Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Up Escalator

Consider four things when thinking about the current escalation of troops in Iraq.

1 -
That there is a new order to kill or capture Iranians.

2 - Attacking a consulate is a violation of the Vienna Conventions, at that is what America did on or about Jan 11, in the town of Abril, in Iraq. Can you imagine if the shoe was on the other foot?

3 - Iran is mostly Shiite. Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni. On Jan. 28, 2007 it was reported in the New York Times by Jad Mouawad that Saudi Arabia thinks it can hold the price of a barrel of crude at $50 without crippling it's own economy while crippling Iran's. Look for a turn against the Shiite Maliki government in Iraq and attack on Shiite Mullah Sadr. Is this why VP Cheney was summoned to Saudi Arabia recently for short top secret talks?

4 - The new head of military operations overseeing the occupation in Iraq is an Admiral. What's the Navy doing heading up an operation in the desert? Unless....

Simple saber rattling?

If you read this blog with any regularity, you'll remember what I wrote recently about the Christian right and their distortion of facts, particularly in regards to Iran. Well, they continue to trump up justification of war with Iran.

Today I was channel surfing like I usually do, and stopped by Pastor John Hagee's show to listen to what he had to say. And right there on national television, he stated that the Shah of Iran's government was democratic. If you do any searching about the Shah, you'll find out that he never installed a democracy, he was not elected, and his secret police were notoriously violent. Political opposition did not exist. Now I can suppose one can say that Hagee just isn't doing his homework. However, he mentions an intelligence briefing that was on his desk, and quoted a couple Congressional reports on Homeland Security. So it seems that Hagee does his homework. Which categorizes his statement about the Shah of Iran as deliberate distortion or a lie. The difference is pretty moot for an alleged man of God. And just what is a Pastor doing with intelligence reports on his desk? And included in his bluster was the, now spread to the church, "mushroom cloud" talk that preceded the Iraq invasion. Yessiree, the Iranians could blow up a satellite above America that would create an electro magnetic pulse that would cut off all electricity in America for months, or even years. Ahhh, the fear factor. It seems that Hagee was reading almost verbatim form this site. Notice at that site the complete lack of verification of information. Then read a scientific site and you'll discover that what Hagee was saying just isn't all that true. And why would a pastor be spreading fear? And if you look at the name below the quote on the United States Action site, click on it, and read, you'll see the decidedly right hand slant to it. Not that unexpected from the Religious Reich of America, but verifiable none-the-less.

So consider all this, and then let your Congresspeople know how you feel. This administration wants to escalate this war to include at least Iran.

Is that a vlaue and position that you share?

Friday, January 19, 2007

There Is No War in Iraq!

That's right, there is no war. There hasn't been for almost four years. What we have had is an occupation. So quit using the phrase war in Iraq, and watch what happens to your thinking about what is happening there. There is also no "war on terror." Why? Because terror is an emotion. How can you fight an emotion and when do you think you win? See how open ended that is? War invokes fear. Terror invokes fear. So utilizing that phrase only engenders fear. Is fear something you value? A wiser President once said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." And that is exactly what some Americans want America to do: live in fear.

It is an occupation of Iraq. One with no plan, or even the necessary armor. One that the President wants to escalate. We stand against the crime of terrorism. We defy those who utilize it to hurt innocent people to make political gains. We should bring them to justice, just as Colin Powell suggested before Bush invaded Iraq or Afghanistan.

Let's use our language properly to better define our values. Do we value an occupation? Do we value imperialism? Particularly one that is accomplishing nothing in regards to rebuilding, let alone bringing stability to the country or region. Is an occupation really what democracy and freedom are all about?

Do we value justice? Is it being intelligently pursued? Where is the indictment against Osama Bin Laden? Where is Bin Laden? How are we pursuing him, to bring him to justice for 9/11? Why doesn't the FBI Most Wanted page for Bin Laden even mention 9/11 in connection to Bin Laden?

Consider the other issues then. Consider them in light of your values, and see if a change in terminology is required to better express your values. Most likely, the spin and talking points versions of presenting issues won't fit.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Explanation Please....

Bush never denied warrant-less spying on Americans. In fact, he stated that it was a vital tool. Yet Alberto Gonzalez stated before the Senate recently that the administration was no longer going to spy on Americans without a warrant. So is this tool no longer vital? Why not? Explanation please.

Bush recently signed the Postal Reform Act, to which he added a signing statement. The Reform Act reasserts the right to mail privacy. Yet Bush found it necessary to state that he would not be bound by this law if he chooses not to be. Why? And in light of stopping warrant-less eavesdropping, why? Explanation please....

Bush Feeds the Wrong Dog

There is an analogy used in explaining how to deal with personal vices that has been around for a long time. It compares a personal vice to a large, mean, black dog kept in the basement. The Golden Retriever of Virtue however, is allowed to roam freely. When we choose to act on our vices, we feed the dog in the basement, and the Retriever goes hungry. The point is simple: Stop feeding the wrong dog.

The foreign affairs Mr. Bush has focused on since the year 2000 have revolved around his own idea of what the axis of evil is. At the time he uttered the statement, that included Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

So Mr. Bush decided that after invading Afghanistan to ostensibly capture Osama Bin Laden, and since Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, he invaded them.


Despite the reassurance from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who sold chemical and biological weapons to Saddam Hussein during Reagan's administration, the coalition forces to date have not found any weapons of mass destruction, nor the ability to make them.

Meanwhile, North Korea claims to have enough enriched uranium to make several nuclear warheads. And Iran has stated that their non-weapons nuclear ambitions will continue regardless of United Nations sanctions.

And all this means nothing. Because recently another country of far greater importance fired a missile that took out a satellite. Now imagine the possibilities. This country could fire several of these itself, and so take out US satellites that are used to spy on countries. Or it could sell that same missile to countries like Iran. Or Venezuela. Or Egypt. Maybe even Pakistan. Another possibility is that it could do both. It could sell it as well as use it.

Now consider if this same country was owner of a significant portion of US national debt.

Consider then China.

China is the dog that Bush continues to feed with massive amounts on national borrowing and cheap labor to feed the profit hungry capitalists. And just look what they have done with all the money they have made. They demonstrate that they are capable of poking our eyes out.

Also consider that the Chinese economy, and their need for oil, dwarfs ours. And they are actively hunting for oil. They already purchase a large portion of Iran's oil. And there is talk that Venezuela might shift a large portion of their future oil contracts to China. And why not? China has the money to pay for it. America does not.

Not that this means that China is a military threat. To some extent they are. They could blind us, but that would only mean that they are interested in making an overland move on another country. The threat that China poses is economic.

Suppose China began to allow their currency it's true value compared to our debt saddled dollar? Suppose they decided to either call in the debt, or sell it off? What if they decided they wanted more for the goods they make for us? Or all of the above? Inflation would cripple our economy immediately. China is poised then to become the imminent world power, more because of the size of it's economy, and the lack of any real foe to challenge it, militarily or financially.

Here is a perfect example of how short sighted capitalism and conservatism are. If they indeed see this potential problem, they are doing nothing to stop it. Or they don't see it. Either way, we are definitely not dealing with a growing problem. And the first and best place to start correcting this problem is to start the comeback of four words.

Four words that will reassert us economically. Four words that will generate jobs. Four words that will reduce the trade imbalance. Four words that will revive the American middle class. Four words done with pride and skill. Four words that will kill the dog in the basement.

They are not "Don't feed the Dog."

They are,

"Made in the USA"

Conservative Radio Against Fairness!

You can count on the righties on the web and radio to freak out about this one! But first, some words from our favorite talking heads on the right....

Glen Beck:

  • On a Nigerian public information campaign to fight bird flu: "They've actually resorted to radio jingles. ... Are we as dumb as Nigeria?"
  • To the 7-year old African-American author of a controversial poem: "You want to go to Africa? I will personally purchase your airfare.
  • But the second thought I had when I saw these people and they had to shut down the Astrodome and lock it down, I thought: I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims. These guys -- you know it's really sad. We're not hearing anything about Mississippi. We're not hearing anything about Alabama. We're hearing about the victims in New Orleans. This is a 90,000-square-mile disaster site, New Orleans is 181 square miles. A hundred and -- 0.2 percent of the disaster area is New Orleans! And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags -- and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention. It's exactly like the 9-11 victims' families. There's about 10 of them that are spoiling it for everybody.
Michael Savage: We need another brave Senator, like McCarthy, whom history has proven to be a loyal patriot."

"I'm beginning to think that women should be denied the vote. Their hormones rage; they are too emotional."

In fact, Christianity has been one of the great salvations on planet Earth. It's what's necessary in the Middle East. Others have written about it, I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity but I'll get here a little later, I'll move up to that. It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings. ... Because these primitives can only be treated in one way, and I don't think smallpox and a blanket is good enough incidentally. Just before -- I'm going to give you a little precursor to where I'm going. Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people, just so you understand that I'm not going to be too intellectual about my analysis here in terms of what I would recommend, what Doc Savage recommends as an antidote to this kind of poison coming out of the Middle East from these non-humans. (from

Janet Parshall: “Today we ask, 'How can a country with such a horrific record of human rights abuses, religious persecution, nuclear proliferation and espionage be deemed normal by any freedom-loving country such as the United States?'”

“When two people of the same sex … decide that they want to then adopt children, … then I think what you have in many respects is state-sanctioned child abuse because you have purposely taken away either a momma or a daddy, and mom and dad are both necessary in a child's life.”

(and this typical abuse of facts)

Sean Hannity: “It doesn't say anywhere in the Constitution this idea of the separation of church and state.”

It goes to show how little Hannity knows American history.

and this ditty about the fighting in Kosovo:
"And we are having a president compare this to Adolf Hitler. Granted, 2,000 in a year is disgusting, despicable, if we can stop it. But let's arm the Kosovo Liberation Army instead of putting U.S. troops in harm's way."

and in response to the growing call for national health insurance, I heard Hannity exclaim on his daily show on Seattle's KVI radio that America has the greatest health care system on the planet.

and this gem about Jeff Gannon: HANNITY: Now, Jeff Gannon, who is a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Talon News, actually shot me an e-mail today, and he's about to break a story in an exclusive about these CBS documents.

Janet Folger is another Religious fundamentalist: "And now, five years after we were attacked, our troops are fighting overseas for the freedom of those who pray in the name of Allah at the same time a U.S. chaplain has been court-martialed for praying in the name of Jesus on American soil."

Neal Boortz: How many Catholic schools do you think teach the students to question the authority of the Pope? Do you believe Christian schools teach students to question or challenge the authority of Jesus Christ? Do military schools teach the cadets to challenge the authority of superior officers? Well, why should we then expect government schools to teach children to question the authority of government?

and let's not forget Rush Limbaugh:
“Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along,” and who can forget this attack,
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's
moving all around and shaking and it's purely an
act. . . . This is really shameless of
Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication
or he's acting. This is the only time I've ever seen
Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the
disease he has. He can barely control himself."
and on and on he goes ad nauseum.

So what is it about the Fairness Doctrine that the conservatives really don't like? Is it necessarily that they don't want to present a fair and balanced view point? To actually be professional journalists? That's partly it. Hannity has no journalism credentials, and Limbaugh is just a "radio guy." And as we can see from history, no government that wants control of the people can tolerate a free press. So instead of just closing them down Gestapo style, the right wing has decided to use profit as the muzzle. It has been known for a long time that most newspapers were unprofitable. So when the FCC under Reagan decided to eliminate the rules concerning media monopolies, suddenly the bottom line wasn't journalistic professionalism, but rather a profit margin. And if the owners didn't like the message, well, it just didn't get shared. And as we have seen by the watching of FOX News, and the documentary Outfoxed by Robert Greenwald, Fox news was created and operates as a conservative propaganda machine. In some regards this is simply a step back to the original days of journalism in America, where most papers were simply mouthpieces for one viewpoint or another. But when it comes to the common ground of the Internet, then it takes on a whole new significance, and why there is so much debate over Net Neutrality. Another aspect of the common ground truth is that the Fairness Doctrine recognized the public ownership of the airwaves. In
"Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine, under challenges that it violated the First Amendment. Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers, the Court ruled that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the limited nature of the public airwave spectrum." (Wikipedia) So how is it that public airwaves are allowed control for profit by a very small group of people? But even more importantly, there are some related rules of the Fairness Act that would up-end right wing radio: "Two corollary rules of the doctrine, the "personal attack" rule and the "political editorial" rule, remained in practice until 2000. The "personal attack" rule was pertinent whenever a person or small group was subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations had to notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air. The "political editorial" rule applied when a station broadcasts editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulated that the candidates not endorsed be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond."

Those two corollary rules would wipe out most conservative radio. I have in fact heard here on the local "conservative" radio station, KVI of Seattle, host John Carlson, completely distort a posting on the Daily Kos. Carlson's point was the far left anti-American view. Well, I knew Carlson was wrong. Completely wrong. Which proves that either they don't fact check, or they deliberately alter the facts for their own ideology. As it turns out, but KVI never owned up to, the post in question was about the US troops, and was a comment not posted by Kos himself, but a poster named Oachim's Razor on the Daily Kos site, and the comment itself not only was used out of context, but it was followed by an apology which was never aired on KVI.

The only radio host I am aware of that actually interviews the "conservative" viewpoint is Thom Hartmann. He often however has the bad habit of interrupting his guests, particularly when they make some incredibly stupid statements. I really dislike the interruptions, but it allows for fair play, and the opportunity to hear both sides of an issue. On the other hand, Hannity had to have his Colmes foil because he couldn't handle anything real, and O'Reilly just shuts off the mic or yells at his guest to shut up.

That's why the Fairness Doctrine scares the right. It would mean that they would have to actually engage in debate, and even in the Congress they ran for the last decade, they allowed for practically no debate. Take the Patriot Act for example. It's original passage was a complete rush job, and it contains language that is contrary to the Constitution of the US, and there was virtually no debate on it before passage. In fact, many of those who voted on it never had a chance to read it. It means their smear tactics wouldn't go unchallenged in mainstream media.

So to all who are scared of the Fairness Doctrine: Put up or shut up.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Trumping up more War

Clinton's fault? The liberal press? How about the academics? No? How about we make the jump all the way back to the seventies, to justify the current situation in Iraq. That not only takes a bit of desperation, but some real astute spin as well. Then again, that is what you would expect from a politician. But from a Reverend?

Yet this is exactly what Reverend Lou Sheldon is doing for his audience these days. So let's have a look at Reverend Sheldon's blaming of the current situation in the Middle East on Jimmy Carter, and his handling of history regarding that era.

According to Reverend Sheldon, Carter may well be judged as the worst president in history. Well be? His presidency ended 26 years ago, and he doesn't think the verdict is in? Even more interesting is that the title of Worst President ever is often applied to Reverend Sheldon's idol, George W. Bush. Sheldon's reason is that Carter is responsible for the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East because Carter turned against the Shah of Iran late in his Presidency, and the Ayatollah Khomeini replaced the Shah, ushering in the current quagmire in the Middle East.

So let's look at these facts: First, Sheldon states that because of the overthrow of the pro-Western Shah, we have what we have in the Middle East. Never mind what Bush has done. That apparently doesn't count. What Sheldon isn't telling you is that the Shah was a dictator who ruled ruthlessly, wouldn't support a democracy, and was returned to power in 1953 after the CIA under a Republican president helped depose a Prime Minister that nationalized the Iranian oil supply. So the real issue wasn't fundamentalism, it was oil, as it is now. So apparently pro-Western is okay with traditional values despite being a dictatorship with bloody hands.

Second; Sheldon tells his audience that the Soviet Union saw Carter's weakness and invaded Afghanistan. Really? The Russians recognize Carter had issues with Iran, so they invade the neighbor. That sounds like Bush logic to me. And to "misunderestimate" even more, the Soviets decide to invade a couple weeks before Carter loses his office. Now history has informed us that Carters aid Brzezinski claimed they lured the Soviets into Afghanistan, to be their own Viet Nam. One author however claims that much of this information was withheld from Carter. But even given the time line, the only thing Carter authorized was a propaganda campaign against the Soviets. the real assistance to the mujhadeen and Osama Bin laden was undertaken by the Reagan administration that took office in January of 1980, three weeks after the invasion of Afghanistan, and almost two months after the election that replaced Carter. More and more the Afghan invasion sounds just like the thinking that propelled the Bush invasion of Iraq.

The often overlooked facts are that the Afghans sought an alignment with the USSR because of the American alignment with it's regional contestants, which include Pakistan and Iran, and we know that the Shah came to power with a US intervention in 1953. Hence, when it came to be needed, the Afghans turned to their ally when needed, and not because they saw that Carter was weak. The Soviet aligned faction in Afghanistan sought help when they wanted it, and to the place that had provided the weapons, assistance, and military training they had used for a decade prior to Jimmy Carter.

And yet these same twisted facts are what Christian groups including the Traditional Values Coalition are telling the far right wing of America. And to what end? So that the war machine in Washington can further it's efforts in the Middle East.

Shockingly, this is being done blindly. These right wing groups have completely forgotten, in their world of manipulated facts, that the Soviet Union was bankrupted and dissolved after ten years of a conflict in Afghanistan that they didn't win. So what makes these imperialists think that the US can do anything different in Iraq, when the policies it has followed so far have produced little but chaos?

So in direct contradiction to their own Prince of Peace, the right wing Christian fundamentalists trump up the need for continued fighting and occupation in the Middle East, and they base it on a history they purposely distort to fit their own political agenda.

I wonder who is being set free from these "truths?"

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Protect the Rule of Law: Give me a Raise!

You see, without a 30% raise, I can't possibly sit on the bench and rule fairly. It will eat at my concentration, knowing that there are plenty of academic and private practice lawyers making twice what I do. My assets, worth upwards of ten million not withstanding, it will be nigh impossible to do my job.

Yes I realize that minimum wage earners haven't seen any raise in over a decade. And yes, I realize that my earnings are almost 5 times the median wage of an American, and twice that of a median lawyer. And yes, I realize that I can make money from book deals and other endeavors, that I will retire with my full pay, and there is no limit on how long I can serve on the most prestigious job in justice in America.
What has that got to do with anything?

If anyone said this to you, you'd think that person a fool wouldn't you? I would. Yet this is exactly what Chief Justice Roberts has decided is the most important issue after a year on the bench. Not warrant-less eavesdropping. Not the rights of American citizens accused of being terrorists. No, his eight page year-end report was devoted to the necessity of getting a pay raise on his meager $212,000 annual salary.

So dire is this problem, that he called it a "constitutional crisis." Obviously what he meant was that the make-up of the court could be altered by this problem. His spin was that only those to whom $212K is chump change would agree to serve on the bench. You see, judges are leaving by the droves. In fact, a whopping 1% turnover rate! Call in the National Guard....

This is another fine example of an out of touch government employee. So out of touch that he thinks it's his privilege to get rich off the tax payer while simply forgetting that he's a public servant. It's not like he's never been in government before. He's been in and out over the last 30 years. So he knows the ropes, and you'd think that he'd know the idea of public service. But then this current administration has had some difficulties understanding ethics and governing, and seem drawn inexorably to making a dollar at the tax payers expense. One could hope that a Chief Justice would be beyond such meager attitudes.

But not so with John Roberts. In fact, he sits on the Court of an administration that in the case of Jose Padilla, an American citizen, that has abandoned the rule of law altogether. Mr. Padilla's Constitutional rights as a citizen have been criminally violated for over three years, and yet for Chief Justice Robert's, whose duty it is to oversee justice in this land, it's all about the money.

Well Mr. Robert's, if you can't rule without a raise from your privileged position: the door is right over there. If your attitude is at all prevalent on the courts of America, I say then we need a "constitutional crisis." It would do America well to have a Chief Justice that is concerned about the rule of law rather than the size of his check.

So just how tough is life for a Supreme Court justice? To begin with, being government employees, they get access to the best health care for free. We're talking John Hopkins and Bethesda Naval health care, not your local clinic in downtown DC. Oh, and if you need a check up, the same limo that drives you to work every morning will drive you there too. That limo that drives you there will drop you at the building where you have a three room office suite on some of the most valuable land in the country. Sometime during the day you can have your personal trainer drop by, or just head down to the free gym. While there you can work on the book you're planning to sell for millions, or a lecture offer that sits on your desk for which you are allowed to charge upwards of twenty thousand dollars. To get to those lectures you'll have to suffer the limo again and a first class ticket to wherever it is you are lecturing. Of course you'll do some work. For nine months of the year. The other three are a vacation. But during those nine months, as in 1996, you'll hear about 90 cases and offer opinions on about 80, like they did in 1996. That year the heavily conservative court actually had to muddle through 1% of the cases in the docket. They sound like the Congress that was just retired this last November....

And let's not forget the A-list for places like theaters, sporting events, and restaurants. There you can discuss those lectures and book deals while you're limo waits. No need to worry about the boss, because you're job is a lifetime appointment. And when all this work gets tiring, and you simply can't raise the gavel anymore, you can retire with your full pay. A guaranteed full pay pension. Man, that's tough.

So let's exclude those A-list things. Just maybe those aren't comped. What do these perqs amount to? Well, a single lecture amounts to twice what a minimum wage earner makes in a whole year. One lecture, for let's say an astounding two hours. Let's say it's only a ten thousand dollar lecture, and it's in California. For a whopping three days of your life, you'll make what a minimum wage earner makes in one year. So lectures can easily boost the salary of a justice by 10%. Health care benefits can easily add another 5%, just on cost alone let alone the quality of the care received. Since 2000, roughly a million people have lost their health care coverage. That means they have no health care. So 5% is a low figure. What do you suppose rent is on a three room office suite? A couple thousand a month? Let's add the gym and this together, and say three thousand a month. That's roughly thirty six thousand a year. A little over 10% of the salary figure. Already, outside the vacation of three months and book deals that are available, we have added 25% to the salary of a Supreme Court justice, which makes even the Associate justices roll in at over two hundred thousand dollars a year.

How many of us have a free limo to get to work? A three room office suite? Free access to a gym? The A-list of the best places in the country? How about three months off? The best and free health care available? Considering that the median wage in this country is about one fifth of what a justice makes, the odds aren't all that good in favor of the bulk of Americans whose wages compose that median wage. And I relatively doubt that the productivity numbers of the Supreme Court are even close to what the average workers is.

So when you hear a Chief Justice like Justice Roberts complain, write to your Senator and tell them that you oppose any wage increases until their productivity numbers go up, and that they realize that the bigger issues in America have nothing at all to do with how much a justice is paid. When an American citizen is denied his Constitutional rights, than it's not only proper but necessary that these Justices understand what a true "constitutional crisis" really is.

Monday, January 01, 2007

And they told us it was the libs...

...that were the threat to the judiciary.

And here we find out the truth, the real threat is the lack of pay! That according to Chief Justice Roberts as reported on

Might I remind you Chief Justice Roberts, you well educated ignoramus,


If you want to be in it for the money, than get the hell out of government. In a future installment, I will be reporting on just what kind of perqs a Chief Justice gets, and what that amounts to per year, and
how that relates to the median wage in this country.

So Chief Justice Roberts, quit being an asshole, or quit being a judge.