Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dr. Derangelove, Or How I Continue Worrying Because These Guys Still Love the Bomb

Boys love toys, and among the toys boys love are weapons.  Swords, bows, spears, guns, missiles.  We love to imagine possessing these powerful tools, imagine using them, playing war.  We love games that let us play out the possibilities of war, of set piece battles, outsmarting our opponent.  We fantasize about different ways to win, what are acceptable losses, and how we can make these possibilities come to pass without "losing."  In that vein, many boys love nuclear weapons, if, for any reasons, because they are the biggest weapons there are, and the stakes are higher than ever, and the play is always for keeps.

Last week the inestimable nation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as The Hermit Kingdom and The Crazy Northern Half of Korea, detonated its second nuclear device. Happily, for the moment, it appears that the device in question was the nuclear weapon equivalent of a Fourth of July sparkler, but this is a disquieting development for the Korean Peninsula, and North East Asia, not to mention the world at large.

North Korea is one of the poorest nations in the world, and it is likely that up to 2 million of her citizens starved to death during the late 90's.  Yet her leadership, namely the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, has his ship of state set at full speed ahead towards a nuclear arsenal.  

Kim is a special individual, highly intelligent, yet bizarre to the extreme.  He is the poster boy for the phrase 'cult of personality' and it is not out of bounds to suggest that when he shuffles off this mortal coil, the nation itself will simply collapse due to lack of recognizable leadership.

He is also, in my opinion, a rather depraved person who, if he has read the book, has used Orwell's 1984 as a guidebook and instruction manual.  The inhumanity described in the stories of those who have escaped this veritable piece of Hell on Earth, even if only a tenth true, are truly stomach churning.

Therefore, we here at the Witch Hunt are more discomfited than usual when it has come to pass that a person with little to lose, a lot to prove, and who places little value on human life has come ever closer to perfecting the perfect machine for exterminating his fellow man, at least since small pox.  And it doesn't help that Kim has ratcheted up his normal penchant for brinkmanship and not only detonated his small nuclear weapon, but has also fired off a half dozen short range missiles as well.

A critical question is 'What is Kim Jong-il's endgame?'  But the obvious answers, such as to sell either a nuclear weapon or technology, doesn't satisfy my sensibilities.  As poor as North Korea is, which is so poor they do not keep the lights on in the capital Pyongyang overnight, the few millions they would fetch from a fellow rogue nation or non-governmental organization I don't see as being worthwhile.  Consider the time and expense, which includes building nuclear reactors for the purpose of creating the plutonium for a fission bomb, and then add to the equation that selling one bomb means an arsenal depletion of 20% or more.  

This is probably more about Kim burnishing his personality cult within and without his insular nation. Kim has begun to age, and age rapidly.  He has not named a successor.  He also has very distinct personality defects, including being insecure with a fragile self esteem most likely buttressed by a not so healthy paranoia.  You can see it in his comical bouffant hairdo and elevator shoes.  What I am getting at, and not to put too fine a point on it, is that it has finally occurred to me that maybe this guy wants to go out Waco style.

It is possible that we have arrived at a tipping point.  Nothing, nothing, nothing has worked.  Sunshine policy with her estranged sister state, South Korea.  Six Party Talks.  Sanctions on top of sanctions.  

Now, South Korea has decided to officially join the Proliferation Security Initiative, to which North Korea has responded would be seen as "a declaration of undisguised confrontation and a declaration of war."  Japan has publicly wondered whether she will have to amended her constitution to take a more hawkish footing, pointing out that they are the only nation to withstand a nuclear attack.  And the United States has stated we are considering halting and inspecting North Korean shipping for nuclear weapons and missile parts, to which North Korea said she was "fully ready for battle."

Kim and his regime has always been given to heavy rhetoric, but this seems much more than usual.  Defense Secretary Gates stated that the USA will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea, and has publicly stated we are prepared to defend our regional allies.  Whoa.

It looks like right now even China and Russia are less than thrilled, and might actually try something constructive.  I am not holding my breath.

Now what?

Whatever it is, the United States, nay, the world, cannot permit this self destructive regime to possess a nuclear arsenal.  Do we go to war?  Do we put the odious "Bush Doctrine" in motion?  I don't know.

To tell you the truth, I have to confess that I have indulged in the fantasy using 5 or 6 of our largest bombs, I'm talking about 10+ megatons in yield, and put them in a ring around Kim's test site.  Let him see the pillar of fire he wants so badly.  

But we all know that is not the answer.  And unfortunately, no one knows what the answer might be.  We can only hope we don't get it wrong.

One thing we should not do is to conflate this massive crisis with our other "rogue" nation problem, Iran.  Whatever we do, we should not chase Iran into North Korea's arms, literally and figuratively.  It was a tremendous error for W. to have conflated Iran, Iraq and North Korea into his overly simple yet catchy "Axis of Evil."  And Iran is a nation lightyears ahead of North Korea in every way, and in my opinion is poised to become a real and possibly constructive player on the world stage.  We should engage with it, as isolation from United States influence, as with Cuba, has simply not worked.

That being said, enter into the fray John R. Bolton, late U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  In his Op-Ed piece recently published in the New York Times on May 26, 2009, Mr. Bolton myopically decried the Obama Administration's arms control overtures to Russia, opining that such deals inure solely to the advantage of Russia, and thusly we were losing the arms race.  He also complained that the Obama Administration was giving up on the strategically destabilizing, still pie in the sky missile defense program, notwithstanding it has been a gigantic failure of a boondoggle that couldn't hit its target even when we told it where it was going.  He then continued with criticism for the Administration's efforts to reenact the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was rejected in 1999, which he pointed out was the first treaty to fail on the Senate floor since the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War in 1918.  It is interesting to note that it was Republican Party controlled Senate in both 1918 and 1999, and that the failure of the USA to enter the Treaty of Versailles was a contributing cause of the Second World War.  Just saying.

The querulous Mr. Bolton apparently doesn't see the need for the United States to lead the world in arms reduction, so he doesn't recognize the utility of being party to treaties aimed at reducing nuclear arms and stopping their proliferation.  Such efforts in the past, done earnestly, might have saved us from the knife's edge we must now walk with the Dear Leader of North Korea.

What Mr. Bolton doesn't get, much like Mr. Kim, is that nuclear weapons are never good, nor are arms races.  That he is still concerned with an arms race is telling, as he is apparently still trapped in his Cold War ways, when concerns about missile gaps and bomber gaps were all the rage. 

Mr. Bolton came of age when there was an unrealistic attitude about nuclear weapons.  In the 1950's and 1960's we made all sorts of atomic weapons, from anti-nuclear weapons nuclear weapons, to depth charges, air to air missiles, artillery shells, mortars, and even contemplated hand grenades and bazooka rockets.  The science fiction of the time blithely spoke in the past tense about atomic wars as if such things were expected to happen and were survivable.

Frankly, it was best said by J. Robert Oppenheimer when he quoted the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand  suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.  Now I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds."  Bear in mind that this is when he witnessed the first nuclear explosion ever, the test of the plutonium bomb that would be known as Fatman, and eventually dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  

Fatman had a yield of about 20 kT, or 20,000 tons of TNT, and instantly killed about 40,000 people.  Today, the average W78 warhead atop the average Minuteman III ICBM is 375 kT, and it has two roommates, and they can reach almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  We have about 1,500 of these missiles.  That's in addition to the 10,000 other nuclear warheads we deploy, including the 3,000 475 kT warheads arming the Navy's Trident missiles in our Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines.

This is not to say we should volunteer to disarm ourselves in this dangerous world.  In a way, our arsenal and its counterpart in Russia have kept a peace, of sorts.  They have probably prevented another nuclear weapon from being detonated in anger.  But the dynamic of unreasonable nuclear buildup has much more downside.  Firstly, setting the bar so high probably allowed more internecine and proxy wars, as neither side would dare raise the stakes to the nuclear level.  It has also been a complete waste of time, resources, and scientific and engineering know-how.  And it has saddled the future generations, no longer constrained by a battle between competing economic philosophies, with the problem of what to do with and how to dispose of, these awful weapons in a world with upwards of ten nuclear powers.

But that nuclear weapons are awful; that they do not strengthen but shackle those who possess them; that they are a waste of time and energy; that there is not any use for them or any strategic arms race, is as lost on Mr. Bolton and his ilk, just as it is lost on Kim Jong-il, [though I will grant Mr. Kim arrived at his conclusions for more selfish reasons].  They are still boys playing at their imaginary games of strategy and chance, heedless of the consequences.  Neither has, to my knowledge, tasted warfare firsthand.  But they, like many of us, myself included, indulge themselves in fantasies of gaming out the unthinkable.  There is nothing wrong with it, so long as when you know that it is really just a game and a fantasy.


Friday, May 29, 2009

California Steaming

The California Supreme Court dropped and ball, and dropped it big time. In the never ending search for fairness for all Americans under the law, the lilly livered justices of the Golden State's High Court decided to reverse themselves in a fashion I have never witnessed in my adult life.

If you recall, the Californis Supreme Court decided not too long ago that the Constitution of the state mandated that gay and lesbian couples be afforded the right to marry the person of their choice. They had based this prior decision on the failure of any other scheme, like civil unions, to provide EQUAL PROTECTION under the law, namely the fundamental right to marry.

Not to be outdone by such mundane concepts like basic fairness, common decency and equal protection under the law, certain member of the Californian electorate, most of whom are members of what is euphemistically called the religious right, put forth Proposition 8, which banned future gay and lesbian marriages.

Bizarrely, the decision, which ran to 130+ pages, permitted the 18,000 gay and lesbian unions that took place prior to the decision to stand, stating that Prop 8 did not entirely repeal or abrogate the prior marriages. Rather, the 6 cowards agreed that the word marriage now only applies to heterosexual unions, but that all the same rights are preserved in civil unions. This begs the question of why all the bother............

This was a terrible decision, and permit me to say why: the California Supreme Court found, in a prior decision, that the right to marry the person of your choice was a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT. Those are magic words. Fundamental means basic; means the entry level; means without this, there are no following rights.

This prior decision was therefore precedent, and should have been respected as such.

Under the United States Constitution the fundamental rights are the ones like freedom of and from religion; freedom to move about the nation unfettered and live where you want; to have or not have children; the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment; the right to counsel. These are the rights we don't need government imprimatur. We possess them because we are Americans. Period.

And these fundamental rights cannot be taken away by a whim. Majority rule does not, and need not apply. It would require an amendment to the Constitution. You can look up on your own what an arduous process that is.

Yet, the California Supreme Court has now permitted the destruction of what it already found to be a fundamental right based upon a popular vote, notwithstanding prior precedence. Ladies and gentlemen, this a textbook case of what we call the TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY, and what Constitutions are meant to prevent. It is very un-American for this turn of events to have occurred.

And the one courageous dissenting justice, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, said it best when he wrote that Proposition 8 means "requiring discrimination" which "strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution" and "places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities."

The Witch Hunt salutes you, Justice Moreno.

For those celebrating this travesty, enjoy your schadenfreude for now. But also know you have contributed to the pain for millions of your fellow Americans for the sake of your petty vanities. And there shall be a comeuppance, and conservatism shall be further marginalized for its mendacious ways. You are people not "preserving marriage" but rather trying to destroy your fellow American out of some sort of baseless jealousy or other hatred.

You all should be ashamed for your schadenfreude. Such joy at the pain of others is sinful, at least according to the Bible I have read. Your lack of compassion for your fellow man evinces your unworthiness of the epithet "Christian." Verily, you are the modern day Pharisees.

And I also know that those of you celebrating this as a victory only feel this way because you are homophobes. Plain and simple. Well, please do us a favor, check your calendar, and figure out this is the 21st Century. Please take you Medieval attitudes about the very natural phenomenon of homosexuality, stuff them somewhere, and actually read the Book of Leviticus. You will find a lot of things in there that are called abominations, and some of them are mundane and some you have already done twice today, like eat shellfish or bacon. If you are wearing a polyester/cotton blend, you are an abomination. Just like the gays and lesbians you hate so much.

And if you are lucky, maybe you will realize that the Old Testament is simply a collection of loosely related stories, and not to be taken literally.

Last I checked, Jesus Christ was mum on this issue, among others. And he probably doesn't appreciate his name being taken in vain and the like.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: beware those who tell you they know the mind of God; they are either mad, or lying to you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All Things Being Equal........

Newt Gingrich says that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a rascist, and should withdraw her name from consideration for the Supreme Court.

Apprently, the former Speaker, that paragon of marital virtue, reached this conclusion after reading that Judge Sotomayor expressed an opinion that a Latina, having lived that life, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male "who hasn't lived that life."

The implication of Judge Sotomayor's statement , which is very much based upon the reality we live in, is that a person who had to work harder against prejudices to get to where she is would be better informed than someone who had an easier life. If there is any doubt as to the validity of this, I want to hear it, and it better be good.

Seeing as this is but one sentence of a greater quote in a speech, this is clearly a classic "gotcha" style political attack.

What is also lost on the former Speaker is that all things are not equal. Old racsism is not the same as supposed new racism. This is the same baloney line of attack that the McCain-Palin campaign tried to foist upon the electorate with the entire Jeremiah Wright fiasco. Sorry to say, my fellow white people, but it is really racist for any of us to deny those who had to live through prejudice and racism their commensurate rage, as well as pride, after having experienced being denied the same opportunity and respect.

In fact, former Speaker Gingrich's conlcusion that the same such statements from a white man would cause that man to have to withdraw from consideration only exemplifies this dynamic. In equating the experience of a white male, who, let's be completely honest, dominated the political, social, legal, economic and financial landscape up until only very recent history, with the experience of a Latina wholly discounts the experience of the Latina, which is the core inference of Judge Sotomayor's statement.

So, Toad, er, uh, Newt, and the other fat man, Rush, can take their racist rhetoric and stuff it up their white bums.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Far Out; Far East

First, allow us to remember that this year is the 20th anniversary of the student protests and resultant massacre of June 3, 1989, in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. If you recall, this event took place during the wholesale collapse of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe. It was thought, with great hope, that the trend would extend to the People's Republic of China. Instead, we were eventually treated to the Oligarch's Totalitarian China.

Allow us to take a moment to recall those brave persons yearning to have their leadership listen for once to the governed. Allow ourselves to appreciate what we take for granted here. And to recall the iconic images we saw before our televisions went dark that fateful day the 27th and 28th Armies slaughtered thousands of their fellow countrymen.

This will bring me to the second part of this Far East post. Kudos to the Hermit Kingdom of the Democratic Republic of North Korea, as big a misnomer there has been since the German Democratic Republic went out of business in 1989, for detonating its second atomic device.

Also, let's thank George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for that results oriented foreign policy of engagement. Without them, North Korea might not have nuclear weapons!!

Kim Jong-il - at once the world's biggest loser and winner of "Most Likely to be Parodied As a James Bond Villain" contest, has spent what little capital his nearly useless country has to build a second atom bomb, so he can now attack two cities before it is vaporized in certain retaliation.

It seems Mr. il, er, uh, I mean Kim, hasn't realized that nuclear weapons are really more trouble than they are worth. See, if you don't use them, they don't do anything for you. And if you use them, they don't do anything for you.

As the inestimable John Keegan postulated in his book A History of Warfare, while war is an extension of politics by other means [see: von Clausewitz], nuclear war breaks this trend as it necessarilly destroys the political systems which created them. Nuclear weapons are in themselves a terrible conundrum. They provide a false sense of security, while permitting the boiling point of tensions to artificially rise under their umbrella.

As an example, think of the ubiquity of proxy wars between the Superpowers and their respective blocs which ran through the length of the Cold War. Where it might be thought that war would be impossible after the development and depolyment of large arsenals of ever more destructive nuclear arms, rather the reverse was true.

So now North Korea has tossed down its nuclear gauntlet, but has done so in a pitch black room. I say that because there are several key unkowns: the size of their weapon in yield as well as physical mass; this will directly affect their ability to weaponize this device, and limit how far they can throw it on their available rockets. In any event, their meager arsenal is but a drop in the bucket when compared to the arsenals of the USA and Russia in every way.

On the upside, though, is that it appears this test was slightly less of a fizzle than the last test, in 2006. So, it looks like Mr. Kim has an over rated roman candle at his disposal. Yay.

I wonder how many of his fellow Koreans the Dear Leader starved to afford his little vanity project.

Some opine that Mr. Kim may seek to put such technology on the black market, and that this is the true danger. Perhaps, but in order to make such a sale worthwhile it would have to be a relatively large amount of money. And to sell what he has worked so hard to create seems to me to be a little shallow minded, and Mr. Kim is not a dunce.

Finally, at the outset, President Obama has responded well. I do think that, short of a shooting war, which would be a calamity, the only thing left is for the nations most concerned - China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the USA - as well as the rest of the civilized world, to tighten sanctions around North Korea like a slow noose. Every ship coming in or out of the Hermit Kingdom must be stopped and searched, and if Mr. Kim doesn't like it, well, he should just come out of his cave.

Liberty University - Putting the Moron in Oxymoron

It was reported over the weekend that the bastion of a solid liberal arts education, Liberty University, founded by the corpulent Jerry Falwell, has ordered its nascent College Democrats Club to disband.

While the club may still meet on campus, Liberty U., as poorly named a school as there ever was, will not lend its name or school funds to the club.

As the Associated Press reported, Vice president of student affairs, Mark Hine, sent an email to the club's president that the decision was made due the the national Democratic Party's support of abortion, socialism, and the "LGBT Agenda."

The school's Chancellor and President [hmmm, what other famous person held both of those titles...?] Jerry Falwell, Jr., in defending the decision, quixotically stated, among other things:
"To blindly support any candidate solely because of party affiliation irrespective of moral values is wrong. Liberty would never endorse a Republican student group that supported abortion rights."

However, Mr. Falwell, Jr., is apparently not proof reading his online statements, as a mere five paragraphs above this statement Mr. Falwell, Jr., stated:

"The students who formed the Democrat club last October are good students. They are pro-life and believe in traditional marriage."
So, which is it, Mr. Falwell, Jr. Please don't tell me you haven't brushed
up on your Exodus in a while. It appears you re bearing false witness against thy students, and you should be ashamed for a) talking out of both sides of your mouth, and b) making an issue of this magnitude over a Democrat Club. Not all Democrats support abortion rights, nor gay marriage rights, and you admit this. Yet you have stuffed YOUR OWN VIEWS of the Democratic party down the throats of your own young Democrats.

If I were their parents I would be demanding a refund.

Now, let's take a real look at the reasoning given for the ban. Seeing as abortion is one of the most divisive issues in the nation, and sound minded persons can disagree, I will give this issue a pass, for now.

That brings socialism up to bat. Pray tell, Mr. Falwell, Jr., where does Jesus come out against socialism? Where is it bad to share? Was it when he tossed the money changers out of the temple? Are there money changers in your temple, sir?

How about when he commanded to render unto Caesar? Or when he said that bit about a rich man, a camel, and an eye of a needle? Answers, please?

And I haven't even brought up any of the commands to charity Jesus issued.

Moving on, please tell me what's the lesbian, gay, and the transgendered agenda? That they want equal rights? What would Jesus say about that? As far as I know, Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, or really anything about the prohibitions contained in Leviticus.

Speaking of Leviticus, where homosexuality is referred to as an abomination, isn't it also true that shrimp scampi and cotton-rayon blends are also abominations? I just want to make sure you are following ALL the words of the Bible, not just the ones you WANT to. I'm sure you aren't prideful enough to wear more than one type of thread, like a monogrammed shirt or something.

I think Jesus, who is oft equated with love, would not deny equality to any of his brothers and sisters, nor conflate religious institutions with secular ones for the sake of a remunerative wedge issue. You might want to fight me on this, but I will remind you to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto the Lord what is the Lord's. I believe you have transposed one for the other, and your soul has become unclean.

And if all this isn't enough, wait until the first Young Republicans' Club is thrown off a campus for being a hate group.

Powell Strikes Back

In the less and less amusing installments of the GOP intra-party family feud, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, former Secretary of State, and former Bush Administration patsy Colin Powell decided to re-enter the fray, responding to former Vice Boss Dick Cheney.

When we last left these former colleagues, Dick Cheney stated on Face the Nation he preferred Rush Limbaugh's political philosophy to Powell's, stating less than graciously that he had believed that Powell "had left the party.  I didn't know he was still a Republican."

But on Sunday Powell fired back, probably with greater marksmanship than draft dodger Cheney ever possessed, "And Mr. Cheney is misinformed.  I am still a Republican."

This tiff had its genesis in Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama for president.  It should be noted that Secretary Powell was one among a plethora of intellectual conservatives who decided to either back Obama, or who wavered in their endorsement of the McCain-Palin ticket.

It is further complicated by the ideological warfare - social conservatives v. moderates - with the more conservative wing seeking more "purity" at the expense of moving toward the center to garner more supporters.  This "purity" tends to center around the social issues of the right to reproductive choice and equal rights for gays and lesbians.  In very recent history, the party plank on both issues has proved to be an albatross, and moderates wish to focus more on fiscal conservatism and small government.

However, even people I consider to be plain dealers, like Gov. Tim Pawlenty, are disingenuous about the Cheney-Powell row.  As reported in yesterday's New York Times by Adam Nagourney, Mr. Pawlenty was quoted s saying about Powell, "If your indictment of the Republican Party is that it is not mainstream enough, and then the party puts forth somebody who is clearly a mainstream Republican - John McCain for President - and then you leap-frog over him to endorse Barack Obama, that seems about more than being frustrated with the Republican Party not being mainstream enough." 

I don't know exactly where Mr. Pawlenty was going with this, but he may have been alluding to race being a factor, as Rush Limbaugh had.  However, the 10,000 lb elephant [pun intended] in the room he is ignoring is the nomination of Sarah Palin as running mate for Sen. McCain.  It was her vast and obvious shortcomings, not Mr. McCain, that drove Mr. Powell, as well as many of the more intellectual, less religious member of the party to defect.

The fact is that Sarah Palin was the polarizing agent in the Presidential election.  She is of the social conservative wing of the party where religiosity and fanatical adherence to failed social policies [like abstinence] are more highly prized than deep thoughts on geopolitics or Constitutional law.  That Mrs. Palin failed famously when she was interviewed by Katie Couric, namely by being unprepared to answer relatively simple questions for a Vice Presidential candidate and revealing herself to be little more than a pretty face versed at the art of petty insults, was what drove the likes of Peggy Noonan, as well as Colin Powell, among many others Republicans, to endorse the Democratic ticket.

So, it appears that the GOP has a lot more soul searching to do, as the very thing that caused a veritable brain drain on the right side of the aisle, Governor Sarah Palin, has not been reduced in stature, but rather is the present GOP front runner for 2012.

Think about it in these terms: the Sarah Palins of the GOP are seeking to supplant the Colin Powells.  

If they had any brains left, the Powells should run for it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Today is a day free of politics and opinion.  Today is reserved for those who served our country, to thank those who are still with us, and remember those who has moved off this mortal coil.

It doesn't matter the war, or even less how you felt about the war.  World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq; Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard.

Republican, Democrat, Whig.......

We are all Americans.

So, thank you to all the veterans for your service and your sacrifices.  Today is for you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

UK Not Importing Garbage - Michael Savage Banned

I know the Witch Hunt is behind the curve on this one, but that why it is a blog page and not news site.  And all I have to say in response is: Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Michael Savage is a classic case of the self hating Semite, who changed his surname from Weiner, probably so he could avenge himself from all those jocks who kicked his butt in high school.  So he picked up a thesaurus and chose the toughest sounding name he could find.  What a chump.  

He hates his family name, and  yet this is a guy who constantly talks about family values and tradition.  Go figure.  

The savage Weiner is among a rare classification here on the Witch Hunt.  He has achieved the rarified honor of being among those few persons whom, if found in the middle of a desert, dying of thirst and on fire,  I would not relieve my bladder upon.

Weiner is a special kind of hate monger.  He spews bilious opinion from his very popular radio show, but manages to do it in the faux tough guy style, talking tough and throwing around disgusting insults, wishing AIDS on gays, and calling lesbians disgusting.  His hatred of gays and lesbians, for Muslims, and of anything different than his narrow and myopic worldview, knows few bounds and abides by no concept of common decency.  Frankly, his views share more with the likes of the Taliban than the common American, notwithstanding his claims of fighting for "traditional" American values and culture.

Well, Weiner's savage hate mongery has caught up with him.  He, along with 15 fellow troglodyte closet cases have been banned by Great Britain's Home Office.  The Home Office issued the following statement: 

"This is someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country."

In so doing, the Home Office has grouped Weiner with the likes of Fred Phelps and family, those paragons of American virtue, as well as Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal, Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe, Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, the imprisoned former leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang which committed 20 racially motivated murders, preachers Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim, Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal, Safwat Hijazi and Amir Siddique, Muslim activist Abdul Ali Musa (previously Clarence Reams), murderer and Hezbollah terrorist Samir Al Quntar and Kashmiri terror group leader Nasr Javed.

We will now know Mr. Weiner from the company he keeps, ideologically if not personally.  And if he actually reads the Bible he will be familiar with the concept that since he has sown the wind, he must now reap the whirlwind.  

Well, I wish we could deport Weiner, but in truth, even his disgusting rhetoric is protected speech under the cherished First Amendment.  That's the breaks.  But the UK has done its part to send him a much needed message.

His Debt is Paid, Let Him Get Back To Work

Michael Vick, the former electrifying quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, has recently been released from prison after serving his sentence in connection with his involvement in a dog fighting ring.  Now it is time to get off his back and let the man get back to work, to wit, being an NFL quarterback.

But some people out there are giving him, and the NFL heat.  They should just stop.

Allow me to say that the allegations Vick eventually pled guilty to turned my stomach.  I have two dogs, and they are like people to me.  I would kill anyone who hurt either of them.

That being said, Michael Vick has paid for his crime with everything he once had.  He lost his good name, his freedom and his fortune.  All he has left is his arm and his legs.  Let him use them both, without delay.

I never witnessed the piling on that happened to Michael Vick, and continues to happen.  Apparently, PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, a bunch of hypocrites is there ever was one, want Vick to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to prove his remorse.

Uh, PETA, go to Hell.  Who are you people that you would be entitled to ask for such a thing?

And Roger Goodell, don't listen to these people.  First, NFL fans don't overlap much with PETA members, so you won't be hurting your bottom line.  Second, PETA has killed more puppies than Vick killed fighting dogs, so they can go to Hell.  Third, Vick is entitled to redeem himself after already paying an enormous price.

Let's be serious: Michael Vick never killed a human being.  He never laid a hand on a human being.  He abused dogs, which, no matter how much you or I love them, or how much the hypocritical PETA says they love them, it is not murder.  Lay off the man.

People should be entitled to resume their lives as good citizens after they have paid their debt to society.  Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens was permitted back in the NFL, and he was involved in a murder.  

Also, this is an elucidating example of what our society does to those who have paid their debt after a release from prison.  Vick was a world class athlete, with over $100 million in contracts and endorsements.  As of now he has almost nothing.  What if he were already poor and from an impoverished area, and society is piling on like this, which is does?  What chance would a person have to resume being productive once again?  The answer we all know is very small, and we also know that this is a big reason why ex-cons return to crime.

So let's take a lesson from this.  Let's ignore PETA, let's allow Vick to play, and let's all get on with our lives as we permit Vick to do so.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New York City State of Mind

Lately there has been a great deal of handwringing on both sides of the aisle because if President Obama closes Guantanamo Bay we will, gasp, have to bring the prisoners therein to the shores of the United states. 

Among these yellow bellies are Democratic Senators from Montana, Max Baucus and John Tester, who really don't want Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Big Sky Country, even if the small town of Hardin, Montana does.

Hardin built a 400+ bed prison a few years ago, but since then they haven't housed prisoners, and the town is hurting financially.  So the town fathers have volunteered to house prisoners from Gitmo.  Kudos to you, Hardin, Montana.  America, and the Witch Hunt, salute you.

Meanwhile, New York City, the only American city to be hit twice by so called Islamo-fascist terror attacks, one of those the biggest terrorist act in history, where a half dozen terrorists were tried back in 90's, and is going to be first to try Al Qaeda suspect from Guantanamo, is still going strong.  Apparently, New Yorkers didn't get the memo that suddenly being afraid of terrorist attacks was back in fashion.  Rather, New Yorkers get on the biggest mass transit system in the country on a daily basis and go to work, and then come back home the same way.  New York City's jails have and will hold terrorists, and New Yorkers will nary give it a second thought.  Oh, and a jihadist "plot" was just disrupted in the Bronx.  Most people didn't notice, and more don't care.

Long the whipping boy of the far right punditry for being too cosmopolitan and not part of 'real America,' the inference being New York was not manly like the South and West, it appears the Big Apple has once again raised its mantle of being the home of the toughest and strongest Americans.  Apparently, the Counties of New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, and the Bronx are where real Americans live now.

While faux tough guys, like Floridian Joe Scarborough [sorry, Joe] fret about becoming a target for Al Qaeda, New Yorkers go about their everyday business without telegraphing fear all over cable tv, even though New York is the biggest, and really only, target for Al Qaeda.  Big deal. Get over yourselves.  

Rather, act like New Yorkers, and defeat Al Qaeda by not being afraid.  It's the only real way to combat "terror."

So to Rush, and Sean, and Ann, and Laura, and Bill, and each and every pinhead on cable tv and in Congress that has called New York City anything but the best of America, I say this: New York City to Pinheads: DROP DEAD! 

In related news, I just wan to state that the garbage surrounding rebuilding the World Trade Center site is terrible.  On September 12, 2001, I wanted the Twin Towers built again.  I still want those towers rebuilt, so badly that I can feel it in my bones.  Well, if the fools running the show, beginning with Giuliani and moving forward had only said the obvious from the word go, those soaring pillars of the sky would have been returned to the greatest skyline in the world.   Instead there is a hole in the ground that tourists take photos of.  

In the obtuse language of the internet: Epic Fail.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Right and Wrong, Not Left or Right

Thursday was the duel of ideals, the new sherrif and the old gunfighter, white hat v. black hat. But the one thing it wasn't, no matter how the press has portrayed it, was a battle of the left v. right. It was undeniably, a battle of the right v. wrong.  It was the President against the former Vice and his myriad vices.

In his speech at the National Archives, before an original copy of the sacred document of our national formation, Mr. Obama took the hard look at the sins of our collective past under the administration of George W. Bush that most have been unable or unwilling to take. He called them out on their fears and fear mongery, on their shortcuts made out of panic, and the shortsightedness of those shortcuts, and how those shortcuts actually continue to hurt us now. And one of those shortcuts was the creation of an extra-legal sysem of detention and trial of suspected terrorists we now know as Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Obama called for a return to the core values that make our nation great, our civil liberties the envy of the world, and to those aspects of our genesis that make our nation the greatest and most prosperous now and in history. He made the case that it was our collectively turning our back on those values, such as Constitutional rights for all, our fair trials, our Justice System, and the Rule of Law, all for the sake of expediency out of fear, that created many of the problems he is dealing with today.

Mr. Obama was right to say that our core values, our rights, are not luxuries, but the very strength of our nation. To those who gainsay, I respond: America, pal - love it or leave it; this is what it means when you say 'freedom isn't free.' It means not being afraid. It means standing up for the little guy, or more importantly, the guy whose guts you hate. When you protect their rights, only then can you feel a little secure in your own.

He was also brave, in these times where the efficacy of a war crime is being seriously discussed as a possible defense, to categorically reject waterboarding as a method of interrogation. Huzzah!

In short, Mr. Obama told Americans to get back to being Americans, like we were before W. turned us against each other and against the Constitution.

Mr. Cheney's speech, by contrast, sought to justify his extra and illegal actions at every turn, evincing what I gather to be his increasing dread that he might not as above the law as he once thought. He sunk to a new low when he stated that criticism of his "enhanced interrogation" was defaming the men who tortured prisoners at his order, which is an Orwellian distortion of the facts, seeing as these "heroes" were likely private contractors, or, to not put too fine a point on it, mercenaries.  I didn't know mercenaries, much less people who can stomach simulating drowning another person, are entitled to be called heroes.

Moving further with Orwellian doublespeak, Mr. Cheney compared his almost certain criminal liability, and any investigation of same by the Obama Administration, as such: 

"It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors."

So, Mr. Cheney, you should get a pass for the authorizing and the actual ordering of war crimes because it is a bad precedent?  Because torture was merely a policy consideration?  Have you no decency?

This is a classic non sequitur argument, literally, that the argued result does not follow from the premise.  Last time I check "It was only a policy" was no defense at the Nuremburg Trials.   Just saying.

Rather, waterboarding has been called torture, and been held to be torture, under American Law [!!] for more decades than Cheny has lived. Yet, as we Americans are poor students of history, many will simply take the ex-Vice at his word, no matter what abominations the forked tongue of his flicks out of his mouth. He who controls the past might control the future, but not today, and not on my watch.

Significantly, while he spoke of documents to support his fallacious defense that torture prevented terrorist attacks, he failed to set forth what these documents were, or, in fact, what they contained. Yet, while he still had the chance, he never leaked such documents, unlike his leaking of the name of a certain CIA agent under cover when that was politically expedient. Getting erratic in retirement?

Actually, Mr. Cheney is a skilled political fighter. He has nothing to lose, so he is purposefully going after Obama to weaken him, which is vanity taken to new heights. He is using two very effective, though logically fallacious, methods. 

One is to state that Mr. Obama is weakening America and making us vulnerable to another attack. Therefore, when another attack does happen, which, in all likelihood it will at some point, he will be seen as prophetic. But this is really a case of a broken clock being correct twice a day.  I can state that it will rain tomorrow every day does not me a weatherman when by coincidence it does precipitate. 

Second, he is using the contents of certain documents, whose existence is at best dubious, to defend himself on the question of the authorization of illegal torture. Since these documents probably do not exist, when they are not produced he can then state that Mr. Obama is refusing to release them. However, the essential point he is avoiding is that expediency or efficacy are no defense to a war crime.

It is also noteworthy that Mr. Cheney has gone to the family well in recent days, having his daughter Liz go on the Faux News circuit to defend Daddy. That means he must be really scared of being prosecuted for war crimes. Seriously, who gives a rat's posterior what his daughter thinks? Who the Hell is she? At best a charcter witness during Cheney's sentencing phase.  If only..........


Mr. Obama, saddled with the extra-legal baggage of his predecessors, is apparently at a loss at what to do with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay that are really likely terrible people who only want to do their best to destroy our nation, or at the very least kill Americans en masse.  I surmise that he believes that the cases against likes of Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who were likely tortured, as well as much "evidence" against them and others was obtained through illegal means, are indelibly tainted, and a criminal conviction might be impossible, no matter the setting - civilian or military proceedings alike.

Therefore, Mr. Obama has endorsed a terrible, and illegal, plan to keep these prisoners confined, without trial, forever and anon.  Such a result is not acceptable.  There is zero provision in any law or anywhere in the Constitution, for such a result, and I am calling out President Obama to figure out a legal way to deal with this.

It is unacceptable for him to go for the type of expedient solution the prior occupants of the White House used.  Lime it or not, these poor excuses for human beings are still entitled to a trial.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Joe Scarborough, one of my favorite conservative pundits, has disappointed me. I like Joe because, even when we disagree, he is a plain dealer, and he is not a shouter. He gets his point across, and does it with respect.

But today on his morning show on MSNBC he was spouting the same fear mongering, and, to be truthful, cowardly baloney that has been bouncing all over both aisles of Congress, and around the punditry.

In a debate with Ed Schultz, he took the position that if one of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, was moved to a prison in, for example, Pensacola, it would make Pensacola a target for Muslim extremists.

Are you @#$%ing kidding me, Joe?

That is one of the lamest, yellow bellied, as well as unreasoned, hokey, and fallacious claims I have ever heard in my life. What, are these extremists going to somehow pull another 9/11 just so they can bust him out of jail, now that KSM is wide open in the Continental USA?

Have any of the people thinking this way actually said the words out loud to themselves before saying it on national TV? The reasoning is childish, sorry to say.

Not to mention that we have already jailed many "Muslim Extremists," most importantly, but not limited to the perpetrators of the original bombing of the World Trade Center!!!!

As of this writing, about a decade and a half after the guilty verdicts, a half dozen men are still incarcerated in the Federal Prison system, convicted in the very competent Federal Courts after prosecution from a very professional Justice Department. So far, no extremist attacks.

Also, until 9/11, there was a very peculiar fact about terrorism in the USA: the vast bulk of terrorist acts, as well as terrorist related deaths, were the result of good old, made in the USA domestic terrorists. Like Tim McVeigh. And there are tons of these guys, most of them from the KKK, White Power or such related fringe right wing movements.

Still, no extremists.

How about this: we use the very competent, very fair, very tried and true legal system we have, that is also very Constitutional. That way there is no second guessing the results, and we look like the good guys we think we are by actually living up to our ideals.

Good enough for ya?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pro Gun Majority In Congress

Today's New York Times states the obvious: the GOP is no longer the sole proprietor of Second Amendment rights. Rather, the most recent Democratic members of the House and Senate are as pro-gun rights as anyone.

And further, the amendment added to the new credit card law, which permits the carrying of loaded weapons in national parks, passed the Senate by the overwhelming majority of 90-5. When the Democratic Party has 59 [really 60] of those seats, that means a lot of Dems voted for it.

Further, President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. Hooray for gun rights, and hooray for President Obama for defusing a social issue that didn't need a divisive one.

Now that the Democrats have come around, do you think we'll hear a little less hysteria from the NRA? Perhaps even backing a Democrat or two, maybe when, all things being equal, they are the better candidate?

Let's see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

...Or Banish Them.

Notwithstanding that the profession of attorney at law is greatly maligned, oftimes with good reason, among the vast bulk of attorneys there is a recognition of the basic duties of those privileged to practice law. Among those duties is an ethical requirement to uphold the law, as well as defend the Constitution.

To that end, an attorney may not give any advice to his or her client. They are bound to give well reasoned advice, based upon the laws, as well as their ethical duties as an officer of the Court. To that end an attorney representing a husband in a divorice proceeding may not advise his or her client to hire a hitman for $5,000 to kill their spouse, even though it would save the client $35,000 in legal fees, as well as the half of the marital estate, soon to be divided.

That, class, would be unethical.

So it was reported today in the New York Times, in an article by Scott Shane, that a legal ethics complaint was filed today against a dirty dozen of Bush Administration attorneys, including 3 former Attorney's General, in connection with the roles they played in assisting the former occupants of the White House to justify and implement torture as a policy of the United States of America.

Bravo. At last, somebody standing up for the more besmirched than ever name of the profession. Thank you, Velvet Revolution, the group that is bringing the complaint.

Among these twelve attorneys are John C. Yoo, author of the most damning memos, his former boss and present Federal Judge with a lifetime appointment, Jay S. Bybee, as well as former AG's Alberto Gonzalez, John Ashcroft, Michael Mukasey, and in addition a few superstars from the Pentagon and White House: Douglas J. Feith and David S. Addington.

You know, it was with the help of many lawyers that the fascist regimes of Europe took power and committed atrocities, giving the actors legal cover for their heinous acts. And it is the responsibility of the profession to stand up to such requests from the powerful, especially when what is sought is how to circumvent laws in place for our protection from the powerful.

It was the duty under the law for the Office of Legal Counsel, where Mr. Yoo served when he wrote his repugnent memorandums at the supervision of Mr. Bybee, to advise the President as to what was and was not legal; what was and was not permissible under the law.

In this case, the laws in question were the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions Against Torture, as well as domestic American laws prohibitting torture. This does not mention, of course, the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

At the behest of their terrified, yet sadistic masters, Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee, among others, issued legal opinions justifying and permitting torture. This was in direct contravention of their duties as attorneys and officers of the Court, as such acts were patently against the law.

This is not opinion. This is fact, just as true as saying 2 + 2 = 4. It is never sometimes 5, even if terrorism is involved.

To that end, each and every licensed attorney admitted to the Bar who played a role in formulating these unlawful and disgusting opinons, who did not resign when asked to render them, and played a role in either implementing torture or giving legal cover to do so, should thusly be disbarred as they are clearly lacking in the most basic ethical necessities to be bestowed the privilege of being called an attorney.

The legal profession has more than enough black eyes, most of them self inflicted. This one time, when it really counts, the profession must stand up for itself and proclaim that these enablers of terrible criminal acts are not fit to be counted among its members.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sean Hannity: Black Hole of Integrity

I was in a tad of a masochistic mood this afternoon, so I put on the Sean Hannity radio show as he was interviewing J.C. Watts. The subject of the bulk of the conversation that I heard, which was about 10 minutes, was about Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her struggle right now with the CIA.

Now, I am on record that if Pelosi has to pay a political price for either not acting on information then, or falsifying information now, so be it. I do not root for a party like I root for a football team.

But I heard Hannity go on and on about how she lied, and therefore she is unfit to be Speaker [as if he knows any of the actual requirements to be Speaker of the House], and also how her accusations that the CIA lied to her undermined the CIA and national security.

My observations are thus:

1) Sean Hannity ignored the 10,000 lb elephant [pun intended] in the room, as the real debate is about torture, not Pelosi's knowledge of torture. This is about a million times more damaging and dangerous for the GOP than for Pelosi. Once again, she is a straw man. Just so it is now crystal clear: if the prior administration told Nancy Pelosi, when she was not Speaker of the House, that they were torturing people, that is NOT A DEFENSE TO TORTURING PEOPLE.

2) Sean Hannity is under the delusion that the CIA is incapable of lying to a member of Congress, or he is simply not being honest [gasp!]. Well, the CIA lied, or aided and abetted lying, to Congress, the American people, and the world with the whole "yellowcake" debacle. Have IQ's on the fringe right dropped suddenly? Sean, are you dipping into your pal Rush's stash? Can I quote George Tenet, the guy who received a Preidential Medal of Freedom for his lies and coverups, about Iraq's possession of WMD: "Slamdunk." Slam this, Seany.

3) That Sean Hannity lacks the integrity to actually talk about the very serious issue of torture, and this is probably his worst trait. To attempt to raise another person's credibility as an issue, when in reality the issue is not their credibility but the criminal acts in violation of both domestic and internaitonal laws by a third party is disingenuous, as well as a logical fallacy. Further, it is clear that Hannity's intent is, by extension, to DEFEND TORTURE!! As such, Hannity is a singularity of truth and integrity, where both go to die in the black hole that is his twisted morality.

4) Sean Hannity is an abject coward. I did not hear him mention once on the show today that he will proudly be waterboarded for charity, as he was challenged weeks ago by Charles Grodin and Keith Olbermann. To paraphrase Shakespeare: how many times have you tasted death so far, you yellow bellied slime?

5) J.C. Watts, to his credit, did not charge on the offense and readily agree with Hannity. He didn't defend Pelosi, per se, but he certainly equivocated, as I do believe that he understands that there is more at stake than just the Madame Speaker.

6) That Hannity, by pushing this angle, has no idea what he is doing. If Pelosi, a very powerful woman, is pushed to fight for her political life, she can do a great deal of lasting damage not only to the members of adminstrations passed, but to the Republican Party as whole. What is lost on him apparently, while stuck in his ivory tower of self righteousness, is that if the CIA told Pelosi, then the CIA must have also briefed a number of GOP lawmakers, like the then Speaker, Dennis Hastert. And if this goes far enough, this isn't going to be about Truth Commissions. This is going to be about Special Prosecutors.

So, Sean, by all means, keep stiring the pot. Keep going at the Speaker. I will trade you one lousy, overly ambitious, undertalented Congressman from California for the entirety of the Bush legacy. I will happily watch your Faux News show the day they frogmarch that "Great American" Dick Cheney into a supermax.

That would be a great day. A great day, indeed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Company They Keep

In furtherance of my incessant attacks against the Bush Administration and their continued supporters over the issue of torture and authoritarianism, allow me to point to Seth Mydan's poignant article on page 14 of today's New York Times.

Entitled "Survivors Shed Light on Dark Days of Khmer Rouge," it tells the story of two survivors, Bou Meng and Chum Mey, now confronting Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch [pronounced Doik], the former commander of Tuol Sleng prison, where some 14,000 Cambodians were imprisoned, worked, starved to death or brutally executed, at his trial for crimes against humanity.

Towards the end of this article, Mr. Mydan writes:

"Mr. Bou Meng dies not wander like his friend [Chum Mey] among the Tuol Sleng pictures, but he does keep one in his wallet: a snapshot-size reproduction of the prison portrait of his wife, Ma Yueun, who was arrested with him but did not survive.

'Sometimes when I sit at home I look at the picture and everything seems fresh,' he said.  'I think of the suffering she endured, and I wonder how long she stayed alive.'

Mr. Bou Meng has since remarried twice, but he remains shackled to his memories.  'I know I should forget her,' he said, 'but I can't.'

She visits him, he said, in visions that are something more than dreams, looking just as she did when he last saw her - still 28 years old, leaving Mr. Bou Meng to live on and grow old without her.

Sometimes she appears with the spirits of others who were killed, he said.  They stand together, a crowd of ghosts in black, and she tells him, 'Only you, Bou Meng, can find justice for us.'"

Here is to Mr. Mydans, for his wonderful article, and to Mr. Bou Meng and Mr. Chum Mey, for their courage in confronting the monsters of their history.

For us, the lessons are that torture cannot ever be whitewashed; that it permeates the victim and torturer alike, and never, ever goes away; all the victims of torture and brutality cry out through the ages for us to bring them justice.

A small part of bringing them that justice is to never permit torture in our name.  But in that, we have failed.

As it stands right now George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as well as their underlings and their apologists, are standing alongside criminals the like of Kaing Guek Eav, who assuredly used the excuses of expediency, efficacy, and security during the commission of his legion crimes.  

So let us judge them by the company they keep.

The Trap of Fallacy

Let it be said here, and said loud: it is no defense to the illegal and immoral actions of the Bush White House in its pursuit of torture, that they briefed Nancy Pelosi.

That Nancy Pelosi, one of 535 legislators, might have been told of secret torture programs is a non sequitur when the issue is whether or not our President, Vice President and their underlings are war criminals for breaching both domestic and international law.

This is the classic logical fallacy of the straw man, or straw madame speaker.  But the ISSUE is the acts of the administration, which actually committed the alleged war crimes of torture.  Perhaps even used torture to create, out of whole cloth, the "intelligence" requisite to frighten the rest of Congress, and some of the world, into invading Iraq.

That Nancy Pelosi might have to pay a price for her knowledge is a different, and wholly separate, issue.

But for now, let's stay out of the fallacy trap, and not get distracted from the peopel who actually did the evil deeds. 

Grand Old Party? No Longer

There was a  time when the Republican Party, before it took on the moniker GOP, was the liberal party.  That was when it really was the party of Lincoln.  Sigh.  How times change.

And there was a time when conservative meant fiscal responsibility, and hewing closely to the words of the Constitution, limiting the power of government and respect for judicial precedence, economic growth, quiet yet confident foreign policy, but also the preservation of our natural and national treasures.  Such was the party of Theodore Roosevelt.  Hmmm....

In an nearly unholy quest for power, even openly speaking of a permanent majority, nay, actually naming political action committees after such desires [Trimpac, Armpac - thank you Tom Delay for your unintentional honesty], the GOP sold out every single one of its core principles: reigning in spending, limited government, respect for the Constitution.  The cause forthis was the presidency of George W. Bush, and more than likely, the use of the curmudgeon Dick Cheney as a bludgeon in Congress.  But also, there was a glee to finally hold all the levers of power, and a feeling that there was no time to waste.

And so the GOP traded all of its principle for the following: tax cuts for the rich, rolling back 40 years of Supreme Court precedence not through the legislative process but by appointing judges with predetermined goals, opposition to marriage for gays, and virtually unlimited preemptive war powers given not to the Congress but the President, including unlimited power for the President to spy on, imprison, and torture any person he felt like, including American citizens. See, among others: the Authorization for use of force, the PATRIOT Acts, Military Commissions Act, etc. 

And in so doing, the GOP engaged in mendacity heretofore unknown in my life.  They stole an election through judicial fiat [no, I will not forget]; they engaged in Executive secrecy of unprecedented proportions [secrecy is the room where freedom goes to die]; they lied repeated to Congress, the American people and our allies; engaged is money and power grabs the extent of which are still unknown, in the form of, among other things, no-bid contracts to corporations which the VP was a former CEO, and extraordinary rendition - unlawfully seizing persons and sending them off to other nations to be tortured; and they attempted to thwart the ability of the Senate minority to filibuster via Sen. Bill Frist's 'Nuclear Option'.

Six years of this criminal enterprise masked as a presidency, which hit its high water mark in November 2004, and its low the following August, when it was demonstrated by the hand of God [if you believe in such things] to be in over its head [Helluva job, Brownie], was enough for the American people.  In 2006 the Dems stormed back in Congress, and we all know what happened last November.

Since then there has been some very public soul searching by the Republican Party.  In fact, it doesn't look like much of a party, and is more like a luncheon of a dysfunctional family.  The leadership has been, variously, the Chairman Michael Steele, the former Veep Cheney, who is all but an unindicted war criminal, and Rush Limbaugh.  Wow.  While each is popular with a particular constituency, none of these clowns, especially Cheney, could get elected to anything if they were running against a can of Campbell's Soup.

And today, with the shoe firmly on he other foot, on Meet the Press, Mr. Steele dropped some more pearls of wisdom.  Or maybe it was swine droppings.  

When pressed on torture, Chairman Steele stated his concern was "I want to get the information."

Wow.  If this equivocation is not disturbing just coming from a fellow American, think about it in the context of the rest of the world watching the elected leader of one of the two American political parties JUSTIFY TORTURE FOR THE SAKE OF EXPEDIENCY.

New GOP Principle: the ends justify the means, no matter what.

Later, they switched gears, and the discussion moved to appointment of Supreme Court Justices.  Now of the nine on the High Court, six were appointed by Republican presidents [not including two conservatives who have left, Rehnquist who passed away and O'Connor, who retired], and four [Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito] are among the most conservative justices to have ever served.  Therefore, even if President Obama appointed a clone of Karl Marx to the Court and the clone was approved, the essential makeup of the Court would not be substantially altered.  Rather, it would be a status quo, with the moderate Kennedy holding the middle.

After DECADES of campaigns centered around appointing justices with the type of temperment to toss out Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Mr. Steele now states he is concerned about President Obama appointing a justice with empathy.   Now they want judicial restraint!?  He then went on to make an argument he wanted a judge who was going to just look at the facts and apply the law, and not have think about how being black affected a given litigant's life.

Oh, no.  Not empathy.  

New GOP principle: empathy is for wussies, and is not a good quality for such a high and permanent position, and compassion has no place in their party.  Somewhere, Thurgood Marshall is weeping.

I also found it interesting, and a little sad, that Mr. Steele went out and played the reverse race card, as if he is burnishing his own credentials by stating it is unimportant for race to be considered.  The significance is that race was not part of the conversation at that time, and he inserted it all on his own, unprompted.  Therefore, clearly this was a dog whistle for the party faithful, which is pretty much limited to West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Mississippi.  You do the math.

Finally, Mr. Steele spoke about the possibility of a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate.  He went on a ramble to the effect of " When the Senate gets to 60 there will be very little can be done to prevent" the government from intruding into the everyday lives of families.

Wait a gosh darn second!!!  NOW the GOP is all about the power of the minority?  AFTER the Frist 'Nuclear Option'?  And to go on and talk about the power of the government to intrude in the lives of people four years after ramming the Terry Schiavo bill though Congress is the height of doublespeak and doublethink.

New GOP principle: hypocrisy is no sin, and just because we said it was bad for the other guy to do it, it's okay for us to do so.

There are many reasons why I rail against the Republican Party.  You have read many of them on this post.  But right now one of the most important reasons is that a healthy democratic republic, as is our system, requires more than one party to function properly.  We need to have an honorable opposition.

But now all we have is opposition, and a feckless one at that.  The GOP is a chicken without a head, and is flailing all over the place.  But the chicken won't do that dance forever, and eventually dies.

The GOP needs more than just conservative social issues and tax cuts, and the Dems appear to have found some religion on gun control.  That's 25% of GOP issues!!  And holding onto to torture as an issue, arguing it efficacy, is absurd and more than a little nauseating.

And more and more, I am saddened that there appear to be less and less thoughtful Powells in the GOP, and more and more Palins, that is, so-called "movement conservatives" sharing a brain.

GOP, we hardly knew ye.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

...To Defend The Constitution...

...against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

This is the oath of office that the President of the United States of America takes.  Not to protect the citizens, or defend the "homeland" [as unwittingly insidious a word that ever existed], or keep us safe.

You wanna feel safer?  Buy a 12 gauge, or subscribe to Slomin's.

And the Constitution, the overarching uniting force of the country [as opposed to such emotive items, like the flag or apple pie], extends its protections to everyone on American soil, citizen or no, whether that soil is in the lower forty-eight, a consulate in a far flung land, and even to "enemy combatants" in custody at Guantanamo Bay.  Sorry, but that's the breaks.  Hey, being an Enlightenment Document means you have to live up to the ideals of the Enlightenment.

Lousy Founding Fathers and their lousy ideals.

Oh, and THIS is what the phrase "Freedom isn't free" really means.  It means you have to abide by the law, and respect the rights of the lowest of the low, even when it makes you wretch.

So, suffice it to say that I am distressed to have learned that President Obama has decided for the second time this week to reverse himself and go W.  If you recall, earlier this week he decided to NOT release photos of abuse of "detainees" [as odious a euphemism as there is in our doublethink world], and now he has decided to go forward with military tribunals in trying certain suspects of terrorist acts, including the plotting of the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Happily, he has decided to permit some basic, Constitutionally mandated protections, like choice of counsel, limiting hearsay evidence, and prohibiting the use of evidence obtained through that tried and failed method of torture. 

Sorry, Mr. Obama, that's not good enough.  I believe that our Federal Judiciary and the Justice Department are more than up to the task of trying these suspected criminals, even if they are terrible people.

And if the Bush Administration fornicated with the proverbial canine by torturing confessions, or by just torturing, and thereby violating the Eighth Amendment's mandate that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, NOR CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT INFLICTED," making prosecution difficult or impossible, then so be it.

There must be some comeuppance for our failure to abide by our own law, nay, our organizing principles.  This is not a matter of hating America first, as I am sure the Faux News crowd would clamor, but a matter of loving the ideals of my country more than my last President.

This is what "We are a country of laws and not men" means.  We are not subject to the whims of our leadership, and rather, are commonly bounded by the law, and the ultimate law is enshrined in the Constitution.  And by extension of that logic the Constitution IS the country, not the dirt under your feet.  Without it we may as well be barbarians.

And the Constitution demands of us something better than political convenience, or reacting out of fear.  It demands we live up to it, so that we might be that City on a Hill, that last best hope for the world.

Otherwise, we are just another country out of hundreds now, and thousands in history.  And our self aggrandizing rhetoric is nothing.  Nothing but words.  And if so, then so is that sacred piece of paper.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Know Them By The Words That Come Out of Their Mouths

Due to my recent schedule, I had to drive for an extended time again this morning. Which meant my senses were assaulted for the third morning in a row by the political ad of Mayor Steve Lonergan, attacking his fellow Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, who I believe is Chris Christie.

This ad makes much hay out of Mr. Christie's statement to "Know people by their words" and then goes on to attack him for not being sufficiently aggressive in cutting taxes, for recognizing that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and concluding he is not a conservative.

So, I will judge Mr. Lonergan's campaign by his words, which inexorably leads me to the conclusion that conservatism has been reduced to tax cuts and opposition to womens' reproductive rights, no matter what.

That's it? Because those are your words.

Sure, who doesn't want to pay less taxes? But what about other considerations, like balancing budgets and fiscal strength and responsibility? What about schools, roads, and the common good, in general? Not conservative enough?

And then there is the tired old saw of abortion. Really, can conservatives just get out of the bedroom, and out of the womb. What? Two Supreme Court decisions on abortion aren't enough? What, you want some more do-overs?

Abortion is the the right what gun control is the left: an albatross.

How about working to make abortion less necessary? Assisting in making adoptions easier? In counseling more young single mother's to be, and supporting health care for them and their children in utero? Because you are not winning the argument now.

Seriously, in brief, this continued cynical attempt to thwart the lawful process by appointing judges of certain predispositions on the Supreme Court, only so they can toss nearly 40 years of precedence out the window is truly myopic. And they complain about judicial activism!

Anyway, moving on, my next target is once again, the man who would love to be Darth Vader, Dick Cheney [sorry, Darth]. This guy just cannot shut his trap. He spent eight years hiding from the press in a secure, undisclosed location, refusing to tell his bosses, [us], who he spends his time with, and coming up with nefarious plans to poke holes in the Constitution. The man blocked his house on Google Earth!! Now he cannot find a microphone he doesn't vomit his stupidity into.

Apparently, according to Politico's Ben Smith, Mr. I Had Other Priorities So I Got Five Deferments While Nearly Sixty-Thousand Fellow American Boys Died For The War I Supported has poured forth this gem from the gullet of Hell that is his mouth:

""Everybody's in a giant conspiracy to achieve a different objective than the one we want to achieve," Cheney said. The negotiations are "bound to fail unless we are perceived as very credible" in threatening military action against Iran, he said."

So, Dick has finally been revealed to be the paranoid-in-need-of-serious-meds that he truly is, and further, his war mongery knows no bounds. Back in 1971 Black Sabbath wrote a poignant song, and Dick Cheney fits the bill. As sung in War Pigs:

"Politicians hide themselves away. They only started the war. Why should they go out to fight? They lead their own to the boar."

Mr. Cheney failed to see the wrongheadedness in the misadventure in Southeast Asia; he failed to anticipate anything but a smooth invasion and occupation in Iraq [as if history would teach anything but]; and he now calls for intimidating Iran into giving up their nuclear ambitions. This guy should quit while he is still in double digits in poll ratings.

Let's see: the Bush administration's hard line on Iran and North Korea bore so much fruit that we could almost have enough to paint a still life. In that time the Hermit Kingdom, which lacks enough oil to keep the lights on in Pyongyang over night, went from zero nuclear weapons to about six, and actually exploded one small one [though it might have been a dud]. They also were so terrified of Dick Cheney they launched several long range missiles, happily all of which were dreadful failures. And Iran went from being the pariah nation in its region to veritable non-nuclear regional superpower.

Who would have thunk taking out the biggest counterweight to Iran in a vain war of choice would have upset the regional balance of power? That's almost more difficult to divine than a hurricane over-topping the levies. Except you can't control hurricanes, which is unlike whether or not you choose to invade a country that never attacked you.

With geopolitical skills like this Dick Cheney's talents were wasted as Vice President. He should have gone out for something more challenging, like firearms safety instructor. Err, whoops. Maybe dog catcher.

Somebody please indict this war criminal just so he will have an attorney tell him to shut up and not incriminate himself any further!!

Finally, I would like to point out that if Mr. Cheney would actually have liked to intimidate the Iranians militarilly, it would have been nice for him to have not handed the incoming administration two land wars in Asia. You know what they say about land wars in Asia.

As today is thursday, I am going for the trifecta, and the third victim of the Witchhunt is the newspaper I love and hate equally, the New York Times.

Today, in the Op-Ed section there was an editorial about an amendment to a credit card bill which permits visitors to national parks to opening carry firearms.

Initially, my response to this is "So what?" Firstly, it's not as if the bill permits the open carrying of firearms in Times Square [not that I would mind so much]. It's in a National Park. And not that it is a prime concern, but at times there are animals that might need a little more than the usual incentive to stay away. And of course, there is the most dangerous animal one might encounter in a national park: Man.

And then the writer begins to get truly shrill, failing to make a cogent argument, and rather, descended into the logical fallacy of the red herring:

"And why should the national parks, which are supposed to be peaceful preserves, be filled with loaded AK-47's and other war weapons?"

Apparently, the writer of this incredibly stupid Op-Ed piece has no idea what they are talking about, and decided to mask this by going straight for the hyperbole. What if a law abding citizen just wanted to carry his trusty old shotgun? Would that be okay with you, Mr. or Ms. Shrill?

And when you thought it couldn't get worse, it does. Continuing:

"The gun lobby already has poisoned the proposal to let the District of Columbia have a voting representative in the House. The Senate's gun lackeys tacked on a vindictive amendment to strip the district of basic gun control powers, inviting assault and sniper rifles designed for military battlefields into homes and businesses."

Hmm, let's break this one down a little bit. The first clause of the second sentence uses "vindictive", as if the gun lobby, or anyone else, had a score to settle with D.C. What, I don't know. Maybe someone just needed a cool sounding word to sex up the sentence.

Then the writer goes into "inviting assault and sniper rifles designed for militarybattlefields into homes and businesses." First off, why lump assault and sniper weapons together? These are totally different types of weapons, for different uses. Further, most sniper rifles are modified bolt action sporting rifles. This truly evinces the total ignorance of the author, who is more interested in fancy words than reality. And the use of such sporting weapons in crimes is so minimal as to approach nil.

Next, I continue to take umbrage at the term "assault rifle." I dare anyone, especially those in favor of their banishment, to come up with a workable definition of an assault rifle. Truly, an assault rifle is more of a chimera than anything. And the fact tht the ignorant bandy around the phrase is what chills the lawful gun owners in America.

Moving on, the phrase "designed for military battlefields" is clumsy, as well as extraneous. Are there any other types of battlefields? And what does their design have to do with the issue at hand, which is lawful ownership? Doesn't every single police and sherrif's department in the country have such weapons? And for what reason? Because those are what modern firearms are comprised of. I fail to find any actual argument underneath these explosive words.

However, such weapons like the aforementioned AK-47, as well as other similar semi-automatic rifles, are ideal for home and business defense. Which brings me to the third clause: "into homes and businesses."

It would seem that the writer at the Times has abandoned any pretext, such as 'put these weapons on the street' or 'in the hands of criminals' and instead have gone after lawful ownership of weapons for home and business protection. As if such ownership is not an individual right guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the Consitutition, and pursuant to the recent Heller decision. As if such ownership is a bad thing.

And this piece castigates the 27 Democratic Senators that voted for it. Ummmm, helloooo New York Times!! If you would take a second and come down from your ivory tower it would be obvious that the Democrats control Congress largely because of the election of centrists who favor gun rights, not bans.

Honestly, this is why people hate the New York Times.

Know them by their words, indeed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poor Widdle Wimbaugh

Awwwwwwwwww.................................the poor little rich kid, who got, er, uh, stayed fat while saying just about anything that came to his hate filled little mind got a taste of comeuppance this weekend, and needed his entire gang, er, uh, GOP, to run to his rescue.

Yeah, Rush, maybe saying you want the country to fail is just like saying you hate America first. Maybe you funded the 9/11 attack? I dunno, you never denied it.

Maybe you need to take a break and have a week of reruns. It's not like anyone would notice. You've been playing hate on a loop for what, 15 years now? Amazing how well spastic vitriol sells both here and in Muslim countries.

So when you were calling everyone not in thrall to the former chump in charge a traitor in the run-up the the Iraq Debacle [now 6+ years post Mission Accomplished] it was okay, but you being called out by a black woman at the White House Correspondents Dinner is not?

Is this like the Colin Powell endorsement "all about race" ? Because I would have a hard time thinking about you like that. Actually, the reverse in true.

So here's to your kidneys failing, Rush, you old Junkie. Hey, by the way, that's a good book by someone who shares your greatest love: narcotics. Hey, didn't you once say something to the effect that all drug addicts should be deported? Why are you still here?

Your hypocrisy knows few, if any bounds. You're like a fat kid on little blues with Tourettes, except that is offensive to people with Tourettes. More like the fat kid on little blues that needs someone to say: stop eating, fatso, and stop taking illegal drugs you had your maid smuggle for you, you lying sack of feces, and stop acting like you know anything about anything, aside from where to get more little blues.

Haha, just kidding, Rush. Wait, no I'm not.

By the way, Rush, are you willing to be waterboarded for charity? Your buddy, Hannity flaked, and I suspect it's because he is a wussy. Ya know, talks tough, but really isn't. I'll set it up: $1,000 per second, and all the money will go the the families of dead U.S. servicemen. I'll be sitting by the phone, you buffoon.

But not holding my breath.

Mr. President, Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

With all due respect, Mr. President, you are wrong to order government lawyers to object to the Court Ordered release of photos depicting the abuse of "detainees" while in American custody.

It is the responsibility of a democracy such as ours to see what has been wrought in our name, for in the end, we are the end of the line for the proverbial buck.

If horrible things were done in our name, than we have to face the music. Keeping it secret will do nothing to make our nation and our soldiers abroad more or less safe. Those people that hate us already hate us, and not for the acts portrayed in these photos. Last time I checked, we were attacked on September 11, 2001, for reasons far more esoteric than what is contained in these photos.

Rather, it is in our best interests, in the spirit of turning over a new leaf as represented by your presidency, to show that the attitudes of secrecy and exceptionalism surrounding our actions are no more, and the crimes of the Bush White House are not going to be whitewashed, but brought to light. We must show the world the depth of the crimes to which we were all party before we can begin to heal our national soul.

Sweeping our crimes under the rug will not suffice. We must face the music, as bitter as it might be.

So draw back the curtain of secrecy, and let the sun shine in. To do any less only perpetuates the crimes already committed and depicted in the photos, like a murderer coming to the grave of his victim to defile the body.

And if these photos necessarilly lead to a reckoning to those in charge at the time of the depicted acts, so be it. We permitted George W. Bush to sow the wind. It is our national duty to reap his whirlwind. Let that be George the Lesser's legacy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'll Take Steroids for $250 Million, Alex

The steroids scandal in baseball has been raging in the press lately, and next to political talk radio I listen sports talk radio. Who needs music at my age, anyway?

I want to begin with a statement that I was never a fan of Alex Rodriguez, nor Barry Bonds, nor Roger Clemens, nor Manny Ramirez, though I recognize[d] their talents, and have enjoyed watching their play. I am not defending them becaue I like them, nor because they are or were on a team I root for.

Rather, I feel that the steroids scandal is a prime example of two dynamics: 1) the inherent corruption and incompetence of Bud Selig [the other possible title for this post was "Bring Me the Head of Bud Selig" but I thought better of it], and 2) that sports writers don't actually like sports, and rather, hate sports and are jealous of athletes.

First, it is clear that Bud Selig is a man that has never recognized the gift that he has been given, and rather, has crapped all over being commissioner of baseball from the word go. It was on his watch that there was the STRIKE, where a World Series was not played. World War II didn't stop the World Series. Baseball was going through a self inflicted death spiral. Attendance was down, youth interest was ebbing, and people started to stop caring.

Enter the 1998 season. This is the season that saved baseball. I don't care if you, my readers, don't like that statement. It's true. Mark McGwire, as nice a guy who ever played the game, and Sammy Sosa, the Dominican version of McGwire, made a run at a hallowed statistic, Roger Maris' single season home run record. And they both beat it, and the baseball world was overjoyed. The Maris family was part of the celebration. And everyone, EVERYONE knew at least McGwire was taking something for a little oomph. Hell, he had it in his locker for all to see: androstenedione, aka andro.

Andro is a precursor to steroids, which is like saying you're not drinking gasoline, but rather petroleum. There were some questions, but mostly people, and by people I mean the sports media and the writers, were concerned about juiced balls and different bats [ash v. maple].

The point is that everyone, EVERYONE ate at the same trough, had their ratings go through the roof, and we were all happy about it.

Now, a couple of miscontents, and you know who you are, Mr. Canseco [apparently still on the sauce], Ms. I'm Writing a Book About A-Rod Tipping Pitches After I Ruined Those Duke Lacrosse Players' Lives, Mr.'s We Are Writing About Roger Clemens Because Baseball Was Headed To A Reckoning, and the rest of you, think they are going to somehow save the world by revealing that, gasp, athletes try to be the best athletes they can.

Oh, Lord. How can this be. Not baseball. Is. Nothing. Sacred.

All of you self appointed defenders of sports morality, please stop. You have now successfully ruined baseball for a generation, all for the sake of the greasy dollars in your wallets. The two groups of people who have not benefited from this are the two most important ones: the fans and the players. Without either, the sports writers have nothing to write about..........[suddenly I hear crickets].

So, the results are that all of the great players from my childhood to the present are now irrevocably tainted because a few pencil necked geeks have a numbers fetish. And yes, dear readers, that is what this comes down to.

You see, basbeall, unlike every other sport, has a numbers fetish. No other sport holds number as dear as baseball. In baseball number are meant to be immortalized, while in other sports records are there to be broken, pure and simple. That's why there are just celebrations, and no equivocations, when someone in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or any other sport, be it cycling, NASCAR, Formula 1, etc., breaks a record.

That's why the predeccesors of today's writers, who hated athletes as much as today, drove Roger Maris, as stand up a guy there was, nearly to insanity, because Roger had the temerity to approach a hallowed number.

And even after he broke Babe Ruth's record, basbeball failed to honor him, and put an asterisk there, as he out-Ruthed Ruth's Ruthian accomplishment over 23 more games than Ruth. Happily, this has since been corrected.

However, as Ruth has fallen by the wayside over the years, and since 1998, when Ruth was relegated to 3rd and then 4th on the single season HR list, the grumbles have grown louder. It reached a fever pitch as the hallowed 755 suddenly seemed to be in reach of one of the most reviled, yet most talented players to ever lace up spikes, Barry Bonds.

And since I believe that most of the numbers fetish begins with Ruth, let's take a hard look at the Babe. I want to begin by saying that, like everyone who ever loved basball, Babe Ruth is like a god. I am in no way intending on tearing him down, only to put him, and his accomplishments, in perspective.

One, he is the greatest athlete to ever play a sport, and that's just because he put baseball on the map, and lead the way for all other major sports. He was also a titan in his time and hereafter. He pitched as well as he could hit, which is unheard of to this day. But he was an overweight, hard drinking womanizer. He very likely showed up hungover to games. Yet he put up his enormous numbers.

In fact, Ruth's numbers were so out of proportion that he hit more homeruns in some seasons than some of his competing teams. Hmmmmmm.......

Now, steroids were not invented in the 1990's. They were invented in the 1890's. Am I saying Ruth took steroids? No. But he could have, and no one would know.

Amphetamines were also big, and were often used like vitamins, injected regularly.

Cocaine was also legal back then, and it was acceptable to do. Am stating that Ruth did cocaine? No I am suggesting that it was available and he might have done it for a pick-me-up before day games.

Further, Ruth never took a pitch from an African-American or Latino player, notwithstanding that the Negro Leagues had some of the best players of the day. Therefore, there is no debate that Ruth's Ruthian accomplishments at times came at the expense of some second rate pitchers.

Also, back in those days, the homerun was more elusive, and Ruth is the one who made the homerun popular. And I am sure that various owners discovered that Babe Ruth's homeruns put fannies in seats. We know that pitchers in the more recent past have grooved pitches for the benfit of batters, most famously to one Mickey Mantle. Therefore, it is not unlikely one or more of Ruth's famous 714 was through some charity.

Also, Ruth never played a night game, and relief pitching, much less middle relief, was unheard of. All of this tends to show that Babe Ruth is the bigger anomaly, rather than hitters in the 1990's starting to hit 40+ homeruns. Remember, the 1990's is a time of great expansion in the Major Leagues, and for the sake of argument, pitching got watered down.

In short, if you want to label eras and put asterisks on records, start with Babe Ruth.

So here we are, now an entire generation devoid of heroes. Even the guys who were probably clean - the Tony Gwynn's and Griffey, Jr.'s, are under a cloud of suspicion because of when they played. And now Mike Piazza. And for what? Doing what we wanted them to do all along - hit the stuffing out of baseballs.

And we also have had Hank Aaron stepping into the fray. Look, I love Hammerin' Hank as much as the next fan, and of all people he should understand that numbers are not meant to stand. I know he spent a long career amassing his numbers, and he deserves all the credit history has for him. Plus, he did it in the face of death threats and racism, which only increase his accomplishment. But numbers are meant to fall, and that's all there is about it.

And it would be no slight on Mr. Aaron if, in his heart of hearts, he knows he would have taken something to increase his already incredible talents, or to elongate his great career. After all, these are men playing a boy's game, and what a game it is.

And also, for the sake of argument, it is not impossible that Hank Aaron might have had an upper on an off day - there are legends of coffee pots labelled "leaded" and "unleaded" in dugouts during his days in the league. And even if he didn't partake, the bulk did.

But now for people to step in, after the fact, after stuffing their faces in 1998 like they were at a Roman Orgy, and call these players cheaters is abominable. It isn't cheating the sport is it isn't agains the rules. It isn't cheating if the sport doesn't test for substances, while it does test for marijuana. And if a large proportion of the players are using - there are over 100 players in the Mitchell Report, making that about 15% of the players, and we all know that number is woefully low - then that's the game, and therefore not cheating.

And now we have the case of Manny Ramirez. While I admire the man's bat, I would not want him on my team. I don't like athletes who only care about salary and not winning. Don't get me wrong - I don't begrudge a man looking out for himself, but quitting to get traded is terrible.

Manny has been suspended for taking a hormone known as hCG, aka human chorionic gonadotropin. Some say that men who take this hormone do so to elevate testosterone levels after long steroid use as the testes shrink as a result. Some men just need it for other medical conditions. Either way, I couldn't give a rat's posterior. In reality, it is no one's business who is doing what or why. Maybe the Dodgers have a right, as they pay Manny for his physical condition. But why should Manny have to ask permission to MLB? Let's be frank about it: let's say Manny's condition is the embarasssing kind, where this is about a testicle problem. Few men, much less modern day elite athletes, want to tell anybody about shrinking testicles. And does anyone think that if Manny asked MLB in secret that the news of his small testicles wouldn't be making front page, or at least back page, news all over the country in less time than it takes him to run to first?

See, there is this thing called doctor/patient privilege, and this is why it is there. Medical records are secret and confidential for a reason, and salacious details like this are one of them. And so what if past steroid use, before the current testing regime was in place [tests which he never failed] caused him to need this hormone? It returns right back to it is none of our, nor MLB's, business. Is MLB going to start to practice medicine? I should hope not. It can barely run a league for the second most popular sport in the country.

And it is inescapable that it is the writers who are to blame for this scandal, as they are the ones lining their pockets with their exclusive book deals and their source free allegations. It is they who put this front and center. And it is they who make an issue out of it, and it is they who vote for admission to the holiest of holies: Cooperstown.

This is what it all comes down to. The Hall of Fame. And now we have every writer opining twelve ways til Sunday about who should get in, whose numbers are tainted, and who's a disgrace and/or a cheater. Ya know who the cheaters are: the writers. They are cheating me of my pasttime and my joy. I love homeruns and power pitching. Are you telling me that Roger Clemens, jerkoff that he is, didn't bring it every time he stepped onto that mound? That it wasn't his arm whipping that ball at 95 mph? I don't care what workout he did, or what he took - that was him. And to try to take him away from all of us to sell some cheap, badly written books, based upon some loser with a needle he kept in a soda can, is lousy, pure and simple.

Does anyone know what "chain of custody" means?

If Roger Clemens isn't great, and doesn't eserve the Hall, then who does, Mr. Sports Writer? Because I have two utterly devastating syllables for all of you holier-than-thou-pontificating-I-should-get-a-real-job losers: Ty Cobb.

If Ty Cobb deserves the Hall, then I don't know what else to say to the writers.