Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last Word on the Bailout

As usual, The Rude Pundit nails it.

Okay, My Turn

Here's my idea for bailing out Wall Street:

1. Go after the rich and the big megacorporations and not only raise their taxes but confiscate a percentage of their assets (said percentage to be based on their assets and earnings - gotta leave something for the stockholders).

2. Apply the assets confiscated to the problem.

3. Allow the market to find its own level while restraining banks and credit card companies from raising their rates to loan-shark heights.

What do you think?

Monday, September 29, 2008

For Good or Ill ...

On passage, House Resolution 3997:

Yes = 206
No = 228
Not Voting = 1

The Financial Bailout Bill has failed to pass the House of Representatives. Rep. Frank told a reporter for CNBC that the Banking Committee will wait to assess the impact this has on the financial sector before bringing the bill back and reopening negotiations.

I was watching CNBC while flipping back and forth from it to C-SPAN; when the outcome was no longer in doubt the Dow Jones tanked 700 points; it's since come back and is now about 500 points down. Crude oil on the NYMEX actually fell 9 dollars.

So, I guess we wait and see what happens next.

Weekend Roundup - Let the Fallout Begin!

Let's start up with the debate Friday night.

You know, the one that John McCain at first tried to blow off because he absolutely positively had to drop like a hot brick because the Economic Catastrophe was just so damned important that he absolutely had to be in Washington to help stop - then sat quietly through a 40-minute photo op and finally offered a nonsensical plan of his own. No one wanted him in Washington DC.

So he went into the debate irritated, and even more irritated that Obama had obstinately refused to tag along to his proposed series of carefully-scripted, softballed and vetted-crowd "town hall meetings." So he refused to look at Obama, refused to refer to him in anything but third person, and kept insisting that somehow cutting government spending would save Wall Street.

It was like listening to the Underpants Gnomes from South Park, who had a simple corporate business plan:
1. Collect underpants
3. Reap massive profits

He also obstinately refused to concede that the Iraq War had started in 2003, not 2007 with the 'surge.' And his stance on many foreign policy issues only served to reinforce my contention that this angry old man should not be allowed anywhere near the SIOP or the nuclear release codes.

And that brings me to Sarah Palin, who meandered her way through a Katie Couric interview with all the intelligence of a middle school student making a D average. I mean, come on, Sarah! This was Katie Couric you were talking to - the woman is to a journalist as MacDonalds is to haute cuisine!

But I tried, I really really tried to listen to the interview with an open mind:

Unfortunately, about midway through Palin's labored explanation of how Alaska's proximity to Russia serves to give her foreign policy credibility, my brain tried to take advantage of my open mind and attempted to escape through my left ear.

I managed to stop it from getting away.

Palin's ratings are slowly starting to drop as more and more she is revealed to be the most eminently unsuitable candidate for Veep since Admiral Stockdale (who frankly admitted during his debate that he didn't even know why he was there). The reported shotgun wedding of her pregnant daughter to the child's putative father can be construed as yet another ploy by the campaign to postpone or cancel the Veep debate scheduled for 2 October.

There's a limit to how long they can keep her bound and gagged and in a closet - eventually they have to let her out to answer questions.

And that brings me to the Economic Bailout. Seven hundred billion dollars that are designed to cover the bad debts and toxic securities accumulated by the runaway rabid capitalists on Wall Street (which moves were always facilitated by Washington - along with the complicity of one Senator John S. McCain of Arizona and his BFF, former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas).

Here's my take on it (and bear in mind that I'm not an economist):

The money is wasted already and will do nothing to stop the slide. In fact, the slide may continue despite the bailout. CNBC was reporting this morning that the Benelux countries' central banks are acquiring massive stakes in the Fortis investment bank to shore that institution up. Wachovia is in talks with two banks, and the British government has apparently nationalized a failing bank in England.

With all the hooting and hollering about "socialism," the robber baron capitalists are actually leading the charge away from the free market to having the government control a larger segment of the economy.

So, all hail the People's Republic of the United States of America. Hank Paulson and the enablers in Congress - on both sides - have managed to do what FDR and the New Dealers never dreamed of doing.

Bombings continue in Iraq, and now the new provincial elections law there is coming under fire because it gets rid of ethno-religious quotas. That has the tiny minority of Iraqi Christians up in arms, of course, along with the Turkmen. Sunnis apparently set off the most recent series of bombs.

Speaking of bombs, we've seen them in Pakistan and in northern Lebanon now.

Piracy has gained a milestone with the seizure of a Ukrainian-owned, Belizean-flagged freighter carrying 30 Russian T-72 main battle tanks, along with parts and ammunition. The pirates are asking for $20 million in ransom, and US and Russian naval units are in the area.

So that's where we sit this Monday morning. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I looked into the eyes of a corpse last night ...

It was the only thing he still had left.

Energy policy?

Screwed to death by a combination of Cheney's secretive nature and Enron's shameless manipulation of the energy market.


Thanks to extraordinary rendition and torture, we've lost our moral standing in the world.

Foreign policy?

His standoffish nature, failure to understand the realities of the power structures and plain unilateral pigheadedness, the United States is now regarded with suspicion by much of the world's leaders. Not even Britain trusts us unreservedly any longer.

War in Afghanistan?

The Taliban and their allies among the tribes are resurgent, inflicting casualties and making the recovery of Afghanistan even more precarious. The people there are suspicious of foreigners to start with, and are losing faith in the Karzai government.

War in Iraq?

Most people are now convinced, as I was back in 2003, that this war was completely wrong. If this was a sane universe, the President, Vice-President and many others would have been charged with 4,154 counts of second-degree murder as well as the biggest fraud indictment in the history of the world.

Domestic policy?

Katrina. That's all I need to say.

It was the economy that Bush still had, clinging to it as a cowering child clings to its mother. As long as people were out shopping (as he urged us to do after the terrorist attacks) and money was being swapped back and forth as if it were a gigantic game - as long as Wall Street was doing well, the biggest cheerleader was George W Bush.

Who, as you'll recall, was a cheerleader when he went to school at Andover.

There was some weaknesses starting to develop as early as last year, but Bush the Cheerleader kept repeating his mantra that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong," and encouraging more people to get in over their heads in his idealized ownership society.

Ownership society.

One of the fundamentals of what is regarded as The American Dream - your own home. The groundwork had been laid as far back as the Reagan Years to make it oh-so-simple to get a home even if your credit was in the toilet.

And laissez les bontemps roulez.

And the good times did roll.

But as with every party or dance, eventually the bills need to settled, the band needs to be paid, someone has to clean up and the hangovers set in.

The economy was the last, the absolute last thing Bush actually had going his way. The last thing he could point to as a success.

And now it's gone, too.

I looked into the eyes of a corpse last night.

Lame duck?

Dead duck.

They Call the Wind 'Maria?" One Cop Didn't Think So ...

From South Charleston, West Virginia, comes this amazing bit of news, shared with you, dear reader, just for a giggle:

A West Virginia man who police said passed gas and fanned it toward a patrolman has been charged with battery on a police officer.

That must have been some fart to constitute felony battery. I wonder how the evidence was collected and by whom (and I think the judge will likely throw it out of court, or the DA will refuse to prosecute).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain's Move

Come to find out it was Obama's starting move that impelled McCain into suggesting he suspend his campaign.

An email was sent to the McCain camp (under a flag of truce?) by the Obama camp suggesting that a joint statement be sent out about the current economic mess and expressing concerns about the Paulson Bailout Plan. That was at 8:30 this morning.

McCain has issued a public statement this afternoon that he was "suspending" his campaign and, after a speaking engagement at the Clinton Center, will return to Washington to take part in any votes. He added that he hoped the plan (whatever form it takes) can be approved and implemented before the markets open on Monday morning.

He also wanted to postpone Friday night's Presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi due to this emergency.

What emergency? The only thing that's changed in the past 48 hours, according to Ben Smith of Politico, is the polling data, which is starting to show Obama pulling away from McCain.

Obama went on TV at 4:40 this afternoon, described the chronology (and giving props to Senator Coburn for suggesting that a joint statement might be a good idea), but saying that now, more than ever, the American people need to hear what he and McCain have to say and where they stand on issues, so he's in favor of continuing the debates as scheduled.

Which will be fun to watch. I'm laying in extra popcorn to see if McCain can multitask effectively. Let's face it, I want a President who's capable of doing two things at once at a minimum.

So, what do you think?

Right-Wing Christian Schizophrenia

Here in Florida there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot for November that would restrict those participating in the social and legal arrangement known as "marriage" to only genetic males and females. Same-gender attempts at the same socio-legal arrangement will not be permitted.

This is getting far less play in the media here in America's Soft Dangly Bits than a similar amendment is getting in California. Of course, same-gender marriage is legal in California following a court challenge to existing marriage laws, and a mixture of conservative and religious groups are pushing that state's Amendment #8 to ban same-gender marriage.

Some of them are howling that if the amendment is defeated and there is no ban put in place, Christians will become a persecuted minority and the jails and prisons will swell up with people arrested on account of their religion.


For the record I am in favor of same-gender marriage for its social benefits (statistically, same-gender couples are every bit as capable as hetero couples at raising children in a stable and loving atmosphere, while most of the cases of child sexual and physical abuse appear to come from hetero families) as well as its economic advantages (taxes, incentives, amount of money put into the local economy, etc.). I think that allowing same-gender marriage here in Florida would be a boon. Imagine, if you will, the amount of money that will come into the state as people set up marriage ceremonies in Miami or at the House of Mouse.

But the title of this post dwells on the reaction of the Christian fundamentalists to the social progressivism and the changes in values in our society. This is put into a dandy nutshell consisting of two statements (hat tip to commenter Shaenon over at Pandagon):

a) America is a Christian nation, populated almost entirely by Christians, with non-Christians forming such a tiny minority that their beliefs and rights are unimportant.

b) Christians in America are a tiny, persecuted minority, constantly in danger of being imprisoned, deported, or fed to lions by the heathens who run the country and oppose them at every turn.

See what I mean? The fundamentalists are able to keep both positions in their heads, and both are clearly contradictory. It's prcatically paranoid schizophrenia.

Don't believe me? Watch Bill O'Reilly on Fox sometime when he's bellowing about a War on Christmas or a War on Christianity.

(Of course, O'Reilly's a fine one to talk about Christian virtues, seeing as Angela Makris got a lot of money from him for his sexual harassment of her.)

There's enough psychic elbow room in this country to allow homosexuals (who are a minority, although their real numbers may be far higher than supposed) to have the same civil right accorded to heterosexuals.

My recommendation on Florida's Gay Marriage Ban Amendment?

Vote No on November 4th.

Thoughts on the Bailout

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had an interesting counterproposal to make to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson yesterday: Why give out a check for $700 Billion Dollars? Wouldn't $150B do for a start, in three installments?

This makes sense for a number of reasons.

First, it cuts down the pain inflicted on me and the other taxpayers in the country if the plan doesn't work, and

Second, it can be paid out in neat packets of $50 Billion each, followed by a waiting period to see the effects and modify as needed; and finally

Third, Henry Paulson isn't going to be Treasury Secretary past January 20, 2009.

That last one bears some repetition. For good or ill, Democrat or Republican, we will have another Secretary of the Treasury in Washington DC after Inauguration Day. It might be a good idea to see where we stand then before taking any further steps.

The number of things wrong with the three-page Paulson Plan quite frankly piss me off. No oversight? Rubbish; with that amount of money and power (because money confers power) you need some sort of check on a person's actions.

Rewarding CEOs?

Not just No, but Fuck, No!

The only reward I can think of for the authors and leading lights of this mess is a hempen caudle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quote Without Comment

"A career politician finally smelling the White House is not much different from a bull elk in the rut. He will stop at nothing, trashing anything that gets in his way; and anything he can't handle personally he will hire out - or, failing that, make a deal. It is a difficult syndrome for most people to understand, because few of us ever come close to the kind of Ultimate Power and Achievement that the White House represents to a career politician."

- Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter S. Thompson. Copyright 1973 by Warner Books, page 380.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Um, Senator?

Dear Senator McCain,

I know you're a very busy man, what with trying desperately to become President before you die or the Apocalypse overtakes us (whichever comes first), but I have a question for you.

Are you completely fucking nuts?

This little gem popped up yesterday on the blog DailyKos. It's from an article Senator McCain wrote for Contingencies, the journal of the American Academy of Actuaries (September/October 2008 edition), and it's about health care reform. To refresh your memory, I'll give you the quote that everyone should know by now:

“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

"Over the last decade in banking."

Your words, Senator, not mine.

I am reminded that you were at the heart of the Savings and Loan collapse of the 1980s as well as the only unpunished member of the Keating Five. You are trying to portray yourself as a change agent in Washington, despite having voted with the GOP (if not straight party line) 90% of the time on average over the past 26 years.

You helped your friend and economic adviser, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas (what the hell is it with Texan politicians, anyway? Are they ALL idiots?) revoke the Glass-Steagal Act in the 1990s, and helped encourage the banks and other financial institutions in our country to go hog-wild and bull-crazy.

Which has brought us to this sorry moment in American history.

Thanks, in part, to you, Senator McCain.

If you were the "Maverick" you have often claimed to be ... well, let that pass. If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating cheap horseflesh.

Friday, September 19, 2008


When Governor Sarah Palin was selected for Senator John McCain by the Christian Right, the Club for Growth and the lobbyists that now own him in fee simple, there was only one visible cloud on her horizon. Namely, the firing of Alaskan top cop Monegan for allegedly refusing to fire her brother-in-law from the State Police.

According to reports at that time, the Governor and her staff were cooperating fully with the legislative investigation into the allegations, and there didn't seem to be much to it.

Until McCain's handlers and legal staff went north.

Now she's lawyered up, and so has her husband. Both are saying now that they will not cooperate and will not honor the legislative subpoenas, saying that the investigation is a partisan witch hunt.

The committee investigating the allegations is composed of five people, only two of whom are Democrats. The vote to subpoena was 3-2, with one Republican joining the two Democrats (and it's probably rather telling that the sole Republican in the majority was from Gov. Palin's city, Wasilla).

Not exactly partisan.

The fun bit about this latest news is that the announcement of Todd Palin's noncompliance with the legislative subpoena comes not from his lawyer, the Governor's lawyer or any member of her staff. It comes from a spokesman for the McCain for President Campaign.


With her nomination for Vice-President, Governor Palin has had to undergo a great deal of scrutiny in the press. One priceless little tidbit is that she supported charging rape victims for the cost of the swab kit and testing required as evidence in a rape. Fun, eh? And apparently Mr. Monegan was advocating for a task force to cut down on the number of rapes in Alaska (a very high number, which indicates there isn't much to do in Alaska apart from shooting wolves from an airplane).

The amount of baggage being applied to Governor Palin grows.

What's the legal protocol if a nominee gets indicted? Or worse, if the Vice-President-elect of the United States gets indicted?

Avast there, me hearties!

Arr ...

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so hoist the Jolly Roger an' pass th' grog t'all hands!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Don't Blame Me

I had nothing to do with it.


You see, many years ago I started getting blamed for a lot of stuff at work and in my private life, so as a defense mechanism of sorts I started to agree with the detractors.

The way I did it was to say that I was, in fact, An Evildoer.

A member of a Family of Evildoers, who have left their mark on history by sowing destruction everywhere.

Examples included:

The ancestor who assured Napoleon at Waterloo that the Prussians weren't coming to Wellington's aid;

The great-uncle who blew up the Hindenburg (he shouldn't have been deer hunting that day);

The great-grandfather who sank the Titanic (and do you have any idea how hard it was to put a diesel engine on an iceberg?);

My father, who sank the Andrea Doria (several hundred tons of dry ice makes great fog);

And I, of course, who was responsible for the Challenger disaster.

One of my coworkers went so far as to (half-jokingly) insinuate that I had something to do with 9/11.

I assured her that I did not.


So, when the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate starts casting about to see who's responsible for Bear Stearns, the Housing Crisis, the Credit Crisis, the fall of Fannie and Freddie, the demise of Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch, just bear in mind:

It. Wasn't. Me.

Ramah (pictured Left), 1995?-2008

The demonic-looking Seal Point Siamese hybrid on the left of the picture above is Ramah, one of my mother's cats. He was named for the royal title of the Kings of Thailand.

Ramah died today.

He was about thirteen years old, and had just gotten over a urinary tract infection. Over the course of the past two weeks he had started losing weight, had stopped eating and largely stopped drinking, and by the weekend had started having trouble breathing.

So I took him to the veterinarian today, and after he was weighed he was put on oxygen to make him comfortable.

The diagnosis: congestive heart failure, which is a nasty way to go.

My mother gave the order to let him go. The veterinarian was very kind and comforting, a credit to her profession.

Ramah had some good qualities; he would always tell my mother when it was time to go to bed and wake her up in the mornings (when she wanted to get up or not).

Lies, Damned Lies, and John McCain

About two years ago I started referring to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as a Political Bisexual. That term meant that, in my opinion, he would adopt any position on any issue in hopes that he might hit upon a winning combination that will get him elected President.

During the Presidential primary campaign of 2000 McCain was savaged by his rival's campaign, which used a combination of rumor, innuendo, and push polls delivered over the phone to poison the voters in South Carolina against him. Among the rumors was one that stated that McCain's adopted daughter a) was black, and b) was actually McCain's love child by a black woman.

Both a) and b) above were guaranteed to turn off the voters (this was South Carolina, of course, where ignorance not only lives, it thrives).

Assisted by leaders of the Religious Right, led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the George W Bush campaign beat McCain in the South Carolina primary. McCain dropped out of the race soon after and excoriated Bush and the religious leaders.

But then McCain's Potomac jones resurfaced. A Potomac jones is very similar, in my view, to a heroin addiction - you want it, the sting of the needle and giddy, burning rush of power as it drives straight to your head and leaves you floating blissfully.

(Not that I'd know anything about taking heroin, no sir.)

So McCain started out small, by embracing George W Bush's political stances. On everything, to the point that the Senator voted straight Administration line 90% of the time back in 2007. And he was rewarded for that - Bush attended McCain's birthday party in Arizona as thousands clamored for aid after Katrina while New Orleans lay prostrate.

He reversed his stance on the "agents of intolerance" - those religious leaders I mentioned. Falwell's dead now, and good riddance, but his stench lingers like a bad beer fart over the political discourse. Robertson's still alive and still has a tendency to jam his foot so tightly in his own mouth it takes two tractors and a come-along to extricate it.

McCain adopted the Rovian tactics that served Bush so well, spewing lies, distortions and half-truths to such a degree that even the oily Bush Regime eminence grise, Karl Rove himself, thought it was going too far.

McCain, the Political Bisexual, has not only embraced Bush's policies, he's embraced Bush's campaign tactics and has even bettered the instruction.

Lies are a sin against personal integrity, where I work lies are the one thing (apart from committing crimes) that will get you fired automatically, as it shows a lack of personal integrity.

What happened, Senator?

His "choice" of Governor Palin as running mate (which was no choice at all; she was forced upon him by the extreme right of the Party) has only helped point up what a cynical little animal the Senator has become. The Governor has views on issues so extreme that the 2000 edition of McCain wouldn't have had anything to do with her. New revelations about her governing style as Mayor of Wasilla and as Governor are very illustrative.

So it goes on, slogging towards November. And a choice is drawing closer.

Look beyond the lies.

See John McCain for what he's truly become.

McCain has sold his honor and integrity to unworthy men in hopes of becoming President.

We must deny them (and him) that victory.

Florida's New Jim Crow Law

Many decades ago there were a set of laws around the Southern states known as Jim Crow laws, designed to keep African-Americans from exercising their rights as American citizens. Chief among these were the voting laws, which set up a series of barriers from literacy requirements to identification restrictions to poll taxes in order to prevent people from voting.

Ah, you say, but Jim Crow's dead, right?

Wrong, dear reader.

The Florida Legislature (with a Republican majority, imagine that!) set up a new voting law that requires a specific set of ID requirements "to discourage voter fraud." See, the great bugaboo that enables people to disenfranchise others is the idea that people might try to game the system by stuffing the ballot box or bring in ringers or register dead people to vote.

All quite usual tricks, if you follow American history.

However, laws like Florida's (which have also popped up in Georgia, Ohio, New Mexico, etc.) seem to specifically target minorities and the elderly, who might not be able to fulfill the new requirements in order to be able to vote.

Why these groups specifically?

Why, these groups might just vote Democratic, you see, and if enough of them get registered and vote, it might just change the political landscape in Florida. Hell, some of the GOP majority (like the crazier-than-a-bat-on-meth House Speaker, Marco Rubio) might lose their cushy jobs.

Florida might even - gasp! - go to Obama in the Presidential election. And the GOP can't have that, no sir.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Congress of Berlin, the Treaty of Rome, and the Education of Sarah Palin

At the Congress of Berlin in 1878 Prince Otto von Bismarck, the German Chancellor, had a problem that could best be summed up in the question, "What will Germany do if there is another Balkan war?"

(Back then, the Balkans were a major sore spot, much as the Middle East is today with the added attractions of religious and ethnic hatreds to go along with nationalist aspirations within the deteriorating Ottoman Empire.)

Bismarck knew that Austria was wanting to extend its hegemony over the Balkans, Serbia was determined to enlarge itself, and Russia was willing to contemplate war to protect Serbia.

And the last thing Germany wanted (so soon after beating France and consolidating itself into the German Empire) was a war with Russia.

So Bismarck said that the Balkans were "not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier."

(At the time Pomerania was part of the German kingdom of Prussia; it's now part of Poland, if I recall correctly. Of course, Bismarck also referred to the Serbs as "sheep stealers," showing a decidedly low opinion of the ruling House of Karageorge.)

The Germans, under Bismarck's leadership, managed to avoid being drawn into any major dustup in the Balkans until 1914 - at which time, you will recall, World War One started.

I was reminded of the Congress of Berlin (not saying that I'd been there in a previous existence) and Bismarck's famous saying when ABC's Charlie Gibson queried Governor Sarah Palin about the Russian incursion into Georgia, and how she felt the US and Europe should react.

Governor Palin's education in foreign policy (and forget that folderol about her knowing about Russia because Alaska's a polar bear fart away - by that logic I'm a Cuba expert) has been rapid, but revealed a certain shallowness when she rather earnestly replied that the US and NATO should fast-track Georgia's entry into the North Atlantic Alliance, and that such membership would guarantee (under the collective security doctrine) that we would come to Georgia's aid.

In an earlier post ("Baiting the Bear") I made the case that crowding Russia too much is just asking for trouble. Making the Baltic nations (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) members of the Alliance has put NATO and the US at the mercy of small states like Estonia, which has a large ethnic Russian minority that occasionally gets restive.

Chillingly, Mrs. Palin's response encompassed all the options open to NATO, should Georgia become a member and request assistance the next time they deliberately goad the Bear into action (Georgia did send troops into South Ossetia, as you know, triggering this latest contretemps). These options include diplomacy, diplomatic and economic sanctions, and - and this was the scary bit - military action. She also very quickly hastened to add that she (and by extension the McCain Campaign) wasn't interested in "starting a new Cold War."

Let's examine each option. We've already seen how little store the current Bush Administration sets in the idea of diplomacy, and consequently they're not very good at it. There is no indication that a McCain/Palin Administration would be anything but more of the same, coupled with Senator McCain's well-documented temper. Diplomatic sanctions would be a joke, and any economic sanctions would have to take into account the fact that Western Europe gets quite a bit of oil and natural gas from Russia (and I, at least, recall how much Ukraine and Europe howled when Russia cut back that supply a year or so ago).

That leaves the arbitrament of blood - war.

NATO is busy in Afghanistan; thanks to George W Bush our military is hamstrung by a war in Afghanistan (which Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen fears we might lose) and an ongoing occupation in Iraq. It's fairly quiet in Iraq now, but that can change overnight (and has). The US Army estimates that the suicide rate among its soldiers might surpass the national average this year.

Russia is starting to move to outflank us now. Bombers will be visiting Venezuela soon, followed by naval units for joint maneuvers. Bear in mind - an earlier attempt to crowd the Bear (basing missiles in Turkey) led to the Soviet Union basing missiles in Cuba, precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cooler heads prevailed then; I'm not so sure now.

But when Gibson asked Governor Palin about the Bush Doctrine I got a chill up my spine. The vacant look in her eyes, followed by the completely disingenuous question back at him revealed that she didn't know what he was talking about and was sparring for wind. When he clarified himself somewhat, she wandered off on a tangent.

For the edification of the group, the Bush Doctrine (or the Doctrine of Pre-emption) is the underlying justification for our being in Iraq.

Looking at her, I realized that McCain and Palin must lose this election.


Because this is what we would have - an old man, probably still shell-shocked and with a temper many regard as explosive coupled with the impulse control of a compulsive gambler, with a running mate whose force-fed education has been so rapid as to leave her so shallow she appears to be all surface. Not an ounce of deep thinking between them.

Putting Palin in a room with Putin, Hu, Ahmadinejad or Kim would be like turning a lamb loose in a den of wolves.

Think about that when you go to vote in November.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The McCain Campaign in Nine Minutes, Forty-four Seconds

Look for Governor Palin's per diem scheme from 6:10 to 7:30.

It's Been Five Days ...

Since my last post at the end of the Republican Convention. And what have we learned/discovered so far?

1. We learned that the McCain Campaign won't even try to cover up the shabby lies, half-truths and outright bullshit they're talking up in an effort to get elected at any cost. Most of this is to shield the Candidate's running mate, Governor Palin. She was all for lobbyists (Alaska's one of the biggest suckers at the public tit in the entire country) before she was against them, helped run the unutterably corrupt Ted Stevens' 527 before it became politically expedient of her to drop him like a hot brick, and spreads half-truths (the Governor's jet, the Governor's chef) like a landscaper spreads mulch.

She has a baby with Down's Syndrome, and my sympathies are with her and her family (one of my distant cousins has a developmental disorder), but she won't advocate stem-cell research (and neither will the GOP platform, which wrote in a truly draconian anti-abortion screed that gallops farther afield than their own presidential candidate's position on the matter.

Her eldest daughter is "in the family way," and that's a wonderful thing. However, it does sort of give the lie to all that "abstinence-only sex education" nonsense, doesn't it? And cutting state assistance to unwed teen mothers as Governor, Mrs. Palin, will only endear you further to the mass of pig-ignorant GOP al Qaeda.

(Remember, I'm Republican, and for better or worse I know my people.)

And we learned that McCain and his camp have an awfully short memory when it comes to their own assays at humor. Putting lipstick on a pig still makes it a pig. Now, that's no aspersion against Gov. Palin; it harks back to what McCain said in October 2007 about Clinton's health care plan. And, to tell the plain and unvarnished truth the McCain Campaign is exactly that - the George W Bush Campaign with Lipstick On It.

More of the Same, Senator. From your tax policy to education to HIV to the economy, More of the Same.

And in the realm of foreign policy, you appear to be an impulsive gambler of the sort Bush never was. Bush basically bumbled around like Godzilla in a Quaalude haze; you, driven by a temper not fully reconciled with any lingering PTSD, can place this country and the world in far more danger than even Cheney can envision.

And that's saying a lot.

2. We learned that Corporate Welfare (giving mammoth tax breaks to Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banking, etc. etc.) also extends to Corporate Socialism as the Federal Government has placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in order to protect them from collapsing under the weight of their bad debts.

How much bad debt? Oh, how about Five Trillion Dollars?

I reiterate:


That's a five with twelve zeroes behind it, a number so huge the mind has difficulty grasping it. Out of the entire world, only one country has more debt than Fannie and Freddie, and you guessed it - the United States.

On NPR's Marketplace last night a reporter asked representatives at a gathering of former finance ministers in Virginia what would have happened had the Feds not intervened. The former Italian Finance Minister put it dramatically: "Armageddon."

An American Treasury representative was a bit more detailed. See, the economy runs on credit, the ability to borrow money for cars, businesses, schools and the like. If Fannie and Freddie went under the banks (that includes global central banks) would be left holding all their debt, and would refuse to lend money. The global economy, in short, would grind to a halt.

(Um, Dark Wraith? I know I'm oversimplifying like nobody's business, but am I at least somewhat accurate in that?)

3. Apparently, starting up the Large Hadron Collider didn't herald the Apocalypse. Smashing protons together (as the scientists at CERN plan on doing) to recreate conditions that obtained a teeny fraction (about a trillionth) of a second after the Big Bang can help them continue their quest to discover the fundamental structure of the universe and how it got here.

I'm sure I don't know why the mouth-breathers are objecting that such a thing might bring about the end of the world - I thought they wanted it to end so that they could all be with Jesus up in a gated community subdivision country club version of Heaven.

4. I've decided on another two-stage vacation this year. I'll still be going to a resort hotel on the Gulf of Mexico for part of it (the sound of waves on sand had a profound impact on my humors), but I think I shall take in the bright lights of New York for part of the vacation as well. I haven't been up there in 35 years, so it'll be uplifting.

(I think.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Well, That's Over

(Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin of Alaska taking the salute of the assembled delegates at the Republican Party Rally. Note: This is a screenshot - it has NOT been Photoshopped.)

The Republican National Convention is over.

You may thank the Deity of your choice now.

I sat and listened to McCain's speech in its entirety (showing that I will take one for the team if need be).

He spoke about an hour, interrupted by applause and protesters. Looked like two ladies from Code Pink and a guy from Iraq Veterans Against the War. He stayed in the gallery; the two ladies were ejected.

McCain talked. And talked. And talked.

Longer than Obama had.

Did he say anything specific about how he would right the listing ship of state?

I didn't hear anything, apart from a nebulous plan to reinforce voucher programs (subsidies for the churches). He made a bunch of words sound real pretty about alternative fuels, but I recall hearing the same shit from Reagan twenty years ago. How'd that work out?


The sides are chosen.

The battle lines are drawn.

Let the Campaign commence.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"What's the difference between a pit bull and a 'hockey mom?'"


Not a bad joke, although I'd add that a pit bull usually still has all its teeth.

Governor Sarah "Go Ahead and Rape My Daughter, She Still Ain't Getting a Damned Abortion" Palin gave her long-awaited address to the assembled mass at the Republican National Convention last night. I will confess I watched it.

I will also now have a few things to say.

Your daughter's pregnancy is a blessed event, Mrs. Palin. Since you cut funds to teenage mothers in Alaska, what provision have you made to help your daughter if the child's redneck father doesn't want to marry her?

Will you shoot Levi if he doesn't comply with your and Senator McCain's demands that he marry your daughter?

Do you think that your daughter's pregnancy gives the lie to abstinence-only sex education?

Once the convention is over and you're out on the campaign trail, will you pledge to stop acting like the fucking cat lady hurling kittens of malice at the naysayers and finally tell us voters something substantive, or is the entire playbook nothing but personal attacks and shrill, sneering sarcasm?

How does it feel knowing that the McCain speechwriters essentially just put tits and a wig on Mitt Romney's speech and pressed it into your hands?

Does it bother you that you're essentially a sop thrown to the extremist Al Qaeda Wing of the Republican Party?

Will you support Alaskan secession if you and McCain win?

And finally ....

If you lose, will you go back to Alaska much chastened and determined to learn from your mistakes?

Peggy Noonan, et.al. Say It All, Pretty Much

This is how they feel when the mikes are supposedly off and the cameras aren't on them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Time for a Song

(Note: This song is courtesy of Best Brains, makers of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." It's from their smackdown of the movie Attack of the Giant Leeches. Enjoy!)

SERVO: Oh, I'm a danger to myself and others.
My cousins are as close as brothers.
I stay out in the rain all the time!

CROW: He's a danger to himself and others.
Only likes shows with Sally Struthers.
I can't even think of a word that rhymes.

SERVO: Ya just did!

JOEL: How dumb are you Uncle-Dad?

SERVO: Well pretty dumb, that's for sure!

CROW: How dumb are you Uncle-Dad?

SERVO: Well this pipe's filled with manure!

ALL: We're a danger to ourselves and others.
Screw the earth and steal our mothers.
Leave us in the woods and we're just fine.
We're a danger to ourselves and others.
Good livestock with better lovers.
Hunting leeches is what we call a good time!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

One Night in Bangkok, One Day in Tokyo

Sounds like song lyrics, huh? Well, never mind all that.

The government of Thailand, already wobbly after chasing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office and out of the country, declared a state of emergency in the capital following massive protests in which at least one person has died. The commander of the army promised that the troops wouldn't use force to disperse the protesters.

To compound matters further, the country's electoral commission court is reviewing whether the ruling party should be banned from politics for five years over allegations of vote-buying. Hey, that would be a great idea to bring to this country, wouldn't it? Get caught cheating in a national election and lose the ability to hold any office in government for five years.

And over in Japan, Prime Minister Fukuda's abrupt resignation yesterday came as a bit of surprise to very few. Fukuda has held power for about a year and was dogged by a sagging economy, unpopularity, and an opposition-held upper house of the Diet.

Aso Taro, a bigwig in Fukuda's party, is apparently positioning himself for a run at the party leadership which would make him a good bet to become Japan's next prime minister.

And, right after the Olympics, China had yet another large earthquake in Sichuan Province.

You have to wonder just what's next in the way of disasters for Asia ...

Oh, bugger.

Monday, September 01, 2008

GOP Convention - I Simply MUST Ask ...

What the hell is Cindy McCain doing with a cast on her arm? Did Hubby get a bit "testy" with her over being forced to take on Governor Sarah "Go Ahead, Rape My Daughter" Palin?