Saturday, May 31, 2008

The best summary of what's wrong I've found yet

Chris Hedges has nailed it with his The Corporate State and the Subversion of Democracy speech given on on Wednesday, May 28, in Furman University’s Younts Conference Center. "Our state, our nation, has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations and a narrow, selfish political elite, a small and privileged group which governs on behalf of moneyed interests." and "Bill Clinton ... led the Democratic Party to the corporate watering trough." are but small portions of this gem.

With regrets in linking to Times Watch I'll point out their bashing and bitching might seem a bit out of touch given how much Mr. Hedges got right in his May 23, 2003 Rockford College speech. Here's a portion:

I want to speak to you today about war and empire.
Killing, or at least the worst of it, is over in Iraq. Although blood will continue to spill -- theirs and ours -- be prepared for this. For we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power, and security. But this will come later as our empire expands and in all this we become pariahs, tyrants to others weaker than ourselves. ...

The censure and perhaps the rage of much of the world, certainly one-fifth of the world's population which is Muslim, most of whom I'll remind you are not Arab, is upon us. ...

Once you master people by force you depend on force for control. In your isolation you begin to make mistakes.

Fear engenders cruelty; cruelty, fear, insanity, and then paralysis. In the center of Dante's circle the damned remained motionless. We have blundered into a nation we know little about and are caught between bitter rivalries and competing ethnic groups and leaders we do not understand. We are trying to transplant a modern system of politics invented in Europe characterized, among other things, by the division of earth into independent secular states based on national citizenship in a land where the belief in a secular civil government is an alien creed. Iraq was a cesspool for the British when they occupied it in 1917; it will be a cesspool for us as well. The curfews, the armed clashes with angry crowds that leave scores of Iraqi dead, the military governor, the Christian Evangelical groups who are being allowed to follow on the heels of our occupying troops to try and teach Muslims about Jesus. ...

The occupation of the oil fields, the notion of the Kurds and the Shiites will listen to the demands of a centralized government in Baghdad, the same Kurds and Shiites who died by the tens of thousands in defiance of Sadaam Hussein, a man who happily butchered all of those who challenged him, and this ethnic rivalry has not gone away.

The looting of Baghdad, or let me say the looting of Baghdad with the exception of the oil ministry and the interior ministry -- the only two ministries we bothered protecting -- is self immolation.

As someone who knows Iraq, speaks Arabic, and spent seven years in the Middle East, if the Iraqis believe rightly or wrongly that we come only for oil and occupation, that will begin a long bloody war of attrition; it is how they drove the British out and remember ...

This is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war now of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation. And if you watch closely what is happening in Iraq, if you can see it through the abysmal coverage, you can see it in the lashing out of the terrorist death squads, the murder of Shiite leaders in mosques, and the assassination of our young soldiers in the streets. It is one that will soon be joined by Islamic radicals and we are far less secure today than we were before we bumbled into Iraq.

We will pay for this, but what saddens me most is that those who will by and large pay the highest price are poor kids from Mississippi or Alabama or Texas who could not get a decent job or health insurance and joined the army because it was all we offered them. For war in the end is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians, and of idealists by cynics. ...

We have lost touch with the essence of war. Following our defeat in Vietnam we became a better nation. We were humbled, even humiliated. We asked questions about ourselves we had not asked before.

We were forced to see ourselves as others saw us and the sight was not always a pretty one. We were forced to confront our own capacity for a atrocity -- for evil -- and in this we understood not only war but more about ourselves. But that humility is gone.

War, we have come to believe, is a spectator sport. The military and the press -- remember in wartime the press is always part of the problem -- have turned war into a vast video arcade came. Its very essence -- death -- is hidden from public view.

There was no more candor in the Persian Gulf War or the War in Afghanistan or the War in Iraq than there was in Vietnam. But in the age of live feeds and satellite television, the state and the military have perfected the appearance of candor.

Because we no longer understand war, we no longer understand that it can all go horribly wrong. We no longer understand that war begins by calling for the annihilation of others but ends if we do not know when to make or maintain peace with self-annihilation. We flirt, given the potency of modern weapons, with our own destruction.

The seduction of war is insidious because so much of what we are told about it is true -- it does create a feeling of comradeship which obliterates our alienation and makes us, for perhaps the only time of our life, feel we belong. ...

Please consider reading his work. And to think he was heckled for his understanding and courage. Thanks, John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of May 21, 2008 - I've been at this infantry soldier business for but a little over eleven months now and surely I've got much, much more to learn about war. Way before enlisting I think I liked the idea of a reluctant warrior and I expect that might become even more true given what I'm learning. As always, I speak and write only for myself and in no way represent the United States Army.

Jacoby takes the long view on our current mess

I'd mentioned some time back that I was interested in Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason and yet I wasn't fully prepared to learn that "our nation's eggheads, nerds, bookworms, longhairs, pointy heads, highbrows and know-it-alls have been mocked and dismissed throughout American history." That there's a rather recent fusion of anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism is perhaps her primary point. Special scorn is likely reserved for fundamentalism given her body of work. I'd add that right wing fat cats and their political operators from the GOP who use those poor fools following their literalism and tribalism to our collective ruin ought to get a mention yet I'm not that far along. I'll suggest the link to Patricia Cohen's Gray Lady review titled Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? is worth another link. I'm but halfway through the book yet I'm enjoying ... despite my being a fellow traveler from the curmudgeon class . John Gunn

Knight Ridder/McClatchy Calls Big Media Hogwash

McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, pictured above with their colleague Nancy Youssef, give us a scathing indictment of Bu$hCo and the Corporate Media as relates to Iraq. These journalists are correct in ringing their own bells for getting things right then and now. THey are of course writing in the wake of the fallout of Snotty Scotty McClellan's book. "Complicit enablers" sounds about right. They are due a total tip of the tam! John Gunn

A Preview of President Obama's first Presedential Daily Briefing on January 21, 2009

The WaPo's Karen DeYoung reports Intelligence Official Sees Little Progress Before Bush Exits. While he's no Scotty McClellan to the Bu$hCo White House, I'd bet Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald M. Kerr might be in the doghouse as well with the loyal Bu$hies. Team McCain, with Iraq at least perceived as a strong point for Huggy Bear, would I think likewise be less than thrilled with Mr. Kerr's Thursday evening speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. First there's the disgruntled former insider and now they've got a damned egghead rocket scientist who isn't toeing the line. Obviously the smelly hippie bloggers also got to Dr. Kerr. At least General/Director Hayden has been able to resist their influence and power. John Gunn

Friday, May 30, 2008

So much for that restful weekend!

A 24 hour duty has been sprung upon me so I'll be out of pocket until at least Saturday morning. I enjoy the folks I'll be working with plus I might have some time to read. Still, I'd have just as soon caught some sleep tonight. Also, I miss the recovery day that I'd normally get since Monday is my next duty day. The recruiter said I'd seldom work over forty hours a week unless we were in the field or doing special training. As of late, I'd be happy with fifty hours a week. Rather than Huggy Bear and his ilk thinking better education benefits will hurt retention I'd suggest other factors might influence one's decision to stay in. I'll be back in the saddle ASAP. John Gunn

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Some initial thoughts on HBO's Recount

Brad Friedman's review will work for me. His point that flaws remain in our processes for elections is very well taken. You'd think that after this mess that reforms would have been a top priority! There's Ohio after all in 2004 that proves the point. I enjoyed HBO's Recount and yet had chills while watching. I can't help but think how different our world might be but for the debacle that was Florida in the fall of 2000. John Gunn

Is it really "The End of the Long Reagan Era"?

Joseph Lowndes on TPM Cafe suggests it might be The End of the Long Reagan Era and perhaps he's right. I appreciated this portion:
That Nixonian gesture ultimately begat not only the figure of the Reagan Democrat, but the founding of the Democratic Leadership Council in the late 1980s, which sought to win back the white middle through racialized positions on crime and welfare. Indeed, we can hear its strains today in Hillary Clinton's appeal to hard-working whites even as she opposes another Democratic candidate who is hardly an ultra-liberal by the standards of the 1960s.
Indeed the DLC and other "centrist weenies" are as big a problem for serious Progressives as are movement conservatives. Those that try the Republican Lite approach in an effort to reach "the middle" will never, ever, in any way win the support of voters. Those that do this middle way routine seldom offer solutions to the many troubles that face our nation and world. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of May 29, 2008 - Mark Schmitt's Can Identity Politics Save the Right?: Fresh out of other options, the Republican Party's bid to regain power is likely to come in the form of a pander to "real Americans."

HuffPo's 23/6 has even more McClellan revelations

I pondered way back in early 2006 "Broad Deception" ... Isn't That Bu$hCo Basics? and asked "wouldn’t it be nice to get Snotty Scotty ... to respond to real questions ..." I will confess it is hard for me to see him being interviewed as he tries to boost the sales. I even thought Ari had done better after his time with Bu$hCo. However, it would appear that Scotty will be banking some serious dough with his book climbing the charts.

Truly, is the idea that Bu$hCo was/is built around 24/7 politics delivered via liars and operatives shocking news? I like that there is coverage yet anybody that has been paying attention is hardly surprised. Yet, several portions of his book have been ignored. Lee Camp tells us the book also reveals the following:

"George W. Bush wouldn't have gotten to where he is if he hadn't had a famous father."

"Dana Perino? Not the sharpest knife in the drawer."

"The well-being of the average American is not at the top of Dick Cheney's list of concerns."

"Despite what some people have said, President Bush did not want black people to die in New Orleans. However, he did hope they would not relocate to any areas of Texas that he likes to frequent."

Jay Dykman has some gems also.

Colin Powell's beloved pet Golden Retriever was returned unharmed, as promised, the day after his presentation to the United Nations Security Council.

Not only did Karl Rove lie to me about his involvement in the U.S. attorney purge, but that bitch was also probably lying when he said I looked like I had lost a few pounds!

Cheney would often shed his human form just to lighten the mood during all-nighters.

So that explains the Powell speech! John Gunn

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just down from Toomer's Corner there's ...

While back in the promised land I had a chance to visit the campus. I do love Auburn University. John Gunn

The Bush White House engaged in propaganda?

BarbinMD on Kos writes The Media is Shocked! on the undeniable fact that the mass media is having a spell of the vapors over the Scott McClellan book. No coverage for Torie Clark's book? Who knew that Bu$hCo was up to no good? Seriously, if the media had done their job we might have avoided at least some of this disaster. History will hardly judge this administration or the press or our nation or ... kindly in the run up to the Iraq invasion. As for the media ... now they play dumb? John Gunn

Eric Boehlert asks the right questions

Why did the press ignore Ted Kennedy in 2002? by Eric Boehlert is dead on in pointing out that Senator Kennedy's 2002 speech questioning the rush to war in Iraq was ignored yet his recent health troubles merited copious amounts of coverage. Eric writes, "Talk about a greatest-hits performance. Kennedy nailed virtually every major problem and shortfall that emerged in the wake of the invasion. Yet in real time, the press, which was producing voluminous reports and commentary about the possible war, showed only superficial interest in Kennedy's prophetic comments." Amen! John Gunn

Eugene Robinson ~ Cuba policy of John McSame

In that appeasement theme we have the WaPo's Eugene Robinson's America’s Insane Cuba Policy courtesy of Common Dreams. A policy that is "incredibly stupid ... childish, irresponsible and counterproductive — and, since the demise of the Soviet Union, even insane" would perhaps cause pause to potential candidates seeking the Presidency. It did for Senator Barack Obama. St. John? Not so! He's got that 2013 fantasy mojo working on Cuba yet I'd suggest we have an election where differences in the candidates can't be more certain. Cuba is just one example. John Gunn

Bu$hCo Family Janitor is also into Appeasement

I'd noted that SecDef Robert Gates had an attraction toward "appeasement" yet darned if the Bu$h family consigliere James Baker isn't also exhibiting those traits. John Kerry's original WaPo piece titled The wisdom of conversation made it into The Anniston Star of the 29th and he correctly noted that Bu$hCo had "grudgingly tested the Baker-Hamilton report's recommendation and opened talks with Iran". Would that it were that John Kerry had ran a more effective campaign. John Gunn

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

James Howard Kunstler in The Anniston Star

James Howard Kunstler appears in the paper of my youth, The Anniston Star, with America's energy policy: Driving toward disaster. He was in the WaPo on Sunday with the same piece. He missed the Y2K prophecies of doom, as well as the tanking of the Dow, yet I'm thinking what he has to offer on our oil dependency is well worth heeding. I love the idea of tricking out a state of the art rail system! That effort could create some solid infrastructure jobs plus it helps on the energy front. John Gunn

Sunday, May 18, 2008

AWOL until Wednesday and then I'm flying home

I'll be in the field until Wednesday evening. I fly out Thursday evening for a well-deserved four day pass. I do need some time with the boy and bride and ... I'm flying Frontier this time and generally find their flights a little better than what I've been trying lately. I might get a post or two in yet I expect they will be rare in the next week or so. John Gunn

Marietta Georgia is home to Obama '08 Curious Georgia t-shirt controversy

Indeed, this joint is known for Mike Norman's often provocative way of advertising. I think the selling of these shirts will end via copyright issues rather than from grappling with deep issues of free speech or racism or ...

I expect the Muscular Dystrophy Association doesn't want the donations promised by Mike Norman Mulligan's Bar and Grill in Marietta, Georgia. I suggest good Progressives (or even those poor lost souls on the right) could help make up the difference.

Young earth creationist James I. Nienhuis finds in this dust up a way to comment on Darwinists, biblically ignorant Christians, marxist political movements .... Huh? And I thought the titles to his posts were confusing!

Obi's Sister is on RedState suggesting

The usual suspects will show up with bullhorns and placards and try to smear a normal American for exercising his First Amendment rights. Personally, I think it's brilliant. Making an analogy between a presidential candidate and a childish, naive and inexperienced cartoon character (who has to learn all his lessons the hard way - where else would you get your weekly story lines?) is a stroke of genius. What better way to illustrate his complete and utter unsuitableness for the job? Do you want your next Commander In Chief participating in an on-the-job training program, struggling desperately to get their experience level a tick higher than the intern down the hall? Do you REALLY?

Only the people who think HARD about candidates and what they mean to the future of this country will get this. Use the brain God gave you, folks. Use it before you lose it.

I'm personally thinking Mr. Norman has asked for the attention. Those exercising their own 1st Amendment rights in response to Mr. Norman's marketing or stroke of genius or ... will be engaged in a "smear"? Indeed, please do use those brains folks. As for brainpower of the respective candidates, I'd stack Senator Obama's record at Columbia and then Harvard Law, where he became the first African-American President of the Harvard Law Review no less, up against St. John's struggles at Annapolis.

While I was a student down at Auburn University in the mid 1980s I recall introducing a friend's then girlfriend as being from Marietta and getting a swift rebuke. Marietta is known for the Big Chicken but I can't help but think of Newt Gingrich (sorry Doc) and anti-evolution stickers when I think of Cobb County. The story also has echoes of Lester "Ax Handle" Maddox as well. John Gunn

Virginia's U.S. Senator Jim Webb on new G.I. Bill

Senator Webb's reference to those "thinking Republicans" certainly can't include St. John "Pander Bear" McCain I'd suggest. Think Progress has a nice summary of the interview and issue. I'm surely glad Jim Webb changed his mind and decided to take on George "Macaca" Allen and also note that he's long been on top of the right wingers true treatment of the troops. John Gunn

Bu$hCo's No Child Left Behind applied to football

Via Daily Kos, Dragon5616 shares No Child Left Behind--The football version (snark) and it works for this educator in voluntary exile. Everybody wins ... or else! I appreciated "If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad football players." yet I can also relate to this portion:
Talented players will be asked to work out on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don't like football.
Amen! I suppose frustrations with NCLB first led me to blogging and I've posted on it often. Here's just one post with a good number of links to prior posts contained therein. If I ever return to the classroom one can hope at least some measure of sanity will have returned to the profession. John Gunn

At best, four years of a McCain presidency equals a rear guard retreat for the GOP

At times I've wondered if St. John might not be a sacrificial lamb. After Dubyah's "Reign of Error", the GOP is indeed damaged. Although the GOP division is real, a good number of his detractors are at least acting as if they will support Huggy Bear. I also believe these folks, if nothing else, can take the long view. Many will do pretty much anything to win an election and perhaps that might be especially so if they think predictions of Democratic gains in Congress will hold.

Steven Thomma and Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers report Big GOP losses in Congress likely, even if McCain wins. Quoting Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, they write
"If it's McCain ... he would find his domestic policies dead on arrival. His only real influence with Congress would be in the foreign sphere."

While that "foreign sphere" gets me worried something fierce, I will also suggest we need Progressive solutions at home and we need them soon. Dead on arrival is hardly the dreamiest scenario I can think of should St. John and the right wing pull this off. Four years is I think too long to wait. I worry that the Democratic Party will not go far enough even if given the chance, and that's something the McClatchy piece covers, yet that's a post for another day.

John McCain, especially at his age, might be set up for failure, if elected or not. I wonder if his candidacy is about the GOP treading water and trying to get ready for the next run at power. The Corporatists, and others in their coalition of odd bedfellows, have made serious gains, including the critical banking of billions, in these years. They've done OK and can afford a holding action or maybe even a strategic retreat.

Win or lose the White House, the GOP will get to play the victim even more easily than they manage to do even while in rather solid control of the government. Also, the GOP does insurgency rather well. It's almost necessary for them to operate that way. Their Big Mules and Bible Thumpers and ... may very well be more able to fuse their interests under the circumstances of a McCain win than if he loses. I expect it would at least delay fractures that others have predicted.

Any thoughts? John Gunn

Saturday, May 17, 2008

John McCain and "a pander beyond conscience"

Tom Teepen appears in The Anniston Star with McCain's pandering is over the top where he gives us, "McCain's role was responsible and statesmanly and should not require that he pay heavy dues for his own party's sullen indulgence. But the candidate ponied up even so, now dutifully mouthing the hoary cant about crazed judges running amok." For the record, I'm not sure the "Gang of 14" was that grand of a group or that St. John was doing such amazingly stellar statesmanship. John Gunn

A good article ... but then there's Newt

The above shows Newt back in the day being given lessons on the Stryker. If I were his truck commander I'd be happy to tell him something over the Bose headsets! I'm reading Ben Evans in The Montgomery Advertiser telling Democrats aim for gains in South and I suddenly step in some Newt. Ben writes,

Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker from Georgia who helped the GOP seize control of Congress in 1994, credited Democratic strategists for shifting their message.

The Democratic winners so far have addressed social issues head-on, boasting of their conservative positions on abortion, gay marriage and gun rights, for example, while hammering Republicans for misguided leadership on the economy and the war in Iraq.

"I think they learned that if they remained a hard-left, anti-gun, anti-prayer, pro-abortion, weak-on-defense party they were never going to have a chance to get back in the majority," Gingrich said.

I love it when hard right GOP hacks are called on to explain what the Democratic Party represents. I do accept that Newt's Contract on America was a decent scam yet this goober represents so much of what is wrong with our politics. What Ben Evans wrotes was rather solid nevertheless. That he writes of Nixon's "Southern Strategy" speaks well of him. John Gunn

Just $1.75 a day to feed Bama county inmates?

Alabamians look like a bunch of redneck boobs yet once more. AP/MSNBC reports Alabama sheriffs feed inmates on $1.75 a day: 80-year-old state law says top cop can keep proceeds from jail meal deals and darned if this son of a former Alabama sheriff isn't a bit frustrated. Either through the Old Man or my time in the trenches as a criminal defense lawyer I actually knew about this outdated practice. That "state auditors do not have access to sheriffs' private accounts" makes it all the more of a reason for those up on Goat Hill to remedy this outdated and outrageous arrangement. John Gunn

About the homos ...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dubyah's Defense Secretary is into Appeasement

Just this Thursday we get Gates: U.S. Should Engage Iran With Incentives, Pressure from Karen DeYoung yet that very same day we have Bu$hCo violating decades of tradition with an attack on foreign soil that is clearly political on those that ... uh ... like ... think ... maybe ... we could talk with nations/leaders that might not care too much for us. Then again, John McCain was for talking before he was against it. There's more here on that angle. Well, there's more here on that history stuff as well. Let's not forget Dubyah's G-pa Prescott Bu$h's involvement with Hitler either. And then again who can forget Iran and The Gipper. How awkward. John Gunn
UPDATE - How blessed we are that Team Obama is ready to rumble.

Karl Rove ~ He's talking everywhere except before the House Judiciary Committee

The above is an image of The Architect/Bu$h's Brain and his tool in their younger days. Karl Rove was slinging foolishness in front of the NRA just today. He's attacking Senator Obama just a few days after giving him advice? At least somebody questions how this hack can pretend he's a pundit? Indeed, where isn't Karl these days? The House's Judicial Committee may be the only place. John Gunn

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The 2008 elections ~ What will the Scots-Irish do?

Will D. Campbell supposedly gave us, "The tragedy of the redneck is that he chose the wrong enemy." I've long thought it as good a summary of what all ails the South as any. I'd been following the Travis Childers vs. Greg Davis Special Election race in Mississippi's 1st CD with some interest and felt like it might mean the hat trick for my team.

Even George Will saw the handwriting on the wall. The again , The Politico did as well. One can only hope the GOP is indeed quaking in their boots. The NYT's Adam Nossiter and Janny Scott delivers In the South, a Force to Challenge the G.O.P. yet we still need the white folks to make this work out favorably. Newhouse's Jonathan Tilove suggests Obama's Is an Appalachia Problem, Not a Whites Problem where he quotes now Senator Webb's 2004 idea that "if the right national leader found a way to bring the Scots-Irish and African-Americans to the same table" it would be "the greatest realignment in modern politics."

I hope Senator Obama might be that leader yet I think he'll need to learn to at least "leave a mark" when he gets into a scrap. The right Veep choice would help yet I'd prefer him to scrap with a little more heart than head as a start. Finally, I don't accept the idea that you have to run as a "conservative" to get elected in the South. Mix in a little populism and even a good lefty can win. John Gunn

Outlander of the ... ~ Clifford D. May

I've long ago stopped trying to do an "Outlander of the Day" yet if I did have one this would be the guy. Cliff May was on Dan Abrams this evening advancing the GOP line. He's involved with The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and The Committee on the Present Danger. Clifford D. May is an apparent total neo-conservative hack! Maybe he had talent but this rascal has seemingly sold out. The Abrams' guests tried to reel him in yet he kept on talking the talk. They pretty much called bullshit on him on pretty much everything he said but he did his job I suppose. Also, it was good to see Catherine Crier again. John Gunn

Helpful Profane Campaign Slogans - F**k it, McCain!

A tip of the tam is due Left in Alabama for the above. Red State Update provides "Straight shootin' video weblog featuring Jackie Broyles and Dunlap, broadcast from a bunker deep within Jackie's Market in Murfreesboro, Tennessee." Jonathan Shockley and Travis Harmon at just too clever! John Gunn

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'll be AWOL until Thursday for Land Navigation

Packing my ruck and gearing out has me behind this evening. I'll be in the field until Thursday for a land navigation exercise. No Strykers for this one so might as well be in a Light Unit. Poncho hooch at best so could be a tough couple of nights in the bush. At least I'll not have Yakima's wind. Decent temperatures yet some rain is forecast. John Gunn

Sunday, May 11, 2008

J. Scott Armstrong ~ An Inhofian Polar Bear Expert

Enter the Inhofian Polar Bear Expert from Plutonium Page on Daily Kos says much as to what I've posted on previously here, here, and here. "Junk science" seems too kind. He's a freaking marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. John Gunn

John McCain ~ Doesn't walk the talk on military

St. John is pictured at a recent speech he gave at Annapolis. He and his try to wrap themselves in the flag and outright embrace militarism. Yet when it comes down to taking care of the men and women that volunteer to wear the uniform what do they do? John McCain dodges or at least deflects.

Mitch Albom's column in the Detroit Free Press today is titled What benefits soldiers will benefit all of us. Mitch writes
The same White House that features a president and vice president who never saw combat, the same White House that throws around the phrase "support our troops" to serve its purposes, thinks this bill is too expensive.
And although Mr. Albom doesn't tell us I'll claim Huggy Bear/John McSame is no better. The Hill's Roxana Tiron reports Sen. McCain seeks cover with GI Bill and Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent shares McCain's GI Bill Mantra: Fewer Benefits = Higher Retention. Aaron Glantz gives us John McCain Adores the War and Ignores the Warriors and refers us to WesPACs, VoteVets, and Robert Greenwald's video effort which I'll share below.

Finally, I've long been a fan of Senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska that generally shows his good sense, and Jim Webb. They are due a tip of the tam for leading on this important issue. John Gunn

Top Drawer Contrast Diary on Obama and McCain

On Daily Kos DemFromCT delivers The Past And Future Election. It's a gem! I look forward to seeing these two go toe to toe. I know winning debates isn't always about which candidate is the smartest or most well-spoken yet I can't wait to see Senators Obama and McCain square off. John Gunn

Wolf Blitzer lets Honest Joe slide and recycles ten year old Al Gore "Internet" interview

I flipped on Late Edition and immediately see Honest Joe Lieberman and Wolf discussing Senator Obama's comments about St. John "losing his bearings". Senior Advisor Mark Salter's response is quoted. Wolf doesn't ask about Honest Joe about his checking The Maverick's bearings nor does he mention the navigational use for the word or phrase. Doesn't anyone have a dictionary in the media.

Then I get to see Wolf play a ten year old Al Gore interview with the focus being on how Al Gore claimed that while he was in Congress he took the initiative in creating the Internet. There was of course no reference to how the right wing message machine went to work on the matter yet my question remains why'd Wolf and CNN choose that interview. Maybe CNN was trying to prove their importance?

As to the Gore interview, I was frustrated with the Internet focus yet also couldn't help but think what a loss we had in not having Al Gore in the White House rather than Dubyah and Bu$hCo. I'm however somewhat torn between Dead Eye Dick and Honest Joe. I'd guess Dead Eye is the greater of two evils yet contempt is too light a term for how I feel toward either. John Gunn

The Leningrad Cowboys & Red Army Choir Channel Lynyrd Skynyrd with Sweet Home Alabama

Mercy heavens! I recall hearing "Sweet Home Alabama" while walking up "Honor Hill" as I completed the field exercise and a long walk back while winding up my summer at Fort Benning. I was surely ready to get across that river! John Gunn

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Platypus ~ A blend of mammalian, reptilian and avian from roughly 170 million years ago

King Friday of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and Mr. Rogers are pictured to the left. Dating myself I'll confess that I do remember the Platypus family and immediately thought of William Duckbill Bagpipe Platypus the IV when I read the WaPo's Platypus Genome Found Fittingly Strange: Cobbled-Together Creature Yields New Evolutionary Insights from Rick Weiss. An interesting critter indeed. How would Southern Baptist Albert Mohler respond? John Gunn

One more example of the myth of St. John McCain

St. John McCain's relationships with lobbyists goes far beyond just the comely ones. Today's revelation that DCI's Doug Goodyear had close ties to the Myanmar gov't was soon followed by his resignation as Chair of the GOP's convention this summer. He's certainly not the only gun for hire up in DC that takes his money from all sorts of nasty folks. Ken Silverstein's Harper's piece is a good place to start understanding how the game works. The Center for Media and Democracy's Powers Behind the Throne is yet another. Paul Manafort was in fact McCain's original choice to Chair the convention yet ironically he was nixed for his own ties to repressive regimes. I know pols from the Democratic Party are often influenced yet I'd argue the GOP is far more easily managed. Huggy Bear's hypocrisy is certain when it comes to the role of lobbyists in his career. John Gunn

Navigation & Journalism ~ Getting your bearings

"Bearings" are explained here. I understand he was at the bottom of his class at Annapolis yet you'd think St. John McCain, the son and grandson of Admirals no less with his own service as a Navy pilot being well known and actively promoted, would grasp what Barack Obama was saying when he suggested Senator McCain was “losing his bearings” in repeatedly trying to link Hamas with the Obama candidacy.

It gets worse however! Honest Joe Lieberman might have "checked his bearings" yet he's merely one of The Chairborne who avoided Vietnam via deferments and the like to become a neo-conservative Hawk. If you're going to beat the drums of war then you ought to know a little about how it's done Joe!

Maybe the McCain campaign is worried about him being painted as an old coot yet you'd think a campaign built around militarism would get the navigation reference. Certainly Mark Salter, "the Voice of John McCain", ought to also know what "bearings" refers to with a Daddy that was in the Navy in WWII and the Army in the Korean Conflict.

"Losing your bearings" was a way of saying John McCain was losing his way, getting off track, not aware of his position, etc. St. John said he wouldn't campaign that way and then when he did Senator Obama called him on it. I'd have liked to see Obama do so less cerebrally and more assertively. Fighting back and calling BS is the way you must campaign when the GOP pulls their foolishness. This seems like a good chance to practice some jujitsu politics now that the "lost his bearings" dust up has gotten so much attention.

Mark Salter needs to be careful claiming anyone is acting in a "not-particularly-clever way" it seems given his background as the creator of the McCain myth. The Boston Globe's Sasha Issenberg tell us, "Salter grew up playing with toy soldiers and reading Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos comic books. On his honeymoon, Salter visited French-Indian war sites." What an exciting way to begin a marriage!

The bottom line is that the media should be able to supply a little context to what "bearings" surely meant plus also reveal who Mark Salter is. Yet, have they?

In a related theme please look at Paul Waldman's piece in The American Prospect titled How Deep Is Your Love?: Republicans are up to their usual tricks -- questioning the patriotism of their opponents. The media, as usual, is playing along because it lauds political success, not virtue. He writes
Republicans don't raise these attacks every four years because they truly believe that their exists some real relationship between a president's degree of patriotic fervor and the good he'll do for America. Instead, it's one more way of arguing that the Democratic candidate isn't “one of us,” that he stands outside the circle of our tribe. He doesn't share our values, he doesn't speak our language, he doesn't love what we love and hate whom we hate.

This summer and fall we'll once again see the GOP machine in action. They can do little right when the win, or steal, an election but I'll admit they do amazing work when it comes to the campaign. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of May 10, 2008 - The following suggests John McCain had trouble adjusting to the discipline of Annapolis. Does that explain his trouble understanding navigation>

Here's one telling of his family. Again, there's something about him not grasping certain lessons until later in life. Are they trying to prepare the true believers for bad news to follow?

Friday, May 09, 2008

A new favorite beer ... and it's nearly 500 years old

New Belgium Brewery has crafted the nectar of the Gods! Their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale is superb and as they describe it is "highly quaffable". I concur! Shiner Bohemian Black Lager is another recent find and it is a close second. Big Sky Brewing Company's Moose Drool 'aint bad and on tap it is divine. Lagunitas' Censored Copper Ale is another recent find. Dechutes' Cinder Cone Red is yet another. And there's ... The Northwest is at least full of solid beer choices. John Gunn

An old CIA guy hates Obama like a dog hates cats

Matt Stearns of McClatchy Newspapers shares Where did the Web rumors about Obama come from? Poor form perhaps but I told you so. John Gunn

How will they handle Cindy McCain's tax returns?

Up front I'll accept an argument can be made that Cindy McCain's tax returns might be none of our business. Still, I could got the other way on the matter. I'll need to ponder this one for a while. My question is how the right and the so called liberal media, like NBC's Ann Curry for instance, will treat her refusal to release her tax returns? I note that back in 2004 Bill Kristol's The Weekly Standard asked, Sugar Mommy - From the May 3, 2004 issue: Why won't Teresa Heinz Kerry release her tax returns? Their Matthew Continetti wrote
Making Heinz's tax returns public would confirm that she's Kerry's sugar daddy (sugar mommy?). It would also strike a blow against Kerry's populist rhetoric by detailing the lavish lifestyle he and his wife enjoy: the vacation home in Nantucket, the ski chalet in Ketchum, Idaho, the estate outside Pittsburgh, the Georgetown manse. Not to mention the red-and-white Gulfstream jet. And the tax returns could embarrass the Kerry campaign further if it's revealed that Heinz has contributed to independent organizations working to unseat President Bush.
The National Review had Donald Luskin doing pretty much the same thing. Media Matters tells us Wash. Post, WSJ editorial pages urged release of tax returns by Teresa Heinz Kerry, but have yet to call for Cindy McCain's. The GOP, or at least various tiers of their message machine, went after John Kerry on the issue so their die is cast I'd think. Still, they managed to paint Dubyah as a man of the people didn't they?

John McCain got on the "Straight Malt Express" when he married into the beer distributor fortune. But for Hensley money he might have never gotten even that first election win. The fact he shed his first wife Carol after having been a bit of a rake is also accepted. She's rich as Roosevelt! I think it good that Joe and Jill Sixpack might actually be able to learn these facts as I'm sure they'll use their regular "elitist of the left" angle if Barack Obama or at least his surrogates will not fight back against their foolishness.

Finally, I was pleased to see MSNBC/WaPo coverage titled McCain pushed land swap that benefits backer: 35,000 acres of Ariz. grassland traded for property ready for development that might reveal to more and more Americans that St. John the Maverick's label as a Straight Talker is more about perception than reality. I've posted on his cheeky behavior before plus there's his recent lies on health care plus his "purple cow letter" to the FCC and ... John Gunn

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nothing I'll moan about today so here's ...

Perhaps I'm tired or maybe it just seems like everything has pretty much been covered. It could be that I'm merely sad? I learned last night and this morning that a guy I went to high school with, and then roomed with briefly at Auburn, just committed suicide over his financial troubles in real estate development. He had practiced law in Georgia mostly yet we sat for the Alabama Bar Exam way back in February of 1992. He had two young children and was still presumably married to their mother. I only met her once yet she seemed like a fine woman. I understand his folks found him in his office. A damn shame and a waste of a smart soul.

Whatever is going on, I'm finding little today that I want to comment on. So here's an image of an unknown tree and its blossoms that I walk past nearly every day. Even though the blooms have faded a touch, these trees remain striking. There's been way too much death lately. I need nature even more than normal in times like these.

I also need to go home and see the bride and boy and ... Flying out two weeks from tonight! John Gunn

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

EPA's George Gray and ... covers for Bu$hCo

Renee Schoof of McClatchy Newspapers reports Senate Democrats criticize EPA for impeding science. His unwillingness to explain his involvement with the Annapolis Center is duly noted. Michael Scherer was kicked out of one of their events yet I helped Jerry McNerney kick out the sell out (Richard Pombo) in the fall of 2006. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson has of course refused to attend Congressional hearings yet George Gray, as did Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, covered for the whole of Bu$hCo. Only a few more months. John Gunn

Turning the idea of patriotism on its head

AP/MSNBC reports U.S. defense contractors seek offshore havens: Lawmakers want these companies to pay Medicare, Social Security taxes yet no mention was made of Halliburton's recent move to Dubai or KBR placing certain subsidiaries in The Cayman Islands. It's about time Congress acted. John Gunn

Some wisdom from Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti is credited with, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." So I'm healthy? I have long been frustrated with the world around me. I enjoy people for the most part and feel like I do some good in the world yet I surely do get riled up about many of those in charge in DC and Montgomery. Our popular culture often disgusts or at least escapes me. Will I wind up a complete curmudgeon or merely a touch grumpy? John Gunn

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Is Bama Senator Rusty Glover a conspiracy nut?

Bryan Lyman of The Mobile Press-Register reports Senate backs 'urban legend': Alabama resolution alleges that a conspiracy is brewing to form a 'North American Union' although experts discount the idea. Doh! State Senator Rusty Glover from Semmes sponsored the resolution. I regret to admit he's a high school history teacher. He's also a Southern Baptist and a Republican. He's also a decent softball player it would appear with homeruns noted by Dana Beyerle.

Mr. Lyman reported, "The senator said he had been asked by Birmingham-based members of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group, to carry the resolution." Carrying water for that kooky outfit is bad enough yet this whole foolishness is tied back to the John Birch Society. Senator Scott Beason got in on the act as did Hank Erwin in the Alabama Senate. You can't fly with the eagles when you run with the turkeys Rusty. Plus, I'd like to think you had enough going on upstairs to see this for what it was.

I also noted that Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode, who earned national scorn for sending, presumably on the taxpayer's dime, his constituents a letter claiming the election of Keith Ellison, a practicing Muslim, to the House was a threat to the nation's traditional values, had a similar resolution pending up in DC. I'll close with a YouTube of that stellar Republican from Virginia that might reveal something about those weak minds who fall for and then perpetrate such paranoia. Enjoy! John Gunn

UPDATE ~ May 8, 2008 - The Anniston Star ends a recent commentary with "Thus, maybe it is appropriate that the Alabama Senate spend time on something that's this ridiculous. Since our senators have spent so little time on the business of the state, they had to do something to while away the unproductive hours. And look at what they chose."

UPDATE ~ May 9, 2008 - The Mobile Press-Register opines, "What's ludicrous is not that someone would believe in such a conspiracy; people can believe whatever they want. What's astonishing is that people for whom reality isn't an issue are entrusted with running the affairs of this state."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Here's to exposing the failures of conservatism!

Greg Anrig's The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing is on my Amazon Wish List yet just reading his TPM Cafe piece titled Time to Win the War of Ideas ... Finally will do for now. Not just Presidential candidates, but rather all Democratic candidates, even in Red State Alabama I'd argue, need to take on the "modern right-wing's deep-seated hostility toward government". Those that seem to loathe gov't naturally can't make it work. He closes with

Those ideas failed because they were radical -- the antithesis of how many Republicans and independents define their own conservatism. This election presents a huge opportunity for Democrats to make the case not just for the own candidacy, but for progressivism. If the case against the dominant belief system of recent years is presented clearly and forcefully, many Americans who used to think of themselves as conservative will realize that they now have more in common with progressives.
Amen! The problem of course comes with the "presented clearly and forcefully" need as so many of the candidates and consultants come from the centrist weenie camp but hope springs eternal. John Gunn

Stenography from Newsweek's Daniel Stone

Newsweek's Daniel Stone reports Bear Necessities: Washington has to decide whether to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. Inside the politics of the debate. And to take us inside he uses "Dr. Kenneth Green, a biologist and environmental scientist who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research" with seemingly no qualms and with no disclosure of his/their agenda. They were offering cold hard cash for "scientists" to support their clearly sought outcome yet apparently Newsweek will give them ink with no payola required. This fella, pictured over to the left, is cited favorably by the Heartland Institute, in the news just today for sending thousands of unsolicited DVDs and the like to Canadian schoolchildren, plus he's been on the payroll of the Reason Foundation and the Fraser Institute. To have Newsweek consult Dr. Green seems remarkable. John Gunn

Josh, I'd not count on sympathy from Jeffy B.

I just received an email from Josh Silver, the Executive Director of Free Press Action Fund, which asks me to contact Senator Sessions. Josh writes, "Sen. Jeff Sessions sits on an influential committee that could hold hearings and investigate whether this “selling of the war” violates federal law. It is crucial that your elected officials hear from you now." The selling of the war is in reference to the NYT's reporting that I posted on, albeit late, yesterday.

I'll do what I can Josh but Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III hasn't earned the name of "Senator Water Carrier" for nothing. He has been a frequent apologist for "The Reign of Error" that has been Bu$hCo. Still, I'll use the handy dandy tool Free Press provides and urge others to consider doing the same.

A prior letter to Jeffy B. on censuring Dubyah was hardly successful and scolding him for voting for Stripsearch Sammy didn't fare much better yet here goes another effort. Maybe he'd listen to Steve Williams? John Gunn

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Will Torie Clarke roast or merely simmer in hell?

If she does go to hell I'd think she'd at least not have to wait in line. The NYT's David Barstow reports,

"Torie Clarke, the former public relations executive who oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, had come to her job with distinct ideas about achieving what she called “information dominance.” In a spin-saturated news culture, she argued, opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

And so even before Sept. 11, she built a system within the Pentagon to recruit “key influentials” — movers and shakers from all walks who with the proper ministrations might be counted on to generate support for Mr. Rumsfeld’s priorities.

In the months after Sept. 11, as every network rushed to retain its own all-star squad of retired military officers, Ms. Clarke and her staff sensed a new opportunity. To Ms. Clarke’s team, the military analysts were the ultimate “key influential” — authoritative, most of them decorated war heroes, all reaching mass audiences.

The analysts, they noticed, often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events. What is more, while the analysts were in the news media, they were not of the news media. They were military men, many of them ideologically in sync with the administration’s neoconservative brain trust, many of them important players in a military industry anticipating large budget increases to pay for an Iraq war.

Hell is too good for this heifer and those she co-opted, not to mention those that have profited from this mess, as she sold the Bu$hCo and neo-conservative foolishness. Eventually that lipstick wears off Torie. There's a statue I walk past every so often out here that has a good number of names engraved on it. I expect their families and other loved ones they left behind might not appreciate your "winning" of "the game". John Gunn

Is Dan Lips earning his Wingnut Welfare?

Mr. (not Dr. please note) Dan Lips of The Heritage Foundation got space in The Anniston Star for "The nation's risk: Improving how our children learn" to praise The Gipper, "high standards", school vouchers, ... Dashing Dan left off the fact that The National Commission on Excellence in Education was a Reagan appointed group made up of such ideologues as Diane Ravitch and Chester Finn. George Will seemed to leave all that off as well when he whined about "coersive federalism" in education when I scolded him in December of 2007. Reckon if Dan's omission has anything to do with his being in politics and PR rather than education?

His bio reads in part, "Before joining Heritage in 2005, Lips was a Senior Policy Adviser at Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a nationwide organization dedicated to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. ... Before that, Lips was an education research associate at the Cato Institute. In addition, he co-wrote the 2004 book, The Reagan Vision, published by the Goldwater Institute."

Mr. Lips is advancing a right wing agenda rather than looking for true solutions. I'm sure he's paid well to do all of this while those on the left barely can get by as they work to find the best method by which to educate our young people and thus transform our society. John Gunn

Thomas Friedman asks Who WIll Tell the People?

At times I have to hold my nose as surely Thomas Friedman, the "Mustache of Knowledge" himself, is a true globalist plus his FUs of six months represent much of what is wrong with our Iraq "policy". Still, I have several of his books and will be happy to buy or at least read more. His Who Will Tell the People? from today's Gray Lady is solid indeed. He ends with

We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

I don’t know if Barack Obama can lead that, but the notion that the idealism he has inspired in so many young people doesn’t matter is dead wrong. “Of course, hope alone is not enough,” says Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, “but it’s not trivial. It’s not trivial to inspire people to want to get up and do something with someone else.”

It is especially not trivial now, because millions of Americans are dying to be enlisted — enlisted to fix education, enlisted to research renewable energy, enlisted to repair our infrastructure, enlisted to help others. Look at the kids lining up to join Teach for America. They want our country to matter again. They want it to be about building wealth and dignity — big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, said Shriver, “no one can touch us.”

Well written and certainly correct. I hope Barack Obama might be that President. John Gunn

The Nation comments on our Lapdog Media

The Nation says what needs saying on the many failures of our nation's corporate media in these recent years. I confess I completely missed Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand from The Gray Lady. Those “military analysts” and their ties to the military-industrial complex being jetted about and fed rosy news by the Defense Department ought to not have been missed by a fellow like me that craves information. Maybe it was when I was in Yakima yet I'm appalled that this news got past me. The summary of The Nation's ideas follows ...

There are always honorable exceptions, but the tendency of the corporate press is to serve as stenographer for the powerful rather than the muscular check and balance intended by the country's founders. Rapid consolidation has brought us dumbed-down media, with broadcast and cable networks that rarely challenge the status quo, even as they maintain their monopolistic stranglehold on the airwaves. What do the people get in return? A diet of "news" and commentary with retired generals telling us quagmire wars are going well, former CEOs telling us a sputtering economy is "basically sound" and former political aides telling us presidential campaigns are about lapel pins and made-up scandals. ...

The constant is a major media system that, with all too few exceptions, sacrifices real journalism for access and abandons debate on real issues for manufactured controversy.

I concur and agree with what the piece ends with. They close with
The full Senate and the House should move swiftly to reject more consolidation, but they can't stop there. Congress should investigate the Pentagon's propaganda programs with an eye to determining whether laws were broken, especially regarding the sharing of classified information. Congress should also broaden its investigation into how the Administration and its media allies have politicized communications. And the presidential candidates should stop playing the media's game and start addressing the role Big Media has played in debasing rather than illuminating this historic election.
Given that Senators Clinton and Obama just recently chose to go on Faux News it is obvious that The Nation's last suggestion isn't being followed by Democratic Party "leaders". John Gunn

Alaska's GOP House Speaker John Harris sure 'aint no polar bear loving hippie!

I'd previously posted on Federal Judge Claudia Wilkin being forced to order Bu$hCo to get in gear on the polar bear issue and also on how Oklahoma Senator James Mountain Inhofe was carrying on about those whacky tree hugging, polar beat loving environmentalists. Senator Inhofe keeps getting elected in Oklahoma, giving some measure of pleasure to this son of Alabama haing to suffer through Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III continuing his "service", yet I expect the oil barons would also welcome him to Alaska.

Tom Kizzia of the Anchorage Daily News delivers Legislature wants polar bear study ... Conference would seek dissenting views where he reports "A $2 million program funded with little debate by the Legislature last month calls for using state money to fund an "academic based" conference that highlights contrarian scientific research on global warming. Legislators hope to undermine the public perception of a widespread consensus among polar bear researchers that warming global temperatures and melting Arctic ice threaten the polar bears' survival."

Also mentioned was the "flat earthers" at The Heartland Institute and their recent effort to claim global warming was BS, something I posted on way back here. They first tried to tell people they had tons of scientists on their side but they clearly didn't learn their lesson as reported by deSmogBlog. The Republican's War on Science continues. John Gunn

Saturday, May 03, 2008

About that context for McCain's 100 Years remark

Josh, actually one of his readers, has it right on what considering the context of the above remark means. "The entire, nuanced version seems to me to be essentially this: There's no point to leave Iraq once we've turned it into Korea. (In fact, he says, it would likely prove a handy base.) But, furthermore, it is unconscionable to leave until then. So there exists in the McCain Doctrine, as I understand it, absolutely no level of violence, no level of stability, no turn of events under which he would advocate leaving." I accept most of what what FactCheck.Org is offering up on the context angle yet let's have the conversation please. John Gunn

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bu$hCo's Reading First Program All Hat No Cattle

There's Dubyah with a teacher of some sort talking up their Reading First initiative. I've long ago posted on how the Reading First effort has not exactly been a stellar success. Today's AP/San Francisco Chronicle piece Study: Bush administration's reading program hasn't helped echoes much of what many people suspected. The program lined the pockets of many yet didn't do much for the children. Mission accomplished? John Gunn