Sunday, November 30, 2008

Um…Tom, a revisionist?

A conundrum, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  A conundrum.

Today, over at The New York Times, Tom Friedman writes a somewhat hopeful column about an Iraqi step towards judicial independence which he sees, with several caveats, as indicative of U.S. possible success in that poor country.

Friedman’s take is gladdening in several ways, so what, you might ask, is the conundrum?  It’s this sentence: 

“It’s a reminder of the most important reason for the Iraq war: to try to collaborate with Iraqis to build progressive politics and rule of law in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, a region that stands out for its lack of consensual politics and independent judiciaries.”

Really?  Secretary of State Powell argued for an independent Iraqi judiciary and the United Nations went along with it?  National Security Advisor Rice spoke of an independent Iraqi judiciary being capable, soon, of producing a mushroom cloud?  President Bush swaggered “Bring ‘em on!” at some black robed jurists?  Neo-cons arguing for “progressive politics” in Iraq?

Dare one ask what happened to weapons of mass destruction?

Revisionism, when not referring to an arcane Marxist theory, is used these days to indicate some people are trying to re-write history to reflect a different perspective than the prevailing perspective.  One wonders if Friedman is slipping into a revisionist mode.  One hopes not.

If, indeed, there is evidence the Bush Administration truly believed that war with the Baathist government in Baghdad was dictated by a necessity to establish progressive politics, rule of law, and independent judiciary in Iraq, then it should be re-stated, and the time and place of the first such statement should be made available for verification.

If there is no such evidence, then we all need to remember the dangers of revisionist thinking—it could cost us dearly.  And Mr. Friedman needs to be a little more careful.

Trust, but verify.  And perhaps exercise the memory when reading political and or religious tracts.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai “Terrorists”

Isn’t it time, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that the world’s press, as well as everyone else, stop using any form of “terrorist” in describing the murderous atrocities which are being inflicted upon hapless citizenry?

For instance, this afternoon, The New York Times, reporting on the atrocious bombings and subsequent fighting in Mumbai, uses “terrorist” in the first paragraph, but it isn’t until the 6th paragraph in which the possible culprits are identified:  Islamist or Hindi extremists both have been active in India in recent months.

If these killers are working at the behest of some religious leader, then that leader’s religion must be held accountable for not controlling its extremist adherents.

Terrorist is no longer sufficient, if the murderer is killing in the name of a deity.

Murder in the name of God is not terror; it is blasphemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcomed News

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Here, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is a choice bit of information:  There are Iraqi soldiers are being trained in bomb disposal by U.S. forces.  Check out the Centcom web site.  (Actually you could get the Centcom email.  Good things are happening.)

What with today’s news about another 3 bombings in Baghdad, at a cost of some 18 lives, one applauds this news.  Whatever we can do to assist the Iraqis in their continuing bombing crisis is well worth the effort and expense.

Let’s get these people trained so we can get out of Dodge!

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

While they’re at it…

…wouldn’t it be nice, Dear Gentle Reader(s), if the Republican party would re-assess their fiscal mantra of “lower taxes, smaller government” as well as their policy positions since they’re in the midst of debate about the party’s shortcomings which caused the recent electoral defeat?

There simply isn’t the logical rationale to insist on lower or smaller anything if the other side isn’t insisting on higher or bigger. 

If the Republicans rephrased their slogan just a little, it might make more sense to voters who were non-red mead partisans.

For instance, doesn’t just about everyone who understands the necessity of government and taxes agree that government should be only as large/small as is absolutely necessary; or that taxes should be as high/low as possible to pay for the necessary government?

Some people sneer at the mention of a “social contract.”  “Has anyone ever seen this so-called contract?”  Well, no.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  It most certainly does, and all of us who participate in the particular social contract governed by the United States Constitution have a responsibility to honor that contract.

So, perhaps the Republican mantra should be “lowest possible taxes, smallest possible government.” 

That would be mantra for which just about everyone with common sense could vote Yes.

There is no charge for this advice, Republicans.

Even then, though, DGR(s), it will still be necessary to

Trust, but verify.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who woulda thunk it?




This atrocity, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is being offered for sale at this web site

It’s being offered as an ‘"Original Christmas Cross" yard decoration.’

Who wouldn’t want a burning cross in the front yard or on the front porch?


Trust these people, if you must, but really verify!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

What does “victory” mean again?

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the vicissitudes of language are many.

Remember Senator McCain’s oft-repeated slogan of “victory” in Iraq?  One wonders what he meant. 

Today The New York Times reports of housecleaning in Iraq’s government.  It isn’t what you’d usually expect for housecleaning.

Get this; it’s from a piece titled “Iraq Quietly Dismisses Its Anticorruption Officials”:

BAGHDAD — The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing oversight officials who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here.

Nice, eh wot?  They’re getting rid of the good guys.  Yea, Victory!!!

The Status of Forces Agreement, now before the Iraqi parliament, states the U.S. will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.  While this agreement was being negotiated, the U.S. knew the Maliki government was dismantling the anti-corruption offices.  We’re leaving a “notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy” in place. 

So we preemptively invaded Iraq to depose a tyrant, and what will we be leaving in his place?  What will this “victory” accomplish?

The next time the American public votes into office, a guy, or gal, with whom they feel comfortable enough to “have a beer with,” one hopes that there will be time to think and

Trust, but verify.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bearing false witness? Piffle! How about embracing it?

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), there are people of “good will” who are so blinkered by ignorance that they do not realize how their good will has been compromised.

An excellent case in point can be found in the pages of The New York Times in a column by Jesse McKinley and Kirk Johnson entitled “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage.” Let’s take a few minutes for you, DGR(s), to go to the site and read the column. One will wait. OK.

One name appears often in the column, Frank Schubert. Look at the campaign he led,

“We bet the campaign on education,” Mr. Schubert said.

Education. Not Gays and Lesbians. Not civil rights. Not church and state separation. They used a video of children attending the wedding of their Lesbian teacher, even though the parents of the children had given permission. They used a lie about the California Education Code, refuted by the State Superintendent of Education.

They knew they would lose if they misshaped the argument.

“We could not have this as a battle between people of faith and the gays,” Mr. Schubert said. “That was a losing formula.”

Schubert has an interesting side story:

For his part, Mr. Schubert said he is neither anti-gay — his sister is a lesbian — nor happy that some same-sex couples’ marriages are now in question. But, he said, he has no regrets about his campaign.

“They had a lot going for them,” Mr. Schubert said of his opponents. “And they couldn’t get it done.”

Schubert just told his sister that any loving, committed relationship in which she might enter will never be equal to the one he shares with his spouse. She is not equal to him under the laws of California. And she certainly is not equal to him in the eyes of the “Creator” of the Mormon church (but that goes without saying).

Lies and hubris, not possibly knowing the nuances of creation, relying on lore and myth to set the criteria for treatment of his sister, what a wonderful example he set for Christianists.

Why on earth would anyone trust this man? Verification is certainly necessary in dealing with anyone associated with religious organizations (don’t forget, the Mormon involvement was urged by the “Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco”).

And be sure to verify this posting by reading the original column.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fiscal Responsibility! At Last!

Contrary to certain misinformed Conventional Wisdom, Dear Gentle Reader(s), liberals and progressives do not enjoy raising taxes.  We see the necessity to fund certain programs which bring benefit to the entire spectrum of the body politic.  Sound tax policies is indispensable to a capitalistic society. 

Therein, though, lies the problem.  Just what constitutes "sound tax policies?"  The recent tax situation in California goes a long way to proving that the tax policy of "borrow and spend" advocated the Republican party in California is, ahem, bankrupt, as Governor Schwarzenegger has finally come to realize.

As California struggles with its fiscal problems, it's good to remember a couple of steps along the way which were taken, and which, in retrospect, were most assuredly mistakes.

First, Governor Gray Davis was recalled primarily on the issue of the vehicle license fee, which he re-instated (remember, the tax had been lowered with the proviso that it would be re-instated if necessary).  Governor Schwarzenegger's first major action after he assumed the office was to remove the car tax, to the cost of some 4 billion dollars. 

As reported in The Los Angeles Times, "Schwarzenegger initially covered the cost and "balanced" the budget by talking voters into borrowing $15 billion. All that money is gone and we're still paying off the loan."

Recently the governor called for a tax hike of some 4 billion dollars. 

Think of it:  Schwarzenegger "cut" a tax, and borrowed $15 billion.  The state treasury is still paying off the loan, and the state is short that $4 billion plus interest, plus, plus, plus.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has finally come to his fiscal senses and tossed the Republican mantra of borrow and spend.  It isn't good policy.  Hopefully the California Republicans will follow suit and some fiscal sanity will come to the state.

Raising taxes to keep up with spending hurts, but borrowing to keep up with spending hurts more--except those who are in the lending business. 

Campaign donations, anyone?

Trust, but verify those final costs.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Glimpse of the Source

        Here we have the obligatory "moral principle" and "exclusive union between a man and a woman" argument on the social issue du jour.  You've heard it.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: How to Survive Media Bias

     Um...Yawn...more RNC, but personalized...a little bit.

Now, DGR(s), there you have it.  Sometimes the Muckroom, as one is sometimes wont to call it, is informative, sometimes merely infuriating.  It is, though, a resource widely available to scout out the competition. 

Know your enemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alas and Alack

Andrew Sullivan calls them "Christianists."  His purpose, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is undoubtedly to connect the extremism of some Christians with the extremism of some Moslems.  It seems appropriate; they are both dangerous in their own ways.

The Christianists, though, might have a little surprise.  The man for whom the movement is named, was not nearly so un-Christian as they, and won't they be surprised to discover, upon their deaths, that Jesus will turn his back on them because they followed the teachings of mere mortals who were more concerned with enriching their own "brand" of the religion for their own lust for power and lucre.

The Bible is such a convenient excuse for Christianist bad behavior, even if its provenance is suspect.  Who cares about authority and authenticity? 

Christianism--R.I.P. (Roast in Pain)

Trust, but verify (and if they did, they might be a little more humble).

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Sunday, November 2, 2008


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A conundrum, one thinks. 

Dear Gentle Reader(s), perhaps you can help to explain a disconnect for me which occurs often in the political discourse these days.

John McCain's experience as a naval pilot and prisoner of war is often touted as appropriate experience for occupying the Presidential Office.

Just what about McCain's naval piloting is indicative of this trust afforded by his supporters?  He lost 4 planes, arguably 3 to hot-dogging.  What experience does hot-dogging give to a man?  Deliberation?  Caution?  Only if he changes his behavior, and where did that third crash come from?  His first two losses were "gimmes"?  Do we want a Commander-in-Chief who takes "hot-dogging" chances? 

While McCain exemplified some strength of character during portions of his incarceration, he also spent some dark moments "cooperating" with his captors.  Some of his fellow POWs have some guarded things to say about his behavior.  There is an interesting web site, which obviously is anti-McCain, and which pre-dates McCain's 2008 campaign, that has some unkind thoughts about the "heroic" status of post-Vietnam prisoner McCain:

On June 4, 1969, a U.S. wire service story headlined "PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral," reported one of McCain's radio broadcasts: "Hanoi has aired a broadcast in which the pilot son of the United States commander in the Pacific, Adm. John McCain, purportedly admits to having bombed civilian targets in North Vietnam and praises medical treatment he has received since being taken prisoner.

"The broadcast was beamed to American servicemen in South Vietnam as a part of a propaganda series attempting to counter charges by U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that American prisoners are being mistreated in North Vietnam."

There we have it, DGR(s).  Here is a widely touted war hero who is running for the Oval Office significantly on the strength of his Naval career and his POW status, but whose record in both those areas is questionable.

So why does everyone tip toe around these issues?

Do we really want an impulsive person in charge?

Trust, but verify.


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