Tuesday, June 27, 2006


tee bee

We flew out to California yesterday... got up at 3:45am to catch the Van Galder bus into O'Hare, just barely made our US Air flight to Phoenix (the TSA didn't think L should be allowed through security. In fairness, he did keep beeping everytime he went through the metal detector).

I'd be posting pics of Phoenix, which is an awesome moonring of mountains rising from the flat bottom of the valley, except that we had just enough time to get to our next flight and board. I'll make up for it when we hit the road and get to the Grand Canyon. And the Tetons. And Yellowstone (the one in Wyoming, not the one in Wisconsin). And Mt. Rushmore. And lots of the other places we will be seeing.

Road Trip!!!!

In the meantime, cross your fingers that I can get my mother-in-law set up with DSL while we're here. This dial-up AOhelL is going to give me a stroke.

One other thing... you could vote for me if you're so inclined. I'm up for blog of the week at MKE. I don't really know what they do or what the award might signify, since I've never heard of the blogs I'm up against, and if I had heard of them it would probably be a sure-fire sign that I should be trailing in fifth out of the five. I do appreciate their mission to get podunk blogs like mine exposure, since that's a main way we all find each other.

Check it here.


Congress Encouraging Charity

tee bee

Not. I knew that headline would get your attention, though.I was enjoying a leisurely read of yesterday's paper, getting into the finer points of Warren Buffet's unprecedented and unsurpassed pledge in Monday's Sacramento Bee (they picked up the Yuki Noguchi article from the Washington Post).
"The amount that Buffett is giving is record-breaking," said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a District-based newspaper covering the nonprofit world. "The fact that he's giving to the Gateses is unprecedented," she said, because most families have donated to causes in their own name."

It's a pleasant look into the conscience of the uber-rich, until this passage:

Giving away massive amounts of money comes with its own challenges, experts said yesterday, and such large gifts could attract the attention of Congress because foundations aren't regulated.

"We haven't seen that kind of influence all in one pot," Palmer said.

Heaven knows the nation's coffers haven't seen any benefit from that money when it was earned, then when it was invested, and again every time it made a profit.

I hope this isn't true, but the reality is that a politician who isn't chasing tax dollars to control isn't long a politician.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Iraq Amnesty: Tribalism and Religion

tee bee

Relevant to the conversation in the post "Iraq: Amnesty, Expediency, Failure," Jib posted on the article by Steven Pressfield, which argues in some ways perpindicular to my observations and in some ways parallel:

Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallujah. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.

For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counterguerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What has struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today -- even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It's about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven't changed in 2,300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.

I largely agree with Pressman's points, though I believe the formation, scripture and translation of scripture by the different sects encodes the violence against infidels - which includes tribes who call themselves muslim but don't agree on interpretations.

Thus religion can't be said to be separate in any way from how we describe and designate the tribes in question. They certainly wouldn't consider their religion meaningless to who they are and what their goals are.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Brit(ney) Blogging

tee bee

Following in the footsteps of many a celebrity spouse, KFed / alias Fed-ex, is trumpeting a cause he has a passion - and time, money and the public eye - for:
"We’re bringing power back to the penny. Man, I feel good about the penny!”
Britney's future former husband is tossing his stove-pipe hat into the political ring for the noble penny. No kidding. Seems the dearth of real work available to Congress has some Yahoo Rep trying to oust the little copper rabbit's foot.

Am I the only one feeling nostalgic for that grand scheme from Office Space where the guys are going to get rich by diverting all those fractional cents into a separate bank account?

For once, I'm down with homey. Especially since someone had the presence of mind to make sure Mr. Spears didn't use the microphone to belt anything beyond pro-penny slogans backed by Virgin Group's Virgin Mobile and Americans for Common Sense.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Iraq: Amnesty, Expediency, Failure

tee bee

Amnesty. It's showing up again as a political bargaining chip, this time in Iraq.

From the Washington Post:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday proposed a limited amnesty to help end the Sunni Arab insurgency as part of a national reconciliation plan that Maliki said would be released within days. The plan is likely to include pardons for those who had attacked only U.S. troops, a top adviser said.

Maliki's declaration of openness to talks with some members of Sunni armed factions, and the prospect of pardons, are concessions that previous, interim governments had avoided. The statements marked the first time a leader from Iraq's governing Shiite religious parties has publicly embraced national reconciliation, welcomed dialogue with armed groups and proposed a limited amnesty.

Rather than seeing it for the politically savvy pretzel-logic maneuver it is, some would have you believe that "Iraqi government does NOT support the U.S. troops."

One might as well say of the amnesty programs for illegal immigrants in the US that Congress and the President do not support American workers. Twisted thinking applied to a twisted attempt at gaining consensus.

Johnny, whose blog deck generally echoes my sentiments but with a left lean (and a left-leaning "patriotism" equation) , notes Bush's recent surprise visit to Iraq followed by Iraqi PM Maliki's amnesty proposal, and hits the nail square on the head:

Yesterday, Maliki announced an amnesty plan for insurgents. Specifically, as long as insurgents (or are they terrorists?) "weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood", they would be granted amnesty. That means, insurgents who attacked, maimed, and/or killed U.S. troops would be forgiven [emphasis his].

Is there outrage? Are the so-called defenders of the troops calling for Maliki's head? No. On the day we reach 2,500 killed boys and girls in Iraq, the Republican chickenhawks are glad to offer amnesty to their killers.

Here you go, Johnny:

I protest. I am furious. This is a slap in the face to the people who shed their own blood and gave their lives so the Iraqis could come to terms - in peace.

Coming to terms through violence should have been put down and those involved must be brought in and tried for their crimes. Maliki is "making moves" with a "security crackdown," and seeks a necessary reconciliation. However, words and policies should affirm actions, not betray them.

Politically, the Iraqis may see this as akin to repatriating enemy combatants after the war. That may be fine for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and perhaps for those caught up in the Iraqi infighting - providing they do not return to the field of combat. It's not appropriate for those who have killed ANY of the troops that put the Iraq government in place. A house divided against itself cannot stand. To count the coalition as some external designation is to create a myth that will create a permanent fracture in the long run.

But Johnny and others make a mistake if they attempt to put this political stripe on conservatives. It's a political maneuver as old as Menalaeus, and its name is neither Democrat nor Republican.

Its name is expediency. And done in this fashion, it's dead wrong.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Something Good

Cassandra linked this site today. Read her essay.

The site shows some of the photos from Iraq we can only get on the internet or from family and friends actually there. Just to make sure I can find it when I want, though, I'm linking it here and directing you to it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Thank God For Lawyers

Yeah, I know we often bring frivilous lawsuits designed to unfairly hurt the Man. But sometimes we are doing God's work. Like here.

The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters from a fundamentalist Kansas church filed an invasion-of- privacy suit against the demonstrators Monday.
It is believed to be the first lawsuit brought by a soldier's family against Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., whose members routinely demonstrate at military funerals around the country.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, is seeking unspecified damages. The younger Snyder, 20, died March 3 after an accident in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. He was buried in Westminster, Md.

"We think it's a case we can win because anyone's funeral is private," Snyder lawyer Sean Summers said. "You don't have a right to interrupt someone's private funeral."

Members of Westboro say the military deaths in Iraq are God's punishment for America's tolerance of gays. They typically carry signs with slogans such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for IEDs," a reference to the roadside bombs used by insurgents.

The church has inspired dozens of state laws banning funeral protests, including a Maryland law that did not go into effect until after Snyder's memorial.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman for the small congregation, said it is the first time Westboro has been sued by a soldier's family.
"We were exercising our First Amendment rights," she said.

Last I checked, harassment was not a first amendment right. Plus, many of these soldiers were not "public figures." I know the arguments that the Church's lawyer will likely make. I'm sure the ACLU will take on this case. They always defend the free speech rights of degenerates, but hardly ever decent folk. Still, I think this suit has some legs.

Good luck Mr. Snyder and Mr. Summers.