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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Random Saturday (!) Ten

This week's first song isn't random. I figured I'd post this

1) Before I Forget - Slpknot
2) Belly of the Beast - Anthrax
3) Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon
4) Rock N Roll Never Felt So Good - GWAR
5) Don't That Attitude to the Grave - Ben Harper
6) Summer Night - Miles Davis
7) Send Me Your Money - Suicidal Tendencies
8) Electric Church Red House - Jimi Hendrix
9) Show Business - A Tribe Called Quest
10) Murder For The Money - Morphine

That last song takes me back to my days living on Poets Row. Another song called 11 O' Clock from the same album kind of defined my life.
Every night about
Every night about
Every night about 11 o'clock

I go out

The Sorry State of the Right Wing Blogosphere

Michelle Malkin does have her uses, though. If it weren't for her, I would have remained ignorant of this informal survey among conservative...oh, sorry, I mean, right-wing bloggers. ("Conservative" and "right-wing" aren't neccesarily synonyms these days.)

Most of the questions are fairly innocuous, and of course it's the answers that really matter. But I do find fault with one particular question, as well as it's answer.

This one:
2) Do you think that a majority of Democrats in Congress would like to see us lose in Iraq for political reasons?

Yes (53)-- 84%
No (10) -- 16%
Oh, where to start with that one?

The question itself is clumsy. It asks for an opinion about someone else's opinion and, in the process, assigns a motive to it. If I asked you, "Do you think Mexicans like tortillas because they're a fat and lazy people?" would you consider that to be a fair question? I mean, which part of the question are you answering, the part about the tortillas or the part about a fat and lazy people? That's an absurd example, I know, but read the survey question again.

If clarity was the intended result, why ask about motive? That allows huge holes for an existing bias to drive through, and based on the answers, that's exactly what happened. Surely more than 10 of these right-wing bloggers, if they were to sit down and actually attempt to be objective, would realize that Congressional Democrats are not rooting for an American loss in Iraq. They simply disagree with the Republican approach.

There is no way that you can fairly and objectively equate a difference of opinion on how to win with a desire to lose...unless you're willing to be deliberately misleading.

I would ask these 53 bloggers for the basis of their belief and any facts they may have to back it up. Who are these Democrats who want us to lose? Name names. Back it up. Are there any statements or internal memos from these Democrats that acknowledge their support of a US loss in Iraq?

Are they willing to concede that opposing Bush does not automatically indicate support for Al Qaeda and the Great Jihad? Can they admit that it might even be possible that Democrats really do want us to win the War on Terror but they think the Bush approach won't reach that goal?

I guess the biggest question of all, though, is it even possible for these wingnuts to oppose anyone without questioning their manhood, their patriotism, their character, or their sexuality?

Based on what I've seen from the winger crowd...I don't think so.

Update: The latest example, courtesy of Ann Coulter and Crooks and Liars. I have to say, that video is one of the most embarassing things I've seen in a long time. I actually feel bad for Ann Coulter. Her joke totally fell flat. The shocked gasps followed by uncomfortable groaning and scattered laughter. Then a tentative outbreak of applause, finished off by the impassioned clapping of the room's few true gay bashers. It just makes you want to shudder.

The Walter Reed Fallout

I have to say I have been thoroughly impressed with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's response to the Walter Reed scandal. Instead of the usual hemming and hawing that defined Rummy's days, we get a clear dose of outrage and accountability. Unlike the Abu Ghraib scandal, this one isn't getting pawned off on the low-ranking "low hanging fruit" perpetrators. Heads, significant heads, have rolled. Not only did the commander of Walter Reed get booted, but the Secretary of the Army has also been removed.

The Secretary of the Army!

Lt. Gen Kiley's tenure as the stand-in for Walter Reed's former commander lasted exactly one day, probably because he is suspected of being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. He has been replaced by Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, who previously held command of the Army Medical Center at Fort Detrick and is the brother of General Peter Schoomaker, current Chief of Staff of the Army.

In comments that should be applauded not only for their truth, but their candor, Gates told reporters:
"I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed," Gates said. "Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems."
YES!!! This is the kind of thing I've been waiting to hear from someone in the Bush administration.

Contrast that with the response to Abu Ghraib. Not only was that regarded as the "college prank" of the "Animal House" guys on the night shift, but there were even those who claimed that it wasn't torture. And though responsibility apparently went straight to the top, no one above the rank of Colonel was held accountable. (Oh, it's true, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of Abu Ghraib at the time, was demoted...to Colonel...but that wasn't because of Abu Ghraib. That was for lying about an old shoplifting charge.)

This Walter Reed scandal though is different. The responsibility goes all the way up, and the response hasn't been a few symbolic resignations intended to quiet the masses. It has been a real and true realignment that seems intended to actually address the issue.

One final note, in an interview after his resignation, ousted Army Secretary Francis Harvey said:
"It's unexcusable to have soldiers in that type of building," he said.
Then later, he expressed outrage that the Washington Post, who sparked the uproar with their investigative reporting, didn't provide enough "balance."
"Where's the other side of the story?" he asked, his voice rising. "Two articles in your paper have ruined the career of General Weightman, who is a very decent man, and then a captain . . . and the secretary of the Army. If that satisfies the populace, maybe this will stop further dismissals."
What other side of the story, bro? You just said it was "unexcusable," then you want us to listen to the excuses?

Sometimes, and I know this will come to a shock to the Fox News crowd, there is no balance, no other side of the story.

Jeffrey Dahmer really was a sick monster. The earth really is round. And death really will come to us all.

Also, Mr. Former Secretary, let us be clear on the matter. The Washington Post articles didn't "ruin the career" of General Weightman or Francis J. Harvey or anyone else. Their lack of leadership and oversight did.

Updated: I clicked over to Michelle Malkin's blog to see what she had to say about this subject. Of course, I was expecting some pathetic defense of the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed, something along the lines of "The mold on the walls is being harvested for penicillin" or something equally ridiculous and weak. (I actually heard someone in the military...Kiley perhaps...blame the rat infestation on troops having food in their rooms!)

Instead of sliding off the deep end, Malkin twists herself into knots to provide the requisite spin. Her take?
The Army Secretary has resigned over the Washington Post's investigative series on conditions at Walter Reed.
And she provides no other comment. She doesn't say if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but you can guess how she feels about it based on her characterization.

In Malkinworld, Francis Harvey seems to have resigned because of some newspaper articles, not because he failed to provide adequate care of the wounded. This is what happens when your constant suspicion of "liberal media bias" impairs your faculties of reason. You simply can't think straight.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Heavy: Lift With Caution - The Podcast

Ladies and Gentleman, do I have a treat for you. In my snowbound boredom, I put together the very first Lift With Caution podcast, which you can access here.

A few notes to consider:

It's not about politics. I do go off on political tears quite often on this screen here, but it's not my only interest, or even the most important one. So if you're worried I'll go on some anti-Bush tirade, don't be. I stuck to "safe" subjects like movies and music.

Also, it's a large file (about 25 megs, with a minute of "talk time" for each meg). I recognize that might be more investment than you are willing to give, but at least listen to the first five minutes, and if you don't like it...click onto bigger and better things.

If I do these in the future, I'll be a little more mindful of length, or chop it up some so that it's not all one big blast. I may even have to look into some kind of streaming service to make the download less painful. If you're one of the unfortunate pokes who are still on dial-up, downloading a 25 meg file is just impossible.

So if you do give it a whirl and you do like it, definitely let me know.

Little Bits

Once again, it is a Marine that shows us the true definition of courage. Burn those closets down!

In today's I Hope This Happens Category: Paris Hilton may go to jail. That would be awesome! Maybe that will finally be the nail in the coffin for these celebutante sluts and people will going back to paying attention to things that should be paid attention to. (Note: Paris Hilton isn't one of them.)

Here's a shocker: Officials knew about the problems at Walter Reed for years! One thing stuck out at me from this story:
Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he ran into [Lt. Gen. Kevin C.] Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need."

"I met guys who weren't going to appointments because the hospital didn't even know they were there," Robinson said. Kiley told him to speak to a sergeant major, a top enlisted officer.
That's right, don't talk to the guy in charge...talk to one of his underlings.

Kind of makes you wonder why we need the guy in charge anyway.

The news today is that Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who took over for Kiley in 04, has been relieved of his command. But guess who took over? Lt. Gen Kiley.

So as part of the loan process I mentioned in my previous post, my mortgage company wanted to do a little home inspection because of the property value discrepency. Since it was scheduled for today, I spent the morning cleaning up the dead bodies and dirty syringes to make the place a bit more presentable.

I figured he was going to go into the crawl space, check out the pipes, maybe take some measurements. Not so. He walked in in businessman's dress, which kind of precluded a visit to the crawl space. One of his first words was, "Wow, you have a nice house."

Thanks, man! I try, I try.

Anyway, it looks like there was nothing objectionable about my house (at first glance, at any rate) so the loan is looking good. I know I shouldn't cheer as I go deeper into debt, but that truck is starting to sound mighty nice right about now.

Homeowner Malaise

I applied for a loan yesterday. Yep, Jimmy needs a new car, baby. Well, a truck. I want a truck, something big and mean to go up mountains and haul dirt. My original plan was to get my taxes back and use that, but what can I say? Due to the lay-off, the severance package, and my idiot decision to take my pension money and run, I'm not getting much back.

So that leaves me with Plan B. Borrowing money.

Which I hate, because it means you have to pay it back...with interest. For years!

I'm not committment phobe, I did buy a house after all, but I really, really hate to be held down by debt. The only debt I have is my mortgage, and that straddles the line between "debt" and "asset." I don't even have a credit card.

Credit cards, if you were to ask me, are one of the most evil things in existence. When I get a credit application, I immediately tear it up, but if I were to actually read it, I would ask myself, "You want me to pay you 18.5% on money I don't even have??? Plus this fee??"

No thanks.

Of course, trying to get this loan made me wonder. Why is it that when you go to banks asking for money, you're lucky if they give it to you for less than 10%, and yet when you put money into a bank, either through a certificate of deposit or an interest bearing account, you're lucky if you get a rate that approaches 4%?

I know banks are in the business of making money, but you'd think they would be a little more fair about it. They practically butt fuck you when you want money, but when the tables are turned, they suddenly become stingy. It's not right.

As for my loan, this may be a mistake, but I'm doing a home equity loan. I've been hacking at my mortgage the past year or so like a conquistador going through the Amazon, so I have a bit of bonus equity. The only problem is that during this process I discovered that the value of my house has only gone up by two thousand dollars in four years!

You hear a lot about the real estate bubble, but I don't think that's a factor in my case. No, there are two things I think are more significant.

1) I paid too much for my house. If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn't have bought this house. I probably would keep looking until I found the right one, in a decent neighborhood, in better condition, with more growth potential. As it was, I was too green and too eager to become a homeowner that I didn't even think about that stuff.

2) The lady who owned the house next door to me is a bitch. That sounds mean, but it's true. Even her own son-in-law and daughter, who were renting the house from her, moved to Minnesota to get away from her. As the house sat empty, I promised her I would mow the lawn...but as soon as she got snippy with me, I stopped. If she had paid me, I might have listened to the grousing, but since it was charity work on my part, all I wanted was a little gratitude.

Long story short, the lady rented the house out to another relative for a while, which was fine, but then he moved and the house again was vacant. For months. And since the lady was an absentee homeowner, things didn't look too good for the house. The yard was overgrown, the mice who had infested the place ran wild (and attempted to move over to my territory). It was the definition of blight.

And the lady couldn't sell the damn thing. I stole a flyer for it when it was for sale and I almost had a coronary looking at the price. You gotta be kidding me, I said! As blighted as the house was, it was at least worth twenty grand more than she was asking! At least.

As to why she didn't sell it, I have my theories. For one, she was absentee and preferred that other people handle it for her. She made no effort to spruce the place up, just stuck a sign in the lawn and hoped for the best. And the sign was in English. I suspect that if it had been en espanol, she would have sold the house in a week.

But she didn't. She left it on the market for a few months and when there were no takers, she sold it to one of those "We Buy Ugly Houses" firms. For a HUGE loss! I don't have the number in front of me, but when I looked it up on the tax assessors office, I think it was somewhere around 87K. For a house that should go for at least 120K.

The "We Buy Ugly Houses" firm, sensing their gold mine, spent weeks renovating the place. They tore out the bathroom, the kitchen, redid the floors, put in new windows, painted it. Hell, if you bought something undervalued by over 30K, you can afford to sink some money into it.

Now I suspect the house is a rental, as it is occupied now, but the purchase price remains on the books. And since the value of your home is calculated based on the value of the homes near you, I think that absentee bitch has had a very real, and very anger inducing, effect on my property values!

So now I'm not sure a home equity loan is the best bet, despite the fact the juicy interest (comparatively juicy) rate. I'm already fighting an uphill battle when it comes to my home value, so why make that a little steeper with more debt tied to my house?

Snow

I hate snow. Hate it. With a passion, with a vengeance.

I've seen too much of it this winter. We had 60 days of continuous snow cover starting in December, which would have beat the record set in 190X had there been just a couple more days of snow on the ground. This is practically unheard of in Colorado. Out here, our winters can be severe...but for the most part they are mild. It snows, it gets cold, but next week the snow is melted and it's warm enough to play football in the street.

Not so this year. It's been cold, snowy, icy, and miserable for months. Months!

And it snowed again yesterday. On my day off. On a day in which I had planned on building the next raised garden bed in my ghetto garden. Of course, the snow put a damper on that plan and instead I spent the day climbing the walls inside. The only thing that kept me going was reminding myself that this was an atypical winter and that it's almost over.

They say March is our snowiest month, but I don't think that will hold out this year. It may snow every week this month, but I don't see how it could be worse than December, or January. Not this year.

Next week, they're saying the temperatures will be in the 50s. I hope so. I've got things to do, man!

PS. There are a couple of oblique Marty Scorsese references in the above post...er, references to Marty's movies. Ten points to whoever can spot them. Admittedly, they might not jump out at you in print. If I were to read this to you in the way I heard it in my mind, well, it might be a little easier.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More Gore - STFU Edition

The "Al Gore is a hypocrite" story has legs. Of course, that doesn't make it any truer than the "Saddam had WMD" story or the "AP is in league with terrorists" story, but in the age of truthiness, that hardly matters.

The point is that Al Gore uses a lot of electricity and he's been running around with all this global warming nonsense...

Uh huh, and I'm the last king of Scotland.

The Gore smear, for those who have actually been paying attention, came from an undistinguished group called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. They were embroiled in a little local controversy a little over a week ago. Read more here.

The short version is that the State Department of Revenue rejected a request for tax records, saying that TCPR is "not a legitimate group." The Communications Director circulated an e-mail directing her staff not to respond, and included the curious sidenote: "By the way, this is Drew Johnson’s org." Not sure what that means, exactly, but apparently this Drew Johnson character has a reputation...and it's not good.

Johnson cried foul, saying he should have access to the records but the Department of Revenue is holding firm. When asked why they refused the request, a spokesman denied it was TCPR's conservative leanings.
"Their complete lack of professionalism is why,” [Commissioner Reagan] Farr said.
Ouch.

On another note, I find it somewhat hypocritical that right-wing hatchetmen who don't even believe in global warming are criticizing Gore for something that they themselves don't even think is a problem. This is like me criticizing James Dobson for not being more homophobic. Wouldn't it sound a little funny if I started criticizing Michelle Malkin for not being right wing enough?

Now that would be funny.

Also, keep in mind that in order to call Gore a hypocrite, one must first assume that he is being insincere, that he makes quite the living from ringing the alarm bells on global warming but doesn't neccesarily believe what he's saying. But if that were the case, why would he drive a Hybrid car? Why would he pay more per month to ensure that his energy came from green sources? Why would he buy off-sets to bring his net energy consumption down to near zero? Why would he install solar panels and flourescent bulbs?

Are those the actions of an insincere hypocritical man?

You want insincere, listen to a right-wing partisan criticize Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore for being environmentally incorrect.

I wonder, do any of the people who are criticizing Gore now have Hybrid vehicles? Did they pay more on their utility bills to make sure their energy came from renewable sources? Did they buy off-sets to compensate for their consumption? Are they installing solar panels and flourescent bulbs?

No? Then STFU!

Even Howie Kurtz, who is known to slant a little right-ward from time to time, had this to say:
"Now: Is it fair for Gore's detractors to focus on his personal energy consumption? Maybe. But to drop this stink bomb the day after the Oscars makes it look like a hatchet job--one that succeeded in drawing plenty of media attention."
That's exactly what I was thinking...hatchet job.

Instaputz had this to say:
"The story" is that a right wing political organization sent out a "press release" attacking Gore for having a large house which was picked up by Drudge and then the rest of the wingnut media, including Putz, who promptly pointed and shrieked at it.

"Al Gore is a fat hypocrite" isn't a story. It's a personal attack. It's a smear."
Yep, a big house that's almost ten times as big as yours. Common sense says his utility bill is going to be bigger than yours too.

Too bad common sense is an endangered species in this world.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

News Bits

I've gotten visits from both Centcom and the Army in the last few days. The Army was checking out a post I wrote about Explosively Formed Projectiles.

Centcom just wanted to know about Arwa Damon.

I think I can also say that Arwa Damon is by far the most popular subject I have ever posted on. Either that, or I rank as one of the prime sources of Arwa Damon mentions in the Google index.

(I said "the Google." heheh)

In the news:

Whew, that was close. We almost lost Dick. First his plane has an electrical malfunction, and now a suicide bomber intended for him gets 43 other people instead (23 of them dead).

Is Dick cursed?

James Cameron, who hasn't made a feature film since Titanic tne years ago, has found Jesus. Or at least his ossuary. (That's bone box to us yokels.) I think he's mad that Ron Howard got the rights to the Da Vinci Code first.

Don't get me wrong. I'm usually in favor of things that discourage a literalist approach to Christianity, but I'm skeptical of this stuff. 2000 years is a long time, and finding DNA evidence of Jesus (and his family!) is like finding a needle in a haystack.

In local news, the war against smokers continues. But this is a development I welcome. Some consistency! When the smoking ban passed last year, casinos were curiously exempted. Hmmm...I wonder why.

They should ban it everywhere, or not ban it at all.

Westword has an interesting story about the arrival of Los Angeles style gangs in Denver. Very interesting stuff.

And finally, HELLYEAH's first single is now available from iTunes. Buy it, and turn it up loud!

Al Gore's Footprint..on Drudge's Ass!

On the heels of his Oscar win, the right wing slime machine is gearing up to attack Al Gore...for not being environmental enough. As ridiculous as that sounds, it gets more ridiculous when you actually put your critical thinking cap on.

The crux of the story is in the headline, copied directly from Drudge: "GORE MANSION USES 20X AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD."

That right there should tip you off that someone's being disingenuous. Is it proper to compare the energy consumption of a mansion with that of the average household? Not unless the average household is a fucking mansion!

Can you think of any scenario where a mansion is going to use less energy than the average household? Any at all?

Me either.

Also, based on the number posted on Drudge, Gore's mansion used 221,000 kilowatt-hours last year for the main house, guest house, and pool combined. The average household uses 10,656kwh a year. Seems like quite the disparity, until you factor in a few things.

The average household square footage? About 1500.

The Gore mansion square footage? About 10,000.

So how many extra kwh does it take to provide heat and power to an extra 8500 square feet a year? If the Gore mansion used 71,040kwh, they would be right at the national average. So while it's true that the Gore mansion uses more kwh than the average household, it's ain't no fucking 20 times more. Try more like 3 times more.

And even then, there may be an explanation.

I'm assuming, of course, that a house with a pool is going to use more than the average household anyway, considering the average household doesn't have a pool, or the lighting and filtration system that comes with it.

Nor would the average household have the security system that I'm assuming Gore has installed on his property. Those cameras need power. The monitors and alarms, too.

And that's just two little examples. If he's got any plasma screens in the house, bam, there's more energy. A jacuzzi bathtub in any of his eight bathrooms? Some more. Landscape lighting? Some more. An industrial steel fridge? Two range oven? And what else does the man have in his mansion that the average household does not? I don't know...but it wouldn't surprise me if it all compensated for the above average consumption.

And speaking of compensation, there's this from a non-partisan source:
Gore purchased 108 blocks of "green power" for each of the past three months, according to a summary of the bills.

That's a total of $432 a month Gore paid extra for solar or other renewable energy sources.

The green power Gore purchased in those three months is equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans or 286,092 pounds of newspaper, according to comparison figures on NES' Web site.
I guarentee you that the average household didn't pay $432 extra a month for green power, nor did they recycle 2.48 million cans or 143 tons of newsprint.

You can call Gore many things (I would call him fat), but you can't call him an environmental hypocrite.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Yugoslavia in Five Minutes

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about the International Court of Justice clearing Serbia of responsibility for the genocide. On the one hand, there's no way you can look at the situation and "exonerate" Serbia of responsibility since they were responsible.

But on the other hand, I wonder what the fuck an "International Court of Justic" is doing making pronouncements like this about nations? I mean, does this mean anything? Is it legally binding? Can historians no longer claim Serbia tried to snuff out Bosnia, which is kind of what happened?

Let's just take a look at what happened, shall we? Until his death in 1980, Tito ruled his little country, then called Yugoslavia, with an iron fist. "Yugoslavia" was a group of six Balkan republics that Tito inherited after World War II. Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia, which also included the autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina. When Tito died, these six republics carried on, breathing the last gasps of communism until the early 90s, when Slovenia, the western most republic, bolted in favor of democracy.

When Slovenia voted for independence, the rest of the republics stood around, scratching their heads. "Well, what do we do now?" they said. "Yugoslavia is Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia. So without Slovenia, there can be no Yugoslavia. Right?"

Croatia agreed and they too declared their independence. Then Macedonia. Then Bosnia. All that was left of the old Yugoslavia was Serbia and Montenegro. Kind of like Prince in a funnier age, they still called themselves "the Former Republic of Yugoslavia," but that was mostly so they could maintain control of Yugoslavia's federal apparatus. The bonus was the federal army, which remained in control of Serbia, and to a smaller extent, their toadie, Montenegro.

But there was a problem. Slovenia could break away clean because they were filled with Slovenes. Same with Macedonia. Croatia and Bosnia, though, had sizable Serb populations. And with loyalties pointing back to Serbia, they didn't like waking up one day and suddenly being in a foreign country.

They said if Croatia could become independent of Yugoslavia, then goddamn it, they were going to be independent of Croatia! So they formed militias and they started fighting the Croats. Things escalated to the point where the Serbs started clearing whole villages and towns of Croats, and in response, Croats were doing the same thing to the Serbs.

The trouble in Bosnia started later. And it was worse. Bosnia was comprised of ethnic Muslims (called Bosniaks today), Serbs and Croats. A mountainous wasteland sandwiched between Adriatic Croatia to the west and Balkan Serbia to the east, Bosnia became the no man's land in a trench battle.

A hastily arranged UN arms embargo was heaped on all of the republics, but that didn't matter much to the Serbs. They had Yugoslavia's army, the JNA. Croatia also had an edge because they had friendly borders and a coast through which they could smuggle arms. Bosnia was landlocked, surrounded by its hostile neighbors. Slobodan Milosevic and Croatia president Franjo Tudjman even had talks about dividing Bosnia between them, slaughtering everyone who disagreed.

It was really brutal shit. And Serbia was right in the middle of it, whether they want to admit it or not. On weekends, Serb gangs would ride out into the Bosnian countryside, looting, raping, killling, and burning any Bosniak villages they came across. Serb paramilitaries consisted of both locals and mercenaries from the Belgrade underworld. With the frequent meetings between rebel Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Milosevic, along with JNA general Ratko Mladic. (Karadzic was, until 2001, the mosted wanted man in the world. Osama Bin Laden took that spot, and Karadzic has slipped down the list considerably since. Neither he, nor his fellow war crimes indictee Mladic, have been brought to justice.)

My point is that Serbia does have blood on its hands. And the opinion of some kangaroo court doesn't wash it off.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's a bit early to start endorsing presidential candidates, but I'm going to anyway. I saw this vidoe on Andrew Sullivan's blog and it sealed it for me. Take a gander.
Yep, I'm going on the record as being an Obama supporter. Of course, that doesn't mean diddly squat because I'm not registering as a democrat, nor am I contributing any of my time or money to any campaigns.

But if Obama gets the nomination, I'm voting for him.

There's no way I would ever vote for Hillary. No way in hell. Not only do I think she's a lukewarm politician, at best, but she's a carpetbagger who thinks she's entitled, through name recognition alone, to hold office. I remain unimpressed.

Not only that, but I'm done with both the Bush and the Clinton clans. Done. I thirst for new blood. This country is too big and too diverse to cede control of our government to two divisive, self-serving, shamelessly corrupt elite families.

So I will not, under any circumstances, support either one of them ever again.

I had, until I threw my hat into Obama's ring, kept an open mind about even possibily supporting the Republicans, considering Bush can't run again and Cheney won't. There's Rudy, who for me is at the top of the pack thanks to his social liberalism. Then there's John McCain, who I preferred over Bush in '00, but can't stand now thanks to his pandering to the religious right.

I will not, I repeat, will not vote for anyone who panders to the religious right. Ever! That right there prevents me from entertaining most of the Republican contenders who are running.

I guess it's settled though. Obama is my guy.

Denver in the News

Three local stories made it to the national news today, not a normal occurrence. Must be a slow news day.

First, a jaguar mauls and kills a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo. Since I'm a member, and a big fan, that just makes me sad. But then again, they've got some pretty scary animals at the Denver Zoo. In addition to a pride of lions whose habitat is an open savannah, there's the family of komodo dragons, some of the fiercest killers in nature. They've got every manor of poisonous snake, spider, and frog in the rainforest exhibit. There's a couple elephants, and some hippos. I wouldn't want to fuck around with any hippos. No way.

And of course, the deadly...and very dead...jaguar.

Then we have the "pile-up," dozens of cars piled up on I-70 just outside of town. The crazy thing is that it happened at 8:15AM, which is during the time I make my morning commute home. I was on the road at that time and the roads were clear. The accident happened a few miles from my house really, just a couple exits down the highway, but where I was driving, the conditions you see in those pictures didn't exist. Crazy.

Colorado weather, man.

And then finally, another Bronco dead in the off-season. Back-up running back Damien Nash keels over after a charity basketball game and dies. It was from all appearances a natural if unexpected death, although the exact cause has yet to be determined. But as the story says, it comes two months after the Broncos lost Darrent Williams to gang violence. It's like we're cursed.

First it was the Elway curse, and now it's just the Broncos curse.

Today's Political Rant (Skip if You Want)

Harry Reid said the other week that the Iraq invasion was the greatest foreign policy blunder ever in US history. I disagree.

That was a blunder, no doubt, and a great one, but the greater blunder was classifying the 9-11 attacks as an act of war rather than a crime.

There's a whole line of thinking that sneers at calling 9-11 a "crime." In March on 2004, President Bush took a shot at John Kerry's knees by saying this:
Some are skeptical that the war on terror is really a war at all. My opponent said, and I quote, "The war on terror is less of a military operation, and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation." I disagree—strongly disagree. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got.
That bolded section is mine. Notice the willful mischaractization of John Kerry's statement. John Kerry's "intelligence-gathering law-enforcement" approach gets reduced to "serving papers to our enemies."

Come on, man...criminals get arrested, prosecuted, and eventually incarcerated and/or executed. They don't get "served with papers."

Sadly, Bush's approach, war and more war, has done little to dampen terrorism --the latest intelligence report indicates Al Qaeda is getting stronger, and well...I won't even mention Iraq-- but now, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, millions of people displaced. Electricity and clean water in Iraq are lower than pre-war levels, and Iraqis of all sorts are blowing themselves up. As for Osama? Instead of cooling his heels in Supermax, he's somewhere in Pakistan laughing at us.

You may say that you had hoped that the all-military war-war-war approach favored by Bush and his acolytes was the best way to go, but if you were to still say that, four years later, you have to be smoking WAY too much of Afghanistan's biggest export.

It may be possible, however, that even if we did take a "law enforcement" approach, we still wouldn't have Osama Bin Laden in custody, and Al Qaeda may still be getting stronger, or they would still have a state sponsor. That may be true.

But it's unlikely we'd have a power vacuum and civil war in Iraq. Or the deep suspicion of our motives and the contempt from our allies. I also doubt we would have some of the ancillary unpleasantness that we got ourselves into: the quibbling over the Geneva Conventions, extraordinary renditions, secret prisons, illegal wire-tapping, torture. You know, all that good stuff.

And it's possible that we might actually have made a dent in our terrorist problem, rather than exacerbate it by blindly following the blind.

Take a look at that Bush quote again, examine his mischaracterization. Based on his own words, the kindest assessment you can make of the President is that Bush has a major reading comprehension problem. He literally doesn't know the difference between "law-enforcement" and process serving.

Or a more cynical reading is that he does know...he just wanted to muddy the debate by setting up a straw man that he could conveniently knock down. You pick.

PS: Did you know that the senator played by Dick Smothers in Martin Scorsese's Casino was based on Harry Reid? No? Well now you do. It's true. I read it on IMDB.