Thursday, November 25, 2004

I am thankful for these Republicans

Today is Thanksgiving and we are to be giving thanks for all those good things that providence has blessed us with. I was not in a particularly thankful mood this am until I read the Seattle Times. There were two articles there that made me remember that not all Republicans are menacity personified as is Geo. Bush and Dick Cheney and the other members of their cabal.

So here are the articles, and may we hope that the coming year will provide us with the will and the opportunity to rid ourselves of the plague that currently occupies D.C.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A site to savor

Courtesy of Sisyphus Shrugged. I thought I had seen it all, but an observer of contemporary political life, who pens in verse, now this is worth pointing out:

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Prequel: This here's the south

I went to law school at the University of Kentucky in the early part of the '70s. For those that don't know, it's located in Lexington, Kentucky, a lovely bit of geography if you like rolling hills, white fences, large mansions and thoroughbred horses. All picture perfect.

One of my classmates, actually two of them, were named Andrew Thornton. The first Andrew Thornton, the one this story is not about, was an inoffensive type. Wrote a letter to the editor of the student newspaper complaining about how smokers were trashy because they left their butts and ashes everywhere without regard to cleaning up after themselves. He, of course, was marginalized, because this was the center of tobacco production. There were tobacco warehouses and drying barns w/in blocks of the law school. During certain times of the year you couldn't escape the smell. But cigarettes were 35 cents a pack, and practically everyone smoked, so nobody paid attention to that Andrew Thornton.

The second Andrew Thornton, or Drew, as he liked to be called, was a former police officer from Fayette County (Lexington's County) on the narcotics task force. Drew was not someone that I tended to gravitate around for many reasons, chief among them his law enforcement background. Turns out Drew had been high society Lexington, his family was in the Blue Book that listed only the top names, and he had gone to Sayre School, the private school for those of a certain class. How he ended up in law enforcement, I do not know. But what came clear a few years later, was that Drew did not leave his narc background behind. He started dealing in drugs at some point, probably during his law school career and used his connections to help his career. Several years after graduation from law school he had a huge network built up where he and those who worked for him were regularly importing huge amounts of cocaine up from Mexico and/or South America. There's a badly written book out there about his story titled The Bluegrass Conspiracy. Although, the writing is execrable, the gist of the story is true. Drew was able to convert or subvert law enforcement through out the Commonwealth of Kentucky so that he could run his drug business.

However, this being Kentucky, things can and do have a tendency to go badly wrong. As they did for Drew. Seems that Drew's preferred mo was to fly a plane up from S. America or Mexico w/ large bales of cocaine, each with a parachute and transponder attached for ease of recovery. Then at pre-arranged locations, the bales were pushed out of the plane, the parachutes opened and voila, instant mega cash. Drew would jump out at the last minute, put the plane on automatic pilot directed into the Appalachian or Smoky mountains, the plane would crash in wilderness presumably, and Drew would be laughing all the way to the bank.

Until his last flight, when Drew jumped out strapped to a bale of cocaine. Turns out that the combination was too much for the parachute, which couldn't take the excess weight and collapsed. Drew 'bought the farm' so to speak on someone's driveway in eastern Tennessee or western Carolina. The plane crashed into the mountains further east. The authorities, finally driven to investigate after the homeowner put in a complaint, found the plane and located some of the cocaine bales. Well at least one. It was also up in the woods. It had been opened by a bear, who had engorged himself on the contents and died nearby shortly afterward.

Drew Thornton, a sterling example of Lexington's finest in law and in law enforcement.

Friday, November 19, 2004

This here's the south part 2

Well, in Lexington, Ky yesterday word came out that a trooper who was speeding down Harrodsburg Road at 81 mph w/o his lights flashing or siren running, and ran into a woman in another car, and did not apply his brakes, will not be charged with murder, negligent homicide, vehicular homicide or even some sort of assault or battery. No, he will be charged with speeding and pay the appropriate fines. It also appears that he had no grave emergency that he was responding to at the time of the crash. I bet the family of the young woman killed, feel mighty relieved by these findings.

More on Lexington cops later.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Why we must only fight a just war

Today comes word of war atrocities perpetrated by Americans in a mosque in Fallujah.

The U.S. military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after a television pool report by NBC showed a Marine shooting dead a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Falluja mosque, officials said on Monday [...]
The pool report by NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said the mosque had been used by insurgents to attack U.S. forces, who stormed it and an adjacent building, killing 10 militants and wounding the five.
Sites said the wounded had been left in the mosque for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. No reason was given why that had not happened.
A second group of Marines entered the mosque on Saturday after reports it had been reoccupied. Footage from the embedded television crew showed the five still in the mosque, although several appeared to be already close to death, Sites said.
He said one Marine noticed one of the prisoners was still breathing.
A Marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters Television: "He's fucking faking he's dead. He faking he's fucking dead."
"The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man's head. The pictures are too graphic for us to broadcast," Sites said.
The report said the Marine had returned to duty after being shot in the face a day earlier.
Sites said the shot prisoner "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way."

Atrocities are unfortunately a by product of war. There is absolutely no way in hell that we or any other military can ensure that in the heat of battle, unarmed combatants or civilians are not murdered or worse by soldiers raised to a blood lust. Look at the Vikings and how they would goad themselves into aboslute paroxysms of battle fury when all that mattered was killing. They used to break open a combatant's back and pull out the lungs, making a gruesome parody of wings and call it a 'blood eagle.'

"Einar had his ribs cut from the spine with a sword and the lungs pulled out through the slits in his back. He dedicated the victim to Odin as a victory offering."Orkneyinga Saga

It is next to impossible to escape our violent roots. And as a Poli Sci professor from my undergraduate institution was fond of saying, civilization is a thin veneer holding our society together, which can be broken readily by exigent circumstances. He knew. His family barely made it out of Germany before the Holocaust.

That is why war is not something that can be declared lightly, as was done in the present case by the current US administration. Because when our wars are fought on a pretext, there is no way to absorb and give meaning and ultimately understanding to the atrocities whatsoever. Those who declare war must take the responsibility for acknowledging and atoning for the acts of horror perpetrated in our name. This will not be done by those installed in the White House. Being president means never having to say you're sorry for the current holder of the mantle. And that is a special horror all its own.

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign.... Secondly, a just cause.... Thirdly ... a rightful intention.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is well that war is so terrible--we shouldn't grow too fond of it.
General Robert E. Lee

This here's the south

A Louisville man charged with reckless homicide in the head-butting death of a teenager outside a party in Lexington last year agreed Monday to plead guilty to a lesser charge and could face a year in jail.
Aaron A. Roth, 20, of Louisville was charged in the death of Nicholas J. Holmes, 19, of House Springs, Mo. The incident occurred early Jan. 18 at Royal Lexington Apartments off Virginia Avenue. Holmes died of head trauma after Roth delivered a head-butt and knocked Holmes to the sidewalk. Holmes hit his head on the concrete.
Roth originally was charged with manslaughter and was indicted on a charge of reckless homicide.
Yesterday, witnesses and jurors were sent home, and Roth, 20, signed a plea agreement for fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor that carries a 12-month sentence or a $500 fine. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson told Circuit Judge Mary Noble that he recommended Roth serve 12 months in the Fayette County jail.

That's the South for you. Now if our fine upstanding citizen, Mr. Roth, had stolen a radiator from someone's car, I would bet a minimum sentence would have been 5 years.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Hunting for roaches

The headlines coming from US media seem to indicate that our military is getting ready to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Falujah. Well, I'm not there with them, but sometimes a longer perspective appears called for in determining whether success can actually be claimed.

25 years ago I lived outside of Washington, D.C. in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. Prior to that I had lived for 5 years in Lexington, Kentucky. Both places where I lived had roaches. You wouldn't see them if you were actively roaming around the kitchen, but early in the morning or late at night, if you turned on the light to go in, there they would be, scurrying under cupboards and refrigerators, hiding out. I'd fumigate for them frequently, but they would just move to other parts of the apartment buildings and come back a week or two later, no worse for wear.

And that's what I think is going on in Fallujah. Our forces (which according to 7 retired generals in the current issue of rolling stone magazine, are way undermanned: ) cannot wipe out the roaches in Iraq because they lack the ability to cordon them off and round them up. As I write this, the very last of them are no doubt scurrying to Mosul, or Baghdad or a hundred other places where they can hide out before their next unmanned bomb or sniper attack on our forces. Those civilians unlucky enough to have been trapped in Fallujah (and make no mistake, the US forces violated international law by refusing to let civilians leave prior to the offensive's start this past week) provided probably the majority of the casualties. The blog site Baghdad Burning ( has news of this as does an article in Scotland's press. They make for horrific reading.

We have not stomped out the roaches in Iraq. We have only created more.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Ashcroft meets equal in Gonzales

Ok, I stole this from Eric Alterman, but he used my favorite term:

Can anyone be a worse attorney general than John Ashcroft? Meet Alberto Gonzales who never met a provision of the Geneva Convention he couldn’t find a way to ignore. Congratulations Mr. President. I promise to stop misunderestimating you, right now.

12 Nov 2004

further thoughts:

This confirmation will be the first test of new Senate Minority leader Harry Reid from Nevada. I am afraid that Sen. Reid, coming from a red state, will have the same handicaps that hindered Sen. Daschle in the role (and alert readers will note it was my frustration w/ Daschle that led to the creation of this blog...).

Further, if latino groups are mobilized by the Bush administration to chant racism against Dems opposed to his appointment, I would suggest that said latino groups be directed to something that has a more substantial and immediate effect on the welfare of their members: the proliferation of clone Arizona Proposition 200's around the nation. And please note that some of the current Administration's most fervent supporters are also supporting this idea. What is Arizona Proposition 200 you ask? Glad you did. See Orcinus or and the following for more information:

Nothing like the administration for taking attention away from the important stuff.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Most vacuous statement coming from the adminstration post Nov 2

I just cannot decide. There are so many choices. First there was Bush the eternal prevaricator extending the hand of conciliation to those who agree with our goals. Next Ashcroft said that his mission was accomplished--that of reducing the terror threat, which he proved by lowering our color from orange to yellow. Then there was this from Paul Bremer, former procurator of the IPA:

Bremer: "Just Outcome" Possible in IraqLAST UPDATE: 11/10/2004 6:08:31 AMPosted By: Jim Forsyth
(SAN ANTONIO) -- The US diplomat who ran Iraq for 14 months said today that despite the current unrest in that country, he remains convinced that the US effort in Iraq is a 'noble undertaking' and the end result will be 'a just outcome for the Iraqi people.'
Former Civilian Administrator L. Paul Bremer III told a corporate real estate group here today that the US has already rescued Iraq from the 'spectacular economic mismanagement' of thirty years of dictatorship, and begun to turn around a 'chaotic system' in which inflation was running at 115,000 percent a year, and expenditures on everything from health care to public infrastructure was gradually declining.
Bremer, who left Iraq when the Interim Iraqi Government was sworn in in late June, declined to comment on current developments in that country, but he did defend one very controversial decision which many critics of US Iraqi policy blame for many of the current problems, the decision to disband Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army and bar officials of Saddam's Baath Party from holding any role in that country's future military or civilian administration.
"This was very important because it was a signal that not only had we thrown out Saddam, but that the coalition intended to help the Iraqis create a new Iraq," he said. "That was my most important and symbolic decision."
Bremer said he would sum up his 14 months as civilian administrator by saying he served as a 'psychotherapist to a nation suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.'
The career diplomat also criticized US officials back home for attempting to micromanage the rebuilding of Iraq, a process he called the 'eight thousand mile screwdriver.'
He said at one point he had to call National Security Adviser Condolleezza Rice and ask her to stop National Security Agency staffers from giving orders to his employees behind his back.
"I told her that if they had any tasks they felt should be performed, that they should task me and I would give that assignment to the people I felt could best fulfill it," Bremer said, adding that after his conversation with Rice, the 'problem stopped.'
Bremer also criticized US media coverage of the Iraq operation, saying once that during his tenure, 18,000 reconstruction projects were completed, from rebuilding schools to installing generators and repairing water systems.
"These were the good news stories you never read about in US papers," he said.
Security at Bremer's speech before Core Net Global, an organization of commercial real estate professionals, was extraordinarily tight, with four plain clothed security agents and at least two uniformed San Antonio police officers ringing the stage where he spoke. Bremer dodged two attempts by insurgents in Iraq to murder him during his tenure.
While Bremer said he 'has no time for the rear view mirror' when it comes to critics of his administration, one thing that he is afraid will retard efforts to bring true democracy to Iraq is the tendency of Iraqi leaders to see it as a 'zero sum society.'
"Each group sees the other group's advantage as it's disadvantage, and a victory for me is your loss," he said.
After saying he would not comment on the US military effort in Iraq, Bremer said, "I of course am a strong supporter of the liberation of the Iraqi people, I feel strongly that it was the correct decision."

Please, a word of caution. Do not practice psychotherapy w/o a degree and a license to do so. Freud must be spinning around his cigar.

If you didn't think we were in a Crusade

Think again. The second photo in the embedded link in the title of this post is horrifying. Which is not to say that the first photo is any better. A rosary wrapped around the barrel of a tank cannon is beyond abomination.

The Roman Catholic Church should condemn this asap.

Are we masochists?

I've done a fair amount of soul searching in the past 8 days as well as read post mortems on the internet and discussed the results w/ friends and acquaintances. What has become clear to me is that I am not interested in blaming John Kerry or John Edwards for anything. I think that the voting irregularities in FL and OH are sufficient to cause most considerate folks to start to demand recounts and verification of the votes. But that is grist for another mill, another time.

What I am truly struck by is the politics of victimization. I read one commentator, whose name is lost in the fog at present, who thinks that Democrats have and are behaving like victims of domestic violence. And I think he has a point there. Democrats have always been willing to take abuse, both from within and without, and turn the other cheek or seriously discuss the merits. The Republicans don't even let it on their porch. I think these differences in approach are telling about the mindsets of the two parties and it is continuing to permit the demonization of Democrats that is going on in the press today.

And the Democrats don't either realize it or they contribute to it themselves. Case in point. There's a very funny rant out in the blogosphere at htttp:// I posted it on a political discussion site and was immediately vehemently denouced by Democrats for conduct unbecoming. Yet not 2 hours previously a rant advocating elimination of the Democrats that the author admitted was modeled on Swift's 'A Modest Proposal,' (which btw advocated eating Irish babies during the height of the famine) with the only distinction, the author said, was that Swift was satirizing and HE was not, garnered not one whit of condemnation.

When I was in college I was on the staff of the school newspaper which at that time was being run by a couple of hard core feminists--very au courant for 1972. We had one male columnist whose weekly column was rejected by the editors when he wrote about how a friend of his had shit in a hat and given it to him as a 21st birthday present, from which he drew parallels about coming of age in the VN era. Too crass was the editors' comment. In that same issue, there was a column by a feminist who led off the article with a definition of 'menses,' and proceeded to talk about that function and its oppression in society. The next week, the male columnist delivered a diatribe, which at least the editors were open minded enough to print, that contrasted the banned column with the published one and asked: why was one bodily function not ok and the other one was?

So why is it ok to trash Democrats in the most unkind and cruel manner, and yet Democrats condemn this same tactic when applied to Republicans? Democrats will remain in the one down position unless they get a lot better at recognizing and attacking Republican bigotry. Democrats can start their rebuilding process by leaving their more aggressive brethren alone to seek out and engage the Republicans nastily and vociferously, and not sanctimoniously condemning them. We need that vanguard.

For additional thoughts, I would recommend:

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Something to cheer you up

as we grieve our losses.

Some definitions, proving once again that puns are the lowest form of humor.

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much
weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having
a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which
you absentmindedly answer the door in your

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks
you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor
assumed by a proctologist immediately before he
examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his
conversation with Yiddish expressions.

14. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you
die your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck

16. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of
boxer shorts.

I'm gonna become a frisbeetarian to take on all those right wing assholes.