Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mine! All Mine!

Since I've been on the subject of The Battle of Hormuz Strait lately, here's some good thoughts about Mine Warfare from EagleSpeak:

Mines are an attractive option for many small powers for the following reasons. Maritime powers are highly vulnerable both in peace and war due to their dependence on the sea. Mining operations are far cheaper than counter mining operations, and they are far cheaper than other types of naval weaponry which inflict similar types of damage. Many small naval powers will attempt to use mines in order to deny their coastal areas to forces arrayed against them. Others will use mines offensively to deny port facilities or egress points to hostile fleets. Given the ease of deployment (mines can be deployed from submarines or from civilian vessels) and the growing sophistication of them, mines will remain effective weapons.

Iran's navy has 20,000 men (article is from '04 - G), but they are young and inexperienced, and most of them are riflemen and marines based on Persian Gulf islands. And at higher levels, there is fierce rivalry between the IRGC and regular navies for scarce resources. Due to these shortcomings, Iran's three Kilo-class submarines would be vulnerable, and they are limited to laying mines in undefended waters. Mines, however, are one area in which Iran has made advances. It can produce non-magnetic, free-floating, and remote-controlled mines. It may have taken delivery of pressure, acoustic, and magnetic mines from Russia. Also, Iran is negotiating with China for rocket-propelled rising mines.

Gee, that doesn't look like a 'little white box' to me...

The EM-52 rising mines are part of a 3,000-weapon stockpile of (Iranian) anti-ship mines. This purchase is significant because, unlike most other mines, the EM-52 is operational in deep water such as the Persian Gulf. When the hull of a ship passes over the device the mine is triggered and a rocket is fired at the hull. Placed in choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz, this device could be devastating.

We've come long way from this, baby:

Photo taken in Fixer's bathtub

There's more if you're interested. Also how to counter sea mines with

Mine sweeping attack subs?

Oh, my.


CIA, Iran & the Gulf of Tonkin

Ray McGovern, obviously a regular reader of the Brain, has generously expanded upon and clarified my post of yesterday from the intelligence standpoint of one who was there. And who is here now. Thanks, Ray.

Ten years. How can our president speak so glibly about 10 more years of a U.S. armed presence in Iraq? He must not remember Vietnam.

Sorry. Should have posted a 'liquid alert'. Bush doesn't know or remember a damn thing about Vietnam other than maybe some of the help's kids got killed there and that them godless commie hippie bastards protested the war because they were too chickenshit to get killed for Amurikkka themselves. I think he has conveniently forgotten as well that he was a privileged rich kid who used his family connections to avoid real service because he too was too chickenshit to get killed for Amurikkka. After all, his life was worth much more than than that of reg'lar kids. He's still a chickenshit, and my apologies to chicken shit.

What follows is written primarily for honest intelligence analysts and managers still on “active duty.”

The issuance of the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran was particularly welcome to those of us who had been hoping there were enough of you left who had not been thoroughly corrupted by former CIA Director George Tenet and his malleable managers.

The Tonkin Gulf events are perhaps the best case in point. We retired professionals who worked through the Tonkin Gulf incident are hopeful that Fingar can ensure integrity in the current intelligence process as well.

Those of us in intelligence, not to mention President Lyndon Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy all knew full well that the evidence of any armed attack on the evening of Aug. 4, 1964, the so-called “second” Tonkin Gulf incident, was highly dubious.

Here's the money line:

But it fit the president’s purposes, so they lent a hand to facilitate escalation of the war.

Mr. McGovern goes into quite a bit of detail on the gap between what really happened v. the propaganda and then closes with:

It is my view that the only thing that has prevented Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran so far has been the strong opposition of the uniformed military, including the Joint Chiefs.

As the misadventure last Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz shows, our senior military officers need all the help they can get from intelligence officers more concerned with the truth than with “keeping lines open to the White House” and doing its bidding.

If you’re working in the bowels of the CIA and you find that your leaders are cooking the intelligence once again into a recipe for casus belli, think long and hard about your oath to protect the Constitution. Should that oath not transcend any secrecy promise you had to accept as a condition of employment?

By sticking your neck out, you might be able to prevent 10 years of unnecessary war.

Thanks again, Ray.

Corporate fear is good

Guardian UK

Ask corporate lobbyists which presidential contender is most feared by their clients and the answer is almost always the same -- Democrat John Edwards.

"Once he is president, the interests of middle class families will never again take a back seat to corporate greed in Washington," said campaign spokesman Eric Schultz.

Another lobbyist said an Edwards presidency would be "a disaster" for his well-heeled industrialist clients.

That testimonial right there is enough to make me vote for him if he makes it to February 5.


A good post about Edwards at Firedoglake

Ding ding ding! We have a winner. Stupidest thing anyone has said this campaign season goes to Lawrence O'Donnell:
O'Donnell's usually pretty sharp, but he stepped on his weenie big time. That oughta set the hook...

It's the propaganda, stupid ...

Swiped a great paragraph from a wonderful post by Greenwald:


The reason we basically block out from our public discourse the effects our behavior has on innocent human beings -- the reason, for instance, we don't bother to count Iraqi victims and the reason we exempt our own behavior from any sort of scrutiny other than the most self-absorbed -- is because that's the only way that the propaganda can be sustained ("Freedom is on the March. We're Liberating Them. They're so Grateful. Winning Hearts and Minds"). Is there anyone who could make a list of all of the pros and cons from our invasion of Iraq and -- while including the hundreds of thousands of innocent dead human beings and the 4 million who are displaced -- argue that it was worth it? What kind of moral depravity would allow that argument to be made? [my em]


I don't give a shit if we're finally winning over there, or the 'surge is working' or whatever. It was morally wrong to invade Iraq. It was morally wrong to inflict such great harm on all those innocents. And it is morally wrong to keep up the charade when there was only one reason to be there in the first place. It's spelled O-I-L, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

Saturday whorage

The next chapter of Thirty Days at Zeta is up at The Practical Press.

Drop your own links in comments.

And for your listening pleasure on a Saturday morning:

Phil Woods Quartet - My Old Flame.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Stand by to repel boarders! Oops. Never mind..."

Here's a headline at News Hounds that says everything you need to know about the "fair and balanced" lie:

FOX News Chickenhawks Regret Strait Of Hormuz Incident Didn’t Turn Into Armed Conflict

Turns out, the whole "Straits of Hormuz Manufactured Incident" is turning out to be a put-up deal (Ya think!?) or at best a colossal over-blowing of a near non-incident. In any case, the 'official' version is coming unraveled. Even the Pentagon doesn't believe its own bullshit.

I'm sure the idea of a small patrol craft attacking a heavily armed warship came straight out of the 'romantic', at least in the retelling, WWII exploits of John Kennedy and PT 109, which in actuality was cut in two by a Japanese destroyer they didn't see in time to get out of the way and who may or may not have seen them. Accounts vary. In any case, it failed to heave to and machine gun the (lucky!) survivors or sink the PT's remains. Or maybe it was from They Were Expendable.

In actual fact, although they did some damage to warships on occasion, what usually happened when a PT skipper took leave of his senses or got desperate enough to attack a warship, was that it, and its crew, got blown out of the water. They were quite useful for recon, attacking troop and supply barges and small coasters, or for clandestine shit like sneaking MacArthur out of Bataan. I think they also played a large and vital role in delivering whiskey to O Clubs in the Solomon Islands.

Not to take anything away from recklessly brave sailors, but battleships those things weren't.

Also, PT boats were 77 feet long, carried armament ranging from .50 caliber machine guns and 20 millimeter automatic light cannon to mortars and artillery field pieces on occasion, along with four torpedo tubes. They were made out of plywood and had three big inboard engines. Fast but fragile. The Iranian boats looked like about 30-footers (guess) and might as well have been towing water-skiers for all the armament they showed, not that they couldn't have had a load of Semtex in the bow, although they were riding a little high in the water for that. In any case, they'd have never gotten close enough to our ships to have done any damage, and Fixer would have watched the video of our guys blowin' 'em sky high over and over for weeks with his pants down around his ankles. Whee! But I digress...

Just for fun, let's go over the last 'attack' on a U.S. warship that provided a flimsy yet sufficient enough excuse to barely justify the escalation of an unpopular war that we ultimately lost, not that there's any similarities between the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Tonkin, oh, nosiree... well, other than a lying president.

This is from memory, and the book I remember it from is Spies and Commandos: How America Lost the Secret War in North Vietnam.

For quite some time in the early '60s, the CIA (remember them?), who were pretty much in charge of all our fuckups in Vietnam at the time, had been running small boat ops against North Vietnamese naval bases, using CIA-supplied Swedish boats and South Vietnamese crews. The NV didn't have a blue-water navy, but they did have a lot of patrol boats at these bases, very close in size and speed to what the CIA sent against them.

After several such attacks, the NV were laying in wait for another one, and were in position to intercept it. The South Viet crews and their CIA advisors, not being total dummies (I'm being kind), turned tail and GTFO of there at high speed. The North Viets gave chase, shooting at them with several 12.7mm heavy machine guns, their equivalent to our .50 cal Ma Deuce.

The South Viet boats ran full speed out into the Gulf of Tonkin towards USS Maddox which may or may not have been there to support them, seeking safety and covering fire. The North Viets were agressively defending themselves, their base, their coast, their country. Wait a minute, they're not allowed to do that, are they? An overshot from a North Viet gun splattered the paint on Maddox and set the whole deal off. The details, of course, were kept quiet. The official version was "They attacked us!", when closer to the truth would have been "They started it! They hit us back after we sucker punched 'em!".

It was the perfect excuse for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that led to 58,000 American and only God knows how many Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian deaths. So, looking back on history, how'd all that work out?

We have much better communications and technical gear these days, and our military is not eager (I hope) to let Bush ruin it any further than he already has. I hope that good leaks and a little common sense will be enough to hold off Bush and Cheney from doing something to Iran in the next 373 days that we'll all regret for the next 40 years.

What Is He Capable Of? The Presidential Psychology at the End of Days

I know we've all read psychological evaluations of the Chimp. Here's a good, and long, one from a coupla shrinks writing for Truthout. The quotes I'll use won't even come close to what these guys are saying. Go read this one. Fuckin' scary that this crazy fucker was ever allowed to get the power he has.

So, torture by his administration is justified - in fact is not even torture - because it is used by Good Americans in a war against Satanic forces.

Former President Jimmy Carter's faith, like that of many evangelicals, involves a powerful commitment to love and tolerance. We do not detect a similar commitment in Bush. Spiritual issues and political motives appear secondary to Bush's subconscious use of his faith as a psychological defense. That defense "resolves" and protects him from the pain of a core inner conflict. The drinking and alleged drug taking of his younger years once resolved that same conflict. The supposed spiritual awakening Bush underwent in the mid-1980s allowed him to trade one defense for another. (Author Craig Unger has shown Bush's famous "mustard seed" moment with the Rev. Billy Graham - widely celebrated by the president - never happened; at the same time, Bush carefully avoids mentioning the faith awakening moment he probably really did have with radical evangelical preacher Arthur Blessitt.) In one sense, a half-hidden Manichean Christianity was more effective than alcohol in masking Bush's inner conflict. It made it possible for him to be president.

Because he unconsciously expects to be seen by the world as a failure, Bush feels a strange comfort and familiarity in failing and then in denying that he is failing. He can never learn from mistakes. Worse, his psychodynamics ensure that his efforts to avoid his failures inevitably produce more failures.

I woulda wrote that a little differently - he is seen by the world as a failure, and we would love to feel a strange comfort in seeing him unconscious so he could not produce more failures.

Here's the money paragraph:

After previous articles about Bush's psychology, we received a number of emails from clinicians agreeing with our description of Bush's basic psychodynamic, and offering their diagnoses. These varied from one another, sometimes substantially, as might be expected, since no one we know of has had access to a first-hand psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Bush. What can we say about his psychopathology? We find no evidence in the public record that the president hears voices or is mentally ill in a way that would require hospitalization or medication, though some psychiatrists or psychopharmacologists might prescribe medication if he came in for treatment of his own accord. We think Bush's psychological dysfunctions are profound, but they are of the sort that would probably not arouse notice if he were, say, the owner of the Texas Rangers, a job he apparently enjoyed. (Draper 42) (Of course, being a baseball team owner replayed his central theme: his father had the baseball talent and he lacked it.) That said, we believe the effect of the presidency on Bush's psychodynamics and the effect of Bush's psychodynamics on the presidency have created a situation where his personality is as genuinely dangerous to the nation as if he were delusional.

So he's not clinically delusional. He sure as hell is giving a good "I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night" reasonable facsimile of it.

We believe the great foreseeable peril of Bush's remaining year in office is the intersection of his Christian defense with Iran. In recent months, when Bush warned that Iran sought to launch World War III, he seems to have unconsciously told us it is he who wants war. The neo-conservative agenda to capture the Middle East for its oil, only reinforces Bush's own psychological reasons for attacking Iran: 1) to certify his biblical mission, and 2) to avoid facing the colossal incompetence of the Iraq war by bequeathing a widened and inextricable conflict to his successor. We believe Bush is aware that the long-term chaos that might result from an attack on Iran could confound the historical image of his administration enough to make his own failures harder to see. In 50 or 100 years - after he is dead, anyway - historians might even see his worldview in a favorable light. After all, they're still debating George Washington. That's what he thinks. The presidency has become for Bush like the popular "global domination" board game he played with fellow undergrads at Yale. There, he was known as the player willing to take the most risks.

Bush and Cheney were stymied by the NIE, but the best we can hope for is that they just plain run out of time before they can figure out a way to plunge us into a wider failed war. And then...

Some have imagined a worse scenario. In 2007, a statement to a small group of constituents by Democratic representative John Olver of Amherst, Mass., made the rounds on the Internet. Olver worried that Bush would attack Iran, declare a national emergency and suspend the 2008 elections. A clarifying email from Olver's press secretary to us said the congressman had no evidence that any of this would happen but that he had worried about a "thought crime" on the part of the president.

Is Bush psychologically capable of acting out such a "thought crime," maneuvering to remain in power? Would Bush ever actually move to suspend the Constitution? Unfortunately, he's done just that already, in significant ways. How committed is he really to the idea of democracy he talks about incessantly? Psychologically these are interesting questions. Given his tendency to polarize and split his ambivalence, we'd have to say that his constant pieties about democracy suggest the opposite is significantly at work in his consciousness. He's even joked about it: "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Of course, he would vehemently deny that he is dictator even if he became one.

Shorter: We got a self-knowingly inadequate sociopathic dry-drunk misguided Jesus freak as president who will do anything - even if it involves the destruction of this country and the planet - to avoid being found out until it is too late for us even though he's already been found out and dares not admit it to himself even though he actually has. He has plenty of enablers and way too much power for a guy that ought to be in a rubber room.

Please, God, let the next year go by without him doing the penultimate act of idiocy that he is capable of, whatever it may be. Better yet, call him Home. Let us get out from under this stupid and insane man's rule short of complete destruction.

Deadbeat G-Men


Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation "was halted due to untimely payment," the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.

"We are great American patriots." said a phone company spokesperson. "We will subvert the Constitution, violate people's rights, and commit any crime the Bush administration asks us to in the name of democracy and freedom, but damned if we're gonna do it for free!"

It's just possible I made up part of that.

Yeah, that'll happen ...


Bush is in the Mideast for eight days, trying to bolster his goal of achieving a long-elusive peace agreement by the end of his presidency in a year. Speaking at his hotel in Jerusalem, he said again that he thinks that is possible.


God bless him if he can do it, but after all the bullshit they've shoveled over the past 7 years, I'm more inclined to believe it's all just hot air. The time to engage was in 2002, not a year out from his departure (hopefully).

Peace in the Holy Land will not come about from a visit by our Idiot-in-Chief. It will come when the Israelis and Palestinians make an honest attempt at it. When Israel starts dismantling its settlements in the West Bank and Hamas denounces the use of terror against Israel. Unless one of them has the courage to make the first move, or a US President has the balls to read Israel the riot act while they condemn Hamas, nothing will change.

When the Chimp leaves and we have a Dem President (not exactly a sure thing), I'll be looking to them to appoint a career Foreign Service officer as SECSTATE. Another political hack in the post won't bring about a peace in the Holy Land, it will only add to the malaise that has dominated the talks since Bush took office. Flash won't do it, substantive diplomacy will.

I can't wait until the professionals are in charge again. I'm tired of our foreign policy being nothing more than a dog and pony show.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shouda asked Jimmy ...

Good reading from Jimmy Carter (allegedly) in the Onion:


You better get down on your hands and knees and kiss Jimmy Carter's rosy-red Georgia-peach-picking ass and beg me to run your fucking country again, because there's no way I'm ever gonna come to you fuck-knobs and politely ask you if I might please be a presidential candidate in your precious fuckin' election. So you can just bite my cock. I've had it with you jerkoffs and your jerkoff candidates.


Oh, what's that I hear? The weather's all screwy? You got a global warming problem? Boo-fucking-hoo! I was telling you morons to turn off your lights and unplug all your shit at night to conserve energy in 19-fuckin'-75, for chrissake. Gee, I wonder what woulda happened if we'd all switched to solar power like I fucking did back when we had a fucking chance to do something about it. Think we'd still be sucking Saudi Arabia's dick like a five-dollar whore? I sure as fuck didn't get no fancy Oscar for that little spiel, though, did I? No. But Al Gore, that cum-sucking pig, steals the shit from me and now he's the greatest thing since Jesus Christ made a fucking sandwich.

Well, he can lick my asshole right after George W. Bush, that fuck.


Heh ...

Big tip o' the Brain to Dr. Attaturk (Podiatrist to the Stars).

Spare me ...

International incident? They're fucking motor boats. A couple little boats and guys with AKs a threat to a cruiser, destroyer, and frigate? Were I the captian, I'd put a Marine sharpshooter at the rail with a rifle. End of problem.


I just couldn't resist this. Some excerpts from the Guidebook for Marines referenced in the post below about Blackwater:

During your early training you learned the Creed of the United States Marine, My Rifle. In that creed is included a solemn promise to hit, for it is only the hits that count. Every Marine has made the same pledge. Every Marine has been trained as a rifleman, for it is the rifleman who must close with and destroy the enemy.

Each item of equipment in the modern assault force - from the multimillion dollar aircraft carrier to the least expensive radio battery; every highly skilled Marine - from a jet pilot to the operator of a small portable radio - exists to get the Marine rifleman in position to close with and destroy the enemy. Once there, the job done will depend on how well you know your rifle, the care you give it, and the manner in which you use it.

I don't care if a Marine's job is wipin' bugs off a plane's windshield. He may be a little lacking in the finer points of infantry tactics, but he has a clean rifle and is probably qualified Expert with it.

The rifle and bayonet, in the hands of a Marine, become a deadly combination of spear, club, sword, and shield. At night this combination weapon can kill silently and with surprise. In hand-to-hand fighting, when the rifle cannot be reloaded and the use of grenades would be impractical, it is the decisive weapon. At these times, the aggressive bayonet fighter will win.

The assault is the critical moment of any battle. A vigorous bayonet assault, executed by Marines eager to drive home cold steel, can strike terror into the ranks of the enemy. Skill and confidence in the ability to use the bayonet give a Marine the fortitude to make a bayonet assault.

I don't think they've changed the bayonet part of that book since it worked so well at Belleau Wood. Don't fix it if it ain't broke. I know for a fact that a bayonet charge, complete with lotsa crazy yelling, will scare the crap out of a saloon fulla Squids...

Some things never change. The rifles and bayonets these days are a little too short and light for my prehistoric taste, but the young Jarheads of today will manage.

Blackwater used CS gas on U.S. troops

From Raw Story:

Blackwater security contractors employed in Iraq dropped a blinding riot-control gas on Iraqi civilians and US military personnel on a busy Baghdad street in May 2005, according to the reporter who first broke the NSA wiretapping scandal in the New York Times.

From NYT:

“Blackwater teams in the air and on the ground were preparing a secure route near a checkpoint to provide passage for a motorcade,” Ms. Tyrrell said in an e-mail message. “It seems a CS gas canister was mistaken for a smoke canister and released near an intersection and checkpoint.”

"Mistaken' my ass. I went and looked up the markings for CS grenades in an old (1979, still about 20 years newer than the one they sold me! Heh.) Guidebook for Marines. CS grenades are marked 'RIOT CS' and smoke grenades are marked 'SMOKE' with the top and bottom of the device the same color as the smoke it will produce. I'm assuming, and yes I know that's dangerous, that larger canisters are similarly marked.

I've experienced CS gas in the 'gas chamber' training in the Marine Corps. At best, it's very unpleasant. The contents of your sinuses void all over your shirt front, your eyes water, it makes anything moist or mucus-y sting like the blazes, and any moisture you may encounter for hours afterward will reactivate any residue and it will happen all over again. Also, the version of The Marines Hymn that they make you sing while all this is going on is not exactly on par with that of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

At worst, depending on concentration and length of exposure, it can be fatal.

“It is not allowed as a method or means of warfare,” said Michael Schmitt, professor of international law at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. “There are very, very strict restrictions on the use of CS gas in a war zone.”

Except for Blackwater, of course. They are above any and all laws they choose to ignore by presidential fiat, it seems, just like him.

Officers and soldiers who were hit by the CS gas, some of whom asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident, have described it with frustration. They said no weapons were being fired or any other violence that might have justified Blackwater’s response.

In a personal journal posted online the day of the incident, Captain Clark provided a detailed description of what happened and included photos.

After reporting the incident to his superiors, Captain Clark wrote, a convoy that the helicopter was protecting showed up. Because the gas caused a “complete traffic jam in front of our checkpoint,” the captain wrote, “armored cars in the convoy made a U-turn — and threw another CS grenade.”

“It just seemed incredibly stupid,” he wrote. “The only thing we could figure out was for some reason, one of them figured that CS would somehow clear traffic. Why someone would think a substance that makes your eyes water, nose burn and face hurt would make a driver do anything other than stop is beyond me.”

Army Staff Sgt. Kenny Mattingly also was puzzled. “We saw the Little Bird (Blackwater helicopter) come and hover right in front of the gate, and I saw one of the guys dropping a canister,” Sergeant Mattingly said in an interview. “There was no reason for dropping the CS gas. We didn’t hear any gunfire or anything. There was no incident under way.”

I have wondered for some time how come no Blackwater convoy has been wasted by the insurgents as payback or just an object lesson. Now my wonder extends to our own troops. Anybody who uses riot control agents on me in such a cavalier manner better stand by for a ram.

I would like to remind our GIs and Marines of three things to keep in mind when dealing with mercenaries:

1. They have better body armor than you do. Go for head and crotch shots.

2. Sight alignment and trigger squeeze.

3. There is no problem that cannot be solved by the application of high explosives.


While I was lookin' up stuff, I found an interesting site on U.S. military equipment in Iraq at Wikileaks.

Doolittle to Doo even less

AP via Raw Story

Republican Rep. John Doolittle, who is under investigation in a congressional lobbying scandal, plans to announce Thursday that he'll retire from Congress at the end of his current term, according to a Republican official who spoke with Doolittle.

Don't let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out. I got a nice seaside retirement spot picked out for ya, John.

Bill and John

p m carpenter's commentary

Of course if Hillary were really convinced that the country needs experience above all other qualifications, she would have endorsed former congressman, former cabinet secretary, former United Nations ambassador and present Governor Bill Richardson from the git-go.

As she got up every morning, devoting her tender thoughts exclusively to how she could help you, she simply would have initialed Bill's resume and sent a check.

Yet now, it appears, Bill is headed permanently for parts West, thereby narrowing the Democratic field to three, and leading to one final thought: In the run-up to the showdown of Feb. 5, you're going to start hearing the less-than admirable word "spoiler" in regular connection to the remaining fringe candidate, John Edwards.

I'm sorry to see Richardson drop out, but it's been obvious for quite some time that he didn't have a chance. Qualifications and resumé aren't essential to the office of the president. Look at what we've got now. It's all about your political machine.

So long, Bill. Go back to beautiful Santa Fe and relax. Stop in at the Blue Corn and have a Shepherd's Pie for me, Christmas style*.

One down, one to go...

Should you happen to be an Edwards supporter, I hasten to add that I use the descriptive "fringe" not as an insult, but as a mere matter of fact. John is not going to win this thing -- period -- not by delegates, not by brokering, not by any political miracle ever revealed to mankind.

It's over, John, and that's just a political reality. That may be good, may be bad, but either way, that's the way the open field has broken.

Perhaps if Mr. Obama were to whisper sweet vice-presidential promises in your ear, you will reconsider your commitment to finishing the marathon. As a co-candidate of "change," your (as many would read it) heroic withdrawal and subsequent Obama-endorsement over the Democratic personification of Bush 2000 would swiftly decide this race -- and that's hardly a mere booby prize.

You're a young man, John. You'll still be a young man in 2016. It's the smart play -- even smarter than Hillary's.

Carpenter may be right. I don't particularly like it, but the handwriting may be on the wall and this is the way to get Edwards into the White House, even if it's down the hall from the Oval Office. He shouldn't give up quite yet though, at least until Obama offers him a spot on the ticket.

Edwards will be 63 in 2016. It's comforting to know that's 'still young' since I'll be 63 in '08.

*In New Mexico, everything comes with chile sauce. The question is always asked, "Red or Green?". If you like both, as I do, you reply "Christmas style".

Wyoming to Rest of U.S.: "Oh Yeah? Well Screw You Too!"

The Specious Report

The people of the great State of Wyoming don't appreciate being left out of this past week's media frenzy. "Hey, we had a primaries here," insisted Governor David D. Freudenthal. "Where was everybody?"

"Where were all the satellite trucks? Where were the constant annoying phone calls from pollsters? Where was the millions of dollars from TV and radio ads?" the Governor asked.

"What happened to the influx of volunteers and reporters? All our hotels were empty. And what about campaign signs and mailers? All our printing presses were just gathering dust," Freudenthal insisted.

Wyoming's Democratic primary will be held in March. The Governor warns there may be serious consequences if the State is ignored again, even hinting that he may close the borders entirely.

Ya think anybody'll notice?

How about a raise?

How is it the most useless group of people in the nation has the privilege to give themselves a raise? If Congress got paid what they deserve, they'd be standing on line, waiting for their unemployment checks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Quote of the Day


C'mon, admit it: no matter what your feelings are regarding Hillary, some part of you had to love hearing that she won in New Hampshire last night, just for the fact that it probably made every freetard and ditto-monkey's tiny little heads explode in rage.

Most certainly!

Polar Opposites

Click to embiggen

The difference is, we care about polar bears and want them to survive.

Only in New York

God, I love this city:

NEW YORK -- Two men were arrested Tuesday after wheeling a dead man through the streets in an office chair to a check-cashing store and trying to cash his Social Security check, police said.

David J. Dalaia and James O'Hare pushed Virgilio Cintron's body from the Manhattan apartment O'Hare and Cintron shared about a block away to Pay-O-Matic, spokesman Paul Browne said witnesses told police.

"The witnesses saw the two pushing the chair with Cintron flopping from side to side and the two individuals propping him up and keeping him from flopping from side to side," Browne said.


You know, when something raises eyebrows in NYC, it's gotta be good. If they'da left him in a double-parked car in a bus lane, nobody would have noticed. Heh ...


A police detective who was having lunch at a restaurant next to the check-cashing store noticed a crowd forming around Cintron's body and "it's immediately apparent to him that Cintron is dead," Browne said.


And I bet people were standing around arguing about it too.

"Look at that guy, he's dead."

"No he's not, they're performance artists."

"He doesn't seem to be breathing."

"He's a mime, that's it!"

"Maybe they're medical students? Is it Hell Week at Columbia?"

I'm surprised a brownie from Traffic didn't put a ticket on him for blocking the sidewalk.

I wanna be a pundit!

Because I know just about as much as all the others who do it for a living. I'll bet they don't have to work half as hard as a mechanic and make more money too. From what they all said before I went to sleep last night, I was waiting for news of an Obama landslide when I woke up.

I say the same things about weather people. If I did my job with their success rate, I'd be run outta the shop in no time. The highlight of the night was watching Olbermann with 'Noball' Matthews. The striking contrast between intellect and moron was obvious.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cold day at Foggy Bottom ...

Our Foreign Service people ain't too happy:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly half of U.S. diplomats who do not want to serve in Iraq say a key reason is because they do not support the Bush administration's policies there, according to a union survey released on Tuesday.

The survey by the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the rank-and-file diplomatic corps, not political appointees, also found that most U.S. diplomats were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of resources. Four out of 10 think Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is doing a bad job supporting them.


Nobody in their right mind can think US foreign policy is sensible. The 'grunts' of the diplomatic world see the same problems with their leadership as the ones in uniform do.

An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove: How American Democracy Relies on Fascism

[A big Brain welcome to Avedon's readers. - F]

Starting with my post below, and expanded on by The Smirking Chimp (pernaps not off his meds like the other guy!), I guess I've got a theme today.

What would you do if you learned that Bush Administration officials wanted to round up thousands of Americans and throw them into concentration camps?

For all we know, there is no slippery slope. It's entirely possible that extraordinary rendition, eliminating habeas corpus, and the torture camps at Guantánamo and elsewhere are exactly what the government says they are--tools for fighting terrorists, not domestic political opponents. But how likely is it?

History is clear: Over and over again, the U.S. government places fascists in powerful positions. Once in office, they exploit wars and national tragedies to roll back hard-won freedoms. They're Democrats as well as Republicans.

Mr. Rall cites several examples. Here's just one:

"Lt. Col. Oliver North, for example, helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad," The Miami Herald reported on July 5, 1987.

So why does a democracy need fascist schemes like Reagan's Rex-84 Alpha Explan (a FEMA plan to put American protesters against a planned war against Nicaragua into camps)? Because American democracy is an iron fist in a velvet glove, a glove that's becoming increasingly transparent.

Threats of repression are rarely carried out. They don't need to be.

If potential opponents are afraid, there's little need for concentration camps. The threat of repression (and actual crackdowns, explained away as exceptional excesses and brushed off with a token apology) creates a chilling effect on people who might pick up a rock instead of a sign.

In a country whose legal framework authorizes the government to kidnap, torture and murder them, opponents of U.S. policy must decide whether getting out of line--anything from a letter to the editor to direct action--is worth the risk of getting kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

A good definition of 'government' is 'those with a monopoly on force'. They're not going to throw the rocks back at the rock throwers. They'll use tear gas, machine guns, kidnapping, murder, whatever it takes to maintain status quo and keep power in the hands of the currently powerful. If the citizens of this country, who outnumber the oppressors 10,000 to 1 in terms of both people and guns, ever feel the need to overthrow a U.S. regime, and who amongst us has not, it will need to be a concerted effort by millions of people all at once, led by people that are not afraid to die for their country, for die many will. They can't be afraid to kill other Americans either, for many on the wrong side will have to die as well. The People can prevail, but they have to go after it like they mean it.

Fat fuckin' chance. As long as most Americans have bread and circuses they don't give a shit about freedom and democracy and won't (and are not) even notice it's been taken away from them.

As a youth I took an an oath to defend this country, its citizens, and the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC. I most decidedly did NOT take an oath to defend the government or any particular regime. As yet, I have not un-taken that oath. If I could do it by myself, it would have been done already.

Go Edwama!

This is a possibility I can get behind. Please go read Paul Loeb:

It makes me feel like an indecisive mugwump(*), but in the wake of the Iowa caucuses, I've sent money to both Edwards and Obama. In a month, I'll have to choose, but as long as they're backing each other up more than sniping, I want them both in the race.

*For those of you who are too young to know what a 'mugwump' is, it's a bird that sits on a fence with his mug on one side and his wump on the other.

So I was delighted when Obama and Edwards beat her in the Iowa caucuses. But that doesn't mean Edwards should necessarily drop out. His presence pushes Obama to deal with the hard issues of power and wealth in America--ones that, to be honest, Obama has too often skated over in recent years. If voters do develop reservations about Obama, Edwards offers a strong alternative. While Edwards obviously remains a distinct longshot, his numbers are strong enough that voters deserve at least a chance to further weigh his promise--he's more than just a symbolic candidate. And I do want to see Obama tested just at least a bit more before we hand him the nomination.

As long as Obama and Edwards don't rip each other apart (and this week they feel enough like allies for me to dream of the promise of a joint ticket), I'm continuing to donate to both of them, doing my small part to help both offer their visions to America. If I had to vote today, it would be a hard call, but I'd probably still go for Edwards, though in a few weeks I might choose differently. But for now, I'd like to see both these strong voices continue to have a shot at leading America.

Me too, except that I ain't donatin' to anybody just yet, and believe me I've been asked.

"Townspeople armed with scythes and pitchforks..."

Well, not quite, but it won't be long...

From Liberal Talk Radio:

Mob of angry Republicans chase Hannity through streets, chant "FOX News sucks!"

I just can't make this stuff up!

Ron Paul supporters really hate FOX Noise. Here, they let Sean Hannity know how they feel.

As much as I'd like to add a rather sarcastic and witty comment to this, I... just... can't. Just watch the video.

As much as I'd like to add a rather sarcastic and witty comment to this, I... just... can't. Just watch the video.

This is getting better and better! I think I like primary season as a spectator sport. It's kinda like the Daytona 500 - mostly it's boring, but I love to watch the crashes...

Election Results From Dixville Notch

The Dixville Notchsters get their 10 seconds of fame every four years. OK, I'll play along. Reuters:

Sen. Barack Obama won seven of the 10 votes cast for Democrats in the first balloting of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday in the northern hamlet of Dixville Notch, while Sen. John McCain won the Republican balloting.

Ballots by all 17 registered voters were cast and counted just after midnight on Tuesday in the remote White Mountain town that takes advantage of a state law allowing communities to close polls once voting is over and announce the results.

Other than those for Obama, of Illinois, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards got two votes and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson received one. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton received none.

Among the seven votes cast for Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain won four, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received 2, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani won one vote.

To speed things up, in an attempt to assure Dixville Notch would be first to finish voting, each of the 13 voters present had a voting booth. Four others voted by absentee ballot. The balloting was over within minutes as 12 Independents, 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted.

I get this visual of a buncha seniors dozing at the polls until 12:00:01, roused, voted, and back to sleep by 12:01. My kind of place, although I marvel at the concept of absentee ballots in a town of 74 people! Some folks just don't wanta stay up late, I suppose.

McCain: Agent of Change

Tony Peyser

John McCain claims he has been an "agent of change" for years. This is true. In the 80s, he played footsie with Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings & Loan and many senior citizen investors changed from having life savings to having to go back to work.

Why Does The Government Fear Armed Veterans?

Forget the tinfoil hats! Go get a tinfoil roof and then go read this piece by Alan Stang.

Recent passage by the District of Criminals of the legislation known colloquially as the Veteran Disarmament bill raises the question of why the conspiracy for world government would want to disarm returning veterans. The conspiracy trusted these men to use the most devastating ordinance abroad; it does not trust them to keep and bear much smaller weapons here at home. The obvious answer is that these are the millions of well trained military men I was talking about in my recent piece about a possible assassination threat to Dr. Ron Paul.

These are the men the psychos at the top are afraid of, the men who can stick the red dot in their eye from a mile away. The psychos know these men are out there, watching, stewing, temperatures rising every day; they are beginning to understand that they are dying now because the psychos have poisoned them with Depleted Uranium in the field.

They are beginning to realize that the buddies and the limbs they left behind in Iraq were lost not in defense of this beloved country but in behalf of the megalomaniacal nightmare of conquest the psychos think is “normal.” Now the veterans understand that the monsters who sent them half way around the world to get sick are dismantling the system of freedom the Founding Fathers gave us here at home.

So far, they haven’t said much, but the psychos know they are simmering and that something could set them off. So, the Nazis at the top want their guns, because it is very nerve wracking to have to keep watching your chest and tum-tum, hoping that if you see the red dot there soon enough you will have time to hunker down before the round that follows it smashes through your perfumed skull and distributes gobs of your polluted brain all over the haute couture ensembles of the distinguished ladies enjoying cocktails on the balcony of your penthouse.

That was the coherent part. The writer makes some good points, but I'm a little worried about him. Then again, I'm a little worried about what is happening to our country as well.

And just so you know, not all the "armed veterans" are youngsters just back from Iraq. Trust me on that one.

All the news ...

That's fit to manufacture. We report, you decide.

From castrating bitch ...

To weak little woman in the time it takes to boil an egg. There's never a timer around when you need one*.

I see** it's not just me who noticed:


This pattern of systematic character destruction (and sexism) is not just bad for Senator Clinton, it's bad for all progressives, who are always the victims of the professional rightwing smear institutions and the puerile press corps that can't get enough of this stuff. We need to figure out a way to change this or we are going to be seeing more of our progressive politicians --- many of whom you may like better than Hillary Clinton --- turned into vessels of irrational loathing over time.


Matt Stoller, Jane Hamsher, Steve Benen and D-Day below have posts about the revolting pile-on today about her choking up. It's making me sick to my stomach.


Taylor Marsh says it succinctly:


Like I've been saying, tap into voters with emotion. It's the only way to win. To add, people know when something is contrived. There is no doubt that she's exhausted and the wall politicians usually erect completely falls in this exchange. She shared her honest feelings with the voters, revealing the Hillary people who've known her for years says is behind the politician we see every day. It's a continuation of the "That hurts my feelings," likability moment during the debate on Saturday, which was delivered so flawlessly. There's a part of Hillary Clinton that has not been revealed to the public. It's who she is and people need to meet that part of her. It was a very real moment.


Yeah, heaven forbid the castrating bitch shows emotion. The talking heads and Rethugs will have to think up other ways to assault her, like calling her 'weak' or implying 'it was staged'. I agree with Taylor that it wasn't. If she's that good an actor, she'd be collecting another Oscar instead of running for President.

Hillary was correct, lo those many years ago when she spoke of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Any Dem candidate who, hopefully (I've been a Mets fan for too long to believe anything is a lock), wins the general election in November will be met with the type of personal attacks, mostly in the form of lies, designed to stifle any attempts to undo the mess Bush has made. The next President will have a hell of a time, even with a majority in Congress (which is no sure thing). Just look at what the Clintons put up with, all of the allegations (save a blowjob) untrue.

If you think it's ugly now, wait until the Dem candidate is chosen. The only thing being castrated will be the Dem who wins the general election. The old white men of the Grand Obfuscation Party are sharpening their knives as we speak.

*Apologizing for paraphrasing The American President so shamelessly.

**This is not to say I'm endorsing Hillary or anyone else yet. I still have a lot of questions that haven't been answered. All of the top three say things I like and things I don't like. The guy I really liked (Dodd) is no longer in the running. We'll see who's still standing when the traveling show comes to New York.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Snow Day

I figured what with all the hype on the news about our "crippling" snow storm, I'd show you what really happened, at least at my house, which is the only place I've been since Thursday. It appears that conditions on our mountain roads were bad enough to curtail travel for a day or so to all vehicles except TV news trucks, complete with the on-camera talking head who drew the short straw. They had to talk it up big time to justify the expense, I guess, but our local merchants loved them in the absence of regular visitors. I'm surprised they didn't end up taking pictures of one another!

Here's 'before' taken last week just before the storm:

Here's yesterday after the storm:

See? No big deal.

And one of my faithful assistant Tami, who made sure nothing edible that came out of the discharge chute of my snowthrower went to waste:

Click pics to embiggen

It was a good storm, but nothing out the ordinary for around here. Cleanup of the driveway was easier than usual just as a matter of blind luck and timing - the town plows had the courtesy to berm me in before I plowed out. There's no feeling like clearing the driveway, getting inside where it's warm, taking off your snow boots, getting your wet clothes in the dryer, and settling back with a nice cup of hot chocolate, going 'ahhhh' a time or two, and just then hearing the 'clankety-clank, scrapety-scrape' that means you have to suit back up and clear a berm before it freezes solid. See my take on berms from last winter.

Folks elsewhere in California and Nevada suffered a lot worse than we did. We had kind of a normal snow storm. They took it in the shorts. We had three or four little power outages, the longest lasting about fifteen minutes, and the shortest just long enough that I had to grit my teeth, cuss, and reset the little-green-number clocks and restart the 'puter.

Folks pay big money to come up here and play in the snow in our winter wonderland. I just step out my front door.

They're Ba-ack!


Not a moment too soon to help make sense of things, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will be back on duty Monday, ready to mock everything in sight.

The New Hampshire presidential primary scheduled for the next day? A likely topic!

Gee, ya think?

Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox said, "Stephen and Jon are still figuring out what they're going to do on Monday night's show."

Probably so. But the nation's ruling class, presidential hopefuls and others ripe for ridicule should be all too aware of what's going to happen. Their two-month respite is coming to an end. Stewart and Colbert are on their case again.

Good. We need these guys. The presidential candidates in particular have been getting a pass for nine weeks and it needs to come to an end.

In entirely unrelated TV news, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations is starting a run of new shows tonight as well on The Travel Channel. As if I don't get enough smart-aleck Noo Yawkahs around this joint...

Why Obama is winning ...

Oliver Willis hits it directly on the head:

... Undboutedly [sic] people are excited about the prospect of a woman president, but I think it's safe to say that the possibility of a black president would present an even more fundamental shift in the basic fabric of what America is ...

Indeed. People of every stripe (and plaids too) have had enough of the 'status quo' and Obama represents the farthest thing from it. People see him as an agent of change because he has the most obvious differences with the run of the mill candidates. It's easier to believe Obama will bring change than Hillary, who's been part of the 'machine' for the last 35 years, regardless of her protestations.


And just a thought before I head to work. That doesn't mean I think Obama is the best thing for the country right now. We are in a deep hole and there is something to be said about having someone in charge who's been on the pointy end of a crisis. Say what you will about Hillary 'only' being a First Lady, but she was there with Bill when he fixed the 'Reagan Economy'. She was there with him in Kosovo and during the peace talks in Northern Ireland. She's right when she says experience counts. Thing is, I can't say Hil would be the ticket either. It's a tough time because the person we choose must be able to provide the leadership to get us out of this mess, not make it worse. We need an FDR right now and I'm not sure either of them is it.

Off to the shop ...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

CA Weather

Just go read if you're interested. I'd rather 'be under' 5 feet of snow, which I damn near am, than 5 feet of water.

An inch of rain is roughly equal to 10 inches of snow. Too much math for me.

Here are some local webcams. Some of 'em might even be working!



The California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) launched a national campaign today in favor of what the group has dubbed "CheneyCare" -- guaranteed, publicly-funded health care for all Americans.

The campaign was inspired by the success of the group's Iowa ads declaring that Vice President Dick Cheney "would be dead" if he did not have publicly-funded health care. A new version of the Iowa ad asking Americans to sign a petition for "CheneyCare" will run today in eight New Hampshire papers before going national in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, as well as leading political blogs, on Monday.

"All Americans have the right to the quality of care that our Vice-President, President, and Congress already have," said Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of CNA/NNOC and a vice-president of the AFL-CIO. "All the leading Democratic proposals fall well short of "CheneyCare," keeping insurance companies at the apex of power and allowing them to deny care that can save lives. The Republican proposals are even worse."

Yeah, the "health insurance" companies woulda dropped The Dick like a hot rock long ago and he'd be pushin' daisies. It's almost a good argument in their favor.

But not quite. We're the ones paying for the DC establishment's wonderful benefits. We should get them too. They're supposed to be workin' for us (Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! - we need to remind them of this on a daily basis, the uppity bastards). It's like buying the best health insurance in the world for the gardener and living without it yourself in order to pay for it.

Sounds like a Boozy Floozy too!

Normally I wouldn't link you to a wingnut site, but luckily in this instance, since Ed Rollins is such a righteous asshole, BuzzFlash will:

Conservative Blogger Overhears Iowa Diner Comments of Infamous Huckabee Campaign Manager, Ed Rollins, and Blogs it on Conservative Site, And It's a Doozy

It is indeed a doozy. Heh.

Donuts in the Snow*

*Sounds like something you'd do on a motorcycle after telling the assembled throng "Watch This!"

Dave Barry from NH. Do not miss this one!

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- And so the eyeballs of the world turn to New Hampshire, a tiny, flinty, gritty, Dunkin' Donuts-intensive state located mostly inside the Arctic Circle. On Tuesday, the voters here will troop to the polls, where -- as they have done every four years since 1952 -- they will turn around and troop back home, because the polls, like virtually everything else here, are under 23 feet of snow.

But a few people, the truly flinty ones, will manage to actually vote, and they will determine the course of this presidential race -- and, yes, America's future -- for approximately two news cycles. Then the eyeballs of the world will turn to either North or South Carolina (nobody is sure which) and the people of New Hampshire will go back to their traditional flinty New England lifestyle of sitting around eating doughnuts and waiting for the August thaw.

I like Dave Barry, but what strikes me as particularly funny, besides his political acumen later in his piece, is that he lives in Florida and actually thinks there's a lot of snow in New Hampshire!

I've been watching all the talking heads standing out of doors while they broadcast from up there. I got more snow in my shoes and I'm in sunny California!

The DC Disconnect

Eugene Robindon

The word "change" had great resonance in the Iowa campaign. In part, the yearning for change arose because George W. Bush has led the nation down so many dead-end paths. But from the conversations I had with Iowans, it seemed clear to me that change is also shorthand for the disconnect between the Washington state of mind and the widespread expectation, hardly unreasonable, that this city ought to actually get something done every once in a while.

Whether it gets done after a bare-knuckle brawl or a chorus of "Kumbaya" really doesn't matter.

My singing has been ruled in violation of the Geneva Convention, so I must opt for the former. Hint: bare knuckles wrapped around a wrist pin works good. I used to use a roll of quarters but it took too much time to round up all the loose change afterwards.

Who knew ...

George McGovern was still alive? And he's pissed too:


After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought that my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who had defeated me.

Today I have made a different choice.


Indeed. Good reading from the former Presidential candidate.


I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?

How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?


Easy, George, just leave it in the hands of the Republicans.

Great thanks to Scout Prime for the link.

Quote of the Day

Our pal Creature:

... Hillary, we get it, 35 years of change. Jeez, let up. You will never be the agent of change ...

But this is the problem I have with Hil. Like Edwards said, she's beholden to the pharmaceuticals and other big business interests. She's 'business as usual'. As far as I'm concerned, Edwards - Obama (in any order) would be the best scenario, though the fact Obama is so close to god creeps me out.

Don'tcha just wish ...

O'Reilly would have grabbed someone (an ex-Marine for instance) who'da just turned and put him on his ass? Woulda loved to see Billo do a Britney Spears impression and have to be taken out on a stretcher. Both of 'em should share a padded room.