Thursday, January 31, 2008

As If I Needed THIS On My Mind ...

On top of some other health problems (like reflux and a few other things), I got a sore throat about 3-4 months back.

Okay, it may have been longer. I don't tend to obsess about things as I don't want to be perceived as a hypochondriac or Nervous Nellie. I finally went to a specialist about it last week. He diagnosed a fungal infection and gave me some meds, with a follow-up today.

He took a biopsy out of the right side of my throat today.

I refuse to consider it seriously, but let's face it - the word 'biopsy' is so linked to the word 'cancer' that it's hard to think of the one without the other. It's probably a viral infection, with the fungus on top of it (that's best case, and very treatable).

So, I hope for the best - but planning for the worst started as soon as he said the word biopsy.

I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Florida Fallout

Yes, I'll use the term Fallout, as if the Florida primary were a nuclear weapon whose glowing and hot to the touch debris and by-products rain down on any hapless target downwind from the site of the explosion.

As to the type of weapon, Florida was a neutron bomb, or enhanced radiation weapon. An ERW doesn't cause much physical damage; it just kills people.

But since we're talking elections, the Florida ERW killed campaigns.

The first victim of the radiation was (as you might expect) the oldest and weakest. Rudy Giuliani put all his chips on Florida with the idea of ignoring or bypassing the little contests and reaping a big crop of delegates. However, waiting for Godot in this fashion enabled a lot of people to finally sit back and critically examine the sordid past, fetid Mayoral administration, and strange shenanigans of the Rudy.

With perhaps predictable results. Poor Rudy.

He never won a single contest, in some cases actually losing to Ron Paul.

And today it's widely expected that Giuliani, corneas opaque, skin laced with suppurating lesions and losing what little hair he still has, will shamble up to a microphone and give up what many thought last year was a free ride straight into the White HOuse.

The second victim of the fine rain of fallout, descending as it does like fog, on little cat feet, was John Edwards. Edwards was the former Democratic #2 nominee back in 2004; he'd been in the fight before all the way to the end, which would give him some experience. He was a populist, having a deep empathy for the working poor and those who never saw any benefit from Bush's tax cuts and the rest of his imbecilic economic policies.

But I think that his message was blocked; first by Clinton's greater street cred, bigger reputation and campaign machinery; and by Obama's ability to reach out and touch a chord with people that made them want to join with him to make this country a better place.

As a result he never did better than second, if I recall aright. Even at the debates it was hard for him to get a word in over the two top candidates.

Sad, John.

And now it's being reported that Edwards, his once-mocked hair falling out haphazardly in scattered patches and pus dripping from his still-smiling lips, will go to New Orleans and give up his campaign. But being younger than Rudy, Edwards will revive himself and rally his strength by participating in Habitat for Humanity, helping to rebuild a neighborhood in New Orleans.

Who's next?

Ron Paul's a doctor, so his campaign might cling to life, buttressed by infusions of exotic and powerful drugs;

Alan Keyes - well, he's a walking corpse; he hasn't realized yet that the fallout has killed his chances.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida Primary Day - Verbum Sap. Time!

Here are a few eminently quotable quotes from that fount of ancient wisdom (har har), Lazarus Long (with a nod to his creator, the noted SF author Robert A. Heinlein):

Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for...but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

And my personal favorite:

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of---but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.

Odd Science Corner

From Yahoo! News comes this amazing article about one of the ugliest creatures on our planet (in my opinion).

"As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers.

A better understanding of pain resistance in these sausage-like creatures could lead to new drugs for people with chronic pain, scientists added.

Naked mole rats live in cramped, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet underground in central East Africa. Unusually, they are cold-blooded — which, as far as anyone knows, is unique among mammals.


Scientists knew the mole rats were quite sensitive to touch — perhaps to help replace their almost useless eyes. After probing their skin, Park and his colleagues unexpectedly discovered the rodents lacked the chemical Substance P, which causes the feeling of burning pain in mammals."

Neat stuff, eh?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Primary Eve Candidate Assessment

As promised, here is my final take on the GOP candidates going into the Florida Primary on Tuesday.

First of all, let me say that I've been a Republican voter ever since I became old enough to vote in 1979.

I deplore the choices I have for the Florida primary on January 29. Is this the best my Party can produce to win this election?

Rudy Giuliani. Used the NYPD to drive his mistress around and walk her dog, failed to provide proper radios (and has had the gall to use 9/11 footage in his campaign ads), proposes tax cuts that will be paid for with - surprise! - more tax cuts, and has flip-flopped on some social issues. Oh, and his lobbying group did work for a known al-Qaeda supporter. His endorsement of a National Catastrophe Fund is just a red-meat sop to us Florida voters.

Mitt Romney. Mitt moved from one part of the political spectrum to the other so fast it almost gave me whiplash. He wants to be a CEO President, the same thing that George W Bush said he was. Mitt, after eight years of a "CEO President" and seeing what havoc he's caused, do you think we really want another one so soon?

Mike Huckabee. I guess no one bothered to tell the Governor-Reverend that in this country the People are sovereign and all our laws derive from that sovereignty. The last thing we need right now, given all our problems, is someone who doesn't believe in science and thinks that the Constitution should be changed to force women to give up their freedom and return to the kitchen. If he wants to live in a country run by religion, let him run for President of Iran.

John McCain. I admire him for his service to our country, and respect him for the pains he suffered as a result of that service. His stance on the war in Iraq could be better, along with a few other things, but the worst thing I find is his pandering to the religious right. Especially after the way he was treated in 2000.

These are the four top contenders; the others in the field (Thompson, Paul and Keyes) are largely non-factors.

Based on what we Republicans have to select from, I feel that the Grand Old Party is going to go the way of the dodo.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"I say to you today, my friends, ..."

There are times in public speaking when the speaker allows himself to speak, heart to heart, with his audience. At those times rhetoric fades, to be replaced by pure oratory. Step back, and listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jnr. as he speaks from his heart:

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Post #666

Hooray! I made it the Devil Post, which is amazing. When this particular Blue-Eyed Devil started blogging back in 2005, he little realized that his maunderings would last so long.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Roundup

Well, it's Sunday, traditionally a day of rest. So let's stop a moment for a breather and see what's been going on, shall we?

Looks like John McCain won in South Carolina, while Hillary got the booby prize in Nevada (by winning the caucus, but getting one fewer delegates than Obama), and Romney won the GOP side in Nevada. Fred Thompson came on the telly after posting a poor third in South Carolina and made a pointless 30-second speech about sacrifice. Oh, and a nobody named Duncan Hunter dropped out of the GOP race.


The Dear Leader and both Houses of Congress agree that something has to be done to nip the recession in the bud, so Dear Leader proposed a $145 billion package that would give a lot of people checks. He did the same thing in 2001, and after 9/11 told us all to shop.

The problem is that the flaws in the economy apparently run deeper than just handing out money to us. For example, where's that money coming from, and how will the government pay for it? And does the Upper One Percent really give two shits about us proles?


A man named Milton Wolff died last Monday in Berkeley, California at the age of 92. The name didn't mean anything to me until I read the rest of his obituary. Wolff was born in 1915 and, at age 21 and an active Communist, he went off to Spain.

By age 22 he was the ninth (and last) American commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a unit made of American expatriates who had gone off to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. While there he met the novelist Ernest Hemingway, and Wolff later said that Hemingway served him his first Scotch.

About 40 members of the Lincoln Brigade are still alive. They were idealists, fighting for a cause they thought was right. Unfortunately, they lost when, after their withdrawal in late 1939, Madrid fell to General Franco and the Fascists.


The war in Iraq drags on, with no end in sight. The insurgents are elusive and the weapons seem to be getting a bit more powerful. Meanwhile, more American troops die while our elected representatives - our employees - sit on their hands.


Governor-Reverend Michael "Elect Me Ayatollah!" Huckabee continues to frighten the shit out of the GOP mainstream and, truth be told, out of a lot of clear-thinking people like myself. His stated positions are such that he really should be an Iranian mullah, and only reinforces my belief that no ordained minister, of whatever religion, should ever be allowed to run for public office.

Take a look at what Huckabee espouses: Quarantining gays in camps, outlawing gay marriage, outlawing abortion, amending the US Constitution to reflect "God's Law" (and nevermind that his interpretation of that might differ from others' views), and so on. He is in favor of allowing the old treasonous Confederate battle flag to stay prominently posted on state flags, and by his coded language on states' rights is making sure that Southern whites can still feel comfortable in Jim Crow racism.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Checkmated by Fate

Bobby Fischer died, in exile, at the age of 64 yesterday. He was a World Champion of the game of chess after defeating Boris V. Spassky in 1972.

Like all geniuses, Fischer walked close to the delicate line that separates us from the dark land of insanity, and may have strayed over a few times more than was healthy for him. Born of a Jewish mother, he became an anti-Semite; he renounced his American citizenship after playing a rematch with Spassky in Yugoslavia.

To this very day his play and his moves are studied and copied, analyzed and dissected by chess devotees. The game can only be said to be enriched by his legacy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Sex Post

Australian rugby player says "Thank you" after raping woman.

Swingers club owners say that they're serious about "providing quality adult entertainment within clearly-defined parameters."

Verbum Sapienti Sat Est

Don't jump to conclusions
About others' illusions;
You may find
An axe to grind
If you look at your own delusions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I was at a bit of a loss regarding what to cook for supper, so I threw a bunch of things together and came up with this:

Improv Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes
8 ounces of baby carrots, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
¼ cup toasted crushed walnuts
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp lemon pepper
1 tbsp tarragon
½ tsp cinnamon

1. Marinate chicken:
Put the cut-up chicken in a bowl and add the lemon pepper, tarragon and parsley, along with a bit of salt. Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil over the chicken, mix to coat and distribute the seasonings. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

2. Cooking
Start by sautéing the carrots in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. After two minutes, add the garlic and the walnuts and stir. After another few minutes (the carrots will become tender), add the marinated chicken along with the oil.
Cook the chicken, covered, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add the cinnamon and raisins, then uncover and let simmer for another 7 minutes or until the chicken is done and the liquid is reduced.

Serves 4. Serve over rice or pasta.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bush's Trophy Chick, and Bush's Arabian Nights

The US Secretary of State and George W Bush's Trophy Chick, Condoleezza Rice, fresh from a flying visit to Iraq to give PM Nouri al-Maliki a paternalistic pat on the head for finally passing a de-Baathification law, went back to Riyadh to have a confab with her Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal.

While having a bit of chat, she said something that struck me as rather, well, stupid.

Don't get me wrong - Condi is, I'm certain, a very well-educated woman and in her chosen profession she would do quite well. If, of course, the Soviet Union ever came into existence again (she's an expert on the USSR, which ceased to exist in 1991).

Here's what she said, paraphrased as the lede in Yahoo News: "Arab nations must do more to reach out to Israel, as a way to do their part to nudge a Mideast peace accord into being."

Read that bit again. I'm sure that quite a few Arab nations would love to 'reach out' to Israel - preferably with a very large bomb. The only nations that have peace treaties with the Jewish state are Jordan and Egypt. Saudi Arabia's stated position is that Israel may not be serious about talks, because of its settlements and treatment of the Palestinians.

Her statements just struck me as stupid. You be the judge.


His Excellency the Deciderer has been making the whirlwind tour of the Middle East, making fatuous and fantastic statements about a MidEast peace treaty before he leaves office in 2009. As usual he excoriated Iran, while his hosts said that Iran's the major player in the area and they have to talk to them even after we leave.

(Speaking of the pseudo Gulf of Tonkin last week, it's come out that the video was a pastiche, the audio didn't come from any of the ships or boats, and the provocative language may have come from a well-known heckler on that radio channel known as the 'Filipino Monkey.' Do we have idiots running the Pentagon, or is it just the Bush White House?)

Bush also practically got down on his knees and begged King Abdullah to prevail upon OPEC to raise production so that oil prices can drop. Abdullah basically told him to get bent, as 'market forces' will determine the production quotas. Hully gee, kinda uncomfortable them 'market forces,' huh George?

He'll make one more stop, in Egypt, before coming back here, and everyone in the Arab world will breathe a sigh of relief that he's back with Cheney, who can keep an eye on him.

The Approaching Quandary

The Florida Republican primary approaches! It will be held on Tuesday, January 29th, and I still haven't made up my mind as to which one of the Troop of Poo-Flinging Monkeys gets my vote.

The noted and revered SF author Robert A. Heinlein, through his most famous mouthpiece Lazarus Long, wrote that there may never be anything you want to vote for, but there will always be something you can vote against. That advice has served me well for many years.

As Der Tag gets closer, I shall describe the various pros and cons of each candidate as I see them, and try to arrive at a decision.

But will I tell you?

Hell, no. The secret ballot may be a fiction, but it's one I cling to.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Next Sexual Revolution

Is happening now, it appears, and I think I know why.

In this nice article on "edgy" sex play on MSNBC's website, the correspondent is talking with a domme about sex and why the number and amount of extreme sexual proclivities (fire play, blood play, etc.) seem to be increasing:

"A new era of sexual experimentation had clearly taken hold, she said, and not just by the usual suspects of free-love hippies and dissolute hipsters with too much money, but everybody from all walks of life were starting to show up at the Wet Spot seeking information about sex that heretofore had been considered edgy and rare. She wasn’t exactly sure why this was happening now — we talked about the Internet and pop culture but these didn’t seem completely satisfying — just that over the past five years or so, her clientele had boomed. The Wet Spot now had eight thousand members in the Seattle area, the eldest 81 years old. All of them had redefined “normal” for themselves."

Well, here's a thought.

Just as humor is a reaction against inflexible and authoritarian behavior, so a certain sexual looseness can be a reaction against puritannical and hypermoralistic behavior. We've seen a surge in people who want to impress upon us values that were familiar to our parents and grandparents, but may be completely alien to us (remember that values have been in flux since the 1960s, and that flux seems to be accelerating almost as fast as our society is changing).

So, is the New Revolution at hand?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An(other) Office for the Dead

Nine US soldiers killed in Iraq in two days, six wounded.

We cannot honor their sacrifice enough.

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. A hymn becometh thee, O God, in Zion, and unto thee a vow shall be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; unto thee all flesh shall come. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Forgive, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from all the chains of their sins and may they deserve to avoid the judgment of revenge by your fostering grace, and enjoy the everlasting blessedness of light.

O Lord, we offer you sacrifices and prayers in praise; accept them on behalf of the souls whom we remember today. make them pass over from death to life, as you promised Abraham and his seed.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant them rest in eternity.

May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord, with thy saints in eternity, for thou art merciful. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.

Rest in peace."


The US death toll (as reported): 3,920.

How long, O Lord? HOW FUCKING LONG?

Cooking With Gas

CS gas (its military designation; its real name is orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile, which is a mouthful) is a fine particulate, dispersed in a fluid vehicle and propelled to its target in any number of ways. The effect of the chemical agent is mainly respiratory; you feel as if you're choking, your nose and mouth start running and you may even vomit. Also your eyes will slam shut, because CS is also an irritant on moist flesh, so if you're sweating you will feel it.

I speak from experience on this. Trust me.

The US Army does not use CS (sometimes misnamed tear gas) or any other chemical riot control agent in Iraq due to severe restrictions on its use in international treaties and rules of engagement.

But in 2005, it seems that a group of American soldiers at a Green Zone checkpoint in Baghdad were exposed to CS.

Guess who?

Two words: Blackwater Worldwide.

In an article in the New York Times, it was revealed today that Blackwater apparently dropped canisters of CS from a hovering helicopter as well as tossed canisters from a ground vehicle. Nothing was going wrong at the time, so it is possible that the mercs were just trying to either claer the intersection or screw with the Iraqis below. The US troops were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, it would appear.

Unfortunately, Blackwater operates under its own rules - that is to say, no rules at all - and it's protected by the ukase decreed by our second Viceroy of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer. This shit happened two years ago, and we're only now finding out about it.

It's time to see the end of this company and its involvement in Iraq before their actions get our soldiers killed and not just suffering runny noses and watery eyes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nelson Muntz Moment

One of the bit characters on The Simpsons is a class bully named Nelson Muntz. Whenever something bad happens to a person, Nelson will step into shot, point and go "HA-HA!" in a very irritating and loud tone.

So, for all the pollsters out there who called the New Hampshire race for Obama (by double digits in a couple cases):


Monday, January 07, 2008

Gulf of Tonkin, Anyone?

Various news agencies this morning have reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards naval forces apparently tried to provoke a trio of US Navy warships in the Straits of Hormuz. We'll cite the BBC's report (the italicized bits are my emphasis):

Iran boats 'threatened US ships'

Five Iranian speedboats harassed three US navy ships at the weekend, approaching them and radioing a threat to blow them up, US officials say.
The incident happened as the US vessels passed through the Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Arabian peninsula and Iran, Pentagon officials said.
US sailors came close to opening fire, unnamed officials told CNN.
The White House on Monday warned Iran against "provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident".
The speedboats came within about 200m of the US vessels, a Pentagon official told the French news agency AFP.
"I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes," the Iranians said in a radio transmission, according to the officials.
The Iranian craft turned away "literally at the very moment that US forces were preparing to open fire", the Associated Press reported, also citing an unnamed Pentagon official.
He said that it was "the most serious provocation of this sort" that had occurred to date.
The incident took place between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, reports said, although it was not clear exactly when.
Some officials identified the Iranian boats as belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
It comes amid high US-Iranian tensions over Iran's nuclear programme and as US President George Bush is due to begin a tour of the Middle East on Wednesday.


Okay. Let us assume that this is true on its face (which, coming as it does from the Bush Pentagon, and "unnamed officials," requires a greater leap of faith than Intelligent Design). It is inconceivable to me that the Iranians would be so stupid as to actually radio a threat to the ships if they're actually going to attack.

Threats are ludicrous; if you're going to do something, do it - don't say you'll do it and then don't. Not making good on a promise of imminent action (which is what a threat is) diminishes each threat afterward.

People will remonstrate, saying, "But that's the point of terrorism, isn't it? To instill fear. You said it yourself." Quite so, but closing to only 200 meters before trying to instill fear is a bit ridiculous too. At 200 meters (about 610 feet), those small boats would be toast. A better course of action would be to get within spitting distance, then yell "Boo!" Or, touch the hull of the US ship and radio "Tag! You're it!"

Now, let us assume that this whole magilla is a fabrication (something I would not put past the Bush Administration, particulary the Office of the Vice President). Cheney was a draft-age lad at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which went a little something like this:

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is a pair of supposed attacks allegedly carried out by naval forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (commonly referred to as North Vietnam) against two American destroyers, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. The incident occurred on August 2 and 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin.[1]
Although it is possible that the first attack, on the destroyer Maddox, was in fact carried out after the Maddox fired first, some altercation did occur. The second supposed attack almost certainly did not occur.
Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects and overeager sonarman may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by Maddox.
—Captain John Herrick, TIME Magazine 1968
Indeed the Pentagon had criticized that this sonarman who reported 22 torpedoes may have confused them with the sound of the engine of his own vessel.[2]
In a tape recording that surfaced in 2001, President Lyndon B. Johnson admits that the Gulf of Tonkin second "attack," which he used to obtain approval for the Vietnam War from Congress, never occurred.[3]
In 1995 the retired General Vo Nguyen Giap confirmed nothing ever happened on August 4 -- although he admitted that the August 2 attack was real. He believed U.S. ships were trying to provoke an attack so President Johnson would have a pretext for greater U.S. involvement.[4]
Later research, including a report released in 2005 by the National Security Agency, also indicated that the second attack most likely did not occur, but also attempted to dispel the long-standing assumption that members of the administration of President Johnson had knowingly lied about the nature of the incident.[5][6]
The outcome of the incident was the passage by Congress of the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), which granted Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for escalating American involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.


Last year, the Senate of the United States passed the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which expressed the "sense of the Senate" that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be considered a terrorist organization and pledged the United States to contain Iran's influence through its proxies in Iraq and Lebanon.

So, what do we have here? A triphammer amendment, coupled with a purported naval "incident."

I wonder if any of the US Navy ships was named the USS Turner Joy or the USS Maddox? No, no, that'd be too cute.

But what we may have here is the first attempt to present the American people with a fait accompli to justify an attack on Iran.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

An Office for the Dead

Eleven dead at Iraqi Army Day celebration.

Two of the soldiers threw themselves onto the suicide bomber before he exploded, sacrificing themselves for their fellow soldiers and civilians. They, not the man with the explosive belt, deserve the rightful title of shaheed, or martyr. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

And these are offered by me. Bismillah al-Rahman al Raheem:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful:

Glory to Thee, O Allah, and Thine is the praise, and blessed is Thy name, and exalted is Thy majesty, and there is none to be served besides Thee.

"Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master of the day of Requital. Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours, not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go astray."

God is great.

O Allah! Exalt Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad, as Thou didst exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham, for surely, Thou art Praised, Magnified. O Allah! bless Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst bless Abraham and the true followers of Abraham, for surely Thou art Praised, Magnified.

God is great.

O Allah! Grant protection to our living and to our dead and to those of us who are present and those who are absent, and to our young and to our old folk and to our males and to our females. O Allah! Whosoever Thou grantest to live among us, cause him to live in Islam (submission) and whosoever of us Thou causest to die, make him die in faith. O Allah! Do not deprive us of this reward and do not make us fall into a trial after him.

God is great.

"Peace be on you and the mercy of Allah."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Meanwhile ...

It seems while a lot of people in America were distracted about the Presidential candidates sniping at each other, the so-called "War on Christmas," and Britney Spears' apparent mental and physical collapse, a few things were going in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The day after Christmas, two US soldiers were killed and three injured (along with an interpreter) when, during a patrol, an Iraqi soldier started shooting at the US troops. The fun bit is that the US Army at first tried to cover up the shootings, using the catch-all phrase "hostile fire." If someone's shooting at you, chances are there's at least some hostility. Anyway, the reason the shooter did his deed is being investigated, since he's still alive to talk.

According to MSNBC, 46,000 more Iraqi exiles have filtered back into the country from Syria. While some extol the improved security situation, others (Iraqi Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross) cite financial trouble and expired visas. And the troubles won't end there. A lot of the reason that the neighborhoods in Baghdad are no longer so violent is because they're no longer mixed on religious lines - a neighborhood that may have been 40% Sunni is now 100% Shiite because the Shiites have driven them out and put new people in those vacant homes. Talk about a bad situation going worse.

Which leads me back to the only righteous war Bush ever started (and is in danger of losing - seriously, everything this man touches turns to shit) to Afghanistan. Worsening security, smuggling and a reduction of imports from Pakistan are raising the spectre of a wheat shortage in that country, with its attendant civil unrest that will play into the hands of the Taliban. But not to worry; there's going to be a record opium poppy crop this year. Also, there are other troubles plaguing the Afghans, like the fact that about 30 children have died there of the measles.

2008 will be an interesting year.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Aftermath

Democratic Party side first:

Barack Obama won, with John Edwards and Hillary Clinton in the #2 and #3 spots. Dodd and Biden have withdrawn from the race, according to TASS - er, CNN. Before people starting getting their knickers in a twist about these results, it was pointed out to me that Iowa only correctly predicts the eventual winner only 25% of the time over the past few decades.

However, I had a vision while taking a shower this morning (it seems the place to have visions, thank you very much) of the eventual Prez and Veep nominees on the Democratic side. Who, you may ask? Barack Obama (Prez) and Bill Richardson (Veep). How's that for a combo that'll make the wingnuts go completely mental (well, more mental than usual)?

Republican Party side second:

Mike Huckabee won, with Romney and Thompson at #2 and #3. Romney put the best face on it, saying that Reagan lost Iowa but was the eventual nominee. But Mittens forgot one thing.

When Reagan was running, he had the support of the American Taliban as well as the GOP Establishment. Since the Whackos were never expected to actually front their own candidate, but to only slavishly vote for whomever they were told to vote, the state of affairs that has led to the Governor-Reverend's victory is causing people some serious, major-league angst.

Thompson came in third, so he's still in the race, such as he is. The Dessicated Corpse's aides had hinted that he'd withdraw before New Hampshire if he came in 4th or worse in Iowa, forcing Freddy to go on telly and squall that he wasn't dropping out.

Giuliani hit right about where Ron Paul ended up - sixth, but then Don Rudolfo had already written off the smaller states in favor of trying to catch up by winning in the bigger primary honeypots like Florida. Unfortunately, ceding the smaller states entails a heavy risk - an opponent's momentum going into a big state may overcome Rudy's overbearing presence.

Overbearing was used deliberately. Have you SEEN his Florida ads? I nearly sprained my thumb over the holidays hitting the Mute switch on my remote.

Still, it's on to New Hampshire, and we'll see how the weirdos up in the Granite State swing.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Okay, Back to the Lint Mines

Well, I hope everyone had a lovely New Year's celebration, and everyone managed to avoid getting too hung over. Wonderful.

My own celebration of the Great Wheel Turning including drinking (not much), setting off fireworks at midnight (leftovers from a year earlier), and grazing on snacks.

Well, it's now the 2nd of July, so I have to get back down to the grindstone. But first, a few resolutions:

1. I resolve to make fun of, if not actively insult, all of the Presidential candidates at every opportunity.

2. I resolve to get more physical activity.

3. I resolve to at least start my fourth novel (still undecided as to content - sword and sorcery, or my memoirs?)

4. I resolve to do my best to get promoted at my job.

5. I resolve not to get too depressed at the blithering incompetent who gets elected in a flurry of electronic ballot-box stuffing in November of this year.

6. I resolve not to gloat about the fact that this is my 650th post (damn!).