Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ford and Kolbe Resonate Same Chord

Tucson, Arizona—With the resignation of Congressmen Kolbe and the death of President Ford, what these two Republicans really think has risen to a new level of candor, and they are singing tunes that march to the same drummer. The GOP’s rightward shift to religious fanatics obsessed with gay rights, homosexuality, and abortion is a mistake. In an interview with Bob Woodward, Ford adds that Iraq was a mistake, "I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation (my emphasis) around the globe freeing people unless it is directly related to our own national security."

Assuming we’re still around, 200 years from now acceptance of gays will come as easily as different eye color. Gender and race biases will evaporate into the intelligent recognition of value for value. Skills, talent, and genuine merit will overwhelm infantile knuckle dragging nonsense, and gay, black women with purple eyes will get the promotion if they are the most qualified.

I think Giffords would have beaten Huffman, but the race would have been tighter and tougher. By going to the right with Graf, the GOP handed Gabrielle her seat. In LD 26, the GOP committed the same error, ousting a solid, respected Toni Hellon as Senator and a strong Carol Somers for Representative, setting up democratic victories in November.

The GOP went Jesus freak and gave seats to the democrats.

I think the GOP is at a certain crossroads, where they have to choose between forces associated with traditional Goldwater concepts of fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, strong defense, and government where government makes sense (which does not include the bedroom), and this religious kook-case nonsense.

Kolbe and Ford are making these kinds of statements, and for good reason.

I’m an independent, and a GOP that talks about personal responsibility and a government accountable for its use of taxpayer dollars makes sense to me. A government that tells me how to have sex and who with seems to defy everything the GOP stands for.

The GOP has serious issues. They have sold out to religious extremists, and they have succumbed to obscene levels of corruption that make laughable any notion of fiscal responsibility. The 109th Congress was a Congress of unprecedented pork, an orgy of earmarked billions, remarkably led by the party of "limited government and fiscal responsibility."

The GOP tags the democrats with "tax and spend." This is worse than "borrow and spend"? Worse, spend on what?

Follow the money. I sometimes have to wonder if the Bush Administration is at its root a project to maximize the profits of a small number of corporations. Seriously, might the war in Iraq be a business venture? Let’s just watch who gets to extract oil from where and reap the rewards. The very oil "machinery" attached to Bush and Cheney appears well positioned to score the prize in Iraq. I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that someone became President of the United States for the financial gain of himself and his associates.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Swearing Over Swearing In--The Cancer

As predicted at this post some noise is developing about Muslim Congressman-Elect Keith Ellison's use of the Quran during a swearing in ceremony.

The Constitution is well explained in this Christian Science article, which notes that:

In Congress, newly elected representatives do not put their left hands on any book. They raise their right hands, and are sworn in together as the speaker of the House administers the oath of office. Some do carry a book, according to House historians, and some choose to photograph a private swearing-in afterward with their hand on the Bible. One senator is known to have carried an expanded Bible that included the Book of Mormon.

The Constitution says: "The senators and representatives ... shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Well, Republican Virginia Representative Virgil Goode has written a letter denouncing immigration and making no bones about his opposition to Muslims being elected to Congress. The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked Goode to apologize, but no dice and this is the xenophobia we can look forward to as the Middle East fiasco unfolds.

CNN has an article that features a good video of Ellison's response.

I think this is just a preview of coming attractions, and it will not be limited to the United States. Holland is still smarting from the murder of controversial film-maker Theo van Gogh, who was killed after making the 10 minute film Submission which criticized violence against women in Islamic nations, and smart folks in Britain are asking questions that are difficult to answer.

In Denmark, Karen Jespersen and Ralf Pittelkow's Islamists and Naivists has become a best seller. If you remember, it was in a Danish newspaper that those cartoons appeared that caused all that trouble. On Friday, December 9th, Paul Belien wrote an article, Dispatch from the Eurabian Front, which discusses those cartoons. By the way, if you have not seen those cartoons, they are here (page down a little), and Belien has also written a follow up article that notes the upcoming mess we are facing. Your humble blogger fears this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, and the invasion of Iraq was nothing but gasoline on the fire and an exacerbation of the whole monstrosity.

What I am attempting to distinguish is the danger of a cancer growing on a cancer. That the cancer of Islamic Terrorism exists cannot be disputed, but this cancer exists among a tiny fraction of the Muslims in the world. If we succumb to the temptation to think that all Muslims are terrorists, the terrorists will get the jihad they want.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Winning in Iraq: Travis Patriquin Style

With some risk of duplicating what you have already read elsewhere in the news, I considered this information worthy of replicating.

If you go to the Icasualties website to statistic number 3163, you will see Travis Patriquin on the grim spreadsheet of those killed in Iraq.

Captain Patriquin is getting some posthumous attention because of a simple 18 slide Powerpoint Presentation he made regarding how to win the war in Iraq, a concept I find increasingly difficult to understand or define. The presentation is gathering attention, and it should.

Directly from a David Kerley's ABC News post: Travis could tell you about the tribal factions, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan as well. I’m not talking basic Shiite-Sunni differences, he knew about the tribes. He’d been in many a sheik’s home, shared meals and conversation. He could talk about history, politics, and archaeology. And he could about those subjects in several languages. He was a student of the world, of its cultures, who happened to wear a green uniform with U.S. Army Captain bars.

Read it yourself, but the presentation introduces tribal distinctions that seem to be missing from the mainstream media. I lack the expertise necessary to effectively criticize or praise the presentation, but it has a certain ring, and based on what is being said about the individual who produced it, I am inclined to believe it has merit.

The hindsight of history is likely to scrutinize the war in Iraq with sufficient energy to produce a thorough and accurate understanding. My prediction: The Bush Administration will ultimately be seen as a top down driven set of cement heads who lived in their own reality and acted in arrogance without regard for the advice or direction of the knowledgeable.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Mormon for President: Mitt Romney

OK, I tried to hold off, but cannot resist chiming in on the inevitable—the 2008 Presidential election. (Hey, I held out longer than Framer or Tedski.) First, I will add myself to the list of those who consider it metaphysical certitude that Hillary Clinton cannot win. Folks can argue till the cows come home, and it does not change this.

Hillary Clinton will not win. If we nominate her, she will lose. Better to make her the VP, and if that’s not enough for her ego, she should stay in the Senate.

Now, that said, given the right opponent, anyone can win, so what I am really saying is that Hillary cannot win against a viable republican opponent, and as much as recent events have soured my taste for John McCain, he is clearly viable.

John McCain is viable. Rudy Guiliani is viable. George Pataki is viable.

Mitt Romney, Massachusett's Governor and devout Mormon, is not. Republicans had better do their homework regarding everything that will come out about Mormonism if this guy were to become their nominee for President. Who cares about the funny underwear, but the Mormon philosophy on gender is a show stopper. Enough literature has been published on the "secret" ceremonies of the temple and the belief that women cannot go to heaven except through their husbands. Google and there is plenty, and I'll spare you blood atonement and Mountain Meadows, but endowment is worth a glance and two books worth noting are Secret Ceremonies and The God Makers.

Male and Female are NOT equal in the eyes of the Mormon god, PERIOD. When Sonia Johnson spoke out in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment, the Mormon Church excommunicated her. We can have elected Mormon officials from Utah forever, and maybe some can get elected in Arizona and various other communities like Romney’s heavily Catholic Massachusetts, but it will not fly for the White House.
In addition to their misogyny is the profoundly different Mormon cosmology which includes the belief that God has a physical body, that God was once a man just like us, and that what God is man may become. This notion sends Catholicism (well, those who know about it) into a tizzy.

A significant number of evangelical as well as mainstream Christians have strong reactions to this notion and its implications for monotheism. There is the Mormonism Research Ministry, which belongs to the Evangelical Ministries for New Religions, which had MRM’s Executive Director Bill McKeever write a review of BYU’s Robert Millet's 2005 book A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter Day Saints, which is seen as an effort to steer evangelical populations towards Mormonism by explaining away problematic statements of the prophets, including the notion of becoming God.

Let’s face it, if man can become what God is, what's so special about God, and what’s the state of affairs after a bunch of us become like Him? This shakes the very foundation of the divinity of Christ. It violates one of the deepest places in a Christian's heart, which feels God and Christ as infinite, divine, and sacred, unspeakably beyond our own limited comprehension. The drawing of their cosmology is a little hard to read (click again for a better view) but easier to understand than the image above and shows how it wreaks havoc with the whole Abrahamic scheme of things. And what about women? This is the 21st Century, and the failure to give women the respect they deserve is outdated, obsolete, and frankly, stupid.

Pardon my disrespect, but go to their own website and surf a little. Note the "His" and "Father" language throughout everything.

I cannot figure out why any self-respecting woman would go along with this stuff.

Religion became a big deal in 1960 when Catholic JFK ran for office and questions arose regarding the true nature of his allegiance. Recognizing his Catholicism might represent a problem, JFK delivered an eloquent September 12, 1960 speech on the separation of church and state, and he became America's first Catholic President.

The rift between the Protestant take on things and the Catholic take on things is NOTHING compared to this rift between Mormonism and the entire belief structure of Christendom.

Should John Travolta or Tom Cruise try for the White House, I’ll post on Scientology.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2008—Arizona CD 8, LD 26, and LD 28

Tucson, Arizona—Anyone reading this blog can quickly surmise that I am not tapped into the local political scene like a Tedski, Michael, or Framer, whose Arizona Eighth is becoming quite an impressive blog for material on red turf. I do have some radar regarding three particular districts and will post content on them as the occasion arises.

First and probably stating the obvious is that democrats Pesquiera and Saradnik won in LD 26 due to a GOP meltdown nominating extremists who could not win in the general election. LD 26 turf is quite pink, but it is not extreme, and it will be interesting to see who the GOP puts forward in LD 26 next time around. While independent, I lean blue, and Pesquiera and Saradnik should enjoy every moment, because unless the GOP slips yet again and nominates nutcases, their days are probably numbered.

Now, Frank Antoneri, a clear GOP up and comer who has something to say and can command the respect of a room when he speaks, a man I consider five times the horsepower of Randy Graf, has some choices to make. He could pull a repeat and go after CD 8 again, but that wouldn’t be my move. I think Frank would lose against Giffords in 2008.

I actually live in LD 28, where Giffords was replaced by Paula Aboud, who defeated Ted Downing for the Senate seat. Now we’re talking pure blue. I consider it very safe to say that democrats will not make the mistake in LD 28 that republicans made in LD 26. I don’t have profound intelligence, but everything points to LD 28 remaining blue, well, forever. Democrats won’t be nominating any communists for LD 28 house or senate anytime soon.

Regarding CD 8, if GOP is smart, they will learn from the 2006 mistake and go central, and not Frank (yet). Again, I lean left, but if I were scheming for the red side, I would slam dunk Frank into the LD 26 Senate in 2008, waste no time on LD 28, and for CD 8, the best bet against Giffords, who will be a most formidable incumbent candidate, the name currently on my radar is Tim Bee. More on that later.

Tim and Gabrielle would be quite a race in 2008. Tim is also young, energetic, intelligent, and well respected. He is not a kook.

I have met Frank Antoneri and heard him speak. If he can be patient about Washington and apply himself in Arizona, LD 26 Senate is his for the taking in 2008. He could build some credentials, lay some track, and start targeting his entry into Washington. If Tim Bee succeeds in 2008 for CD 8, Frank would have other choices. If not, Frank could try for CD 8 in 2010. But let's face it, Gabrielle Giffords has been steadily getting stronger ever since we started paying attention, and my sense is that this will continue.

He has some work to do, but my sense of smell for upward potential is very accurate. Frank Antoneri is someone to watch.

Historical Marker--Take Two

There will only be about four of these or so over the next few months. Explanation later.

I stormed into RR's office and looked him directly in the eye, "Why'd you quit?"

Our eyes locked. He did not mince words, "Because you're dead."

Of course RR was right.

Faking life when dead is difficult if you're alive.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Yearly Words Reflect Public Consciousness

Well, the word is out on the 2006 Word of the Year, and must say I too am surprised by the apparent influence of Stephen Colbert, who also coined the phrase "wikiality" that I mentioned at a recent story here.

I swear I remember "podcast" being Word of the Year for 2005, but the Merriam Webster list shows "integrity" at the top of the list.

For 2006, we have Colbert's word: TRUTHINESS.

Truthiness (noun)
1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true"

The top ten Words of the Year since 2003:

Apparently Colbert will appear on 60 Minutes this weekend.

Note that some words appear in more than one year. Somehow I think the "quagmire" at #9 of 2006 has a different ring than it did as #2 in 2003.

As the Bush Administration drifts the country towards an Orwellian nightmare, it makes sense that a word associated with distinguishing reality from reality might develop.

It's really pretty funny, except it isn't.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Untimely Death In America—Guns and Cars

SUICIDE—When people want to kill themselves, we have the following methods of choice:

Guns—57.8 %
Suffocation (hanging, head in a bag)—12%
Various others—16%

The various others include jumping from bridges or buildings, intentionally crashing cars, and although increasingly rare, some still do cut themselves, but the slashed wrist is pretty much obsolete.

MURDER—When we want to kill someone else, the numbers change. We like guns even more, at 67.6%. Poison figures prominent here as well, coming in around 12%, and suffocation (strangling) is 10%. While knives play almost no role in suicides, they figure more prominently in homicides at 10%. When it comes to stabbing and slicing, we would rather do unto others than have done unto us. That pretty much captures all of homicide: shoot, poison, strangle, stab, with just plain beating to a pulp completing the picture. By the way, suicide ranks 11th (rating 10.8), well ahead of homicide at 15th (rating 6.1). Far more significant are accidents coming in 5th with a rating at 37.6.

ACCIDENTS—When it comes to dying by mistake, traffic accidents command 45% of all fatalities. After that falling and accidental poisoning are about 12% each. Regarding falls, we are not talking about dramatic slips off the top of some skyscraper or cliff, but simple staircase incidents. As folks get older, those staircases get more and more dangerous, especially in the older buildings. Staircases kill more people than you think, especially back east. Significantly less frequent, at about 4% each, are drowning and accidental suffocations (choking). The balance is made up of those rare occurrences like electrocutions, skiing into a tree, and guns are here too, but in very small numbers.

To keep a little perspective, the head honcho of death, heart disease at number one, has a rating of 235.6, with cancers (all combined) coming in next at 191.5.

Bottom line: When an untimely death occurs intentionally, odds are good a gun was involved. When an untimely death occurs accidentally, it was probably in traffic.

Enjoy your commute to work tomorrow, and try not to invoke any road rage. They might be packing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Sir!—Reality Makes a Comeback

Six weeks ago, I posted a story about diplomat Alberto Fernandez who suggested on television that the Bush Administration had been "arrogant and stupid" in Iraq. A spokesman suggested that Mr. Fernandez had been "misinterpreted," and after counseling, he did come forward and said that he didn’t mean to say what he said, which was what everyone paying attention knew from the marrow of their bones out: Iraq was a bungle of biblical proportions that will go down in history as one of the worst mistakes ever made by any nation in human history.

It is, indeed, THAT BAD.

This blog has already discussed the Project for the New American Century (great Wikipedia entry, by the way) and linked to its 90 page Rebuilding America’s Defenses Report as well as Wesley Clark’s pre-election speech revealing plans to invade Iraq as part of a five year seven country invasion to establish US hegemony in the middle-east.

Well, how’s your hegemony this morning? I am not a professional historian, but I’ve read a little and paid some attention, and everything on my meter says that this fiasco has put the US, and certainly the Bush Administration, at the top of the shit list of the entire Islamic world. This is hegemony?

Well, two months after the publication of Bob Woodward’s State of Denial, six weeks after the Fernandez remark regarding arrogance and stupidity, two days after The New York Times published Rumsfeld’s 11/6 memo saying in different words that things were all F’d up, and one day before the official release of the recommendations of Jim Baker’s Iraq Study Group, when Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan and incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Rumsfeld’s imminent replacement Robert Gates if the U.S. was winning the war, Gates replied, "No sir."


Levin thanked Gates for what he called a "refreshing breath of reality."

After years of hysterical denial, I will speculate that the democratic controlled Congress will put us on a collision course with reality, and although I understand what Levin meant, "refreshing" is not the word that comes to mind.

Just 3 days ago I posted statistics on the 3137 coalition casualties in Iraq. Since that post, the carnage has climbed to 3154. The number of injured nears 22,000, and we are not talking about nicks and scratches.

Have we rebuilt America’s defenses yet?

History will determine whether my meters are faulty or accurate, but they tell me that this will ultimately have the opposite effect of everything PNAC wanted to accomplish. The United States will be weaker, not stronger, have less influence, not more, and it will have bled unconscionable quantities of lives and dollars, and when it is all over, when this horrible fiasco is finally complete (whatever that means), matters will be worse.

The Republican Congress actually tried to impeach Bill Clinton. Remember? They really did.

For what?!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Historical Marker and Life Altering Choices

Please forgive what is essentially a self-indulgent post. 2007 is going to be a year of major transformation for yours truly. The outcome remains in play, but what is beyond question is a major fork in the road and the requirement of a choice.

Yes, the aggregate of thousands of little choices no doubt determine the nature of one’s life, but some choices stand out as big ones: 1) which college to attend, if any, and what degree to obtain, 2) whether to try what the US Government and one’s parents swear will kill you, 3) who to marry or to marry at all, 4) kids, and of course, 5) where to live.

We’ll skip religion.

At any rate, am now going to post some data that will make sense later. Not that anyone cares, 2007 includes updating the profile and ending anonymity. The "real" events connect to elected officials and public figures, so some of it could make a blip in the local papers.

Not CNN, and no delusions of significance here. It won’t be a big deal to most, but it will be to some, especially yours truly. The Star and The Citizen might not notice, but Inside Tucson Business will.

Perspectives Promising NVC
Blindness, Vision, and Sheer Terror
Viability and a Working Model
The Fork—Three Letters and the Rest of Your Life

When it is appropriate, at this blog I’ll tell the complete story, and based on initial feedback, folks will find it fascinating. It involves the spicy material that drama is made of, and all of it is true.

Whatever occurs should be complete by the end of August 2007.