Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The Only Klingon I'm afraid of is my wife after she's worked two shifts."

Lt. Tom Paris, Star Trek Voyager.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jerk of the Day

The Jerk of the Day award goes to Rep Tom Davis, R-VA for sending a letter to Henry Waxman demanding that The New York Times be made to testify under oath about things surrounding the Moveon.org ad about General Petraeus.

This from a Bush/Cheney sympathizer who have claimed that executive privilege protects anyone they want to protect from testifying under oath.

Is there no end to this hypocrisy?

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot

Michael Kinsley has a pithy piece in the current issue of Time, also found on time.com It's about the "outrage" over the Moveon.org ad; how the "meanest of hombres" are suddenly "feeling faint" in their shock over that ad.

I won't be surprised if he has a follow-up piece on the Iranian President Ahmadinejab's invitation to speak at Columbia University in New York tomorrow.

Of course the guy deserves all the negative adjectives and opprobrium one could heap upon anyone of ilk. Of course he's to be despised for mouthing off about wiping Israel off the map. (Two Offs don't make an On) Of course he's to be vilified for denying the Holocaust.

But, though perhaps we might like to shut him up, by the very fact that he is scheduled to address the UN and has been invited to speak at Columbia, he is in fact a player. Whether we like it or not, this foul mouthed man, who exhibits all the classic behaviors of Narcissus, is a person who has managed somehow to get a significant role in a play on Broadway, bypassing Hartford and the Actors Studio. To discount this is classic denial.

Senator Chuck Hagel R-NE said something like, we as a country continue to act in ways not ourselves. That's from a decorated Vietnam vet.

I know, I know, all my right wing friends and family will ridicule me for writing this. They might say things like I was never the same since going to a liberal New England college, and later on deciding to live in Massachusetts. Funny it's now called a blue state, when once it was viewed by the right as very pink. Isn't pink a pale form of red?

I wish to point out to my right wing friends and family that one of the tenets of the so-called Iraq Study Commission, which was headed in part by James Baker, not one known as a lefty, called for having dialogues with those who oppose us.

Here's the real problem. I think whoever said that Hitler would have been invited(was it the president or dean of the university?) got too caught up in a perceived need to provide a defensive response. Talk about pouring fuel on the fire!!! But then maybe that's what he or she wanted to do.

If so he or she hasn't earned, nor deserve, any more respect or less flack than the guy invited to speak. Invoking the name of Hitler as someone who also would have been invited went too far over the top for most reasonable and sensitive, objective and subjective, thinking and feeling and regular, normal and common people. That is as bad a mouthing off as the little guy from Iran. It's designed to stir and turn up the heat under the pot.

By virtue of zeal, they have positioned themselves on the fringe of thought, equal to and opposite of those who position themselves on the opposite fringe. The result, usually by design, is those positions are guaranteed to block consensus.

I've long thought that the pendulum is an apt symbol of life. It represents the reality that life depends on its swings. Even though they encompass extremes, it's those swings which provide the energy for life.

There is a phrase associated with those who feel stressed; "Stop the world, I want to get off."

All of us have felt that way from time to time. The poem Desiderata advises us that most fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Our wish that everything would stop is actually a death wish. When the pendulum stops at the mid point of its swing, it exhibits the ultimate lack, and depletion, of energy; the end of motion, full stop. Entropy. Death.

Physics has it that the pendulum, when swinging, makes two other stops in its cycle; at the extremes in the equal but opposite ends. It has to stop in order for it to begin swinging in the opposite direction. This a vastly different kind of stop though. The one in the middle is the result of total depletion of energy, whereas the two stops at the extremes exhibit a quite different level of energy. It's known as potential energy and its potential is at its peak when the pendulum stops at those extremes.

Those who object to the Iranian president's invitation to speak at Columbia University might ask themselves why. Is their need for the lack of tension in their lives so strong that they are fearful of opposing views and the energy inherent in them? Have they forgotten that often the audience of the speaker can have a significant impact on the speaker? Have they forgotten that sometimes the critics of our culture and ways of living find themselves questioning their criticism and might actually become advocates of our culture and ways of living, having actually experienced them.?

If that is too much pie in the sky, at least consider that there is a possibility that by hearing what this guy has to say might help us understand better what motivates him to oppose us and what we stand for.

In spite of what George W. Bush says he believes, that all are God's children are the same in what they believe and hope for, it's still just his belief. Believing doesn't make it so.

Had W even audited an introductory survey course in Cultural Anthropology 101 he might have paused awhile before he acted upon his either /or, black or white, good or evil simplistic needs.

George W. Bush was took office by appointment of the Supreme Court. At that time was support by well meaning people who think of themselves as conservative, small "c". That is a fine philosophy and worthy of respect. That was before 9/11 and before the neo-cons, as opposed to traditional conservatives, let the dogs out.

I've asked myself over and over again how it came to be that this adult child was re- elected to the highest office of our land.

The best I've come up with is at least depressing. Garrison Keillor called George W. "that small dim man". Either more small dim people voted in 2004 than large bright ones, or, as it has been suspected, especially in Ohio, the election was in fact stolen.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Quality of Masks Is Strained

As one more blogger among many who have been ranting for four years about the war in Iraq being about oil, I take some pleasure in the fact that the Great Greenspan has said so.

Now, how should we evaluate what he said? Should we accept it as confirmation, or be skeptical of his motive for saying so? I purposely framed this as a question implying a yes or no, up or down vote. But what occurrs to me is that every time we turn around we are inundated with opinions, which, by definition are designed to influence us to believe in an opinion as fact, adopt it as such and spread it around as fact. But it started its life as an opinion.

George W. Bush is on record as saying that it's important to repeat something over and over again, until it becomes reality to the people. Only then can it be used by those in positions of authority to garner support for their agendas. When that is accomplished, the skeptical and the cynical are rendered impotent.

Of such is the essence of attempts to influence; the self serving but seemingly benign by projecting a happy face on the targeted consumer; and propaganda, which when recognized as such, conjures up the frightful face. Human nature is predisposed to want the happy face.

We have here the the two faces of theatre. But wait, they are called the masks of theatre. The implication is not insignifant. Masks, by definition, obscure and hide the wearer of his true self. But the expression "two faced" is understood universally to describe one who cannot be trusted to be honest, to tell the truth, and as such is deemed not to be trusted.

In my earlier post, It's the Oil People, I took the stand that the oil actually is the real and valid justification for taking out Saddam. We simply cannot take the chance that the second or third largest known oil reserves on the planet(one can find both estimates in the media) might fall into the hands of those who oppose us. Bob Woodruff, months ago, said that such a happening would lead, not to an economic crisis, but to an economic disaster.

Alan Greenspan, promoting his new book, "The Age of Turbulence", on Charlie Rose, called such a scenario "calamitous", and said that he advised Bush that taking out Saddam was essential to assuring a reasonably assured, though not guaranteed, access to oil.

Currently we have, I think, two carrier task force groups in the Persian Gulf. It's interesting that Admiral Fallon, the current Centcom Commander, balked at having a third there because he saw it as too provocative. Was he thinking that two are enough to keep the Straits of Hormuz open, so that oil can get out of Iraq?

Fallon is reported to have little respect for General Petraeus, who seems to have become the new PR guy for the administration. Speculation has it that he has an Ike complex, but without the humility. I hope Fallon is listened to at the Pentagon.

Clearly Petraeus has been stroked, (instructed?) by the White House to listen to them; to use his image as a competent, trustworthy, highly decorated officer with a PhD, but still a good soldier who is sworn to obey his superior, to make a sours ear look like a silk purse.

The Moveon.org Ad

I thought it a childish, schoolyard taunt; and I bet they felt oh so clever at the doggerel rhyme, which was so obvious that it must have occurred to most all who pay attention to the news.

Fortunately most adults held their tongues.

But shame on the politicians, especially the Democrats, who voted to condemn the ad.

How many more times are we going to deny and avoid facing the reality of the trashing of our Constitution?

I'm reminded of the not so funny joke going around when the Iraqis were trying to write their Constitution. Why don't we give them ours? We're not using it.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sound of the War Drums is Becoming Louder

As the expression has it, "Be afraid, be very afraid".

In today's media, more in the so-called blogosphere realm than the so-called Main Stream Media realm, one can easily find reports of the US Pentagon's development of at least two plans for military attacks against Iran.

General Abasaid, the former Centcom Commander in charge of military affairs in the Middle East, said today that the world can live with a nuclear armed Iran, just as it has lived with the nuclear armed Soviet Union, in what was called the Cold War; and now has lived for many years with the nuclear armed China, Pakistan, India, Israel, et al.

What's the difference? What makes Iran having nuclear weapons more of a threat than those we've been worrying about for years?

I've read that George W. Bush is so narcissitaclly driven to his need for a significant legacy that he is determined to go out a winner any way he can.

I've read that Cheney is so Machiavellian that he has no problem sucking up to George W. Bush, if he can use him to get his way. What is his way is so far beyond this observer's ability to comprehend, let alone understand, that I have to defer to those who have invested years in the study of behavior and its consequences.

As a not so casual observer, I, like Maureen Dowd of the Washington Post, think that Cheney is dangerous because his behavior is so revelatory of one whose view of life is that of a paranoid.

Whatever I have come to say about this is limited to my own views.

Please leave our views in comments which you can express below.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, September 10, 2007

You Can't Borrow Your Way Out of Debt.

The title of this post became clear as I watched the Petraeus/Crocker show.

As one who has experienced the cycles of business, early on as a grunt, and later as an officer, some expressions come to mind. Depending on one's perceptions such expressions can be considered truisms or shibboleths.

The one that most came to mind today, as I listened to the Petraeus and Crocker sales pitch for staying the course in Iraq is: "You can't borrow your way out of debt."

Their testimony reminded me of what the Enron executives and their spokespersons said to buy time in what turned out to be the vain hope of avoiding the inevitable collapse of their house of cards.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hello? I Don't Get It

Hello? I don't get it.

Or maybe I do.

If I do, I fear that I'm even more cynical than I thought.

Enough Dems were elected in 2006 to give them a majority in Congress. I know, I know, it's a slim majority; it's not filibuster proof, nor veto proof.

But I remember seeing Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al, raising their held hands high in triumph. Also I remember my own feelings of that scene; something like, finally we can reverse the disastrous course the Bush administration has set us on.

Not only do I not see a reversal of the disastrous course, I see caving and compliance, talk about dropping demands for time lines and statements coming from the leaders of the Dems which, in my view, reveal their continued fear of being labelled unpatriotic and "cut and run" politicians.

In case you haven't picked up on the implied severity of the "cut and run" accusation, it is the essence of a charge brought against actual military deserters on the battlefield. It's up there with the charge of treason, the penalty for which has often been death.

So the backers of the Bush approach have thrown down the gauntlet and taken off the gloves; though perhaps not literally, clearly figuratively, and nevertheless coming from a position and view of life that winning is all; meaning winning the White House, and a veto overriding Congress.

Coming from my most cynical self I am not happy to conclude, but can't deny concluding, that both the Republicans and the Democrats are more interested and committed to winning whatever it is that they think defines winning. Clearly it has more to do with a win/lose, zero sum fight than a genuine commitment and desire to represent the views of those who elected them. There is a tragic disconnect between Congress and the voters.

Shame on all of them. Said Mercutio, "A pox on both their houses".

A Washington Post/ABC poll released today finds the American people as cynical as I about the so-called Petraeus report, what is now known as the Bush/Petraeus report. Other polls show a figure in the teens on the question about how Congress is doing.

As a registered voter I will continue to reject being identified as either a Republican or a Democrat.

But I will vote.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Selection Process; Natural or Considered?

Many Americans love to dismiss the French as ungrateful for what we've done for them when they were in great need, WWII for example, or call them old Europe as Rumsfeld did. In today's vernacular that would be translated as "so last century". I'm lousy at remembering facts and statistics, but I seem to remember that their recent voter turnout for the highest office in their land was at a level that is the envy of all democracies. Only tyrannies which pretend to be democracies by holding rigged elections, exceed what we saw in France recently.

I make no case for their judgement, knowing next to nothing about their chosen one. But I was impressed by the size of their voter turnout. If we Americans turned out to vote in 2000 and 2004 in those numbers, I suspect that we would be dealing with very different issues today.

I was put off though by the new French president's need to kiss the ring of the American President by conveniently deciding to vacation near where our Pope Wannabe was enthroned.

The new French leader, the new British leader, the new German leader, the new Israeli leader, and other new so-called leaders before them, seem drawn, as moths to flame, to an audience with George W. Bush, whose narcissism is so frighteningly evident that he makes the Pope appear humble.

Such seems to be the power of whoever is President of the United States. But it's not the person, it's the position the person happens to hold at the time. She or he could be an idiot, as were some of the kings and queens of other cultures, and still be viewed and considered as worthy of respect, not for who they were as persons, but because they, for a time, had ascended to the top position in their particular tribes.

Even after more than two hundred years divorced from the Europe of Kings and Queens before whom the citizenry bowed and worshiped, we, as a species, have not yet thrown off that gene, meme or instinct to bow before the Alpha Male, the current occupant of the most powerful position in the tribe.

I suspect that this instinct has far deeper roots. Humans seem to exhibit similar behavior to those of animals who form packs, troops and tribes. In those communities which are patriarchal, there is an Alpha Male who, by competition, wins the allegiance of his subjects. Though matriarchal societies are not the norm, one would expect that the Alpha Female would be awarded similar obeisance.

Creationists are not likely to give these thoughts credence, since to do so is tantamount to acknowledging that such a connection to the past, genetically or memetically is valid.

If I were ever put in the position of meeting George W. Bush, according to the manners I was taught, and expected social obligation, I would accept his hand shake. However I hope I would have the guts and presence of mind to whisper to him, "I am shaking the hand of the president of the United States, the country I love; but don't take it personally".

It has to do with my view, as stated in the profile of my Blog, that respect should be limited to those who demonstrate that they are an authority on important things of life, not simply because they, for a time, occupy a position of authority.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Sound of War Drums

Today's web sites and blogs are full of the stuff we read, saw and heard five years ago at this time. Then it was a plan to invade Iraq. Today it's a plan to attack Iran.

The credentials of today's authors are impressive. International journalists, middle east specialists, intelligence agents to cite a few.

Their message is clear. Stop the Cheney/Bush plan somehow. Impeachment was mentioned as a possible way to make them at least pause.

By and large these writings are not in the Main Stream Media. However the two columnists of the NYT today are good examples of trying to wake up the public before it's too late.

The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post aren't touching this stuff. They are running reports and opinions about the threat from Iran.

It's all too familiar, the rhetoric, the claims of trying to work through diplomacy while at the same time rattling the sabres, and the timing. And there are reports of a Cheney instigated media blitz right after Labor Day, today. The usual shills are to be used, Fox, The American Enterprise Institute, The Wall Street Journal to name a few.

And this morning we learned of a dramatic and surprise visit of Bush, Rice and Gates to Anbar Province; meeting with Petraous and Company, and calling out Maliki and Company from The Green Zone to meet Bush on Bush's terms, in Sunni territtory. A masterful performance; has Rove's fingerprints all over it. His swan song, a parting gift or has he just removed himself as the lightening rod on the roof of the Bush administration? I believe the latter. These people will do and say anything, truth be damned, to advance their cause. They're view of the public is that of P.T. Barnum and the snake oil huxters; the view that there are enough fools out there that they don't need to worry about the rest.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Different View of the Political Divide

I've been reading some of Glenn Greenwald's stuff on Salon, and just now watched a C-Span program on which he was defending his new book, "A Tragic Legacy".

He made an interesting point in his talk. He said that in contrast to the former Right and Left political views which moved people to choose, today the polarities have come to be between those who are concerned about the trashing(my word) of the checks and balances provisions of the Constitution and those who think the Executive Branch needs unfettered power.

Those who champion the latter often defend it by harkening back to other war times when the president was rarely challenged in what he said was necessary. Perhaps true and defensible during WW II. But Cheney/Bush got the Senate to give them essentially carte blanche power for the "War on Terrorism", and since, by definition, that is a war without end, such powers have no end.

I read that Nancy Pelosi took Impeachment off the table. Why? Is is because she thinks it would backfire on the Dems in the 2008 elections? Is it because she doesn't believe that justified and defensible articles of impeachment could be drawn? Is it because she believes that we will be in Iraq for years to come because of its oil reserves, and is just politically motivated by her desire for the Dems to be in power?

I am more and more inclined to believe the last thought. In an earlier post I wrote that I don't think much will change in Washington after Nov. 2008, even if the Dems get the White House and/or retain control in Congress.

I guess that's why I'm an Independent.

Lighthouse Keeper

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