Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bits and Pieces on Saturday

(pic from the San Juan river)

Here's a few things I'm reading on this fine Saturday.

Kevin Drum ( has a simple graphic that simplifies the results of the "surge" in Iraq.

Violence Metrics




Iraqi Military and Police Killed



Up 23%

Multiple Fatality Bombings



Down 25%

# Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings



Up 19%

Iraqi Civilians Killed
(All violent causes)



Hard to say1

U.S. Troop Fatalities



Up 80%

U.S. Troops Wounded



Up 45%

Size of Insurgency



Up ~250%

Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines



Up 75%

1Methodology changed dramatically between 2006 and 2007, so numbers are highly suspect.
2Number is for March 2007.
3Numbers are for June only. No July numbers are available.

Infrastructure Metrics




Diesel Fuel Available

26.7 Ml

20.7 Ml

Down 22%

Kerosene Available

7.08 Ml

6.3 Ml

Down 11%

Gasoline Available

29.4 Ml

22.2 Ml

Down 24%

LPG Available

4,936 tons

4,932 tons

Down 0.1%

Electricity Generated

8,800 Mwatts

8,420 Mwatts

Down 4%

Hours Electricity Per Day



Down ~14%

4No numbers available for June/July. Figure is extrapolated from May and August numbers.

But the upcoming reports will all be about "progress". The "facts" are liberal defeatism.

Another factor in the whole Iraq disaster has been the profiteering of corporations in Iraq. Rolling Stone digs in.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

As is often said "read the whole thing". It's truly a criminal enterprise, but I doubt that very many of the guilty will ever see jail time.

One of the most often used antiwar slogans is "no blood for oil", but now we see "oil for blood":

Spouses of deployed or wounded military members can apply for a free oil change through Dec. 31, donated by Chevron Products Co. in conjunction with Operation Homefront.

The company is donating 1,000 free oil changes featuring its new “Havoline with Deposit Shield” motor oil, including lube and filter, at participating Texaco Xpress Lube locations. Military families in financial need can apply through one of Operation Homefront’s 31 local chapters, or online at Operation Homefront.

Found via badtux the snarky penguin, one of the finest bloggers out there.

On the local front, the race is on to replace "Mr. Corruption" Rick Renzi. Looks like the field may get crowded:

Up until Rep. Rick Renzi’s formal announcement Thursday that he wasn’t seeking re-election in the 1st Congressional District, only Democrats were willing to formally express their intent to run. Here’s a list of who has announced their intent to run or expressed their interest in representing the sprawling rural district:


ANN KIRKPATRICK — The two-term state representative from Flagstaff resigned her legislative seat July 24 to run for CD-1.

HOWARD SHANKER — The Flagstaff attorney, who specializes in environmental issues, represents the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache, Yavapai-Apache, the Havasupai Tribe and others in the litigation over the use of reclaimed wastewater at Arizona Snowbowl.

MARY KIM TITLA — The former TV reporter now is publisher of the online Native Youth Magazine.

STEVE OWENS — No formal announcement from the current director of the Arizona
Department of Environmental Quality, but he has said in the past he would consider it.


KRIS MAYES — The former reporter and press secretary for Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2003 by Napolitano to replace ousted commissioner Jim Irvin. The Prescott native has been re-elected twice since then, mostly recently in 2006.

KEN BENNETT — The former state senate president hails from Prescott, a key Republican stronghold in Yavapai County. Term limits prevented him from seeking re-election to the state senate.

BILL KONOPNICKI — A state lawmaker from Safford expressed an interest in running for the 1st Congressional District seat, but has yet to form an exploratory committee.


Winslow Mayor Allen Affedlt, a Democrat; Republican state Sen. Tom O’Halleran of Sedona; Republican; and Prescott-area rancher Steve Pierce, also a Republican.

While I haven't completely made up my mind on who I'll volunteer for, the more I've gotten to know Howard Shanker (, the more I'm liking him. This district could easily be turned Democratic, despite trending Republican in the past. One of the key swing groups are the Native American tribes, who tend Dem. but went for Renzi the past 3 elections (Renzi was good at promising them pork). One challenge to any campaign is the huge size of AZ-01. Here's a map:

And on a side note, you may have noticed that I don't post videos. The simple reason is that I rarely watch videos. There are plenty of blogs with great video clips, but I mostly find them annoying. My co-bloggers have posted videos a couple of times, and are more than welcome to continue to do so. Just don't expect any from me.

Enjoy your Saturday.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bloggers and Media

This is a simple little example of blogs relationship to the media. On my post "Renzi's Out" I got an email from a local "dead tree" reporter, asking if I had a "source" or "verification". I emailed back "click on the link", but I didn't respond all that fast. So I get to hear same reporter on local radio reporting "rumor" about the same story. I talked to the same reporter this evening, and he said "was that a link? I didn't check".
That is our simple difference.
If I state something as a fact or "news", I better have a link to my source of the information.
If (as in my last post) I'm stating my opinion, well, it's mine. No source needed. You, the reader, can decide what it's worth.
But I found that the big difference is that blogs can be "fact checked" by a simple click. A newspaper doesn't have that option. The public assumes that the reporter has done his homework, and that the story is accurate. You can't "click on the link" on a newspaper.
This is how the media is changing.
(BTW, it's nice to know that a local reporter is reading my blog. But also slightly sad. I'm just an old hippie, so if you're looking to me for the news you're not paying attention.)


Along with all the attempts to spin reports on Iraq, there's a repeated trend to assign blame for the failures. The 2 most frequent scapegoats appear to be Nouri al-Maliki and Iran. Our shrub would never admit that Iraq has been his failure, so he's assigning the problem to others.

Yesterday, I posted at length on how shaky al-Maliki's position is, but it's not his fault. The entire premise that Iraq would unify under a single, pro-American leader is simply ridiculous. Last months "progress" report graded al-Maliki as "not having met 18 benchmarks", but didn't address the validity of those benchmarks. These goals are America's goals for Iraq, not Iraqi's goals for Iraq. As long as Iraqi's percieve al-Maliki as an American puppet he cannot stabilize Iraq. No leader can. Anybody who becomes leader of Iraq as an American choice will fail.

The other target for repeated blame is Iran. If you believe the media, our soldiers are being killed by only 2 groups: al-Qaeda and the Iranians. While it's true that Iran is involved in Iraq (hey, they're neighbors), the Iranians have been supporting the same Shia parties that support al-Maliki. Given the long history of confrontation between America and Iran, it should come as no surprise that they oppose our occupation of their neighbor. But the Iranians are not to blame for our failed occupation.
The reason that our occupation is failing and will continue to fail is that it was begun on a fatally flawed premise: that we could turn Iraq into a pro-American client state. The reality is that the middle east has resisted foreign occupation throughout history. They will continue to resist.
This war was doomed to fail from the beginning. We will withdraw at some point, because the occupation will become unsustainable. The only question is how much blood it will take to convince our leaders to withdraw.
And those same "talkers" will blame the scapegoats. It was never the fault of the "plan".


Yes, every Friday should have a boobie. Here's this week's.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Should I Come out of Retirement?

Tonight I was asked to come out of "retirement" and return to play for my brewery's softball team. They need help at 3rd base, my old position, and the manager was almost begging. I have not played for 2 years, and I'm feeling my age. But I did a bit of workout, and I might have a few more games in me. The main question is my bad knee. The arm is still there, but the mobility might not be. And yes, I can still hit.
Readers, do you have any opinion? I know I cannot play at the level I used to be able to. I might still be able to help the team (the current 3rd baseman is a liability, and the team is in the hunt for the league title), but I'm not sure if my body will meet my expectations.
Should I come out of retirement?
Added: Remember that I don't have health insurance.

Renzi's Out!

Finally some good news! My own corrupt congress-critter, Rick Renzi isn't running for re-election:

I had been hearing a lot of talk in local political circles that this was coming (he wasn't actively raising funds), but now it's official.
Now I have to find a new corrupt congress-critter to dedicate my pigs to.


Oh, great. Now I can count myself among the oppressed.

Listen up, singletons. If you've given up on the dating scene and resigned yourself to a lifetime of solitude culminating in a fatal fall in the shower and subsequent consumption by starving house pets, here's something else to fret about:

You're a member of the only minority subject to officially sanctioned discrimination--call it singlism.

As one of our nation's 90 million unmarried citizens, I've become inured to the social pressure to couple up--the backhanded insults and armchair psychoanalysis meted out by friends, co-workers, and well-meaning strangers at the bus stop whenever my marital status comes under scrutiny. And, believe me, I've heard it all. Selfish? Check. Immature? Check. Emotionally unstable? Check. Too picky for my own good? Check, check, and check.


Single people make up a significant portion of the workforce, so you might think their employers would make at least a token effort to keep them happy. You'd be wrong. In their zeal to appear "family friendly," companies often overcompensate at the expense of singles, pressuring unmarried employees to travel more frequently, work more weekends and holidays, stay later during the week and refrain from taking time off during school vacation season, regardless of rank or seniority.

Not that all this extra work translates into a higher salary. A 2004 study by economists Kate Antonovics and Robert Town found that marriage increases men's wages by as much as 27%. All told, when pension, insurance and other benefits are factored in, married workers frequently end up out-earning their single counterparts by thousands of dollars a year.

Corporate America isn't any friendlier to singles on the consumer side of the equation, opting instead to shower their discounts on the wedded in the form of preferred insurance rates and "family" memberships at gyms and country clubs. And if you're considering a solo cruise or vacation to a posh resort or spa, make sure you've saved up enough to cover the "singles supplement" you'll be charged for daring to occupy an entire room by yourself. Happy trails!

Unfair, you cry? Don't look to the government for any redress, because they're in on it too. Anti-discrimination laws cover race, religion, gender and age--but singles go woefully unprotected at the federal level. In fact, when it comes to singlism, the government is one of the worst offenders, waving the tax code like a magical fairy wand of approval over married couples.

I did find the article quite amusing, but I don't think anybody is truly discriminating against me for being single. I'm a bit of a curmudgeon, and have gotten comfortable with being single. While I do miss having a constant sex life, I'm not very good at sharing my personal space. To make a relationship work in the long term requires a lot of compromise, and my personal independence has led to a long string of failures. I've got a lot of friends, though.

The Latest NIE

Forget the White House/Petraeus propaganda report that's scheduled for 9/11. That report will merely repeat the word "progress" about a brazillion times. Much more meaningful is today's National Intelligence Estimate:

The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, U.S. spy agencies conclude in a new assessment of the country's political and military fortunes.

Despite some uneven improvements, the analysts concluded that the level of overall violence is high, Iraq's sectarian groups remain unreconciled, and al-Qaida in Iraq is still able to conduct highly visible attacks.

"Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," the 10-page document, a declassified summary of a more detailed National Intelligence Estimate, concludes. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Thursday.

The report represents the collaborative judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organization of each military service. It comes at a time of renewed tensions between Washington and Baghdad, and as the Bush administration prepares a mid-September report on how its troop buildup in Iraq is working.

Full text of the report here:

I just finished reading it, and was struck by the inability to "spin" the situation. While the report claims some "positives", they are almost immediately outweighed by the following "negatives". Taken as a whole, we're fucked in Iraq. It's really that simple.

Sorting out al-Maliki

I'm an amateur, so don't expect this post to actually clarify the muddle surrounding Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki. It does appear to me that he's being set up as the scapegoat for the failures in Iraq:

NEW YORK (AP) - A new assessment on Iraq may shed some negative light on Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The New York Times is reporting on its Web site that U.S. intelligence agencies will issue a new assessment Thursday expressing doubt about al-Maliki's ability to end the violence that's tearing his country apart.

The assessment will also reportedly show doubt in the fledgling government's ability to meet benchmarks toward achieving political unity. The Times' story cites unidentified officials.

It comes just a day after President Bush scrambled to show his support for the embattled Iraqi leader. Bush called him a "good man with a difficult job," after expressing frustration with the ongoing political tensions in Iraq.

Our shrub has a bad habit of sending out mixed messages, and al-Maliki has had his share of interesting responses:

"No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," he said at a news conference in Damascus at the end of the three-day visit to Syria.

"Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere," al-Maliki said. [emphasis added]

While al-Maliki's status is shaky, I think that Hillary Clinton should be a little more careful about choosing her words.

"During my last visit to Iraq in January, I expressed my reservations about the ability of the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Maliki, to make the tough political decisions necessary for Iraq to resolve its sectarian divisions. Since my visit, Iraqi leaders have not met their own political benchmarks to share power, modify the de-Ba'athification laws, pass an oil law, schedule provincial elections, and amend their constitution. During his trip to Iraq last week, Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on which I serve, confirmed that the Iraqi Government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders. I share Senator Levin’s hope that the Iraqi parliament will replace Prime Minister Maliki with a less divisive and more unifying figure when it returns in a few weeks.

Because there is a real possibility that al-Maliki could remain as PM, and should she end up as President, negotiations could be tense.

But there are a lot of rumors swirling around (this via

A rumor is circulating among well-connected and formerly high-level Iraqi bureaucrats in exile in places like Damascus that a military coup is being prepared for Iraq. I received the following from a reliable, knowledgeable contact. There is no certitude that this plan can or will be implemented. That it is being discussed at high levels seems highly likely.

"There is serious talk of a military commission (majlis `askari) to take over the government. The parties would be banned from holding positions, and all the ministers would be technocrats, so to speak. . . [The writer indicates that attempts have
been made to recruit cabinet members from the ranks of expatriate technocrats.

The six-member board or commission would be composed on non-political former military personnel who are presently not part of the government OR the military establishment, such as it is in Iraq at the moment. It is said that the Americans are supporting this behind the scenes.

The plan includes a two-year period during which political parties would not be permitted to be part of the government, but instead would prepare and strengthen the parties for an election which would not have lists, but real people running for real seats. The two year period would be designed to take control of security and restore

And another old neo-con favorite may be trying to make a comeback. Think "Saddam-light":

Republican lobbyists with close ties to the Bush administration are aiding and supporting the efforts of an Iraqi opposition leader who is calling for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The anti-Maliki crusader is former Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi, and the Washington firm retained to spearhead U.S.-focused efforts on his behalf is the Republican powerhouse group of Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers (BGR).

BGR International's president is Robert Blackwill, the one-time White House point man on Iraq, holding the title of Presidential Envoy to Iraq in 2004.

Blackwill worked closely during that time with Allawi, who was appointed Iraq's interim prime minister with the U.S. government's blessing.

This may be the absolute worst idea I've read in a long time. Allawi is seen as an American puppet and has no base of support amongst Iraq's. While al-Maliki's support is dwindling, Allawi would be violently opposed by the vast majority of the populace. The escalation in the violence would be horrific.

One of the wild-cards in play is a result of al-maliki's recent contacts with Iran, Turkey, and Syria. It doesn't make the administration very happy to read things like this:

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that, as expected, the deal offered to Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki was more security in return for greater economic cooperation. (See also the OSC press summary below).

UPI reports that the cooperation focused on reviving the oil pipeline from Iraq through Syria, and on linking Iraq to the Syrian (and Arab) gas pipeline
network. It should be noted that if the Syrian oil pipeline could be
reopened, the tolls would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year
for Damascus. In a good year, the Iraqi petroleum pipeline was worth a
billion dollars a year to Turkey.

Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has overseen the building of a new pipeline to
through northern Iraq, which will be guarded by a new protection force, and Iraq hopes also to begin pumping from the Kirkuk fields again soon. I suppose the success or failure of this effort would tell us whether the revival of the Syrian pipeline is feasible.

In reality, Iran, Turkey, and Syria are in a position to help stabilize Iraq. The question is how willing they are while America is occupying Iraq.

al-Maliki is quite weak in parliament, with his new four party coalition controlling only 104 of the 237 seats. He might pick up enough small party votes to survive a "no-confidence" vote, but it's by no means certain. He's ineffective, but it's doubtful whether anyone else could be effective in the current chaos. There is no "non-sectarian" candidate waiting in the wings.

And if our shrub decides to bomb Iran, all bets are off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shrub vs. Strawman

When my masochistic side needs a good working over, I listen to our shrub. Today's speech to the VFW inflicted so much pain that it should be banned under the Geneva conventions.

Our shrub attacked a number of "strawmen" during the course of the speech, but our useless media won't be calling him on it. Some samples:

Now, I know some people doubt the universal appeal of liberty, or worry that the Middle East isn't ready for it. Others believe that America's presence is destabilizing, and that if the United States would just
leave a place like Iraq those who kill our troops or target civilians would no longer threaten us.


In the aftermath of Japan's surrender, many thought it naive to help the Japanese transform themselves into a democracy. Then as now, the critics argued that some people were simply not fit for freedom. Some said Japanese culture was inherently incompatible with democracy.


Finally, there's Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech. So I'm going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end.

Who are these "some people"? I've decided that our shrub should be diagnosed as psychotic. He's delusional and hearing voices.


While it's quite a way down the road, I found this poll to be interesting:

If John McCain isn't elected president next year, he may have a hard time gaining another term in the U.S. Senate.

A new statewide survey shows that if the Senate election were held today, the Republican incumbent would be defeated by Gov. Janet Napolitano – that is, if Napolitano would choose to run for the seat. The Democrat governor cannot seek a third term.

Not surprisingly, the poll by the Behavior Research Center shows Napolitano the
favorite of 78 percent of Democrats, versus 11 percent for McCain. But the governor also would pick up 20 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of independents who make up nearly 28 percent of Arizona’s registered voters.

If they went head to head, Napolitano would get 47 percent of the vote, compared to 36 percent for McCain, according to the poll.

The poll took place between July 27 and Aug. 4 and included responses from 629 voters. The margin of error was 3.9 percent.

John McCain is appearing more and more senile, in my opinion. Janet has been very effective as Governor. Not perfect, but effective.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


For our 600'th post (hey, does that make us a "serious" blogger?) here's a pic from the Salt River.

A Psychopath

As I've posted many times, my background is in mental health. While I mainly dealt with people who were psychotic, I did encounter a few psychopaths. Reading this, I see a true psychopath:

The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands. When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear
weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead.
Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel
off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy.

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.

When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege [sic] while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.


That's the essence of the argument made by Philip Atkinson, contributing editor of Family Security Matters, a right wing welfare organization subsidiary of the right wing think tank Center for Security Policy, whose members include such conservative luminaries as Laura Ingraham, Frank Gaffney, Monica Crowley and James Woolsey.


Now you won't find Mr. Atkinson's paean to dictatorship on the FSM website, as they've been scrubbing it clean of any unsightly blemishes, but thanks to Digby we can still read why a Bush dictatorship would have been the greatest thing ever (and why we should have killed all the Iraqis and replaced them with an American Colony)

What makes this scary is that there is no known treatment for psychopaths.

Death to the Poor

Barbara Ehrenreich explains the current economic turmoil much more clearly than I could:

Somewhere in the Hamptons a high-roller is cursing his cleaning lady and shaking his fists at the lawn guys. The American poor, who are usually tactful enough to remain invisible to the multi-millionaire class, suddenly leaped onto the scene and started smashing the global financial system. Incredibly enough, this may be the first case in history in which the downtrodden manage to bring down an unfair economic system without going to the trouble of a revolution.

First they stopped paying their mortgages, a move in which they were joined by many financially stretched middle class folks, though the poor definitely led the way. All right, these were trick mortgages, many of them designed to be unaffordable within two years of signing the contract. There were “NINJA” loans, for example, awarded to people with “no income, no job or assets.” Conservative columnist Niall Fergusen laments the low levels of “economic literacy” that allowed people to be exploited by sub-prime loans. Why didn’t these low-income folks get lawyers to go over the fine print? And don’t they have personal financial advisors anyway?

Then, in a diabolically clever move, the poor – a category which now roughly coincides with the working class – stopped shopping. Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot announced disappointing second quarter performances, plunging the market
into another Arctic-style meltdown. H. Lee Scott, CEO of the low-wage Wal-Mart empire, admitted with admirable sensitivity, that “it’s no secret that many customers are running out of money at the end of the month.”

(BTW, does anybody have a link to the "Bedlam Rovers" doing the song "Objectivity"? I can't seem to find one).

Spoke too soon (or didn't search well enough). Here's a sample:Objectivity

Happy Birthday, Suzy

Frequent commenter and all-around nice blogger Suzy at Luminiferous Ether is having a birthday. She claims to be my age, but I don't believe it (I'm certain that she's younger. Just compare our pics.). She's posted a great pineapple-upside-down cake story that y'all should go read. So, Suzy, here's a cake I baked on a river trip this past spring for someone else's birthday. I'm sure she'll be happy to share.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Being a Blockhead

All over the inter-tubes today, they're talking about Michael Skube’s 1,200-word take on why he hates blogs.

Bloggers now are everywhere among us, and no one asks if we don’t need more full-throated advocacy on the Internet. The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.

And to think most bloggers are doing all this on the side. “No man but a blockhead,” the stubbornly sensible Samuel Johnson said, “ever wrote but for money.” Yet here are people, whole brigades of them, happy to write for free. And not just write. Many of the most active bloggers — Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, Joshua Micah Marshall and the contributors to the Huffington Post — are insistent partisans in political debate.

'ol Josh Marshall took care of the sloppy reporting (pointing out that the first three on his list are professionals), so I'll just give a "Pygalgia is a blockhead" response. Yeah, I write for free. Because there are things I want to say. Which is why I started blogging (well, that and the incredible sex with the blog groupies). My "manifestos" and "unbecoming hatred" are available to anyone who wants to read them for free.
Having said that, I'd be perfectly happy to get paid for blogging. Drop me an email, and I'll let you know where to send the checks.

al-Sadr in his own words

I've written a lot in the past about Muqtada al-Sadr's position in Iraqi politics, because the American media has missed the reality of his position. When the media mentions al-Sadr, it always includes the phrase "radical cleric" in an effort to demonize him. The reality is much more complex, as this statement shows:

"I would support the UN here in Iraq if it comes and replaces the American and British occupiers," he said.

"If the UN comes here to truly help the Iraqi people, they will receive our help in their work. I would ask my followers to support the UN as long as it is here to help us rebuild our country. They must not just be another face of the American occupation."

Just last week, I heard one of our "wise talking heads" on NPR (sorry, I didn't pay attention to which one, and I'm not going to spend a bunch of time looking through transcripts) say of al-Sadr "He's almost certainly hiding out in Iran". Then I read the transcript (in arabic) of the Friday sermon he delivered at a mosque in Kufa (which is in southern Iraq), basically decrying the "persian" intervention. And while the media tries to blame al-Sadr for much of the sectarian violence, he also does this:

Throughout last week a series of influential Iraqi sheikhs, including at least one senior Sunni tribal leader, visited the Sadrist headquarters as part of an effort to heal the rift between Sunnis and Shias. Aides to Mr Sadr said it was a priority to form a united nationalist front against all "foreign elements" in Iraq, with the Americans and al-Qa'ida to be considered equally as enemies.

Mr Sadr praised Iraqi Sunnis who had begun to fight against al-Qa'ida and religious extremists guilty of targeting Shia civilians. "Proud Iraqis in Ramadi have stood against al-Qa'ida and against the Americans and they have written their names into our history books," he said.

Shrugging off recent rumours that he had fled to Iran - he dismissed them as American propaganda designed to discredit him - Mr Sadr denied US claims his
forces were armed by Iran.

Our administration can't seem to see the truth about who are the Iranian allies in Iraq, the SIIC that is the militia of Nouri al-Maliki. That's the guy we're supporting.

The US military hasn't found any Iranian trainers in Iraq or any training camps,
but like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, that you can't find them doesn't
mean they are not there. What I cannot understand is why the Pentagon needs
Iranians in Iraq as a plot device. The Iraqi Badr Corps, tens of thousands strong, was trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and it has been alleged that some Badr corpsmen are still on the Iranian payroll. It is the paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, America's chief ally in Iraq. What would the IRGC know that Badr does not? Why bother to send revolutionary guardsmen when the country is thick with Badr fighters anyway (who have all the same training)? I think the US is just embarrassed because Badr is its major ally in Iraq, and Pentagon spokesmen are over-compensating by imagining Iranian training camps inside Iraq. What an idea. I mean, don't we have, like, satellites that would see them? Wouldn't they be visible on
google earth? Every day the Pentagon b.s. about Iran gets more fantastic and

And, if we really wanted to marginalize al-Sadr, I think fester at The NewsHoggers has the perfect plan:
Yep, really secure; I again want to suggest my plan for marginalizing the Sadrists from their base of support:

Have the US fully embrace him, provide billions in unaccountable dollars, and publicly distribute numerous photographs of top US officials shaking hands and cutting ribbons on freshly painted schools with top Sadrist Movement officials.

This strategy has done wonders in delegitamitizing Allawi, Jaafari, and Maliki, so it should work with Sadr...

And, if you haven"t read it, here's the NY Times editorial written by 7 soldiers. A must read:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Repast

Y'all are welcome to join me.

A local letter

In our local dead tree news, I read this "letter to the editor":

It's not whether to bomb Iran, but where

To the editor: William Rusher was a little off base with his "Should we drop the bombs on Iran" piece (Guest column, Aug. 1). It's not whether we should bomb Iran or not but where. Easy, easy -- this is, of course only after we establish clear and irrefutably that Iran is the source of the bombs that are killing our American soldiers. (By the way there is no generic American soldier, but there is someone's son or daughter.) Then we give them a clear and definite time to cease, as well as their nuclear developments that are purely weapons oriented or face the consequence.

No, we don't bomb populated areas, we go for their oil fields and their oil loading docks and we use neutron bombs which would render the site unapproachable much like Chernobyl is now in Russia. You don't get rid of your weed problems in your garden by cutting off a branch or the top -- you cut out their main source of sustenance. There will be little life lost and the problem will be solved and we'll get along okay and so will they. Hey Green Peacers, we got to get along without those sources of greenhouse gases anyhow.

This just may speed up the process.


Tuba City

I guess the propaganda machine is working. I kept hoping it was satire, but, sadly, I think he means it. And that scares me.

We Need More Bullets

I'm having a lazy Sunday, but I thought I'd help our government out. This solicitation from the Federal Business Office should be shared:


25 Million (7.62 x 39mm) rounds of Ammunition

Hey, all those AK-47's we spread around will be empty soon.

Place of Performance

Address:International Zone Baghdad, Iraq APO, AE 09348
Postal Code:09348

Wonder how much you could charge for shipping?