is a must read published "I.R.S. Will Cut Tax Lawyers Who Audit The Richest" in this past Sunday's New York Times. The title pretty much says it all but the text, tucked nicely away on page 13, sums up the priorities of Republicanism.

"The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others. The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency's 345 estate tax lawyers..."

Oh but it gets better. "The Bush administration has already passed measures that reduce the number of Americans subject to the estate tax - which opponents refer to as the "death tax" - but has failed in its efforts to eliminate the tax entirely." Six I.R.S. lawyers whose jobs will likely be cut said, "the cuts were just the latest moves behind the scenes at the I.R.S. to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits." I.R.S. "estate tax lawyers are the most productive tax law enforcement personnel...[f]or each hour they work, they find an average if $2,200 of taxes that people owe." Six years ago "85 percent of large taxable gifts [the I.R.S.] audited shortchanged the government."

There's a few more fun facts from the article but you get the point. So here is the Curmudgeon's estate planning tax advice for you. Start with tens or hundreds of millions or even a few billion dollars. Set up extremely complex gift and estate planning schemes. File whatever you want on your tax returns. Send the bill for underpayment or avoidance of your taxes to people stupid enough to have W-2 income. Send a few thousand here and there to various Republican members of Congress. Repeat as necessary.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Um, Jailer, there's a fly in my soup

Talk about complaining. People say I complain too much about too many things but maybe it's because there are things to complain about. I must say that if were on trial for crimes against humanity I'd probably not complain about the food. Charles Taylor disagrees. Taylor, on trial in The Hague for 11 counts of crimes against humanity for backing rebels who raped and mutilated civilians during a brutal 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone. He might be crazy but he's not crazy about the food he's being served. Taylor says through his lawyer that it's too "Eurocentric." Maybe someone should explain to him that if you're on trial for crimes against humanity maybe the type of sandwich you eat isn't really that important. Zagat's reportedly got a low opinion rating sent in by Taylor about The Hague. "If on trial for war crimes, it is to be avoided," he said of the Netherlands.

This is after Saddam has also complained about the food he gets in his little cell in Baghdad. Another masss murderer who wants to send the soup back because it's not flavorful enough. Maybe before they ordered the mass executions of men, women and children they should have thought at least about the impact on their diet since they no thought to, you know, the actual mass murder. There was also rumors that at Nuremberg Nazi war criminals gave only one star to their prison food.

So the next time you think I'm complaining too much or too loudly just remember I'm a amateur compared to the pettiness and crankiness of war crime defendants.

BONUS POST: The question is repeated endlessly whether Israel's response to being attacked and invaded by Hezbollah, a large part of the Lebanese government, is "proportionate." It's not a question whether the Israeli response is proportionate to the attack on it but rather is it proportionate to the threat. After years of giving a proportionate response attacks it is now giving a proportionate response to the threat. Good for them and the world.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

King George cuts the baby in half

President Bush used his veto for the first time in his six years in office to reject the overwhelming but not veto-proof majority of Congress which approved federal funding of stem cell research. Opponents of the federally funded stem cell research have argued that embryos and blastocysts are human life and that destroying them to further stem cell research is the taking of innocent human life. "Murder" and "killing" have also been used to describe stem cell research derived from frozen fertilized eggs. The president didn't argue to ban or outlaw stem cell research, that is, to ban "murder" of the fertilized eggs but rather simply to allow private researchers, private companies to do it and profit from it. Talk about the ultimate flip-flopper. Bush is against federally funded stem cell research but for state and private funding of the same research. To Bush and his religious fanatics, it's "killing" or "murder" but it's ok if a private company makes a profit off it.

This is religion or religious capitalism once again substituting for government backed science. This is an absurd assertion of faith that God is against federally funded stem cell research but for state and private funding of the same research. King George when faced with this King Solomon moment actually opted for cutting the baby or rather the fertilized egg and research in half.

Nearly 400 years ago Galieleo dealt with this church driven drivel during the Inquisition and was threaten with torture, imprisonment and death at the stake. He was forced to denounce his work and others who held his prior view that the earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa. If Bush were in charge back then he probably would have supported state and private funding of earth-sun revolving research but ban federal funding. It's as absurd then as now. The only thing that has changed is the calender.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Unoriginal Wednesday

I have a doctor's appointment today (no it's not with a cardiologist to see if I even have a heart or one two sizes too small like Mr. Grinch) and I don't have time to be original this morning. I pass along a few quotes from today's column from Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times. If you don't get the paper it's behind a fee-based firewall on their site. It's just too good not to quote at length and almost as good as my own posts.

Arguing that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will be seen as having made the biggest miscalculation for an Arab leader since Nasser and the Six-Day War Friedman writes:

"First, Nasrallah has set back the whole fledgling Arab democracy movement. That movement, by the way, was being used by Islamic parties - like Hezbollah and Hamas - to ascend to power. Hezbollah, for the first time, had two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet. Hamas, through a U.S.-sponsored election, took over the Palestinian Authority...What both Hamas and Hezbollah have done - by dragging their nations into unnecessary war with Israel - is to prove that Islamists will not be made more accountable by political power. Just the opposite; not only will they not fix the potholes, they will start wars, whenever they choose, that will lead to even bigger potholes."

Friedman continues:

"On the peace front, let's see, Israel gets out of Lebanon and Gaza, and what is the response of Hamas and Hezbollah? Build schools, roads and jobs in their recovered territories? Nope. Respect the border with Israel, but demand that Israel continue to withdraw from the West Bank? Nope. The response is to shell Israel from Gaza and abduct Israeli soldiers from Lebanon. Hamas and Nasrallah replaced the formula "land for peace" with "land for war," said the former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross."

Like I said. Good stuff. I'll be back and original tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Republicanism - You're on your own (Updated)

Republicans peddle the idea that they are for "smaller government" even though they expand government and government spending more than the Democrats. But in a few areas they really are for smaller government.

Twenty-five thousand Americans are stranded in Lebanon and have been watching as the Japanese and French governments rescue their citizens. The Bush administration in another example of asleep at the wheel planning finally have promised to help. Ah, but there is a catch. The U.S. will transport or rather should I say dump Americans on the island of Cyprus and will send a bill for cost of being evacuated to the newly dumped evacuees. That also applies to you even it's your dead body being evacuated. Apparently Bush and Co. have spent too much money in Iraq, $8 billion every month, to be able to afford rescuing American students trapped in a war zone. I wonder when Bush allowed the Bin Laden relatives to flee the U.S. after 9/11 did he send them a bill?

This is around the same time Bush is dusting off his veto pen so that he can use his first veto while in office for the last six years to kill the stem-cell research bill passed by Congress. If you have Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries and a number of other cruel diseases or conditions I guess you need to start doing your own medical research in your basement.

The Republican philosphy of government is clear. If you are making minimum wage, trapped in war zone, suffering from paralysis or Lou Gehrig's disease or flooded out of your house and city you're on your own. That's there vision of smaller government. Small government when it comes to actually helping people and curing diseases and large government when it comes to shoveling billions of dollars to their cronies. Has a nice, sick yin-yang feel to it.

Update: The Bush administration in their latest flip-flop of incompetent governing has announced that they will not be charging Americans for transportation out of a war zone. How big of them. Does the guy who wanted to charge Americans fleeing Lebanon get the Medal of Freedom or the guy who got the administration to flip-flop get it? Or do they both get a medal?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Can I use that doctrine while you're not using it?

Is there a price to be paid for harboring terrorists and allowing them to launch attacks from your countries' soil? If so should the price be high or low? Hizbollah was the only militia allowed to keep its arms and army after the Lebanese civil war. They have been elected to around 20% of the Lebanese Parliament. They hold cabinet positions in the government. They are as much a part of the government as any other group in Lebanon. In effect, they are the government. They were welcomed into the government. And it was their personal army that sent rockets into Israel and then crossed into Israeli territory to kill six soldiers and kidnap two. On the very day that Iran's response to the U.S. nuclear talks demand was due. What a coincidence.

So you have the government of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, sending rockets into Israel and killing and kidnapping an IDF soldier. You have Hizbollah, the de facto government of Lebanon, the power behind, or rather the gun to the head of, Lebanon's Prime minister Fouad Siniora, sending rockets into Israel and then invading Israel to kill six and kidnap two soldiers. And the problem is Israel's "disproportionate" response? The discussion always starts, "Is Israel going to far?" rather than why are these governments invading Israel? Why is Hamas killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers? Why don't they just give the hostages back? Why has Israel not acted with force before to prevent heavily armed terrorist armies on their borders from carrying out acts of war against it? No. The useful idiots on t.v. and on blogs all focus on Israel as if it had a real choice.

If Mexico were controlled by Al Qaeda ask yourself what the U.S. would do if rockets were landing in Dallas and Houston. Then on top of that Texas is invaded by terrorists to kill and kidnap army troops. Add to that Hizbollah has 20% of the elected seats in Canada's legislative branch along with a couple of cabinet positions and uses its private army to shoot rockets into Seattle and then invades to kill and capture U.S. troops. I wonder what the U.S. or any other country would do under those circumstances. I know what they would do, they would do worse.

Russia, which has leveled Chechnya and Grozny, criticizes Israel. China, which occupies and oppresses Tibet, criticizes Israel. Car bombs go off in Iraq everyday (41 dead today, 26 yesterday) and not a word of protest from anyone. But when Israel responds after two invasions and two acts of war against it the question isn't who started the war but rather Israel shouldn't finish it. The only difference between these situations is that Jews are defending themselves which troubles the world.

In World War II Jews had no country to defend them. Jews spent the next 60 years building a country, learning how to make the desert bloom, educating their children, learning how to fly F-16s. On the other side of the border the last 60 years were spent preaching hate and intolerence for Jews and Christians and infidels. Sixty years of rejecting Israel. Sixty years of terror attacks on school children and Olympic athletes. Sixty years of selling fantasies that Israel would soon be destroyed. And the fantasies continue. The biggest one is that Israel is acting disproportionately. If anything they haven't acted enough.

In the last sixty years, Israel has defend themselves in war after war visited upon them by people consumed by hate and seeking nothing less than the total destruction Israel. Forgive Israel if they choose once again to not go quietly into that goodnight. They have a national interest in their goals. They committed suffiecient resources to win. Their objectives are clearly defined. They will sustan the commitment. They have a reasonable expectation that their people and government will support the operation. They have exhausted other options. They have a clear exit strategy. As long as the U.S. isn't using the well-thought out Powell Doctrine in Iraq, the Israelis might as well use it in Lebanon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Field trip for the Curmudgeon - Can I borrow some body armor?

I'm a news junkie and I've seen and read and heard (Israeli internet based radio) everything that's going on in the Middle East. (And I'm not talking about Jersey.) I've sat on my couch long enough so I'm going on a field trip to Israel and Beirut to see what's going on.

He's not serious you say? Guess again. I want to see up close the armed gang of murderers who dragged the region into war and basically are ruining the world. And for you brain-dead Israeli haters out there, I'm talking about Hamas and Hezbollah. Imagine the Minute Men wannabe soldiers sitting in their lawn chairs in Arizona with their binoculars, Oakleys, Nextel push-to-talk walkie-talkies and Gatorade deciding to start a war with Mexico. That's what Hezbollah did. They were elected members of the Lebanese government and they have their own army and their own foreign policy. They want to start a war with Israel because they don't want a peaceful Middle East. A peaceful Middle East makes them and their goals irrelevant. A region in flames makes them more powerful. Same thing with Hamas. Hamas was elected in a fair and open election and then they alone have decided to initiate a war with Israel. Why? Because they want to make their rivals, Fatah and Abbas - the Palestinian Authority - irrelevant. Hezbollah wants the Lebanese government to fall so that they can replace it with an Islamic state. Same with Hamas. They was the PA to become the peacenik party arguing for peace with Israel while Hamas champions its "defense" of Palestinian people. It's a sick world but it's the only one we have.

There will be an end to this crisis and Hezbollah will still exist, although it might be severely weakened and pushed to the north away from Israel's border. Same with Hamas. Until the next time. And the next. Until the EU and France and basically everyone except the U.S. supports the idea that armed militias starting regional wars isn't a good idea then there will be a next time and the next. In the meantime, Israel will do what the rest of the world almost always fails to do when faced with this type of terrorist threat, they will do the heavy lifting. They will do the dirty work, like taking out Saddam's nuclear weapons reactor in 1981 which they were condemned for in the U.N. They will face and fight the evil on their doorstep because its on their doorstep and they don't the luxury of simply ignoring it.

People say Israel's response is disproportionate to the attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah but that's exactly what they wanted. They wanted a disproportionate response to achieve their goals of ending weak democracies in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon and strenthening their own bloody, murdering hands.

So I'm going to go watch the disproportionate response up close and if anything happens to me, well then I'll really be cranky.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mexico attacks the U.S. and other fantasies

A couple of weeks ago Mexico, claiming that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California were occupied Mexican territory, attacked border patrol agents killing two and capturing one taking him back into Mexico. This occurred after years of short-range rockets being fired from Nuevo Laredo and Nogales, Mexico into the U.S. wounding many and killing 14 American citizens. The U.S. has responded by limited military raids into Mexico to prevent further rocket attacks into Texas and Arizona and to apply pressure to get Mexico to release the border agent.

To the north, Canada, which has been shooting its own longer-range and more deadly rockets into the U.S. for years, has taken advantage of the crisis in the south to launch their own raid into Wyoming killing seven National Guard soldiers and kidnapping two. The two soldiers in the hands of Canadian militants are feared being transferred to Iran to further humiliate the U.S. and escalate the crisis. The U.S. military has used air power and artillery to exact a heavy price on Canada for its allowing of an act of war to be launched from their partners in the government.


Gee, I wonder what the U.S. would do if this were going on? I wonder how restrained any nation on earth would be when faced with relentless rocket attacks and murders and kidnappings from their neighbors. What I don't wonder is the reaction to the Hamas and Hezbollah attacks and kidnappings of Israeli soldiers by Israel. It will be robust, long and painful to those who wake up every morning and think only of ways to murder - murder people and murder peace.

In 1979, 66 U.S. diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days. It humiliated the U.S. It was clearly an act of war. It was allowed to pass without any response. It was a mistake. And on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated the hostages were released some say because of the fear that Reagan would respond militarily.

When your opponent only respects force, only deals in the language of military power then you should give them what they want. No other nation would respond any differently than Israel. Oh wait, they would. They wouldn't drop leaflets telling civilians in northern Gaza to leave in advance of military strikes or warn the residents of south Beirut that military action in their area was coming. I don't know of a single country that would do that other than Israel. Hey, residents in and around Hiroshima...citizens of Normady beach...attention cave dwellers near Tora Bora and Pakistan border...people of Fallujah we are going to be attacking on Main and Central streets, please stay away. Absurd.

Israel hasn't had a presence in Lebanon for six years and left Gaza completely last year. And yet attacks, murders and kidnappings continue from these places. This isn't about a smaller Israel or getting Israel to leave Gaza or Lebanon. It's about no Israel - about Israel leaving the planet. That's the fantasy the Islamic fanatics have sold to their people. They've never prepared their people to live in peace - only to live, or die, in pieces. They've now gotten what they want.

BONUS POST: Angela Magdaleno, who had triplets three years ago, gave birth to quadruplets on July 6. She used fertility drugs with the triplets but not with the the quadruplets. “I don’t know if I’m sad or happy,” she said. “I’m happy but, I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it.” Her husband, Afredo Anzaldo, 45, who lays carpet for a living. (I'll let that set-up go by without comment.) All 11 family members will be living in a one-bedroom apartment in east Los Angeles. She said the living room is large, but she isn’t sure what the family will do when the babies get bigger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sen. McCarthy back in Congress

Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee - let me repeat that - chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is not even waving around a blank piece of paper, ala Sen. Joe McCarthy, "listing" al Qaeda infiltrators in the U.S. intelligence community. This is the same Peter Hoekstra, (did I mention he's not some backbencher nut but the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee?) who just a couple of weeks ago waived a real piece of paper around and claimed that the weapons of mass destruction had in fact been found in Iraq. Hoekstra explained why the White House wasn't bragging about the find saying that the president was being forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq. Only one problem with Hoekstra and his sidekick Sen. Rick Santorum's claim - it's false. Even the Bush administration's own Defense Department said, "This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," and that the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war." But why let facts and reason get in the way of a good lie?

Now Hoekstra is back with his claim that recent leaks (whistleblowing) of classified intelligence programs (of illegal and unconstitutional activities) are deliberate attempts to help al Qaeda. This time, not constrained with even waving a real piece of fraudulent paper around as a prop, Hoekstra says, "I don't have any evidence. But from my perspective, when you have information that is leaked that is clearly helpful to our enemy, you cannot discount that possibility (that al Qaeda or al Qaeda allies have infiltrated the U.S. intelligence community." I like that basis for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to give press conferences - "I don't have any evidence...". I don't have any evidence that Hoekstra, who is actually in charge of something, and not something silly like national pretzel day, but of the Intelligence Committee, is in fact a moron but I cannot discount the possibility. I'd say we have hit bottom but these guys are so good at surpassing my expectation that they can't get any lower that I won't. We have gone from fabricated evidence to no evidence. Before you needed to at least have some drunk foreign source that you never interviewed and were warned he was unreliable, like the infamous Curveball, for you to send the nation to war. Now we are going to base critical government policy based no evidence. Just a belief from a guy in charge of the House Intelligence Committee.

Maybe instead of the Intelligence Committee investigating whether al Qaeda leaked classified information to the New York Times, they should investigate whether the chairman has any intelligence at all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Had Enough?

Had enough? That's the phrase going around these days to describe the discontent (to put it mildly) with they way the country has been run (into the ground?) under Republican rule. Another sad example takes shape today. According to Karl Rove, President Bush will issue his first veto in office to prevent expanding federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. "The president is emphatic about this," Rove said in the meeting Monday, according to a story posted on the Denver Post's Web site. "We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life," Rove said. Callous and wanton destruction of Iraqi civilians and CIA non-official covers notwithstanding.

A few weeks ago the Senate put aside the nation's problems to try to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect the American flag from the non-existent flag burning epidemic sweeping the country. They failed this time but look for it again and again. Red, white and blue pieces of cloth (sometimes polyester - a desecration itself!) spun and sewn in China to create American flags has full White House support of protection through amending the constitution but trying to save people suffering from diabetes, alzheimers, Parkinson's, paralysis and a host of other cruel diseases gets a veto.

Think about that - colored cloth that when sewn together conveys an idea moves the government to try to "improve" the U.S. Constitution by restricting a right that almost no one exercises and scientific research we know will cure fatal and life-debilitating conditions gets a "no." Had enough? How about this? Veto the power mad and freedom-debilitating Republicans who love an inanimate object, the flag, more than they love actual people whose lives would be saved through stem-cell research. I know I've had enough.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ben Stein - Liberal?

Ben "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" Stein, son of economist Herb Stein who was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in the Nixon administration, was himself a speech writer and lawyer for Nixon. His conservative, or should I say Republican credentials, since "conservative" means nothing today (also see here), are rock solid. So it should come as a surprise to Republicans (I'd say "right" but they're not right about much) that Stein is for raising taxes and thinks this country merely gives lip-service to the idea of a "shining city on a hill" when it really may just be an opportunity to loot the "shining city" blind.

A couple of weeks ago, Stein wrote a column with the title: "Note to the New Treasury Secretary: It's time to raise taxes." Stein, alarmed that Treasury Bonds could be junk status by 2025 and that every year we transfer almost "the value of an average of one of our 50 states to foreign investors" through a nearly $1 trillion trade deficit, advocates raising taxes and raising them on the rich. "May I respectfully suggest that in this envorionment, ending the estate tax is not a major sensible priority? May I suggest that having the lowest taxes in 65 years on high-income taxpayers is not really as prudent as it might be if we were not running stupendous deficits, with far worse in the future?" That's not a platform of the Democratic party - that's Nixon speechwriter and lawyer who also happens to have graduated from Columbia with honors in economics and then from Yale Law School as valedictorian of his class by election of his classmates.

This week Stein is back with a column entitled: "A City on a Hill, or a Looting Opportunity" He writes, "Life in America in 2006 for an upper middle-class person like me — who, although overweight, still has decent health — is just paradise..[b]ut still, with all of that, something is seriously wrong." He continues, "When I was a lad, the chief executive of a major public company was paid about 30 or 40 times what a line worker was paid. Now the multiple is about 180. What did they do in the executive suite to become so great? Upon what meat do they feed? Why, as we are being killed by foreign competition, do we need to pay our executives so much?" Sounds more like Moore than Stein. He complains that backdating stock options, "straight-up fraud in [Stein's] book," hasn't resulted in anyone being "charged with any crime, while young black men and women who sell a tiny amount of drugs on a street corner do hard time. How can this be right?" Returning to the tax theme he says, "As I endlessly point out, taxes for the rich are lower than they have ever been in my lifetime. (To be fair, taxes for the nonrich taxes are very low as well.) And this is occurring as we accumulate government liabilities that will kill us in the long run. (And cutting spending will not work. Most federal and state spending is for items that are untouchable, like Medicare, education, the military — and, most cruelly of all, interest on the national debt...)"

I know I'm quoting extensively from his columns but I read them all so you can read snippets. It also shows you that reality-based educated Republicans talk exactly like reality-based educated Democrats.

Just a bit more since it's so good: "We are mortgaging ourselves to foreigners on a scale that would make George Washington cry. Every day — every single day — we borrow a billion dollars from foreigners to buy petroleum from abroad, often from countries that hate us. We are the beggars of the world, financing our lavish lifestyle by selling our family heirlooms and by enslaving our progeny with the need to service the debt."

Again is this Moore, Kennedy or Stein? "Is this America, where far too many of the rich endlessly loot their stockholders and kick the employees in the teeth, the America that our soldiers in Ramadi and Kirkuk and Anbar Province and Afghanistan are fighting for? Is this America, where we will end up so far behind the financial eight ball we won't be able to see because of mismanagement by both parties, the America that our men and women are losing limbs for, coming home in boxes for?"

"Conservative" means nothing anymore. Being a conservative Republican simply means support the Dear Leader and defend the denial of reality, whether it be science, economics or military strategy. They are conservative - just of reality.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Can I deduct my speeding tickets?

Are you working hard today? This week, month or year? You better be. You have to work to pay your taxes so Boeing can get a tax deduction for paying $615 million to settle with the federal government and avoid criminal charges.

This all began when hearings were held, (congressional oversight? It's a miracle!) to investigate a $23 billion contract for leasing aerial refueling tankers from Boeing. There was an Air Force officer in charge of the contract and procurement who just happened to get hired by Boeing ($250,000 a year, nice.) as she left the service. Yada, yada, yada...the Air Force procurement officer pleads guilty as does the chief financial officer for Boeing and Boeing settles the case along with another faux pas of stealing Lockheed Martin documents to gain an edge in a multi-billion dollar satellite contract.

The $615 million settlement has three Republicans (oversight by Republicans? Another miracle!) Senators Charles Grassley, John McCain and John Warner writing to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales expressing their displeasure that Boeing may be allowed to take a tax deduction for the payment. The senators wrote, that allowing the settlement to be tax deductible, would result in "leaving the American taxpayer to effectively subsidize its misconduct." The senators continued, "We are not interested in settlements that are designed to look good in newspapers, but fail to bring real accountability,". (Substance over P.R.? A triple play of miracles!)

The Justice Department did not address the tax status of the settlement and Boeing has hired outside counsel to look into the question. Gee. I wonder how that question will be answered. So work hard at the store or the law firm or wherever you are. The government needs your tax dollars so you can subsidize the conduct of Boeing that led to it paying $615 million to avoid criminal charges. I wonder if I should hire outside counsel to answer whether I can deduct my speeding tickets? I wonder if I can get their number from Boeing.


President Bush, Sept. 17, 2001 talking about Osama bin Laden: "I want justice...And there's an old poster out West I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'"

July 5, 2006: In late 2005, the CIA closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants.

I guess "alive."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A ray of hope?

One of the good things about posting late is that I am able to see more of the day's news to pick from. Today it's the ray of hope story from Texas that, at least for now, keeps Tom Delay on the ballot increasing the chances for a Democratic victory in this congressional race.

The federal district judge, a Republican appointee if you are wondering, ruled that DeLay must appear on the Nov. 7 ballot as the GOP nominee for the congressional seat that he abandoned last month. Although Delay resigned from the House, so that he could spend less time hurting families, the judge said that under Texas election law Republicans would not be able to replace him on the ballot. This makes the election of former Democratic House member Nick Lampson very likely. Unless of course the Texas 22nd District is more nuts than I think and re-elects a resigned in disgrace, under indictment, capped-toothed, short, paunchy bully who claims to have moved to Virginia. The GOP is expected to appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

So there is a ray of hope coming from of all places Texas. One down and fourteen to go.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The end of civilization

I could easily be referring to the ongoing and untreated mental illness of people like Anti-Christ Coulter or even this clownette who shockingly was one of only four bloggers to participate in an interview with U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Or maybe I'm referring to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens the fossil who is the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee which means he is in charge of bills that control the internet even though he has no idea what it is. Wrong on all counts although they are signs of the coming apocalypse. Forget the coming of the apocalypse we are already at the end of civilization. It takes the form of cat reality shows. Boy I wish I were making this up.

Cable's Animal Planet channel has "The Meow Mix House," which is lavishly decorated, glass-walled "house" in a storefront on Madison Avenue in New York City. "The show presents cats entering--or sometimes refusing to enter--competitions in such pursuits as climbing, purring and catching toy mice. Each week, a la "Survivor," judges will boot one puss off the show. When Belle, (a cat) from Philadelphia declined to climb, she became the first kitty casualty.

In the final episode, to be shown Aug. 18, the last cat left meowing will be named Feline Vice President of Research and Development for the Meow Mix Co., the pet-foodmaker sponsoring the show. His or her duties will include taste testing. A second winner, which also will receive a yet-to-be decided executive title at Meow Mix, will be determined by viewers' online voting."

The show is only three-minutes long which is three-minutes too long. It's just a matter of time before Tiddles the calico will get his own reality show and this nut gets her own talk show on Fox and then gets promoted to White House press secretary. The end of civilization is not a matter of time. It's already here. Meow.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Remember our Freedoms?

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake,"

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Taylor, June 4, 1798.

A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early Monday, passing about 269,000 miles from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon. The asteroid is estimated to be as wide as a half-mile based on its brightness. Someday another asteroid might hit the Earth like one did 65 million years ago and killed nearly every living thing on the planet but in the meantime we have to deal with a Republican asteroid that has hit the Earth. It may yet destroy every living thing on the planet but in the meantime it has done a good job of blotting out the U.S. Constitution, democracy and reason just as an impact cloud would blot out the sun for a 1,000 years. The only thing left to do is laugh rather than cry that flag burning and gay marriage amendments are the legislation being offered by those who are more concerned about overseeing Terry Schiavo's end of life care rather than overseeing the lack of care the Bush mafia gives to the U.S. Constitution.

I like July 4th. It's fun to barbeque and play golf but it's also about remembering our freedoms. I just hope I never ask my fellow barbequers or golf partners, "hey, remember our freedoms? I don't." Sadly, if Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales and all the other capos and crew get their way I'll be asking that question (assuming I'm not in Gitmo) very soon.

Happy 4th of July. Enjoy your freedoms while you still can.