Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taking a page from W/Rove's playbook...

The suggestion that follows is wholly unethical - at least, if you believe that policy and politics are not coextensive... but it'd be so much fun!

Assuming the Major Party Candidate Who Isn't McCain wins the Presidency, and assuming that during this election cycle some Republican operatives somewhere in the country will resort to Rovian 'robo-calls' or other dirty tricks...

Have the new Attorney General (a loyal Democrat) initiate RICO prosecutions against the RNC. It shouldn't be that hard to put together a case against RNC as a "corrupt organization"... W has left a fairly easy-to-follow trail. Just put the Republicans out of business.

Yes - this stinks of politically-motivated prosecution... but W led the way!

Okay. I got that out of my system.
I'll now return to my saner self: politics and policy are NOT coextensive. I really do want to preserve the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law!

... but, still...

"Teach both sides"

This post is prompted by my brief mention of Gov Palin's published views on the role of creationism in public school science classes, which I understand to be something like, "Don't mandate the teaching of creationism, but allow debate." Here's the info I have:
VP Candidate Palin Supports Teaching Creationism
Posted on: August 29, 2008 1:02 PM, by Matthew C. Nisbet

In running for Governor of Alaska in 2006, GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin said she supported teaching alternatives to evolution. When asked during an election debate, she said:
"Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."
She later attempted to clarify her statement by saying in an interview:
"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."
She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.
Allow debate? That sounds reasonable.

A suggestion: Let's allow debate on the Ptolemaic system in science classes... you know, the sun and everything else in the universe revolves around the earth! Why not? "Teach both sides!" The Copernican system was presented by Copernicus himself simply as a hypothesis that made the math easier!

Debate tip: whenever someone suggests "teaching both sides" in the context of the place of evolution in public school science classes, earnestly suggest that the same logic be applied to astronomy: teach both sides - let the Ptolemaic system be taught as well! Let the students decide.

I note that ALL our direct sensory experience supports the Ptolemaic theory, and has been encoded in our daily language: the sun rises and sets. We do not topple over with the earth spinning away below our feet.
The stars do look to be revolving nightly around our poles.
I note further that Columbus & Luther both lived in a Ptolemaic universe, and still managed to initiate profound revolutions in our understanding of the earth and our relationship with G-d.

Have a nice day.

"They made me do it!" (directed at myself!)

A number of family, friends, & acquaintances, aware of my volunteer activities for NM1, have asked me what I think of McCain's VP choice. The assumption is that since I'm involved in a local Congressional campaign I naturally pay attention to Prez Politics.

Truth is, till just a few minutes ago, I'd paid no attention to McCain's VP choice. A fellow Heinrich volunteer brought it up in conversation Friday, when we were putting address labels on envelopes. That was the extent of my knowledge.

Now? I've hit the news sites & progressive blogs, and find it difficult to avoid learning something about Gov. Palin (R-AK).
Thinks creationism oughta be a debate option in public school science classes
Being Gov of Alaska - closest state to Russia - gives her foreign-policy cred
Currently embroiled in abuse-of-power scandal
My impression? She'll be a wonderful help to McCain in getting the hard-core conservative base out to vote... all 30% of 'em. Seems to me that leaves 70% of the electorate for the Major Party Candidate Who Isn't McCain.

Good choice, John!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Maybe it's not really all that bad!

Stocks jump on better-than-expected GDP, jobs data


I've mixed emotions.

My sane, rational self celebrates this news. [I remind folks: I really do have a vested interest in the stock market, and the economy at large. Good times ahead are, objectively, good news to me.]

... on the other hand, my politically-biased self hopes for the economy to be in full meltdown come November. "It's the economy, stupid!"

Have a nice day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What catches my eye...

Senior Iraqi official suspected of militia links
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer
Thu Aug 28, 2008
BAGHDAD - A senior official in Nouri al-Maliki's government was in custody Thursday suspected of ties to Iranian-backed Shiite militias and plotting a June bombing that killed 10 people, including four Americans, Iraqi authorities said.

Okay - that lead paragraph from AP was sufficiently inflammatory... but what caught my eye was the next paragraph:
The arrest of Ali al-Lami — taken Wednesday as he left a plane arriving from Lebanon — reinforced suspicions about Tehran's influence within the Shiite-led Iraqi government and could open wider probes into Shiite networks, including possible links to Lebanon's Hezbollah.
[emphasis added]
Ah! Hezbollah again is featured prominently in an AP story! (Recall: the AP is none too diligent about sources. They question only Iraqi & American officials when reporting on, e.g., al Sadr's intentions!)

For newer readers, I've been watching for Hezbollah references for quite some time now. These play a rather visible role in my Grand Conspiracy Theory. Hezbollah is a convenient non-state actor on which to blame a late-October terrorist attack, providing the excuse for W and his minions to cancel the elections (probably more like, "Postpone the elections"... indefinitely), and assume pure dictatorial powers.

Yes, I am delusional.

Stop the madness.

Ordinarily, I'd dismiss this...

Putin: US orchestrated conflict in Georgia

As noted in title, ordinarily I'd dismiss this as Russian posturing... but what catches my eye is this:
... a contention the White House dismissed as "patently false."
Yes, I'm to the point with W and his minions that, if they immediately and reflexively denounce an accusation as "patently false", I'm rather willing to give the accusation credence!

As one commenter has noted:
"Remember all those signing statements & presidential directives Bush signed over the last 8 years? --a few of them were about a NATIONAL EMERGENCY where Bush suspends the Constitution, declares martial law and suspends the elections. I think WAR with Russia would qualify. They didn't spend 8 years pulling all this off-the-radar stuff - creating an imperial presidency - just to walk away..."
Is it possible we goaded Georgia into South Ossetia?

With Cheney at the helm, I'm reluctant to dismiss this possibility out of hand!

... though it does seem rather far from November!

Stop the madness!

So much for convictions (my own!)

I've several times noted my avoidance of Prez Campaign Politics.

Tonight, I ignore my convictions to highlight Sen. Barack Obama's achievement:
Democrats choose Obama in historic acclamation
I note that IN MY LIFETIME there were "Colored Only" waiting-rooms and restrooms. Blacks were forced to sit at the back of the bus. Diners were free to refuse service to Blacks. Poll-taxes and Literacy Tests precluded African-Americans from voting. (Yes - in my lifetime!)

Today? Barack Obama is the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
... and!... He has a pretty good shot at winning!!!

Hurray for US!

This sounds like good news... (at least, to me)

Iraq veterans endorse Obama
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 27, 2008
DENVER - Iraq war veterans brought their military credibility to the podium on Wednesday and endorsed Sen. Barack Obama as the best candidate to lead the military and help veterans.

It's amazing what eight (8) years of W can accomplish!
Yes - Iraq veterans, those who ought be stalwart Republicans, are supporting the Major Party Candidate who ISN'T McCain!

Let's see... reckless militarism, over-stretched troops, shameful treatment of veterans... Gee, I wonder what went wrong!

But... but... Obama wasn't a POW! Heck, he hasn't even served in the military!!
Guess the boots on the ground are realizing that getting shot down and held as a POW really doesn't qualify one to be Commander-in-Chief!
[In my more cynical moments I think, "Getting shot down" is evidence of incompetence... but to espouse that position is political suicide!] On the other hand, "Getting shot down" is a passive experience - it is not something McCain DID, but something that happened to him.
Is there any way to make use of this without committing political suicide?

Sing a song.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

this is getting rather difficult...

I REALLY don't want to pay attention to the Prez Election right now... but whenever I consult CNN, MSNBC, HN, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, Yahoo News, or most of the prominent Progessive blogs, all I see is Democratic Convention!!!

Trust me, I'll be voting for the Major Party Candidate Who Isn't McCain.
BUT - my focus is on NM1 and "things that make W look stupid" (the latter isn't all that hard!).

"It's all about US!" has its limitations. The rest of the world isn't stopping just because WE are having a Convention!

Sing a song!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

and back here at home...

US grain exports snagged by infrastructure delays
Mon Aug 25, 2008
Across the country, from grain elevator to grain elevator, golden wheat and corn are piled in towering mounds, waiting for a rail car to haul them to market.
It's the dark side of the booming global demand for U.S. corn, wheat and soybeans. The surge in exports is revealing inefficiencies in the country's railways, highways and rivers that carry the grain that helps feed the world. And those bottlenecks are costing farmers, shippers and ultimately consumers millions of dollars a year.

[emphasis added]

How much have W and his minions spent on transportation infrastructure? (Recall: our bridges are falling down due to lax, underfunded oversight!)

We've spent more than $500Bn in Iraq over the past 5+ years.
How much have we spent on improving transportation infrastructure?
(I could probably look it up... anyone want to tell me?)

... and now it's costing us!

Stop the madness!

it just keeps getting better!

Top US diplomat escapes gun attack in Pakistan
By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer
26 Aug 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying a top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan's militancy-plagued northwest Tuesday morning, but no one was hurt or wounded, officials said.

Help needed:
Is there an appropriate mythological reference to something like the anti-Midas touch?
Everything W touches turns to shit!
Just asking.

Stop the madness!

the OTHER war...

Afghanistan demands review of international troops
By FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press Writer
25 Aug 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai's government has demanded a review of the presence of U.S. and NATO troops in the country amid allegations that large numbers of civilians have died in raids and airstrikes by foreign forces in recent weeks.

In a harshly worded statement released Monday, the government ordered its ministries of foreign affairs and defense to review the presence of foreign troops, regulate their presence with a status of forces agreement and negotiate a possible end to "air strikes on civilian targets, uncoordinated house searches and illegal detention of Afghan civilians."

"Et tu, Brute?"

Stop the madness!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gee, ya think?

Bernanke: Financial crisis taking toll on economy

How much is this guy paid?

Yes, a bear does shit in the woods.
Yes, the Pope is Catholic.

Lax oversight of just about everything (Republicans hate oversight of the "free market"... they love keeping tabs on your sexual habits!); "borrow-and-spend" to fund military adventurism... whaddaya know! The economy's collapsing!

Stop the madness!

Our "Free Market" at work!

Wall Street bailout aid questioned at Fed event
By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer
Sat Aug 23, 2008
JACKSON, Wyo. - Do Washington policymakers listen too much to Wall Street? A possible bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on the heels of similar action involving investment firm Bear Stearns, seems to send a loud signal to financial companies that the government will clean up their messes

If YOU face bankruptcy, you're pretty much on your own. Your creditors get all the breaks.

If big finance faces bankruptcy, no problem! The Fed will bail 'em out!

Note: I'm not anti-biz. I was gainfully employed by a Fortune 100 company for many years. I was fed and housed by Big Oil when growing up!

BUT: When every policy decision favors big biz over the ordinary citizen, something is screwy!

Stop the madness!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another one?

U.S. forces free AP cameraman in Iraq
Sat Aug 23, 2008
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces freed a cameraman for the Associated Press in Baghdad on Saturday after holding him for three months without charge, the news agency said.

Ahmed Nouri Raziak, 38, was handed over to representatives of the Associated Press at a U.S. military compound in Baghdad. He had been detained by U.S. and Iraqi forces at his home in the northern city of Tikrit on June 4, the agency said in a report from Baghdad.

No... as it turns out: another TWO!
... Raziak's release comes two days after the military freed an Iraqi cameraman for Reuters, Ali al-Mashhadani, who was held for three weeks without charge after being arrested while renewing his credentials at a U.S. military press office.
In April the U.S. military freed Bilal Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Iraqi AP photographer who had been held for just over two years.
Ah, yes! Freedom of the press!

Stop the madness!

this could be fun...

Iraqi prime minister: No arms in hands of militias

My first reading of this was something like:
Iraq's Prime Minister declares Militias hold no arms
Then I started paying attention:
Iraqi prime minister: No arms in hands of militias
By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer
Sat Aug 23, 2008
BAGHDAD - Iraq's government is grateful to U.S.-allied Sunni fighters but won't allow them to keep their weapons indefinitely, the prime minister said Saturday, hinting at a more intense crackdown on the Sunni groups.
Again, the Iraqi govt seems at odds with U.S. policy.

Good for them!...
... BUT... how will W and his minions respond?

For what it's worth, a number of commentators over the past few years have observed that one of the hallmarks of a "government" is the exclusive right to organized violence. The existence of internal militias pretty much challenges this right. The Iraq Government is asserting its prerogatives as a Government!

Stop the madness!

so much for world news...

i've tuned to cnn/msnbc/hn several times over past couple of days, hoping to catch some world news.

no luck: it's all "Obama picks Biden!"

random thought: there's been a LOT of attention paid the upcoming Dem Convention, most along the lines of, "How much influence will the Clintons wield? How united will the Party be?"
I've seen zip, zero, nada regarding the Rep Convention & W's role. Will the Republicans embrace W? Denounce him? Treat him as in-bred cousin? No one seems to care.

Admission: I'm not a big fan of Prez Election Politics & Conventions... not recently, anyway. [Back in the day, every 4 yrs brought the opportunity to engulf myself in Prez Election Politics - I savored every word from all campaigns, and watched whatever Convention coverage was available. W killed this for me. When I followed Prez Election Politics, I found myself detesting both Major Party candidates by Nov, and happily pulled the lever for convenient third-party candidate. I can no longer afford this luxury. The result? I try to ignore Prez Election Politics, hoping to be able to pull the lever for Major Party candidate who isn't Republican come November!]

Have a nice day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

i thought this would embolden the enemy...

Iraq-US pact puts troop pullout by 2011: negotiator
by Jay Deshmukh, AFP
22 Aug 2008
BAGHDAD, (AFP) - Negotiators have finalised a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, ending an eight-year occupation, the top official in the Iraqi team told AFP.

Under the 27-point deal all American combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by next June, negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud said Friday.

Does W want us to LOSE in Iraq?
Why not just give AQI the keys!?

... if memory serves, this has been Obama's position for quite some time.
Is W admitting that the Democratic Presidential Candidate has the better foreign policy?
... NOT McCain's 100 years???

Stop the madness!

Ice cream!

A previous post noted that I try to find at least two excuses per year to make ice cream.

Excuse #2: recent high-school grad employee of Heinrich campaign celebrates her last day on the job tomorrow (today?) - Fri, 22 Aug... thereafter college-bound, for Bryn Mawr.

I mixed up French vanilla (Betty Crocker recipe, slightly modified) and Razzle-Dazzle Raspberry sherbet today. Will freeze in the morning.

A third opportunity is coming along: in-laws are hosting a Labor Day event... the wife volunteered ice cream as our contribution!

Sing a song!

A serious question (follow-up):

Previous post (in fact, many previous posts!) advocated that every Dem candidate
Run on W's record!
Perhaps more to the point:
Make your Republican opponent run on W's record!!!
Stop the madness!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A serious question:

Why is Obama campaigning against McCain?

The alternative?
Run against W!
Run on W's record!
I'll keep saying it, over and over: EVERY Democratic candidate, from Obama down to local dog-catcher, ought run on W's record!!!

9/11: Osama bin who? [This one could be fun: (after obtaining permission) - run a series of ads based on "Where's Waldo" theme -- "Where's Osama?"]

Economy: remember that budget surplus? Remember $2/gal gas? Remember $30/bbl oil? Remember your last raise? These were called "The Clinton Years."

"It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
[SecDef Rumsfeld, 7 Feb 2003]
"There is a lot of money to pay for this. It does not have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction."
[Paul Wolfowitz, 27 Mar 2003]
"... we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
[Nat'l Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER, 8 Sep 2002]
Freddie & Fannie tanking, loss of jobs, $600Bn down the Iraq drain, Taliban resurgent, Osama & Mullah Omar still at large...

Free advice to Obama and all other Dem candidates (worth every penny!):
Forget McCain!
Run on W's record!!!
Stop the madness!

computer fatigue...

I suffer from it.

Between database updates, research, and keeping up with hobbies (eBay-based collecting, mostly), I've reached a level of computer fatigue that precludes frequent postings.

I've taken nearly a week off from AQA.
Give me a few more days to get back in the swing of daily posting!

Have fun!

I'm back... (but for how long?)

My higher-education research project kept me busy for a few days.
Lots of data - most available in Excel - from U.S. Dept of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau, and related sites.

Just in case you're curious: a person with a bachelor's degree makes 70%-75% more than a person with only a high school diploma. Professional degrees are worth more than Ph.D.s (at least in terms of income).

Surprise finding: Federal funding for student aid (grants, scholarships, loans) has increased under W.

Inflation has averaged about 3.5% per year since 1980. The cost of post-secondary education (tuition & fees) has increased at about 7.5% per year over the same period (current dollars). Federal aid to students has increased about 2.7% per year (current dollars).

Now you know.

Friday, August 15, 2008

On the campaign trail: new job + help needed

For the time being I'm out from under the database update morass.
I have a new job with "Communications" - so far, just a single task:
This will be a one-pager that discusses the importance of higher education, how college is out of reach for many New Mexicans, and what the federal government can do about it. Here's what we need:

-- information about the difference in lifetime income between a person who has only a high school degree and a person with a college degree.
-- by how much have college costs increased in the last decade (or so--for whatever time period you can find information)?
-- how many New Mexican students are priced out of a college education each year?
-- by how much has the Bush Administration/Republican Congress cut student aid funding?
-- what are some of the legislative proposals for increasing access to higher education?
I've identified the following resources:
Chronicle of Higher Education
New Mexico Higher Education Department
UNM Bureau of Business & Economic Research
U.S. Dept of Education
Any other suggestions?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Looks right to me!"

(click for larger image)

C&L pointed this out as an example of W's cluelessness.

Me? I prefer to view it as an example of W's solipsism: "To me it looks right!"

Stop the madness!

Now he tells us!

McCain: "In The 21st Century Nations Don't Invade Other Nations"
Sam Stein at HuffPost
13 Aug 2008
Speaking to reporters about the situation in Georgia, Sen. John McCain denounced the aggressive posture of Russia by claiming that:"in the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."

Are Republican missing the "self-awareness" gene, or do they have an extra chutzpah gene?

One of W's significant problems in addressing Russia's incursion into Georgia is that he has pretty much forfeited the right to speak about the illegitimacy of invading other countries.

McCain seems not to have noticed.

What would Obama do? To be honest, I don't know - but I find it difficult to believe that ANY Democratic President could foul things up any more that W has or McCain would.

Stop the madness!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The "benefits" of outsourcing... (our MBA President at work!)

Report: Iraq contracts have cost at least $85B
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer
12 Aug 2008
WASHINGTON - Military contracts in the Iraq theater have cost taxpayers at least $85 billion, and when it comes to providing security, they might not be any cheaper than using military personnel, according to a report released Tuesday.

Our MBA President, with infinite faith in - but zero (0) understanding of - private enterprise, continues to screw US... to the benefit of the contractors, and to the detriment of our country.

As many previous posts have noted, private enterprise is NOT inherently "efficient". The legitimate goal of private enterprise is to MAKE MONEY. Whatever it takes. (This is not intended as an indictment of private enterprise! Making $$$ is not inherently bad.)

If there is a true market, this desire to MAKE MONEY can drive efficiency. If there's no market, but no-bid, no-risk, no-oversight contracts, private enterprise has no incentive to even provide the services contracted!

The Iraq fiasco is replete with no-bid, no-risk, no-oversight contracts. See, e.g., Parsons, KBR, Blackwater. (The Blackwater folks likely won't stick around if the SOFA agreement now being brokered makes them subject to Iraq laws. ... and they're currently apparently not subject to U.S. law!)

Examples? Laura Bush's heralded Children's Hospital in Basra (abandoned after spending $50Mn on the failed project). W's state-of-the-art prison (abandoned after spending $40Mn on the failed project). The financial atrocities have been well-documented elsewhere (see, e.g., Robert Greenwald's Iraq for Sale).

In some perverse way, I'm just pissed I couldn't figure out how to make millions off the war!

Stop the madness!

no, i'm not learning... i'm copy/pasting

(Cartoon by Steve Greenberg.)

W's psychic foreign policy

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul.

"He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship," Mr Bush said.

[Bush and Putin: Best of friends,
BBC News, Europe, June 2001]
Ah, yes: the old "looking the man in the eye" trick!
[apologies to Maxwell Smart]

A defiant Vladimir Putin hit out at America and the West today for its “cynical support” of Georgia, saying that Russia would continue its military operation until “its logical end”.
[Vladmir Putin attacks the West's 'cynical support' for Georgia, TimeOnline, Aug 2008]
W's foreign policy: eye-gazing.

Stop the madness!

Monday, August 11, 2008

blog upgrade... maybe

I think I've added a counter from Site Meter (thanks, OneFly!).

... this could be VERY discouraging!

"Did I see this connection in MSM?"

Regarding post, meanwhile, over there..., OneFly asks [personal communication, paraphrased]:
"Did you see this connection somewhere in MSM?"
Short answer: no.

Longer answer: I note that MSM's Iraq coverage is pretty much "in-the-moment" and context free. Historical context is almost entirely lacking, even though the history comprehends only six (6) years.

Sadly, I've read just about everything W & his minions have said about Iraq (much of it handily available on the White House website)... and I remember most of what I read.

One of the things al Qaeda in Albuquerque tries to bring to the table is this historical context. (I'm not alone in this - other progressive blogs frequently dredge up the not-so-distant past to remind readers what we were TOLD and compare/contrast with what's going on today.)

[note: I long ago stopped watching/listening to W, on Iraq or any other topic. I get physically ill when I see him on the tube. It's far easier to read the transcript.]

Stop the madness!

Jeff says...

Regarding post, uh-oh: Cheney wants us to attack Russia, Jeff comments
"Remember all those signing statements & presidential directives Bush signed over the last 8 years? --a few of them were about a NATIONAL EMERGENCY where Bush suspends the Constitution, declares martial law and suspends the elections. I think WAR with Russia would qualify. They didn't spend 8 years pulling all this off-the-radar stuff - creating an imperial presidency - just to walk away..."
Jeff & I are on the same wavelength.

Let's assume they're not idiots...
Note: I am not usually a conspiracy theorist... BUT...

W's Administration has done everything in its power to expand the Executive. They have asserted "inherent" Presidential powers based on an extremely expansive interpretation of the designation "Commander in chief." They have invoked the "state secrets" doctrine to thwart legitimate judicial challenges to Executive authority. They have asserted expansive "Executive privilege" to thwart Congressional oversight.

At some point, someone surely has asked, "Do we really want to bequeath an unlimited Executive to our Democratic successors?"

Two possibilities present themselves.
1. W and his minions truly believed in Rove's "permanent Republican majority."
2. They've something else in mind.

I find it hard to believe that anyone - even W - could buy into the notion of a PERMANENT Republican majority. I mean, Rove is good, but he's not THAT good! At some point in the future a Democrat would surely assume the Presidential mantle.

That leaves option #2: They've something else in mind.

Okay: just what is "something else"??

[warning: here comes raw "conspiracy theory"]

Let's assume the Democratic candidate leads in the polls come 15 Oct 2008. This is not an unwarranted assumption.

The W cabal cannot afford to hand over his carefully crafted expansive Executive to the Democrats. What other option do they have?


Orchestrate a "clear and present danger": an imminent threat to the the nation! With the help of the CIA and whatever other Executive agencies can help, stage a terrorist attack on the U.S. It probably isn't that hard to manipulate Hezbollah - give 'em some money, suggest a target. Hezbollah as the enemy has two advantages:
1. they are a non-state actor
2. they can easily and plausibly be linked to Iran

So, come 16 Oct, the U.S. experiences a terrorist attack from Hezbollah.

In response, W declares a "state of emergency" (learning lessons from his best bud, Musharraf). Martial law is declared. Elections are cancelled. The Permanent Republican Executive becomes a fact.

Do I believe this? ... well, not quite. BUT: neither will I be surprised if Dems are ahead in the polls in Oct and the U.S. is hit by terrorists a few weeks before the election!
I've since set a specific date: 31 October 2008 (Halloween).

I've elaborated on this basic raw conspiracy at length. Search on either "let's assume they're not idiots" or "raw conspiracy theory" to see the full thread.

The Russian incursion into Georgia provides Cheney's cabal yet another handy existential excuse to eliminate the election!

Have a nice day.

Lemme know when it's back to $30/bbl

Oil extends its slide on signs of demand slowdown
By MADLEN READ, AP Business Writer
11 Aug 2008
NEW YORK - Oil prices finished at a new three-month low Monday after briefly dropping below $113 a barrel mark, as the dollar extended its rebound and more signs emerged that China's energy demand could be leveling off

Recall: When W took office, oil was trading at about $32/bbl.
As recently as Jan '08 everyone was wondering if $100/bbl was possible.

Yes - $113/bbl is cheaper than $140/bbl... but does anyone think it'll head BELOW $100/bbl anytime soon?

Aside: If on 1 Jan 2003 we'd offered to buy all Saddam's oil for $90/bbl - about a 200% mark-up over then-prevailing market price - we'd have spent about $540Bn to date - about the same as the direct cost of the war... AND WE'D HAVE THE OIL! We could have simply GIVEN IT to W's oil-patch buds! [The computation assumes Iraq's pre-war output to be 2.5Mn bbls/day.]

Stop the madness!

I'm pretty sure this is W's fault!

Iconic stone arch collapses in southern Utah park

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A question

Iraq to revive oil deal with China
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer
Sun Aug 10,2008
BAGHDAD - Iraq and China are set to revive a $1.2 billion oil deal that was canceled after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Iraq's oil ministry said Sunday.

An initial agreement with China is expected to be signed at the end of August to develop the billion-barrel Ahdab oil field south of Baghdad, the ministry said in a statement.
Question: will U.S. troops be deployed to provide security for Chinese oil-devlopment projects?

Just asking.

Hooray for the Iraq Government! (McCain's worst nightmare...)

Iraq demands 'clear timeline' for US withdrawal
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer
Sun Aug 10, 2008
BAGHDAD - Iraq's foreign minister insisted Sunday that any security deal with the United States must contain a "very clear timeline" for the departure of U.S. troops.

If they tell us to leave, will we?

Stop the madness!

uh-oh: Cheney wants us to attack Russia

... I guess any new war would be a good thing:
On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney told Georgia's pro-American president that "Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States," Cheney's office reported.
[emphasis added]
Meanwhile, from his unimpeachable high-moral perch, W pontificates,
"I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia."
Is W under the illusion that he ought be taken seriously when chiding anyone for a "disproportionate reponse"?


FBI to newspapers: Sorry about your phone records
Associated Press
Sat Aug 9, 2008
WASHINGTON - FBI Director Robert Mueller has apologized to the editors of The Washington Post and The New York Times for improperly obtaining phone records of the newspapers' reporters while investigating terrorism four years ago.

"... while investigating terrorism..."

Yes - "while investigating terrorism" seems a convenient catch-all to excuse all sorts of Executive over-reach. "We did it for your own good, honest!"

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
[U.S. Constitution]
Which word(-s) don't they understand?

meanwhile, over there...

US military blames al-Qaida in Iraq for bombing

I thought we'd wiped out AQI... or at least made 'em impotent.

Guess I was wrong (not a first...).

Stop the madness!

p.s. The story on the AQI bombing also has a fun lead paragraph:
BAGHDAD - The U.S. military blamed al-Qaida in Iraq Saturday for a suicide car bombing in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, while an Iraqi official said the death toll in the attack had risen to 25.
What's fun about 25 deaths? Well, nothing...

BUT: note where the bombing occured - Tal Afar. Ring a bell?
"... today I'd like to share a concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers and on their television screens. I'm going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq."
[President Discusses War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, 20 March 2006]
Yeah - I was SURE we'd driven AQI out of Taf Afar!

... in other news

Georgia: In 'state of war' with Russia

I won't pretend to understand this.

All I know for certain is that when W took office, our troops weren't in any wars, there was a budget surplus of $230Bn, oil was trading at $32/bbl, gas was $1.45/gal, and Russia wasn't at war with Georgia.

There's a wonderful cartoon over at C&L. Haven't yet learned html, so I'll verbally describe it:
Picture of Reagan.
Caption: "Fiscal Conservative"
Result: down-arrow, "$200Bn+ deficit"

Picture of H.W. Bush
Caption "Fiscal Conservative"
Result: down-arrow, "$300Bn deficit"

Picture of Clinton
Caption: "Tax and spend Liberal"
Result: up-arrow, "$200Bn+ surplus"

Picture of W
Caption: "Fiscal Conservative"
Result: "$482Bn deficit"

Final frame:
Picture of McCain
Caption: "My friends, you'll be pleased to know I'm a fiscal conservative."
I'd like to pin the Little Ice Age (16th century - 19th century) on W, but can't seem to manage it and still maintain a semblance of intellectual honesty. Otherwise:
We've poured $600Bn down the drain that is Iraq.

Osama bin Laden (remember him?) is still at large.

Oil is trading at $120/bbl; gas-at-the-pump is hovering just under $4/gal.

... and now: Russia has invaded Georgia!
... oh, yeah:
Michael Phelps set a world record in taking his first Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympics:
4:3.84 in the 400m IM
Congratulations, Mr. Phelps!

Are we there yet?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

... on the campaign trail

"Arthur Solon, an attorney with Albuquerque's Branch Law Firm, drowned in the ocean off Jamaica while on vacation, senior partner Turner Branch said."

... well, I guess I can cross him off the list!

Meanwhile, the soap operas continue to play themselves out:
Crispin & L. Noble are householded.
I finally figure out that "L." is "Leah".
More recent data indicates Leah no longer lives with Crispin, and that Crispin now resides with Jane Austen Jackson.

I note that these folks aren't spring chickens.
Crispin is 60, Leah is 52, and Jane is 54.

Well, at least Crispin didn't run off with a younger woman!
Note: the names have all been changed... but the database soap opera is accurately represented.

In the meantime... I thought I'd completed my most recent database update when I was told, "Oops - we forgot to give you another set of corrections." Sigh. This new set represents 3-4 days of work.

When this task is completed, I'll be updating the campaign's database with July's ActBlue info - I just have to check that we've got records for all donors, and confirm the addresses. There are about 250 ActBlue contributions for July.

When that task is completed we should have received most of the returned/undeliverable mail from the most recent mailing. I won't know how long processing those will take till I see the volume... but at least some of the items ought to be easy to disposition (see "Arthur Solon", above!).

Have a nice day.

"The baddest of the bad!"

Gitmo jury gives bin Laden driver 5 1/2 years

... AND - they credit him with 5 years "time served"... so he'll have served his full sentence in about 5 more months - less, I'm guessing, than the time it'll take to exhaust his appeals.

Recall: W and his minions have repeatedly and emphatically declared that the Gitmo detainees are, "the baddest of the bad."... and even with a rigged system, they can't get their underlings to give Hamdam more than 5 more months of judicial punishment!

... of course, W and his minions have also repeatedly asserted that it doesn't make any difference: they'll hold the "baddest of the bad" as long as they feel like it, verdict or no verdict, sentence or no sentence!

I've not been paying particularly close attention, but I'm guessing that Hamdan was the first detainee to face trial because W and his minions figured they had the strongest case against him - a "slam-dunk", as it were. (It's tempting to imagine that someone in W's inner circle in fact used the term "slam dunk" to describe the case against Hamdan!) If this is the best they can do, they've lost.

Our shame!

The correct tone: mockery

TPM highlights Obama's mockery of McCain.
I'm all for it, and recommend this approach in general to any and all Dems. The sample cited:
"In the coming days it's going to be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain."
[Obama referencing McCain's energy "policy"]
Ridicule is not a bad tactic.

Stop the madness!

Why are we there?

Two headlines:
GAO: Iraq could have $79 billion budget surplus

Iraq MPs break for summer without passing elections law
Would someone please explain to me again why we're still there?

Stop the madness!

Gitmo Trial #1: the verdict is in

Split verdict in first Guantanamo war-crimes trial
By MIKE MELIA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 6, 2008
... The five-man, one-woman jury convicted Hamdan on five counts of supporting terrorism, accepting the prosecution argument that Hamdan aided terrorism by becoming a member of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and serving as bin Laden's armed bodyguard and driver while knowing that the al-Qaida leader was plotting attacks against the U.S.

But he was found not guilty on three other counts alleging he knew that his work would be used for terrorism and that he provided surface-to-air missiles to al-Qaida.

He also was cleared of two charges of conspiracy alleging he was part of the al-Qaida effort to attack the United States — the most serious charges, according to deputy chief defense counsel Michael Berrigan.

Berrigan noted the conspiracy charges were the only ones Hamdan originally faced when his case prompted the Supreme Court to halt the tribunals. Prosecutors added the new charges after the Bush administration rewrote the rules.

"The problem is the law was specifically written after the fact to target Mr. Hamdan," said Charles Swift, one of Hamdan's civilian lawyers.
No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9
Why is this so difficult?

The article also notes that
"... The judge allowed secret testimony and hearsay evidence."
... and that during his five (5) years of incarceration, Hamdan has been subjected to "coercive interrogation"... hmmm, I wonder what that could mean.

Our shame.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

the joys of habeas

U.S. must charge or release Reuters Iraq cameraman: CPJ

Just another "journalist" W doesn't like.

Stop the madness!

fun with language

Bush tells troops Iraq no longer 'hopeless'

So... if Iraq is no longer hopeless, does that imply that it once WAS hopeless?

And, if it once was "hopeless"... well, whence the hope today?
I mean - "hopeless" means, what... "without hope".
If 'twas once without hope, and now there is some... well, did it just materialize? (sort of like Fred Hoyle's model of the universe - matter being created eternally...)

If there's now hope, doesn't that mean that it has NEVER been "hopeless"???

Yeah - I'm just having fun with words.

Stop the madness!

Monday, August 4, 2008

the guts of a campaign: $$$!

I find myself needing to justify all the time I'm putting into "database update" for the NM1 Congressional campaign.
Here goes!

There are ~12,000 records in the donor database I've been maintaining.

Each of these represents a potential "mailing".
At $0.42/letter, this is $5K for a single mailing.
Now... to be honest, no single mailing is directed to all 12K potential donors... but still, mailings of 2K are not rare.
Each piece of returned mail is a hard $0.42!

Much of the maintenance does not involve fixing incorrect addresses. Rather, it involves "presenting the candidate": no address abbreviations (e.g., "Rd" for "Road"; "Ave" for "Avenue"); appropriately and accurately identifying the gender/status of the addressee ("Mr.", "Ms.", "Mrs.", "Dr."). Getting these details right reflects positively on The Candidate. Messing 'em up reflects poorly on The Candidate. I'm unable to monetize the effect of this attention to detail... but my bosses consider it significant.

Recall, $0.42 spent has the potential to pull in real $$$ - even just a $5.00 contribution represents a 1000% ROI! If the chance of generating a donation is increased even slightly by having the correct information, well-presented - well, it's worth it!

This, sadly, is how I now justify my existence!

Sing a song!

another pointless personal post

As loyal readers will know, I formally retired in June.
Loyal readers will also know that much of my time is now devoted to volunteer work for the Dem candidate in NM's 1st Congressional District (Martin Heinrich if you're a little interested; Contribute to Martin Heinrich via ActBlue if you're a lot interested!)

And the rest of my time?

Tonight was the first music rehearsal for Albuquerque Little Theater's upcoming production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
I'm cast as "Erroneous" - the Buster Keaton role in the 1966 film.

[bragging:] I was invited to audition for the show.

I started singing in 1995, age 42. I put together the only "career development plan" I have ever successfully followed, with the career goal of singing a minor lead in a Gilbert & Sullivan production. I attained my goal in 2001, singing Dick Deadeye in a production of H.M.S. Pinafore. I retired from singing and from the stage.

It didn't take.

I've since "retired" from singing and the stage at least two more times.

It's never taken.

Eventually, choral music brings me back.
[Challenging on at least 3 levels: intellectually, to read the music; physically, to produce the sound; emotionally - well, it just sounds so wonderful when done right!]

My past 4 roles have been "invited": to sing the very minor role of Count Ceprano in OSW's 2006 production of Verdi's Rigoletto; to play Lt. Schrank in MTS's 2007 production of West Side Story; to sing in the chorus of OSW's 2008 Tosca; and now, to play the minor character Erroneous in ALT's Forum. [... with Schrank and Erroneous I seem to be developing a reputation as a character actor!]

This'll be my ALT debut - a factor contributing to my willingness to audition.

Sing a song!

p.s. For those who may want to follow this path...
My "career development plan" included taking voice/singing lessons, taking acting lessons, taking dance lessons, and auditioning for just about any show that came along. I was happy to be cast in 2-3 shows/year. I auditioned for many more. A reason for my repetitive "retirements": a hobby that requires rejection ~70% of the time has its limitations... I get rejected in real life! - why seek it?
Now? It's sort of fun to be invited to show up!
[note: I'm not a great singer, and I'm a much better singer than actor!... but I am reliable: I try to practice my "craft" diligently... Lt. Schrank was my hardest part to date: I simply ain't a hard-boiled NY police lieutenant!]

things that make you go, "hmmm..."

Okay - I like to think of myself as an educated, literate, more-or-less well-read, informed citizen... but still...

How did Amazon tag me for the following recommendation:
Save 34% at on "Teach Yourself Estonian Complete Course (Book + 2CDs) (Ty: Complete Courses)" by Mare Kitsnik
I don't get that many recommendations from Amazon, and most of them are more-or-less on-target. "Teach Yourself Estonian"??? No clue.

Completely pointless trivia from high school:
The gang I hung out with in high school were... well, sort of nerdy (sorry, TedTheCat!): chess club, bridge/chess/Risk on Friday nights.
Many of us participated in the Tulsa Public Library's "Book Discussion Club."
At one corner of the stacks in the main library was prominently displayed a book on Serbo-Croatian. I'm not sure that any of us ever in fact took this book off the shelf, but the title was prominent as we wended our way to the room in which the "Book Discussion Club" was meeting. It became something of a joke. "Russell Sype": Serbo-Croation for "piglike in appearance." [substitute names as required for the occasion.]

Is Amazon reading my psychic past?

Sing a song!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Hairless, gap-toothed, baby-eating Ogre"

I retired in June.
I've been "working" as volunteer on local Congressional campaign.

Folks ask me, "Should I vote for him?"
My answer: "YES!"

... then I hedge.
The Candidate could be a hairless, gap-toothed ogre with halitosis, and I'd still be volunteering on the campaign! Just so's the Candidate is NOT a Republican!

This is pretty much my political theory for the time-being: any Major Party Candidate who is NOT a Republican gets my vote!

Occasionally I surprise my fellow volunteers, when the conversation turns to Democratic politics.

"I'm not a Democrat."

This simple statement is enough to drop jaws in this crowd.

I am registered as New Mexico's equivalent of Independent, which is, "Decline to State" - or some such (the registration is listed as "DTS"). If the Dems continue in their ways, I'll likely vote 3rd party in 2010!

Stop the madness!

on the campaign trail

I took a break from "physical presence at the campaign" today.

Not to worry: I put in 3-4 hrs of database work at home.

Thursday & Friday I spent many hrs physically present at the campaign - stuffing envelopes. This is in fact a long, somewhat amusing story that I'll not tell.

On the bright side: conversation with co-workers during these mass-mailings is quite fun! Depending on the exact make-up of the group - both in numbers and in personalities represented - the conversations range from fairly insipid chatter to heartfelt political convictions to serious personal revelations. All in all, a fun time!

There are a number of distinct physical tasks involved in mailings: folding the fliers, stuffing the envelopes, attaching stick-on addresses, sealing the envelopes. Strange as it may sound, each of these requires a specific talent. I'm pretty good at stuffing... but not so good at sealing... and it really does require fingernails to be good at attaching addresses!

Have a nice day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

more "on the campaign trail"

Today I was physically present at campaign headquarters, helping with a mailing (a delightful relief from database work!).

Most daytime volunteers are retired - working folks have to, well... work! Retirees have grand-kids, and kids that welcome the opportunity to turn grand-kids over to grandparents... the implication is that volunteers are not rarely accompanied by grand-kids - usually younger grand-kids (the teens don't really want to hang out with grandma & grandpa!).

As it turns out, the grand-kids are productive workers: they can fold flyers & stuff envelopes as well as the rest of us, and are somewhat less distracted by the idle conversation.

I commented on this today.

The response? "Were you here last week?" Turns out one of the grand-kids - an 8-yr-old - was a computer whiz, and helped the office get networked. The professional computer fellow was asking the 8-yr-old for technical advice on best ways to set up & manage the network!

Sing a song!

on the campaign trail

I'm getting much too personally involved with my imaginary friends.

Today, all I wanted to do was find out if "K.B. Johnson" was "Mr." or "Ms.". [note: don't bother looking - I changed the name to protect the real person's privacy!]

I quickly discovered "Karl B. Johnson" - okay, it's "Mr." But the source providing this info was an obit for his mother - Alicia Johnson, age 97 - pre-deceased by four of her children, and her husband, Karl B. Johnson; survived by 3 children, including K.B. Johnson & his wife Anne. Alicia died in October 2000.

Okay - "K.B." seems to have been "Karl B., Jr.", and to distinguish himself from Sr. had decided to go by "K.B." So far, so good.

How 'bout wife, Anne? Other data sources provided the info that K.B. now lives with Jacqueline Johnson, and that he is retired at age 56.

My guess? Upon mom's death, K.B. underwent a mid-life crisis. With the now-available family-fortune in hand, he re-evaluated his life, dumped Anne, and married Jacqueline.

Again: I'm becoming MUCH too personally involved with my imaginary friends.

Recall, I found the answer to the initiating question ("Mr." or "Ms.") almost immediately.

Have a nice day.