Saturday, June 30, 2007

Terror bombs in London.

I have no doubt the London police force, and whatever other intelligence agencies are involved, will eventually find the people who placed those cars with the bombs in them. London has more surveillance cameras than any other city in the world. It didn’t take them long to find the subway and bus bombers from two years ago. These people won’t get away. No doubt about it.

I also have no doubt that both sides of the war debate here in the U.S. will try to use this event to bolster their own arguments. Somehow, the pro-Iraq war people will link this very-nearly successful terror plot which could have had terrible consequences, to support for George Bush’s war in Iraq against who knows who. Yes, the world is still not a safe place, even after five years in Iraq, 3600 American servicemen and women killed, and trillions of dollars spent. I would think that would be an argument FOR the case made by the rest of us, that the war in Iraq really has nothing to do whatsoever with terrorism, in the way the pro-war folks like to think, and has actually made the world less safe.

It’s all pretty much a useless debate anyway. No matter how good the arguments that are made by us, the only person who really matters is in the White House. And he isn’t budging. The military forces of the U.S. are not leaving Iraq in any significant numbers until Bush leaves office. The only question is, what is going to happen between now and then? How many more American lives will be lost or destroyed? How much more money will be thrown away? How much worse will the situation become? And keep in mind that we have what I consider the real war still going on in Afghanistan. That’s the place that broke the back of the Soviet Union. We could very easily lose there, even if we weren’t bogged down in Iraq. Bush will keep his head down and plow ahead, doing just the opposite of almost everyone else is recommending, even his own party. Our military will continue to serve as targets in a shooting gallery. The region will continue to be unstable. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (remember those people who we are supposed to be “helping”?) will continue to die and suffer without any acknowledgement by the Bush administration. And that is only if the dynamic does not change. It could get significantly worse. Things can always get worse.

I am so thankful that, by both luck and vigilance, neither of those bombs in London went off. I have been to that area of London many times. I can’t imagine the consequences of those explosions would have been. My personal opinion of what this proves is that how we really need to combat terrorism is through police and intelligence work. We should be pouring our resources into those areas, not into some ill-conceived, terribly executed war in Iraq whose only purpose, at the moment, seems to be to boost George Bush’s opinion of himself.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What really drives the ultra-conservatives of this country.

I have spent quite some time, no doubt way too much, on the question of what are the psychological levers being pulled in population of this country today. I just have trouble reconciling the idea of rational, thoughtful human beings reacting to reality the way they do, which is mostly to wig out, reject reality when it conflicts with their preconceived ideas, blame everyone else but themselves for everything, vilify all “enemies” both real and percieved, think that breaking the law is quite acceptable if not required for “their side”, and wanting to blow up the entire Middle East.

I have come to the following, very simple conclusion. They are all scared spitless. They cannot even function or act like rational, compassionate human beings, because they are so scared. And of what are they scared? Pretty much everything and everyone that isn’t “one of them”.

- All non-Caucasian people, particularly Muslims and Mexicans (as of today). They are all, every single one of them, is either out to blow us up or take our over our country by taking our jobs and making everyone speak Spanish.
- All people whose religion is not of the fundamentalist Southern Baptist persuasion. Catholics are almost on par with atheists.
- All people whose sexual proclivity and enjoyment of the activity is not driven by shame. Even heterosexuals who openly enjoy sex are to be shunned or converted.
- Democrats, liberals, “hippies”, “secularists”, etc., who have different ideas than they do about the out-of-whack priorities of this country.
- Anyone who speaks a language other than English, such as French, German, Spanish, Polish, etc.

In other words, the ultra-right conservatives of this country are absolutely terrified of everyone that ISN’T JUST LIKE THEM. It is Tribalism taken to the extreme. Remove all our technology and communication skills, and it all resembles the scene from the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, with the pre-humans freaking out every single day when both tribes show up at the water hole at the same time.

The famous Franklin Delano Roosevelt quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is nice sounding tidbit and contains a certain amount of truth. However, I think one additional thing to fear is what fear drives people to do. Terrified people are rarely reasonable, and the more terrified they are, the less reasonable they are.

Mitt Romney loses the PETA and SPCA voting blocks.

And hopefully, anyone else who cares about basic humanity in a presidential candidate. Here’s a story from Taylor Marsh, which includes numerous links to other places, about the time that Good Ol’ Mitt strapped the family Irish Setter to the top of the car (in an animal carrier, apparently) and took off on a trip with the rest of the family. The family apparently drove around for some time like this.

"Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family's hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. He'd built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog."

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of te wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

How lovely. Family values, and all that. Yeah, this was apparently some time ago, but I don’t think that values really change much, after an adult becomes an adult. Tie this in with Romney’s ever-changing stances on pretty much every question he is asked in order to gain the extreme right-wing of the Republican party and his apparent desire to double the size of our offshore detention/torture facility in Cuba where no one incarcerated has any hope of actually talking to a lawyer, I would say that this person should not be put in charge of a drive in restaurant, much less the United States of America.

As Taylor eloquently says in regard to this story, “Yikes”.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beauty from the realm of abstract math: Fractals

From wikipedia:

A fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole". Because they appear similar at all levels of magnification, fractals are often considered to be infinitely complex (in informal terms). Natural objects that approximate fractals to a degree include clouds, mountain ranges, lightning bolts, coastlines, and snow flakes.

Fractals were big back in the 90’s. Everyone seemed to have a picture of a Mandelbrot set, which is one form of fractal. You must admit that these creations are really mind boggling.

The CIA’s family jewels.

That is what the title of the actual report is. I think it is wonderful that someone in the government has a sense of irony. I also find it interesting that the CIA would voluntarily release such information, even though it appears quite a lot of it was sort of “street knowledge” already. There’s the expected stuff, like we really did try to assassinate Fidel Castro in the early 60’s. Whatta surprise, right? And there was quite a lot of investigation and scrutiny of “radical” groups such as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and the Black Panthers. Journalists were subject to covert wiretaps. Ho-hum. Some interesting names pop up, like Dan Rowan, of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” fame. Yeah, he sure appeared to be a subversive. “You bet your sweet bippy!” I’ll bet there are some good nuggets under some rocks there that haven’t been turned over yet. There’s bound to be some surprises, sooner or later.

What I would like to see is such a list complied of what has been going on in the last six years. Now THAT would provide some eye-popping revelations, I imagine. Although, given the report that we had a few weeks ago that the military was actually, in reality, considering making a “gay bomb” which could be dropped on enemy troops, I am not sure anything that we would find out from the CIA could top that one. The theory was that this bomb, whatever it was, would (apparently very quickly) turn all the enemy gay and they would be so enamored of their brothers-in-arms that everyone would lay down their arms and stop fighting. I just don’t think potential revelations can get any weirder than that. But, you never know. Maybe someone should have tried to drop a gay bomb on Castro. That whole Bay of Pigs debacle could have gone a whole new direction.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

More Sunday Shih Tzu blogging.

Mostly, because I don't have much to say this morning.

Funny dog. Meaning, "a little odd". I suppose most puppies have their idiosyncrasies. This one is picky about what she eats. That isn't too odd. But what she does like is rather odd. When we bribe her by putting chopped up cucumbers, strawberries and bananas in her bowl with the rest of her food, she wolfs it down. Cucumbers and bananas, but she turns her nose up at some nice chicken or beef food. I haven't ever heard that one before.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

It is truly amazing what the press lets Republicans and conservatives get away with.

I don’t know how many times a week I see a story and think, “Man, if this had been a Democrat, the press would have roasted the guy alive.” But yet, it always seems to be no big deal when a Republican does it. I don’t believe any one of the things I am thinking about are any more or less egregious than any of the others. They all just point out what a double standard we have in this country about the behavior of Republicans and Democrats.

John Edwards gets a haircut that costs $400, and the press has a field day for weeks. Admittedly, for someone running as a populist, it was an incredibly dumb thing for Edwards to do. The common man doesn’t have 400 bucks to lay out for a haircut, or even much of anything else. Politics, in these days of the extremely short attention span and 30-second sound bite, is almost 100% perception. He should know how that is going to look if the story ever gets out. But yet, we have the not-yet-in-the-race but apparently the second coming of Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, who is also running as “the common guy”. He is “real”, according to all the pundits, which I guess means, “not artificial”. But yet, it is rather common knowledge that, during his campaigning for the Senate, he would go rent or borrow an old red pickup truck that he would drive to the political rallies. And he wouldn’t even get into it until he was ready to go to the rally. Yet, do you hear any of the mainstream press making an issue about that, or laughing in their sleeves about how much of a wanker it makes Thompson look? No. Or, an even better comparison might be when Condelezza Rice was off buying $1000 worth of shoes during the height of the Katrina disaster. Where was the media outrage about that?

And that’s just the small stuff. This double standard also applies to the big stuff as well. Scooter Libby, in the eyes of many on the left, is not a felon convicted of lying to the FBI and a Grand Jury on several occasions, as well as obstructing justice. No, he is a hero and a sacrificial lamb. He is a “good guy”, so he doesn’t deserve to go to jail. Breaking the law when you are a Republican doesn’t seem to matter much. Yes, many of the mainstream press are carrying the story straight up. However, many others are parroting the conservative noise machine’s line. If a Democrat had been caught doing this and some people were agitating for a pardon from Bill Clinton because of ridiculous arguments that the law someone doesn’t apply in this case, the press would have gone absolutely bananas.

Here’s another good one (via Talking Points Memo). Dick Cheney has come up with the theory that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is somehow NOT associated with the Executive Branch of the government. Therefore, the OVP does not have to comply with many of the edicts that the Bush White House is actually complying with, or at least saying they are attempting to comply with, like archiving records and e-mails. They (meaning Dick Cheney and David Addington) have come up with some Byzantine explanation that they belong to BOTH the Executive and Legislative, so anything that the Constitution of the United States says in the context of EITHER doesn’t apply to them. How about that? We have a working monarchy in this country, in the form of the VICE PRESIDENT! Not Bush, but the VP. How bizarre is this argument? Yet, there is it. If Al Gore had made that argument while the VP under Bill Clinton, the nation’s press would have gone berserk. Yet, while this is getting some moderate play in the press of late, it is nowhere near the high-pitched screeching that would have occurred for a Democrat.

I cannot really understand what is exactly driving this double standard. Yes, many of the companies that own media outlets, such as television networks and newspapers, are owned by bigger conglomerates that are rather beholden to the Republican party. They really aren’t going to push the “Republicans are looking like hypocritical crooks” meme. That would be a “biting the hand that feeds you” sort of thing. I think there is something more involved.

I wish I were really trained in psychology and sociology. There are some underlying dynamics going on here. I wish I were insightful enough to really write something down that would really explain this. I would be lucky if I could even put something down that turned out halfway coherent. But really.... What is up with the press and a large percentage of the population in this country? Why is it quite acceptable to let one party to act the way it does, and yet go ballastic when another does something dumb, yet, but nowhere near the magnitude or importance of the other party's transgressions?

The wit and wisdom of the Marx Brothers, as it applies to the administration of George W. Bush

Ambassador Trentino: I am willing to do anything to prevent this war.
Rufus T. Firefly: It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield.

Rufus T. Firefly: You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you're out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.

Rufus T. Firefly: Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.

Minister of Finance: Here is the Treasury Department's report, sir. I hope you'll find it clear.
Rufus T. Firefly: Clear? Huh. Why a four-year-old child could understand this report.
[to Bob Roland]
Rufus T. Firefly: Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can't make head or tail of it.

Rufus T. Firefly: Just for that, you don't get the job I was going to give you.
Chicolini: What job?
Rufus T. Firefly: Secretary of War.
Chicolini: All right, I take it.
Rufus T. Firefly: Sold.

Professor Wagstaff: Is this stuff on the level or are you just making it up as you go along?

Capt. Spaulding: Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.

Capt. Spaulding: Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.

Antonio Pirelli: You know what I say. Whenever you got business trouble the best thing to do is to get a lawyer. Then you got more trouble, but at least you got a lawyer.

Hammer: Wages? Do you want to be wage slaves? Answer me that!
Bellhops: No.
Hammer: No, of course not. But what makes wage slaves? Wages!

Fiorello: What'll I say?
Otis B. Driftwood: Tell them you're not here.
Fiorello: Suppose they don't believe me?
Otis B. Driftwood: They'll believe you when you start talking.

Ronald Kornblow: You know, I think you're the most beautiful woman in the whole world.
Beatrice Rheiner: [eagerly] Do you really?
Ronald Kornblow: No, but I don't mind lying if it'll get me somewheres.

Monday, June 18, 2007


This is truly despicable. I am not going to try to pull out quotes from any of this. Read it for yourself, if you have the stomach for it and you want to know what our government is doing in your name; Seymour Hersch’s article in the New Yorker, Christy’s analysis at Firedoglake, Dan Froomkin’s analysis and links, and the original report from (retired) General Tagabu via The Agonist. Remember, all our Republican nominees for their party’s presidential candidate, except for John McCain, are all for torture. This is beyond disgusting.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The wit and wisdom of Rocky and Bullwinkle, as it applies to the administration of George W. Bush.

Thanks to the IMDB.

Bullwinkle: You just leave it to my pal Rock. He's the brains of the outfit.
General: And what does that make you?
Bullwinkle: What else? The executive.

Rocky: And now, here's something we hope you'll really like.

The Announcer: Well, you're just in time for what might be a very unhappy ending.

Rocky: And now...
Bullwinkle: Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat.

Rocket J. Squirrel: And now, here to tell you everything about anything is Mr. Know-It-All.

Rocky: Bullwinkle, do you know what an A-Bomb is?
Bullwinkle: Sure, a bomb is what some people call our show.
Rocky: I don't think that's very funny.
Bullwinkle: Neither do they apparently

Dudley Do-Right: Stop, Snidely Whiplash, in the name of the law.

Bullwinkle: I'd like to apply for a job as an usher?
Boris: What experience have you had?
Bullwinkle: I've been in the dark for most of my life.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What is wrong with the current Corporate America business model: A layman’s perspective.

I am not an economist. I have never studied economics past my Econ 101, required for my engineering degree. I am not privy to the vast array of different models and theories out there. However, from a purely laymen’s perspective, there is so much that is wrong with how large American corporations are running this business of this country, I cannot believe that knowledgeable people in the field can’t see it. It’s rather like Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest implies in the title of his blog. People are just too damn close to the problems to actually acknowledge that they exist.

First and foremost is the issue of, who is the profit of mega-corporations supposed to benefit, anyway? Right now, current practice is that they reward their CEO and top officials, and then their stockholders, who are usually very well off in the first place. You have to be, in order to buy a substantial amount of their stock. Therefore, the rewards are going to people who really don’t need that much more compensation. Oh yes, there are the small investors who invest in a company or a mutual fund, and yes, they do benefit. And those people are earning more on their investments than if their money were sitting in a bank’s savings account. But much of the wealth earned by a corporation is flowing upward on the economic tree, not downward as the Reagan “trickle-down” theory would have you believe. The lower rungs on the economic ladder are not being lifted up. Many studies I have seen have shown this.

Another large issue is the concept of “as much money as absolutely possible, as fast as possible, without any other regard”. There is so much that is wrong with this short-sided approach. It has led to huge reductions in the investments required in the infrastructure required to keep the business churning away. You don’t drive your car at 70 mph every single day for eight years without some preventative maintenance. If you do, you are going to suffer in the long run. The only questions are when and how bad the crack-up is going to be.

Investments in Research and Development are also very much lagging in this current business climate. If you don’t invest in ways of improving your business or product, you will ultimately be overtaken by the competition. That has happened in so many different industries, I cannot even begin to count them. American automobiles and the steel industry in this country are two oft-cited examples. Our automobile industry is still attempting to plug along, but both Ford and General Motors are in very sore shape, and Daimler-Benz just opted out of Chrysler. Toyota has overtaken GM as the largest car producer for autos sold in this country. Other examples are semi-conductors, all sorts of assembled electronic products including computers, cameras, shoes, clothes…. The list is seemingly without end. We are coming very close to not having an indigenous manufacturing base in this country.

Because this quarter’s profit margin is of the utmost importance, large companies look upon their work force as something to be manipulated to the company’s advantage. Huge layoffs occur on a regular basis, affordable healthcare is going away for the common worker. Job security is just a wistful thought in the minds of many. Real wages for the workers of this country, blue and white collar alike, have not taken a real rise since the 70’s. Jobs are being exported outside this country, as the quest for ever cheaper labor never ends. Now, the traditionally “safe” jobs that require extensive technical training, such as engineering, computer science and customer support are being exported to India and elsewhere.

What the companies seem to be oblivious to is that their customer base is really taking a hit. Multi-millionaires can only buy so many huge houses, boats and take just so many expensive vacations. The huge corporations are taking away the discretionary spending ability of the general population of this country. And with prices of “must have” items like gasoline, food and especially housing are going through the roof, that discretionary spending power becomes that much less.

In other words, I cannot figure out who these businesses think are going to buy their products? Companies like Wal-Mart have a piece of this figured out, by offering very large savings on ordinary items. However, they are also contributing to the overall problem by treating their workers as they would any other commodity, such as floor mops and toilet paper. How can they get the cheapest product available?

I do not understand how Corporate America believes that this is, in any way, a sustainable business model. The plight of the American laborer is not as dreadful as it was during the original Gilded Age. However, it is definitely trending in that direction. Sooner or later, there will be a correction. And it might not be very pretty. Given all the other problems that this country and the rest of the world are facing at this time, such as global climate change, the coming dearth of cheap and plentiful energy and the overall fear and uncertainty facing us in the Middle East, this is not a time to be grinding the heel of American business into the backs of the general population. But that is what is going on.

I am not ready to announce my candidacy in the League of Socialists, as I think having government in control of everything is just as big a recipe for disaster as leaving Big Business to go whatever direction they want to, totally unchecked by any sort of regulation. Depending on Big Business to do “the right thing” is like depending on lions to stop eating all those migrating zebras, as it is “not nice”. It isn’t going to happen. There must be a third way, somewhere, which is a rational combination of free trade with government regulation. But it certainly isn’t going to happen anytime soon. As with all mankind’s endeavors, it seems that the Big Ship must crash into the Iceberg for anyone to recognize that there is really an emergency here that calls for direct action that might not be in the best short-term interest of companies, their CEO’s and their stockholders.

Like I said, it isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Giant bird-like dinosaur discovered in China.

Well, this is rather cool. Dinosaur people (people who study dinosaurs, not… well, you know) have long suspected that we are only familiar with less than 5% of the types of dinosaurs that ever lived. For example, everyone knows about the Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the most famous of all dinosaurs that every lived, correct? King of the Dinosaurs and all that? There are only about 30 known fossilized skeletons of T. rex in the entire world. Given how many of those that ever lived over the millions of years that they did, 30 is not a very statistically significant number. It wouldn’t be a surprise, based on this number, if mankind is totally ignorant about many other kinds of very significant dinosaurs. It is therefore always very interesting when a new one pops up. And this one looks to be very interesting. From an article in Nature:

Alive, the beast is thought to have been 8 metres long, 3.5 metres high at the hip and 1,400 kilograms in weight — 35 times as heavy as its next largest family members and 300 times the size of smaller ones such as Caudiperyx. It has been classified as a new species and genus: Gigantoraptor erlianensis. The find is detailed this week in Nature.1

The evolution of bird-like features had long been thought to be accompanied by a decrease in size, meaning the smaller the species, the more bird-like it is likely to be and vice versa. The new discovery shows that isn't necessarily true.

Gigantoraptor had long arms, bird-like legs, a toothless jaw, and probably a beak. There are no clear signs as to whether it was feathered. However, judging from its close affinity to other dinosaurs known to have been feathered, Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing speculates that it was.


“This is a dinosaur group we've known about for a hundred years. They are usually the size of a turkey or maybe an emu," says David Unwin, a dinosaur expert at the University of Leicester, UK. "No one would have predicted this. If they had, they'd be laughed at."

Now, discovery of something like this always throws our current theories for a loop. As the article in Nature notes, this discovery is such a surprise due to the fact that people in the business of trying to determine the evolutionary path of bird-like dinosaurs never expected anything of this size. For a bird-like dinosaur, this one is gigantic. And because researchers think that this one was a young adult and not fully grown, the adults of this particular species may be even larger. Most theorists in this area had thought that the bird-like dinosaurs were much smaller and continued on downward to get to the final configurations that birds have today.

This is what makes science exciting. New discoveries cannot just be ignored or explained away as just some unimportant aberration. Well, a person can try, but since everything is checked, double-checked and triple-checked by your very educated and experienced peers, any attempt at blowing smoke is quickly exposed as just that. Currently held theories, even very well established ones, must be adjusted in order to account for the new data. That is what is meant by evolution being “a theory”. It most certainly does not mean that the new data (like a giant bird dinosaur with a beak) totally invalidates the entire model, which is what many fundamentalist Christians would like you to believe. It does mean, however, that the current theories are in need of adjusting. Sometimes, these adjustments are just tweaks, sometimes they require a major scrapping of all currently held beliefs and essentially starting over. This last category doesn’t happen too often. An Einstein doesn’t come along everyday to displace an Isaac Newton, or Galileo dispose Ptolemy. Usually, the tweaks are more subtle than that.

Scientific theories are not some static, dry litany of facts and figures. They are constantly being updated and refined as more and more knowledgeable people contribute to the theory. It is very much a vibrant and energetic process.

Sixteen foot tall bird-like dinosaurs with beaks and possibly feathers… Seeing one of those, up close, must have been truly amazing.

Right before it ate you, of course.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Scooter Libby must go directly to jail (in about four to six weeks, that is). All sorts of blogs and lesser news agencies are all over this story, so I won’t go into that here. All I will say is, hey, rich, powerful white-collar white guys who are convicted of pretty serious crimes do, on occasion, actually get sent to jail. Hooray for the rule of law.

What I wanted to write about was that Judge Walton, who presided over this riveting case, has been the target of harassment and potentially threatening notes and e-mails.

He also said he received several "angry, harassing, mean-spirited" letters and phone calls following his sentencing but said they wouldn't factor into his decision.

I think I read where one such note was actually slipped underneath the door to his chambers while in court! What this quote doesn’t say is that Walton decided he better actually keep these messages, rather than toss them as he was originally doing, just in case someone actually does act upon these threats. There should be a record, he said.

Now, why is this kind of behavior by right wing nut-jobs not a proper topic of national discourse? Lunatics who think they can storm Fort Dix disguised as pizza delivery guys and take out hundreds of very well armed and trained soldiers is a cause for the national media to go berserk, even though we later find out that these idiots had about zero chance of ever carrying through on their not-very-well-formulated plan. However, it somehow seems to be just fine that angry right wingers can threaten judges if they don’t produce results that the wingers agree with.

You never see lefties threaten physical harm to those on the other side of the political spectrum. Sure, you see some very nasty comments on blogs and such, which I wish people would really tone down. But I don’t see anyone on the left really going to all the trouble to hand deliver a message, inside a crowded court house, to threaten a federal judge. Our run of the mill lefty whacko’s like to dress up like fish to protest loss of salmon spawning grounds. Worst case offenders on the left seem to be the animal protection activists, who do actual harm to buildings and property, which I am totally against. When one of those events happen, it is fairly well reported in the mainstream media. I am not sure where to put the people who travel around the globe and trash whatever city is hosting the World Trade Organization (WTO) conference. But I hardly ever hear of a specific person on the right being harmed, or even threatened with bodily harm, from someone on the left.

Yet, here on a very high profile case involving a former high official in the Bush White House who was convicted of the crimes of which he was charged by 11* of his peers, some people think it is acceptable behavior to threaten the judge because they don’t like the outcome.

I don’t know in what parallel-universe America that these people live in, but I wish they would wake up to the fact that, no matter what Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin say, it is not acceptable to threaten people just because you don’t like the job they are doing!

Man, I really hate this country sometimes.

*For those not intimately familiar with the details of the trial of ol’ Scoots, one of the original 12 jurists was dismissed very late in the proceedings for being possibly tainted by exposure to news coverage of the trial. Against the wishes of the defense team (and little wonder there), the judge decided to, and the prosecution accept, proceeding with 11 jury members instead of attempting to bring a new alternate jury member up to speed on all the jury deliberations that had occurred to date. This is legal. You can’t start the proceedings with 11, but you can continue with less than 12 if certain conditions are met. Sort of like if most of the players on a basketball team foul out such that the team has to continue on with the game with only 4 players. Thus endeth my very elementary lesson in courtroom proceedings for today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Conservatives really need an Ogre to vilify, it seems, to give their lives meaning.

It seems to me as if conservatives in this country cannot function without an enemy in sight, on whom they can focus their angry and hatred. The last few decades, it has been “liberals”, Democrats, Hollywood elitists, anti-war protestors, “abortionists”, whomever. Gays, lesbians and people of color make the Ogre list quite a bit as well. During the Vietnam war era, it was hippies and the “counter-culture”. Before that, it was the Communists, both real and imagined. Joseph McCarthy played that card very well indeed.

However, the luster seems to have come off the conservatives favorite Ogres of late. Oh, they aren’t completely gone. People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly really don’t know any other tune. That’s all they have, so they will continually trot out the old boogiemen, liberals and Democrats, to keep their listening audience angry. But right now, it just doesn’t seem to be working for them as well as it used to. It probably has something to do with the fact that Republicans had total control of two of the three branches of government for the last six years, and moderate control over the judiciary. And see how well things have been working? It becomes really hard to blame liberals and Democrats for every ill in this country when the Republicans were doing everything they possible could to marginalize and shut out the Democrats from even minimal participation in our government. The same thing goes for the Iraq war and the ridiculously named GWOT (Global War on Terror). That doesn’t seem to be going very well, and again, it is very difficult to blame the Dems for that. Oh, every once in a while, someone tries, but it isn’t sticking. The preferred alternative to blaming someone else is to not talk about it. One recent study showed that Fox News, that bastion of right-wing warmongering, now only sporadically mentions the war in Iraq, much less than either CNN or MSNBC does. That certainly wasn’t the case in the prelude to the war.

Therefore, what’s a good conservative to do? All their usual targets have gone away, due to the fact that conservatives are really starting to look seriously stupid when they try to blame things on someone else that they, themselves, are responsible for. So, it is now the time to change the subject. And not only is a change of subject needed, the new subject needs to be one that includes a new Ogre on which the conservatives can focus their anger and hatred. That is my reading of the rather recent explosion in the “debate” over immigration.

Now, I am not going to argue that immigration, and specifically illegal immigrants, isn’t a problem. It is, and it is going to take a lot of ingenuity and compromise by everyone involved to come up with a workable solution. (My personal take is that building a fence across the entire length of the Mexican/American border not only is not going to work, it is a seriously moronic idea on top of that.) However, that is not how I see this debate being used by the professional agitators in the conservative ranks. Yes, much of this outpouring of raw emotion IS genuine. However, much of it is also very calculated. It is used to distract attention from those other areas that don’t seem to present very good targets these days. What better target than people who are in the country, taking “American jobs”, and don’t look exactly like them or even speak the same language. Yes, illegal immigrants make for a perfect Ogre. Thus, the ratcheting up of this subject we have seen over the last year. Two years ago, this subject seemed to not be on anyone’s radar screen. I certainly don’t remember much discussion about it. Now, depending on who you listen to (such as the aforementioned O’Reilly or CNN’s Lou Dobbs), this is the overwhelming issue of our time.

Fear of the “outsider”, intent on destroying everything conservatives hold dear, seems to be the overwhelming factor in choosing a good Ogre. The Ogre, to be really effective, must instill fear in the hearts of each and every True American Patriot. However, the Ogre must also represent a rather intractable problem, as the Ogre, to be truly effective, must be able to be used over and over again, to repeatedly bash Democrats and liberals over the head with it. Therefore, the Ogre must be such that it is acceptable to those in power to actually never address! Nothing terrible must happen to the country if the Ogre never goes away.

If the Republicans really and truly wanted to address this issue, they would go after the American companies who readily employ non-citizens who are in the country illegally. However, that would totally upset the apple cart for the other wing of the Republican party, the Pro-Big-Business wing. They will not tolerate any effort to limit their pool of workers who are ready and willing to work at whatever job is offered, at lower than normal wages with no benefits. That would undercut their profit margin and therefore undermine their entire business model. Yet, this uncomfortable fact is not dissuading the very passionate conservative base who, for whatever reasons of their own they might have, from pushing immigration as the new Ogre.

That is my take on the current hysteria over immigration.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ah, my... . It appears that life in the Middle East may get even MORE interesting.

Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf seems to be on the way out. So think some in the U.S. intelligence agencies. There seems to be conflicting points of view as to the likelihood of a takeover of the Pakistani government by Islamic radicals. One assessment I saw said the likelihood of that happening is small. I certainly hope so. That certainly would not be good news, if that were to happen. All these theoretical discussions about what Iran might do with an atomic bomb, if and when they are ever able to make one, would immediately become moot. Pakistan already has several, and has set at least one off in their game of nuclear “one-upmanship” they played with India a few years ago. You think Afghanistan was a problem before we invaded? A nuclear-armed Pakistan in control of people, like Bin Laden, who really DO support terrorism against the west would be a real nightmare.

And I have seen several reports that the Turkish military has been making raids into northern Iraq, against what they are terming “Kurdish separatists”, or some such. This could very easily escalate into something incredibly dangerous and difficult to control. Could the U.S. end up on the receiving end of a firefight with the Turks, who are our nominal allies in most other regards? Possibly. Stranger things have happened. I doubt that the U.S. and Turkey would become involved in a shooting war against each other. However, this has the possibility of destabilizing northern Iraq, which was one of our few bright spots in that exceedingly nasty little war. The Turkish army is nothing to laugh about, and they mean business. Turkey would not allow a separate Kurdistan to be set up on their southern border, and they seem to have little patience for a safe haven for Kurdish separatists. It could possibly become another Lebanon-like situation, with a powerful military of a neighboring country trying to knock out a small but determined band of insurgents intent on doing the larger, more powerful nation harm. Just ask Israel how well this has worked out for them in recent years.

If there is a more fitting metaphor for George Bush and his lust to do his dad one better than Pandora’s Box, I certainly can’t think of it. Who knows what Junior and his enablers like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, and Wolfowitz may have helped let loose in the world?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It seems like I am required to believe in God, even though I don't.

It seems as if I have been writing about this topic quite a bit recently. I apologize, but this is very annoying to me.

My wife and I are in the process of adopting a child. She has been living with us for two years now, so it won’t really be a huge change. Just the legal status of the child will change. There are lots of hoops to jump through. One of them occurred yesterday, when we were interviewed by a social worker for what is termed a home study.

Throughout the paperwork we have been given so far, there have been several references and questions regarding the role “religion has played in our life” and describing our religious beliefs. I attempted to ask the lady why this question was even important. I was trying to make the point that I didn’t agree with those in today’s society who seem to think that, if you aren’t part of an organized religion, you are somehow not a moral person. She nodded her head like she sort of agreed with me, but plowed ahead anyway. When it got to the part about describing our values, she insisted in couching them in terms of our “spirituality” and our belief in a higher being, even though I was telling her, rather diplomatically, I thought, but without any equivocation, that we really weren’t religious people but had some very specific values and beliefs about how we treat ourselves and others with respect, truthfulness, and dignity. She plowed on like she didn’t hear any of this and wrote down something along the lines that, even though we didn’t attend a church, we were very spiritual people and other such nonsense. I wanted to talk about values and she wanted to talk about our belief in a God.

I thought this particularly odd, since she is Jewish and very active in her synagogue. It didn’t seem to matter to her that we didn’t share her particular faith. But boy, we needed to put down on that paper that we believed in SOME sort of omnipotent being. Ridiculous. But since I need this person on our side, and we are paying her a good deal of money to work this process through, I wasn’t going to sit and argue with her. I certainly felt like it, though.

For those people out there who might read this who consider yourselves good Christians, Jews, or whatever, please remember that your faith is not the only faith possible. It is the ultimate conceit, in my mind, that you consider your particular belief system as the only possible “truth”, and anyone who does not share it to somehow be a lesser person. That is pure baloney. People can have values without believing in some mystical being. Please remember that very interesting word, “faith”. Because faith means you are taking something at face value without any underlying proof. You must consider the possibility that you are wrong. Therefore, give me the same benefit of the doubt. It is possible that I am correct in my belief. There is no proof, none, one way or the other. Just because the Bible or Torah says they contain “God’s Word” and represent the “ultimate truth”, doesn’t mean they actually are. Proof comes from an independent source. Everything else is a matter of faith.

I try not to get too into this kind of topic very vigorously, as both of my posting partners are religious. I don’t want to offend anyone. I am just annoyed when our society doesn’t seem to be very concerned about offending me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A couple of more pieces of evidence that this country is insane.

I am usually pretty selective about what I watch on television. However, sometimes I just can't avoid seeing some things that I usually would rather not. Like yesterday's amazing display of frivolity and narcissism regarding Paris Hilton. I haven’t commented on her on this web site before, because of the obvious (to me, anyway) conclusion that she is not worthy of our attention, much less adulation. So, when she gets picked up and carted back off to jail, all weepy and semi-hysterical, it becomes a national story that all the cable news outlets interrupt their main coverage so they can cover this shallow and self-absorbed little twit getting busted.

Hey, this happens every single day! What is the story here? What about the G-8 summit? What about the latest underhanded dealings of the Bush administration? Global warming, perhaps? Certainly not the fact that more of our brave troops are getting blown up in Iraq for no perceptible reason. Insane. Why is someone like her, who is only famous because for some reason people have declared her to be famous, being busted worthy of wall-to-wall news coverage? Insane.

The other thing I was exposed to last night (when I went into a McDonald’s with my daughter and there was a TV in the corner that I couldn’t avoid) was an hour long program on CNN with Jonathan Edwards being interviewed about his faith in the Christian God. It was insane. The first question asked was by some head of a Christian organization. I didn’t hear the full question, but this guy was almost lecturing Edwards, pretty much saying that Edwards must produce the answer he was looking for. The “moderator” asked an insane question that I did hear. I’ll try to paraphrase it. It went something like “What role does prayer play in your day to day life, and when you pray, how do you really know that it is God answering you and not something else?” I guess she was either talking about Satan or maybe little voices in Edwards’ head, like Joan of Arc maybe. To his credit, Edwards did his best to get across that he is very faithful, and it plays a big role in his personal life, but he is fully aware of how others may not have the same faith as he and that government’s role has very little to do with Jesus. I think, at one point, he was even defending people like me who don’t believe in the Christian God.

Why does he even have to address this question? This is insane. For a country whose founding principles include separation of Church and State, this all seems to be very much of another unspoken litmus test. I am certain that we look like either complete ignoramuses or complete hypocrites to the rest of the developed world. I’ll accept that a huge percentage of the population of this country is religious, Christian (of the various, mutually exclusive varieties), Jewish, or Islamic. I know that we have some Buddhists and people who practice other eastern religions as well in this country. Why is that all of our candidates now how to state, on national television, that they are more pious and faithful than their competitors? I’m sorry, but that is how it is coming off.

If what is on television is actually a reflection of the general personality and psyche of this country, sort of like an electronic Rorschach ink blot test, then we are in quite a heap of trouble.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I can’t decide what upsets me the most.

Hard-core Republicans, Conservatives, Evangelical Christians, and loud-mouthed television, radio and print “pundits” all seem to exhibit, during some point in their public lives, a very annoying set of traits. I can’t believe they can actually act the way they do and keep a straight face.

- Opinions count more than actual facts. When facts get in the way, then they can be dismissed, ignored or ridiculed as required.
- Shouting the loudest counts more than reasoned discourse. Interrupting someone else trying to make a point is not only acceptable; it is required, lest their opponent actually gets to make a point that makes sense.
- Lying or making up “facts” in order to advance their point or to try to undercut their opponent is also required.
- Hard-core Republicans, Conservatives, Evangelical Christians, and loud-mouthed television, radio and print “pundits” can do no wrong. If they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, then excuses must be made or, even better, everyone pretends the event never happened. A Republican breaking the law is by its very nature a non-sequitor.
- Attributing all the bad traits that they seem to accept as normal behavior on their part to Democrats and liberals.

I think this last one annoys me the most. Republican shills get to shriek about how “angry” and “toxic” the liberal blogs are. They conveniently ignore the fact that people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michele Malkin and Bill O’Reilly have made a living, and a very good one, demonizing all that they have determined to be “the Others”. I have heard some outlandish things, especially on talk radio. They didn’t even seem to be talking about fellow human beings. They have routinely called everyone on the left “traitors”, “Godless”, “harpy”, “shrill”, “hateful”… I once heard someone on late night talk radio, I am not sure since I didn’t stay around to find out but I think it was Michael Medved, say something like “Liberals are disgusting. If you turn over a rock, you will find a slimy liberal.” Now, that is how you talk about a bug or worm, something completely disgusting and beneath any sort of human feelings. It is not how you refer to fellow human beings. The Nazis had this figured out. In order to actually do something about the “Jewish problem”, first the entire non-Jewish population must be convinced that Jews were non-human. Vilification and attribution of non-human characteristics made it all the easier to accept the mass exile and deportation of Jews, and ultimately, mass murder.

I am not saying that the people on the right are actually advocating that, but they are well on their way to dehumanizing their “enemy”.

Yet, the mainstream media continually repeats the right wing noise machine’s message about how uncivilized, uncouth and angry the left is. Well, yeah. We are angry. Quite pissed off, actually. Being on the receiving end of such treatment for going on 20 years is enough to get anyone upset.

Actions such as these go beyond mere hypocrisy. It borders on the pathological. And it is amazing to see that such behavior is not only tolerated, it is now fully ingrained in the mainstream consciousness of this country. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are routinely invited on primetime network news and talk shows.

As I said before, I just do not understand how these people can actually say some of the things that they do with a straight face. If you took some homeless person off the street who was acting this irrationally and exhibiting all the traits that we routinely see from right wing politicians, pundits and religious figures, we might want to get them confined for a psychiatric evaluation.

I certainly hope this country starts coming to its collective senses soon. We really cannot stand more of this insanity. I am also very concerned about how the ordinary run-of-the-mill citizens of this country who have been spoon-fed this hatred and disregard for social conventions for years will react to the fact that the Democrats will, most likely, capture the Presidency and both houses of Congress in ’08. I have seen several people predict social violence if that occurs.

From a purely social and eventually historical perspective, the next ten years will certainly be interested. Living through them may not be that pleasant, however.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Our house is a very, very, very fine house.

Via mahablog. This is a riot. Check out the hysterical photoshop contest for one of the worst subjects for a kids books ever made, “Will They Fly An Airplane Into Our House?”

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Another Republican debate last night....

From what I have gathered from my normal sources, it seems they were all in fine form last night. They all had to show they believed in the Christian God, which is a good trick for a Mormon. Everyone is against immigrants, it seems, although non one ever brought up the subject that it is the pro-Big-Business end of the Republican party who wants to keep all the Mexicans in the country so they don't have to pay people the minimum wage or give anyone health care benefits. And Wolf Blitzer spiced up the evening when he asked if it was acceptable to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. But, since they were only talking "hypothetically" and it was only going to be a tactical nuke, not a "big, wipe 'em off the face of the Earth" nuke, then I guess this is an acceptable subject.

Does anyone else think all of this is surreal? How can anyone, much less candidates for the office of the President of the United States, actually be discussing this issue with any sort of seriousness at all?

I am really worried that if one of these nutjobs actually wins the presidency, we are all in very big trouble.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The wit and wisdom of the X-Files, as it applies to the administration of George W. Bush

Yeah, IMDB.

Scully: I was raised to believe that God has his reasons, however mysterious.
Mulder: He may well have is reasons but he seems to use a lot of psychotics to carry out his job orders.

Mulder: All the nuts roll down to Florida.

Skinner: When you compound the lies, you compound the consequences.
Scully: All lies lead to the truth.

Susanne Modeski: [to The Lone Gunmen] No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough.

Scully: I'm afraid that God is speaking and no one is listening.

Scully: I hate to say this Mulder, but I think you just lost your credibility.

Mulder: If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?

Krycek: Scully's a problem. A much larger problem than you described.
The Cigarette Smoking Man: Every problem has a solution.

Mulder: Fear. It's the oldest tool of power. If you're distracted by the fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above.

Mulder: You know, they say when you talk to God it's prayers, but when God talks to you it's schizophrenia.

Stonecypher: Have you ever been to a team seminar, Agent Mulder?
Mulder: No, unfortunately around this time of year I usually develop a severe hemorrhoidal condition.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dem vs. Repub televised debates, and what they say about the parties in general.

First off, I must make it abundantly clear. I, most emphatically, do not watch televised political debates. Within a few minutes, I get so annoyed I have to leave or else I might end up doing something rash, like throwing the television out the window or moving to Canada. I think the last full presidential debate that I watched was, and this pains me to acknowledge how long ago this actually was, Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford. I was so absolutely annoyed at both of them at the end of the evening, I couldn’t stand it. Neither one of them would answer the question that was asked. They just trotted out a favorite slogan or sound bite that was sort of in the same ballpark as the question that was asked. But not necessarily. That was it for me.

Given this rather severe limitation regarding televised political debates, I find myself reading the media punditry the next morning and listen to what they have to say about the analysis of what actually occurred, as well as seeing the mandatory declaration of “who won the debate”. Funny, I thought debates were just to let the voting public know where the different candidates stand on various issues. “Winning” is so ingrained into our culture these days that it is impossible to have any sort of activity involving two or more individuals without declaring someone the “winner”. One of the main selling points on a new ad on television about riding lawn mowers seems to be that you can beat your neighbor when it comes to mowing your yard faster than he can.

But I digress. Which I am prone to do. Here’s what I have gathered so far about some of these televised debates.

The Dems talked about:
- What the vote for or against the funding bill for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan actually meant.
- Criticizing each other for not pressing the President harder to bring the war in Iraq to a close.
- Discussing (but not particularly advocating actually doing anything about) the genocide in Dafur.
- The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military.

There were some other subjects, but it seems that these were the biggies.

Here is what I gathered the Republicans talked about in their last debate.
- Immigration, as is, who is against illegal immigrants the most and who would build the biggest wall?
- How much tougher each person in the debate is than all the others regarding torturing people suspected of terrorism, plotting terrorism, or thinking of terrorism in a vague sort of way. Mitt Romney wants to double the size of Guantanamo, so that terror suspects “don’t have access to lawyers”. Only John McCain came out as being against legalized torture of someone who has not yet been charged with a crime.
- Who could be make the “tough decision” when it comes to bombing Iran?
- Which candidate does or does not believe in evolution (hands up, please).
- The influence of Bill Clinton on the White House, if Hillary were to win on the Democratic side.
- John Edward’s $400 haircut and, since that proves he is a “girly-man” because of that, is somehow unqualified to be president.

Apparently, Ron Paul on the Republican side threw in some very interesting comments and observations, which everyone ridiculed. Rudy Giuliani thought it insane that anyone could actually think that terrorists might attack the United States based on the actions over the last 25 years of said United States. Apparently, everyone knows that terrorists “hate freedom” and anyone who says anything different is probably a liberal. Poor Ron Paul. There’s no way in hell that he will get anywhere close to winning a single primary. He is now a permanent member of the “Blame America First crowd”.

Several things that were apparently noticeable by the lack of their presence in the debate are how well our current policy in Iraq is going, and how much they back President Bush these days. Illegal wiretapping, anyone?

So, given the national stage that is given to these bunch of people, who for their own reasons, want to be the president of (currently) the most power nation on the planet, what they choose to talk about is very revealing. Who believes in evolution? Please!! Bill Clinton? What, again? It doesn’t take much of a genius to see which party was actually trying to address the issues (maybe not very successfully, but at least the topics came up in the discussion) and which party was pandering to the lowest common denominator of those who vote in the party primaries.

UPDATE (prior to actually publishing this post, but after I wrote it): I swear, I wrote this post prior before I stumbled across this column by E.J. Dionne. Same topic, tho....

It’s rather telling when the U.S. can’t even win an argument regarding moral behavior with Venezuela.

I would say that this guy has a point.

Rice hit out at the shuttering of Radio Caracas Television, RCTV, calling it Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez's "sharpest and most acute" move yet against democracy.

Venezuela's top diplomat, Nicolas Maduro, then accused her of hypocrisy, unacceptable meddling in his nation's affairs and compared the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and secret prisons elsewhere to something not seen since "the time of Hitler."

Maduro defended the decision to close RCTV as "democratic, legal and fair" and accused the United States of repeated violations of human rights, including at the U.S.-Mexico border where immigrants "are chased and hunted like animals" and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he said terrorism suspects are being "held hostage."

I am certainly not going to defend Venezuela or anything that Hugo Chavez does on the international stage. (I do understand that he might have some rather good enlightened domestic policies, but I am not going there.) And I would add that Mr. Maduro might want to go study some post-WWII history, as the Soviet Union ran some pretty damn big secret and not-so-secret prisons during the 50’s to the 70’s. Compared to the Gulags the Soviets ran, I would say that Guantanamo and our “outsourcing” of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to other countries not bound by civility and legal traditions, however horrible they are considering we are supposed to be an enlightened and compassionate country, are still pretty small potatoes compared to those.

However, here’s the whole deal with the United States trying to defend torturing suspects who have not been charged with anything, aren’t allowed access to lawyers or the legal system, lying about pretty much everything that the government has done with regard to the Iraq war, including outing a valuable CIA asset for political revenge, etc. In other words, we are trying to defend the indefensible. Guess what? We no longer hold the moral high road in any of these discussions! No one believes us! We are shown to be bullies and hypocrites!

We have lost our moral standing in the world, and can’t even win a pissing match against a third world despot. That’s how low the Bush Administration has brought this country.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The wit and wisdom of Star Trek, as it applies to the administration of George W. Bush

Thanks to the Internet Movie Database, a great source of information and amusement.

Spock: I fail to comprehend your indignation, sir. I have simply made the logical deduction that you are a liar.

Bones: Spock, I've found that evil usually triumphs... unless good is very, very careful.

Spock: Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here.
McCoy: You admit that?
Spock: To deny the facts would be illogical, doctor.

James T. Kirk: There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere...

Friday, June 01, 2007

One of many fault lines in the Republican Party appears to be rupturing.

“Rupture”, not “rapture”....

Via Rawstory, via Firedoglake, is an interesting little tidbit. Seems that the Republican National Committee is laying off a bunch of phone solicitors, due to the fact that contributions are “drying up” over the whole business of immigration reform and “amnesty” for illegal aliens.

There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

"Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said the former employee.

Of course, there is the usual counter-assertion from people actually still employed by the RNC that no such thing is going on, contributions are still flowing in, and actually, they are getting TWICE as much in the way of donations as are the Democrats.

I find it rather amusing and bemusing that this is the issue that could really tear things apart for the Republicans. Going to war on very shaky grounds just because Bush, Cheney, Rumseld and the rest of the neo-con cabal wanted to, no problem. Over 3400 soldiers and marines dead, on a mission that seems to have no point? No problem. Lying under oath about outing a valuable CIA asset, just to have retribution against a political foe? No problem. Torturing people who have not been charged with any crime? Absolutely no problem. Shredding the Constitution of the United States in order to make a huge power play and drive this country toward a Communistic model with a single viable political party? Nope, no problem with that. But give “amnesty” to a bunch of Mexicans who are here illegally but still provide a valuable service to the American economy? Boy, watch the fur fly.

It appears to me that up to a third of the Republican party will never accept anything less than deportation of about a million and a half illegal aliens. I may have my numbers wrong on that. It may be much more. I know it is more than a million. I don’t see how this plan could be at all viable. What are they proposing to do? Round up everyone at gunpoint, put them in trains or truck convoys and drive them back across the border at San Diego or El Paso? Talk about your Gestapo tactics.

Logic is playing a very small role in this “discussion”. Emotion and racism seems to be the main component. Listening to what people like Bill O’Reilly say about this makes it plain that these folks are scared stiff, or either just playing on the fear of their listening audience, it doesn’t matter which actually, of the U.S. being “invaded” by a bunch of brown skinned people who don’t speak English. Yes, we need to take some steps to address this very difficult issue. Things are apparently out of control in terms of open borders. But, once again, many in the Republican party don’t want to address crushingly important issues in any other way than screaming and sputtering, fear and anger, calling your opponents names and questioning their patriotism, honor, and intelligence.

I, for one, will be quite happy to see the current form of the Republican party fragment into “ultra-pro-big-business” and “militant anti-immigration” factions, neither of them willing to budge to the other side, unwilling to vote for each other’s candidates. Happy days. Maybe now this country will be able to actually address pressing issues without getting blocked by vast groups of people only united in the hatred of the Democrats, regardless of the issue.

I am also rather amused by the fact that the fear, demagoguery and political rancor used by the Republicans against Democrats since the Newt Gingrich “revolution” are now coming back to bite them in the butt, big time. This seems to be the only way they know how to play politics now, even when they are disagreeing with members of their own tribe.

The wit and wisdom of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, as it applies to the administration of George W. Bush

Once again, thanks to IMDB.

Willow: I wish Buffy was here!
Buffy: I'm here!
Willow: I wish I had a million dollars!
[everyone stares ant her]
Willow: Just checking.

[the gang is fighting a troll]
Anya: How can I help?
Willow: Uh, distract him from Buffy. Uh, piss him off.
Anya: I don't know how!
Willow: Anya, I have faith in you. There is no one you cannot piss off.

Spike: I'm insane. What's his excuse?

Buffy: Hey. Look at us. We came up with a plan, a good plan.

Principal Snyder: It's fuzzy-minded liberal thinking like that that gets you eaten.

Buffy: Have I ever let you down?
Giles: Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?

Buffy: Oh look, a bad guy.

Buffy: People to see, demons to kill.

Xander: I don't get your crazy system.
Giles: It's called the alphabet.
Xander: Would ya look at that.

Adam: You failed me.
Spike: Let's not quibble about who failed who.

Xander: I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster.
Giles: Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space... I did not say that.

[In response to being asked to fight a troll]
Spike: I would, but I'm paralyzed with not caring very much.

Buffy: Giles, are you sure about this?
Giles: Why wouldn't I be?
Buffy: Well, aside from the fact that most magic shop owners in Sunnydale have the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer, have you ever run a store before?

Buffy: I'm rash and impulsive. It's a flaw.

Glory: Did anybody order an apocalypse?

Anya: Anybody else feel that?
Willow: What?
Anya: Cold draft of paralyzing fear?

Xander: He can come along any minute.
Buffy: Yeah, and the minute after that, I can terrify him with my alarming strength and remarkable self-involvement.

Spike: Don't be a stupid git. There is no...
Giles: Spike if I want your opinion I'll... I'll never want your opinion.

Xander: I guess it's time for a little reconnaissance.
Buffy: You mean where we all sculpt and paint and stuff?
Xander: That was the Renaissance.
Buffy: Oh. I told you I've had a bad week.

Buffy: [notices the large pile of books] Is this all research, or just some kind of stress test for the table?

Anya: You know who else aren't American? French people.

Willow: Nervous?
Xander: No way. I'm full of that good ole kamikaze spirit.
Giles: Xander, just because this is never going to work is no need to be negative.

Buffy: Okay, this is beyond evil, this is insane troll logic.

Dawn: Do you know that ancient Sumerians do not speak English?
Buffy: They're worse than the French.

Willow: He said he wasn't coming back until he'd driven to all fifty states.
Buffy: Did you explain about Hawaii?
Willow: Well, he seemed so determined.

Spike: There's always casualties in war, Buffy.
Buffy: Casualties. It just sounds so... casual.

For other posts in this series, see here and here.