Thursday, May 29, 2008

LEAVART POLITICAL CARTOON: Homage/Ripoff/Update


An homage/ripoff/update of a famous political cartoon from early in the primaries. I don't have a copy of the original, or the artist's name, to give them credit (any help with that would be appreciated). In the original, it was just Hillary's feet looming large among the "seven dwarves." My, how things have changed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Expansionist Iran: Lebanon, Syria, Gaza


To all who think Iran doesn't have expansionist goals, look no further than Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. These are not the military invasions of the Nazis, but nonetheless military invasions of foreign nations. The Mullahs of the Islamic Republic are very sophisticated, and have a long term strategy. It has been openly expressed in Lebanon recently, where Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah won political veto power (the power to block any law) through force of arms. Hezbollah also has a seperate fiber optic communications network, which the government has no access to. If Hezbollah were a private venture, like a multinational corporation, this might be a small thing. However, when it's in the service of a terrorist group masquerading as a political party, that has military superiority to the elected majority government, we have an Iranian puppet state.



Syria is pretty much a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran, as forced conversion to Shiism gets a pass from the Assad regime, which is neither Sunni nor Shia. They are fully dependent on Iran for what little military power they have, and they allow terrorist organizations to operate openly. There is some resentment of Iran's influence inside Syria, but after the Palestinian massacre (10,000) by the current Assad's father, people avoid mass uprisings in Syria. Yeah, that's more Palestinians than Israel has killed in it's entire modern history.



Which brings me to Gaza. These helpless fools bow to two masters: the Shia from Tehran, and the Sunnis from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, etc. The only common goal these two groups have is to destroy Israel. Both of them use the Palestinians as fodder for their proxy war against both Israel and by proxy the US. Israel gave Gaza back to the Palestinian Authority, in an act of suicidal diplomacy. What did it get them? Rockets into Sderot every day. Who's supplying these terrorists? Iran has been previously caught shipping tons of weapons to the Palestinians aboard a ship called the Karinne A. Need I elaborate?



I was in the USMC in 1983, when Iran orchestrated the Beirut barracks bombing. It was the debut of Hezbollah, and at the rough old age of 21, I learned about Shiite terrorists. The thing that stuck in my craw the most was that under UN command, our Marine guards were not allowed to carry loaded weapons. When the truck came crashing through the barrier, they had no chance to stop it. 240+ Marines died that day, performing a peacekeeping mission for the UN. Ask me why the US refuses to "donate" troops to UN missions again.



The UN is either a non-factor, or a pro-terrorist factor in this war. President Bush picked the battleground of Iraq for good reason. It is our best, but not last, hope for striking the heart of our dual extremist enemies. Think of Pres. Bush's pre-9/11 terrorism assesment: "Isn't there some way we can 'drain the swamp'?" Look at what's happened in Iraq. Thousands of terrorists from Al Queda and Iran's Quds Force have been killed, and the Sunni, Shia and Kurds are working together in the Iraqi government, more than ever.



Iraq's success is the best weapon in the war for freedom of the people of the Middle East. Iran and Saudi Arabia are both threatened by this, but they both have their footholds in other nations. The Saudis have our favor, so Iran courts Russia and China. That is the geopolitical dance, where allies are enemies, and enemies allies. Iran may become our greatest ally one day, if they acquire a truly representative government. THE KHOMENIST REVOLUTION MUST END, AS MUST THE WAHABBIST FANATICS OF SAUD.



Any questions? I'll try to explain this partial analysis.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

OIL PRICES FOR DUMMIES


The rise in oil prices is very simple to explain. Someone is offering a higher price for the product, in such quantity that it has driven the market price up worldwide. Speculators are the main culprit, but the demand from China, India, and other emerging economies have put the speculators in this position of power. The speculators also play on fears of wider war in the Middle East, to maintain the price of oil.



The US can regulate the amount that speculators can "borrow" to bet on future oil prices. Some say this will curtail the speculators, because they'll have to bet more of their own money. It may even burst the "oil bubble," which by now should be more apparent than either the "housing bubble," or "internet bubble" were, in the past.



Gas prices in Europe have been twice the US price for a long time. This "bubble" hasn't even confronted US consumers with the prices that EU residents have paid for years. I see this as a "test" of the US economy, and an observation of our political system. While Saudi Arabia increased their production by 300,000 barrels per day, it was called a "rebuff" of Pres. Bush's entreaties. The real "rebuff" was from the US Congress, who won't increase domestic production, or refining capacity.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UPDATE ON THE SPITZER "DIRTY TRICKS" SCANDAL: CUOMO PROBE LEADS TO SUICIDE


The probe into Gov. Eliot Spitzer's use of the NY State Police to spy on his political opponents has mushroomed into a larger investigation into a police unit that dates back to Gov. Pataki, and has spread into the NYS Power Authority. Daniel Wiese used to head Gov. Pataki's NYSP detail, and "was improperly named the authority's inspector general in 2003, under pressure from then-Gov. George Pataki," according to the NY Post (link). Gov. Paterson is moving to fire him, but has to wait until he can replace 2 of Pataki's appointments on the PA's board, whose terms expire next week. This is only the tip of the iceberg.



Another retired state trooper, Gary Berwick, committed suicide. From the NY Post (link):




his suicide note suggesting at least partly out of concern over a pending appearance before Cuomo's investigators. (Spitzer's hooker woes apparently concerned him as well.)



Berwick once headed then-Gov. George Pataki's security detail (as did Wiese) and was close to retired State Police Superintendent Preston Felton - who was fired out of hand by Paterson immediately upon taking office.



Berwick's note, Dicker reports today (link), indicated an obsession with the ongoing Cuomo probe - but contained no admissions of any wrongdoing.




There is more. Wiese's computer was wiped clean the day AG Cuomo's probe was announced, and he had a program on it to destroy any email after 60 days, which may be illegal under state law. The PA has now hired a lawyer who once represented Pataki in a dispute with the legislature, raising some eyebrows (NY Post link), to stymie Cuomo's attempt to find out who deleted the files.



What we have here is the sheer abuse of state apparatus for political power. The way this is starting to look, Spitzer's use of it was as clumsy as his use of prostitutes, but this is actually a much bigger scam he "blew up." I'm thinking that ex- Gov. Pataki might have to speak to Cuomo's grand jury, sooner or later...



My sympathy goes out to trooper Berwick's family, and all the other innocents caught up in this corruption. Cuomo needs to sweep the whole place clean, and this need not be his biggest investigation. It seems the official state "legislative financial" auditor was on the civil service union payroll, and declaring hundreds of pieces of legislation "revenue neutral," when they actually cost the taxpayers potentially billions of dollars in the future. Will AG Cuomo take on legislature/union corruption? That remains to be seen. He's got a lot on his plate with the executive branch scandal right now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

POLAR BEARS ARE NOT ON THE "ENDANGERED SPECIES" LIST, CONTRARY TO BIASED MEDIA (and GOVERNMENT) REPORTS



I caught some of the PBS Newshour's reporting on the EPA's decision to propose declaring the Polar Bear "threatened" under the Endangered Spieces Act (ESA). Their online report is excellent, and worth examining. The transcript of their analysis reveals Gwen Ifil interviewing DIRK KEMPTHORNE, U.S. Interior Secretary, and ANDREW WETZLER, Natural Resources Defense Council: They also have links to a transcript of Sec. Kempthorne's remarks, with diagrams, and one to a digest of the EPA law and updates. While the factual reporting was excellent, it raised more questions than it answered.




To synopsize where we're at, for those who don't know, three environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, sued the EPA to make a ruling on whether to propose listing polar bears as "threatened" under the ESA. The EPA has dragged it's feet on this, postponing the ruling twice already. The enviromental groups won in court, and the EPA made their ruling today, which submits polar bears to a one year review to determine if they are to be officially classified as "threatened." Threatened, under the ESA, means "likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future." Endangered, under the ESA means "in danger of extinction."




The first question I had was "how is a species whose numbers are increasing being threatened?" The sole answer given for this ruling was the melting of the arctic ice shelf. However, the graphs that the Secretary showed in his briefing clearly indicate that the polar bear population has been growing since the 1960's, and the polar ice shelf declining since the 1950's. Speaking of the graph's that the Secretary showed, take note of the one I posted with this article (the polar ice shelf). Notce that the baseline of the graph is on a downward slope, making the whole graph "slanted" downward. They also compare actual measurements to "10 computer models," which somehow also go back to the 1950. However, the decline in the Arctic ice shelf is real, according to actual observation. I do not dispute that. Quoting SEC. Sec. KEMPTHORNE:






We have to look at modeling and the trend lines. Geologists would say that, in recent history -- but, of course, geologists have a different frame of reference on time. But we've been through five different ice ages. We've been through five different phases where there was warming. Are we now in that again? Man is a contributing factor to that, but to what extent? And, again, that's beyond the realm of what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be able to determine in this 12-month period. But what about the animal itself? How adaptive is it to that sort of environment where there may be changes to it. It is a very adaptive animal. What impacts might it have on other species? So all of this will be taken into account as we move forward and make a determination of what finally should be done 12 months from now.





My next question was "can polar bears survive a contraction in their population?" If we can posit that the polar bear population has grown, even as their habitat has shrunk, then might they be "overpopulating" the remaining habitat? Again, the records of habitat and polar bear population only date back around half a century, so our baseline is the first time the US attempted to count polar bears, and shortly longer for the polar ice cap. This question wasn't even asked by Ms. Ifil, though the question of what is causing the melting of the ice shelf was assumed to be "man-made global warming," which Sec. Kepthorne strongly asserted that the EPA had no jurisdiction to try to control through the ESA.




There does seem to be a threat to the polar bears, which has caused declines in some local populations of polar bears in Canada. Quoting the Secretary again:






KEMPTHORNE: It is. There is a -- what they have done -- in a region which they call the western Hudson Bay in Canada, they've seen a decline of that particular population. One of the precursors to that decline was the actual weight loss and reduction of the size of the adult polar bears, and then the survival rate of the cubs, where we're not having successful survival. That same precursor is being seen now in one of the populations in Alaska. But the Alaska population currently is stable, so that's noted. But that's all of this that has to be included into this modeling that has to take place.





My third question was "why isn't someone with my point of view being included in the Newshour analysis?" This is why I often yell at the TV, even though I love the Newshour. They have in depth reporting, but often omit conservatives' point of view, or portray either a "watered down" version (as in this case, assuming the Bush EPA guy represented any kind of "conservative" viewpoint), or some dark extreme element, that will never be actually interviewed (Rush Limbaugh, etc.), but only shown in "media report" set-up pieces.




The EPA may have been dragging it's feet on making this decision, but Sec. Keprthorne certainly seemed sympathetic to the polar bears' situation. Many conservatives, myself included, questioned the reasoning behind this step. What I found out was that the majority of reporting on this issue was inaccurate. Polar Bears are not being added to the endangered species list, as the NY Daily News, among others, reported.




On the flip side, Mr. Wetzler, from the NRDC, saw this issue as part of a much larger agenda. He wants to use it as leverage to force the government to "act" on global warming, which is clearly beyond the mandate of the ESA. Here are some quotes from Mr. Wetzler:






Well, the cause of global warming...Yes. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that the global warming we are experiencing is caused by human beings, by the emission of man of global warming gases. I don't think there's really any serious dispute about that.





He continues:






Well, there's a number of things we can do, but most fundamentally -- and you won't be surprised to hear me say this -- we have to grapple with the problem of global warming at a federal level. We need to use this opportunity to muster the political will -- which is already being seen, I think, both in the Republican and the Democratic Parties -- to enact comprehensive legislation to deal with global warming. More specifically, with regard to the polar bear, there are a number of interim things that we can do, both under the Endangered Species Act and other laws. And while the secretary is absolutely correct that, in isolation, oil and gas exploration and over-harvesting due to hunting won't cause the polar bear to go extinct, as the polar bear's numbers decline because of global warming, those other stressors on the population become very important, and it will also be important to control them. And then the final thing that we can do under the Endangered Species Act is to protect the polar bear's critical habitat.





While I'm skeptical about whether man is the cause of global warming, I think that the EPA action is a prudent step. This process still has a long way to go, and I'll follow it, as it continues. I've been a "Newshour" viewer since it was "the Macneil/Lehrer Report," back in the '70's, and it remains one of the best places to get in depth coverage of complex issues like this one. I'll still criticize them occasionally, especially their analysis, as in this case. Read the links in this post, for a better understanding of this issue.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

FUNNY QUOTES, CRAZY IDEAS!


Hillary is "No regular candidate, she's Wonder Woman!" according to Jim McGowan, D (MA), speaking to Meagan Kelly on "the Big Story."



Edwards endorsement of Obama is like "being endorsed by Ryan Seacrest," according to Dennis MIller, speaking to Bill O'Reilly, who said Edwards resembled an actor in an awning commercial that airs our local cable systems.



WXYZ-TV's Peggy Agar should just "Hold on one second, sweetie," according to Sen. Barack Obama, who never answered her question, though he promised "We'll do a press (availability), thanks."



No, thank YOU, Barry, Denny, and Jimmy, for the some interesting, and funny quotes (Honorable mention to Billy, though he didn't rate as "quoteable").



I get this crazy picture in my head, of Edwards and Ryan Seacrest setting up an awning for Sen. Obama, and Hillary crashing through it in a Wonder Woman outfit. Analyze that, with a sarcastic eye!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Celebration: What Family Is About


I often mention my lovely liberal girlfriend Anna on this blog. She bought me the coolest digital camera for my 46th birthday, last month. Here are some photos from our Mother's Day celebration. Anna's one of those liberals who's proud to display our nation's flag. I took this picture of myself at her door, holding the camera at arm's length.


"HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, ANNA! I LOVE YOU, MY HONEY!" I don't have adequate words to describe what Anna means to me (but I'll try, of course! lol). I don't know how I ever met a woman with such beauty, brains, and heart. I thank God every day for the love we share. Other than my late parents, no one else has been as important in my life.


Anna's mom, Giovanna, and Anna's daughter, Jasmine. They've welcomed me as family, and I love them, too! I hope everyone reading this had as wonderful a Mother's Day as we did.
See my previous posts about my own late mother, Jo Hurt, and listen to a clip of her singing the song "Zip," in the Broadway production of "Pal Joey." I still miss her every Mother's Day, as well.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Obama KO's Hill in NC, Loses Indiana by Razor Thin Margin: Operation Chaos Continues


Sen. Barack Obama took another definitive step towards the Democratic nomination last night, beating Sen. Clinton by 15% in NC, while losing Indiana by less than 2%. He has taken on the full force of the Clinton machine, and beat the expectations. Does this cement his nomination? Like cement, his road to the nomination has been solidifying with all of his victories, but it's had it's share of stresses, and faults. Last night's results were a "solidifying" event. It may even help with the stresses, and faults his campaign has experienced.



I have been, and will continue to be critical of Sen. Obama's positions, but his political skills are to be admired. He has weathered the "Wright" storm, and emerged victorious, at least in one of these two states. His close margin in losing Indiana may show a rebound trend as well, but there aren't many primaries left to trace any "trend" in. It's Sen. Obama's nomination to lose, and has been for some time, as Dick Morris so frequently points out.



As a Limbaugh fan, I suppose I have to mention his Operation: Chaos plot, which has been asking Republicans to vote for Hillary in the Democratic primaries, lately. Many people think that Rush just supports Clinton because he thinks she's easier to beat in the general election. That is not his (or my) purpose. Rush's real purpose is for these two to beat each other up as much as possible, because McCain will not go as far as either of these two will, in attack ads. He doesn't care which one wins, and certainly doesn't have a "crush" on Hillary, as she coyly said the other day.



Either way, his help did keep her from certain loss in Indiana, though many Republicans may have voted for Obama, as well. Not all Republicans listen to Rush, and some don't like him at all. I'd call it a wash in Indiana, and a non-factor in NC. The whole thing is kind of a "media experiment," which is something Rush does from time to time, on his program. If Hillary was winning, he would be rooting for Obama. He called a temporary suspension of the plot, after Hill's big win in PA, though it only lasted a day or two.



At this point, all that Sen. Clinton can do is try to lose gracefully, even as she takes it to the convention. Congrats to Sen. Obama, for a hard fought victory.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sen. Obama Disowns Wright, Not the Black Community or Church

Sen. Obama said "I could no more disown him (Rev. Wright), than disown the Black community." Well, it looks pretty much like he's disowning Rev. Wright now. Are we to take his lofty rhetoric at it's word? Has he now disowned the Black community? I can't wait to see the response by Wright's defenders, especially Bill Moyers.

Of course, Obama didn't disown the Black community. It was a rhetorical question, but I'm sure some of you of you got my point. Obama's original statement was empty rhetoric, much like Rev. Wright's absurd statement that the attacks on him were really attacks on the Black church. Meaningless, and false, if taken at face value. As Obama has disowned Wright, many Black ministers are disputing Wright's implication about these attacks being directed against all Black churches.

I still haven't heard a peep from Moyers about this, and don't expect to. The real problem for Obama is the far left wing of his party (people like Moyers), who agree with many of Wright's controversial opinions. Those are the ones who he's actually disowned, and it may cost him.

Of course, many of them believe, as Wright seemed to, that Obama had to distance himself publicly from the comments, but privately believes them. These people will still vote for Obama. Conversely, many moderate, independent, and conservative voters will suspect this as well, which is why Wright may still be an issue in the general election, if he gets the nomination. It looks like a lose-lose situation for Sen. Obama.

Here are a few comments I've made to posts about both Wright and Sen. Obama. The links go to the posts I was commenting on. The first comment is from my Gather crossposting of this post. Check the links on the other comments, for context, and other opinions on Wright, and Sen. Obama.


link 1 Here's an excerpt from Bob Novak's latest:"Obama's March comments, after video of Wright's sermons hit the air, were widely praised by the press, but parts of them seem ill-advised now. Why would Obama have defended Wright so strongly ("I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.") without a promise from him of silence until November?"

I think such a promise may have been made, but the media coverage was too much for Wright to take. He's not running for office, and has nothing to lose, personally, by doing this. He also may have thought the lack of criticism after his Moyers interview meant he could take it up a notch without criticism.

link 2 I hate to comment on just one quote, but I had to agree with this:

Something Barack said in Audacity of Hope hit me like a brick "We could very possibly be the first generation in U.S. history to leave our children a country in worse shape than when we inherited it."

I haven't read his books yet, but that statement hit me like a brick, also. I can point out many times in US history when the country has been in worse shape than it was before. I'm sure the generation that had to fight the civil war felt the country was in "worse shape" than it was in their parent's time. I'm sure the generation that lived during the great depression felt that way, as well. Heck, in the '70's, people were whining about where the "post WWII" boom economy went. Obama's statement is absurd, and obvious ideological rhetoric.

link 3 I agree with your take on this, for the most part, Devin. Here's one point I'll dispute. You wrote "It's obvious that the good Reverend suffers from jealousy. And being seen as the jealous father is not a very enviable position to be in."

Jealousy is the wrong word, but you used a variation on the right word in the same sentence: envy. Envy is a sin, of course, and we all experience it. How greatly it controls us is one measure of how we live our lives. Here are the Webster's definitions of jealousy and envy. Note the differences, and the "obsolete" designation of one definition of envy. I added the definition of malice from Webster's link.

jealousy 1 a: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness b: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness

2: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage

envy 1 : painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage

2 obsolete : malice 1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another

Sounds like envy is a more accurate word for Wright's behavior, though jealousy applies as well, regarding the "unfaithful" part of the definition. Great post, Devin!

(I want to make clear that the Webster's dictionary was calling the definition of envy as "malice" obsolete, not using "obsolete" as a definition of "envy." I added the definition of "malice," as an older usage of the word "envy.")

link 4 Wright also said something, in his NAACP address, that is shocking. He said that Blacks think with the left "creative" half of their brain, and Whites think with the right "logical" half of their brain. He pointed out differences in culture, and other areas, to support this. Does he know that scientsts used these same arguments in the eugenics movement of the last century, to support slavery? He's not a stupid guy. I think he gets a perverse satisfaction out of using "the White man's" tools against White men.

Taking it one step further, I don't know if he is a Christian at all. He may see that as another "White man's" tool, to be used to spread hatred of White men. Perhaps that's why he's so friendly with Farrakan. Wright is a complex man, and this is speculation, on my part. I'm just looking at his behavior, and trying to understand it.

There are cultural differences in many groups of people, as well as genetic differences between, and within, all racial groups. If you look at Wright, he's as light in skin color as many White people. Of course, he probably is a victim of the "one drop" rule, in his mind (there I go speculating, again). Anyway, his link between genetics and culture is off-base. It's origin is looked on as an embarrassing time in the scientific community, though it shaped modern social science. It still has great influence, as evidenced by highly educated men like Wright preaching it.


This post barely scratches the surface of Wright's political impact on Sen. Obama. That is still to be determined, though as I said in the opening, it doesn't bode well, even if he gets the nomination. Will we be able to laugh about Wright as "a crazy episode" from the primary campaign, come September? Anything's possible, this year.