Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Friday, September 28, 2007

AOL-Time-Warner can block content as easily as the Myanmar government 

This is why we can't trust telecommunications companies to remain neutral towards the data they transfer.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stick (it) in there, Larry 

Today was a major step in the legal effort to clear my name. The court has not issued a ruling on my motion to withdraw my guilty plea. For now, I will continue my work in the United States Senate for Idaho.

Yea Larry, go go go! Larry Craig is fighting for the seat in the Senate he previously "intended" to resign from.

I believe the hand and foot signals he used should be considered protected speech - if they're not, one may as well claim we can ban all flirtatious signaling, including verbal. It was his choice of venue and audience that was clearly offensive. It's fitting to discipline anyone who solicits anything from the guy in the stall over.

Craig's misdeed was minor; an argument could be made that mental health counseling is the most appropriate response to the misdemeanor. Seeking to socialize with a guy who almost certainly placed himself wherefore precisely to avoid any kind of social activities is a clear indication of a seriously maladjusted personality.

I do sympathize a bit with Craig, he's from a different era - but being that he's chosen to be outrageously public about being in the closet, I'm all for him keeping his seat and basking in hypocrisy. Good luck, Larry and thank-you for the peak into the extreme right-wing's ingrained comfort with even the most monstrous and obvious dishonesty.

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Go get 'em, Bill 

Ruthless, bravo!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Here lies an employee of the month 

A good portion of the mercenaries we've hired to do Iraq are veterans. We give them the best training, they do their stint in the military and go to work for lavishly compensated private firms such as Blackwater. Lavish in the sense that the DoD is ostensibly not for profit in and of itself. Would it be fitting that the Department of Veterans Affairs would approve another religious symbol to mark theSE brave souls' broken bodies?

Andy Warhol bloody dollar

Dollar Sign by Andy Warhol, 1981, print available from ALLPosters.com.

Nobody keeps an official tally of dead mercenaries from this war that I know of. Dead mercinaries made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out their missions - same as our enlisted troops. Will they be seen as deserving the same solemn remembrance alongside the names of (actual) service members on future war memorials? I can think of no logical and compelling reason not to - their choice of employer doesn't change the fact that they died while willingly putting themselves at risk at our government's calling - but at the same it seems somehow obscene. Would they be listed under the headings Arkansas, Minnesota, Texas or DynCorp International, Blackwater Security, Halliburton?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baghdad embassy slop job: way beyond poetic justice 

If only a fraction of this yarn holds weight it is enough to send anyone's head spinning regardless of what they think of the grand Iraq adventure. Allegedly, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, scheduled to be finished next month, has been built in the manner of a soundstage for a B-movie spaghetti western,

Ralph McNamara, the former [U.S. State Department] deputy assistant inspector general for investigations, said in an Associated Press interview Tuesday that he came forward with the allegations against his former boss because he was concerned that State Department employees would be at risk when working in the new embassy.

"A rocket - an unexploded munition - went through a portion of a cement ceiling there, and it was supposed to be an area able to withstand a direct hit from a missile that did explode," said McNamara. He said investigators wanted to look into charges that the walls were not built to the required thickness or concrete consistency, but they were blocked from pursuing it.

And, the story goes, the structure has been built in part by slave labor imported from the Philippines by a contractor, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Co,

"I was given my flight information to Baghdad. At this time, First Kuwaiti managers asked me to escort 51 Filipino nationals to the Kuwaiti airport and make sure they got on the same flight that I was taking to Baghdad. Many of these Filipinos did not speak any English," [Rory James Mayberry, a former employee of First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Co] told US congressmen. "I wanted to help them make sure they got on their flight OK, just as my managers had asked. We were all employees of the same company after all.

"But when we got to the Kuwait airport, I noticed that all of our tickets said we were going to Dubai. I asked why? The Kuwaiti manager told me that because Filipino passports do not allow Filipinos to fly to Iraq, they must be marked as going to Dubai,"
Mayberry said.

Howard J. Krongard, the State Department's inspector general in charge of investigating the project, said that he conducted a "limited review" on the conditions of foreign laborers at the construction site in Baghdad and did not find reasons to substantiate the claims.

The Filipinos worked at the embassy construction site with laborers from India, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. Mayberry, who read Krongard's report. "It's not worth the paper it’s printed on. This is a cover-up. I'm glad that I have this opportunity to set the record straight," he told the committee. Mayberry said the workers were told they would be working in hotels in Dubai, not in Baghdad. According to him, the First Kuwaiti managers even instructed him specifically not to tell the Filipinos they were being taken to Baghdad. "As I found out later, these men thought they had signed up to work in Dubai hotels. One fellow I met told me in broken English that he was excited to start his new job as a telephone repair man. They had no idea they were being sent to do construction work on the US embassy," Mayberry said.

"Mr. Chairman, when the airplane took off and the captain announced that we were headed for Baghdad, all you-know-what broke lose on that airplane. People started shouting. It wasn't until a security guy working for First Kuwaiti waved an MP-5 in the air that people settled down," he said, addressing Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the oversight committee.

And what's a scandal these days without a healthy dose of Bush-loyalist political cronyism,

[U.S. State Department Inspector General Howard J.] Krongard looked into it.

Only he had a peculiar method, according to Waxman's investigation. First, he insisted on doing the report entirely by himself and shut out his staff. And instead of seeking out the source of the allegations, he allowed the contractor to choose the employees that he'd interview. He ultimately interviewed six employees.

The result? Krongard declared that he found no evidence of human trafficking.

But when Waxman sought the investigative materials that Krongard had generated in the course of his probing investigation, Krongard only turned over 20 pages total (after a subpoena from Waxman). Of those 20 pages, only six of them were Krongard's own work product -- sketchy handwritten notes from his interviews with the contractor's handpicked witnesses.

The Justice Department has since launched an investigation.

Anticipated wing-nut response: That we didn't build our embassy to last is proof we have no long-term intentions to stay in Iraq.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The surge bamboozlement 

Video proof from the uniformed military that the White House's Iraq propaganda last week was based on the lie that the planned draw down to pre-surge levels was made possible by the surge's "success". Put together by the incomparable Vericifiers,

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

My criticism of Bush's speech before he makes it 

The main thing I see, W, is that early this year you signed into law 18 benchmarks to be met by this month - benchmarks by which progress could be judged at this time. You gave yourself an F. Does it really matter that you can "see some good" that's happened amongst your overall stellar failure? The only reason I'm even listening at this point is to remind myself that you and you alone own this war and are singularly responsible for the catastrophe.

I can't believe you actually credited the reduction in violence in Anbar to the surge, that's funny. Here, look at your boy Petreaus' bar-chart of attacks in Anbar over time. They peaked in October 2006 and have been falling steadily since. You didn't even announce your "surge" until four months later - and aren't you also , trying to make the case that the "surge" has only been going on at force for a few months?

Besides, all the benchmarks were predicated on the assumption the "surge" would give the room needed for them to happen. Reduced violence wasn't the goal of your surge - you don't get any points for just showing up.

You began telling us, "We're turning the corner" during your 2004 campaign, usually adding something along the lines of "The next few months will be hard but crucial to our success" and "Pulling back now while we're making good progress would be turning victory into defeat." Like an upside-down boy who cried wolf, such claims have long lost credulity.

Why don't I come up with a plan then if I'm so smart? I've had a plan for years. We ought to pull back. We need keep some troops on the borders to ensure Turkey doesn't annex Kurdistan and Iran doesn't annex the southern oil fields. We ought to provide air support to the central government. Since ethnic cleansing began last Fall, we should also be prepared to intervene if it turns into genocide. No more ridiculous missions like "Operation Iron Eggbeater".

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

MoveOn ad more weightly than Petreus' testimony 

Right-wingers get dimmer by the hour

On edit: More weightly than Petraeus' testimony, too

This afternoon, I got an email from RNC Chairman Mike Duncan. Before urgently asking me three times for "$1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 [to] get our message past the liberal mainstream media filter, he explained,

The radical liberals have taken over the Democrat Party ... This week [MoveOn.org] ran full page newspaper ads attacking the integrity of our top military commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, as he was testifying before Congress. And, the Democrat leaders have said nothing. Nothing! Are they complicit in these attacks by their silence?

Gee, Mike, I don't know. Is absolute silence in regards to a a $65K bad pun in the face of congressional testimony concerning an unpopular $2 billion a week war that has so far killed or maimed 30,000 Americans such a bad thing? I think not.

The RNC's idea that no Democrat leader has but breathed a whisper about the ad both contradicts its assertion that The radical liberals have taken over the Democrat Party and is, how do I put this ... completely made up by the RNC.

Googling for news items about moveon+ad turns up several salient articles at least a day old at the time the fire-brand GOP Chairman delivered his fatwa, including this,

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday expressed her disapproval of MoveOn.org's ad that referred to Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, as "General Betray Us."

"I would have preferred that they won't do such an ad," Pelosi said. The Speaker said it is not her prerogative "to say how people express themselves" and that the ad is "a demonstration of the frustration that people have about the war."

This,

"It is unfortunate that Republican presidential candidates are focused on generating a political sideshow instead of discussing the president's failed war policy," said a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Sen. Clinton is going to keep her focus where it should be: on ending the war."

Former Sen. John Edwards said he "honors Gen. Petraeus' service and patriotism, but the general is wrong to believe that the American people or Congress should give President Bush's failed Iraq strategy more time," spokesman Eric Schultz said.

"Sen. Obama's question is not about Gen. Petraeus' patriotism. It's about his logic," said Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for Barack Obama.

This,

Chris Dodd, asked about the moveon.org ad: "This is not about the personality of General Petraeus. I have respect for him as a military individual here giving his best assessment. And even his assessments indicate this is not going to be easy at all, even under the best of scenarios they're describing here. So the debate ought not to be about the personalities. The debate is about the policy".

This,

Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, called the ad "over the top."
"I don't like any kind of characterizations in our politics that call into question any active duty, distinguished general who I think under any circumstances serves with the best interests of our country," said Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate and a decorated veteran.

"I think there are a lot of legitimate questions that need to be asked, a lot of probing that ought to take place; there's a lot of legitimate accountability that needs to be achieved. It ought to be done without casting any aspersions on anyone's character or motives," he added.

And this,

"The issue isn't General Petraeus," [Sen. Harry] Reid spokesman Jim Manley told FOX News. "He is a good man and a fine soldier. The problem is that he was brought in to administer a war that had already been badly mismanaged by President Bush."

"Serious questions have been raised, and will continue to be raised, about the veracity of some of the statistics that will be cited by the White House and General Petraeus. As General Petraeus himself said during his confirmation hearing in January, the objective of the surge was to provide Iraq's national government time to reach political reconciliation, and by every independent assessment made so far, that simply hasn't happened," Manley said.

The GOP apparently assumes the dirt they have left to plow consists mostly of incurious bitter partisan nitwits who can even forget what FOX News just told them as soon as a GOPer paints the specter of destruction imaginary liberals will reign down upon all that is Right and Good. In this case, they bring their destruction by being silent.

And guess what? Those who have bucked up throughout the GOP's hard times and stayed the course with their policy-embattled and corruption-encrusted party are justly rewarded: They don't have to think at all about what Petraeus and Crocker said this week! The important thing is that the Democrats dishonored them!

PS. Curiously, but not surprisingly, my favorite bitter-right-winger (who insists she doesn't repeat right-wing talking points yet miraculously comes up with the same twisted un-realities described in RNC propaganda) took the idea and ran with it,

Today we have the most disgusting politicians in the Democratic party that I find it hard to believe they are really fellow Americans ...

What ever happened to the idea of guilty [sic] until proven innocent [sic]? Well Democrats and organizations like MoveOn started a slander case against Gen. Petraeus ... I personally think they should resign!

When pressed in comments to reveal the precise names of the disgusting politicians she was calling on to resign, she burrows deeper into GOP la-la land,

Namely I think Nancy Peolsi and Harry Reid should resign, they were discrediting the General before he even spoke. And no Democrat pubically denounced the MoveOn ad that appeared Monday, also prior to the General's testimony.

Remember, these are her thoughts, not the GOP's. Eerie how similarly wrong they are. Gives me chills!

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GOP House leader on the ultimate sacrifice to one's country: "a small price" 

John Boehner of the Party Who Supports the Troops,

If 3,800 American lives and half a trillion dollars is a "small price", I shudder to think what we would be in for if Boehner was willing to make a modest investment.

Via Greg Sargent

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Those zany right wingers 

In level of difficulty differentiating sincere political commentary from satire, Mark Levin's bleatings are only rivaled by his fans. Commenting on a Levin article asserting that playing footsie with the guy in the next stall is not a sexually overt act and demanding "the photos, the video, the audio" that would pass muster as actual proof of Senator Craig's secret longings, a commenter adds,

BTW, we all know why Sen Craig was embarrassed about the hand under the stall divider issue. He was probably wiping off some residue from the nasal cavity.

BTW, the grand finale of Levin's essay on Craig's bathroom foibles is a round-up kick to the jaw of the Imaginary Liberal,

Let's call it what it is - modern liberalism.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Richard Lugar (R - Reality) 

From Lugar's opening statement today during Petreus and Crocker's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committe, expressing a thought I tried to articulate a few posts down,

One can debate, as many will do this week, whether progress in Iraq has been sufficient to justify continuing American sacrifices. But the greatest risk for U.S. policy is not that we are incapable of making progress, but that this progress may be largely beside the point given the divisions that now afflict Iraqi society. The risk is that our efforts are comparable to a farmer expending his resources and efforts to plant a crop on a flood plain without factoring in the probability that the waters may rise. In my judgment, some type of success in Iraq is possible, but as policy makers, we should acknowledge that we are facing extraordinarily narrow margins for achieving our goals.

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Koran 3:145: Only Allah can kill you 

Reading bin Laden's 1996 fatwa in which he declares war on Saudi Arabia and the "American-Zionist crusaders", this Koranic verse stuck out,

No one dies except by GOD's leave, at a predetermined time

That's some pretty hardcore predestination. No matter what you do, you aren't going to die unless it's the one and single time god picked for you already.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Sixth anniversary 

Given a choice between a world of nations controlled by corporations standing to lose profits from war between their client governments and a world in which nations went to war among one another willy-nilly, I'd in pick the corptocracy.

As far as that scenario provides, I'm in agreement with Bush's foreign policy. And I rather think Bush's War on Terror is driven at least in part by the contrast between those two choices.

However, those aren't the only two choices available and a military struggle between ideologies without territories is futile. By the administration's own admission "the terrorists won't stop with Iraq". Iraq is not an Iwo Jima no matter how much supporters of the war try to make it.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

No more good news about Iraq, please! 

I can't take any more good news about progress in Iraq, I've had quite a bit enough already.

Early on. I recall the heroic effort to save Pvt. Lynch and the fantastic toppling of the statue of Hussein. Both staged propaganda events. Although the follow up act with Bush's flight suit and codpiece didn't pretend to be anything more than a theatrical production marking the end of major combat, any but the most casual observers had enough information to understand the White House and Pentagon's public relations communications had little to do with anything actually happening in Iraq.

Half a year ago there seemed to be wide agreement that September - this month - would be a time to frankly assess what political progress has made by the Iraqi government, with the benefit of three elections under it's belt.

Yet, all signs indicate the discussion is going to be over the bogus statistics describing violence or lack thereof - not the political progress or lack thereof. The statistics that matter are:

I'm sad to say there isn't enough Iraqi will to take advantage of our presence to work toward those types of goals. They don't want our help - in fact, we're an irritant. It's time to reduce our role to keeping Turkey, Iran and Iraq's other neighbors from injecting themselves into the mess militarily and preventing all-out genocide.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

USA vs IRAN 

I assume everyone who makes it to this blog is aware of the upcoming Bomb Iran marketing campaign, but there it is nonetheless.

Neither the Iranian or White House regime has much left to lose politically, and I can't think of anything scarier than a psychotic leader of the world's most lethal war machine finally acknowledging his deep unpopularity yet thinks his Big Vision will still be a hit with future historians. Except when he'd thinking about tussling with another unpopular regime that sees an opportunity for a repeat a humiliation of the military giant.

Having recently been dealt a Royal Flush on video poker, I think I can understand the temptation to gamble big when you're already in the hole - it's the irrational euphoria that problem gamblers seek, not the rationally unlikely payoff.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's all about voting against liberals 

Beth ends as agrily as she starts,

Okay, something else that bugs me. When scientists come up with a theory, it's like gospel truth for some people, but if other scientists who come up with opposing theories they are wrong. Why can't people accept that the opposing view could be the accurate one?

I've not a definate grasp on who exactly Beth means by "some people", but am confident she means "liberals".

Scientists don't ever "come up with a theory", they come up with hypotheses. Theories are hypotheses which have stood up to repeated scrutiny and best fit the observations.

Right-wingers such as Beth base their outrage, as we have seen, on imaginary people who hold imaginary opinions, although there may indeed be at least some people holding at once all the opinions they find foul. But in order to view themselves as the silent majority as they do, the imaginary segment becomes in their minds a monolithic force in which all of their grievances are encapsulated as one.

Here, I can imagine that Beth is thinking of scientists who believe Man's activities influence the increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that evolution can produce divergent species no longer able to produce fertile offspring. But that is just a guess. But I really can't argue with her as the only certain assertion she makes is that she's pissed off.

Being pissed off that scientists can confidently say Man attributes to climate change is maybe something Beth could understand if she tried a bit, but it sadly seems that everything Beth sees as wrong with the world can be remedied by voting Republican. She knows that Republicans are angry with liberals, and and that's enough for her. Even if the next Democratic presidential candidate didn't fake a Purple Heart, she still has resons to vote for the opposition.

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It's so easy to be a right-winger 

Beth was on a tear,

Well, it didn't take me long to think of another frustrating idea. Some on both the left and right want to give amnesty to illegal immigrants, citing that these people just want to make a living for themselves. Yet, they deny the right to unborn children to make a living EVER. So, just because these illegal people are HERE in this country, they should just automatically be granted citizenship, but a child in the womb of an American woman is HERE (and always has been) in this country but is not a citizen until born.

It wasn't hard for her to "think of another frustrating idea" as her only guiding principal was to get pissed off.

First, she thought of immigrants and their supporters - not the west-bound Ellis Island or Plymoth Rock type of immigrants who made us great, but those who ooze northward, unbalancing the westward perfection.

Then she thinks of baby-killers and instead of acting to stop the perceived genocide, she thinks about the liberals who both support legal abortion and allowing undocumented immigrants with jobs to stay at their jobs.

See, it's easy to be a right-winger. You can just sit there and imagine being really pissed off - you don't have to think of solutions to your complaints as you already know it's all the fault of liberals.

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