Thursday, November 30, 2006

War Reasons

When you think about the Revolutionary War, it's pretty clear what purpose was given for the fight, and that didn't change during its course. Freedom from the yoke of King George and his undemocratic demands. Likewise the Civil War, to save the Union by whatever means, at whatever cost. I'm pretty sure WWI and WWII didn't lose their primary tenet, stopping the Germans from taking over Europe and destroying the freedoms of our friends and allies.

Korea and Vietnam, no matter the results, the execution, the changing emphasis, still fell back on stopping the spread of those godless red commie bastards, even though our ignorance of the people and their lands guaranteed orphan results.

Going back, I'm pretty certain that Ghengis Khan's Mongol hordes knew why they were sweeping up the world, as did Alexander Macedonians, the Romans, even the Crusaders knew why they were Crusading, to save Jeruselum from the infidels.

In short, most wars retain their initial justification for the people, even if management has a different idea along the way, an idea the people are certain not to hear about until many years later if at all. But Bush's Iraq war, defies that quaint notion. Which tells you right there how criminal the whole enterprise was from day one.

This comment from one of Josh Marshall's readers sums it up pretty clearly:

Only by grossly exaggerating the danger of Saddam and grossly downplaying the difficulty of the mission [that would be the whole building a nation and rebuilding the country mission-DGR]could they get the political support to do what they did.

They lied about the WMD's, or correctly, NBC's (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical), then they kept lying about the reason for the war as each reason fell victim to truth and reality, and they got away with it, more or less, for 4 years. They defied all the concepts of military science, and unsurprisingly, have created a bigger bloodbath than if they had left well enough alone. And somehow, Nancy Pelosi has to fix that. Before she even gets to hold the gavel. I think I'll give her a chance first, and try to help her with that monumental task, rather than criticize her every move, 24/7. How about the rest of you readers, all 5 of you?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Abdication of the Presidency

What to make of George W Bush? This latest bit with al Maliki reveals much about the man, his psychology if you will, the pathetic and abysmal failure that he has once again become. While we may not know what he's thinking, (go ahead, laugh!) we don't know what was swirling about his brain on that fateful day, we can make some judgements based on his behavior.

You could use Maslow's somewhat simplistic pyramid to place Bush somewhere between 1, the Safety level and 2, the lower rung of the Esteem level.

1 A properly-functioning society tends [to] provide [a] degree [of] security to its members. Sometimes the desire for safety outweighs the requirement to satisfy physiological needs completely.

2 The lower level is ... dependent upon other people, or someone who needs to be reassured because of lower esteem. People with low esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again are dependent on others.

Or we could delve a little more deeply, here, (well worth the read-DGR) to discuss the boy kings faults.

If we translate these qualities into the terminology of the five-factor model, a mature person from the observer’s viewpoint would be agreeable (supportive and warm), emotionally stable (consistent and positive), and conscientious (honoring commitments and
playing by the rules).

That sorta leaves George out in the cold, doesn't it? Because his behavior since the election especially, is anything but mature, not that it was before mind you, but it seems clear to me that he's lost interest since his job no longer can feed his need for recognition and accolades and approval.

And brings me to the title of this post. He's abdicated his duties as President. He's proving himself, yet again, unfit for the job in a myriad of ways. that incident with Senator elect Webb? He wasn't asking about his kid, he was reminding the Senator that the kids fate rests in George's hands. No wonder he wanted to slug him.

This meeting with al Maliki, his trip to Riga for the NATO summit, his empty rhetoric to stay the course with adjustments demonstrate his irrelevence. Even as his people tried to prop him up, events pass him by.

We have 2 courses we can take in Iraq. Leave and let the Iraqi's and the region sort it out, or lead with a diplomatic effort that includes all of the parties in the region, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Israel, Palastine, Sunni, Shia, Kurd, all of the outside parties, USA, UK, France, NATO, Russia, China, Japan, some less interested states like Sweden and Brazil, and others.

And led by someone with gravitas, with some understanding of the region, and some chutzpah, such a conference, if you will, would have to focus on getting the Iraqi's to recognize that their current path is a road to failure for all sides, something Yitzhak Rabin came to realize, at great cost. A real American President like they show in the movies and teevee could maybe pull it off, Clinton maybe, but Bush? Not a chance. Too immature, ignorant, selfish, weak, unprepared, manipulated by Cheney and Rove, he instead seems to be moving in an opposite course altogether, towards more death and destruction, like some tinpot dicatator sending out urgent orders to an army no longer in existence.

For that, the Congress needs to watch him very carefully. Impeachment may come not for all the countless valid and serious reasons we already know about, but because of his abdication of his responsibilities, of his duty, of his office. Like I said earlier, he's broken the compact between the People and the State, it's up to our Representatives to make sure that's all he breaks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Demonstrating Values

The San Diego City Council took a vote, and took back another small piece of our community from the corporations, one of my favorites, Wal-Mart. Seems that big box stores should pay taxes, rather than destroy yet another competitor, grocery stores. Not to protect Safeways and Krogers et al, but smaller corner grocers, the specialty Trader Joe's and Harvest Ranch's and even Whole Foods. The vote was 5-3, 5 Democrats and 3 Republicans in an officially non-partisan City Council.

But here's the story I really like, it's something I've been talking about for a long time, the under managed, unprofessional, oftentimes dysfunctional, fractured environmental movement. It needs help, and it's good that there are people out there willing to put not just their money, but their time into supporting environmental groups with grants and seed money and a volunteer network and policy papers and activism. So long as they don't try to co-opt the agenda with one of their own.

A trip to the local Sierra Club "bookstore" tells you all you need to know. There are a lot of members in San Diego, and a bookstore would be a great resource for members, a way to make and spread information, to provide educational opportunities, as well as raise funds for operations, but 3 shelves with a dozen books displayed, a few boxes of gift cards does not a cash cow make.

Having an umbrella organization to earmark funds for worthy causes is all to the good, and I wish them well. But beware those corporate sponsors, and a no thanks to the corporate board member notion, that's the just asking for trouble down the road. Just like PBS has succumbed to the corporate dollars, just like the Democratic Party was and is seduced by the big donors at the expense of a national network on the ground that actually produces results, money comes with strings, and big money usually has big strings. But it all depends on the make-up and character of the people involved, to make sure that the focus is kept on the mission. So for now, right on dudes, if I had $200 grand to spare I'd be right there with ya!

Monday, November 27, 2006

What the GOP of Today Has Done

I braved the San Diego rains this afternoon to get some lunch, the turkey was all gone, and I was listening to Big Eddie Schultz on AM 1360, KLSD while I drove to the nearest strip mall for a sandwich. Ed took a call from this woman who was a bit unsure about this memory drug they talked about on 60 Minutes, and all Big Eddie could see was that the drug helps PTSD, but the woman had concerns about the military having a drug that can erase memory.

He pooh poohed her concern, missing the point entirely, as has been known to happen with the big lug. She was concerned about the thought of the military messing with people’s memories, the Manchurian Candidate and all, while he was trying to convince her it was for a good cause. She didn't say it, maybe didn't really know it herself, the fact is that her unease is based on one thing. She doesn’t trust her government. It’s as simple and tragic as that, the American People just do not trust their government. This is what Bush has wrought.

We thought our phone records were private, we thought you couldn’t search our home without us being served a search warrant, we thought our right to peaceably assemble without the FBI spying on us-like the Quakers and Anti-War groups-was guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, we thought we could read what we chose without being questioned, we thought that the President would uphold his oath of office and protect the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic. But we thought wrong, because the Bush crowd has broken the compact with the People.

That compact is an alien concept to George W Bush, given his wastrel life, it's a sign of personal weakness to Cheney, it's irrelevent to Rove, yet it is the most basic of foundation timbers of ours, or any, society, the deal we make whereby we cede power with the expectation that power will be used to benefit the society as a whole.

I’m not an enemy to the Constitution simply because I want Bush and Friends to follow the letter and the intent of our laws, yet I get labeled traitor and terrorist lover. And that labeling gives Bush and Abu Gonzalez carte blanch, so they assume, to go ahead and violate my rights because they deem me a threat, not to the Constitution, but to their continued criminal enterprises and un, profoundly un, Constitutional activities.

That's what the Centrists, the conservatives, definitely the republicans, fail to understand. This isn't a political or a policy issue that needs to be addressed by changing the deck chairs on the Titanic, this isn't a game or a race. It's not business as usual, it's tectonic, and Nancy Pelosi can only do so much. People need to step up and take responsibility for their actions, one way or another. Not just the Pols and Leaders and Pundits, but the American People too, for getting distracted by Survivor and Britney and Lady Di and SUV's and greed and comfort and our own little Private Idaho's.

We Share the Earth

Here's what real grassroots liberalism looks like. This is what a "Free" Market can do to our nation. (My bolds-DGR)

Grocery chains resist opening stores where sales of high-markup gourmet products can't be guaranteed, and they often close existing supermarkets in poor areas. For residents of these neighborhoods, the choice comes down to traveling long distances to buy groceries or shopping at expensive corner stores that sell high-fat, high-sugar convenience food and little or no fresh produce. The consequences are the wages of poverty: diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

And save me the lucky duckie serenade, please. Life is more than money and accumulated wealth, it gives no sensory input, no life, no emotional warmth. It buys things. Yes, it can be used to help with the other values of life, but it, by itself, does not.

Imagine you go to work today and there's nobody to talk to about the exciting Charger victory over the Raiders, no friends to share a high five, talk about how stupid Jackson was throwing that ball down, how good LT is, and so on. Spoils some of the fun doesn't it?

We all share this planet, like it or not. And we're all fouling our nest, all eating a hole in the bottom before we're ready to fly, some more than others. It's up to all of us to start taking actions that change our course. We don't have to become self sustained hermits living off the land, but we all need to do something more than we're doing now. That Sierra Magazine has some good ideas, really good ideas that work on many levels, educating kids and adults, keeping some pesticides out of the earth, getting people healthy food, building community bonds, and so on. Well worth a look see.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What the Republicans Should Do

Ahh, how delicious is this? The NewsHour had a story tonight about those disappearing GOP moderates, featuring Mike DeWine-OH, Nancy Johnson-CT, Paul Bass-NH, and Jim Leach-IA.

Leach in particular bothered me the most, downcast eyes as he lamented the loss of comity, and along with the others, the increase in the polarization of our politics. Well Jim, I'm pretty sure you need only look at your party for that loss, as it was the thuggery of Lee Atwater, and the gang of cutthroats born of Nixon, and fathered by Reagan, that started the GOP down that road.

It wasn't the stupid Democrats that started this particular brand of polarization, no it was the GOP and their immaturity and greed that turned the key, an immaturity that was unable to grasp the reality of hardball politcs and conflated it into some sort of persecution complex, a persecution that could only be explained as an attack against their essence, which strengthened the bonds of their groupthink, which built The Wall(sans responsibility and thus redemption, George...George?) to protect them against further attack. Remember Gingrich whining about how President Clinton made him get off the back of Air Force One, and the vanity that led to the disastrous government shutdown? Disastrous for the GOP anyway.

Well, there was Jim Leach, moderate, respected, reasonable even, bemoaning his fate, the loss of a "center" in the body politic, and all I could offer him was, well gee, Jim, whose fault was that?

The hapless Democrats rolling over for "Bankruptcy Protection," "Repealing the Death Tax," "Class Action Reform?" Was it their fault, Jim? Did Minority Leader Daschle campaign for the defeat of the guy he would need to work with in the Senate, Majority Leader Frist? No, Jim, that was Frist doing that unprecedented act. Was that John Conyers banishing James Sensenbrenner to a dank basement to hold a hearing, then barging in after it had started and unceremoniously gaveling it to a close? Nope again, that was James in action. Was it Democrats who called the Capital Police out to break up a Bill Thomas meeting? Gosh no, that was cryin Bill calling the cops out.

You want comity Jim, you should have worked for it, instead of saying and doing nothing about it while the GOP systematically conducted an 8 year witch hunt against the Clinton Administration, and completely shut out the Democratic Party from any legislative role in the House, and disenfranchising half the country in the process. That would have been the time to speak up Jim, not now, after you've been shown the door.

If Republicans like Leach and Shays and Snowe and Specter had embraced the principles they claim to have, instead of embracing the delusions and stupidity and greed of Bush and Cheney and Rove and Robertson, then maybe, just maybe, I could feel some sympathy for Jim Leach. But really, I can't. You want comity Jim? Purge your party of hatemongers like Marilyn Musgrave, crooks like Jerry Lewis, amoral dirtbags like Karl Rove, greedy, grasping, selfish men like Newt Gingrich, criminally insane men like Rick Santorum and both of OK's Senators.

Don't come crying to me Jim, I'm busy looking for a bigger anvil to toss.

Pay for that Turkey Day Feast

Greetings this Friday after Thanksgiving, and here's hoping that everyone had a fine and rewarding day.

The Duck household had a nice day, a small gathering at my place, with all the fixings, prepared by yours truly, oven roasted turkey, BBQ turkey, breaded and stuffed turkey tenderloins, mashed pots, bread stuffing, organic salad, pies (bought from Mama's Kitchen), no poor brutalized duck on this menu, I'll tell ya!

I did much of the prep work all week, making stock from turkey thighs, chopping celery and onions, drying and chopping bread for the stuffing, making some salad dressing, washing the china and so on, so that all I had to do on Thursday was put stuff in the oven, make the gravy, and set the table.

But that was yesterday, nothing left but the leftovers, now it's time to get back on the progressive train and root out the darkness at the heart of the gop, one seat at a time.

For too long the Democratic Party operated in defiance of its basic charter, using trickle down economics, big donors at the top spreading their largesse like a Yosemite waterfall (the dream or the reality), to the detriment of the foundation of the party. November 7th put that stupid idea to rest for the moment. Now is the time to continue to build and support the local grassroots, like East County United, local Democratic Clubs like the East County Democratic Club, your County Central Committee, because just like my Thanksgiving, dollars spent now go a lot farther than dollars spent two weeks before an election on another stinking teevee ad.

We had unprecedented action in the East County thanks to these groups, from volunteers to run against Duncan Hunter, to school board races, to increased Democratic turnout. Here's an e-mail I received from ECU, with my highlights, to illustrate the point.

Dear East County United Members & Friends:

This Thanksgiving, we are grateful to more than 100 donors who helped East County United attain success in our first few months in operation—including several generous donations that enabled us to produce radio ads and staff an office with an army of volunteers who called voters and walked precincts in the final weeks before the election. Your efforts helped turn the tide by getting progressive voters to the polls, sweeping some statewide candidates into office by narrow margins – including Debra Bowen, our new Secretary of State who has vowed to clean up California elections, and John Garamendi, newly elected Lieutenant Governor.

So when you're doing your Seasonal Shopping, do a little for your community, send an equivalent cup of Starbucks or something to your local grassroot groups, it'll last more than a day, and truly help you and yours.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Let's Call It What It Is

One of the underlying themes this election season was little discussed, but often in the middle of debates. Its why the GOP hyperventilation about tax cuts made it into debates, why the economy seemed to be ignored over the growing disaster of Iraq, the corruption of the GOP, and it was the foundation of the plaintive Democratic theme, "we can do better."

I refer to the growing income gap in this country, nicely laid out in this article by Don Bauder. It's something I've talked about a bit over at the old homestead, it's something I've argued in comments about, that sure, the economy may be doing great, that wealth may be on the rise, but it's not any where near equitable or uniform. What are those stats cited in the article,

  • Chief execs of the largest corps make 500 times what the avg worker makes.
  • Forty years ago it was 80 times.
  • The top 1 percent of Americans has 34.4 percent of the wealth.
  • The top 5 percent has 58.9 percent.
  • The bottom 80 percent has 15.3 percent.

Oh yes, the economy is doing fantabulously. But not just for everyone. In fact not for most everyone. Sure, we have more material stuff, hell it was our patriotic duty to consume more, right, but having more stuff doesn't pay for a serious medical illness, put the kids through college, or move your good retirement date any closer.

You're going to see this theme more now that those nasty Democrats have control of Congress, and State legislatures, and Governors (don't even say it, muck. Grrrrrrr!)

But will they call it the way it is?

Tax the Rich!! Feed the Poor!! Medical Insurance for All!! Make the Rich Pay!!

That strange rumbling sound you just heard was the shudder of the GOP wealthy. People are starting to get a sense of what has really been happening while they've been looking at the death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, peering under their beds for Terrorists, duct taping their windows, all the scaremongering and terrorizing done by their own government.

As Democrats start their oversight, as Henry Waxman gets some answers, as the Democratic Staffers, as the Whistleblowers, as the wronged in this country get heard, that shudder is going to turn into squeeling and whining like nothing we've heard, as the gopper corporatists try desperately to hold onto that wealth, and as everyday Americans realize that wealth was unfairly earned at their expense, there's going to be some serious dues paying, and it will get ugly.

But it must be done, if we're to have any say in the future, any pull with China and the tremendous threat their billions of consumers pose to this planet if they don't manage their growth with intelligence and foresight, if we don't want to plunge the world into another world wide depression and world war, a real one, fought for control of the planets resources, oil, fresh water, food.

And I'm an optimist!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

No Market Manipulation Here

Lest anyone forget, even as crude oil prices hovered around $60 a barrel beginning in October, gas prices fell, miraculously, hitting their lowest level in the week just before the election. A fluctuation of 3% up and down for crude was matched by a steady decline in gas prices of a bout 4.5%. And even now, as crude continues to drop, to $56 a barrel, retail prices continue to rise.

My Valero station on the corner was at $2.29 from about Nov 1 thru Nov 7. I remarked to Ms. Duckman that guaranteed, after the election the prices would go up.

On Tuesday, glorious Tuesday 11/7/06, it was $2.29. On Wednesday morning, 8 hours later, it was $2.39, by Friday, $2.43. Today, a week later, $2.49.


I don't think so. You can read a long discussion over at DKos refuting the conspiracy theory, how they couldn't move that much crude around, NYMEX, shorts, yada yada. All overlooking this stark price at the pump. If the big dealers push their prices at the pump down, everybody else follows. And who controls the big dealers? Big Oil. Explain why the prices didn't go up Tuesday, or the Thursday before, a day that prices very commonly change? Why the day after the election, where there was no corresponding change in crude prices, no natural disaster, no winter formulation crisis, nothing. Just the failure of the GOP to keep their houses, despite the best efforts of our Corporate Masters.

They threw everything at the Democrats, and lost. Democracy still lives, but the forces opposing it aren't resting on their profits. The fight continues. Next up, Schwarzenegger.

It's Not Slant, It's Competence

The News Media has a few problems, well documented by Media matters, Daily Howler, the late, great Media Whores Online, and many, many others. Bias and slant is a tough nut to crack, one whose solution should to my mind involve purchases by liberals, progressives, Democrats, Blue Companies, whatever it takes. Hell, I'd like to see a blogger mutual fund, funded by online investments, that buys publicly traded corporations in order to put pressure on their boards at the least, to do their jobs as envisioned by the Framers, that as a Free Press, not as an Embedded Press.

I know, complicated, potentially divisive, don't invest with family members, who's going to run it, who makes decisions, and so on. But there's another area where the News Media fails miserably, competence.

Take this AP article, not just the headline, but the lede as well.

Senators sat down Friday with Robert Gates for the first time since President Bush selected him to become the next defense secretary, and said they would push for him to be confirmed by the end of the year.
But it's not "Senators" now is it? No, it's Republican Senators. And that makes a huge difference in meaning. One implies bipartisan acceptence, the other partisanship. And I say that this is the failure of the reporter as much as the editor to do their stinking job and report the news accurately and factually.

While it may be true, likely really, that the Democrats will continue to fail in their understanding of the lessons of 11/7, that's outside the scope of this article. So send AP a note calling for accuracy in reporting. Here's their e-mail,, the article is by Anne Plummer Flaherty, and titled "Senators to push for Gates confirmation"

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Blue Investing

There's been much discussion, well, in my head anyway, about how to break the gop for good. One way I've long advocated is that we stop supporting the gop, and their corporate masters. No Dells, better MPG vehicles, etc.

That's why I clicked on this ad on DKos for the Blue Fund, a mutual fund that invests responsibly and requires that the companies and top three officers donate to Democrats. I'm not promoting or advocating this fund per se, I'm not an investment advisor and i don't play one on teevee either. But it's worth thinking about, if not this fund, then something else, buying Blue at the least, but it does point out one strategy we can take to further the progressive agenda. I mean, why give your money to companies that turn around and give that money to republicans? How many of the mutual funds you own have Exxon and Dell and Wal Mart in their portfolios?

This is a new fund, they don't as yet have a trading symbol, there's a $5,000 buy in, and there are real economic questions, about their rate of return, costs, etc. But that's an investment issue, not a political issue, and that's what I'm talking about.

Consider this discussion over at the charming Jane Galt blog I found while verifying the veracity of the Blue Fund, it's very illuminating.

It seems that tthe free marketers, the privatize Social Security crowd, don't have much respect for mutual funds or mutual fund investors. Yet they want to privatize Social Security in order to replicate what mutual funds do. How very, shall we say, inconsistant?

"I went to the University of Chicago, which means I am legally barred from believing that mutual fund managers can beat the market over the long run"

Which sums it up pretty clearly. Mutual funds are for losers, unless, maybe, you invest in index funds alone.

But what these geniuses miss is the whole point of the Blue Fund. It's the notion that profit cannot be measured by a dollar sign alone, that there's more to this then just beating some arbitrary, well reasoned as it may be, benchmark. It's a small pushback against the greed of the gop and their appalling lack of vision or strategic thinking. Yes, looked at as a purely financial, short term investment, it's risky, but looked at in the larger, longer term context of wresting our country from the grasping embrace of the "Corporation," then it takes on a slightly different purpose.

Suddenly, it's about values, about respect and sanity, of substantive solutions to problems in the real world, not the Bush/GOP bubble fanatasy world. It's now an investment in the future where businesses aren't just driven by the next quarter profits, but by improving the market as a whole to the benefit of everybody, including themselves. It's worth looking into, maybe the Blue Fund isn't the one for everybody, but it certainly has the right idea

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

First post

Reprinting this first post on the new formated Blog. It's a winner, it's a keeper, well, it's the first one anyway!

Okay, today is my first post. It'll be short and sweet.

Victory goes to the NETROOTS, not to CW, DLC, Mods and Sods, not to Rahm or Billary or Art Torres or the liberal media, not to money, not to calculation or triangulation or any myriad of bullshit slogans designed to marginalize progressives and grassroots.

Nope, the PEOPLE made this happen, people sick of the games and lies and thuggery and preening and self promotion.This is a victory for America. And the work has just begun. No vacations to savor a primary victory, or to wait until we get our people sworn in, no, the work starts RFN!!!