Archive for September, 2006

The Ds versus the Rs, and Predictions

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Ever hopeful, ever optimistic, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist made the statement that Republicans would definitively retain control of the Senate following the coming 2006 midterm elections, with the statement that all you have to do is look down the list of seats and it just doesn’t add up for the Democrats.

My electoral politics as spectator sports guess had me a few months ago looking down the list and settling on a Democratic pick up of five seats, meaning the Ds would end up at a 50-50 tie with the Rs– newly elected “Socialist” Senator Bernie Sanders a Democrat for just about any real practical purpose; Dick Cheney is the tie-breaker that retains control for the Republicans. I may have been taking artistic license over science here, as I went ahead and smirkily danced the House race to a “Ds fall 2 or 4 short of House Majority” tact, the artistic vision being that the Ds creep just short all the way around. Time marches on, and it is difficult not to see Nancy Pelosi taking the Speaker’s gavel in 2006. For the Senate, my calculations “looking down the list” gets me a slightly different mathematical logarithm, but has me arriving at the same number.

I have three tiers of vulnerable Republican seats. Pennsylvania and Montana looked almost certainly as the the Ds would be victorious over the Rs. This remains the case. My early calculation with Ohio, Rhode Island, and Missouri had the Ds winning two out of three. I’ll go ahead and say now that the Ds win all three of these races — Missouri being the trickiest of the lot to call, but I have to take a leap of faith somewhere here. My third tier — Virginia, Tennessee, and Arizona — I thought the Ds would swing through by election time and pick the lot of one — and don’t ask me which one. Events have unfolded such that I now believe Jim Webb will defeat George Allen and be the next Senator from the state of Virginia. This is now an abject lesson in the speed of which a politician can fall from grace through a smattering of gaffes and the airing of skeletons thought to be safely tucked away into the closet, as George Allen falls from Republican presidential front runner simply oiling up his machinery in a Senate race run through to a place in the political mortuary.

Supposedly Tennessee’s Republican candidate is gaffing a bit as of late. I am suspicious, and think that some liberal blogs are seeing it through blue-tinted glasses. What is a gaffe? I had thought in 2004 that the Republican candidate in Oklahoma had been pulling off gaffes aplenty with stupid saying after stupid saying. Don’t you know that the problem of Lesbianism has gotten so bad that in some Southeast Oklahoma schools, teachers can’t even let two girls go to the bathroom at the same time? Apparently these didn’t amount to a hill of beans — meaning that Oklahoma is the very definition of Hell. I keep thinking of Tennessee 2006 as a sort of Oklahoma 2004 in how this is playing out, though the Republican is necessarily not as far to the right and looks more reasonable. This is to say that the Democratic candidate’s only strategy for victory is a run against the Democratic Party proper — a capricious limb to be out on. It remains the rosetta stone in my mind, and that of the DNC, for whether the Ds will gain control of the Senate. This is because…

My calculations have changed with the seats the Ds currently hold. I had the Ds winning all of them. Now I believe New Jersey will change hands. A minorly corrupt and appointed Democratic figure is running behind the son (why do people so often elect the offspring of popular politicos?) of a post 9/11 lionized governor.

Thus I arrive at 50 – 50. Where my prognostication is wrong I do not know. You tell me.

The ongoing discussion of the age

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Why the heck am I having a problem finding either the transcript for last week’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” or simply transcripted quotations from Bill Frist being asked — or noted to about — the US persecuting Japan after World War Two for waterboarding and where our moral ground in complaining would be if — say — North Korea were to practive “waterboarding”?

It’s weird. I see the video, at crooks and liars — which reliably excerpts out the key parts in print but doesn’t for this instance. And I see the ABC site leading hypothetically to transcripts, and instead leading to a dead end. Thus… nothing.

At any rate, Bill Frist would not offer his opinion on such “hypothetical” scenarios, and there we all are. In a few months, Bill Frist’s political career will be all but over, as he embarks on an ill-fated presidential bid — a chicken scuttling about with his head cut off, and we can discard his slimy name from our current event political rolodex, so perhaps it is immaterial that I do not have his quote ready for use.

We’ve arrived at a moment in our vox populis where the argument is scurried about that — why, our enemies are not abiding by these rules whatever the heck we do. A simple lesson from the realm of the Cub, Boy, and Eagle Scouts — You hold yourself to a higher standard — is lost on the side of High Morality.

Currently the debate is waged on whether the newest torture law allows for that torture technique known as — Raping. The answer is inconclusive — the language is blurred. Which is ironic, you would think, because Bush’s static line has been about how the Geneva Accords are vague, and all we’re really doing is clarifying its meaning.

in conversation

Friday, September 29th, 2006

“My siblings hate me because they’re all liberal Democrats and I’m a conservative Independent.”
“Hm. That doesn’t make sense. You kind of just have to put that aside. ‘Politics stops at the kitchen table’, as they say. There are more and other important things in life.”
“Not to them. Actually what pisses them off is that I have a photograph of me, like at the age of 4, meeting John F Kennedy — their hero. I could care less about him and that I met him, and yet I shook his hand. They never did.”
“Weird. Jealousy.”

On a Need to Know Basis. They need to know about Afghanistan. We need to know about Annie Leibovitz.

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Newsweek offered different covers overseas and at home this week, featuring a close look at violence in Afghanistan for international readers called “Losing Afghanistan” while its U.S. edition focused on photographer Annie Leibovitz for a story titled “My Life in Pictures.”

International editor Fareed Zakaria said the magazines often have different covers because they are tailored to different audiences overseas and in the United States. In the U.S., Newsweek is a mass-circulation magazine with a broad reach, while overseas it “is a somewhat more upmarket magazine for internationally minded people who travel a lot,” he said.

“Afghanistan is sort of the first victory in the war on terror. For that to be going badly is tremendous,” Zakaria said. International editions feature a photograph of what appears to be a Taliban fighter with a grenade launcher.

U.S. editions featured a photo of Leibovitz, one of America’s premier photographers, on the cover with several children.

Zakaria noted that the Afghanistan story was also promoted on the cover of the U.S. editions, and that the magazine had negotiated an exclusive for Leibovitz’s new book.


Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

The sign of the enduring lameness of the Democratic Party, one which manifests itself exactly as such with alarming frequency, was shown in the party’s deference to Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham when those three spoke up to battle down the hatchets of Bush’s current war against the Geneva Convention. Essentially, the Democratic Party does not believe it itself, or members attached to it, has the credibility to make any comments — and it’s good of McCain, Warner, and Graham to speak and “let them be our guide”. McCain — tortured in Vietnam; Graham — a former JAG officer; Warner — well, I’m pretty sure he was identified as something or other of major import.

This leads to there being no real out for when McCain, Warner, and Graham (with Arlen Specter) eventually craft something that meets roughly what Bush desires. And the questions loom over the Democratic Party for all eternity. It took a journey from a normally uber-hawkish Democratic Party house-member — essentially a house member for the delegation of the Pentagon — Jack Murtha — for the Democratic Party to come to an official anti-Iraq War position. The story of how that happened, from behind closed doors, appears to have been with prodding from Nancy Pelosi — who herself did not “have the credentials” to take any stand for public consumption. (How is she supposed to work as Speaker of the House, and public office of a majority party “without the credentials” or credibility on any number of items, we shall see.)

Compromises as they may be

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Take a quick moment to reload John F Kennedy’s innagural address. The neo-conservatives (in today’s American political parlance seemingly meaning only “war-fans”) have always been quite fond of paragraph number four.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

I’m pondering paragraph number three these days, specifically the final sentence fragment, starting with the words “unwilling to witness of permit the slow undoing”.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage— and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Do we fully believe Kennedy? That’s probably immaterial. Nonetheless, we can march back to the Bill of Rights and mark the sentence They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Rights such that they are — Enemy is Enemy — corect?, but the idea still is a meaninglessness of circumstances and one supposed Nazi is the same as one supposed al Qaeda, (Leave aside what you may with “the creator” and quibble with this supposed “watch-maker” proof of God …Why, someone needed to have created the watch, right?)

I’ll wait to see if the next time someone quotes Kennedy’s fourth paragraph, they can slide back and cover the important part of the third paragraph. I doubt it.


Monday, September 25th, 2006

The other night I had one of those nights where I could have really gone for some pseudoephedrine-infused drug medicine… NightQuil. Which is to say I could have used something that would have knocked me out cold and allowed my body’s anti-bodies to kill off the army of germs that had invaded my body for the night.

As it is, the state of Oregon has banned any medicines containing pseudoephedrine, except I believe that which is prescribed by a doctor. It is a function of the War on Meth, and an example of throwing the baby out with the bath water. To undercut a peripherial cause of the Meth Problem we throw out these drugs of once every six month or so use — because the previous solution, behind the counter, id required, limited limited limited — apparently gets us nowhere.

At the time the law was passed, my biggest complaint was in how the Oregonian was reporting it. The Oregonian seemed to have seeped itself nicely into the government line, which is to say it presented two “commoner people’s” remarks — the “Two Sides of the Story”, as it were. First, “A necessary step for the necessary good.” And the flip side, such that it is a flip side, “Well, it’s disappointing, but I suppose it’ll help.” I tend to resent this, and ponder whether I can posthumously inject a quote into the article of a stronger opinion than that which I actually held (it’s a bit difficult to have a strong opinion on a matter that’s not going to affect me or anyone I know very often).

I will note that the drug manufacturers that used to have advertisements saying that they’re “fighting the war on Meth” with a psuedo-alternative no longer advertise as such. Their substitute was found to be a placebo. Placebos work half-way reasonably well until they’re found to be placebos.

A case of Clusterfuck “Huh?”

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

A Letter to the Oregonian: We were aghast to learn of the killing this weekend of Tigard-area teen Lukus Glenn by Washington County sheriff’s deputies (“Police kill 18-year-old near Tigard,” Sept. 17, and “Mom: 9-1-1 call was to help son,” Sept. 18).

Something went terribly wrong here. Having raised three children, we know that there are occasions when teens may be out of control and defiant, especially if alcohol is involved. Glenn’s parents did exactly the right thing when their son appeared to be out of control and self-destructive: They asked for help.

They expected that their son might have to be arrested for the night, sober up and face the consequences of extreme behavior. The last thing they expected, we’re sure, was that law enforcement officers would escalate the situation even further.

If Glenn had been a wild animal cornered in the neighborhood, chances are he would have been tranquilized and transported unconscious back to a friendly habitat. Why couldn’t that have happened for Glenn?

We weren’t there, and we don’t know the exact circumstances as events played out, but we suggest a different type of training for the officers is needed. Defiance is not sufficient reason to take a life.

Bring out the Tasers, stall, negotiate, do something else — anything rather than escalate to final justice so quickly.

Our sympathies go out to the parents who raised a promising young man who just needed a little help and some extra discipline getting through the adolescent growing pains. He deserved a better outcome, and so did they.

Some key details of the story, found here:

By then, another friend had driven Lukus’ car to the Glenns’ house. His parents heard windows smashing. Their son punched out a back window of one of their cars, then grabbed a shovel and knocked out a window on another.

Glenn dropped the shovel, Morales said, and pulled out a knife. “Me and his dad tried to jump toward him and stop him,” Morales said, but Glenn moved away and threatened to hurt himself.

“He was not trying to hurt us,” Morales said. “I told him, ‘I’ll back away, but please put the knife down.’ ”

When Hope Glenn saw her son put a knife to his throat and refuse to move it, she called 9-1-1. “I said, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s suicidal.’ ”

Morales said he saw three officers run into the front yard, guns drawn. They told Morales to drop to the ground and told Brad Glenn to go inside. Glenn’s grandmother was at her door and they screamed at her to get inside, Hope Glenn and Morales said.

Morales said the officers yelled at Lukus Glenn to drop the knife. Glenn had the knife in his right hand and kept telling the officers to “stop screaming, stop yelling,” Morales said.

Hope Glenn watched from her windows and said she pleaded on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, “Don’t let them shoot him. He’s my only son.”

Another officer fired several bean-bag rounds, which didn’t knock Lukus Glenn down.

“He just kind of looked at them,” Morales said.

Glenn grabbed both sides of his baggy pants and turned toward the house, gasping, his mother said.

Then four to five gunshots followed.

“I remember seeing him falling as I was screaming his name,” Morales said.

The Glenns watched their son fall on the front step outside his grandmother’s room. Hope Glenn was screaming and had to be treated later for chest pains.

The two deputies are on routine leave while the case is investigated. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bob Day said all deputies are trained in crisis intervention techniques. After Lukus Glenn refused to drop the knife, the deputies felt they had no choice but to shoot him before he went inside his home, a prepared sheriff’s statement said.

Um. Kid. Was bashing in car windows. Drunk and disorderly. Refused to give up his knife. Elsewhere I saw that he threatened death.

So I turn to Portland Indymedia, and get more of the same as this letter, I assume from entirely different personality types (ie Suburban dad versus Left-wing rebel Che t-shirt wearer):

I am shocked at this totally unecessary death. A kid who is angry, who is depressed and maybe gets a violent tantrum. This can be any of our children. Heck, this could be my teenage daughter, and It was the way I was way back when. Since when is shooting a means to calm down a boy in obvious pain and frustration? I can’t believe the Tigard Police is not trained to deal with this differently. I am completely appalled.

“Violent Tantrum” is an understatement. What the heck were the police supposed to do? I suppose the Che-t shirt wearers have the excuse that they are instinctively anti-cop, but the Tigarites are all about “Law and Order”: What’s their excuse for downplaying the “Violent Tantrum”? A bias toward upstanding high school football players?