“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iraq has become a Theatre of the Absurd

US military: soldier shot at Quran for practice
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD — An American soldier used a Quran, the Islamic holy book, for target practice in a predominantly Sunni area west of Baghdad, prompting an apology from the U.S. military, a spokesman said Sunday.

Separately, mortar shells slammed into a residential area north of the Iraqi capital, killing at least four people and wounding 30, most children playing outside, officials said Sunday.

The shelling occurred as clashes broke out in Shiite areas late Saturday despite a truce reached last week by Shiite politicians and followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled Quran with graffiti inside the cover on a small-arms range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Col. Bill Buckner said in an e-mailed response to a query.

American commanders then launched an inquiry that led to disciplinary action against the soldier, who has been removed from Iraq, Buckner said.

The shooting, which occurred May 9 and was discovered two days later, threatened to further strain relations between the Americans and Sunni allies who have joined forces with them against al-Qaida in Iraq in Radwaniyah and other areas.

The incident was first reported by CNN, which broadcast a ceremony at which the top American commander in Baghdad apologized to tribal leaders in Radwaniyah.

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond was quoted as saying by the network. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."

The commander also read a letter of apology by the shooter, and another military official kissed a Quran and presented it to the tribal leaders, according to CNN.

The military statement called the incident "serious and deeply troubling" but stressed it was the result of one soldier's actions and "not representative of the professionalism of our soldiers or the respect they have for all faiths."

"The commander...kissed a Quran. Actually, he kissed Iraqi ass.

Hattip: Sam who also caught this one.


  1. Sam's CNN article also said:
    Tribal leaders, dignitaries and local security officials attended the ceremony, while residents carried banners and chanted slogans, including "Yes, yes to the Quran" and "America out, out."

    Sheikh Hamadi al-Qirtani, in a speech on behalf of all tribal sheiks of Radhwaniya, called the incident "aggression against the entire Islamic world."

    The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq also condemned the shooter's actions and the U.S. military's belated acknowledgment of the incident.

    "As the Association of Muslim Scholars condemns this heinous crime against God's holy book, the Constitution of this nation, a source of pride and dignity," the groups statement said, "they condemned the silence by all those who are part of the occupation's agenda and holds the occupation and the current government fully responsible for this violation and reminds everyone that God preserves his book and he [God] is a great avenger."

    In other words, al-Maliki is a US stooge and he will pay.

  2. What is the agenda here?

    US: 500 youths detained in Iraq; 10 in Afghanistan

    NEW YORK — The U.S. military is holding about 500 juveniles suspected of being "unlawful enemy combatants" in detention centers in Iraq and has about 10 detained in Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations.

    A total of 2,500 youths under the age of 18 have been detained, almost all in Iraq, for periods up to a year or more in President Bush's anti-terrorism campaign since 2002, the United States reported last week to the U.N.'s Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    Civil liberties groups such as the International Justice Network and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced the detentions as abhorrent, and a violation of U.S. treaty obligations.

  3. They should release the youths to the streets of France, where car-B-ques are the order of the day.

  4. this just in....

    From the Islamic world....

    Moslems shoot jews...

    Moslems shoot christians...

    Oh right, no one gives a shit...

  5. Our guy kissing the Koran seems a bit dhimmi if you ask me.

    Still, blowing up the natives' holy book while in country ain't the way to run a COIN operation.

    The curse of the Strategic Corporal strikes again.

  6. Brother makes a good point. This photo was viscerally satisfying but a public relations nightmare.

  7. What about the Jews? Will they Vote Obama?

    My hunch--hope--is this time around they flee the democratic party.

  8. I think McCain might ask Joe Lieberman to be his VP.

  9. WiO,

    In the land of the deaf dumb and blind, the one-eyed idiot is tsar.

  10. "My hunch--hope--is this time around they flee the democratic party."

    That would be highly irresponsible, al-bob.

  11. Bobal: My hunch--hope--is this time around they flee the democratic party.

    They won't, and the ones who do will be small potatoes compared to the new voters Obama is bringing in.

  12. " voters Obama is bringing in.."

    LOL. That's a good one!

  13. Go ahead and whistle past the graveyard:

    DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Voter excitement, always up before a presidential election, is pushing registration through the roof so far this year — with more than 3.5 million people rushing to join in the historic balloting, according to an Associated Press survey that offers the first national snapshot.


    In Wyoming, where registered Republicans still outnumber Democrats by more than 2-to-1, Democratic registrations in the first three months of the year surpassed those for the GOP. Ditto in West Virginia, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina — all states won by President Bush in 2004.

  14. Here are the stats that can whet your whistle:

    65 years and over: 12.7% (male 16,263,255/female 22,426,914) (2008 est.)

    white 81.7%, black 12.9%, Asian 4.2%

    Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%,

    English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%

    According to the U S Bureau of Census report in 2005 this age group 18-29 has the lowest percent of people that register to vote. People over 65 years old had the highest.

    People in the age group 60 to 65 carry a major say as to who is elected because they also have the highest percent of age group turn out to vote.

    This same group of voters, age group 60 -65 also has a major influence on the age group 45 and older who has the largest percent of registered voter.

  15. ..Democratic registrations in the first three months of the year surpassed those for the GOP..

    ..registered Republicans still outnumber Democrats by more than 2-to-1..

    ..Go ahead and whistle past the graveyard..

    Sorry, but me thinks youz need to work a little harder on youz reading comprehension skills, Tes.

  16. Look closely--

    65 years and over: 12.7% (male 16,263,255/female 22,426,914) (2008 est.)

    Worked to death for the wife and kids. Just when retirement comes along, topple over with the cardiac arrest. The women own the country.


  17. In addition, the old boy has paid for life insurance all those years, then bango, she gets to waltz off to Vegas and the craps tables. I'
    ve seen it a thousand times.

  18. Let's face it. We're pussy whipped.

  19. Planet Jerusalem:

  20. ..Let's face it. We're pussy whipped..

    Tell that to this cat:

  21. The web server at Maggie's Farm needs a serious speed bump, al-bob. I'd like to visit more often, but the poky speed is just too much.

  22. American tourists, or folks mixed up in a game at a level beyond their competence?--

    Four Americans Found Dead In Mexico

    ROSARITO, Mexico (Reuters) - Four people believed to be Americans were shot in the head and dumped in a notorious drug-smuggling area in northern Mexico near the border with California, Mexican police said on Monday.

    Police in the beach town of Rosarito, across the border from San Diego, said they discovered the bodies of three men and a woman on Sunday in an abandoned car in a remote patch of scrubland near the Pacific coast.

    "The bodies had been there for at least a week. They were spotted by local people out hunting," a municipal police spokesman said.

    Police concluded the victims were U.S. citizens because the vehicle had California license plates, the three men were of African-American appearance, the woman was Caucasian and a U.S. driver's license was found in the car, the spokesman said.

    The remote area is one of many along the border used by drug gangs to smuggle marijuana and cocaine into the United States, police said.

    Violence from Mexico's vicious war between rival cartels and the police and army has spilled over from the rough nearby city of Tijuana into once-quiet Rosarito and its outlying areas as gangs fight over smuggling routes into California.

    Some 1,300 people have been killed in drug violence across Mexico this year and more than 2,500 died in 2007.

  23. If These Recent Polls in Oregon are anywhere near right, Clinton has made a big comeback. Looking at Obama's crowd of the other day in Portland one wouldn't think so, but, maybe that mail-in ballot will bring out the old folk to vote, so to speak. Or maybe people are just catching on to Obama, getting that buyer's remorse. Don't have long to find out, anyway.

  24. Worse than that, US citizens and resident alien troopers are still dying, there.

    As the US politicos try to micromanage Iraqi governence, from DC.

    Heard more from General Sanchez, the incompetentence of Team43's Iraq policymakers boogles the mind. Could hardly believe the story, but for having watched it from afar.

    While McCain promises four more years of not winning.

  25. If there is a case of buyers remorse seen in the last Primaries, bob, it solidifies the Gore/Obama ticket scenario playing out in Denver.

    Together they'd slaughter McCain/Anyone

  26. I don't know, Rat. If Obama's not at the head of the ticket, 12-14% of the population are going to be really torqued off. Sure is an interesting year.

  27. Bobal: Worked to death for the wife and kids. Just when retirement comes along, topple over with the cardiac arrest. The women own the country.

    It's not all peaches and cream:

    ...[W]omen earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, which translates into a median retirement income of just 58 percent of men's. Additionally, due to family caregiving responsibilities, women are in the workforce an average of 12 years less than men. This translates into fewer years saving or participating in an employer-provided retirement plan...

  28. Bobal, I don't see Clinton doing a remake of the Triumph of the Will, in color.

  29. Kinda scary, that picture. Would there be blazing torches, if at night? Searchlights tracing the skies?

    "The Triumph of Hope"

  30. Leni Riefenstahl

    She skulked around Hollywood for awhile.

  31. She said, 'Of course, you know, I'm really so misunderstood. I'm not political.'

    Teutonic twat.

  32. Shit, there's just no way--we're ruled by idiots--

    Tell Congress to Stop the Amnesty Bill Before it is too late!

    At last week's markup of the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill, the
    Senate Appropriations Committee committed an outrageous act of disrespect
    for our men and women in uniform and to the citizens of this country by
    adopting an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that gives
    amnesty to illegal-alien agricultural workers. The amendment indicates a
    maximum of 1.35 million illegal alien ag workers could obtain "emergency
    agricultural worker status" for a five-year period. Since their families
    also can obtain this status, it is estimated that the total number
    receiving an amnesty would reach 3 million.

    The committee also adopted other immigration-related amendments, including
    one that drastically expands the H-2B visa program for non-agricultural
    seasonal workers.

    The full Senate may begin work on the bill on Tuesday, May 20, so please
    contact your Senators now to urge them to work to strip the amnesty from
    the Iraq spending bill on the floor, as well as the other amendments
    increasing immigration levels.

    Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators'

    The most important point to stress is that there is no need for an amnesty
    to provide growers with workers. There already is an H-2A foreign
    agriculture worker program that provides growers with an unlimited number
    of temporary workers if the growers agree to pay a decent wage and ensure
    that they go home at the end of the season. Feinstein is just trying to
    protect the abysmally low wages and bad working conditions that
    farmworkers labor under. (Source: Numbers USA)


    TAKE ACTION: In addition to calling you may use your computer to send a
    fax to Congress NOW!

    Our friends at have a fax center which will allows you to
    send a fax from your computer to Washington at no charge. Here is the
    link to do so:

    Thank You, Patriot!

  33. PJM looks at the Associated Press:

    And scooter, at the comments section, writes:

    Excellent article… we’re really not much different than any non-democratic society, ‘though we’re much more subtle and sneaky about it.


    I think there's a lot of truth in that observation.

  34. Sounds familiar, Trish?

  35. US begins to break foreign oil ‘addiction’
    By Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent

    The US is starting to break its “addiction” to foreign oil as high prices, more efficient cars, and the use of ethanol significantly cut the share of its oil imports for the first time since 1977.

    The country’s foreign oil dependency is expected to fall from 60 per cent to 50 per cent in 2015, before rising again slightly to 54 per cent in 2030, according to the head of the Department of Energy’s statistical arm.

    The net imports of the world’s biggest consumer are expected to fall between now and 2030, ending what has been an almost relentless 30-year climb in the use of foreign oil and a fall in domestic production. In 2006, George W. Bush said in his State of the Union speech that America was “addicted to oil” – often imported from unstable parts of the world – and said he would work to address the issue.

    On Monday, oil prices hovered near record highs as China’s energy needs outweighed the reduced US demand, and Saudi Arabia output increases failed to ease supply concerns.

    The US decline in foreign oil dependency is already becoming more visible, with imports making up 57.9 per cent in the first three months of this year, down from 58.2 last year.

    Guy Caruso, head of the US Energy Information Administration, said that that trend was set to continue as people adjusted to high oil prices and the impact of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which became law in December 2007, was felt.

    “The 1970s is the last time we saw any significant decline in net import dependency in the US. It shows that markets do work, policy changes do work, technology does work,” Mr Caruso said.

    This new trend is likely to have domestic and international policy implications, making it harder to prove the case for drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to reverse the ambitious biofuels production targets regardless of their impact on global food prices.

    Although the reduction in oil demand growth is partly because of slower economic growth and a projected 1m-barrel-a-day rise in output from the US’s Gulf of Mexico oil fields by 2012, experts also believe that legislation will accelerate the trend. The EIA expects the energy act to help boost biofuel production from 8bn gallons this year to at least 32bn by 2030, while prompting a 40 per cent efficiency improvement in new cars from 2020.

    Congress’s efficiency mandates – the first since those passed in the wake of the energy crisis of the 1970s – have already pushed carmakers to turn their attention to building more efficient diesel cars, and increasing the proportion of diesel cars in the US from 1 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030, Mr Caruso said.

    The EIA has cut its forecast of overall US liquid-fuel demand in the wake of high oil prices and the energy act. It now expects demand to grow from about 20.7m b/d last year to 22.8m b/d in 2030, rather than 26.9m b/d.
    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. For any addict to claim they are on the road to recovery, when their usage drops three-tenths of one percent, in a year.

    I'd laugh 'em right out of the intervention

  38. All part of the ten step or is it 12 step program, Rat:)

    Senator Byrd the old scoundrel, endorses Obama. After Hillary wins his state by 41%, too.

  39. Hillary Clinton had a warning on Monday for rival Barack Obama, who is on the verge of claiming the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination: Not so fast.


    "It doesn't mean we declare victory because I won't be the nominee until we have enough -- combination of pledged delegates and super delegates to hit the mark," Obama said.


    "Premature victory laps and false declarations of victory are unwarranted. Declaring mission accomplished does not make it so," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

    Not so Fast

  40. Iran Is No Threat says Obama.

    They're just a tiny little country.

  41. He is really fucked up in the head.

  42. First he says in an article Bob posted yesterday that we can talk to Iran because they're not the threat that Russia posed to us (suggesting that we didn't talk to Russia).

    Then he elaborates in this article about the various times we spoke with Russia.

    He's all over the place.


  43. Obama specifically said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been mismanaged under President Bush.

    Hillary Clinton's campaign has spoken out on that issue as well.

    In fact, former president Bill Clinton has also met with Montana and South Dakota tribal leaders.

    Western Primaries

  44. Bobal: Iran Is No Threat says Obama. They're just a tiny little country.

    Maybe Desert Rat should work for Obama, this is what he told me on Sunday after I brought up their 300-odd helicopters and 1,500-odd tanks:

    The Iranian military is no strategic threat to US. If they tried to use any of the assets you litney, it'd be death from above.

  45. 1,000 step program, Bob.

    But every small step taken, is a giant step for mankind.

  46. There have been some fundamental changes in the peace process over the last year:

    a. The Syrian channel: After years of stagnation there are signs of activity through mediators. The Syrians declared that Israel has signaled that it would be willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights on certain conditions.


    b. The Palestinian channel: While Israel conducts negotiations with Abu Mazen, the split in the Palestinian camp completely rules out – at least for the foreseeable future – the possibility of realizing a political solution that relates to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as a single entity.


    Several basic premises underlie the discussion:

    a. Syria’s goals in an agreement are to recover the Golan Heights in its entirety and improve relations with the United States, namely, gain legitimization of the Syrian regime in American eyes, arrive at understandings regarding Syrian involvement in Lebanon, and merit financial benefits.

    Policy Options

  47. I'll be interested in Oregon, tomorrow. Oregon is really two states. You get across the Cascades, you're in a different state.

    Oregon has some enormous natural beauty, both sides of the mountains.

  48. There's some who'd like to rotate the border between WA and OR 90 degrees so's it runs along the Cascade crest, maybe make Pasco the new capital. But this would yield one red state and one blue state instead of the two blue ones we have now, so it won't happen.

  49. Well so far, we wouldn't be able to drive our SUV's, we all go on a diet, we can't heat or cool ourselves, our taxes go way up, and part of the money goes to the Third World, we got to pay carbon taxes too, and we have areas of common interest with Iran, who is no threat to anyone anyways, we open the borders to immigrants.....I think this guy takes that G-Damn America pretty serious. Maybe at least I'll finally be able to marry my sister.

  50. Later, while speaking to several hundred people in a high school gymnasium, Clinton picked up her campaign’s argument that Obama’s victories in states that had caucuses instead of primaries are somehow less significant because turnout was lower.

    Clinton also revived her pitch that many of the states where he has beaten her, like Alaska, Idaho and Utah, matter less because they would not be competitive for Democrats in November. Anybody “who’s really analyzing this” should come to the same conclusions, she said.

    “So I’m going to make my case and I’m going to make it until we have a nominee, but we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day,” Clinton said. “And if Kentucky turns out tomorrow, I will be closer to that nomination because of you.”

    Caucuses Less Significant

  51. Did you see some of the recent polls, Sam? Billary was only back by 4% in one of them. But you're probably right. Remember, though, grandma doesn't have to leave the house to vote, in Oregon.

  52. We get all the Cascades, if you get the coast.

  53. C'mon, Oregon's the most liberal state. He's the most liberal candidate. 12 is conservative.

  54. Should I pass your 4:26 on to an actual government worker, mat, or are you, knowing my love of birds, trying to encourage me to apply?

  55. "Much as I like and respect Barack, I think his vision of judging couldn't be more wrong," said Bradford Berenson, a Washington lawyer who worked in the current Bush White House and knew Obama at Harvard Law School. "Whereas McCain wants our judges and Supreme Court justices to be faithful to the Constitution . . . and decide cases according to law, Barack seems to think judges should systematically favor certain parties or groups and decide cases according to their personal sympathies or feelings about how who needs or deserves help."

    Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, who is an advisor to Obama, said McCain's speech "relied on simplistic and misleading slogans about judicial activism."

    "Sen. Obama certainly doesn't share Sen. McCain's remarkable view that the greatest threat to American values and traditions comes from our independent federal judiciary," Tribe said. "On the contrary, Sen. Obama would find it crucial to preserve judicial independence in part to hold in check the excesses of unilateral executive power that have threatened our democracy under the Bush-Cheney administration."

    Supreme Court

  56. Yeah, I forgot that about packing the Supreme Court with community organizers.

    You're probably right Sam. I'm just still hoping for blood on the floor of the convention.

  57. That's really nasty T. We've led the nation in sexual freedoms here. Even liberating the rest rooms. You should change the slogan a little bit.

  58. There's another compelling reason to boost domestic production. Oil from current sites is gradually being depleted.

    Unless new sources come on line in the next few years, America will produce less oil at home and become even more dependent on oil from abroad, the Middle East in particular.

    Reid and Democrats, OPEC's best friends, aren't noticeably concerned. Their next step is to remove tax incentives to explore and drill for more oil.

    Let's Drill

  59. Here's to Portland--

    ........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
    ..........''...\.......... _.·´

    I knew I'd be able to use that!

  60. Actual government worker? Does that creature even exist, Trish?

  61. Mozambican-born Paulos Cosa, a 32-year-old house builder, loaded a dresser and a few spare pieces of furniture onto the back of a pickup truck. All of the rest of his possessions, including a television, a generator and nearly $700 he had hidden beneath a mattress, were looted from his home over the weekend, he said.

    "If I come back, these people are going to kill me," said Cosa, who has lived in South Africa since 1995.

    As he loaded the truck, two men stood atop a nearby shack tearing away the roof, made of valuable sheet metal. One shouted in isiZulu, one of South Africa's most common languages: "Foreigners get out!"

    Backlash of Violence

  62. With gas between $4.25 and $4.50 in Chicago the folks are yelling for the inspectors to check the pumps more frequently for gallon accuracy. Good luck with those Chicago inspectors:)

    Thing to do is check it yourself, easy enough to do.

  63. At least one gas customer, and perhaps many more, got a pleasant vacation from record gas prices Friday afternoon when an apparent error left him with a tank full of fuel that only cost him 42 cents a gallon.

    It happened at the DDD Shell and Food Mart at 320th Street and Military Road S.

    James Floyd was shocked to look at his receipt and discover that nearly 12 gallons only cost him $4.95. The receipt shows the price for a gallon was 41.9 cents.

    NW Pump

  64. Here's what we really need to know. How To Make A Buck Out of the Election

    Stocks to buy depending on who wins.

  65. 31,000 scientists have signed a petition saying Al Gore is full of it--check your state and your scientists HERE

  66. sam: It happened at the DDD Shell and Food Mart at 320th Street and Military Road S.

    That's only a hop and a skip, but I never get gas there because of the traffic.

  67. I doubt it'll ever happen again, there.

  68. Top woman rebel surrenders in Colombia

    by Jean-Luc PorteMon May 19, 4:13 PM ET

    One of the highest ranking women leaders of Colombia's main leftist guerrilla group has turned herself in after eluding capture for decades, officials said Monday.

    Authorities say Nelly Avila Moreno, alias Karina, was one of the most violent female leaders of Latin America's longest-running insurrection.

    Believed to be around 40 years old, Karina commanded the 47th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until her surrender Sunday in the town of Argelia.

    It is a further blow to the once-powerful guerrilla group, coming after a March 1 attack in Ecuador that killed Raul Reyes, the FARC's second in command, and the March 7 murder of Ivan Rios, one of the seven members of the FARC secretariat, betrayed by one of his fighters in exchange for a bounty.

    Avila was allegedly behind four massacres carried out between 1994 and 1996 in the northwest Uraba region, as well as dozens of kidnappings and attacks on public officials.

    "She was known for her cruelty and daring, and for the massacres and beatings she ordered over 20 years with the guerrillas. So she was a very important military target," Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

    "She had become a legend, with the guts to carry out any action. Such people rise up rapidly through guerrilla ranks, and she had reached one of the most important posts of any woman in the organization," he added.

    Former guerrilla fighters describe her as a "sort of Rambo" that would personally slit the throats of her enemies.

    President Uribe had urged Karina to surrender in exchange for security guarantees, and had made her capture one of his top priorities in the government's fight four-decade fight against the FARC.

    Santos said Avila would benefit from the country's formal demobilization program, adding she had come close to being captured several times during military operations during which she apparently lost an eye.

    "We began to believe that she had nine lives like a cat," said Santos, adding that Avila had finally surrendered because "she was starving as she was surrounded and without food."

    She also has also been linked to the 1983 murder of President Alvaro Uribe's father -- but speaking to reporters on Monday from a military base in Medellin Avila herself denied the rumors.

    "I don't know and never knew who murdered the president's father," she said. "My hands are not stained by that incident."

    Her "surrender" was not peaceful.
    But she's playing along.

  69. The study is ascertaining the impact of global warming on the entire UAE coast, according to Dr William Dougherty, senior scientist at Stockholm Environment Institute, the US centre.

    "Climate change is a fact. It is already happening.

    It cannot be reversed.

    Impact on UAE

  70. Jim Henley on the Libertarian Party convention this weekend:


    If I cared about building the Libertarian Party as an institution, and as a humane movement for shrinking the state rather than a home for conservatives too cranky even for the contemporary GOP, I would hate the prospect of a Barr nomination. But I don’t. So my preferences are entirely instrumental. And Barr’s not a bad guy. He was a pretty principled civil-libertarian for an elected politician. (He voted for the Patriot Act and the Iraq War but has apologized for both.) And he did split with the Republicans formally, unlike the rest of his Contract With America-era cohort.

    Posted by Jim Henley @ 10:33 pm,

    Someone's got your number, Rat.

  71. On April 1, former Congressman Bob Barr wrote to rally conservatives across the country to stop liberals from solidifying control of Congress.


    Federal law requires a committee like Barr's, once set up, to donate money to at least five candidates for federal office, and to limit donations to any one candidate or committee to $5,000 per election cycle.


    Barr, 59, represented northwest suburbs of Atlanta for four terms in Congress after his election in 1994. He gained national attention for his role in President Clinton's impeachment proceedings.

    Costs Money to Raise Money

  72. From Doug's link at BC:


    And so it is very difficult for me to read things like the following, from an August 2003 article in The Guardian by then Labour MP Brian Wilson entitled “Revolution revisited: Cuba isn’t perfect, but it is living proof that it is possible for a third world country to combat poverty, disease, and illiteracy”: “Cuba’s primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three…. The fact that it has been delivered in the face of sustained hostility from an obsessive neighbor [the U.S.] makes it all the more stunning.” Here’s a response to a 2004 PBS documentary on Fidel Castro from a man in Texas, posted at the PBS website: “Everyone below the age of 50 don’t know about the conditions of Cuba before Fidel. When a revolution is successful there is a reason and the reason in Cuba was poverty…. Without the strength of Castro, Cuba will fall into decline searching for a direction and will come under the fold of the United States just as it was in the 40s and 50s.”

    What’s behind this? Bigotry of the worst sort. It is pure ignorance based on the assumption that unless they have a strong leader like Fidel Castro, Cubans can’t take care of themselves. I call it the Mussolini principle. In the 1930s many Americans and British praised Mussolini because he made the trains run on time, he made those unruly Italians mindful of time and efficient.

    Travel writers do Cuba great disservice. As an exception, Thomas Swick of the South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrote a beautiful piece, recording the inane comments his fellow travel writers made on their trip (“Our Gang in Havana,” Mar. 24, 2002). The comments sound like they are discussing Rousseau’s noble savage or Kipling’s White Man’s Burden. Sarah Shuckburg, a travel writer for the UK’s Telegraph, writes as follows:

    “I sit on a bench in a tiny park, and the colour, music and exuberance of old Havana engulf me…. An intoxicating blend of Spanish guitars and African drumbeats drifts from a nearby bar, where an elderly couple is performing an afternoon salsa…. Three barefoot boys in tattered shorts kick a dented can over the cobbles. Bare-chested men exchange jokes as they push barrows of rubble. A grizzled, toothless man approaches me and holds out his hand. I give him a few tiny coins.” (“A little local colour,” Mar. 5, 2006)

    She thinks of this as praise for the revolution. But where are the sports programs? And the old man is grizzled and toothless because Cubans don’t have any razors or toothpaste. They have awful dental and medical care. Even Castro had to call for a Spanish surgeon to come and save his life.

    I’ll conclude by letting you think about how Shuckburg summarized her experience in Cuba, based on what we’ve discussed:

    “Cubans are lucky, with several giants to worship—principled, visionary reformers. Fidel Castro is one of them. There are few photographs of him, and no statues, but for most Cubans, Castro is a living legend who has maintained his communist ideals despite the collapse of communism elsewhere, and despite sanctions and embargoes from the `enemy’ to the north. The Cubans I speak to all share Castro’s patriotism and his distrust of democracy, and are intensely proud of Cuba’s egalitarianism, education, health care and sporting achievements. None of them mention human rights or freedom of expression.”

  73. Teresita, if you're not doing anything Saturday..

    Date / Time: Saturday, May 24, 4:30 PM
    Location: El Centro de La Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Seattle
    Sponsored by Native Peoples Alliance with Friends and Allies & NW AIM, Harold Belmont


    This event is organized in support and solidarity with the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.


    The Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in U.S. prison, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively, after being wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami, on June 8, 2001.

    Cuban 5

  74. Using Sunlight and CO2 To Make Fuel This was posted by Charles at BC and is interesting.

  75. "Fry Mumia And Free The Cuban Five!"

  76. Bob, this is encouraging news. There is an unlimited fuel supply just floating around in the atmosphere that we can use.

  77. Yeah, possibly so. Knowing zero about chemistry all I do is read along and hope for the best. Charles also had an article about an energy source on the moon which I will post now.

  78. 45 lbs. of CO2 = 2.5 glns of gas?

    Doesn't seem like a very good return on the face of it.

  79. Helium 3, Cash Crop On The Moon

    The Lord has put this answer just out of current reach, to make us strive for it.

  80. hmmm,--well, there a lot of CO2 floating around though, maybe.

  81. The atmosphere is about 80% nitrogen, maybe someone will figure a way to extract energy from that. You can see how little I know.

  82. So, there we have it, one candidate knows the true position of Iranian military capacity.

    Speed boats vs Ships of the Line.
    The Iranian speedboats not even as capable as PT109. Seeing as how they are not torpedo capable.

    Their airforce amounts to some pre-Carter F4s, they have no anti-satellite capacity.

    While they have the capacity to close the the Straits for a short period of time, that is of greater economic consequence than military. The threat of US retaliation the greater wildcard in the global economy.

    The Iranian threat to the US is limited to casualties it can inflict of US troops in Iraq and the economic damage that can be inflicted upon US economic allies, with its' oil exports disrupted.

    Bob Barr has no chance of victory, in 2008, but can advance the consolidation of the political oppossition to the two existing Parties.

  83. How about a coalition style opposition? Wonder if that'd work?

  84. The US intelligence community judges that Iran can briefly close the Strait of Hormuz, relying on a layered strategy using predominately naval, air, and some ground forces. During 2004 Iran purchased North Korean torpedo and missile-armed fast attack craft and midget submarines, making marginal improvements to this capability.

    Tehran's ability to interdict the Strait of Hormuz with air, surface and sub-surface naval units, as well as mines and missiles remains a concern. Additionally, Iran's asymmetrical capabilities are becoming more robust.

    These capabilities include high-speed attack patrol ships, anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and hardened facilities for surface-to-surface missiles and command and control.

    Iranian Capabilities

  85. With the help of my daughter I have finally succeeded. grrnite

  86. I thought you were going to bed?

  87. Cheers, Bob. Thanks for the effort.

    Not much of a turnout. Where's your cowboy hat?

  88. Conservative David Frum, writing in 1999, captured the essence of Clintonism better than many liberals:

    Since 1994, Clinton has offered the Democratic Party a devilish bargain: Accept and defend policies you hate (welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act), condone and excuse crimes (perjury, campaign finance abuses), and I'll deliver you the executive branch of government...

    He has assuaged the left by continually proposing bold new programs--the expansion of Medicare to 55 year olds, a national day-care program, the reversal of welfare reform, the hooking up of the Internet to every classroom, and now the socialization of the means of production via Social Security. And he has placated the right by dropping every one of these programs as soon as he proposed it.

    Clinton makes speeches, Rubin and Greenspan make policy, the left gets words, the right gets deeds.

    Clinton Pre-mortem