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Monday, November 30, 2009

Say No

Best political cartoon I've seen in quite a while.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Terrorists, Trials, and Petitions

Recently I got an email asking my opinion of an electronic petition.

The petition, circulated via email, protests the White House’s proposed plan to conduct terrorist trials in New York.

There are actually several petitions, one being conducted by Trey Grayson, currently Secretary of State for Kentucky. Trey wants to be a Senator and he figures to rally the base with his little petition. The other one, the one being circulated primarily by email is from a site called iPetition where anybody can float a petition of any kind, from stopping terrorism to stopping Mylie Cryus.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether the writer was asking what I think of electronic petitions or the proposed terrorism trials in New York.

So I’ll answer both.

First, Electronic Petitions:

Personally I think electronic petitions are complete crap and a waste of time. Petitions in general rarely work other than on the local level, they almost never affect the actions of the state or federal government in any way, shape, or form. And in this case, I think they make angry people feel as if they’re doing something, but the truth of the matter is that while 500,000 "signatures" sounds like a lot, it's only a fraction of the national population - and a small enough fraction that politicians can safely ignore it. Politicians routinely ignore the opinions of millions, just as long as those millions are in the opposing party, so why would they pay any attention at all to a petition where the majority of “signatures” aren’t even in their voting district?

And the truth of the matter is that they don’t pay any attention to them at all.

In fact, there is nothing in the law, again at the national level (local governments may have different local laws) that says the government has to pay any attention to a petition no matter how many signatures it contains. We are a representative democracy, i.e. a republic, once elected our leaders are not obligated to bend to the will of the mob - and often don't. If you don’t like that, or what your leaders are deciding in your name, well you can vote them out of office next time around. And in the case of electronic petitions, I think that is a good thing, there’s a reason why our forefathers didn’t set up the United States as a pure democracy and why they didn’t design our government to operate by will of the mob – especially by the will of the mob as expressed by some bogus petition. Up above I said electronic petitions are crap, and crap I meant. There is no way to verify that the "signatures" are valid on an electronic petition, or that the “signatures” are from registered voters or competent adults or even from Americans. And in fact, the “signatures” are not signatures at all, not even electronic ones.

The irony of the electronic petition in this case is that the vast majority of people “signing” it are the same folks who are screaming bloody murder about “voter fraud” and ACORN and “usurpers”, and yet they willingly add their email address to a database that has no oversight or voter verification of any kind. For all they know, 499,000 of those half million signatures could be from illegal aliens.

Also, I really, really, don’t want my name on a list with these illiterate, ignorant, hysterical, mouth breathing dullards (really, read the post and then for an extra treat read the comments – that, my friends, is the NeoCon “Base” right there. These are the folks who intend to vote for Sarah Palin. Wow).

Personally, I think these types of petitions are a singularly useless gesture.

The terrorist trials in New York:

If it was up to me, I'd try them in the wreckage of the WTC, and if found guilty I hang them on a gallows set up dead center on ground zero - right off the top of that one remaining stairway New Yorkers want to turn into a monument.

See terrorists, they believe in gestures, in symbolic actions - which is why they chose the WTC and Pentagon and the White House in the first place. I’d give them a gesture, I would try them in the midst of the carnage they wrought, surrounded by the city and the nation they failed to destroy and the relatives of the victims.

And as a great big old symbolic fuck you to the goddamned terrorists, I’d try them as common criminals.

That’s right.

I wouldn’t call it a terrorist trial. I try them as common hijackers, as common arsonists, as common murders. I’d never mention terrorism or radical Islam and I wouldn’t let them do it either. I wouldn’t let them be martyrs or symbols. No statements, no grandstanding, no posturing. Period. Just as in any trial where the accused wants to make a speech or derail the proceedings or behave in an unruly fashion, he can either behave and stick to the facts and accusations or be put in a room with a big evil tempered bailiff and a closed circuit TV and tried anyway.

However…

I think at this point we are facing a catch-22. The previous administration’s handling of these men – i.e the taint of torture, rendition, Gitmo, extra constitutional means, and the bizarre legal limbo of non-national “enemy combatant” status - has irretrievably fouled the situation.

1) I think it's a mistake to try them in civilian court. I think the evidence is profoundly tainted at this point, and we either have to throw it out and allow for the significant possibility that these men will be set free - not found innocent, mind you, but set free because the evidence against them cannot be used – or we must break our own laws and conduct show trials with the conclusion and assumption of guilt a forgone conclusion, and that will finally destroy any remaining illusion that we are a nation of law and justice in the eyes of our own people and the world – though I have no doubt the knuckle dragging “Patriots” linked to above would approve, which is as good of reason as any to avoid doing this in the first place.

2) I think the concept of a trial by military commission is flawed. I seriously doubt that anybody believes that these men would get a fair and honest trial if tried by military commission (though I do think that they could, depending on the conditions of the tribunal and its makeup). And the world’s perception matters – yes, it does. America needs the rest of the world to fight the real threats, we need the rest of the world if we are to win in Afghanistan, don’t think for one moment that we don’t. We need the rest of the world if we are to eradicate the growing threat of terrorism and piracy off the Horn of Africa for example. Terrorism is an international problem, it requires an international solution and cooperation. If America appears to be a nation who disregards her own law, who disregards international law and agreement, who goes rogue – why then would anyone cooperate with us? And the answer is, they won’t. QED.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we don’t give these men a fair and honest trial for their sakes, we give them a fair and honest trial for our own sake, for the sake of the United States of America. We are a nation of law, and a nation who adheres to our law and obligations even when they don’t suit us, or we are not. Period.

We’re Americans, we’re supposed to be the good guys.

These men, no matter how evil, must have a fair and non biased trial.

Hopefully followed by a fine hanging.

There was a time when these men could have received a fair and untainted trial in America, we are long past that point – it does no good to fix blame on either the Obama Administration or that of George W. Bush. It is what it now is, and we must find a way to deal with it with in the context of our own law.

Personally, I think at this point, that only solution that satisfies all criteria would be an international war crimes commission.

But Americans won’t stand for that. These men attacked us, and we will have our pound of flesh for 911.

No matter what it costs us in the long run.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Proper Post Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich

Of course the best part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers.

Turkey soup, and turkey sandwiches, turkey potpie, and turkey omelets and turkey…

You know, now that I think of it, it doesn’t take me long to get sick and tired of turkey leftovers.

Which is why this year we didn’t do a whole turkey. There’s just three of us and we weren’t having anybody over, so instead of a whole bird we just did a turkey roast. No no no, not a turkey “loaf,” gah, a roast. A turkey roast is basically a whole breast and some darkmeat - say about half a good sized bird - deboned. You cook it the same way as you do a whole bird, it takes about three hours.

What? Stuffing?

I don’t stuff a thanksgiving turkey anyway.

I always make the dressing, as opposed to stuffing, in a separate roasting pan. I make my dressing with ground hot sausage and I want to make sure that it’s cooked all the way to 160F. If it’s inside the bird, the outside of the Turkey is usually dried out jerky by the time the middle is done, and the stuffing tends to absorb the juices and turn soggy if it’s inside the bird. So, I make dressing in a separate dish, and fill the inside of the turkey with a mirepoix of aromatic vegetables - celery, onion, carrots – and garlic, sage, and butter.

In this case, since we were doing a roast, I packed the mirepoix and spices around the outside of the meat and covered the whole thing in foil. It worked like a charm and the resulting juices, mixed with cream, flour, parsley, spices, and white wine, make the best turkey gravy ever.

The roast came out excellent and gave us just enough turkey leftovers for two or three days.

Perfect.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Woot! Pass the mayo and the Wonderbread, it’s turkey sandwich time.

It seems some folks just don’t know how to make a good sandwich.

Allow me to enlighten you.

Start with flatbread. Add turkey and good Swiss cheese like Tillamook.

Place in the sandwich press until the bread is hot and crispy. If you don’t have a sandwich press (and really, why don’t you?), press between a pair of pre-heated cast iron skillets (don’t tell me you don’t have a pair of well seasoned cast iron skillets, you culinary Philistine).

Open the sandwich and spread the inside with a bit of leftover cranberry sauce (you make yours from scratch, right?) mixed with an equal amount of cream cheese. Add fresh spinach leaves or a good dark lettuce such as romaine (no Iceberg, ever). Little salt and pepper.

Eat while making nom nom nom noises.

image

Leftover dressing on the side is optional.

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Dressing:

2lbs hot ground sausage – Jimmy Dean will do in a pinch, better yet find a local artisan butcher shop that makes their own. The better the sausage, the better the dressing.

1 1/2 lbs of seasoned and dried bread cubes. Homemade or store bought, it’s stale bread, it really doesn’t matter.

1 cup turkey or chicken broth.

3 cups chopped celery and onion, sweated in olive oil or butter with 2 tablespoons fresh ground garlic until softened, and then allowed to cool.

Sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and cracked black pepper to taste - or rather to smell, I add spices until it smells right to me. But if you need numbers, say 1 tablespoon of the sage, rosemary, and thyme, 1 pinch of basil and black pepper.

Mix it all together in a large mixing bowl. Make sure to break up the sausage into small pieces. It should be loose, not packed together, we’re not making sausage balls here.

Place loosely in a large covered and greased casserole dish and bake at 350F for an hour and a half or until the middle reaches 160F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat. Now if you like the crunchy browned stuffing from along the edges, serve as is. Otherwise, stir inner to outer, and fluff with a large fork, cover and allow to sit for twenty minutes.

Cranberry Sauce:

12 oz fresh cranberry berries, picked and washed.

1 cup water.

1 cup sugar.

2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Mix it all together in a medium sized saucepan, bring to a boil, boil for twenty minutes. Mix with a fork, breaking up the berries. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass dish and allow to cool, then refrigerate until cold.


We spent the rest of the day putting up our Christmas tree. You remember the Christmas tree, right? This year I bought a new ladder, one of those huge articulated Warner jobbers, that made setting up the tree a whole hell of a lot easier.

Yesterday it snowed. Nearly a foot here at Stonekettle Station and I spent most of the day dealing with that and a dead truck battery.

Today, my wife and son have gone off Christmas shopping, leaving me home to finish up a home improvement project by myself (damn right, leaving me home – no way in hell am I venturing out this weekend thankwewveddymuch, I rather do drywall or light my hair on fire).

So, what are you guys doing with your long weekend?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Changes To Stonekettle Station Commenting

Folks I’ve turned on word verification for comments.

I really don’t like having to do so, but I’m suddenly getting a rash of spambot type comments from eastern Europe.

The price of fame, I guess. In recent months the readership of Stonekettle Station has roughly tripled. I don’t really know why, the site is just suddenly a whole lot more popular. I’m now pushing about 2000 daily readers, sometimes considerably more than that - usually on Mondays, from corporate servers, I seem to provide an alternate to actual work. Fridays, the visit counter is usually around two or three hundred until after quitting time on the west coast, then it starts climbing.

With the increase in readership has come a marked and sudden increase in spam comments.

I know some bloggers just say screw it and leave them. To me that’s like having an uninvited guest vomit in the middle of the living room floor at a party and just leaving the mess there for everybody to walk around. I hate spam and I don’t want it on my site. I pay for this place and I put a lot of effort into it and I’ll be damned if I’ll let this crap stink up the place.

I’m sick of having to police the spam, so I’ve turned on word verification. If that doesn’t stop the problem, then I’ll be forced to disable anonymous commenting altogether and only allow registered users to comment on the blog.

This pisses me off immensely.

It pisses me off for two reasons:

1) I fucking hate spammers. I hate the mentality behind spam. I purely despise these intestinal parasites and the amount of time, effort, bandwidth, money, and assets these lousy sons of bitches take up every day. I put spammers on the same level with child rapists and Dick Cheney. I want them hunted down and ripped apart by wild dogs. Every last one of them.

2) I fucking hate the ignorant stupid mouth breathing goobers who click on spam. Listen up you stupid bastards, the only reason that spammers exist in the first place is because you morons keep clicking on the spam links. You have to be the stupidest, more ignorant, most retarded dipshits on the planet. My stupid furball of a cat has more sense than you, and he enjoys licking his own ass. Stop doing it, you’re ruining the Internet for everybody else.

Sorry for the inconvenience, gentle readers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day

Lake Lucille, Wasilla, Alaska. November 26th, 2009.

Question: What if Levi took her up on her offer? No, really.

 

[Tinny Music, sounds sort of like Hail to the Chief played on a banjo and a kazoo]

SP:  It’s the door bell! Probably my folks! I’ll get it, you betcha.

[Sound of door opening]

SP: You!

Levi: S’up, Beotch?

SP: What are you doing here?!

Levi: You invited me.

SP: Like hell!

Levi: I’m unemployed therefore I watch daytime TV. Oh and thanks for that by the way, you totally killed Oprah. She just quit. What the fuck did you do to her? Now I’ll have to get a job or something.

SP:  I’m a politician, you idiot, I was just bullshitting. I didn’t think you’d actually show up!

Levi: Life’s full of surprises. And who are you calling an idiot? I’m nineteen, I’ve got an excuse.  Speaking of which, Bristol around?

SP: Now you look here, young man…

Levi: Relax, I brought protection this time. Heh heh.

SP: Why I never…!

Levi: That’s not what Todd said there, of course he was pretty drunk. What’s a “Dirty Sanchez” anyway?  But hey I’m just kidding here.  I wouldn’t touch your daughter. Again. Unless she wanted to do a threesome that is. Heh heh.  Kidding, I’m just kidding. I’m thinking of branching out into standup comedy. Chicks dig that you know. Especially your daughter! Woot! Help me I can’t stop!

SP: I…can’t…breath

Levi: Whoa! Slow down there, Mrs. P.  I’m spoken for. I was just fooling anyway. Hey, meet my new girlfriend, Paris. Paris, meet The Bitchaccuda.

SP [makes sign of the cross]: Paris Hilton!?

Levi [shrugs]: Hey, I’m famous now, but I’m not exactly bright and I don’t really have any marketable skills except taking my clothes off and gossiping about famous people. 

Paris: And he’s soooo cute.

Levi: It’s like we’re soul mates.  Let’s just say that this thanksgiving I’ve got a lot to be thankful for! [Slaps Paris on the ass]. You gonna invite us in or what?

SP: I…uh…well…

Levi: I suppose I could spend the day making a YouTube video…

Paris [giggles] Let me put on some chap stick…

Levi: Heh. No.  I meant a serious video…though your idea is good too.

Paris [pouty]: I was serious…

Levi: Here, Mrs. P, look right into my camera phone and repeat that line about being full of shit on TV …

SP [through gritted teeth]: Fine. Come in. But try not to get any bodily fluids on my daughters, or the couch.

Levi: Oh, yeah, sorry about the couch, did you ever get the stain out? [Turns to shout at the car] C’mon, Ma! We’re good to go!

Paris: Brrrrrr! It’s cold here, Levi, I told you we should have gone to Hawaii. [A miniature creature bearing a vague resemblance to a tiny dog yips from her purse] Say, lady, is there a place Poochy can freshin’ up? They don’t have coyotes around here, do they? [looks around suspiciously]

SP: Why are you talking about yourself in the third person?

Paris [Rolling her eyes like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein] I thought you were!

SP: What?

Paris: What?

Levi: Whoa! You just got totally pwned by Paris fucking Hilton! This is gonna be the best holiday evah!

SP: Todd! Get the shotgun!

Levi: Is he sober? Great, ‘cause I owe him twenty dollars and now that they’ve published my book, I’m flush.

SP: You owe him? For what?

Levi: Your daughter?

SP: Todd! The shotgun! Now!

Levi: Man, it’s like the jokes just write themselves, this standup gig is going to be a total chick magnet, maybe I could come along on your book tour? I’d be like your opening act. We’ll make a killing! Heh heh, I’m kidding, I’ve got my own book thing going on. Anyway,  Mr. P bought me and Bristol some beer when we were all in that hotel and you were off with that old dude. I owe him twenty for that.

SP: Old dude?

Levi: Yeah, that old white haired guy you used hang out with, looked like Crazy Santa after a week at fishcamp. You guys were like Pinky and The Brain. You were Pinky.  Whatever happened to that guy, did he die?

SP: Are you talking about John McCain?

Levi: Who?

SP: Waitaminute! You have a book? You?

Levi: Rock on! It’s totally in all the book stores.  It’s for grown ups though, not like your book.  I brought you an autographed copy!

SP: This is a Playgirl!

Levi: I ain’t playin’, girl, believe it.  Just for you, help you work out some of those frustrations. Check out the centerfold, it’s a bull moose! [pokes Paris in the ribs. Winks. Holds his hands spread on either side of his head like moose antlers] Hope you got some fresh D cells, Mrs. P.  Hey, here she is, you remember my mom, right? She got some holiday furlough.

Paris: Brrrrrrr!

Ma Johnson: Whoa, fuck it’s slippery. Big fuggin’ mansion like this and I damned near broken my fuggin’ neck coming up the stairs. Dropped my smoke. Fuck! If I wasn’t so high, I’d be pissed! Who’doya gotta shank to get a light around here? Here, Governor, brought ya my famous Jello Shooter Salad, that’s a whole fifth of the good stuff in there so don’t drop it, $5 and two packs of smokes for a bottle of that, no shit.  Also, keep it away from open flame.  We had to bury Uncle Johnson, bless his soul, with no eyebrows, I had to paint them on in the casket with a Sharpie. So I ain’t fuggin’ kiddin’. No, don’t thank me.  Now who’s got a fuggin’ light?

SP: This is just a fifth of garbage can vodka.

Ma Johnson: Ya, nobody likes the jello or the salad part anyway.

Paris: Brrrrrrrr! BRRRR!

Levi: Man, this is gonna be awesome.  Parrrrrteee.  C’mon Ladies, lets meet the family. Where’s my kid. Eh? What was his name again? Wait don’t tell me, something Alaskan, right?  Moose? Big Moose Johnson! Where are ya, son?

SP: His name is not Moose!

Levi: Check out that centerfold, Mrs P. That’s my kid, they’ll be calling him Moose soon enough. Heh heh.

Paris: Bull moose [she tries to wink, but her eyelashes freeze together, making her look like a stroke victim]. I forget, what’s a moose again?

Levi: You’re so cute.

[The crowd pushes into the kitchen]

Levi: Well, this hasn’t changed. I thought you’d at least get rid of the those “Property of Wasilla Recreation Center” counters after you became Vice President. Maybe get some White House shit, what’s that called?

Paris: Stealing?

SP: I’m. Not. The. Vice. President.

Levi: You’re not?  You’re the King just like you wanted?  So the old geezer did croak then. I knew it. [turns to Paris] Who knows politics, eh? Told ya Baby.

Paris: You have such a huge…brain.

SP: McCain lost. If they’d only let me say what I wanted…

Levi: What? So like that terrorist guy is President?

SP: Where have you been?

Levi: Doing your daughter?

SP: Todd!

Levi: Well, at least you’re still Governor!

SP: No, I decided to explore other options.

Levi: Does that mean you quit?

SP: No, I resigned.

Levi: Me too.

SP: What?

Levi: I resigned too. I’ve been autographing my book for my fans. I signed and resigned like a million of those things, plus I signed a bunch of boobs, er, breasts. You’ve really got to press on those things to get the marker to write.  Here unbutton your blouse, I’ll show you...

SP: You really are an idiot, aren’t you?

Levi: Hey, I get to sign boobs and people pay me to take my clothes off.  What did you do again? Some kind of jogging magazine, wasn’t it? Who’s the idiot now?

Ma Johnson: Is that turkey I smell? Hey don’t just stand there, give me a mug of that jello salad.

[Todd enters the kitchen]

Todd: Dude!

Levi: Dude!

Todd: Whazzzup, Man?

Levi: She invited me.

Todd: Awesome, I told you she’d warm up to you! Whatcha been doing?

Levi: Your daughter?

Todd: Dude!

Levi: Dude!

[high fives and fist jabs all around]

Todd: You got my twenty? Holy Salmon Spawn, is that Paris Hilton? Damn! I’m like your biggest fan! I saw your movie on the internet, you’re a great actor! [Looks at SP]  Er…I mean, pleased to meetcha, ma’am.

Levi: Here’s your money, dude.

Todd: Dig it! Look’s like I’m making a beer run.

Ma Johnson: I’ll go with you…as long as we’re back by the time the fuggin’ turkey is ready. I fuggin’ love turkey, it’s not nearly as greasy as bald eagle. And I brought my good teeth today.

SP: We’re not having turkey.

Ma Johnson: Good thing I brought that jello then, speaking of which I’ll need a fill up here, I’m furggin’ driving.

Todd: That’s good, because I’m totally fucked up.

Levi: No turkey?

SP: It’s my special Thanksgiving moose chili recipe.

Todd: Yeah, she puts pumpkin in it. It makes your chili farts smell like Halloween in Mexico!

Levi: You’ve really got to learn how to cook something else.

Paris: I can’t eat moose, I’m a vegetable.

Levi: Vegetarian. And moose is a vegetable.

Paris: It is?

Levi: As far as you know.

 

[And so it went, eventually the police were called and another Wasilla Thanksgiving tradition marked the passing of yet another year.  Home, it’s where the family is.  Next: Christmas with the Palins or Levi Shows Off His Reindeer Sausage!]

Welcome to the 1st Fundamentalist Reformed Church Of Republicanism

And once again, Republicans decide to eat their young:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee identifies ten (10) key public policy positions for the 2010 election cycle, which the Republican National Committee expects its public officials and candidates to support:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership; and be further

RESOLVED, that a candidate who disagrees with three or more of the above stated public policy position of the Republican National Committee, as identified by the voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee; and be further

RESOLVED, that upon the approval of this resolution the Republican National Committee shall deliver a copy of this resolution to each of Republican members of Congress, all Republican candidates for Congress, as they become known, and to each Republican state and territorial party office.

Chief Sponsor:
James Bopp, Jr. NCM IN

Sponsors:
Donna Cain NCW OR
Cindy Costa NCW SC
Demetra Demonte NCW IL
Peggy Lambert NCW TN
Carolyn McLarty NCW OK
Pete Rickets NCM NE
Steve Scheffler NCM IA
Helen Van Etten NCW KA
Solomon Yue NCM OR

 

It simply astounds me that Republicans have allowed the ideologues to take over their party.

It utterly appalls me that those selfsame hypocritical parasites, the fanatical rightwing ideologues just in case I’m not being clear here, continue to refer to themselves as “the party of Lincoln.”

I strongly suspect that Abraham Lincoln would have spit in Jim Bopp’s face – or more likely given him a good old fashioned thrashing, something the 16th President was fully capable of doing. I strongly suspect that any group of people who could pen and approve and seriously consider the kind of fanatical, almost religiously, exclusionary ideology embodied in the above resolution wouldn’t have been on the same side of the fence as Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt would have walloped the tar and feathers out of these fanatics, mostly likely without working up a sweat – but then again the hard line rightwing RNC considered old TR a heretical Progressive and a party traitor - a designation Teedee* was proud of – and they probably would consider Lincoln the same, if they actually bothered to learn anything about him.

The resolution above is being circulated within the Republican National Committee. Sponsored by ten senior members of the committee and penned by committeeman Jim Bopp, the resolution will be submitted for discussion and vote at the Republican Party’s Winter Meeting in Hawaii.

This proposed resolution was supposed to be a secret, but somebody leaked it to the media.  There’s a certain amount of chagrin going on over that –  even these loons are a little embarrassed to have their secret fanaticism exposed, they still retain just enough shreds of sanity to know how it sounds and they’d prefer to have a fait accompli before the majority of conservatives find out that their party has been turned into a fundamentalist religion. 

This really isn’t a new concept for the fanatical far right conservatives who have hijacked the Grand Old Party, they’re big on loyalty tests and solemn oaths of fealty to their ideology. These are the same folks who wanted republican voters to sign a loyalty pledge during presidential primaries and they are the same batch of jackasses who make up moronic groups like the Oath Keepers and who like to elicit celibacy and virginity pledges from their kids – how’s that working out for you by the way?

The ten items listed above are being called the GOP’s core principles for the 2010 election cycle by party fanatics such as Bopp, who feels that such a resolution is necessary to codify who is and who is not a true Conservative, and who will and who will not be considered an enemy of the Party and America. One assumes that he is angling to head up the Politburo when the Neocons finally do manage to take back the country for real American Jesuspeople.

I don’t know about you, when I hear hacks speak about Party Purity and a litmus test to determine who and who is not a true believer and an American, I get a cold chill right down my spine and the small hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I find myself dangerously close to invoking the ire of Godwin’s Law.  The similarities to historical examples of other fanatical and uncompromising political ideologies is striking: a small group of extreme hardliners moving further and further from the middle, defining themselves by rigid core principles that only they control, an abiding hatred for the current administration and a consuming passion to bring it down by any means including lies and deception and a firm belief that the ends justify the means, representing only a small fraction of the population but telling themselves that they are the only true [insert appropriate national identity here], telling themselves that only purity will save their party, belief in the righteousness of their actions and a sense of destiny, listing those that they hate, and vilification of everyone who does not share their ideology.  The first step is always purging themselves of moderate and dissenting voices. They turn on themselves ridding their party of perceived weakness and the faithless, then when they seize power they turn on the rest of their population rooting out the undesirables and those designated as scapegoats for whatever perceived ills the country is suffering, then they turn on the world – They may not start out that way, but they almost always end up that way. Those other movements all eventually self destructed, but not before they did tremendous and horrifying damage. 

But it always begins with a small group of fanatics, secretly scheming in the beerhalls and the darkened backrooms of power.

RNC leaders feel that something like this “Purity Test” is necessary after NY23, the special election in New York where the RNC stabbed its own party candidate right in the eye, called her a traitor, backed the independent frothy lunatic candidate instead, and got its ass handed to it by the Democrats when the voters told the GOP to fuck right off.  Rather than learn a lesson from this, or from their resounding defeat on the national stage during last year’s presidential elections or their defeat during the previous Congressional election cycle, the RNC has decided to double down on its ideology and pull even further to the hard right – this is yet another primary indicator of fanaticism. These people have no intention of sharing power with anybody, they have no intention of compromising their ideology – most especially they have no intention of seeking a middle ground within their own party. They don’t represent traditional conservatives, as NY23 demonstrated, and this enrages fanatics like Bopp who cannot think beyond his utter hatred for Barack Obama and the reviled Liberals who he sees as traitors and enemies – and this is also typical of fanatics, they must always have something or someone to hate – and he intends to get rid of anyone not as fanatical as he is.  This group of ten intends to impose their ideology on the entire party. They intend to purge the Republican Party of moderates and those they see as weaklings, like Dede Scozzafava, and then they intend to turn traditional conservative values and guidelines into a fanatical ideological belief system.

Their strategy can be summed up in the ominous words of one of their spiritual leaders, i.e. you’re either with us, or you’re against us.

These people are making their political beliefs a fundamentalist religion.

And like any extremist religion, they demand blindly obedient adherents that are utterly incapable of compromise and of seeing the hypocrisy inherent in their belief system – and, in point of fact, will deny that there is any flaw in their beliefs.  They demand loyalty, but give none in return – as Scozzafava found out when she was branded a heretic and promptly excommunicated. They demand compromise and submission from all but yield nothing in return, theirs is the ultimate arrogance. There is no room within the party’s fundamental ideology for those who would compromise with non-believers, with moderates, or progressives.

It’s hard to understand how a rational educated adult could write something like this resolution, even as a rough draft. Read it through again, dispassionately, as if you were grading a high school English paper and you’ll see what I mean.  It appears to be a random and incomplete assemblage of ideas culled from rightwing militia websites – and it’s obvious that it is driven by a number of inherent obsessions, rather than a logical and comprehensive structuring of ideals.

1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes…

OK. It starts out by stating a well established conservative plank. And if the sentence contained a metric to provide values for the concepts of “smaller” and “lower” it would be ok, but it doesn’t. Rather the stated core value is really “by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill.” Not expensive bills per se. Not government spending. Not even stimulus bills, but rather Obama’s “stimulus bill.”   The resolution mentions Obama by name twice, not liberals or liberal or moderate or progressive ideas, but President Obama specifically – rather an odd thing for a policy position, isn’t it? We only want folks who hate Barack Obama the man and will oppose him at every step, we don’t want people in Congress who represent the will of their constituents, or who decide the issues based on the merits of each – no, we will only support candidates for office who absolutely hate Obama and will oppose anything and everything proposed by the opposition based solely on ideology and nothing else, no matter what.

In fact, there are a number of very odd words and turns of phrase in this list (see? Feel that cold chill on your neck?)

Now, Bopp led off with this and it’s obviously very, very important to him and the other fanatics whose names appear on the resolution. Small government, small national debt, low deficit, low taxes – these are traditional planks of the Republican Party and goals I can heartily agree with – except, how does that square with

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

How do we get to smaller government with smaller debt and deficit and lower taxes by massively increasing the size of the border patrol and the INS and those agencies that inspect workplaces and enforce the laws and detain and process  the illegals and return them to the border? How do we get smaller, cheaper government by increasing the administrative and legal functions? How do we get smaller government and lower taxes by increasing the size of the Army and sending 40,000 more troops overseas? Those guys don’t just pick up and go, you know, they need administrative support and in-country facilities and support contracts and equipment and food and supplies and transport and hundreds of other things, all of which require contractors and bureaucrats and administrators and communications and systems and money, gobs and gobs of money. How do we get lower taxes by continuing to fight on multiple fronts? (Pillaging? The army is required to support itself the way Roman Legions did maybe? Foraging? Farming perhaps?). How much money is the RNC willing to spend on “effective action” in North Korea and Iran and how will that “effective action” reduce the size and expense of government? How do we get less government interference in our lives by letting it decide who can get married and who can’t and by having two “separate but equal” systems for domestic or married partnerships?  I guess it’s in the wording “we support,” we didn’t say we were going to do it, just that we support the idea – during election years especially.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

Huh?  What market-based healthcare reforms?  What market-based energy reforms? No really, I’m not joking, what the hell are they talking about here?  It’s like some kind of mystical belief system with these people – the ancient godlike invisible power of unregulated capitalism will cure all if we only perform the proper rituals and sacrifices. It’s like a belief in the superiority of the Aryan ideal or that Communism will bring about a universal middle class or that the sky gods will make it rain if we only slaughter enough sheep on the alter. It’s the market that currently leaves 47,000,000 Americans without healthcare and is charging them over $3 at the pump. I’m curious, where can I download a copy of the Exxon and Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health and Energy Reform Bill? 

Does the RNC support market-based equal rights and freedom like Lincoln did? Oh wait, that’s not right.

Does the RNC support market based reform for Wall Street?

Here’s a question, how about market-based marriage reform? How about market-based abortion reform? No?

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

So, the RNC supports workers’ rights to choose and opposes a “card check” BUT requires a purity test and oath of loyalty from its own people and requires them to vote the way it says or it excommunicates them from the Church of Republicanism?  Will the GOP order States to change National election ballots so that registered Republicans here in Alaska can vote for whoever they want no matter what the party? No?

Excuse me, Mr Bopp, could you please pass me that big bowl of utter fucking hypocrisy right there? Thanks.

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society…

Just as long as they don’t run for President, eh?

…by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

So, what is the plan then? Shoot ‘em? Or keep hiring them as your nannies and sex slaves and cheap labor? I don’t care, I just like to know what we’re doing is all. Here’s an idea, how about market-based immigration reform? Really, think about it.

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

So, anybody who doesn’t support a troop surge, including the troops, doesn’t support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Or should I read that as you only support victory if it is achieved through a troop surge? If victory is achieved via another strategy do you oppose it?  May I assume that defeat is totally out of the question? Is the key point ‘military recommended’ because I’m military and I’d like to recommend we get the fuck out.  Really, please explain the purpose of this policy position, is it victory? Is it a troop surge? (which will have been long resolved one way or the other by 2010 you idiots. In fact Obama is announcing his plan Friday) Or is it the fact that you will only support recommendations for victory if they originate in the military? And will you support any recommendations from the military? Because I’d like to recommend a pay raise, better benefits, and you let us decide what we need equipment-wise instead of voting for more useless shit simply because it’s built in your district.  Hello? Is this thing on?

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

Please explain “effective action” and please contrast it against the ineffective actions of Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush The Lesser.

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

Yes, of course you do.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion

Please explain how denying 47,000,000 Americans access to health insurance protects the lives of “vulnerable persons.” Please explain how taking campaign contributions from the multi-billion dollar health insurance industry supports those same vulnerable persons.  Please explain how excommunicating moderate republicans who advocate universal access to healthcare supports vulnerable persons. Please explain how consistently fighting against healthcare reform since the fucking Clinton administration opposes denial of healthcare.  Also, you have abortion on the brain, please explain how allowing hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and children to go without healthcare, a significant number of which will sicken and die from preventable conditions, solely in order to make sure a handful of women don’t get an abortion is moral, ethical, or in keeping with your stated policy position of supporting vulnerable persons, i.e. please explain how one aborted fetus equals one hundred living babies – I assume that’s creation science math.

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

What about the other nine rights defined in the Bill of Rights? Do you support those too? No, I suppose not, you’d have a hard time squaring those with the rest of your policy positions, wouldn’t you?  As to the 2nd Amendment, do you support all of it, or only the part after the second comma?  See the whole thing reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. That part about “well regulated” do you support that?  Or just the part where you get to buy guns and carry them to the President’s speeches? What about American citizens like US Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan? Did you support his right to keep and bear arms? Did you oppose government restrictions on his right to buy arms? Would you defend his right to the death? No, I guess not. Please explain exactly whose unrestricted right to keep and bear arms you are referring to.  Also, please explain why you support a litmus test to join your party, but none for buying a fucking gun. Truly, I look forward to your reply.

RESOLVED, that a candidate who disagrees with three or more of the above stated public policy position of the Republican National Committee, as identified by the voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee

Three? Any three? Can I support Cap and Trade, be Pro-Choice, and profess my love for Obama and still get your support? What if I’m a flaming homosexual atheist, but I support all ten, will you throw your weight behind me then (pun most certainly intended) and give me money? (Or will you only do that in airport restrooms?) You didn’t mention global climate change specifically, can I expect your support if I champion Al Gore but oppose Cap and Trade?

RESOLVED that upon the approval of this resolution the Republican National Committee shall deliver a copy of this resolution to each of Republican members of Congress, all Republican candidates for Congress, as they become known, and to each Republican state and territorial party office.

So, the RNC is issuing ultimatums now?  No vote? No voice of the people? No majority rule? The RNC simply dictates policy, and the people fall in line, eh? Say, Mr Bopp, any of that hypocrisy left? Or did you eat it all up? Please take some and pass it on around the table to rest of your friends.

Seriously, even as a draft, this resolution looks like it was penned by ten year olds – or insane religious fanatics.

Here’s the thing, the vast majority of conservatives are not insane, not fanatics, and won’t support this nonsense if they truly knew what was going on. Conservatives don’t need to take back the country, they need to take back their party. They need to toss these idiots out of office sooner, rather than later, before they destroy themselves and this country. Conservatives need to return to their party’s traditional pre-Reagan ideals and salvage what’s left of the once great party of Lincoln. 

They need moderation. They need to ease away from the edge and move towards the center.  They need to build bridges and seek common ground.

They need better leaders.

May I suggest they start with Dede Scozzafava?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Roosevelt hated the nickname “Teddy” and preferred either “TR” or his boyhood family nickname of “Teedee.”  History however, has indelibly labeled him as Teddy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I can stop anytime I want to

Are you addicted to bacon?

Created by Recipe Star

PPL

I can't find a decent live video of this song, which isn't surprising considering the time frame and the fact that Pure Prairie League was never that big of act.

Still, I dig this song.

Amie, Pure Prairie League:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Even More Thoughts on the Fort Hood Shooting, Now With More Sarcasm!

Over on CNN’s Cafferty File, Jack Cafferty asks:

Could authorities have prevented the Fort Hood shootings?

Cafferty doesn’t opine one way or the other, but he asks his readers what they think – and, according to Cafferty’s commenters, the answer is yes, absolutely, this could have been prevented – if it wasn’t for all this political correctness that is.

A couple quotes from the comments under Cafferty’s post on CNN:

Jack C says:

Politically correct concept is going to destroy America. We need to address this "crap" concept as it is ignorant.

Jane says: 

With everyone so afraid to say anything about a person for fear of being sued for discrimination, harrassment, etc, it's going to be tough to react to a potential threat. At some point all this political correctness needs to be tempered with the American public's safety

H W Johnson said:

If we had been as concerned about the health and welfare of our troops as we are about being "politically correct" , this probably could have been avoided.

Mike said:

Political correctness in not wanting to offend Muslim soldiers drove thiose who saw red flags to ignore them. This tone comes from the top, where we have an administration that cares more about terrorist rights than American lives.

There’s more of the same spread across the popular (and the not so popular) media. The usual suspects are all bemoaning political correctness and the response on the Cafferty File squares with comments I’ve seen elsewhere, many Americans seem to feel that Major Hasan’s homicidal rampage at Fort Hood could have been prevented. “They” should have seen the signs and locked him up or drummed him out of the service long ago.

In fact, according to CNN about 64% of Americans think Hasan’s actions were a preventable act of terrorism, about 31% don’t think that it could have been prevented, and the remaining 5% have the IQ of aquatic plants and were found standing in line for Palin’s book signing.

Overwhelmingly, the majority of the folks who think this event could have been prevented blame the pervasive liberal evil of political correctness for the Army and the Government’s failure to take preventative action.  Apparently, Army Soldiers who face death nearly every day, some for years at a time, senior officers who command thousands of fighting men, men who jump out of airplanes for a living, and doctors who spend their lives slicing open human beings, were apparently terrified of saying anything about Hasan for fear of being branded politically incorrect.  The FBI, those steely eyed G-men who hunt down bank robbers and terrorists and kidnappers and gang lords and drug kingpins and are willing to throw themselves in front of a bullet for God and country were intimidated by the terrible power of political correctness.  The CIA whose operatives have no trouble strapping a naked man to a board and pouring water up his nose while icily ignoring his tortured screams, who infiltrate terrorist organizations and who hunt the enemies of America though the steaming slums of South America and the jungles of Africa and the battlefields of Bosnia and the wreckage of the Middle East, they were frightened away from investigating one balding, doughy, psychiatrist because of political correctness.  Those government employees, civilians who basically can’t be fired or denied promotion for anything short of outright murder and who file grievances sometimes just to stay in practice, were too cowed by the 800lb Gorilla of political correctness to say anything. For Hasan’s entire career, his teachers, his mentors, his coworkers, his patients, his superior officers, his commanding officer,  the FBI, the CIA, CID, hell even the President of the United States (both past and present) were all, each and every one stymied by political correctness from getting rid of one lowly Muslim officer with a chip on his shoulder.

Wow, political correctness is some petty powerful stuff indeed.

Here’s the thing, as powerful and pervasive and dangerous as political correctness is, you’d think people would have a good grasp of the particulars, wouldn’t you?

Neither Cafferty, nor any of his commenters, nor any of the news articles or blogs or commentary or TV pundits condemning “political correctness” bother to define what it is. They all offer some vague hand waving, but never a solid definition or a concrete example or a list of who is engaged in it. It is destroying our country, you’d think there’d be a short and specific definition available, wouldn’t you? See, everybody just apparently knows what it is. Even the Wikipedia article is strangely vague, the group consensus limiting itself to mostly describing what various people think it is in certain situations – but no commonly accepted definition. When I asked around among the people I work with, nobody really knew what political correctness was, not one person could quote a definition or sum up the concept in a succinct line or two – other than to say that political correctness was destroying our country because you couldn’t call thin skinned minorities by racial slurs in the workplace and you weren’t allowed to tell certain jokes around women because they don’t have a sense of humor. Nobody really knew what it was, but they all agreed that political correctness was bad.  How, exactly, it is destroying the country, nobody could explain precisely or give particulars - other than more vague hand waving and some unfocused talk of illegal aliens.

Oh, don’t get me wrong here, managed equal opportunity, like anything else, can certainly go horribly wrong.  People can be made afraid to speak up for fear of repercussions.  There certainly is something, however undefined, to political correctness. But I seriously doubt that’s what happened here. Hasan did get negative performance reviews, he was counseled about his behavior, the FBI did investigate him, his patients did complain. People did speak up. There’s no proof whatsoever that any investigation or complaint was quashed because Hasan was a Muslim.

It seems that a great deal of Hasan’s beef with the Army was that he wasn’t given special treatment for his religious beliefs. He demanded that Muslims be given conscientious objector status, that was denied. He asked to be let out of his service obligation early because of his religious beliefs, that was denied. He asked not to be deployed because he didn't want to fight Muslims, that request was also denied. And in fact Hasan was reprimanded and given negative performance reviews for not meeting the same standards as everybody else.

What it comes down to, pure and simple, is that Hasan was a nut. Just another garden variety loon who blew a mental gasket and who just happened to be a Muslim.  He had a dozen different options, none of which involved treason or murder. Instead he chose the path of insanity.

As I’ve said several times recently on this blog, all of it seems pretty damned obvious, now, when we have the luxury of perfect hindsight and hundreds of people digging up clues and working on the Hasan case and nothing else.

But that’s not good enough, is it?

We have to blame someone or something don’t we?

We can’t just blame Hasan and hold him accountable for his actions, no, we need a scapegoat.

The problem is that the investigation isn’t complete, and it’s not liable to be complete for a while. We don’t really know why Hasan did what he did. So it’s kind of hard to know who to blame.

A number of folks would like to blame President Obama, but when they say that out loud, well, it makes them sound as crazy as Hasan himself.  A number of folks would like to blame the Army, but that makes them sound anti-American and unpatriotic – kind of the opposite of what they were going for. A number of folks would like to blame the FBI, but then they end up sounding like Senator Lieberman and that’s not particularly popular either. In fact, if you try to blame a specific person or a specific organization you’re very likely to get called on it, and then you’ll have to justify your accusation – which is damned hard to do when you’re just pulling it out of your ass.

So, they’ve decided to blame some vaguely undefined concept, political correctness.

In other words, it’s the liberals’ fault.

A commenter on Cafferty’s blog named southerncousin summed it up,

If liberals had not tarnished us so badly with their politically correct stuff we could have not only saved the lives of these brave soldiers, but the lives of so many more all over the world. Fort Hood is just another sign of the moral depravity and hypocrisy that is liberalism.

And so there you have it. If only the filthy liberals hadn’t taken over the country, Hasan would have been identified and stopped long before he had a chance to kill. Because the previous Conservative government was so good at it, right? Nothing slipped.past them, did it?

If only.

Let me ask you something, what if we, as a country, took them up on it?

Maybe we should do what commenter Steve suggests,

Instead of worrying about hurting someones feelings, our government needs to thoroughly interrogate anyone who is at all suspicious of being a threat to any U.S interest.

Anyone?

I’m hip. Let’s stop pretending that certain behavior is acceptable. Let’s stop being politically correct. Let’s call it like it is and speak bluntly.  Let’s not worry about hurting people’s feelings. Let’s thoroughly interrogate anyone who is at all suspicious and might be a threat to U.S. interests.

Yes. Lets.

Lets start with the Michigan Militia, or whatever those whacked out sons of bitches are calling themselves nowadays, shall we? All of these paramilitary nut jobs.  I don’t think any of those people are wrapped to tight, they’ve got a shitload of guns, and they like to dress up and play soldier – and the only people they’re planning on shooting are Americans. Lets bring every one of them in for interrogation. Hell, I’ll say it, as long as we’re not being politically correct and all – these people are as crazy as a bunch of shithouse rats and they sure look crazy suspicious to me. While we’re at it, let’s interrogate every single member of the NRA, and every nut who goes to gun shows.

Next, Operation Rescue. These are the rightwing religious anti-abortion nuts who have already shot Americans and committed several dozen acts of terrorism on US soil. It’s pretty obvious just how damned dangerous these people are, let’s quit screwing around with this 1st Amendment bullshit and start calling it like it is.  In fact, lets haul in every member of the organized rightwing anti-abortion movement before they shoot another doctor or blow up another clinic.

And while we’re at it, let’s investigate every church in this country.  Including every single religious leader who pontificates from the pulpit.  You know who I’m talking about, these priests and preachers and reverends who claim that people answer to a higher power than America, who spew hate in the name of their prophet, who pray for the death of the President, who talk about organizing their Soldiers of God.  Every single church in this country needs to be investigated. I mean, if we’re not going to be politically correct any more, we sure shouldn’t be tolerating all these different beliefs.

Glenn Beck. He’s been advocating revolution. In fact, it’s about damned time we did something about all of these talk show rabble rousers. Somebody explain to me how these people are any different from the Middle Eastern extremist leaders who wallow in power and hate filled ideology and encourage the mob to do their dirty work.

Teabaggers, with their talk of “taking back the country” and their tax revolts. Birthers too. How about the Governor of Texas, you know the guy that was seriously advocating secession. And while we’re at it, Todd Palin, for the same thing.  My neighbor.  He’s a raving nutjob and frankly I just don’t like the guy. He’s weird and creepy and it’s probably only a matter of time before he kills somebody.

Fuck it, let’s just interrogate everybody.

I tell you folks, I don’t know what political correctness is, but I don’t like it.

It’s good that we have something to blame for this terrible tragedy.

Isn’t it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ask Stonekettle Station About Healthcare

Today’s search phrase:

Why don’t liberals understand the concept of limited resources?

Are you kidding me? 

Geez, I dunno. Maybe because they’re too busy trying to keep you conservative wankers from either bulldozing or blowing up the entire planet? I mean, if I had to guess.

 

This is one of several hundred search hits I’ve had this weekend – all obviously related to the healthcare debate.

Once the healthcare bill passed the House, boy the anti-liberal googling started ramping right up.  Then came the Senate vote this weekend – and that’s when I really started seeing the ZOMG! panic and bewilderment.  

I find the outraged consternation on the conservative side of the aisle amusing. I find the ignorant “we must take back America for real Americans (because as you know healthcare = NAZI!)” rhetoric stupid.

But, seriously here folks, when conservatives start talking about “limited resources” and how liberals don’t understand the concept I’ve really got to throw down the bullshit flag. 

It is Conservatives who seem to have no damned concept of limited resources – especially when it comes to the environment, or energy, or Soldiers lives for that matter. It’s only when it comes to taking care of their fellow human beings that they suddenly want to talk about conservation and husbanding of resources – and by resources what they mean is money.  See, it’s ok to spend shitloads of money on tax rebates and stealth bombers and faith based initiatives, but it’s not ok to spend money on things like healthcare or taking care of your neighbors. Conservatives seem to find no irony in the fact that they can move entire armies and all their equipment across three continents in less than two weeks in order to prosecute a war, but can’t get emergency supplies to hurricane survivors on their own coasts in anything under a month.  Conservatives seem to find nothing wrong with shooting abortion doctors, but then completely wash their hands of any responsibility for the impoverished and needy children who surround them every single day in this country. They throw a can of beans or expired peas into the food drive box at work and think that’s enough, they’ve done their part for world hunger.

Conservatives are suddenly talking about limited resources?  As in what? We can’t pay to take care of our own countrymen? So then what? Fuck ‘em? Is that right?

We built trillions of dollars worth of nuclear bombs and we were ready to kill every single living thing on the planet for freedom and democracy – but we can’t spend a dime to make sure our own countrymen have access to a doctor?  What the fuck were we preserving our way of life for then?  I look at conservative bumper-stickers stuck on the back of $70,000 Hummers and Lincoln Navigators and monstrous gas guzzling Ford pickups and these are the people talking about limited resources?  It’s not just that they can’t afford any more taxes, it’s that there aren’t even enough doctors to see all the poor people who will suddenly have healthcare. There will be lines and long waits. Doctors, these are the limited resources we’re talking about right?

I find this way of thinking morally bankrupt and it’s one of the principle reasons that I am no longer a member of the Republican party.

Back in the 1930s, when the liberals on Capital Hill and the White House were pushing Social Security through Congress, it was the same stupid arguments, from the same stupid selfish people.  Conservatives said it would bankrupt the country, it would put good god fearin’ insurance companies out of business, it was socialism, it was Marxism, it would free women and minorities (swear to God, this was an argument against Social Security – it would free woman from dependence on men, and it would give minorities the same retirement insurance as whites, which might give both women and minorities funny ideas), blah, blah, same shit different century. Conservatives stood on their principles and voted against the Social Security Act at every turn.

They lost.

And Social Security insurance became a national program available to everyone.

Nowadays, there are damned few retired conservatives who don’t get a Social Security check every month – so much for their vaunted principles. So few conservatives reject Social Security based on their conservative principles, in fact, that the percentage is indistinguishable from zero.

I predict that it won’t be long before the same is true of universal healthcare.

Attention, Slavic Asstard...

...how about you stop leaving Viagra spam on my blog?

I know you're there. I know you're reading this. I can see your IP - and I'm about to make it public. Understand me?

Not one person who reads this site is going to buy knockoff rat poison disguised as cheap man medicine from the fucking Czech Republic. No body. Hell, we wouldn't buy the real stuff from the Czech Republic.

Please fuck off. Deleting your comments is becoming tedious.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Further Thoughts and Predictions On The Fort Hood Shootings

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) kicked off his Investigation into the Fort Hood shootings this morning.

Go Joe.

Because, really, what we need at this point is some Senate grandstanding. That’ll sure help matters.

Thirteen people died at Fort Hood, several times that were maimed and injured.  A terrible thing, yes.  But where, I wonder, was Lieberman’s outrage, where were the Senate investigations, when thousands of us died because of substandard equipment from shoddy defense contractors, where was the outraged congressional committees when the last White House jackass and his band of cronies sent us into combat ill equipped and undersupplied and without the numbers needed to hold the ground we had taken?  Where was Lieberman then?  No glory in that I guess, too bad some of those defense contractors weren’t Muslim owned, eh? Then we’d have had a show from old Joe.

But, hey, I digress.

Lieberman declared Hasan’s actions as definitely terrorism. 

He did that without any investigation at all. Joe knows terrorism when he sees it, apparently. Terrorism. See, it sounds good, Mighty Joe fighting the evil terrorists (as opposed to some crazy git in uniform) and by calling it terrorism, Lieberman gets to take charge. Joe is on the Congressional Cuba Committee, I’m surprised he didn’t declare Hasan Cuban too.

"The purpose of our investigation is to determine whether that attack could have been prevented, whether the federal agencies and employees involved missed signals or failed to connect the dots in a way that enabled Hasan to carry out his deadly plan," Lieberman said. "If we find such negligence we will make recommendations to guarantee, as best we can, that they never occur again."

Negligence?

Allow me to help you out, Senator, and maybe save us taxpayers some time and money: 

1. Sure the attack could have been prevented, if we want to live in a totalitarian society where every citizen is watched and analyzed and tracked and investigated at all times – or maybe we should just do that to Soldiers (or maybe just Muslim soldiers, good luck finding any willing to enlist as linguists though). The manpower required would certainly go a long way towards solving the unemployment problem – and since the Big Brothers would all be federal employees they’d all have healthcare to boot. Win/Win.

2. Federal Agencies and Employees did indeed miss signals and did indeed fail to connect the dots. Including you, Mr. Honorable head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. QED. But hey, nice use of the time honored abuse of power to hide your own culpability there. Really. Nicely done.

3. Despite whatever recommendations you make, it will happen again. And again. And again.  Your guarantee that it won’t is as worthless as the rest of your posturing.

4. Thanks for coming, meeting adjourned

I mean, seriously here, what do you expect the answers to be? 

Hasan wasn’t exactly driving through the base gate every morning on a camel dragging a burning American flag and wearing a robe and Taliban headdress with an autographed picture of Osama clutching his AK-47.  Yes, he did exhibit a number of disturbing actions. If we had tracked him closely we might have been able to put those things together – and by closely I mean if the FBI or Army CID or the Joint Terrorism Taskforce and Homeland Security had crawled up his ass with a microscope and a pack of bloodhounds they might have put the lousy evaluations, the bad job performance, the Islamic proselytizing, his gun purchases and practice, and his attempted contact with known terrorist sympathizers together. Sure. If they had a crystal ball and unlimited time and assets and access and not one other damned thing to do like track real known actual terrorists and criminals and so on – and they still probably would have gotten it wrong, still most probably would have failed to connect the dots.

That is NOT a condemnation of the FBI or CID or any of the various security and intelligence outfits.

It’s simply how it is.

Really, think it’s so damned easy? You try it. I worked intelligence for twenty years, through two damned wars, and across six continents and seven seas. Go on, tell me how it should have been done. Tell me how you would have seen it, figured it out, picked Hasan out out of a background of literally tens of thousands of similar or much worse indicators, and how you would have known, known, he was going to snap with murderous intent. Known it well enough and convincingly enough to pull limited and thinly spread assets off other targets. Go on, make me laugh.

Hell, I can’t with any kind of reasonable accuracy predict what my wife will do from one day to the next, and I know more about her, and I have tons of solid information about her and eighteen years of solid observational experience with her, than any other human being on the planet – and I still can’t predict what she’ll do from moment to moment.

I can, however, with a great deal of accuracy, predict everything my wife has done in the past.

Here’s the secret to counter-intelligence: Hindsight is twenty-twenty Baby, anybody can predict the past.  Rush is damned good at it, Dick Cheney is too, and so is Lieberman.

Anybody who claims that they can predict with 100% certainty the future actions of another human being is full of shit.  Expecting any person or organization to predict with 100% accuracy the future actions of any human being is utterly unrealistic.  Many people in the military get disgruntled at one time or another – there isn’t a Navy Sailor alive who hasn’t entertained the notion of dumping an asshole officer over the stern on a dark and stormy night.  Many military folks embrace fundamentalist religions, the Air Force officer corps is notorious for being full of evangelical Christians – I’ve never been proselytized by a Muslim in uniform, but I have been repeatedly witnessed by Christians to the point where I was ready to nail their sanctimonious asses to a fucking cross and light them on fire.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, certainly, Hasan displayed warning signs.

Which in retrospect appear as glaringly obvious predictors of the tragic events at Fort Hood.

But you need to understand that what you’re seeing in the press is a trick of perspective.  Anybody can predict the past, the proper course of action is always obvious – after the battle has been lost.  Example: we in the military have put tremendous resources and assets and training into suicide prevention. We train people, we provide counseling, we actively look for the indicators – but somebody determined to kill themselves will always find a way. Despite decades of sustained and dedicated attempts to detect such actions and prevent the loss of our comrades, it still happens with alarming frequency.  Sure Hasan left indicators, and he was investigated, and he was being investigated at the time he finally snapped. Should we have gotten to him sooner? Sure. Obviously. But it’s just not that easy.

Take Hasan’s negative performance reviews – which have recently surfaced in the press and are being picked apart by every non military dipshit from Joe the Plumber to Joe the Senator.  A couple of things here: 1) If we cashiered every officer who ever got a negative FITREP, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of officers left in the military.  The point of an evaluation is for a superior to give an honest assessment of a subordinate’s performance.  Some are great, but some aren’t.  Some people are stellar performers who need little guidance and direction, some aren’t.  But good officers aren’t born, just as good doctors aren’t. They’re created, trained, grown. That’s the whole damned point of officer training and doctor internships in the first place.  I know that “major” seems like a senior rank to the uninitiated, it sounds impressive, but it’s really not, and certainly not in the medical corps.  And Hasan was only recently promoted, before that he was a lowly captain – which is a pretty damned junior rank in the military medical profession (remember, Hasan wasn’t a line officer, he was a doctor. He’d spent most of his first years in the military in training. Major is about as junior as it gets for an actual Doctor).  The point being that he’d had only recently left his internship and medical training becoming a doctor and then transferred to Fort Hood, his first real posting.  It’s not unusual at all for a junior officer to have less than stellar performance evaluations, they’re still learning how to be both a doctor and an officer.  As I said above, if we shitcanned every officer, especially every junior officer, who ever got a negative FITREP, we wouldn’t have many officers.  We tried the zero defect military once before, it didn’t work.   2) Now, negative performance can’t be ignored, and Hasan’s was not.  He was given an opportunity to improve. More than one opportunity, in fact. He did.  According to the accounts surfacing in the media, Hasan’s superiors followed proper guidelines, they documented his lousy performance, they gave him counseling and leadership, and they saw an improvement in his performance – not great, but enough to indicate that they were getting through to him. Let me spell that out for you, Hasan’s superiors didn’t like him, but rather than bow to personal bias, they were fair and honest, they followed the guidelines and gave him a chance to get in line.  However, if the media reports can be trusted, they also fully understood that Major Hasan would never be either a great officer or a good doctor, not without a lot of mentoring and hands-on leadership. So they sent a letter to Fort Hood when Hasan transferred there upon completion of his training.  That letter, and the evaluations, are a code. They ensured that Hasan’s superiors at Fort Hood were fully informed, one officer to another, one professional to another, and unless Hasan showed remarkable improvement those documents effectively ended his career in the military.  Making O-4, major, is nearly automatic in Hasan’s field, but beyond that it gets much more difficult. That jump from O-4 to O-5 and then to O-6, ie. Major to LtCol to Colonel is neither automatic nor easy.  Hasan would have to seriously shape up to make those promotions.  If he didn’t, if he was passed over for promotion a couple of times, he’d be separated from the Army by federal law for failure to promote. That’s how it is, up or out.  We don’t have the space for people who squat on a paygrade, the total number of officers is limited by law. If you don’t promote, you hold up the promotion opportunities for dozens of others below you.  It’s a way to get rid of the deadwood and it’s used all of the time.  It’s part of the system.  It places the burden of performance squarely on the shoulders of each individual, do the things necessary to get promoted or get put out.  The military is a meritocracy and that system works very well for us.  It’s the kind of thing we use to get rid of people who are nonperformers, but haven’t done anything they can be cashiered directly for.  That’s a good thing, some folks just aren’t cut out to be a military officer, they’re not shitbags or horrible people, but they can’t lead and they need to find alternate employment. But the system gives the individual the opportunity to see the light, to take charge of their own lives and careers and shape the hell up – and many times they do.  Those that don’t, get put out.  It takes a while. Most of them don’t do any damage – Hasan is unusual.  3) Yes, say the pundits, exactly.  Hasan’s performance was so damning that he should been put out of the service immediately, they say.  These people are drawing a curve from one data point, it’s a bad idea in geometry, and it’s a bad idea here. Have you seen any of his other evaluations? Maybe they were much improved.  Maybe the superior who penned that letter was a bigoted asshole, maybe he just didn’t like Hasan and was determined to torpedo his career – the officers at Fort Hood would have no way of knowing that without a lot of extra work.  One of the best men that ever worked for me was given one of the worst written evaluations I’ve ever seen.  The report came from a highly respected navy Master Chief and it was utterly damning. By rights I should have shitcanned that Sailor right there on the spot and if I’d have followed the Master Chief’s recommendation that man would be out of the Navy right now, instead of having been commissioned and becoming one of the Navy’s finest officers.  See, upon examination, it turned out that that Sailor had once slept with not one, but both of the Master Chief’s daughters (not at the same time, so far as I know. And both of the women in question were Sailors themselves at the time).  What I’m saying is that sometimes you get an evaluation that is based on personal bias (I am NOT saying that’s what happened here, but Hasan’s bosses at Fort Hood would have no way of knowing that at the time). The system allows for the individual in question to prove themselves – and this was the case with Major Hasan.  4) Consider the source. The unnamed source. The one that won’t go on record, because he’s not authorized to speak for the military, or the investigation, or the White House.  Seriously here, folks, here’s a military guy or a trusted government official who leaked information in direct violation of orders and regulations and his sworn oath. Consider the source.  The media is giving you one little piece of that, emphasizing the dramatic, disregarding the mundane as they always do, because that’s what sells newspapers – for example, initially witnesses weren’t sure if Hasan said anything or not during the shooting, then there were reports of him maybe saying “God is Great” in Arabic before he started shooting, and now? This morning I’m reading “iReports” of Hasan yelling Allah Akbar! over and over during the rampage.  I’ve seen reports, supposedly eye witness reports widely quoted in the news and comments, from people who weren’t even there.  The tales have grown in the telling. That’s why investigators use eye witness reports only when they have to, because they are often wrong. Consider the source. The tale grows in the telling. It’s human nature.  Consider the source.

Yeah, but what about the Islamic rhetoric? What about the guns? What about giving shit away? Today FoxNews points out that Hasan had business cards in his apartment with the phrase “Soldier of Allah” printed on them – no mention of whether he actually handed those out or not, but the arch eyebrow implication is obvious in the FoxNews piece: how come the Army didn’t notice? Fox doesn’t mention all those bumper stickers I see around base that mention Jesus, God, and being Born Again.  I’ve seen many a sticker in the back window that say Airman For Jesus, Servant of God, and so on. Apparently religious messages are only significant indicators of impending murderous rampages if they aren’t Christian messages.  As to the guns, folks, we in the military live with guns. I own a number myself. We hunt, we shoot, we go to the range.  Hell, they sell guns and ammo in the base BX/PX (the military Exchange, and they don’t do that everywhere, Alaska is somewhat unique in this regard).   As to giving his stuff away, how the hell would anybody know that on base or in the FBI building? And why would they care?  Hell, half the military folks I know give their stuff away. We’re weight limited when it comes to household goods. The military will pay to move only a certain amount of stuff when we transfer from base to base, they will pay to store only a certain amount of personal goods while we’re off on deployment to a foreign land.  Hell, I’ve got ten or fifteen propane tanks that my shipmates gave me when they transferred out of Alaska, because the moving company can’t transport them without a very expensive purging and certification process. So you give them away, and when you get somewhere new somebody always has extra and they’ll give you one. We do this with all kinds of stuff. You can always find a couch or a dresser or whatever.  I know guys who either sold or gave away everything that wouldn’t fit in a seabag prior to deployment so they wouldn’t have to pay rent while they were gone – it was just cheaper to buy new stuff when they got home.  My pal and occasional Stonekettle Station commenter, Beastly, still lives that way even though he’s been retired from the military for three years now, I’ve got half his tools in my shop because he lives like a gypsy, travelling the country in his RV – should I call the FBI?

But what about it? What about all of those dots that we are now connecting?

Sure it’s obvious in retrospect.

Hasan’s profile fits that of a man on the edge, but one just as likely to commit suicide or go AWOL as to commit murder and treason.  Again, if you feel that you’re cut out for the life of an FBI Profiler and you can predict what a man will do with any degree of reasonable accuracy, well, go fill out an application. I get a notice from the FBI recruiter every couple of months, I know they’re hiring.

Here’s the thing, the FBI did look at Hasan.

They looked into his online contact with Islamic extremists – and determined that his contact was within the norms of his professional research.  There’s probably more to that investigation, in fact it’s extremely likely that there is more to it, much more, and we’re not going to know a thing about it because it’s classified. 

Here’s an interesting aside, something that everybody seems to be missing: the FBI knew that Hasan was talking to Islamic extremists.  Via email.

Think about that for a minute.  I’ll wait. 

Figured it out yet?

How did the FBI know? Ponder that for a while. Believe me when I say they are not telling you everything – nor should they. You don’t have the whole story, and neither does Senator Lieberman – nor should he, because he can’t keep his big mouth shut.  Bottom line, before we start condemning the FBI and Army CID out of hand, we need to understand that we are speaking from incomplete information, as is the media, as is everybody else – which is why the White House and the Army instigated an investigation and then decided to wait for the results before jumping to conclusions.  That’s a good example, let’s all follow it, shall we?

Here’s the thing: I spent over two decades in military intelligence and I’ll be the first one to call the CIA, FBI, DIA, NSA, and any other three letter intelligence organization out on their incompetence.  But this isn’t it.  Hasan appears to have acted alone.  Just as McVeigh did (for the most part). Just as the Unibomber did. Just as the nuts who go postal out there on the streets.  Do you have any idea whatsoever how hard this is to predict? It’s impossible, unless you want to live in some Orwellian 1984.  Hasan’s religion appears to have played a significant role in his actions, but it is yet to be determined whether his religion drove him to his murderous rampage or if he was mentally ill to begin with and his beliefs were only window dressing to that homicidal sickness.  That is something that the investigators and the head shrinkers will have to figure out, and it is a job for professionals, not the pundits and armchair quarterbacks and those pandering for votes and attention.  Funny how if your house is on fire, or if you need your appendix taken out, you’ll call a professional not Rush Limbaugh and Joe Lieberman – but in this case everybody seems to feel qualified to analyze the events. I don’t know about you, but I think that we ought to wait for the results from the professional investigation before determining what is needed next.

And speaking of what happens next, Lieberman wants to make sure that “this never happens again.”  They always say that, don’t they? “We must make sure that this never happens again,” said in ponderous, stentorian tones. Yes, yes, never again. They said that on December 8th, 1941.  They said that again on September 12th, 2001.  Every single time something like this happens, the pundits and the politicians all stand outraged on the Capital steps and say “This must never happen again. We pledge to work together to make sure this never happens again.”

Here’s a prediction of human nature for you: I predict that they won’t work together.  And I predict that it will happen again.

I predict that Senators like Lieberman will continue to place politics and rhetoric as usual above considered action and common sense.

Know how I know this?

Remember a while back? Right after Obama took over?  Remember how his Secretary of Homeland Defense, Janet Napolitano, wanted to make sure that military folks returning from the warzones were looked at carefully for those indicators that might lead them into the arms of terrorists, both domestic and foreign? Remember that? Remember what happened? Do you?  Conservatives and even some liberals arose en mass, appalled that “our brave soldiers” should be treated so terribly by a traitorous White House. Remember the Rhetoric? Remember Rush and Glenn and Anne and Chuck? Remember their self righteous outrage? Remember the patriotic condemnation of those Republican Congressman and Senators? 

Do you remember?

I sure do.

Almost to a man, those are the same Senators and Congressmen and pundits and bloviating conservative hypocrites who are condemning the White House for not predicting Hasan’s actions, for not investigating the military for others of the same inclination, for not making sure that THIS NEVER HAPPPENS AGAIN.

I wonder, will Lieberman investigate them as enablers? As traitors? As terrorists. As willing participants and coconspirators?

As loudmouthed hypocrites?

It will happen again.

As long as self-serving, grandstanding sons of bitch like Senators Lieberman and Susan Collins, Pundits like Rush and Hannity and Beck, and clueless morons like Chuck Norris and Sarah Palin continue to bend tragedies like this to their own ends, it will continue to happen.

I can predict that with the utmost certainty.

 


Part 1, and Part 2 of this series.

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blind Spot

Rupert Murdock would prefer to be invisible to search engines.

Finally, something we can agree on, him and me.

In a recent Sky News interview, News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corp websites would be removed from search engine indexes.

Buwah?

I had to read that twice to make sure I’d got it right.

According to Scrooge McMurdoch, people have been getting information without actually paying for it  and that cannot be allowed to continue. "They shouldn't have had it free all the time," he said.  I can certainly sympathize with one of the world’s richest men, I can.  Poor man, sitting up there in his ivory tower, smoldering over how the rabble are robbing him blind penny by penny. One wonders how the impoverished tycoon can afford to pay the salaries of his various olive pitters, toadies, ass kissers, and food tasters (and at his age, food taster is most likely the matronly nurse who pre-chews his meals into semi-digested pap).

Murdoch’s not kidding. He actually intends to remove FoxNews, The Wall Street Journal, and other NewCorp sites from search engine indexing, effectively making his news organization invisible to the likes of Google, Ask.com, Yahoo, and even Microsoft’s Bing (show of hands, how many of you use Bing? No, really, speak up).

The crux of his complaint being: people are getting free stuff and that’s just so damned infuriating. Murdoch intends to go to a fee based revenue stream. Fee based. He wants readers to pay a subscription fee to read his online news sites. One wonders if he’ll attempt to resurrect the rest of the 1990’s Internet while he’s at it. I hope he does, I sort of miss the old CompuServe forums.

Murdoch feels that there are too many news sites competing for too few advertising clicks and he wants a return to traditional newspaper revenue streams. It never occurred to him to make his sites more interesting, so that people who surf in from aggregators might, you know, stick around and read other stories on his site. Murdoch, who through his conservative pundits and mouthpieces, bashes the current American administration for “socialism” and who champions the beacon of capitalism at every turn, doesn’t want to compete in the internet marketplace for consumer dollars – he wants it all for himself. The hypocrisy is almost poetic.

Here’s the really funny part, if TV was my primary source of news, you’d have to hold a fucking gun to my head to get me to watch Murdoch’s Fox News. But, I don’t get my news from TV, almost never.  I, like an increasing number of folks from my generation and damned near everybody in the younger generations, get my news online.  Even if I’m sitting in front of a TV with the news on, I’ve got a computer in my lap and I’m reading the news online, gathering more in-depth information than a sound bite of TV news can provide. I tend to run down side alleys when a story interests me, I tend to look for additional information, background stories, related news.  And because I use Google as my primary news aggregator – I end up on Fox News sites at least 30% to 50% of the time.  In fact, according to Google, the search engine giant directs billions of readers to news sites every single month. Billions. I don’t have hard numbers, but based on some simple analysis at least 30% of those billions of redirects are to NewsCorp sites. 

That translates into millions of readers directed to his news sites per month.

Millions.

Murdoch sees this readership as worthless and something that adds no value to his bank account. 

He says that statistics show readers who come in from Google are unlikely to look at the rest of his media. They read the story they’re interested in, and that’s it, back to Google and on to the next story somewhere else. Murdoch regards this kind of reader the same way the owners of Wrigley Field regard people who watch the Cubs play from the rooftops of the adjoining apartment buildings, i.e. bloodsucking parasites.

He seems to think that enough people will actually pay subscription fees to read the WSJ and Fox News online.

Sure. Rupert, sure.

Here’s the thing, Rupert Murdoch owns a very, very large percentage of the conservative media. A large percentage of biased conservative media which is about to become invisible to internet search engines, which means those sites become invisible to the internet. Which means that his sites become invisible to an increasingly larger number of readers

From the minute Murdoch patches his HTML headers to force Google to ignore his sites, he joins CompuServe on the Island of Misfit Toys.

To an Information Warfare guy like me, the implications are staggering.

It’s likely that the entire bias of internet news media will shift far to the left.

Usually the demise of a multibillion dollar corporation is caused by a cumulative series of poor management decisions over a period of years. Rarely does it hinge on one single catastrophic decision, as I suspect this will be. It’s likely that this step will do more to silence FoxNews than anything the Obama Administration can do.

And the staunchly conservative Murdoch will have no one to blame but himself.

I’d call that poetic justice.