Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 31, 2005

WB: When the Levee Breaks +


Hurricane Relief


The real lesson of Katrina, though, is that the scenes we've been watching in New Orleans could be repeated in many other places in the decades ahead, if the worst-case scenarios generated by the global climate change models become realities.

When the Levee Breaks

Posted by b on August 31, 2005 at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (80)

New Orleans II

Q.2. Why did the levees fail?

A.2. What failed were actually floodwalls, not levees. This was caused by overtopping which caused scouring, or an eating away of the earthen support, which then basically undermined the wall.

These walls and levees were designed to withstand a fast moving category 3 hurricane. Katrina was a strong 4 at landfall, and conditions exceeded the design.

Q.3. Why only Category 3 protection?

A.3. That is what we were authorized to do.

Answers from Army Corps of Engineers on unwatering New Orleans

More down the thread ...

Posted by b on August 31, 2005 at 03:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (30)

August 30, 2005

New Orleans

Now the city is really in trouble. Having seen and worked against flooding I doubt those breaches in the levees can be closed by dropping sandbags from the air.

The potential area of flooding through the reported breaches is some 75 square kilometers. The average water level would be over 1 meter.

That are up to 75,000,000 cubic meter of water that will not evaporate or vanish in the ground. As New Orleans lies below the natural water level, they will have to be pumped out.

The biggest transportable salvage pump I could find on the net does some 750 cubic meter per hour and there are not many of those around.

It will be a long, long time before New Orleans is inhabitable again. Given the extreme  dangerous location, one might want to ask if that is desirable at all.

The question of course is who will have to take the blame. Here is a hint:

It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.


Posted by b on August 30, 2005 at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

After all the lines written about the evangelical infested Air Force Academy one would expect the Air Force to finally regulate for a secular environment. But no, not really.

Now the Air Force issues religious guidelines, but it orders even less than what should be a matter of course:

"Public prayer should not usually be included in official settings such as staff meetings, office meetings, classes or officially sanctioned activities," the new interim policy says.

This is much too soft. In a secular military force prayers should never be part of staff or office meetings. There they should be prohibited. But it gets even softer:

It notes that prayer can be beneficial under "extraordinary circumstances" such as "mass casualties, preparation for imminent combat or natural disasters" and allows non-sectarian prayers in "non-routine" military activities, such as change-of-command and promotion ceremonies.

Though one might agree with the first part - when the shit hits the fan, prayer may calm the troups and thereby help to fulfill the mission.

But those non-routine ceremonies regulated now are hardly non-routine at all. In a battalion equivalent sized unit (500 soldiers) there is on average one promotion per day. The units commander can now marshal his unit each day for a common prayer (and that days promotion) within the above regulation.

Imagine a change-of-command where the outgoing officer is religious and the incoming one an atheist - prayer or no prayer? Why have a discussion at all?

In an additional article the Washington Post has further disturbing notes:

Pentagon data analyzed by The Washington Post show a substantial rise in the number of evangelical chaplains in the past decade, along with a modest decline in mainline Protestant ministers and a precipitous drop in Catholic priests, mirroring a nationwide priest shortage.

There are 1.4 million people in the active duty military and 2,860 active-duty chaplains, one chaplain for 490 men and women. But the denomination of those chaplains is heavily biased.

One Catholic chaplain has to take care of 849 Catholic soldiers, while the ratio for service members with Southern Baptist denomination is one chaplain for 40. That leaves the evangelicals a lot of time to proselytize - and not just in the Air Force.

But the Air Force is what concerns me most. The Air Force Academy is training the future staff officers that will be in direct command of the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons on this world. A believe in a near Armageddon within such an organization could become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by b on August 30, 2005 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Hints and Links

Open thread ...

Posted by b on August 30, 2005 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

August 29, 2005

Most Arrogant Comment Ever

Mr. Warner, a Virginia Republican who is one of the most important Congressional voices on military policy, said mounting numbers of dead and wounded Americans, the contentious process of drafting an Iraqi constitution and the economic cost of the war were adding up to new anxiety in Congress.

"The level of concern is, I think, gradually rising," Mr. Warner said in an interview on Friday. "Our nation has given so much to the Iraqi people, and what are they giving us in return?"

NYT: Senator Will Ask Rumsfeld to Testify to Panel on Iraq

Posted by b on August 29, 2005 at 02:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

WB: The Philadelphia Experiment

The boys of 2005 (and their American sponsors), on the other hand, are just pygmies pretending to be giants. And the Iraqi people are going to be footing the bill for those pretensions -- in blood -- for a long time to come.

The Philadelphia Experiment

Posted by b on August 29, 2005 at 01:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

August 28, 2005

Katarina and the Iraq Constitution

One has to have priorities:

"We are facing a storm that most of us have feared," [Mayor] Nagin said. "I do not want to create panic, but I do want the citizens to understand that this is very serious and it's of the highest nature. About 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level, and is protected by a series of levies.
Katrina could inundate New Orleans, August 28, 2005

Although we cannot say at present whether more or fewer hurricane will occur in the future with global warming, the hurricanes that do occur near the end of the 21st century are expected to be stronger and have significantly more intense rainfall than under present day climate conditions.
NOAA: Global Warming and Hurricanes

Kyoto is, in many ways, unrealistic.  Many countries cannot meet their Kyoto targets.  The targets themselves were arbitrary and not based upon science.  For America, complying with those mandates would have a negative economic impact, with layoffs of workers and price increases for consumers. And when you evaluate all these flaws, most reasonable people will understand that it's not sound public policy.
President Bush Discusses Global Climate Change, June 11, 2001

The cost of cleaning up storm damage will balloon unless the world takes urgent action to cut harmful emissions warming the globe, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said on Wednesday.
Global Warming to Raise Storm Damage Costs - Insurers, June 29, 2005

Changing climate also increases the vulnerability of coastal areas to flooding. A higher sea level raises the flood level from a storm of a given severity. A 3-foot rise in sea level (for example) would enable a 15-year storm to flood many areas that today are only flooded by a 100-year storm. ...
EPA: Global Warming Impacts: Coastal Zones

I.4. We further reaffirm that core values and principles, such as respect for human rights and human dignity, freedom, equility, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, the rule of law, shared responsibility, multilateralism and not resort to the threads or use of force in a manner inconsistent with the Purpose of the United Nations are essential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among States.
US (Bolton) revision #2 (large PDF), August 2005
"Revised draft outcome document of the High level Planing Meeting of the General Assembly of September 2005 submitted by the President of the General Assembly",
(italic: inserted by US, stroke: deleted by US)

Hurricane Katrina is now designated a category five hurricane. We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to Gulf Coast communities. I urge all citizens to put their own safety and the safety of their families first by moving to safe ground. Please listen carefully to instructions provided by state and local officials.

On another matter, today Iraqi political leaders completed the process for drafting a permanent constitution. Their example is an inspiration to all who share the universal values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. The negotiators and drafters of this document braved the intimidation of terrorists and they mourn the cowardly assassination of friends and colleagues involved in the process of drafting the constitution.
Statement by the President on Hurricane Katarina and the Iraq Constitution, August 28, 2005

Posted by b on August 28, 2005 at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

WB: Notepads on the Ground


Lasseter also doesn't paint the troops as the kind of heroic, larger-than-life action figures that make the fighting keyboarders drool with barely suppressed homoerotic envy.

Notepads on the Ground

Posted by b on August 28, 2005 at 01:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

August 27, 2005

WB: Another Satisfied Customer +


II. The Rumsfeld Guarantee

I. Another Satisfied Customer

Posted by b on August 27, 2005 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (85)

WB: Bring Me the Head of Hugo Chavez


Of course, I could be entirely wrong about Robertson's motives here. Who knows? In his warped universe, maybe threatening to kill a democratically elected leader because you don't like his politics qualifies as an act of Christian charity.

Bring Me the Head of Hugo Chavez

Posted by b on August 27, 2005 at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Open Weekend Thread

News, views, ...

Posted by b on August 27, 2005 at 01:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

August 26, 2005

WB: What He Said

As Johnson points out, there simply aren't enough troops available for a fight-to-the-death counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq -- not without bringing back the draft. Fat chance of that. If it turns out that drafting middle-class kids is what it takes to win in Iraq, you can bet that failure will become an option real fast.

What He Said

Posted by b on August 26, 2005 at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

WB: An Iraqi Process


An Iraqi Process

Posted by b on August 26, 2005 at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 25, 2005

Bolton Arrives

After at least six month of serious debate, the majority of states at the U.N. was prepared to agree on some pretty serious reform points. Then Bolton arrived. Steve Clements, (currently at TPM), has the evidence and posts some of the points Bolton wants to change, after the U.S. had agreed on them,  in a last minute drive:

In short, the document does the following:
  ~ knocks out entirely the Millennium Development Goals
  ~ continues to undermine collective efforts against climate change
  ~ knocks out targets and timetables for all goals and objectives
  ~ guts any efforts toward further disarmament objectives and focuses exclusively on non-proliferation, while both had always been important objectives in the past
  ~ strikes the section that states that countries will use force only as last resort
  ~ and oddly, strikes out the need to establish a legal definition of terrorism, which the Bush administration has previously stated is a requirement before proceeding towards a U.N. Convention on Terrorism.

WaPo had a lame piece on this today, while the NYT was asking for permission to ream Bolton's ass.

Why would you want a legal definition of terrorism when it is your justification to do whatever you like to do?

Bolton does not want a U.N. at all (because Cheney dose not want it) so he will sabotage any U.N. action, may it be reform, elimination of poverty, food-aid or genocide-intervention, as long as it does not further his (Cheney's) position.

He will lose furthering his points but he will also block the U.N. from any relevant action in the years to come. Unfortunately this at a moment where concerted U.N. action is, unlike in the 70's, really possible and could be valuable.

In the end, this will diminish the U.S. position in the U.N. and the world opinion for the  generation to come. But maybe that's the way things will, and should, evolve anyhow.

Posted by b on August 25, 2005 at 05:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

WB: Only Make Believe

But what happens if Sunni nationalists and Shi'a nationalists (Sadr's people) form a more effective alliance -- not just to campaign against the constitution, but to wage guerrilla war against the ruling coalition and the American forces supporting it? The U.S. Army proved last year it can wipe the floor with Sadr's militia in a head-on battle, but what if the Sadrists adopted the same sneak-and-run tactics as the Sunni insurgents?

Only Make Believe

Posted by b on August 25, 2005 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: Settling All Family Business (+)

Well, let's just say it's not a good day to be associated with the Barzini family.

Settling All Family Business

Shit Happens

Posted by b on August 25, 2005 at 01:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 24, 2005

Hypocrites CCXVIV + Aid and Comfort

We associate ourselves together for the following purposes:

..  to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and goodwill on earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy
Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion

Delegates to the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization meeting here in national convention today vowed to use whatever means necessary to ensure the united support of the American people for our troops and the global war on terrorism.

".. public protests against the war here at home while our young men and women are in harm’s way on the other side of the globe only provide aid and comfort to our enemies.” ..

“.. we hope that Americans will present their views in correspondence to their elected officials rather than by public media events guaranteed to be picked up and used as tools of encouragement by our enemies,“ Cadmus said.
Legionnaires Condemn War Protests, Pledge



Veteran Job Resources



Aid and Comfort

Posted by b on August 24, 2005 at 06:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Civil War

But not as expected: Christopher Allbritton reports

Earlier this evening, Najaf police units, led by a Badr Organization commander, descended on Moqtada’s office in Najaf, located on the main street approaching the Imam Ali Shrine. In the clash, Moqtada’s office, only four meters from the shrine, was burned to the ground, according to Abu Hazzim, who worked in the Najaf office and fled for his life to Sadr City.

Further fights between SCIRI and al-Sadr followers have started.

Next al-Sadr will join with the Sunni, the Kurds with the Turkmen, the Salfists with the Dawa party, the Persians with the Saudi - and all of them will join against "The West"  -  whatever that may be.

Huntington's wet dreams finally arrive.

Posted by b on August 24, 2005 at 06:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

WB: Down the River + Is Anybody Listening?


Will her betrayal simply be pushed down the media memory hole with yesterday's garbage? Are we really that far gone?

Is Anybody Listening?

Down the River

Posted by b on August 24, 2005 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

News, Views, Opinions ..

Open Thread ..

Posted by b on August 24, 2005 at 03:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (65)

WB: The Rumsfeld Effect + Axis of Evil + Dicked Again



Run Dick, run!
Dicked Again



.. the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Axis of Evil


Considering Rummy's track record, I'd feel a whole lot better if he was predicting civil war in Iraq.
The Rumsfeld Effect

Posted by b on August 24, 2005 at 01:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

August 23, 2005

WB: Word Salad

Even Hammurabi did better than that. So what happened Monday night was simply and completely a dodge to put off new elections and allow Shrub to claim progress in his big Iraq War booster tour.

Word Salad

Posted by b on August 23, 2005 at 04:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

WB: Dying for Israel


If I were a paranoid anti-Semite, I might expect the President of the United States to go on Israeli television and make saber rattling remarks about Iran -- while carefully concealing any preparations for a military strike from the American people ...

Dying for Israel

Posted by b on August 23, 2005 at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

WB: Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Posted by b on August 23, 2005 at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Now You See It, Now You Don't


Another symbolic piece of news yesterday was the failure of the water supply in most of Baghdad, following an insurgent strike on a main power line that also slowed Iraq's oil exports to a trickle. The gap between the narrow, sectarian concerns of the politicians inside the Green Zone and the chaos and poverty outside is already enormous, and it keeps getting wider all the time.

Now You See It, Now You Don't

Posted by b on August 23, 2005 at 03:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

WB: Disable Danger


maybe this was really about tagging Hillary Clinton with the soft-on-terrorism label -- after all, she was married to the guy who appointed the woman who hired the woman who wrote the memo that is now being mischaracterized as the reason that the Pentagon didn't give the information about Mohamed Atta that it now says it didn't have to the FBI.

Disable Danger

Posted by b on August 23, 2005 at 01:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

August 22, 2005

WB: Squeeze Play


Either way, an awful lot of people may have to die so that the president and his supporters can spend the next few days talking about the political "progress" being made in Iraq.

Squeeze Play

Posted by b on August 22, 2005 at 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

August 21, 2005

WB: Slouching Towards the Islamic Republic II


But "as long as I am alive" isn't a very solid guarantee. Sistani is an old man, and SCIRI and the Iranians can afford to be patient. If tactical compromises have to be made -- such as scrapping the proposed Shi'a state-within-a-state -- they can do that. If, for the time being, they have to settle for half a Khomeinist constitution, they can do that, too. After all, it's only a piece of paper.

Slouching Towards the Islamic Republic II

Posted by b on August 21, 2005 at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

WB: Of Kurds and Crips

The Kurds are only playing by the same golden rule as everybody else in the Middle East: Do unto others before they do unto you

Of Kurds and Crips

Posted by b on August 21, 2005 at 03:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

August 20, 2005

WB: Slouching Towards the Islamic Republic


All that's left in the corporate till now are the lies that will now be used to obscure the birth (in all but name) of the Islamic Republic of Iraq.

Slouching Towards the Islamic Republic

Posted by b on August 20, 2005 at 06:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Just Another ...

Open Thread

Posted by b on August 20, 2005 at 03:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (48)

Start Building Communities Again

Journalist Rose Aguilar is traveling through red America and interviews random people. She posts at Stories in America. Her recent "Conversations at the Gas Pump" are quite interesting, but her interview with Jerrie Morales is even more interesting. Some excerpts:

What issues interest you?

I want to know how women are dealing with the war. I know ..

.. what they're showing on TV is just one group of people. They're not showing women like me. Those Iraqi women are like me. They're trying to educate and provide good healthcare for their kids, just like I am. I remember seeing an Iraqi woman whose baby was dying. She tried to throw herself in the grave with the baby. I was there watching it and bawling. ...

You are one of the few people I've interviewed who have expressed an interest in the Iraqi and Afghani women. I've met a lot of people who say we're freeing the Iraqis one minute and we should kill them the next.

That's a sign of fear. The more the gas prices go up and the more people aren't making enough money and the more they're having problems, the less they're going to care about their fellow men. The average American is stressed out. I try not to let myself go there. I go to work everyday and deal with people who are dying and I know they [Iraqis] are going through the same thing. We're supposed to go after one group of people and we get this lady's four-year-old. That could have been my child. We have our own terrorists here. The first terrorist attack was not on 9/11. We had the KKK. We had terrorism when we gave small pox to the tribes.

What did you think of the Presidential election?

I didn't trust the Democrats. At the same time, I felt like I didn't have any options. Let's face it. This war happened because of oil. I've been reading and studying and I'm trying to understand Bush. I'm loyal because he's my president, but I believe the war was about oil. I saw some of our friends lose their sons in the war and bury them.

You voted for Bush?

I did.

What did you think of Kerry?

I listened to what he had to say. I thought he was intelligent, but I didn't think it was a good idea to change presidents during war. That was the main thing.

Even though you don't agree with it?

Yeah, but it's already happened and we have to fix it.

What issues do you want to hear about in the next election?

World affairs. We have to start caring about the world. In many small countries, people don't even own cars and we own three or four cars. We have more money and we're buying up fuel left and right. We need to build smaller communities with sidewalks. We live out in the country and they're building huge homes in gated communities. We need to start building communities again.

Posted by b on August 20, 2005 at 03:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Frist Endorses Pastafarianism

NASHVILLE (RBN) — Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said "pastafarianism" should be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

Frist, R-Tenn., spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including pastafarianism.

"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.

Frist, a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School, said exposing children to both evolution and pastafarianism "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone. I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."

The theory of pastafarianism says the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster and all evidence pointing towards evolution was put in place by His Noodly Appendage. Nearly all scientists dismiss it as a scientific theory, and critics say it's nothing more than religion masquerading as science.

Bush recently told a group of Texas reporters that pastafarianism and evolution should both be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Frist says 'Pastafarianism' should be taught in schools

Posted by b on August 20, 2005 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

August 19, 2005

Smells Fishy

Two days ago the Washington Post and others reported on reinforcements to be send to Iraq:

Responding to an appeal for more forces in Iraq to help manage a rising number of detainees, the Pentagon is dispatching an additional 700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, defense officials said yesterday.

The previously unscheduled deployment is intended specifically to bolster prison operations, the officials said. It is not part of a temporary increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq that commanders have said is likely to enhance security for a planned constitutional referendum in October and governmental elections in December.

"The basic fact driving this deployment is the steady rise in the prison population," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman. "There need to be some additional resources devoted to this."

There was a fishy smell in the air when I read this.

The 82nd Airborne is a strategic force.

[It] provides the ability to begin executing a strategic airborne forcible entry into any area of the world within 18 hours of notification. Their primary mission is airfield and seaport seizure. Once on the ground, they provide the secured terrain and facilities to rapidly receive additional combat forces. The division is the nation's strategic offensive force, maintaining the highest state of combat readiness.

The 82nd sends some of its core troops: the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Its motto is "Strike Hold" - size a strategic place by air assault and hold it until reinforcements are in, or the objective is achieved. The battalion has been in action in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Iraq I, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq II.

These are NOT prison guards, these are shock troops, the first on the front. They are to leave during the next two month. It is not specified when they might come back.

Wherever these paratroopers are going, they will not go there to guard prisons. Not even Rumsfeld will send the principal strategic assault force of the United States Army to do third degree tasks and to ferry around prisoners.

Either the situation in Iraq is much worse than we assume and elite combat troops are urgently needed there, or there is a mission in the Middle East theater coming up that demands air assault. Maybe something like an airfield or seaport seizure? But Basra is already in British hands. So where are theses troops going?

Posted by b on August 19, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

August 18, 2005

WB: The 51st State


The Israelis understand, even if their American patrons do not, that they live in another country, one with its own national interests, its own strategic ambitions and its own enemies, none of which necessarily overlap with America's.

The 51st State

Posted by b on August 18, 2005 at 04:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

Those Dems in DC

In a Slate piece three Professors of Law, Stephen Gillers, David J. Luban, and Steven Lubet, find that Supreme Court candidate Roberts has violate federal law. Roberts did not recuse himself from the appeals court panel that was judging the case Salim Ahmed Hamdan vs. Bush while he was interviewed for the top job at the White House.

The case was about the legitimacy of the Guantanamo military tribunals. Roberts was interviewed for the SOCUS job by Alberto Gonzales on April 1. The appeal was argued on April 7. In May Roberts was interviewed by Cheney, Card, Rove Miers, Gonzales and Libby. On July 15, the appeals court panel of three judges, including Roberts, gave the Bush administration the victory about military commissions and Geneva Conventions application by ruling against the lower courts opinion. On July 19 Bush nominated Roberts for the Supreme Court.

The professors find:

"Federal law [on the disqualification of judges] deems public trust in the courts so critical that it requires judges to step aside if their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned," even if the judge is completely impartial as a matter of fact."

Is there a reason question a judge's impartiality in a case against the heart of the administrations legal opinion when at at the same time the judge is offered the highest available legal job by the same administration at the same time? The professor think so.

There are also some vanishing archive papers with earlier Roberts opinions. There are also several opinions on equal pay, school prayer, "Abortion Tragedy" and others, that are outside the current legal mainstream. Roberts is a radical.

So why is Roberts Unlikely To Face Big Fight? What is the matter with the Dems in DC?

Posted by b on August 18, 2005 at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

August 17, 2005

We, The Liberal

by Highlander

I’ve had the same wet dream as all liberals: someone starts up a viable third party over on the left, calling it something like the American Liberal Party, or the National New Populist Party. It would be a third party for all of us who are still brave (or just tired) enough to still call ourselves liberals, a party that hasn’t sold out to the moderates as comprehensively as the Democrats, a party that would run on truly progressive platform planks like a Worker’s Bill of Rights, and comprehensive gun control, and protecting the government from religious incursions, and all that other good left wing stuff that the Democrats have completely wimped out on over the past, oh, fifteen years or so, in order to remain viable in American national politics.

And they’d have people in charge like Howard Dean and Ralph Nader, and all us far left wing nuts would just be havin’ a ball, right up until the actual election, when our New American Liberal Party candidates would get 20% of the vote, the Democrats would get 30%, the Republicans would pull in 50%, and all you or I will hear for the remainder of our fairly short lives is the sound of joyous well tailored mobs singing Onward Christian Soldiers as they march us to the wall against which we will be shot by their now completely legal fully automatic assault rifles.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly in my last point, although in my heart of hearts I fear I am not, really, at all. But I am entirely correct when I say this: a liberal third party will destroy progressive politics in this country for the next twenty if not fifty years, by completely splintering the half of the electoral base that is currently anywhere, even a fraction of a percentage point, to the left of center.

Yeah, I found Bill Clinton annoying when he was in office. This guy was a Democrat? He completely dismantled FDR’s social safety net! He totally blew off all his promises of universal health care! He spent eight years accomplishing absolutely nothing in regard to enacting any sort of progressive liberal agenda, while getting his rocks off in apparently every woman who walked within three paces of him and then held still for five minutes! He was a joke! And this guy was a DEMOcrat? Oh PLEASE!

But, you know, five years into an apparently eternal, if utterly illegal and illegitimate, Shrub Administration, I have to admit, Clinton looks awfully damn good to me now.

Clinton is, unfortunately, the kind of candidate the Democrats have to run in order to win any kind of national office nowadays… a non-liberal moderate Democrat who is capable of keeping most of the left of center vote while picking up at least 5 to 7 percent of the slightly right of center vote. And let’s face it, even with a candidate as non liberal as Clinton, the Democrats needed Perot running from the right as an independent to get Bill into the White House. Once he was there, the power of the incumbency was enough to keep his margins fairly intact, but without Perot, the Dems would never have gotten back in.

All of which leads me to my point: we liberals need to abandon the orgasmic masturbation fantasy of a viable third party on the far left, and start hoping for a viable third party to spring up on the far right.

It could happen. Quite a few of the more diehard, States Rights, small government, personal privacy, libertarian style conservatives are getting more and more fed up with the Republican Party’s ongoing sell out to the crazy Christian fringe. The only thing that is keeping a lot of these folks from setting up their own shop is the need for party unity. They know what a lot of us on the left fringe don’t seem to want to acknowledge – splinters don’t win elections for at least twenty years. Should the Republican Party fragment, they can kiss their choke hold on national political prominence good bye for at least a generation… and the party leaders on the right are way too smart to let that happen.

What liberals SHOULD be doing is everything in their power to start up a viable third party on the right. Get it rolling. Make it as extreme as possible. Call it the American Glory Party, or some such thing. Get Pat Robertson to run for President with Jerry Fallwell as his running mate. Get every conservative Christian church in America to do fundraisers. Take ALL those nuts out of the Republican voter base and get them all hyped up, thinking they could possibly put a Real Man Of God in the White House, one who won’t have to compromise with worldly powers… that would pretty much put paid to conservative aspirations on a national level for quite some time.

Of course, the problem is, the American Glory party would probably sweep any number of Congressional districts and would end up as a viable third party over in the legislative branch…something that wouldn’t happen for a liberal third party, which would pull maybe a dozen districts at best… and that’s probably a wild pipe dream.

So there aren’t any easy answers for us over on the left who believe in truly tolerant and progressive government. In fact, we may all just have to pack it in and move to France. But we do need to get one thing straight: this let’s start a third party for us liberals stuff isn’t going to do anything except hand the country even more firmly over to the nuts on the right.

Posted by b on August 17, 2005 at 03:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (75)

Open Thread 05-83

News & views

Posted by b on August 17, 2005 at 02:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (44)

WB: Lone Star Rising


I'd like to think that Fred Mattlage is the kind of prototypical Texan you read about in books like Lonesome Dove -- not much of a talker maybe, but couragous, decent and fair -- unlike his neighbor, the preppie poser from Kennebunkport.

Lone Star Rising

Posted by b on August 17, 2005 at 02:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

August 16, 2005

Frère Roger

Back in my teen years I was struggling with my Roman Catholic environment. Growing up in a small, overwhelmingly Catholic town it was was socially demanded to go to church each Sunday. Being altar girl or boy was an honor and a group leadership in one of the St. George boy scout groups was a high ambition.

This, of course, conflicted with my otherwise quite secular interests and a questioning mind. It took me a while to find some inner arrangement between my upbringing and my self. What did help me archiving this were some trips and several weeks stay in Taizé, a small town in Burgundy, France.

There, a Swiss Lutheran priest, Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche, Frère Roger, was running an ecumenical Christian men's monastic order, the Taizé Community.

The order has only about one hundred members, but each summer since the 1950's there are tens of thousands of young people coming to Taizé to camp out, talk, discuss, meditate and chant about their relation to a higher being. We came from over twenty different countries. We cooked, eat and did the dishes together. We loved and were loved. We sang and meditated and did some skin dipping.

The important thing was the ecumenical environment. The members of the order are Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox and whatever other Christian group may exist. Other people around were from different religions. I meet a Hindi, some Muslim, some Buddhist. All the ceremonial stuff was thrown out, all the artificial differentiations of rites didn´t matter.

After the regular evening prayer/meditation in that mystic church Frère Roger was available for private talks. His English was as bad as my French but he managed to explain to me that church didn´t matter the way I had learned it did. Rites didn´t matter, the type of a god personification one could believe in didn´t matter. What mattered, he explained, was to search for something and to keep searching. And to be peaceful and to accept that different people have different concepts of believe and different insights.

So I learned a lot through him, his community and all the people who were there. Some month later I left the formal church but I kept searching. Today I am a bit of a Buddhist and I am sure he would have embraced this development.

Frère Roger died today at the age of 90. He was stabbed during the common evening prayer/meditation.

Om benza sato shri.

Posted by b on August 16, 2005 at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

WB: Elephant Trap


At some point, the voters are going to expect the Dems to come up with a more coherent strategy. And if that strategy is simply neocon lite -- i.e., we want to bomb Iran, too, but we'll do it more effectively -- they'll probably stick with the genuine article. To paraphrase Harry Truman: Give the voters a choice between a neocon and a neocon, and they'll pick the damned neocon every time.

Elephant Trap

Posted by b on August 16, 2005 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

WB: Viewer Discretion Advised

There's a greater danger here than the threat that the violence in Iraq or Afghanistan might temporarily escalate (would anybody even notice?) It's the risk that some future administration, or future army commander, might be encouraged to endorse -- or cover up -- war crimes, on the expectation that they, too, will be able to rely on official secrecy to protect themselves (and the country) from the consequences.

Viewer Discretion Advised

Posted by b on August 16, 2005 at 05:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

WB: A Day Late and a Dinar Short

Iraq, in other words, seems to be well down the road towards a Lebanon-style political system, in which cabinet posts, military commands and control over national resources -- the entire machinery of the state, in other words -- are carefully apportioned along ethnic or communal lines. Such systems tend to be fragile and unstable, since the demographic and economic balance of power they rest upon is constantly changing. They also tend to concentrate power in the hands of powerful political chiefs, since only they have the authority and prestige to broker the backroom deals needed to lubricate the system.

A Day Late and a Dinar Short

Posted by b on August 16, 2005 at 02:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 15, 2005

WB: The Great Race


Khalilzad: Talk faster, dammit!

The Great Race

Posted by b on August 15, 2005 at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

WB: Dog Day Afternoon


At this point, to call the Commander in Chief detached from reality would be an insult to paranoid schizophrenics everywhere. Not just from the reality of failure in Iraq -- that's a given -- but from the political reality that public support for the war, and more particularly, for his handling of it, is in something close to free fall.
One angry mom is dangerous enough, especially when the President of the United States insists on being her unofficial publicist. But now there are 300 of them standing in the dirt and the heat down in Crawford -- and millions more watching on TV, silently asking themselves the same questions Sheehan wants to ask Bush: How did we get into this mess? How do we get out? Have our sons and daughters been sent to die in vain?

The machine can try to demonize Cindy Sheehan. But it can't demonize those questions -- not any more, not when so many others are asking them.

Dog Day Afternoon

Posted by b on August 15, 2005 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

2006: Dems Will Lose

Bush in Crawford is under siege by Cindy Sheehan and has trouble to keep a balanced life. Rove and now Ashcroft are in ever deeper trouble.

The administration is lowering expectations on Iraq:

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official [..] "That process is being repeated all over."

Cognitive dissonance hamstrings the leadership.

In the population there has been a change in sentiment since the last election. Bush is on record low poll numbers, so is support for the Iraq war. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now oppose the war, according to recent polling. Sixty-three percent want US troops brought home within the next year. The media tide is turning.

This should be the very best moment for an opposition party to take a real lead and call for an end of this expensive adventure and win a significant lead for the next election.

No more flip-flopping like Kerry between being pro-war and anti-war; a call for international consent before going to war; no to a preemptive doctrine that has proven to be catastrophic.

But no, the Democrats leadership has decided to prepare for the next election by courting the arguments they think would have won the last one. The Boston Globe writes:

After months of internal debate and closed-door discussions, Democrats have begun to develop a more aggressive foreign policy that focuses heavily on threats they say are being neglected by the Bush administration, while avoiding taking a contentious stance on Iraq.
Even Democrats who have been associated with liberal positions on international affairs are calling for more troops in uniform, proposing that threats of force be used to stop nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, and pressing for potential military intervention to ease famine and oppression around the world.
[Their report] calls for the United States to engage in more direct negotiations with Iran and North Korea, and for the talks to be reinforced with military pressure, including ''the possibility of repeated and unwarned strikes."

Democrats to Bush: "ATTACK IRAN!"
Bush: "Dear Americans, the Dems asked me to bomb Iran. The planes are on their way. If this goes wrong it's Clinton's fault."

To win in 2006 with a concept more hawkish than the Republicans is as stupid as it gets. The people need an alternative.

As Atrios pointed out: If you want bases in Iraq with some 30,000 troops living there, you will need another 100,000 troops to protect these bases plus the ever endangered logistic tail to fill the mercenaries luxury demands.

To stay in Iraq and to demand an attack on Iran in a situation where Iran controls your lines of communication is lunatic. The Strategic Class wants exactly that.

It probably could have helped during the last election (though I doubt this), but it will definitely not help in the next one.

Posted by b on August 15, 2005 at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (35)

August 14, 2005

We are "Outrage Junkies"

Lifted from a comment

by Monolycus

Oh, come on.  It's not like this is the first time Bush has demonstrated contempt for the will of the people.  Ten million human beings protested his proposed invasion of Iraq in 2003 (more, if one can believe the rumours, than had ever protested against any single cause in human history)... and his response?  He described them as a "focus group" and gave them a very insincere "I respectfully disagree". To describe this administration as having a ears of tin is missing the larger point; they have hearts of stone and I.O.U.'s where their souls should be. Do not act surprised by the latest demonstrations of sociopathic behaviour when that has been evident all along.

The problem is that these personality defects are not confined to certain individuals, or even political parties.  This is who we are, people.  This is the culture we are so damned proud of.  And a significant part of this culture that creates these antisocial, anti-environmental, inhumane monsters is pretending that we despise it. We pretend to be shocked by each new glimmer of atrociousness no matter how often we are faced with the same behaviours from the same sources; and all the while, we are really just happily devouring the misery as fast as it can be produced by the cultural byproducts we continue to create and support with our values.

We're like "outrage junkies"... we produce excrement simply to be offended by it.  Makes us feel a bit better about our own meaninglessness.  It would defeat the purpose for us to address and correct the problems we complain about because the real problems are we, ourselves.  "Powerful people" with tin ears, disastrous policies and a demonstrable contempt for the populus are only symptoms. If we cured those symptoms, we would have to trade our beloved outrage for the hard work of trying to repair the damage the symptoms have done.  I haven't seen any evidence that anyone really wants to make that trade.  Not as long as we can continue to be appalled anew over the same old shit that is taking us all to the grave. 

Posted by b on August 14, 2005 at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (31)

Sunday OT

News and views ...

Posted by b on August 14, 2005 at 03:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (43)

August 12, 2005

Friday Art: Blowback

Blowback: The unintended consequences of covert operations.

Cautionary Tale
by beq
(full size)

Posted by b on August 12, 2005 at 03:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)