Saturday, September 15, 2007

why Zymurgian hates politics

i shook a politician's hand tonight. Outside a tavern. Once inside the bar, he tossed me stickers of himself with mountains in the background. Good luck, pal.

Busy Day

And more. See you here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

peaches and grass

Our president is an idiot. Chances are, if you are perusing this blog, you already carry this sentiment. His cabinet is fool of crooks, we surmise. In fact, little of what our government does impresses the details of my life, your life, unless you really think about it, Huh? Our lives.
Which is, after all, all we know.
they say- "some see the trees and some see the forest. " Both perceptions are important and i just feel like sometimes this blog is a little "tree obsessed" with its proclivities. Like, "So and so committed this atrocity"Here's a forest view of The United States Of America right now.

Any clan, kingdom, nation etc. ever, has prioritized economic strategies. Assure the people they will be fed. This is the function of congressmen and kings of yore. Defence is next, of course, then- i dunno- Justice? Or does religion cum before that?
Sophomoric anthropology lecture over. Sorryboutthat.

Hermes Trismegestus, ancient Egyptian philosopher, alchemist, brewer, said"As above- so below".
This Shrub. He thinks there are a whole slew of Austrians livin down there in Australia. He (it?) is self-enamoured, insincere, greedy and ignorant. Arrogant. Stupid. Indomitable. Vapid.
Second lecture over, mutherfuckers! The problem with The United States Of America is not our politicians. They are but trees. The vast canopy of our nation is wilting fast because we want absolutely everything, and think we are entitled to it. But we're runnin outta shit. Like, yknow we told those Indians we would never cross the Appalachian mountains. But we ran outta shit so we just had to (sorry guys!) Economy think tanks have known for at least 50 years that if we are to survive, we must conquer all of The Middle East oil before someone else does. Dredging it from arctic sands is just boring. If any non-norte amerikanz are reading this now, if you got something that we have gobbled all up and still crave, watch out!
The problem is not Shrub and his minions. Poor fella had to conquer oil reserves because maybe you are not willing to give up your car. If everybody gave up cars, i reckon our politicians wouldn't feel so obliged to take over The Middle East. Will you consider that please.
So I don't think Lao Tzu or Machiavelli or my man Hermes-T would have differed with my opinion that an emperor/king/chief/president whose deeds are self-enamoured, insincere, greedy, ignorant, arrogant, stupid, indomitable and vapid- could flourish in a virtuous society...
Substitute manifest destiny for "try not to hurt anybody. " Everytime you walk out yer door to the world , purge thyself of all the symptoms that are making America ill. Is there maybe a little bit of Shrub in all of us ? (please do not bomb my house) If you are really sincere about supporting our troops ordered to conquer others for their resources because you have an unalienable right to a Snicker burger or something. Walk. Bike. Ride the frickin bus. Your car is the root of the problem, idiot.
Social studies class is now over folks. ("but is the professor stoned?")

A Good Quote

Bill Richardson isn't that good of a campaign speaker, but he did get off a good one today:

Democratic Presidential candidate Governor Bill Richardson, campaigning today in Iowa, issued the following statement regarding the recent “spying” incident involving the National Football League’s New England Patriots:

“The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue. You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush.”

I like that. After all, politics is often compared to football, sometimes with very tortured analogies. Hopefully we'll see more like this.

A Busy Weekend

Sometimes, a bunch of things happen all at once. I'm looking at a busy weekend, with all kinds of fun stuff lined up.
First up, the annual "Pickin' in the Pines" bluegrass festival (, where some of my friends are having a reunion of a band that broke up a few years ago today. While I'm going to miss the Saturday lineup for reasons listed below, I'm hoping to catch Sunday when another friends band is playing.
Tomorrow is the annual "Flagstaff Gear Swap" where I've found some great deals on river equipment in the past. While I don't have a whole lot of money to spend, it's fun to wander around and look for deals. I hate to shop unless it's for "river stuff".
After that, I'll participate in the yearly clean up of the Rio De Flag. The Rio runs from near my house through downtown and on. During monsoon season a lot of trash gets washed down the Rio, and once a year we have a community clean up gathering. It's a great social event, as well as a worthwhile city beautification project.
Saturday night is the "Rock the Peaks" event for Howard Shanker, with music by Blackfire (if you haven't heard Blackfire, go here and crank your speakers up). I'm one of Howard's volunteers for the event, so if you're in Flagstaff, please stop by.

Of course, if I had more money, I'd be here:

Sept15 button

Anyway, don't be surprised if posting is light (or non-existent) this weekend. There are some things that are more fun than blogging (besides sex; that's a given).

We Like Boobies

So here's a pair of Blue Footed's for your Friday viewing pleasure.

On the Democrats

Zymurgian and I had an interesting debate last night, one that has taken place many times amongst progressives: Do we work inside the Democratic party or from outside. It's a tough question, because the party has repeatedly failed us.

I've been involved in traditional politics for decades, but have also been involved in protests and other non-traditional campaigns. A number of the "big" blogs have been using the phrase "more and better Democrats", and it's a laudable idea. That said, I'm skeptical about achieving it.

One of the reasons that I volunteer and work for Democratic candidates is simply in opposition to the Republicans. Even back in the days where there were some "honest Republicans", I was opposed to the Republican philosophy of "business before people". Now that we have a current Republican party that is completely out of control, the Democrats are literally our only hope outside of open rebellion. I know that's a "lesser of two evils" argument, but it's true.
Yes, the current crop of spineless Democrats drive me crazy. If we had a real, strong, progressive Democratic party, we would have impeached by now. It's frustrating as all hell.
If we had a large segment of the population taking to the streets, we could achieve change. That isn't happening, so I am working with what I have. You go to war with the politicians you have, not the politicians you wish you had.

Zymurgian expressed doubt as to whether my work on various political campaigns could actually change anything, and I have to admit that sometimes I have my doubts. But in the end, I said "I have to try". It's hard-wired into me: I have to try.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.


I didn't watch our shrub's speech (see post below), but I've read the transcript (painful enough on it's own), and something struck me: our shrub is an addict in denial. The rationalizations, denials of reality, and outright lies, are typical behavior patterns of an addict who won't admit that they've lost control of their life.
By way of explaining, I am a former heroin addict. Years back, when I was in my early 20's, I fell victim to that vicious drug. Like many addicts, I was able to maintain a semblance of functionality, which allowed me to remain in denial for several years. When family and friends would try to tell me how messed up I was, I would tell them that I was getting "better" and just needed some more time. It wasn't true, but at the time I believed it. Finally, reality broke through. It was a very painful experience, and it took several years to recover. With the help of friends, I was able to restart my life. But I could have had a very different end.
Shrub is addicted to this war in Iraq. Despite the obvious deterioration in front of him, he denies the problem and calls for another dose. He's able to maintain a semblance of functionality, and so continue his habit. The repeated falsehoods are his way of saying "I don't have a problem" and that things are "getting better".
There is one huge difference. My addiction hurt myself, my family, and my friends. Shrub's addiction is destroying our entire country. Each time he shoots up, more soldiers and Iraqis die. We can see the steady deterioration. Last night, shrub basically said that he's going to cut back his dosage to the level he was using last year.
He needs an intervention.
Unfortunately, congress lacks the courage to intervene (much like my own family was afraid to intervene with me). So it's up to us. It's time for all of us to step up and say "you must stop this behavior".
Going through withdrawal is painful, and withdrawing from Iraq is going to hurt. But it's the only alternative to the slow death that our country is facing.
Added: It should be noted, while shrub claims to have "recovered from alcohol and drugs", he still exhibits the classic behavior of an addict.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shrub Speaks

Our shrub will go on TV tonight. I will not be watching. For me to actually watch shrub requires a combination of tranquilizers, anti-depressants, beer, and other substances that would be quite unhealthy. Only Doc Thompson could handle that level of combined intoxicants, and look how that ended up. In the past, people created drinking games for shrub's speeches. I never played the games, as I needed to start drinking prior to watching to avoid shooting my television.
Besides, I already know what lies will be spouted. Why bother?
Added: Luckily for me, tonight is our local drinking liberally night.
Drinking Liberally


Today is the first day of Ramadan (OK, technically it began last night), the month long obervance of devotion in Islam. During the month, devout Muslims are expected to fast from sunrise to sundown:

Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for
the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this
month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same
number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may
fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express
your appreciation. (2:185)

In the debacle that is Iraq, the month of Ramadan has seen a rise in insurgent violence each year. Religion sure inspires some strange things. Something to remember while our shrub is speaking tonight.

Happy Rosh Hoshanah

I'm not a religious person, but in one of those strange twists that prove that if there is a "God" he/she has a sense of humor: technically, I can be considered Jewish. This is because I have one Jewish grandparent. I'm technically eligible to become an Israeli citizen, and welcome to join a synagogue. Considering that my ancestry is predominately Scottish, and that the one Jewish grandparent was not orthodox, it's a strange position.
Growing up, we noted Jewish holidays with my grandparents. Looking back, I should have exploited this for more days off from school. But I never thought of it.
Rosh Hoshanah is the Jewish New Year, and the year is now 5768. Happy New Year!
Added: As further proof of the quirks of religion, today is also the first day of Ramadan. I'll have another post for that later.

The Death of an Ally


Shiek Abdul-Satter Abu Risha, one of the Sunni leaders in Anbar who went from enemy to ally, has been killed:

BAGHDAD - The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.

Of course, the killing was almost immediately attributed to AQI, but there are more likely killers. A lot of Sunni's hated Abu Risha.

Nothing could have been more predictable than the murder of Abu Risha, the man most closely identified with America's Anbar strategy. He was the public face of the turn against al-Qaeda, and Petraeus immediately said that "it shows Al Qaeda in Iraq remains a very dangerous and barbaric enemy." But there's no reason to assume that al-Qaeda killed him - I'd guess that one of the nationalist insurgency groups, the ones which current American rhetoric pretends don't exist - is a more likely suspect. Other tribes deeply resented him. The major nationalist insurgency groups had recently issued a series of statements denouncing people who would illegitimately seize the fruits of their victorious jihad - of whom he was the prime example. All those photographs which swamped the Arab media showing him shaking hands with President Bush made him even more a marked man than before.

By the way, while shrub and Pertaeus proudly pointed to Abu Risha as an important ally, this guy was about as cruel and corrupt a partner as you could find.

An hour with Bush was really quite a coup for Sattar Abu Risha. The head of the Anbar Salvation Council has a rather unsavory reputation as one of the shadiest figures in the Sunni community, and as recently as June was reportedly on his way out. As a report in Time described him,

Sheikh Sattar, whose tribe is notorious for highway banditry, is also building a personal militia, loyal not to the Iraqi government but only to him. Other tribes — even those who want no truck with terrorists — complain they are being forced to kowtow to him. Those who refuse risk being branded as friends of al-Qaeda and tossed in jail, or worse. In Baghdad, government delight at the Anbar Front's impact on al-Qaeda is tempered by concern that the Marines have unwittingly turned Sheikh Sattar into a warlord who will turn the province into his personal fiefdom.

In June, Abu Risha's position in the Anbar Salvation Council came under a fairly intense internal challenge. As the Washington Post reported at the time,

Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

That's our guy. That's the pillar of America's Sunni strategy, and a key player in Fred Kagan's fantasy life.And I didn't even mention the widely discussed, sensational rumor that he had skipped town with $75 million in American cash - which evidently wasn't true, or else was just a "misunderstanding" which has been "resolved", but does speak to endless circulation of unpleasant rumors about the guy's corruption and mercenary behavior.

It's a sad commentary that shrub was proud to ally with someone like this. We funded and armed someone who was closer to a mafia don that a leader for the people. Here's a piece of daily news from Iraq:

Hundreds of Shiite and Sunni Iraqis marched in protest on Wednesday against the barrier the US military is putting in to separate the Ghazaliya (Sunni) and Shu'la
(increasingly Shiite) neighborhoods in Baghdad. Such physical separation of districts has been a major tool for the military in cutting down on death squad violence.

Back in August, I posted this example of extortion in Anbar. The people we armed and funded were then turning around and robbing the reconstruction projects.

BAGHDAD — Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they've extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

The payments, in return for the insurgents' allowing supplies to move and construction work to begin, have taken place since the earliest projects in 2003, Iraqi contractors, politicians and interpreters involved with reconstruction efforts said.

A fresh round of rebuilding spurred by the U.S. military's recent alliance with some Anbar tribes — 200 new projects are scheduled — provides another opportunity for militant groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq to siphon off more U.S. money, contractors and politicians warn.

"Now we're back to the same old story in Anbar. The Americans are handing out contracts and jobs to terrorists, bandits and gangsters," said Sheik Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, the deputy leader of the Dulaim, the largest and most powerful tribe in Anbar. He was involved in several U.S. rebuilding contracts in the early days of the war, but is now a harsh critic of the U.S. presence.

This is the "Anbar success" that Petraeus and shrub are crowing about. When shrub comes on TV tonight to say "progress" as many times as he can, remember that this is the model that he wants to spread.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

1 in 3 people

When I read polls like this one, I begin to worry:

NEW YORK Six years after the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S., it seems the media still have some educational work to do. A new CBS/New York
Times poll reveals that even today, 1 in 3 Americans believe that "Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

This notion was thoroughly debunked by official sources, including those in the White House, years ago, but the myth endures. Polls have shown that belief in this untruth was a prime component in support for the attack on Iraq.

Four in 10 Republicans still hold this view, compared with 32% of Independents and 27% of Democrats.

The poll of 1,035 adults was taken Sept. 4 to 8.

Who are these people? Where do they get their information? (Don't answer; I know: Faux News).
My real question is how do we communicate the truth to these people? Are they beyond the reach of reason?

A Nice Clean Bomb

Oh joy, Russia has built a newer, bigger bomb:

According to Gen Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because, due to nanotechnology, the temperature at the epicentre of the blast is twice as high.

"Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon," he said.

"The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature," ORT added.

"All that is alive merely evaporates."

Despite its destructive qualities, the bomb is environmentally friendly, Gen Rushkin said.

An "environmentally friendly" bomb? What's not to like?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I can answer that question

Gen. Petraeus had a tough time answering a question from Sen. John Warner (R-VA):
Senator Warner: Are you able to say at this time if we continue what you have laid before the congress here,this strategy. do you feel that that is making America safer?

General Petraeus: Sir, I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.

Warner: Does that make America safer?

General Petraeus: Sir I don't know actually.

Allow me to help you out, General. The correct answer is "no".

A Solar Plane

Zephyr infographic
Lightweight plane (31kg/ 68lb) is launched by hand
Flies autonomously and can climb to more than 18,000m (58,000ft)
By day it flies on solar power and recharges batteries.
By night it is powered by rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries
Wow, why I like comments. I get to find blogs that I didn't know, and see stories that I had missed. Via Rants From The Rookery , I found this story:

A lightweight solar-powered plane has smashed the official world record for the longest-duration unmanned flight.

UK defence firm Qinetiq, which built the Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle, said it flew for 54 hours during tests.

The researchers believe it is the first time a solar-powered craft has flown under its own power through two nights.

The previous unmanned endurance record was set in 2001 by a jet-powered US Air Force Global Hawk surveillance aircraft which flew for more than 30 hours

The Zephyr's 54-hour endurance flight will not enter the record books because representatives from the world air sports federation - the FAI - were not notified about the secretive test.

However, they were informed about a second, 33-hour flight which could still become an official record.

Zephyr's development team say that whatever the result, it believes it has built a record breaker.

Cool stuff! Thanks, Ellroon.

Howard Shanker

I've officially volunteered for Howard Shanker's campaign for the AZ-01 congressional seat , and looking forward to a really interesting campaign. This doesn't mean that Pygalgia will become a "Howard Shanker" blog (we're way too foul mouthed to be too closely associated to a campaign), but I will be announcing events that local folk might be interested in. So here's the first campaign event announcement:

This is a great start.

Live Music Featuring:

Saturday, September 15, 2007
Doors Open 6:30pm
Music 7pm - 10pm
VIP Reception 10pm - 11pm

Mogollon Brewing Company
15 N Agassiz St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

For those who aren't familiar with Blackfire, go here:

Turn your speakers up LOUD.

Blackfire is a trio of Navajo siblings who play a sort of tribal-punk-political-rock, and their latest double-disk album "[Silence] is a Weapon" is one I highly recommend. To have them playing a fundraiser for Howard is a sign of how popular he is with the Native American community.

I've posted before on why I've been impressed with Howard as a candidate, but here's his opening statement:

“Development and growth must be sustainable, economically viable, environmentally responsible, and good for all Arizonans.”

“Arizona should be the solar and wind energy capital of the world. We should be working to develop renewable energy sources to end our reliance on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote economic growth in the District.”

“The character of our involvement in Iraq must change. We need to develop a responsible exit-plan that will bring our troops home safely. We must replace our current military posture with an international effort to rebuild their war torn country. We need to negotiate a political
solution to the current morass.”

“It is essential that our veterans are treated with dignity and respect, and provided with comprehensive healthcare and social services.”

“Governmental fraud, waste, and abuse have become commonplace. It is time to elect responsible lawmakers. The wholesale privatization of essential governmental functions must stop.”

I find myself agreeing with all of it. We need more members of congress who are truly progressive, and if we can elect Howard to replace "Mr. Corruption" Rick Renzi we'll be one step forward.

One Tuesday Morning

Six years ago, on another Tuesday, I awoke late (for me) and had to rush to make it to work on time. I worked at the local university, and we had our weekly staff meeting on Tuesday. When I entered the conference room, I immediately noticed that something was different. On the table that normally was home to coffee and doughnuts there was a television (I didn't know that we even had a TV in the building). There was the image, repeated over and over, of the second plane hitting the second tower, with the first tower already engulfed in flames. My immediate response was "Oh, fuck. Bin Laden pulled it off!". The head of the department (one of the best bosses I've ever had) looked at me and said "Wow, that's what I was thinking". We spent what would normally be a business meeting discussing what the attacks meant for America's future, and while it was all speculation, it was uniformly grim.
Was it a day that "changed everything"? It didn't have to be, but apparently it has.
Later in the day, I had a meeting with a sales rep. My job at the time was office supply buyer for the university, so I had to put up with salesmen (I hate dealing with salesmen). This particular salesman was amongst the most annoying, a total phony AND a "Limbaugh ditto-head". He was ranting that we "should just nuke the entire middle east" and "kill all the ragheads".
And that scared me.
I wasn't frightened by the terrorist attacks- the world has always been a dangerous place. But how we react to terrorism- well, that had some really frightening possibilities.
Now, six years later, some of those fears have been realized. We're stuck in an unwinnable war in a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. We're creating more terrorist, and haven't dealt with those behind the attacks. We're spending our treasury and our future in ways that do nothing to protect us.
Six years later, we deserve better.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Way to See It

Well, the pics were my plan. But some guy named "jasonC" wrote a better one:

Having had a few hours to take in Four-Star Ass-Kicking General Petraeus's testimony and subsequent media slobberfest, how would you say the war in Iraq is going?

A. Pretty fuckin awesome.
B. Really really pretty fuckin awesome.
C. Ejaculatory.
D. No time to answer... my Republican friends and I are on the way to our nearest
recruitment center. Wooo! Endless War! Endless War! Endless War!

Which of the following best describes General Petraeus?

A. Military supergenius.
B. Batman.
C. Jesus Christ's general, if Jesus Christ were ever to lead a divided nation into invading weaker, oil-rich nation for cynical politcal ends.
D. Tool of his masters, Cheney and Chimp I mean... Really honest, with no reason to lie to us about what's really going on in Iraq.

They say that even a broken clock is right two times a day. When do you think this will finally happen for Thomas Friedman and friends?

A. Six months from now.
B. Six months from six months from now.
C. Shut up. You just don't get it.
D. All of the above or none of the above. We'll just have to see...

I plan to turn local this week. The "real" world is starting to depress me.

My Distraction

I admit to being a fan..As the season starts for my team against the local team. Well, game ON.

Response to Petraeus

That's my complete response. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

The Non-Petraeus Report

Via, the non-Petraeus report on Iraq:

One of the things that has prevented Iraqis from just starving to death, given the very high levels of unemployment and insecurity, is the old government food rationing system, which is still in place but increasingly tattered. Rations have been
reduced by 35 percent, and of the 5 million Iraqis who depend on them (about a
fifth of the country), two million are having trouble receiving the rations because they live in high-risk areas.
Now the news is that with Ramadan looming, where square meals at sunset and in the morning before dawn are all that keep people going during the fast, the rations may not be available in nearly the required amounts. Iraqi foodstuffs are increasingly threadbare or rotten, and delivering the rations to risky areas is very difficult. (Imagine the difficulty in feeding the 200,000 Fallujans, 80 percent of whom are unemployed, given that no one is allowed to drive vehicles in that city).

Hunger is already a widespread problem in Iraq, and is likely to become more of one as time goes on.

Iraq's physician shortage is also worsening dramatically:

' According to the Iraqi Medical Association (IMA), the shortage of doctors and nurses in Iraq is now critical and having a devastating effect, especially on small towns and villages.

“Our latest research shows that up to 75 percent of doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs at universities, clinics and hospitals,” Walid Rafi, a senior member of the IMA, told IRIN. Of these, at least 55 percent have fled abroad, he added.

According to Rafi, low salaries and the shortage of equipment and medicines, are other push factors. “Medical staff earn US$50-300 per month. They might persevere for a while but if the opportunity arises, they don’t think twice and leave the country,” Rafi said.'

The Iraqi Psychiatric Association estimates that in the past two months, the number of patients treated for alcoholism grew to be 36 percent greater than during the same period a month ago. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drinking to excess is widespread and getting worse rapidly. It is, of course, a further sign of despair, like massive out-migration. I saw it happen in Lebanon in the early years of the civil war there. Drug use and drug smuggling are also big problems.

This is what Iraq has become, the longer we stay, the worse it will get.

Some More Osama

First, here's a link to the video and transcript:
It's a fairly good translation, and while I might quibble with some of the terminology my Arabic isn't good enough to really argue a few minor phrases.
Amongst the more salient quotes, Osama explains the war that he is fighting:

"To preface, I say: despite America being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to-date military arsenal as well; and despite it spending on this war and is army more than the entire world spends on its armies; and despite it being the being the major state influencing the policies of the world, as if it has a monopoly on the unjust right of veto; despite all of this, 19 young men were able - by the grace of Allah, the Most High- to change the direction of its compass. And in fact, the subject of the Mujahideen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader, and the effects and signs of that are not hidden."

"Since the 11th, many of America's policies have come under the influence of the Mujahideen, and that is by the grace of Allah, the Most High. And as a result, the people discovered the truth about it, its reputation worsened, its prestige was broken globally and it was bled dry economically, even if our interests overlap with the interests of the major corporations and also with those of the neoconservatives, despite the differing intentions."

It's important to understand what bin Laden is trying to achieve to effectively combat him, something that our current administration has completely failed at. bin Laden welcomed the American invasion of Iraq (and to a lesser extent Afghanistan) as an opportunity to drain the country, both militarily and economically.

Another part that I found interesting is his take on the history of religion. It isn't quite the wild eyed fanaticism that our media portrays.

"I say, refuting this unjust statement, that the morality and culture of the holocaust is your culture, not our culture. In fact, burning living beings is forbidden in our religion, even if they be small like the ant, so what of man?! The holocaust of the Jews was carried out by your brethren in the middle of Europe, but had it been closer to our countries, most of the Jews would have been saved by taking refuge with us. And my proof for that is in what your brothers, the Spanish, did when they set up the horrible courts of the Inquisition to try Muslims and Jews, when the Jews only found safe shelter by taking refuge in our countries. And that is why the Jewish community in Morocco today is one of the largest communities in the world. They are alive with us and we have not incinerated them, but we are a people who don't sleep under oppression and reject humiliation and disgrace, and we take revenge on the people of tyranny and aggression, and the blood of the Muslims will not be spilled with impunity, and the morrow is nigh for he who awaits."

"Also, your Christian brothers have been living among us for 14 centuries: in Egypt alone, there are millions of Christians whom we have not incinerated and shall not incinerate. But the fact is, there is a continuing and biased campaign being waged against us for a long time now by your politicians and many of your writers by way of your media, especially Hollywood, for the purpose of misrepresenting Islam and its adherents to drive you away from the true religion. The genocide of peoples and their holocausts took place at your hands: only a few specimens of Red Indians were spared, and just a few days ago, the Japanese observed the 62nd anniversary of the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by your nuclear weapons."

That passage also includes the Hiroshima reference that I found significant in my earlier post.

There is a part of bin Laden's speech that I'm almost certain was at least partly written by Adam Gadahn, also known as Abbu Azzeem, the 28 year old American who joined al-Qaeda. Gadahn is strongly anti-capitalism.

"And despite this brazen attack on the people, the leaders of the West - especially Bush, Blair, Sarkozy and Brown- still talk about freedom and human rights with a flagrant disregard for the intellects of human beings. So is there a form of terrorism stronger, clearer and more dangerous than this? This is why I tell you: as you liberated yourselves before from the slavery of monks, kings, and feudalism, you should liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system."

"If you were to ponder it well, you would find that in the end, it is a system harsher and fiercer than your systems in the Middle Ages. The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy."

"And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system."

"So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer."

Another simple deduction from this text, and bin Laden's appearance, is that he most certainly IS NOT living in a cave. His skin color is much better that it was in the 2004 video, when he had the ashen gray tone symptomatic of his kidney ailment. Clearly, he has access to medical treatment.

Again, it is important to recognize what bin Laden is trying to achieve, by understanding the history of his war with the Soviet Union. In his own words:

"Among them is the European thinker who anticipated the fall of the Soviet Union, which indeed fell. And it would benefit you to read what he wrote about what comes after the empire in regard to the United States of America. I also want to bring your attention that among the greatest reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union was their being afflicted with their leader Brezhnev, who was overtaken by pride and arrogance and refused to look at the facts on the ground. From the first year of the Afghanistan invasion, reports indicated that the Russians were losing the war, but he refused to acknowledge this, lest it go down in his personal history as a defeat, even though refusal to acknowledge defeat not only doesn't do anything to change the facts for thinking people, but also exacerbates the problem and increases the losses. And how similar is your position today to their position approximately two decades ago. The mistakes of Brezhnev are being repeated by Bush, who - when asked about the date of his withdrawing of forces from Iraq - said in effect that the withdrawal will not be during his reign, but rather, during the reign of the one who succeeds him. And the significance of these words is not hidden."

Remember, Osama did declare war on us. While the media characterizes him as a sort of raving lunatic, he is serious in what he says. Our administration appears incapable of understanding Osama's ability to manipulate America's policies.

A lot of my fellow lefties have pointed out how convenient the timing of bin Laden's tapes is for our shrub, wondering if he is just a propaganda tool. I would turn that around. bin Laden is an expert at propaganda in his own right, and times his tapes for maximum manipulative impact.

The fact that Osama is still alive six years after attacking the U.S. is evidence of the sheer incompetence of shrub's administration. And while I'll catch some flak for saying this, Osama bin Laden is winning his war.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


OK, that last post was too depressing. So here's another photo of a cliff dwelling that Zymurgian snapped on his San Juan trip last week. (Yes, he should post his own damned photos, but I haven't transferred them to his computer yet).

An Analogy and A Threat

I'm a little over halfway through translating the latest bin Laden tape for myself (I don't trust the administrations translations. They've tended to be sloppy in the past), and I disagree with the "experts". This tape contains a VERY REAL threat.
First, indulge me while I use an analogy to explain the difference between "fear" and recognizing a threat. This post is not "fear-mongering", but it is recognizing a threat.
I'm a whitewater boatman. As any sensible boatman will tell you, you always want to scout a big rapid before you enter it. You need to know where the rocks, pourovers, and other assorted threats are, and plan how you will get around them. Failure to do this can lead to disaster and even death. If you avoid the threats, the thrill of a good run through a big rapid can't be beat. If you are afraid, well, you'll never be a boatman. But if you fail to recognize a threat, you fail as a boatman.
Now to the threat. In this tape, bin Laden urges America to convert to Islam and also refers to Hiroshima. This is the third time he has done so (he did so in the 2003 and 2004 tapes). Under Islamic law, you must offer your enemy three chances to convert prior to attacking them. Bin Laden did the same in 1996, 1998, and 2000 prior to the attacks of 9/11, so there is a consistent pattern. Bin Laden has said that nuclear war is a different form of war, so this third offer to convert in conjunction with mentioning nuclear warfare means that he has declared that a nuclear attack is now on the table.
Most of the "experts" are quick to dismiss bin Laden's statements as "fanatical ravings" and "propaganda", which they most certainly are. But he's been very consistent in patterning his rhetoric in a way to justify his war as being in compliance with Islamic law (at least in his mind. I'll leave to Islamic scholars to debate the truth of his justification).
I have conveyed my analysis to the FBI, and while I'm sure they think I'm a crackpot, they said they will "look into it". I'm not reassured.
I'm not saying "be afraid", but I am saying "be aware of the threat". I see a really dangerous rock down this rapid.