Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rudy The Rapist

Those who aid and abet in the commission of a felony, or assist in obstructing the investigation of one, are as guilty of that felony as those who actually committed the crime. That is a central tenet to the American jurisprudence system.

Which is why this piece is titled the way it is, because of this story:
WASHINGTON -- Rudolph Giuliani will stand by his longtime friend Msgr. Alan Placa despite a new call by an advocacy group for priest-abuse victims to fire the suspended priest from his consulting firm, a Giuliani aide said Friday.[...]

In 2002, after Newsday reported accusatons he had molested students decades earlier, the Diocese of Rockville Centre placed Placa on administrative leave. In 2003, a Suffolk County grand jury report cited the accusations by three of his former students and found Placa used his position as diocese vice chancellor to stifle other priest-abuse complaints.

Placa, who insists he is innocent, faced no criminal charges.
Whether Placa himself abused minors is in doubt, although he has been accused of the crime.

But note that Placa stifled complaints, and by extension, investigation into those complaints. This is akin to refusing a breathalyzer after a traffic stop, and that, my friends, is considered an admission of guilt and can get you a suspended license.

Giuliani's Achilles' heel may not turn out to be his irascible temper and inability to think of anyone but Rudy. It may, in fact, be his hubris in believing that he should stick by his friends, no matter how ugly their behavior has been.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Petula Clark - Downtown

She's still not bad looking...I might let her have my baby, but probably through artificial insemination.

Friday Kitten Blogging

I iz ennoid becuz mah Dadby forgot to take mah pitcher thiz week!

Becuz mi fanz desserve da best, I can has Dadby post more pitchers!

Nobody Asked Me, But...

I've gotten enough feedback on this regular feature of Simply Left Behind that tells me I ought to make it even more regular...presumably without forcefeeding it a bran muffin.

And it's true, I've viewed NAM,B as a fallback option when I really have nothing to say, but don't want to spend a day not saying it.

So without further ado...

1) New York state politics is heating up, as the GOP finds itself on the ropes of irrelevancy. State Senate leader Joseph Bruno is the last Republican in New York with any stroke, and he's under several clouds of suspicion. This has national implications, particularly if Giuliani, Clinton, and Bloomberg all end up Presidential nominees after the dust settles next summer.

2) It pays to check your doctor's credentials. Always.

3) Fendi will hold a fashion show on the Great Wall of China. What shoes go with "brick"?

4) NASA is having problems landing the shuttle. Again. it seems to me that more money is spent getting this puppy down from space than getting a mission launched. Maybe the Space Center needs to be moved someplace with friendlier weather? The Mojave Desert springs to mind.

5) Who cares? Seriously?

6) Poor George Clooney. Maybe this is payback for Oceans 13?

7) The US is predicting that Robert Mugabe, the tyrant-president of Zimbabwe, will be deposed shortly because of hyperinflation, rampant unemployment, and more and more people in dire need of food, clothing, and shelter, struggling with poverty. The good news for Zimbabwe is, he's still a better president than we have. On a related note, it seems as though much of Africa is reaching a flash point, in tandem with much of the Middle East.

8) Iwo Jima is no more.

9) If you thought our trade deficit was bad enough, get ready for real trouble. European governments are now free to bolster industries within their borders. This bodes ill for the high tech sector in America, particularly Apple and Microsoft, which hold dominant positions in their sectors in Europe. Who led this fight in Europe? The "conservative" Nicolas Sarkozy. This is the guy our economic royalists were touting as bringing American capitalism to Europe, and they were right, but boy is it about to backfire!

10) Every man ought to own at least one Hawaiian shirt. Every man. And most women, while we're at it.

11) I'm more and more amazed that the Mets have managed to cling to first place. They haven't won back to back game this entire month, something they hadn't done since the early 60s. When Ricky Ledee is your sparkplug, you have serious troubles.

12) At first glance, it looks like the Dems turned their backs on a core constituency. I think in this case, however, the union screwed up, and misjudged how serious Congress needs to get about CAFE standards. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and so while Nissan Motors backed the tougher mileage standards, GM, Ford, and Chrysler stood solidly behind...their unions???

13) Rudy claims he didn't want to politicize the Iraq Study Group. So why did he sign on in the first place?

14) Another nail in the coffin for the average American.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


No precis. Let's see if you can figure out what caught my eye here:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday moved to block President George W. Bush from developing a new generation of atomic warheads, as Democratic and Republican opponents said the administration had not developed an adequate post-Cold War nuclear strategy.

A fiscal 2008 bill funding Department of Energy weapons programs that is moving through the House provided none of Bush's nearly $89 million request for continuing to develop the new warheads over the next few decades at a multibillion-dollar cost.

A vote on passing the overall bill was delayed until sometime after a July 4 holiday recess so lawmakers can review a series of unrelated projects that will be attached to the legislation.

The bill, which faces a White House veto threat because it would spend $1.1 billion more than Bush requested, still must be debated by the Senate.
Did you know that the Department of Defense owns no nuclear weapons? Not a one.

They're all loaned out by the Department of Energy!

If that isn't the single stupidest idea that mankind has ever thought up, right after inventing the A bomb in the first place, then I don't know what is.

Yes, nuclear weapons entail nuclear energy, and energy falls under the purview of the DOE.

Does this mean that all those bombs we've been dropping in Iraq and Afghanistan and back in the day, in Vietnam, the ones that contained gasoline, are also all owned by the DOE?

Apparently not.

This stop could not come at a more appropriate time, as we attempt to bully Iran into abandoning it's nuclear weapons program and as North Korea lobs ever more "test" missiles into the straits between itself and Japan.

Although this new technology has been called a replacement for weapons already in our arsenal, one questions whether that move is necesssary. After all, the designs have been upgraded, which means they'll need to be tested, which would violate several treaties the US has signed.

Not that Bush has been quick to acknowledge any treaty the US has signed.

Further, there's no real reason why the existing weapons could not be maintained indefinitely with some refurbishing. The sole reason to possibly support this new program is the possibility that, in toto, the program might reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our arsenal.

Those assurances, although hinted at, have never been formally acknowledged, and to think that the Pentagon would get rid of nukes to have these is like thinking that you could suddenly stop using your left leg, unless you had to.

What this country needs, and what the Department of Energy could have been doing for decades, is a comprehensive nuclear strategy, not just involving our weaponry, but research and development in the safe use of nuclear energy, such that we can raise the safety factor of nuclear power all around. We need safety protocols that go beyond a loud claxon when a plant shuts down, and we need fewer weapons.

Another policy plank in the Actor212 NotPresident campaign platform, by the way.

Congress may be dragging the DoE into this direction, kicking and screaming, by the way:
The legislation would significantly increase nuclear nonproliferation activities, including money to secure nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union and to increase efforts to keep them from entering the United States.
Amen to that.

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Lewis Black on Fossils and Creationism

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb....

Oh brother, part II:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton spoofed the final episode of the hit series "The Sopranos" in a video telling supporters the winning anthem for her 2008 U.S. presidential campaign was Celine Dion's "You and I."

Canadian Dion's song had been a write-in idea but received the most votes out of the more than 200,000 cast, beating out "I'm a Believer" by Smash Mouth, "Beautiful Day" by Irish rockers U2 and Canadian Shania Twain's "Rock This Country!" among others.
On so many technical levels, this whole song roll out is so wrong.

1) Celine Dion is Canadian. That's no knock against her: some of our best and most beloved Americans are Canadian. But she's NOT a native-born citizen! I can only begin to imagine how the sniping will happen on this one. I expect South Park to take a lot of time, figuring out how to best skewer this. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

2) The song, "You And I". Huh? WTF?
High above the mountains
Far across the sea
I can hear your voice
Callin' out to me

Brighter than the sun
And darker than the night
I can see your love
Shinin' like a light

And on and on this earth spins like a carousel
If I could travel across the world
The secrets I would tell

You and I were meant to fly
Higher than the clouds
We'll sail across the sky
So come with me
And you will feel
That we're soaring
That we're floating up so high
'cause you and I were meant to fly

Sailng like a bird
High on the wings of love
Take me higher than
All the stars above

I'm burnin',yearnin', gently turnin' round and round
I'm always rising up
I never want to come back down

You and I were meant to fly
Higher than the clouds
We'll sail across the sky
So come with me
And you will feel
That we're soaring
That we're floating up so high
'cause you and I were meant to fly

Oh yeah!

You and I were meant to fly
Higher than the clouds
We'll sail across the sky
So come with me
And you will feel
That you and I were meant to fly
You and I were meant to fly
Someone please pass me a barf bag...

FORCRISSAKE, HIL! YOU'RE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, NOT PROM QUEEN! Fuck the sappy shit! Get a song that reflects what you're going to do, not some Cinderella-fucking-fantasy of waiting for "Prince Charming" to show up. Strap on a set of stones-- borrow Bill's if you have to-- and buckle up the boots! This is THE most important election since, well, 1960, if not 1992, and you're acting like the starry eyed little girl everyone is afraid you might turn out to be!

3) Speaking of's the video to introduce the song.

OK, high marks for cleverness, but IN THE VIDEO IS THE SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE USED!

You have Bill Clinton sitting across from you. My god, the man who saved America from 19 terror attacks! The man who made the economy greater than any economy in the history of the planet! The man who presided over eight years of abject peace and unparalleled wealth!

What was HIS campaign song?

If you wake up and don't want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you've done
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do

All I want is to see you smile
If it takes just a little while
I know you don't believe that it's true
I never meant any harm to you

Don't you look back
Don't you look back
So what's playing in the video?
Just a small town girl, livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south detroit
He took the midnight train goin anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Holy fucking shit! You mean to tell me you hired all those consultants, all those advisors, all those campaign veterans, and you make a fucking bogus, Bush league mistake like having a goddamned tin ear?

Holy crap! In this one song, as much as nearly any Bruce Springsteen song, you have the soul of the average American, trying to get that one inch further up the tracks, and you choose some mealy-mouthed crappy treacle that means nothing to no one who doesn't still keep a diary with a fucking lock on it????

AND it's the perfect reminder, the perfect link, the perfect follow up to memories of the halcyon days of your husband's administration, AND I can guarandamntee you that people would respond to this song on a far more personal and visceral level.

Are you TRYING to lose, missy?????

Hillary, for $100,000, I will come over to the house in Chappaqua...don't bother giving me directions, I can find my way...and program your iPod with enough tunes, (30Gb) that don't suck, that are better than this shit.

Fer crissake!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Carlitized For Your Comfort

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Fuck, I have to try a lot harder...

I Wonder If They've Herd Of This?

As a subscriber to National Geographic magazine, I get the new issue each month about a week ahead of the newsstand release. I say all this because I can't link to the article I'm going to use today, but as I was reading the news this morning, I came across a story that suddenly made it all very relevant.

You're aware that many animals engage in "swarm mentality." Ants and bees are of course the best known swarming creatures. Ants swarm to find food, bees swarm to find food and new nesting locations. Many small birds flock, small fish school, even larger animals like zebras and wildebeest swarm in order to minimize the ability of predators to attack. Swarms and herds present confusing, swirling targets. Indeed, some animals have taken it to an art form, such that they will have some animals lag a little, like the threads off a worn curtain, then collapse those threads into the herd again, leaving the predator gasping for breath as he can't quite focus his efforts on one beast.

An individual animal is dumb, but collectively, animals can be pretty intelligent, right down to the ants that can create bridges across a chasm in order to attain food.

I could go into the mechanisms behind this but that would be plagiarism and probably boring. Suffice it to say that a man is smart, but people are dumb, and you get a sense of how swarm behavior doesn't really work for people. Let a hungry lion loose in a crowd of humans, and he'll eat his fill.

There was one notable swarm behavior scenario that gets little notice in the media, but was wildly successful when it occured: during the demonstrations at the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle a few years back, a relatively small number of protestors were littered throughout the crowds with walkie-talkies and cell phones, and were able to apprise groups ahead of time of police countermeasures and forces, so that they could disperse and regroup elsehwere.

Swarm mentality relies on reliable communication, you see. Word of mouth, well, you've played the game "Telephone," I'm sure.

There's the backdrop to my morning, and I find this article waiting for me at Reuters:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military deployed 10,000 soldiers backed by attack helicopters in a big offensive against al Qaeda north of Baghdad on Tuesday as a truck bomber struck in the capital, killing 75 people near a Shi'ite mosque.

The offensive against al Qaeda around the city of Baquba in Diyala province, a stronghold of the Sunni Islamist group, is partly aimed at taking down car bomb networks that cause carnage in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq. It is one of the biggest military operations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One witness said a suicide bomber driving a truck rammed his vehicle into the Shi'ite Khilani mosque in Baghdad, destroying one of its walls and badly damaging the rest of the structure.
Send 10,000. Send 100,000. It won't matter, so long as the replacement rate of terrorists exceeds the kill rate.

Using the swarming model, if a school of baitfish senses a shark, say, nearby, it will automatically go into swarming behavior, creating a tight baitball. So long as it is able to maintain the baitball at a critical mass, the school as a whole will survive.

One shark will not succeed in decimating the school, nor two sharks. Add some dolphins, seals, and seagulls to the mix, and you've got a chance, but even then, enough baitfish will get away to propagate their DNA.

Similarly, Al Qaeda and the other terrorist groups in Iraq have been working a similar strategy: make the allies chase them all over Iraq, exhausting supplies, manpower and wasting energy chasing them where they used to be. When the allies move in on one town, the insurgents pack up quickly and scatter, picking yet another place to open up shop.

In other words, this car bomb shop in Baquba is long gone already. The insurgents, no doubt, left enough people behind to fight a rear guard action, and to keep the allied troops engaged long enough for them to resettle someplace else. Meanwhile, hundreds more Iraqis will die, and dozens more American troops.

To be precise about all this, there are only two ways to stop the insurgency. First, we can realize that we're pushing a boulder up an eternal hill, sit down and talk things out with them. Second, find out how they are communicating, and put an end to that.

10,000 troops will never accomplish that. Nor will torturing hundreds of random Iraqis in the hopes you'll find one person with knowledge. And given this administration's blatant incompetence in the intelligence arena, their bumbling, blind mishandling of all things intel, I don't see where they will engage the one tool that will allow them to infiltrate Al Qaeda, or at least its footsoldiers in Iraq.

This will require leadership, and Bush is fighting his own rear guard action.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Way To Go, U.S.A.

Oh brother.
KABUL (Reuters) - At least seven children were killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike on a religious school in Afghanistan, the coalition said on Monday, amid rising anger over civilian deaths from foreign military operations.

A U.S. military spokesman said some children who survived Sunday's raid said pupils had been forced by insurgents to stay inside the madrasa.

"We are truly sorry for the innocent lives lost in this attack," said Army Major Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman, in a statement.

"We had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building."
It has been said that air strikes are the first and last weapon in a nation's arsenal: you send in bombers first to soften up the enemy, then send in troops and then as you withdraw (or are defeated), you desperately fire up some missiles and fling them to a) cover your retreat and b) send in an indefensible weapon.

But a school?

If anyone wonders why the sign-up rates for Islamist terrorist groups is far higher than the rate at which we're killing them, well, here's exhibit A.

Let's pull out some caveats here before continuing: This was probably not a school like Columbine is a school in that you had a few bad apples alongside a large majority of sheep-like students who only wanted to finish class and go outside and play. You probably, probably, had a large number of boys being inculcated to hate Americans (as if they really needed help after the past six years). And terrorists do use children as shields, we've learned that from watching the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts of the past decades.

Lastly, Afghanistan is a war that nearly everyone can at least, in theory, get behind (or at least not hate quite so much). It's where Al Qaeda was allowed to foment terror, the Taliban were a really nasty ugly bunch of pricks, and we had little if any idea of what weaponry they had been able to get their hands on--although no one was accusing them of possessing WMD's, you'll notice. Most Americans could understand an escalation in Afghanistan, a "surge," if you will.

Nevertheless, does anyone in their right mind think lobbing a few missiles at a school was a good idea?

This is a circumstance that cried out for boots on the ground, for a strike team or hell, even a frikkin' battalion, to go in and go room to room.

Would children have died? Sure. Some of them with weapons in their hands, likely, and many others as an obstacle to NATO bullets. Would the count be as high as seven? Perhaps; no, probably higher.

The one thing there wouldn't have been, however, is a recruiting poster for thousands more Islamic warriors.

It seems to me that we've probably exhausted the really rigid, dogmatic wings of the Muslim religion. We've probably killed many of them, more likely many of them are still battling in such far-flung battlescapes as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and so on.

Now we're helping to recruit moderate Muslims who see the horrors and tragedies of these senseless attacks, and think we're bent on genocide. And who's to say we aren't? We have CNN, they have Al Jazeera, so one can only imagine what their version of "Fox News" is passing on to the rabid undereducated, just as our own Fox does to feed the red meat morons of our nation.

We've set in motion some horrific and cataclysmic historic cycles for not decades, but centuries to come through our blunders and bluster. Rome had its overexpansion and ultimately cracked from within AND without. We've clearly bitten off more than we can chew.

The Romans, at least, could be excused for ignorance of history. Bush was merely ignorant.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Second Chance For The Democrats

The recent weak-kneed Democrats buckled to Bush's veto, and agreed to substantially give up any opposition to funding the war, for reasons that are not particularly clear to me. I might be missing some polling data, or perhaps there's some behind-the-scenes arm twisting (photos of Harry Reid in drag?), but nonetheless, the Dems failed us.

Bush, in his signature hubris, has opened a second door, and this might be the last chance liberals around the nation have to get the Iraq funding linked to a time table:
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush blasted Democrats on Saturday for bloated annual federal spending bills and threatened to use his veto liberally, despite failing to carry out similar threats in the past.

Democrats who now control the Senate and the House of Representatives are crafting a dozen bills for more than $900 billion in government spending to fund items ranging from the space program and education to foreign aid and defense.

"I will use my veto to stop tax increases and runaway spending that threaten the strength of our economy and the prosperity of our people," Bush said in his weekly radio address. He was spending the weekend at his Texas ranch.
Now, I could focus on the inanity of calling an additional $20 billion above Bush's own budget proposal of $933 billion "bloating the budget." After all, it's barey a two percent increase, not even an inflation adjustment. Or I could rant about Bush's own inability to keep the Republican congresses of the past six years in check and never calling them on it. Or I could mock his terming our economy "strong" and saying our people are prosperous, when mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies are at all time highs, and wages have been stagnant (or worse) his entire presidency.

But I'm a positive kind of guy, and here I think we have a chance to help our Democratic brethren see the light of salvation, to take Jesus in their hearts and SHUT THIS WAR DOWN!

Currently, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are funded off budget. didn't know that? You would if you were a regular reader of Simply Left Behind since its inception.

Turns out that, unless there's a formal declaration of war, it's considered emergency spending, and so doesn't have to be accounted for in the run up to passing a budget (meaning you can add at least half a trillion to the budget bill for an accurate picture of our government's financial strength).

We need to find a Congresscritter with the guts to stand up on the floor and introduce into the funding bill a measure finally recognizing the costs of war, so that a figure is presented to the American people that accurately (or at least, ballparks for them) reflects what's coming out of our pockets and out of the budgets of thousands of more vital programs. Why is e. coli suddenly showing up in our food? Blame Iraq for sucking the FDA budget dry. Or melamine in our toothpaste? Blame Iraq for sucking our FTC budget dry. Why are people still having trouble getting disaster relief in New Orleans? Blame Iraq for sucking FEMA, the SBA, and myriad social service agencies, public and private, dry. Why are governors screaming about the lack of National Guard troops for domestic disasters? That's a no-brainer.

By introducing Iraq as a budget item, the Democrats have a chance to do two things: 1) Slap that silly grin off Bush's mug, and make him look abjectly silly for whining about $20 billion dollars and 2) force Bush to come up with a whole lot of 'splanations about why this is necessary and how it's affecting the rest of this country and gee, why are we still there, hemoragging our Cold War surplus and more?

I urge you all to contact your Congresspeople and Senators. This is an issue and an opportunity that even the bluest of districts can help contribute to.