Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sheesh! Who's watching the guy's pockets?

Will someone please tell Senator Obama to stop chewing gum?

Ms O!  Get on the job!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Well done, Mr. President


President Bush, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has taken some appropriate action which redounds to the good reputation of us all.  From the web site of The New York Times:

Mr. Bush ordered the new sanctions to intensify pressure on President Robert Mugabe, as well as his political supporters and government-connected businesses, following elections marred by violence and intimidation and widely denounced as fraudulent.

“No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences,” Mr. Bush said in a statement that accompanied an executive order expanding the American sanctions.

Further action by Russia and China in the United Nations should be next.  It should be soon.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Paulie, Augie, Chuck, and Star

What, Dear Gentle Reader(s), do you suppose compels reformed miscreants to assume a moral position to which they have scant right?  And, subsequently, what is it that allows others to pay any attention whatsoever to them?  (For example, what causes a reformed smoker to be the most vigilant in stamping out the odious habit?)

For instance, Saul of Tarsus, sufferer of "a mental paroxysm," went from a persecutor of early followers of the the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth to "The actual founder of the Christian Church as opposed to Judaism..."  His writings, although of disputed authorship, form some of the most oppressive in the New Testament.

Augustine of Hippo is another historical figure who sowed some wild seeds "...a riotous youth as a heathen.." converted, after a stint as a Manichean, to "...the greatest pillar of the Catholic Church..." who also happened, upon close study, to be contradictory in his writings while attacking "...all deviations from the strict and rigid faith of the Church."  "Don't!" seems to have become his byword.  (Funny how he never heard it as long as his own libido and addictive personhood was youthful.)

Leaping into the 20th century, we have that reformed politico, Charles Colson, of Watergate fame who had a religious conversion during his incarceration after the Nixonian brouhaha and who now leads a prison ministry.  Here's part of his infamy:

Colson sought to hire Teamsters thugs to beat up anti-war demonstrators, and he plotted to raid or firebomb the Brookings Institution. He eventually pleaded guilty to scheming to defame Daniel Ellsberg and interfering with his trial. In 1974, Colson served seven months in federal prison.

Note that Colson's rehabilitation is done, admirably, in quiet.  If you're old enough to remember the Watergate break-in, you might vaguely remember him, otherwise, Colson is a virtual non-entity.  Good for him.

None of that quietness for our final moralizer, Star Parker.  Ms Parker recently penned a tract for the Muckroom over at Townhalldotcom.  Provocatively entitled "Gays in the military: What would George Washington think?"  (Doubtful he'd mind much, if the alleged liaison between the Father of the Country and the Father of the Treasury has any credibility at all.)  What follows is the usual dubious assertions of the immorality of a good-sized minority of the population.  You know the sort, DGR(s), yada, immoral, yada, values, vada, virtues, yada, traditional...Thankfully there is a nugget amongst all this; Parker tells us

Increasing acceptance of homosexuality is viewed by many as social progress. The Seattle Times, for example, calls for a "modernized" military that accepts the openly gay.

But for this traditionalist, it's no accident that building public acceptance of homosexuality is coincident with a general moral unraveling of our society, with all its destructive consequences.

Parker is a "traditionalist."  Hmmm.  Let us go back a few years to an interview with Ms Parker in ChristianityToday.com dated 1997.  Here's a selection from second paragraph: 

If confession is good for the soul, Star, born "Larstella," has proved it again and again. Ever since the Lord delivered her from a life of drug abuse, crime, promiscuity, multiple abortions, and welfare dependency, the outspoken founder of a social policy think tank called the Coalition on Urban Affairs has been telling her story to anyone willing to listen.

And then in her own words, we learn:

When my family moved to Mount Holly, New Jersey, my dad helped me get a part-time job at McGuire Air Force Base. I'd been a tomboy up until age sixteen when I went on a date with an older, white military officer who drove a Corvette. I naively went into his apartment, and he pressured me into sex. After that I became sexually active and hostile to whites. In 1976, I saved up three hundred dollars and moved to Hollywood with a girlfriend. We wanted to live glamorous lives and dance on the black TV show Soul Train.

How did your life turn from party girl to welfare mom?
I got pregnant, so I went to a clinic and used a girlfriend's medical welfare sticker to pay for an abortion. A few months later I got pregnant again and went on welfare for two months to collect some money, then had another abortion. When a worker at the clinic asked, "Weren't you just here?" I said, "Hey, if it weren't for people like me, you wouldn't have a job." Within three years I'd had four abortions, all tax-subsidized. That's when I started feeling empty inside. I thought, I've got to be a better person than this. How can I justify continuously killing my offspring? I decided I wasn't going to do that any more.

Did you stop having sex?
No. In fact, within three months I was pregnant again. And even though I was living with a guy at the time, I knew somebody else was the father of the baby. But because I'd promised myself I wasn't going to abort again, and I didn't want my boyfriend to know I was messing around, I moved out. I could have moved back home with my parents in New Jersey, but I didn't want to leave California. I was twenty-three when I quit my job in circulation at the Los Angeles Times so I could go on welfare, which I stayed on for three-and-a-half years. By collecting $465 a month from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), plus food stamps, and by getting a part-time job that paid in cash "under the table," I could rent a nice apartment and earn far more money than working an honest forty-hour week. Later, I had no trouble dropping my daughter, Angel, off at a government-funded day care, selling some free medical-care stickers to buy drugs, and hanging out at the beach all afternoon.

Ah.  4 tax-payer abortions, hostility to whites, pay "under the table," $465 AFDC a month.  Nice work.  But then she asserts (admits?) "Now I look back and say, 'God, how was I so blind?' Yet through my sinful lifestyle I'd totally lost my understanding of right and wrong."

Unh-huh.  Parker now appears on television, on the radio, in print, at conferences, speaks to anyone who will listen and she talks about the immorality of others for a living.  How many, DGR(s)gay men, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgenders do you know who have led a life similar to Ms Parker's early adulthood?  Most likely none. 

Cui bono?  Who profits?  At least Chuck Colson has the humility to know that his mission of assisting others is a part of his personal redemption.  He, himself, profits most, and his profit is spiritual.

Parker profits financially, but spiritually...nah.

Trust, but verify.  Cui bono?  If it's Star Parker, hold on to your wallet.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tunnels and Horizons

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), if you have any memory of the '60's, you will, no doubt, remember the infamous "light at the end of the tunnel."

The first decade of the 21st century now has an equally fatuous catch phrase, uttered by the White House, in defense of its changing policy regarding the use of United States' troops in the occupation of Iraq:

"In the area of security cooperation, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that improving conditions should allow for the agreements now under negotiation to include a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals --"

The metaphors are interesting.  That "light" turned out to be quite elusive.  The "horizon," on the other hand, is illogical, or, on second thought, perhaps it is more apt than the light.

Horizon, DGR(s), is, actually, unattainable.  By definition, the horizon remains in place...somewhere about 33 miles off in the distance.  Is the Bush administration trying to tell us that the forces will be deployed until the horizon is reached?  If so, that's sad, because we cannot ever get  there.   Alas.

Well, we are a nation of persons who have accepted greed as a worthy quality...sub-prime mortgages (for the brokers as well as the mortgagees) for instance, so we might well fall for this absurdity.

One hopes not.

Trust, Dear Gentle Reader(s), but please verify.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Conditions? What conditions?

Dear Gentle Reader(s), the following quotes are taken from the print edition of Riverside, California's, The Press-Enterprise (Page A1 July 9, 2008)They are from an AP article written by Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Segastian Abbot.

It seems there's a sort of disconnect between The White House and the Iraqi government regarding the current negotiations of SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement).  Here's a quote from Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security advisor, "We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn't have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq." 

Here's a quote from Gonzalo Gallegos, of the U.S. State Department,"We want to withdraw.  We will withdraw.l  However, that decision will be conditions-based.  We're looking at conditions, not calendars, here."

Abdoul-Zarha and Abbot include, "The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals."

One must ask, what is the difference between "specific dates" and "rigid timeline?"

And why isn't something to the effect of the Iraqi government wants us out by a specific date a condition which should be factored into the equation?

Doubtless al-Maliki is hanging tough to improve his bargaining position, but it's beginning to sound like the White House wants to hang around Iraq longer than the Iraqis want us to hang around.

Sort of like they're telling us, DGR(s), "Thanks for getting rid of Saddam for us.  We couldn't've done it without you--at least not for a generation or two, but now we'd just as soon you left and let us get on with the business of sectarian cleansing."

Trust, but verify.  (Even though trust is more and more difficult every day.)

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Monday, July 7, 2008


Well, Dear Gentle Reader(s), have you been going to the Centcom website?  No?  Well, here's an example of the information available to you, from Centcom, on a fairly regular basis.

These are the stories available in Centcom's "Latest News Feed" on July 7, 2008:

Funding improves Iraqi economy, infrastructure

Posted: 03 Jul 2008 03:23 AM CDT

FOB ISKAN (July 3, 2008) – Coalition forces continue to help Iraq revitalize itself through infrastructure projects.

Troops give shoes, toys to Djibouti orphans

Posted: 03 Jul 2008 03:16 AM CDT

DJIBOUTI (July3, 2008) – Troops distributed shoes and toys to children June 28 at the Saint Francis of Notre Dame Orphanage.

Students keep water flowing to farms

Posted: 02 Jul 2008 02:49 AM CDT

FOB KALSU, Iraq (July 2, 2008) – Students of the Village of Hope in Hawr Rajab began cleaning irrigation canals June 26.

Medics vaccinate Afghan villagers in Parwan

Posted: 02 Jul 2008 02:44 AM CDT

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (June 30, 2008) – Afghan doctors and Coalition medics hosted a village medical outreach June 26.

Colonel: Enemy neutralized in east Anbar

Posted: 01 Jul 2008 02:46 AM CDT

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2008) – The enemy in eastern Anbar province has been neutralized, the Coalition commander in the area said June 30.

Troops treat 870 Iraqi civilians

Posted: 01 Jul 2008 02:36 AM CDT

FALLUJAH, Iraq (July 1, 2008) – Two two Cooperative Medical Engagements provided medical care to more than 870 Iraqis, June 24 and 25.


Not bad, eh?  There is only one military activity listed.  The good news is that the U.S. military is assisting locals, from Djibouti, at the mouth of the Red Sea, to Afghanistan.  While we might be engaged in a war of choice in Iraq and a war of necessity in Afghanistan, we are also engaged in making life a little easier for some of the stricken residents of this part of the world.

Now, DGR(s), get to www.centcom.mil/ and sign up for their daily newsletter.

That way you'll be more able to trust, but verify.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meanwhile, Off to the East...

The news, Dear Gentle Reader(s), from Afghanistan is not good, but not 100% bad, either.

American deaths in Afghanistan have reached the level of American deaths in Iraq.  Totally unacceptable.

On the other hand, the US Centcom website has some encouraging information about positive steps being taken in that other benighted country.

US Centcom's web site should be on your earmarked list, DGR(s).  You can also sign up for their daily email as well.

We are bombarded with information about foreign policy and war policy from political partisans.  US Centcom is doubtless attempting to put a positive spin on our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it also gives us information about the daily efforts to win over the hearts, if not the minds, of the citizens whose lives have been affected by terrorists, Talibani, and coalition forces.

We need as total a picture as we can get.

Trust, but verify.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday's Words; Sunday's Words

What a difference a day makes 5 days make, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  Last Tuesday, David Brooks, writing in The New York Times opined that Mr. Bush's "surge" is working, no matter what his critics might say.

"But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right."

That was June 24.

The web site for WTOPnews.com published this on June 29, from an article by Hamze Hindawi, working for the Associated Press: 

RADWANIYAH, Iraq (AP) - Capt. David N. Simms wanted the tribal sheiks to have no doubts _ the $500,000 his unit spends every month to pay and equip local tribesmen to keep peace here will soon run out and they had better be ready when it's gone.

Um...might we think about that a little?  So, while there is some quiet in Baghdad--what with ethnic cleansing of certain residential areas and all--no need for bombs when your sectarian enemies have left--in Radwaniyah, a little less than half way to Falujah, the U.S. Army is spending $500,000 a month to pay and equip "local tribesmen" to keep the peace? 

It turns out that the "surge" is only one small part of the reduction in violence in Iraq.  $500,000 a month buys a lot of cooperation.  And a similar program exists in other areas of Iraq--we are funding the Sons of Iraq; we are equipping the Sons of Iraq (sound familiar?).  Exactly how much peace these programs buy we'll know at the end of the year when the money runs out and some of the Sons of Iraq we've equipped wind up unemployed and armed.

Brooks does not mention one other salient fact about troop levels prior to January 2007.  General Shinseki called for 500,000 (there's that number again) "boots" on the ground prior to the March 2003 invasion.  He was summarily disregarded and ignored.  An Army study of the Iraqi planning, reported at the same web site on June 30, indicated that planning for the occupation called for many more American troops than were provided:

Planners in the Iraq headquarters said 300,000 troops would be needed for the occupation. Even before the invasion, some planners had called for 300,000 troops to be sent for the invasion and occupation.

Immediately after the invasion, the American planners in Iraq, looking ahead to the occupation called for 300,000 troops; even before the invasion, some had called for 300,000 troops--Shinseki supporters, doubtless; no wonder they were ignored.

At some point Brooks will have to ask himself just exactly what did Mr. Bush get right?  A poorly planned and therefore incompetently executed occupation led to a desperate step which only worked, as far as we can determine, because the situation had deteriorated so badly, and whether or not it will ultimately be successful we won't know for many more months.  So Bush orders 30,000 troops into Baghdad.  1/10th of what planners indicated would be needed, almost 4 years too late.

Republican die hards have often said that President Reagan "won" the Cold War.  That completely ignores the context of the beginnings and the middle of the Cold War.  President Truman laid the foundation.  Other presidents engaged the Soviets and contributed to that system's decline.  (And that also ignores Reagan's questionable decision to allow the Beirut Marine barracks bombing to go unpunished!--which was the first major shot in the "war on terror.")

Now Mr. Brooks is touting, albeit timidly, a success for Mr. Bush.  Not yet, Dave.  Best to keep your powder dry for a while longer.

Trust, but verify.


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