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Bloviating Zeppelin: January 2006

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Two Words: Justice Alito

The vote? 58 to 42, along party lines. Four Democrats went over for Alito. One Republican voted against: Lincoln Chaffee, Rhode Island.

Guess what: Samuel Alito is only 54. He'll be around for a long time.

And Bush may in fact be able to make a third Supreme Court appointment.

Hamas: The Story Behind the Story

Last Thursday, January 26th, Hamas won 75 of the 132 seats in voting for the Palestinian Authority legislature. That Hamas victory over Fatah marks the end of ten years of Palestinian Authority rule.

And Fatah is pissed.

The Palestinian masses are finally realizing how abjectly corrupt the party of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat and current leader Mahmoud Abbas really was. Arafat was the biggest dipper and corruptor, with the EU having shoved $4 billion into the Palestinian Authority since 1983. Where did the money go? Not to the people; mostly to Arafat's various accounts. It is, therefore, no surprise that Arafat's surviving wife Suha is currently living in France (with mother and a serving staff) on a mere $100,000 per month.

But I digress.

This post is about money and what the United States is doing about the resulting elections placing Hamas ostensibly in charge. But mostly it's about what we were doing and my dismay over past practices.

First: the European Union continues to fund the Palestinian Authority (see above). EU member states donated about $600 million to the Palestinians in 2005.

Second: after the Hamas win, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government. She ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.

Humanitarian help to the Palestinians, many of whom are poor and unemployed, is likely on a "case-by-case basis," Rice said Sunday. She indicated that the administration would follow through on aid promised to the current, U.S.-backed Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas. "We're going to review all of our assistance programs, but the bedrock principle here is we can't have funding for an organization that holds those views just because it is in government," Rice said.

Wait wait wait wait wait. Are WE funding the Palestinian Authority? HAVE we been funding the Palestinian Authority? THIS is the story behind the story!

The BBC News article indicated, "The US has also said it would stop its aid to the PA if Hamas failed to renounce violence or recognise Israel."

I'm kidding, correct?

No. I am not. The United States has been funding the Palestinian Authority. In essence, that nice new carpeting in Suha's Paris living room? Partially funded by you. By me. That nice Cartier watch? I think I purchased the bezel.

How outrageous is this? Israeli limbs blown off by PA-led terrorists?

Their explosives, IEDs, equipment: partially supplied by the American taxpayers.

I am completely disgusted.


Who else are we funding?

What I Actually Saw At Work

No, it wasn't a guy's car; shame on you!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Democrats Pissed At Howard Dean

So we're not the only ones, eh?

From the Drudge Report:

Mon Jan 30 2006 10:52:31 ET

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are privately bristling over Howard Dean’s management of the Democratic National Committee and have made those sentiments clear after new fundraising numbers showed he has spent nearly all the committee’s cash and has little left to support their efforts to gain seats this cycle, ROLL CALL reports.

Congressional leaders were furious last week when they learned the DNC has just $5.5 million in the bank, compared to the Republican National Committee’s $34 million.

Senate and House Minority Leaders Harry Reid (Nev.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), along with the Senate and House campaign committee chairmen Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), have made their concerns -- directly or indirectly -- known to Dean, claims the paper.

Emanuel was particularly upset last week upon seeing the latest DNC numbers.

“A lot of people are scratching their heads as to what’s going on,” said one senior Democratic aide.

Another Democratic source familiar with the party fundraising apparatus said there is “obvious displeasure” among the leaders.

Here is the article referenced by Drudge. And no, I'm not a subscriber; I couldn't acquire the full piece.

So Dean's not just a loon -- he's a mismanaging loon.

Whilst I'm here, let's review some of Dean's Greatest Verbal Hits:

-- Republicans don't understand the lives of hard-working Americans because they "never made an honest living in their lives."

-- Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party." -- true, huh, Neo, Soc?

-- The Dems vs. the GOP: "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

-- Republican leaders are "the ayatollahs of the right wing."

-- At least Dean was honest. Once. He said: "I hate Republicans."

-- In a radio interview with San Antonio station WOAI on December 5, 2005, Dean said the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."


Looks like it's time for me to cut another check to the RNC.

Your Last Flight

On September 11th, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757, was delayed 41 minutes on the ground in Newark, New Jersey, enroute San Francisco. It was waiting for heavy runway traffic to clear.

Flight 93 finally became airborne at 8:42 AM.

Around 9:22, at least three of the four hijackers on board stood up and put red bandanas around their heads. Two of them forced their way into the cockpit. One took the loudspeaker microphone, not knowing that it could also be heard by flight controllers, and said that someone had a bomb onboard and that the flight was returning to the airport. He told them he was the pilot, but he spoke with an accent.

At 10:03 AM, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (other accounts give 10:06 or 10:10 AM), and as per eyewitness statements, the 757 was upside down when it crashed nose-first into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at an estimated speed of 580 MPH. It left a crater about 115 feet deep. All 40 passengers and crew plus the four hijackers were obliterated.

The destination was supposed to be Washington, DC. The United States Capitol and the White House were probable targets, with the Capitol being the more likely of the two. Had the plane struck either building, it may not have killed anyone other than those on board the plane. Both of those buildings had been evacuated by 9:45 AM.

But as opposed to the anticipated high death count from the World Trade Center buildings, striking the Capitol would have been more symbolic than anything else -- though a horrible blow to the history of this nation.

The largest flaw in the plan was the unforeseen 41-minute delay on the ground in Newark. Absent that, the strikes may have been close to simultaneous.

And absent the passengers of Flight 93 taking it upon themselves to fight back.

The first call at 9:20 AM from Tom Burnett, in answer to his wife Deena asking if he were alright: "No. I'm on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane has been hijacked. We are in the air. They've already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI."

Deena Burnett's phone rang again. Tom was there and Deena told him: "They're taking airplanes and hitting landmarks all up and down the East Coast."

"OK," Tom Burnett said. "We're going to do something. I'll call you back." The line went dead.

At about 9:55, Tom Burnett called Deena the final time and said: "A group of us is going to do something."

Deena said: "No, Tom, just sit down and don't draw attention to yourself."

"Deena," he replied, "If they're going to crash the plane into the ground, we have to do something. We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something now."

A short time later, Todd Beamer put down the airphone he'd been using, but didn't hang up. "Are you guys ready?" Beamer asked. "Let's roll," he said.

Honor Wainio was speaking to her stepmother. "I need to go," she said. "They're getting ready to break into the cockpit. I love you. Goodbye."

One of the last conversations: "Everyone's running to first class," Sandy Bradshaw told her husband. "I've got to go. Bye."


Fast forward to today: believing it to be your final flight, what would you have done?


Tonight on A&E: "Flight 93." I was reminded of their sacrifice. I'm going to watch. To remember.

And never forget.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

New To "The Usual Suspect" List

It's about time I change some, rearrange some, eliminate some and update my blogroll of The Usual Suspects.

I suppose I have a different take on blogrolls.

I've noticed that most blogs have a seemingly-endless list of linked blogs in their rolls -- sometimes the lists go right to the bottom of the viewable page and, boys and girls, that's a lot of blogs. I just can't read or make note of that many blogs. I'm sure they're all good -- at least I'd hope so.

But I don't have the time to click on each and every link in another blogroll. I don't think you do either. So, as you've likely determined by now, my blogroll is, shall we say, brief.

Those who make my blogroll of The Usual Suspects have earned their place. And you don't arrive on my blogroll overnight. You have to work to get there. I have to find myself reading your blog frequently. I have to like not only your perspective, your writings but your layout as well. And I don't simply place someone there; I announce them.

As it is now: my Suspect list is updated. First up to bat:

1. My Republican Blog

Gayle writes this most excellent blog and portrays herself in this fashion:

I am not a born Redneck. My husband and I adopted the state of Texas whether Texas likes it or not. We have chosen to be Rednecks because we admire Rednecks. They use guns and you don't mess with Rednecks. Not if you haven't got pickles for brains! (But I don't like grits.) My husband is retired Army and a Vietnam Vet. I am a retired Army dependent and wife of a Vietnam Vet. We have three large watchdogs outside and one large watchdog inside. Old-fashioned actual bars go up across the doors at night, and several weapons that seem to work very well with bullets are handy. Our farm is 80 acres but without livestock. I'd make pets out of pigs and cows. I don't make pets out of chickens however; chickens are the dumbest birds on the planet! We grow every type of vegetable immaginable. Our place is a farm and nursery as we also have a large greenhouse and grow flowers.

Gayle features some great writing with a vision that encompasses generations and various perspectives -- but is conservative in nature. Gayle also operates a graphic blog entitled Let Our Voices Be Heard - Laughing but this piece of the Blogosphere is soon to be shut down.

Welcome aboard, Gayle!

2. Caucasionally Challenged Christian

This site is operated by a fellow calling himself Neo, Soc, who says:
I am a Christian before I am an American, a father, and black man! My title is politically correct ('pc') because I think 'pc' jargon is gettting way out of control! So, please don't expect me to be flowery, unless I'm in one of my craziness journalistic modes!

Neo, Soc has been commenting on my blog for some time now, and it's time I reciprocate and return the favor. He's a well-grounded American who writes well and has some excellent points to make! Do yourself a good turn and visit his blog for some salient insights into today's world.

Welcome aboard, Neo, Soc!

3. Quid Novi?

A site written by Echotig, wife of the Big White Hat, she posts about life, her five children (one of whom is autistic) and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Don't believe that one post with a picture. It's not her. She's cuter. I know because she told me so. Go check her site out. Right now. Because if you don't, you'll be very, very sorry indeed!

Welcome aboard, Echotig!

One deletion: SactoDan's blog. Once in hopes of getting into the Western Alliance, I've not felt any love whatsoever, though I was once promised a link at Fetching Jen's blog. G'bye, Dan.


Please, go visit these and my other links as frequently as possible.

Everyone is there for one very salient reason: they're simply good.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Petroleum Up to $90 Per Barrel?

Iran crisis 'could drive oil over $90'

Prices climb ahead of critical week as nuclear row escalates. Opec says it won't increase quotas to cover for production shutdown

Heather Stewart, economics correspondent:
Sunday January 29, 2006: The Observer

Oil markets are braced for a nail-biting week, as world leaders demand action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and analysts warn that crude prices could reach $90 a barrel if the oil-rich state retaliates by blocking supplies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency meets on Thursday to decide whether to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, has threatened to respond to any punitive action by cutting off the 2.6 million barrels of oil a day it pumps into the markets - 5 per cent of the world's supply.


Do the "logical extension."

What is petroleum-based? Rubber? Plastics in particular?

Perhaps it's time to stock up on plastic bags in all forms. Don't say I didn't tell you.

Oh, well. Except that would classify me as a Moonbat.

Parents Take Heed

What I'd like to do with the unsupervised, loud, obnoxious kids I encountered in the theatre today.

"Neutrons For Food" -- It's a Small World After All

So there I was. Over at Texas Fred's blog this evening, commenting about the American military when Gayle made an aside comment about Googling one's own website.

I thought: "Yeah right. Like my pisshead little blog factors into anything."

But I Googled the name of my blog anyway. And I got over ten + pages of hits!

One hit made me sit up and immediately take notice. It appeared to come from the United Kingdom. Nah, I thought. That's just not right. Must be a mitsake.

But it wasn't. The UK 's TimesOnline referenced my blog in a January 21st piece regarding "The Week On The Web."

In this net article by Rhys Blakely it was written:

Blogs Attacked

Western online opinion has been “overwhelmingly critical of Russia and China's call for further negotiations with Iran over its nuclear escalation”, reported.

The Iranians “will work to exploit any rift they can find between the two Asian giants and the West in order to play both sides against the middle”, the Captain’s Quarters blog argued. The Thoughtland site noted that “apart from intensive trade with Iran, China heavily depends on Iranian oil too”.

If not sanctions, what then? “Maybe Kofi can initiate the ‘Neutrons for Food’ programme?” suggested the Bloviating Zeppelin site.

Then my website was referenced.

Holy crap! My winky little blog was mentioned in the same paragraph as the Captain's Quarters blog, a commanding site in the US political realm!

Yes, mine was a relatively older post about Iran (in terms of the internet -- January 17th) but still -- how absolutely strange that I should find my stupid little piece of the Blogosphere referenced by a media powerhouse like the TimesOnline!

I wonder: how did Mr. Blakely manage to travel from the UK, over the Atlantic, across the plains and Rockies to MY blog? What kind of searching must you do to find my post, that day, about Iran, from the (literally!) millions and millions of blogs extant on the web?

I am agog.

This blog thing: how bizarre! The world distilled down to my HP Pavilion zd8000 laptop.

I'm still floored.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Today's Hero: Robert Byrd Surprises; Slams Ted Kennedy & Democrats

Senator Robert Byrd (D, West Virginia), known for remarkably long-winded, bloviating, rambling, melodramatic speeches has now surprised and shocked most everyone by not only coming out with open support for Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation, but mightily slapping the Senate, the Democrats and Ted Kennedy in the process.

During yesterday's speech in the senate, Byrd said in part:

I feel compelled to address this issue, not to point fingers to scold, or to assign blame, but to address specific, sincere,and heartfelt concerns that have been brought to my attention by the people of West Virginia. Many people, including foremost the people of West Virginia in no uncertain terms were, frankly, appalled by the Alito hearings. I don’t want to say it; but I must. They were appalled.

It is especially telling that many who objected to the way in which the Alito hearings were conducted do not support Judge Alito. In fact, it is sorely apparent that even many who oppose Judge Alito’s nomination also oppose the seemingly “made for TV” antics that accompanied the hearings.

A solemn, constitutional responsibility is not helped when it takes on such a tone.

And then there was the media and its contribution to the deterioration of this very important Constitutional process. Was it really necessary to subject Mrs. Alito to the harsh glare of television klieg lights as she fled the hearing room in tears, fighting to maintain her dignity in response to others with precious little of their own?

Have we finally come to the point where our nation’s assessment of a Supreme Court nominee turns more on a simple-minded sound bite or an exploitive snapshot than on the answers provided or withheld by the nominee?

Obviously, something is wrong with our judicial nominations process, and we in the Senate have the power to fix it.

I refuse to simply tow the Party line when it comes to Supreme Court Justices. Of course, I am a registered Democrat. But when it comes to judges, I hail from a conservative state. And, like a majority of my constituents, I prefer conservative judges - - that is judges who do not try to make the law.

Byrd makes an exceptional summation:
In the end, the heavy duty bourne by members of the Senate to evaluate and reject or approve the President’s nominees for the high court should come down to each Senator’s personal judgment of the man or woman before us, augmented, of course by such judicial records and writings as may exist. I know not exactly what kind of Justice Samuel Alito may actually be - - no one does. But my considered judgment from his record, from his answers to my questions, and from his obvious intelligence and sincerity, leads me to believe him to be an honorable man, who loves his country, loves his Constitution, and will give of his best. Can we really ask for more?

Senator Byrd, who has provided me with much verbal entertainment over the years (and once a member of the Ku Klux Klan), took a brave turn from the normal lockstep Demo boundaries and voted with his feet and, oddly enough, his brain. This decision and public statement came at the same time that John Kerry called openly for a Democratic filibuster against Alito.

Today, two days after Kerry's war-cry, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid admits the Democrats simply lack the votes necessary to block Alito's confirmation.

"Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Friday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the same thing on Thursday. "A bipartisan majority will vote to confirm Judge Alito as Justice Alito," Frist said.

Robert Byrd stepped up and did the right thing; for that reason, he is Today's Hero.

And it's likely the last time he'll make this award. . .

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Border Issue As Per Karl Rove

For whatever reason, Blogger locked up on me this morning and I wasn't able to post, until now, because my Day Job got, again, in the way. Dammit Jim!!

I am now safely ensconced within my Sierra Nevada Mountain aerie, some candles burning, a nice fire in the stove well-stoked. Mose the Cat is sleeping on his fleece-lined chair.

Since then, I've changed topics and would like you to examine the conversation between Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt, later played on Hewitt's radio show this afternoon.

This exchange involves the current border problems and Hewitt goes to the core:

HH: Last question, a political one, a time bomb, really, for the Republican Party concerns the border. The House of Representatives passed an act at the end of last year. It hasn't yet come up in the Senate. What is your advice to the Senate about the House's decision to crack down on the border and build the fence?

KR: Well, we support the border security initiative. We are a little bit concerned about the fence. I mean, look. There are now parts of the border, particularly in urban areas, where a fence is necessary and helpful. Frankly, building a fence along a 400 mile part of the Texas border that is high cliffs along the Rio Grande River is probably not the best expenditure of our money. We like to think of the concept of a virtual fence, where we use a combination of fences, barriers at critical points, sensors and technology to in essence strengthen the border. And I'm confident that the Senate is going to take this up. I know this is a strong concern to Senator Frist, the Senate Republican leader. I think the Senate is likely to tackle the issue in a more comprehensive fashion, and not only look at border security, but also look at the issue of a guest worker program as a way to relieve the pressure on our border, so that whatever technology and manpower and resources we've got on the border are concentrated on the border, with fewer people trying to come across because we have got a program to match willing worker with willing employer for jobs that Americans won't do. But we'll see. They're going to try and take this up, I think, in March. We're doing a lot more on the border.

HH: When people say guest worker means amnesty, what's your response.

KR: That it doesn't, because what we do is require people to come here to the United States, if they want to come here to the United States, they've got to apply. They've got to be matched up with a job. They can stay here for a certain number of years to work, three years or four years. They might be able to renew that for one time. Look, most people who come here, every bit of evidence that we've got, is that most people who come here don't come here with the expectation that they're going to spend the rest of their life in the United States. They come here in order to get together a grub steak, and go home and support their family. For example, the average capitalization of a business in Mexico is $5,000. Most, particularly younger workers who come here, they're hope and expectation is I'm going to be able to put together a couple of thousand dollars, and maybe go back and buy some land, or buy a tractor that we can use on the land my family owns, or I'll buy the little gas station at the corner, or I'll open up a shop, or I'll gain a skill to make it in life. But we are so good at once they get here, making it difficult for them to go home, that they lose all connections with their home community or home nation. And after ten years of being here in the underground economy, they wake up and way you know what? It doesn't matter to me anymore. I have no connection. What we need to do is have a program where we have rigorous defense of the borders, but workers who come here are allowed to travel back and forth across the border freely, so they can keep those connections, build that little nest egg, and go home. And you know, our economy depends upon immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. We're an economy that benefits when smart people and bright people and energetic people come here. And we've got to find the right mix in order to keep that balance.


In my opinion these are Nice Words.

But they still don't cut it.


I don't usually go Dark Side.

But my dark side is out now.

People need to be shot. Not Americans. Mexicans. Whether they are drug smugglers or Mexican Federales or Mexican soldiers, I care not. They just need to be shot.

And let's throw in some deaths for good measure. There need to be some Mexican deaths.

Any Mexican nationals, civilian or military, dealing in drugs or smuggling, who place the first few molecules of a philange over the border onto sovereign American soil need to be shot. And oh. If they get killed in the process, tough sh**.

In my opinion, the gloves are off. Let's go bare knuckles and see who wins.

La Raza and Aztlan: bite me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Moonbat of the Week Award (And A First-Ever Runner-Up!)

Harry Belafonte is so yesterday's news. He's an Alzheimer's victim gone bad, so placing him in the gunsights of my Moonbat rifle is child's play. Let's go for someone new, shall we?

And the award goes to:

The stunningly gorgeous and sensible Cindy Sheehan!

CARACAS (AFP) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq, joined more than 10,000 anti-globalization activists in Caracas, where she hailed Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez.

"I admire him for his resolve against my government and its meddling," said Sheehan, who gained notoriety when she camped outside US President George W. Bush's ranch last year to protest the Iraq war. She said she hoped to meet Chavez later in the week.

She said Venezuela's foreign ministry sponsored her visit.

Ah, so the Venezuelan foreign ministry sponsored her visit, eh? What a wondrously ugly little dupe for Hugo Chavez! Likely bringing her biker wallet on a chain and a weeks' supply of Pendletons, Sheehan has lost any sympathy whatsoever for her latest stunt. It's time to say what I'll wager no one else has:

Cindy Sheehan will stoop so low that now her son, her very own flesh and blood, now plays little if any significance in her war against, first, George W. Bush and second, the United States of America. The DEM, even right-wing media, have given Sheehan a bit of a break because, after all, she did in fact lose her son in Iraq. Her son is now nothing more than a tool she is using in her toolbelt of Publicity War against America; read: GWB.

As far as I'm concerned now, the gloves should be off and this traitoress should renounce her citizenship and find another country in which to inhabit.

Runner-Up for Moonbat of the Week:

Yes! My first ever Runner Up! And the RU is:

Los Angeles Times 30-something columnist Joel Stein for his 01-24 piece entitled "Warriors and Wusses." Stein writes in part:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.

Particularly smarmy and condescending, I'd say. But WEIN?

Last night Hugh Hewitt interviewed Joel Stein on-air. Some of the interview:

HH: "And at the end, I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after Vietnam." That's big of you. "But we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea." What I'm trying to figure out is what do you think is a good idea for the military to do?

JS: Well, again, that's not what my column was about, and that's something that people talk about constantly, and people give opinions on. There's a lot of Americans who are against this war and still think we should have a military.

HH: Now wait. This is the last...well, let me give you the two last paragraphs of your column. "I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War. But we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health, and a safe and immediate return. But please no parades. Seriously, the traffic is insufferable." So you obviously do not honor their service?

JS: I don't honor their service? The people serving in Iraq right now?

HH: Yeah.

JS: I honor them as human beings, and I want them home safe.

HH: But you don't honor their service?

JS: And honestly, I think that all these...for people who don't believe in the war and are putting up these stickers saying they support the troops anyway, my fear is that it's prolonging the war and putting them in further danger they don't need to be in.

HH: But Joel, I'm talking about you. I'm talking about what you honor, and you obviously don't honor military service.

JS: I honor police service. I honor military service. Any...I just think that...

HH: You do honor military service?

JS: Yeah. No, I'm grateful for people that serve in the military.

HH: But you don't support our troops?

JS: I don't...I don't believe in supporting the troops in an action that you don't believe in.

At least Stein is honest insofar as he has the guts to make his stupidity public, whereas many Left Wing people refuse. But simply another reason the DEM and MSM are plummeting like a 1959 Nash Metropolitan pushed out the back of a C-130.

So there it is folks, there's the crux of the biscuit: once again it's about Iraq but, reading carefully between the lines, it's about George W. Bush.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Iran: Going It Alone?

Rebecca from Revka's Take had a good question in the comment section of my last post:

"Why do you think he (Iran's President Ahmadinejad) is saying all this crazy stuff in the media if he has 'just begun' his uranium enrichment? I would think he would have kept his mouth shut about his intentions until he was real close to getting a nuke, or has already had one from another source. I tend to think based on his actions, that he already has the plan in place and had other nations in bed with him on it. What do you think?"

Excellent question! I have an inquiring mind, so I began to inquire.

The Jewish Virtual Library has this to say about Iran, sourced from a CIA report published in November of 2004:

Iran continued to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Iran is also working to improve delivery systems as well as ACW. To this end, Iran continued to seek foreign materials, training, equipment, and know-how. During the reporting period, Iran still focused particularly on entities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe. Iran's nuclear program received significant assistance in the past from the proliferation network headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.

Nuclear. The United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in contradiction to its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). During 2003, Iran continued to pursue an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle ostensibly for civilian purposes but with clear weapons potential. International scrutiny and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using facilities declared to the IAEA directly for its weapons program as long as Tehran remains a party to the NPT. However, Iran could use the same technology at other, covert locations for military applications.

Iran continues to use its civilian nuclear energy program to justify its efforts to establish domestically or otherwise acquire the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Iran claims that this fuel cycle would be used to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors, such as the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor that Russia is continuing to build at the southern port city of Bushehr. However, Iran does not need to produce its own fuel for this reactor because Russia has pledged to provide the fuel throughout the operating lifetime of the reactor and is negotiating with Iran to take back the irradiated spent fuel. An Iranian opposition group, beginning in August of 2002, revealed several previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear facilities, sparking numerous IAEA inspections since February 2003. Subsequent reports by the IAEA Director General revealed numerous failures by Iran to disclose facilities and activities, which run contrary to its IAEA safeguards obligations. Before the reporting period, the A. Q. Khan network provided Iran with designs for Pakistan's older centrifuges, as well as designs for more advanced and efficient models, and components.

This report states further:
Chemical. Iran is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Nevertheless, during the reporting period it continued to seek production technology, training, and expertise from foreign entities that could further Tehran's efforts to achieve an indigenous capability to produce nerve agents. Iran may have already stockpiled blister, blood, choking, and possibly nerve agents-and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them-which it previously had manufactured.

Biological. Even though Iran is part of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Tehran probably maintained an offensive BW program. Iran continued to seek dual-use biotechnical materials, equipment, and expertise that could be used in Tehran's BW program. Iran probably has the capability to produce at least small quantities of BW agents.

Advanced Conventional Weapons. Iran continued to seek and acquire conventional weapons and production technologies, primarily from Russia, China, and North Korea. Tehran also sought high-quality products, particularly weapons components and dual-use items, or products that proved difficult to acquire through normal governmental channels.

Question for my readers: if Russia, China and North Korea, all loving regimes, are supplying Iran with "conventional" weapons, can you do the logical extension?

Let's look at other reports and articles. From the BBC:
But Iran does not have a significant and established nuclear reactor programme, and in economic and practical terms establishing an enrichment facility cannot be justified. That means the enrichment facility is almost certainly for a nuclear weapons programme.

The article asks: where did Iran get the know-how to build a nuclear industry? Another excellent question. Their answer:
So to establish the plants and factories required, Iran has had to undertake a clandestine programme of acquisition of the hardware and technical knowledge. The most obvious candidates for this are Russia and China.

However, Russia has agreed to confine its nuclear interests in Iran to the construction of nuclear power plants and recent agreements between Iran and China have fallen through. Another possibility is that a deal has been struck with a third nuclear developing state such as Pakistan or North Korea.

It is also possible that some of the equipment and specialised materials needed have been acquired under apparently legitimate contract with the West but which has dual-use capability.

Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan -- I see some consistencies here.

From John Bolton's speech to the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC on August 17, 2004:

Another potential source of plutonium for (Iranian) weapons is the Bushehr light-water power reactor, which is currently under construction. That reactor is under IAEA safeguards. Russia has agreed to provide all fresh fuel for that reactor, and Iran and Russia are discussing an agreement to return all spent fuel to Russia. However, if Iran should withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty ("NPT") and renounce this agreement with Russia, the Bushehr reactor would produce enough plutonium each year for about 30 nuclear weapons.

It would also appear that nuclear parts shipped to other countries may miraculously have been "diverted" to Iran as well. From Regime Change Iran:
Critical components and specialized tools destined for Libya's nuclear weapons program disappeared before arrival in 2003 and international investigators now suspect that they were diverted to another country, according to court records and investigators.

The seizure by the United States and Britain of a separate shipment of nuclear-related components from a freighter headed for Libya in October 2003 crippled the network and led to Khan's admission that he had been selling know-how and technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Since then, the biggest concerns for international inspectors and intelligence agencies examining Khan's operation have been whether an unidentified customer is also pursuing a nuclear weapon or whether Iran might have received the missing technology and, potentially, designs for an atomic weapon.

A non-Western intelligence official said it was possible that the missing centrifuge components and other material was sold secretly to Iran by someone in the Khan network as the operation started to unravel after the seizure of the shipment in 2003.

Even back in 2003, wrote:
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Iran may develop usable nuclear weapons within two years using technology from countries including Russia, China and France, an Iranian opposition group said. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, founded in Tehran and now based in Paris, made the assertion two weeks before the expiration of a United Nations' deadline for the country to prove it isn't developing nuclear weapons.

"The Iranian regime is sparing no effort in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons,'' Dowlat Nowrouzi, a council member, told reporters in London. Asked when the regime would succeed, she said: "Our prediction is 2005, 2006.''

Timely prediction, eh?

Also, here is an excellent capsulization of Iran's nuclear chronology.

On this afternoon's Michael Medved show, Senator John McCain said that, regarding Iraq, the only thing worse than sanctions or a military option is a nuclear-armed Iran disturbing the entire Middle East -- but that nations must present a unified, solid front for Iran to take notice.

The clock continues to tick.


Also, in brief:


It just tickles me that the DEM continues, reliably, to implode.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Iran Update: Pushing the Global Envelope

A few things happened on Sunday; one I saw, the other I read about -- neither event surprising.

While watching Fox News Sunday, I listened to Senator John McCain (R, Arizona) say that he believed Iran's nuclear weapons program "is the most serious foreign policy crisis since the end of the Cold War. A nuclear capability in Iran is unacceptable."

Senator McCain said he agreed with the Bush administration's decision to press for sanctions against Iran before the United Nation's Security Counsel, saying the move would force Moscow and Beijing to choose sides. "If China and Russia want to be on record as being supportive of Iran in their nuclear ambitions, then I think that obviously has consequences as well."

McCain threw his hat into the energy independence ring as well: "We've got to get quickly on a track to energy independence from foreign oil. And that means, among other things, going back to nuclear power."

Israel Weighs In On Iran:

Despite Sharon's absence, Israel's defense minister hinted Saturday (01-21) that the Jewish state is preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program, but said international diplomacy must be the first course of action.

"Israel will not be able to accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing," Shaul Mofaz said. His comments at an academic conference stopped short of overtly threatening a military strike but were likely to add to growing tensions with Iran.

Sanctions and Oil:

McCain advocated energy independence (as should all logical Americans!) as oil and financial experts are quoted as saying: "Oil prices could soar past $100 a barrel, if the UN Security Council authorizes trade sanctions against Iran, which the West accuses of trying to make nuclear bombs, and Iran curbs oil exports in retaliation. A sharp global economic slowdown could follow." Just this past week, the price per barrel almost reached $70 on the heels of global concern about Iran's nuclear weapons program. Oddly enough, this one time no one in the global community "buys" Iran's bit about needing nukes for power.

But Iran would also pay a hefty price if the petro-dollars that now represent 80 percent of export revenues are reduced, potentially stirring civil unrest in a nation with a 14 percent unemployment rate.

''They would shoot themselves in the foot," said Mustafa Alani, director of national security and terrorism studies at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. ''It's one thing to test the market psychology, it's another to take the actual step and stop oil exports."

Bracing for sanctions, Iran's central bank said on Friday that it is moving its foreign currency reserves out of European banks.

Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, exports roughly 2.5 million barrels per day. It also controls the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping lane.

''Even if Iran pulled a small amount of its oil off the market, say it pulled a half million barrels a day, I could see oil prices literally jumping over the $100 per barrel mark," said James Bartis, a senior researcher at Rand Corp.

John Kerry: Amazing Silent On Iran? Here's Why:

Kerry went on another rant yesterday about President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism, and his so-called inept handling of North Korea's nuclear program. In retrospect, he didn't have much to say about Iran. As wrote:

Probably because, had Kerry's previous advice on Iran been taken, the mullahs in Tehran would be even closer to obtaining nuclear weapons than they are now.

During his first debate against President Bush on Sept. 30, 2004, the Massachusetts Democrat actually said it would be a good idea for the U.S. to give Iran the fuel they needed to make a nuclear bomb.

The question from moderator Jim Lehrer: "Do you believe that diplomacy and sanctions can resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran?" Kerry's answer:

"With respect to Iran, the British, French, and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort without the United States, regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran. I believe we could have done better."

The top Democrat then urged:

"I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel. Test them. See whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together."

Another reason we are so very lucky one specific man currently occupies the White House.


The bottom line: a showdown with Iran is coming; the global community appears, at this point, to be behind the US stance -- this week.

The Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers

The best teams won, and rather handily. Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Denver Broncos 34 to 17 -- and beat them like the proverbial drum. Jake Plummer did his best but the entire Denver team looked flat. Pittsburgh took charge and never looked back.

A short time later, a revved Seattle Seahawk team beat the Carolina Panthers 34 to 14 (how odd that the winning teams both scored 34 points, and the losing teams scored within 3 points of each other). Seattle just looked sharp and Carolina was flat. Neither losing team really got into their respective games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL (40), in Detroit on Sunday, February 5th.

The Steelers will be the next Super Bowl champions. A beautiful and fitting way for Jerome Bettis to end his career.

Easy prediction.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Today's Hero: Who Honors Whom?

Private Mike McNaughton running with President Bush.

Who is Today's Hero?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Grizzly Man: Today's Allegory

I had occasion, this weekend, to rent the DVD of the movie Grizzly Man.

This was a documentary produced by German director Werner Herzog in 2005, a movie that won the 2006 Chicago Film Critics Association award for best documentary, along with best documentary awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, 2005 Sundance Film Festival awards for best director, and Toronto Film Critics Association for best documentary.

I'm a bit behind the times. I just now rented the DVD from my local store. And at the conclusion I was astounded, dumbfounded, impressed and yet, satisfied. It was as it should have been. It's simply the way the world works.

It was unfortunate that he was killed; it was sadder still that he brought another human (37-year-old girlfriend Amie Huguenard) into the mix and she was killed as well -- evidence indicating that, though she was afraid of the bears, she stayed behind during the attack to do what she could -- despite Treadwell shouting that she should run -- and was torn apart for her efforts.

At the DVD's conclusion I thought: this is a most appropriate political allegory for our times. I wonder how many people can see it or even interpret this meaning? Allow me to define the situation and I'm certain the clouds will part for you, if they haven't already.

Timothy Treadwell was the consummate actor, showman, liar, provocateur, alcoholic, drug addict, and an excellent representative of my generation -- the Baby Boomers. Life was All About Him. Just ask him. As his parents said in the film: when he failed to get the bartender's part on Cheers that Woody Harrelson acquired, Timothy's life went downhill. And oh: Treadwell wasn't his real name either.

Somehow, somewhere he made the transition to self-styled naturalist, videographer and protector of an environment that many said, essentially, needed no protection because -- are you sitting down? -- it was already protected.

"Treadwell" saw himself as a modern day eco-warrior. This is evident in his numerous setup monologues at tripod's end. Essentially he brought two digital videocams and a tripod into the environment of Alaska's Katmai National Park -- an area that has the world's highest concentration of brown bears and Grizzlies in the world. He managed to do so for 13 years until he met the right -- or the wrong -- bear at the wrong time, on October 5th, 2003.

As Roger Ebert said in his review of the film:

"My life is on the precipice of death," Treadwell tells the camera. Yet he sentimentalizes the bears, and is moved to ecstasy by a large steaming pile of "Wendy's poop," which is still warm, he exults, and was "inside of her" just minutes earlier. He names all the bears, and provides a play-by-play commentary as two of the big males fight for the right to court "Satin."

A bear analyst, John Rogers, observed on the Katmai National Park website:

It is well known that Timothy Treadwell was an aspiring actor who worked as a waiter and bartender with problems of drug addiction and alcoholism in California. However, during the summer of 1989, he underwent a transformation so sudden and remarkable that it allowed him to survive thirteen summers of camping with brown bears before being killed and consumed by them. During this time, the world got to know Treadwell as the bear-man, the educator of children about bears, the author and film-maker, the actor and con-artist . . .


This is not to say that Treadwell did not find or engrave some very anthropomorphized images of Alaska into video. Hell, I have a Sony VX-2000 myself -- a very nice camera -- but I never thought to push the envelope as he did.

Clearly my own personal favorite scenes were not with the bears; they were with the foxes that shadowed many of his movements in the Katmai wilderness. And yet these animals were cognizant of their place in the Great Scheme of it all. They were playful, yes; but they inherently knew just where they could go and where and when.


As Treadwell did not.


An Inuit native proffered an insightful comment when he said, in essence: we respect the bears and they respect us, at a distance. Treadwell did not respect the bears and paid the ultimate price.

Treadwell and Huguenard died in this fashion: the attack came with little warning. Somehow, someone managed to activate the digital video camera but the lens cap was still present; the camera recorded a black screen but all the audio. The attack ran for some six minutes. Werner Herzog listened to the audio and recommended to the final holder of the video, former girlfriend

Wikipedia notes:

In the end, it was a single surly bear that did him in at a point later in the year than Treadwell was traditionally still living in the park. The bear that killed Treadwell and his girlfriend was not one of the bears Treadwell usually encountered. This too seems to have been confirmed by the manner of his demise. Rangers had warned Treadwell before his death that they did not want to have to harm bears to come to his rescue. In the end, two bears were killed in the effort to retrieve his remains and those of his companion. A video camera, with the lens cap in place, was recovered at the site. The video camera had been turned on at some point during the attack, presumably by Huguenard, but the camera only recorded six minutes of audio before running out of tape. Troopers who were at the scene describe the audio as chilling. There are no plans to ever make the recording public.


I really, really hope I don't have to do what I've nominally called the "logical extension" in terms of understanding how this situation plays out now.

But if explain it I must. . .

A finer allegory couldn't exist.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Self-Destruction and Hatred

I recently visited the Chatterbox Chronicles and left some comments regarding her post. In the process of my response I realized: there's a reason for all this recent nonsense, and it's very simple. The question is: why?

First, to what nonsense am I referring?

The continued (and thoroughly entertaining!) self-immolation of the Democrats via their self-destructive, based-in-emotion and logic-lacking pandering comments -- see my previous post, for last Monday's wonderful examples. Or Miss Chatterbox's comments. Or Fetching Jen's comments. Or Hugh Hewitt's General Zod comments. Powerline had this comment. Revka's Take posted this. Texas Fred made this salient note.

In my opinion, the rise of stupid, thoughtless comments from the Left has been stunningly geometric in, say, the past month -- and even moreso the past week or two. It's as though they're building up to a purposeful crescendo. But it's a crescendo that isn't leading to an insightful epiphany -- it's leading to a political downfall and its backpressure and rain of fallout is hurting the country, plain and simple. One Democrat has recently written about this fallout: former New York Mayor (1978 to 1989) Edward Koch.

Politics are politics. I understand that -- most everyone else does too. But what is the point of attempting to eviscerate one's country with a suit by the ACLU on behalf (of all people) of Christopher Hitchens and James Bamford who both -- get this -- think the NSA tapped into their phone conversations. They say the US must -- get this -- prove it didn't. Oh so easy, yes, to prove a negative?

What is the point of objecting to the protection of one's country? What is the point of objecting to ensure another 9-11 does not occur on domestic US soil? What is the point of objecting to the US taking the fight to the enemy -- an enemy whose stated goals are no less than the Islamization of the entire planet, the eradication of America, of "Zion," and the suppression and/or outright deaths of those who would disagree with radical Islam.

And yes, sometimes things really are that basic.

That's the self-destruction part. Here's the hatred part:

It's all about the hatred of George W. Bush.

First, the Left believes GWB "stole" two entire elections. They believe it with all their hearts. And therein lies the elemental rub and major difference between the two parties and philosophies. It is no surprise that the truism is this: Democrats and liberals are driven by emotions; Republicans and conservatives by facts, history and reality.

Jonathan Chait in the 09-29-2003 issue of The New Republic made some rather prescient, back then, observations, admitting that GWB was not his best friend:

I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it. I think his policies rank him among the worst presidents in U.S. history. And, while I'm tempted to leave it at that, the truth is that I hate him for less substantive reasons, too. I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so. His favorite answer to the question of nepotism--"I inherited half my father's friends and all his enemies"-- conveys the laughable implication that his birth bestowed more disadvantage than advantage. He reminds me of a certain type I knew in high school--the kid who was given a fancy sports car for his sixteenth birthday and believed that he had somehow earned it. I hate the way he walks--shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo. I hate the way he talks--blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudo-populist twang. I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him. I hate his lame nickname-bestowing-- a way to establish one's social superiority beneath a veneer of chumminess (does anybody give their boss a nickname without his consent?). And, while most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.

Mr. Chait continues:
Have Bush haters lost their minds? Certainly some have. Antipathy to Bush has, for example, led many liberals not only to believe the costs of the Iraq war outweigh the benefits but to refuse to acknowledge any benefits at all, even freeing the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's reign of terror. And it has caused them to look for the presidential nominee who can best stoke their own anger, not the one who can win over a majority of voters--who, they forget, still like Bush. But, although Bush hatred can result in irrationality, it's not the product of irrationality. Indeed, for those not ideologically or personally committed to Bush's success, hatred for Bush is a logical response to the events of the last few years. It is not the slightest bit mystifying that liberals despise Bush. It would be mystifying if we did not.

Mr. Chait then gets down to the meat of his article:
But Bush is never called to task for the radical disconnect between how he got into office and what he has done since arriving. Reporters don't ask if he has succeeded in "changing the tone." Even the fact that Bush lost the popular vote is hardly ever mentioned. Liberals hate Bush not because he has succeeded but because his success is deeply unfair and could even be described as cheating.

Now if you enjoyed that, then you'll enjoy this next bit:
But perhaps most infuriating of all is the fact that liberals do not see their view of Bush given public expression. It's not that Bush has been spared from any criticism--far from it. It's that certain kinds of criticism have been largely banished from mainstream discourse. After Bush assumed office, the political media pretty much decided that the health of U.S. democracy, having edged uncomfortably close to chaos in December 2000, required a cooling of overheated passions. Criticism of Bush's policies--after a requisite honeymoon--was fine. But the media defined any attempt to question Bush's legitimacy as out-of-bounds.

Yes, you read it correctly -- as I expressed in one of my recent comments on another blog -- the Left think the MSM or DEM actually gives Bush a "pass" for excoriation. Can you possibly feature that? The Left-driven MSM "looking the other direction" with regard to any issues involving George W?

There really appears to be little remaining of their collective Left realities.

Victor Davis Hanson has a great article about the issue from 2004 and reflected:
Let's start with the admission that much of the invective is irrational, fueled by emotion rather than reason. Thus the black leadership uses slurs such as "Taliban" and "Confederacy" against Bush, even though no other president has selected an African-American secretary of State and national-security adviser or pledged so many billions for AIDS relief in Africa. Liberals talk of social programs starved, but domestic spending under Bush increased at annual rates greater than during any Democratic administration in recent history. Just read howls of conservatives who worry about Bush's Great Society-like programs.

Mr. Hanson distills it down further: Bush is a conservative southerner with a drawl. He is a "bible thumper." Bush is a Manichaeist -- he breaks life down into black and white, Good vs. Evil. And he is a renegade aristocrat -- not a blueblood easterner.

Further, Michael Novak from National Review Online wrote in a July, 2004 article:
Nevertheless, George W. Bush has been re-conceived and re-wrought into everything that the sophisticated Leftist absolutely hates about Americana: Its innocence. Its boyishness. Its Christianity. Its unpretentiousness. Its heedlessness of all the shibboleths the Left most highly values.

And, in addition, the president exercises unsuspected political skills. The man has actually won most of the political fights he's taken on. And he has turned the country in a far more Reaganite direction than anyone ever imagined under that anodyne term, "compassionate conservatism."

Personalizing Social Security? Cutting the teachers' unions out of total control of the schools? Supplanting the governmental plantation with private charitable initiatives, which actually show better success rates than the welfare state? The handwriting is on the wall, piercing through the dreams of the big-government Left, foretelling the end of the social-democratic illusion.

How did this hick have the nerve to be so radical in government — he who so barely won the election of 2000? (Stole it, the most bitter partisans still say, despite all the studies disproving it.) How did he have the nerve?

The Right tends to think that the Left is stupid — never learns, keeps repeating the same old errors. The Left is different. The Left tends to think that the Right is mean, narrow, selfish, evil (on top of being stupid). I once had a professor at Harvard who was trying to explain what it was like for Immanuel Kant, the greatest philosopher of his time, to have succeeded in winning a teaching position only in Konigsberg, far from the glittering list of leading universities in Germany. That would be, he said, like winning tenure at . . . at . . . at Ohio State. (So superior do Harvard professors feel toward Middle American universities.) In this spirit, the Left also thinks the congenitally evil, conservative Bush is also stupid and second-rate.

Who is Bush to drive the last nails into the coffin of social democracy, and all those big-government dreams? The Left can feel the demography slipping away from them, and the strong currents of the future, too, and the bilious taste of failed ideas rising in their throats. It is now or never for the Left. It is desperation time.

In an August 2004 issue of Newsmax, Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey was quoted as telling Ohio's cheering Republican delegates at a breakfast that "the left wing hates George Bush the most because he believes in God, and you better believe that."

You know, it could be that simple, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

NPA: The National Panderers Association

On Monday, two professional bloviaters, much more accomplished than myself, founded and set the proverbial Gold Standard for the new NPA or National Panderers Association.

Each targeting their specific audiences on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, they both bled, emoted, raised their arms to the sky and did their level best to pitch ridiculous themes that, unfortunately, their respective audiences thirsted to hear.

First, the nation's most overpublicized and least thoughtful mayor, Ray Nagin:

Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country.

Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves.

It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans -- the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans.

Now imagine, if you will, the absolute hue and cry, not to say the state and federal lawsuits that would have erupted had, for example, the mayor of Minneapolis said "it is time for us to rebuild Minneapolis -- the one that should be a vanilla cream Minneapolis. This city will be a majority caucasion and white American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have Minneapolis any other way."

Pandering, Ray. Pandering. Good job!

Let's also consider the beatific Albert Gore who said yesterday, in Constitution Hall:

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

Let us do what I again call the "logical extension" -- at its most base, Gore is calling the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a terrorist. A terrorist. The NSA has been tapping the phone conversations of terrorists. Not valid civil rights leaders. And this is 2006, not 1965. Gore received thunderous applause for his comments from -- Democrats.


A longtime believer in the basic tenets and mores of the NPA (but not an actual member), Hillary Rodham Clinton likewise became the late-day third founding member with her comments from yesterday's Martin Luther King Day celebration at Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network:

We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism we have incompetence I predict to you that this administration will go down on history as one of the worst that has ever governed out country.

I need you to tell us what distinguishes Democrats from Republicans right now. When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation and you know what I'm talking about. . .

Perfect. The Race Card on MLK Day. You've certainly sussed your audience well, Senator.

Welcome, all, to the NPA!

The Coming Clash With Iran

Robosquirrel at People Covered In Fish had a very salient post on Sunday which pointed out a most unnerving linkage between Iran and Venezuela -- countries helmed by unstable leaders; and I am being very kind here.

I would submit: the world will simply not tolerate Iran's President Ahmadinejad possessing nuclear weapons. The United States will not, Israel will not, Britain will not.

On Tuesday, January 10th, Iran announced that it has resumed work on its uranium-enrichment program after two years. Seals placed on equipment at the enrichment plant at Natanz in 2003 by the International Atomic Energy Agency were removed, initiating a call by the British, French and German foreign ministers that Iran be referred to the UN Security Council for violating its nuclear treaty obligations.

Even Russia expressed "concern," and the ministers also called for a special session of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yet given the semi-ridiculous and, dare I say, useless nature of the Security Council, the world is unlikely to see anything more serious than sanctions -- or perhaps harsh sarcasm. Maybe Kofi can initiate the "Neutrons for Food" program?

For his part, Kofi Annan said Iran is still "interested in serious and constructive negotiations." For those with the faintest dust mote of common sense: what do you surmise the removal of those seals really means? Eh?

The Washington Post reported yesterday that many countries are actually supporting the US in its stance regarding Iran:

China and Russia agreed with the United States, Britain, Germany and France on Monday that Iran must completely suspend its nuclear program, the British Foreign Office said. Although the countries failed to agree on whether Iran's case should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, the Europeans applied new pressure on the Iranian government by calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Feb. 2.

With all six nations declaring that they sought a diplomatic solution to the escalating confrontation with Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a glimmer of hope for a compromise. Putin said the Iranian government was considering a proposal from Moscow that Russia would produce enriched uranium for Iran, to ensure the material could be used only for peaceful purposes.

Iran has adamantly reserved the right to develop its nuclear program, stating that its intention is to produce peaceful nuclear energy. But many world leaders are increasingly alarmed by the attitude of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" -- and fear he could be trying to build nuclear bombs. Intense deliberations began last week after the Iranian government ordered the removal of seals on equipment at an enrichment plant where it had ceased operations two years ago.

"The onus is on Iran to act to give the international community confidence that its nuclear program has exclusive peaceful purposes," said British Foreign Minister Jack Straw. Straw added that confidence in Iran has been "sorely undermined by its history of concealment and deception."

Allow me at this point, if I might, to ask the question that I have heard or read absolutely no one pose: why does Iran need a nuclear power program at all?

You might respond: to ensure power for its own people, its own needs, to allow it to grow, expand, prosper and power its growing industries.

Oh really? Were you aware that, as of the most recent 2004 statistics available, Iran is the 4th largest producer of oil in the world. The CIA World Factbook says "relatively high oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass some $30 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. The proportion of the economy devoted to the development of weapons of mass destruction remains a contentious issue with leading Western nations."

Iran has so much oil that petroleum constitutes 80% of its gross exports. Iran expects to earn $44 billion from oil sales in the year to March 20, an Iranian oil official said.

So let's do the extrapolation: Iran is almost awash in oil. It has a great amount of money coming in from these export sales. Iran could easily decide to build all the conventionally fuel-fired power plants it could possibly want -- certainly more than the US could now build.

But that's simply not sufficient. It needs to go with nuclear power.

Am I the only one to which this rings just a tad hollow?

We all know what this is about: a maniacal religious Islamic zealot seeking to become a nuclear weapons power, who already has a desire to wipe Israel completely off the map and any western nation not steeped in Islam.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, on 10-28-2005:
I must say that you have chosen a very valuable title for your gathering [World Without Zionism]. Many are sowing the seeds of defeat and despair in this all-out war between the Islamic world and the Infidel Front, hoping to dishearten the Islamic world.

Such people are using words like “it’s not possible”. They say how could we have a world without America and Zionism? But you know well that this slogan and goal can be achieved and can definitely be realised."

Ahmadinejad is speaking not just about eliminating Israel, but America. Did you read that? America.

I say it's about time we begin seriously taking Ahmadinejad's rhetoric at stark face value.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Another Fornicalia Injection

Clarence Ray Allen gets to set a milestone today in Fornicalia history. First, he'll be celebrating his 76th birthday. Congratulations Clarence, and many more! I should be so lucky to live to 76!

Except, well, Mr. Allen is on Fornicalia's Death Row and, at one minute after midnight tonight, he will be given a lethal injection and his once well-outfitted cell will be open for new occupancy.

Before I get into the objections regarding the taking of this outstanding citizen's life, let me provide you with an official summary of his exemplary career and how he managed to get where he is today:

In 1974, Clarence Ray Allen planned a burglary of Fran’s Market in Fresno, California and solicited the involvement of two men who worked for him at his security guard business. Allen also arranged the help of a young woman to get the keys to the store and its burglar alarm from Bryon Schletewitz, son of the market owner.

Following the burglary and after stolen money orders were cashed, the young woman told Schletewitz it was Allen who had robbed the market. Schletewitz confronted Allen’s son, who denied it, and Allen himself also denied it. Allen said that something would have to be done to the young woman and he arranged her death. Allen was arrested. He was convicted of burglary, first-degree murder and conspiracy and sent to prison to serve a life sentence on March 16, 1978.

He was incarcerated at Folsom State Prison and knew Billie Ray Hamilton in prison. While in prison, Allen plotted to kill the people who had informed on him and gotten him prison time. Three days after Hamilton was paroled, he was picked up by Allen’s son at the bus station where he also asked for weapons to carry out the crimes.

On Sept. 4, 1980, Hamilton and his girlfriend, Connie Barbow, went to Fran’s Market and purchased some meat from Joe Rias. Rias went into the storeroom with Douglas White. Since it was after the market’s closing time, the front door was locked. Bryon Schletewitz and Josephine Rocha came into the storeroom followed by Hamilton who was holding a sawed-off shotgun. Barbow followed behind. Hamilton ordered them to lie down. They all sat down. He asked Schletewitz for the keys to the safe, ordered him out, and told Barbow to watch the others. She pulled out a handgun. They went to the safe. Schletewitz told Hamilton he would give him all the money. Rias later testified that when Schletewitz and Hamilton went to the safe area, he heard shuffling and a bang. It was later learned that Hamilton shot Schletewitz at close range with the shotgun.

Hamilton went back to the room and asked Douglas White where the safes were kept; White did not know and Hamilton shot him at close range in the chest and stomach.

Another shot was heard and it was later learned that a shotgun blast at close range killed Josephine Rocha.

Hamilton attempted to kill Rias, but Rias covered his face with his left arm. The blast hit his arm, blowing off most of the tissue and shattering his elbow. Hamilton and Barbow checked on the other three victims to make sure they were dead.

Hamilton was later arrested as a suspect in a Modesto robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Among his possessions was an address book with the name of Clarence Ray Allen. Because of the listing of Fran’s Market and the names of some of the victims, investigators believed there was a connection with the murders and the Fran’s Market burglary for which Allen had been convicted. The investigation of this matter led to the arrest of inmate Clarence Ray Allen.

Allen was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances and was received onto California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison on December 2, 1982.

As of yesterday, the US 9th Circuit Court turned down Allen's appeal. Governor Schwarzenegger likewise turned down Allen's appeal. The only potential savior is now the US Supreme Court. The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Clarence Ray Allen, who turned 76 on Monday, claims that because of his age and numerous health problems, a lethal injection would amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

Allen uses a wheelchair, and is legally blind and nearly deaf. His heart stopped in September, but doctors revived him to be returned to San Quentin State Prison's death row.

He is also asking the novel question of whether longevity on death row -- in Allen's case 23 years -- also amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

A novel approach for an appeal I must admit -- though ultimately without merit or a whit of common sense.

So, to Clarence Ray Allen: Happy Birthday!

And goodbye.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunday Thoughts: What's the Chance?

It snowed last night for the first time this season. I could tell it was snowing because the rain stopped and, as I lay on the couch watching a movie, it became very still and very quiet outside. I sat up and turned on the porch light. Huge flakes drifted down past the window in the light. As it is every time in a heavy snowfall, the massive flakes moving diagonally across the deck outside became almost surreal and obscured the railing a mere 15 feet away. I fell asleep on the couch with a blanket tucked over me, watching the slanting flakes dancing in the light.

In the morning, the sun appeared and everything became diamond sharp. Only about an inch of snow had fallen and, with the sun, exposed patches of snow began to melt. I watched steam waft from my trees and fence as the sun warmed their surfaces.

In keeping with my continued resolution to lose more weight, I put on a sweatshirt, hat, fleece gloves and hooked up the iPod Nano. The day was a miracle in bright colored contrasts, the snow melting on the side of the road, pines steaming in the sun. Running (more like a slow chug) back up the hill, my mind wandered.

What was the chance? Why me, why here, why now? What massive, more than massive, combination of elemental and bizarre chemical and biological circumstances placed my living, breathing sack of tissue here on this ball of rock, so that I could breath air, be carbon based, have a fiery star warming my back and positioned so perfectly that, in this season, though cold, it wasn't sufficiently cold to freeze me in place once outside?

How was it that I could intake a gas that sustained my life, turned the skies blue, chased clouds overhead? How was it that these mountains were formed, as in the ridgeside I was now climbing? How was it that I could see such beauty in the surrounding fir trees, the patches of snow in adjacent fields, how was it that I had eyes to appreciate this at all?

I heard a sound and looked above in time to see the contrail from a jet cross through a slot in the tree canopy. What was beyond the blue? Black? The airless depths of space? Of course. The depths of infinity.

Infinity, I then thought; what was that? Could I conceive of infinity? My arms pumping and my breathing regular, listening to Three Man Army. What was infinity? I let my mind try to take me to the infinite.

It tried.

And failed.

It kept going and going and I traveled through star systems, galaxies and then wearied of the thought. Had I come across a wall? If there was such a wall in space, what was beyond that? Was it like the falling tree in the forest? Did the universe end at a wall and only go beyond when I thought of going there? No, of course not. How arrogant of me.

So then where was I placed? Was I the center of the universe? The earth? Where was I in relationship to infinity? Where was my place in the scheme of the infinite?

My mind clanked back to the reality of my labored breathing; my run was coming to its end. I crossed the tracks in front of a stalled train some 100 yards west of me. Its diesels thrummed at idle and I could feel the vibration in my lungs. Not far to go.

What about my end, I wondered? What would my end be like? Will I fear it or will my life be such that I welcome it, or will I simply be indifferent? I can't imagine indifference. I certainly fear the end now. I still have things I want to do, places I want to see.

I watched the pines drip water from their branches onto the ground and the road before me. Water ran quickly in little rivers on either side of the road.

I came to my gate and stopped the timer. My time was a little longer than normal. My mind had wandered and evidently so had my time.

I looked once again up to the sky as clouds began to skirt about the exposed, snow-decked ridge to the north. How wonderful that I should see this. I could almost smell the clouds.

Here I was, living, breathing. Seeing wondrous sights. Pines and mountains and snow and clouds and the most vivid color blue you can imagine.

What was the chance of my being here, able to have this experience?

How miraculous.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Meanest Cities: Fewest Homeless?

Rebecca of Revka's Take, aren't you absolutely horrified and reviled that Lawrence, Kansas, should take second place in the top twenty meanest cities in the United States?

America's harsh streets may be tougher for the homeless than they've ever been, according to two homeless-advocacy groups that on Wednesday released their survey of the nation's 20 “meanest” cities for the poor.

Some of the report's findings:
Criminalization of the homeless increasingly occurs in ways like making it illegal to sit, sleep or place personal belongings in a public space. Some police departments make more aggressive sweeps of areas known to be populated by the homeless.

Twenty-seven percent of the cities surveyed prohibit sitting or lying in certain public places, a 14 percent increase over the number of cities surveyed in the groups’ last report, in 2002.

Forty-three percent of the cities surveyed bar begging in certain public places, a 12 percent increase over 2002.

The Top 20 were:

1. Sarasota, Fla.;
2. Lawrence, Kans.;
3. Little Rock, Ark.;
4. Atlanta, Ga.;
5. Las Vegas, Nev.;
6. Dallas, Texas;
7. Houston, Texas;
8. San Juan, P.R.;
9. Santa Monica, Calif.;
10. Flagstaff, Ariz.;
11. San Francisco, Calif.;
12. Chicago, Ill.;
13. San Antonio, Texas;
14. New York City, N.Y.;
15. Austin, Texas;
16. Anchorage, Alaska;
17. Phoenix, Ariz.;
18. Los Angeles, Calif.;
19. St. Louis, Mo.;
20. Pittsburgh, Pa.

Michael Stoops, acting director of the Washington, DC-based National Homeless Coalition slapped Lawrence in the face by saying: “My challenge to Lawrence is that if it wants to continue to be known as a progressive city — which it is — it needs to quit criminalizing homelessness and arresting someone for camping, for sleeping, for sitting in the doorway,” said Michael Stoops, acting director of the Washington, D.C.-based coalition.

Lawrence, Kansas has, boys and girls, according to a 2002 study, a whole 134 persons who are bums -- er, I mean, eh, homeless in that town. For Christ's sake, I can find 134 animals within 1,000 feet of my own little cabin who are homeless. I can find 134 persons within a quarter mile radius in Sacratomato, Fornicalia who have ingrown toenails, bad flatulence, hernias and hemorrhoids, all in one package.

Big deal!

San Francisco, naturally, is bleeding all over its 11th place ranking. And here's the best part: Mayor Gavin Newsom, who abrogated Fornicalian law and began allowing gay marriages in the city last year (only to have them all essentially annulled), created a 32-officer police homelessness outreach team that "tries to help homeless people into services rather than jail them." Only now, the local Homeless Poverty Pimps don't like that idea because "They (police) may be wonderfully sensitive people, but they should have social workers only doing that job. The uniform alone is intimidating."

The uniform alone is intimidating. Gestapo? Jackboots? Iron Crosses? Let me give you a little teeny, weeny clue about San Francisco. Not too terribly long ago SFPD was driving powder-puff-blue colored cars marked with "Police Services" because it was determined by a former socialist regime that black and white cars with the Nazi-linked word POLICE was too oppressive to be viewed by the common citizen.

Let me give you another clue: when gays rioted under Mayor Diane Feinstein on May 21, 1979, about 5,000 demonstrators ransacked and rioted in the Civic Center around City Hall in response to the verdict of the Dan White murder trial. Those “White Night” riots resulted in more than 150 people injured and over $1 million in property damage. Close to 40 police cars were overturned and burned. Then-Mayor Feinstein told the police directly to let the riots go.

One final clue about San Francisco: it is a beautiful city scarred by the overwhelming presence of urine puddles and fecal material distributed flawlessly by its cultivated and nurtured genetically-deficient pool of "homeless" tweakers, crankers, psychotics, mumbling idiots and out-and-out thugs. How do I know? I not only visit San Francisco from time to time, but I do occasional business there. And in merely the last five years, for example, it has become a burgeoning haven for the bum element.

San Francisco "mean" and "oppressive" for the homeless?

Sorry. Not nearly mean enough.