Saturday, February 17, 2007

Best Line

Best line found on the intertubes:
"Former CIA Executive Director "Dusty" Foggo indicted for having a dumber name
than "Scooter" Libby."


This proves I have no life.

Sen. Levin

Well said. Sen. Carl Levin during the senate debate:

“What emboldens the sectarian fighters is the inability of Iraqi leaders to
make the political compromises so essential to finally reining in the Sunni
insurgents and the Shia militias,” he said. “The enemy cares little what
Congress says. It is emboldened by what the Iraqi leaders don’t do. The enemy
isn’t emboldened by congressional debate. It is emboldened by open-ended
occupation of a Muslim country by Western troops.

“The enemy is emboldened by years of blunders and bravado, false assumptions
and wishful thinking, and ignorance of the history of the land being occupied.
The enemy is emboldened by an administration which says it is changing course,
which acknowledges that a political settlement by Iraqi leaders is essential to
ending the violence, but then plunges us more deeply militarily into a sectarian
witch’s brew.”

Link here:

new pic

My sister says she'll read my blog. So I need to put up a new pic. Say "Hello" to Atrocia, the sweetest red-tail boa in all of Arizona. She's my pet on a part-time basis.

Added Links

I've added a set of links to various river resources. Equipment sales, rentals, etc. The site "Grover on the River" is a photo gallery from a trip last spring. Hope somebody finds this helpful.

Two can play this game

A car bomb blew up in Iran, and according to CNN:

"According to FARS, Iranian officials said the explosives used in that attack
were manufactured in the United States. CNN could not verify those claims."

Now, this is most likely just rhetoric. But it proves that "anonymous souces" can be used by other countries, too. Something to think about when you read the news.


Here's his priorities. And this man thinks he should be president? Why?

WASHINGTON (AP)--Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, a staunch supporter of sending more troops to Iraq, will skip a Senate vote on the war Saturday to campaign in Iowa while other candidates rearrange their schedules.

Added: It appears that the other senator from our state, John Kyl, didn't vote either.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Three Weeks or so

So the blog has been up for three (count them,3) weeks. Please tell me what is right and what is wrong with this blog in the comments. Meantime, here is a boobie:

(psst, I gain twenty hits every time I use the word "boobie" in the post. So call me a blogwhore)


I'm a new little blog, so I didn't say much about Amanda and Mellisa. But I will say to every Democratic candidate: Expect to be smeared. These people have been attacking any body that they percieve as liberal. My response:

I'm not saying anything new, but my advice to any campaign: They will attack, so fight back now!

Richardson on Iran

While I'm not in any one's camp for 2008 yet (I'll say more about the various candidates later), this petition from Bill Richardson reflects well on his diplomatic skills:
I signed up, and I hope some of you will too. Assuming that you oppose a war with Iran.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Knew

that someone else would say it better than I could. We have signed on(despite being a new littleblog), and WE ARE SPARTACUS.

Badtux the Snarky Penguin: I am Spartacus

Calling Sam Spade

OMG, the Maltese Falcon has been stolen! And Humphrey Bogart? Still dead.,0,790950.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Favorite quote:
"During the shoot of the 1941 film version starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston, plastic replicas were made after Bogart complained about the weight of the two original lead statues, 50 pounds apiece. One of the plastic models is at the Library of Congress."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shrub speaks

Favorite quote from today's presser:
"One of the problems -- not specifically on this issue, just in general -- let's put it this way, money trumps peace, sometimes." Bush, 2/14/07
Well, that explains a lot.

Singles Awareness Day

Oh yeah, it's Valentines Day. As a comfortable older terminally single guy, I tend to ignore this holiday. But here's one for my seldom seen secret lust object:

More on Iran, Iraq, and Oil

Sweaterman pointed me to this article in the comments, and I felt it was worth linking to. It is a long, in depth analysis.
Only recommended for those who want heavy reading.

On Getting More Voters

This topic has been on my mind because of two recent conversations. The first was with a youngish black man at the bar and the second was with a younger female friend. Both illustrate the level of voter apathy and the need to convince more people to vote.
The young man at the bar was bitching about Bush, so I asked who he voted for. His response was "I don't vote. Nobody running for office represents me".
The women friend was complaining about how many people that she knows who don't vote because "one vote isn't going to change anything".
Here's my response:
Yes, one vote won't change much. But consider the numbers. Out of Americans who are eligible to register to vote, slightly less than 50% actually register to vote. Of the registered voters, just over 50% actually cast ballots. This means that 25% of the electorate are participating, which means that roughly 13% is all that is needed to decide elections. If more people were involved, then there would be more responsive candidates. The candidates would be more concerned about public interests, and less beholden to special interests.
So my question is: How do we convince these folks that voting is important, and that more of them voting will bring us better choices.
It's easy to think of 2008 being far away, but it's not. The time to start is now. Otherwise, we could get stuck with Shrub2, the nightmare continues.

Another Corrupt Republican

When "Duke" Cunningham was convicted, I kept hoping that more of his corrupt circle would follow him into jail. It's been slow, and I don't have much patience, but now "Dusty" Foggo may be going down:

The CIA’s former No. 3 official and a defense contractor were indicted on Tuesday on charges stemming from a federal contracts investigation that landed former Republican congressman Randy Cunningham in jail.

Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, who had been appointed executive director of the agency in 2004 by former CIA Director Porter Goss, was charged with improper conduct involving CIA contracts following a wide-ranging investigation that involved five agencies, including the FBI and the CIA’s inspector general.
Before Foggo resigned from his position last May, the CIA acknowledged that its inspector general was investigating whether Foggo helped steer any agency contracts to his long-time friend Brent Wilkes, a San Diego businessman.

More, please!
Added: Here's the link for the whole sordid tale:

Another River Pic

The Great Pumpkin.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey, Sweaterman

Can I post your picture now? The "big boy blogs" have noticed you:

"I tried to post this link this morning but your spam filter is running in nazi mode. Hope this works it's a post by a fellow blogger monkeyfister found. He's got some great insight into the Iraq situation.

Read down on his thoughts on Iran, really great common sense.Go say hi to Sweaterman over at Pyglalia. "

Thanks to Demeur at
One of my fav's.

A Simple Thought

"You know, a few blocks away from this great chamber, when you walk in the snow, is the Vietnam Memorial, where half of the soldiers listed on that wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work".

Rep. Patrick Murphy

Quick Follow Up

"A top U.S. general said Tuesday there was no evidence the Iranian government was supplying Iraqi insurgents with highly lethal roadside bombs, apparently contradicting claims by other U.S. military and administration officialGen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran.

“That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this,” Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. “What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.”Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran. "

Can we all shout now:

Nice Post Sweaterman

Good analysis. I still hope that sanity will prevail.
We'll see what happens.

Consequences of the Upcoming U.S. Attack on Iran

"The U.S. is at war with Iran. The U.S. has always been at war with Iran."
- George Orwell, 1984

If we look at the evidence:

1. We have two aircraft carriers - Eisenhower & Stennis - (and their support
groups of destroyers, battleships, minesweepers, and submarines) in the
tiny Persian Gulf. Why?

2. Another carrier support group (Reagan) may be heading to the gulf or close by.

3. A doubling of the Strategic Oil Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels (about 3 months
worth of oil usage in the U.S., according to the US Department of Energy).

4. A Navy guy put in charge of an occupation in Iraq

5. 21,000 additional ground forces sent to Iraq when not requested by our
military or the Iraqi military.

6. Increased lies about and demonization of Iran.

7. Russia to begin delivery of low-enriched uranium for the Iranian Bushehr
reactor in March of 2007, with the reactor to come on-line by September 2007.

8. Auspicious circumstances that allow for favorable attack times between
2/14/2007-2/18/2007, 3/15/2007-3/19/2007, and 4/14/2007-4/18/2007. Each of those date sets is +/- 2 days around the new moon for each month.

9. Blair is set to step down as British PM in the April/May timeframe, and I'm
sure Dubya wants his bitch with him on this ride too.

10. Mother Nature is not a vicious, vindictive, capricious teacher. She simply is
what she is, and we have two more (2007 & 2008) summer seasons to endure
with this administration - which could mean hurricanes, tornadoes, and
flooding on a major scale, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, and thus, the Gulf Coast.

Am I missing anything else?

Why are we doing this if it's not to attack Iran? What legitimate reason do we have for doing this?

Spare me any justifications about "protecting U.S. interests". We're interested in one fucking thing over there: oil. So if that's what we're protecting, fine, but stop couching it in weasel words.

So, we're going over there to steal Iran's oil, but we can't just say that, so we conjuring up information that Iran is attacking us in Iraq, so we've got to go after them also. Whatever.

I'm more concerned about the consequences of this strategery; the fallout and the blowback. Those consequences are in order from near term to long-term, and last one is not really a consequence, but a dark potential prophecy.

One: The American Summer Driving Season for 2007 & 2008 looks Dim.
Sure, Iran only supplies 5-6% of the worlds oil, but 90% of all Persian Gulf oil from all of the Persian Gulf countries is shipped via tanker through the Persian Gulf, eventually rolling out through the Strait of Hormuz.(1) That oil accounts for 40% of the oil traded in the entire world!(2) Now, I'm not sure Iran could tie up more than half of that entirely, and make the trip more hazardous for the other half, but it certainly seems probable they will try. Iran has stated that if invaded, Tel Aviv, the UAE and the large Saudi refining complex at Abqaiq are the first targets of its missiles, which, IIRC, have a range of approximately 1200-1500 miles. If that's the case, I'm guessing initial spot oil futures trading to spike around US $200 per barrel (bbl), and to slowly subside down to US $100 over a period of about 6 months or so, if everything works out in the absolute best way possible (in terms of military and post-military action). That means gasoline shoots to $7.50 a gallon, slowly subsiding to $3.75 a gallon by fall of 2007, on average. That also means the price of everything rises too, but especially foodstuffs. So when you're paying $2.99 for that head of lettuce in August, remember, you were warned. And remember further, that energy sector hit, while bad enough, will subside only if things go as absolutely smoothly as possible. Given our track record in Iraq, I can only assume things won't go all that smoothly.

Two: The Rise of the Euro-Petro-Economy Starts Now
China is the largest holder of foreign-exchange reserves in the world - about $941 billion as of last June(3). It has slacked some, but China still holds the most dollars. China has also recently become extraordinarily business-friendly with Iran, for the same reason as the US, it wants oil to feed its rapidly growing economy. Russia has also gotten close to Iran, arming them militarily(4) for much the same reasons. The only other reasonable currencies available are the Euro and the Japanese Yen; Japan is still reeling from the yen collapse of the late 80s-early 90s and will probably NOT want to repeat that clusterfuck, so the Euro will become the currency of choice. As to the U.S. of A.? Well, this'll coincide with the ever growing number of housing defaults due to ARM mortgage rates re-indexing, so things probably won't get any better than they are right now.

Three: Blowback is Not a Species of Whale
There isn't any discussion amongst the MSM about potential blowback from an attack on Iran, but it is inevitable; much, if not all, of the Islamic world will reel from an operation on Iran and will begin plotting all sorts of various ventures against the United States. The key players/situations to watch: Musharaff in Pakistan, Susilo in Indonesia, and of course, the House of Saud. All three countries have the potential to promote and provoke mischief; the Saudi madrassas are still indoctrinating youth about the "Great Satan", although there is beginning cooperation between the US and the Saudi nation to limit this influence since the King died; Indonesian nationalists are pounding hard against Susilo and the region is gettin shaky; and,
of course, Musharaff walks the thinnest tighrope I have ever seen a leader step. In his case, I predict he will not be President by the time Bush leaves office*, and the worst (Western Civilization) nightmare will have come true: a fundamentalist Islamic country in control of nuclear weapons, thus opening up yet a fourth front in the "War on Terror". Of course, Pakistan cannot hit the US from their great range, but given our lax port security standards, detonating a nuke in any of various US harbors is no problem.

Four: United States? What United States?
Any attack on Iran will hurt the US, but what about the rest of the world? Europe is much closer to the Middle East than the US, and I bet they're sh*tting bricks right now because of our saber-rattling. Russia and China both have substantial economic ties and will not take kindly to our meddling. So what's really going to happen? I think there will be a definite, mostly successful, attempt to contain and constrain US power and dominance around the globe, lead by a Russo-Sino-Euro collaboration. The US has currently marginalized its position around the world, and the attack on Iran will further devolve that. Paradoxically, the US corporate-state, which has pressed for "globalization" for years, has locked US foreign strategery into an untenable position in which the other nations of the world can, without too much cost to themselves (there will obviously always be some cost), strip US influence worldwide through economic pressure. I think this is the only tenable play that those other nations have, as I believe that not dampening the US through economic policies will force our invasion of Iran to spread to a regional war, worldwide recession, and ultimately another World War, which will be too costly for those other nations to bear.

Five: It's Hip to be a Pioneer!
Over the last few years, "reality" shows ("Survivor" and "The Race") have been in competition with "Get Rich" shows ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" & "Deal or No Deal") for the hearts and minds of television viewers worldwide, but especially in America. Over the last quarter-century or so, American pop culture has embraced a "You-Can-Get-Something-For-Nothing-and-Win-Big-and-Become-Famous" attitude. The institutionalism of gaming is also a major factor in this. I look for that cultural attitude to change as Americans struggle to squeeze by in a world of depleting resources and outside economic pressure from other countries. Instead, I think American popular culture will have to embrace
a smaller-size consciousness and a renewal of interest in completing actual tasks. With the traditional American "can-do" spirit, I feel that this is not impossible to achieve. However, this is a job that will take at least a generation to accomplish, and, in all likelihood, will be very painful for the ordinary American citizen. We will all have to get by much more locally and unlearn the lessons of consumption that has driven America since the end of World War II; it will be an incredible challenge and it will be interesting to see our response to that challenge.

Six: We Really Like This Job, So We're Not Going to Shove It

OK, this last consequence, as I mentioned, is really a dark premonition, but it is a possibility. What happens if the current administration likes the job(s) so much that they don't want to leave? I believe that this administration has been so dismissive of the Constitution and democracy that they may decide to stay on and establish a monarchical leadership. It has been the goal of the GOP since the 1980s to get into power and then to stay in power, using any means at their disposal, legal or illegal. So who would stop them? The armed forces? Doubtful, and, ultimately, just as bad to have a military junta running the country. The "people"? Hah. In a society where 12.5% of the population controls election results, just throw 'em another bag of Cheez Doodles and turn the cable to the "American Idol" channel, and they're tamed. Another country or the UN? Once again, doubtful. The US military will still be the most powerful in the world and would provide deterrence against that. The "market"? They already own the market.

So there you have it, a series of serious consequences that will arise from our attack on Iran. I left out more violence against American interests worldwide, because that just seemed a no-brainer. But that's enough gloom and doom. Now everybody get their phone, call their congresscritter, and

(2) ibid

* I've actually thought Musharaff's days have been numbered for a couple of years now, so don't put much stock in that predicition

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lighten Up

I can only do two serious posts in a row, or I'll get depressed.

So I'll explain this picture that I posted a few days ago. This is a photo of a mossy vug below Travertine Falls in the Grand Canyon. The photo was taken by my friend Linda, who's a wonderful person to have on a river trip. OK, I'm cheered up.


Another thing that Shrub did really wrong when he slunk into office was to cancel the "agreed framework" with North Korea, resulting in an escalation of their nuclear program. Now (via Kevin Drum):

"A deal to rein in North Korea's nuclear program would give President Bush a rare foreign-policy victory at a time when he is embroiled in a bitter debate over the war in Iraq and tensions with Iran. But the proposed deal also exposes the administration to accusations from both conservatives and Democrats that President Bush has essentially returned to a Clinton-era arrangement with North Korea -- known as the 1994 Agreed Framework -- that he disparaged and cast aside soon after he took office in 2001."

I was not much of a fan of Clinton while he was in office, but in hindsight he looks really good.

On Iran

Update: I was working on this post when CNN gave an update which I will include at the end.

I have been meaning to post on the administrations scary rhetoric on Iran, and what I have seen as some serious flaws in their logic. I have no great credentials- that's Juan Cole's turf- but I have been reading and paying attention. I have had a longtime interest in Middle East history, and I sometimes feel that I'm more knowledgeable than some of the so called experts. So here is my take:

The accusations that Iran is providing weapons to insurgents in Iraq sounds false on it's face based on three glaring contradictions.
1. The main insurgency is in Anbar province, a Sunni region. Iran is a Shia theocracy and it would be quite unlikely that they would be arming their rivals.
2. Iran has every reason to support the Maliki government, with whom they have long term ties (Maliki lived as an exile in Iran while Saddam was in power). The Iranians would benefit more from Maliki's success than from his failure.
3. Iran would have no reason to aid Moqtada Al'Sadr, who's as strongly anti-Iranian as he is anti-American. The Iranians know that greater instability would only increase Al'Sadr's power.

So why is the Bush administration trumpeting these weapons claims with their "anonymous intelligence officials"? Are they really crazy enough to want another war?
And, by far the most important question: How can we stop them? Because we damn well better do everything we can.

Update: CNN is reporting that Iranian weapons have been going to SCIRI, the Bush backed militia run by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Remember him? He met with Bush a couple of months ago. Anyway, here's a link:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thinking about river tripping

One of my favorite hobbies is river rafting, as you might guess from the various photos that I've put up. I'm planning a trip for late spring on the lower Grand Canyon, often referred to as "Diamond Down". Diamond Creek is one of the very few launch sites available on the canyon, and it is relatively easy to get a permit. The trip goes through some real nice rapids and ends at Lake Mead.

Today, I'm daydreaming about launch day. Rather that than another work Munday. The photo is from my trip launch last spring. My boat is the big old ugly orange one in front, which I call "The Great Pumpkin". Oh well, only a few months to wait.

How will I pass the time?


Just a quick addendum to my biomass ethanol post in response to a comment by Badtux. By the way, I'm honored to get a comment from Badtux whose blog I thoroughly enjoy and recommend.
I don't propose a waste based ethanol system as a solution to our energy needs, but merely a contribution. Badtux points out the greater efficiency of photocells, which is quite true. I believe that the solution to our energy problems will require using a wide variety of sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and yes, even nuclear. I merely point to organic waste as a readily available source that is not being utilized.
I don't pretend that I'm smart enough to have the answers. Hell, I was a philosophy major. I simply throw out a few ideas that make sense to me.
Oh, and Badtux, yes I should remember to use the spellchecker. Bad habit on my part. Ooops, but it's fixed now.

A note on the blogroll

Apparently there's a major kerfuffle amongst the major and minor blogs about who blogrolls to whom. Seems rather silly to me. My blogroll criteria is very simple. I link to blogs I like and would recommend to my readers, and that may not have been noticed. There are a lot more that I will add over time, but I'm a fairly lazy guy so it may take awhile. Don't take it personally if I don't have your blog listed. This blog is a tiny little fish in this ocean, so my links really don't mean much.

Something Lighter

OK, the last post was way too serious for such a simple blog. So here's one for us more simple minded folk:

Biomass Ethanol

note: this post will be fairly boring to anyone not interested in alternative fuels. please feel free to skip over it if it's not a topic of interest to you.

I have had a lifelong interest in alternative energy, and the need for non-petroleum based fuels is clearly rising. One readily available fuel source is biomass ethanol (also called cellulosic ethanol), that is ethanol made from various organic materials including waste products. In it's most basic ethanol is merely alcohol, the same as beer, wine, vodka, etc. Alcohol is produced by fermentation, the result of yeast digesting sugars or proteins. Historically, humans have made alcohol from whatever high sugar organisms were regionally plentiful. So Southern Europe made wine from grapes, Central Europe made beer from grain, etc. The higher the sugar content, the easier the fermentation. The next step was to purify via distillation leading to the vast array of liquors available today. At it's purest, ethyl alcohol is a highly combustible liquid that is slightly more flammable that gasoline.
Despite president shrubs high rhetoric, almost all fuel ethanol made in America is made from corn. Corn makes a good feed stock due to it's high sugar/starch content. The big corporations (think ADM) found corn to be an easy, plentiful source for ethanol.
But ethanol can be made from other sources. Literally, any organic material is a potential ethanol source. All proteins, sugars, and starches that are present can be fermented and distilled. A variety of yeasts and enzymes can be used as well as some chemical acids (a technique that is NOT environmentally sound). The main barrier to producing ethanol from various low yield sources is cost. Simply put, it's harder to ferment materials that have a lower concentration of sugar. But the potential energy yield is huge. Just look around you, and total up all the organic waste around you. Here in my region, forest waste and and brush are plentiful. The problem is that processing this waste would require building a modern processing system at a substantial investment.
In our current economic and government system, it's the big corporations that have the resources to undertake large scale ethanol production The government's plan is to offer tax breaks and incentives to the big boys, who in turn look for the highest potential profits.
But there IS another way. While the original infrastructure would require a substantial investment, the potential benefits are so huge as to be almost beyond measure. Imagine a system of localized fermentation/distillation plants set up to utilize all regionally available organic waste. Think of all the waste in your own locale being made into fuel for your cars. What is needed to make the investment is a major paradigm shift from the focus on short term profits toward long term benefits. Once built, such plants can produce for many decades (in Russia, there still operating plants built during WW11 Also, localized plants will create jobs and reduce the use of landfills.
While I could say a great deal more on the subject, this post is long enough. At some point in the future, I'll post about the potential to produce electricity via ethanol fuel cells. Your thoughts?