Friday, March 09, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...


(go ahead, Rush, sue me...I'd love to see you in court)

It's never going to end for Rush Limbaugh. You almost feel sad for the way people are piling on...until you remember that his voice sparked a million angry morons to threaten and aggravate and harass one innocent woman.

1) Joe Gandelman points out what I mentioned yesterday: the more Rush got away with his B.S., the more he was likely to push the envelope. Rush was out of touch with reality, as this latest Tourettian episode indicates. About the only thing he was in touch with was the one or two listeners who actually still cared. Most people have him on as background noise at work.

2) And even when he's been wronged, he makes a complete jerk of himself, which means it's going to be that much harder for him to actually get advertisers on his show.

3) You know who else likes Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, the child-killing, child-sexual-abusing warlord in Uganda? Our own boytoy loving Rush!

4) Apparently, slapping women around means Rush ain't Tuff Enuff.

5) As Eugene Robinson points out, Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidates have been very easy on Rush. Is this indicative, as so many other bits of evidence point, that the Republican party hates women? Note to Mitt and Rick and the rest (not you, Newt. There's no hope): If you wouldn't want a stranger calling your mom or sister or wife that word, then you need to man up, nut up, and stand up to this fat four-time loser.

6) Many of my more moronic friends have decided this is a First Amendment issue. It's not. No one stopped Rush from saying what he said, but more important, the government did not censor his speech, which is all the First Amendment is about. He said what he said, and he's being forced to take responsibility for what he said.

Since Rush has always been about "personal responsibility," it's interesting to see him try to lay the blame off on everyone else except himself. My moron friends ought to be aware of this, because I've heard them say similar things, but kept my mouth shut for friendship sake.

7) GREAT news on the jobs front!

8) Which makes this story even more important to read.

9) You know that great, mild weather we had this winter? Well, it's going to make food prices leap, believe it or not. For all our vaunted food and growing technologies, the bee is still the single largest reason we have food on the table. If they're dead, so are we.

10) And we end as we always do, with a light-hearted, funny piece: Rush Limbaugh's show on his flagship station only had TWO paid advertisements out of 86 commercial spots.

Sing it with me, folks!

Nah nah nah nah!
Nah nah nah nah!
Hey! Hey! Hey!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Let's hope the Interwebs stay up long enough for you to read this.

Someone In The White House Reads This Blog

A few years ago, I posited that the best way to stimulate investment in green energy technology was to simply put a bounty of a billion dollars up, tax free: anyone who could develop a reliable source of renewable energy that produced at a rate equal to or greater than the BTU output of a similar fossil fuel engine would be given a billion dollars.
Well, President Obama comes surprisingly close to my proposal in his latest energy speech.

We're All Boson On This Bus


I Make A Prediction

Obama's second term will see him be a lot less compatible with the banksters.

Mystery Date

Remember South Carolina, 2010? Alvin Green? He was nominated by Democrats to run against Senator Jim DeMint, and lost by a two-to-one margin. Nobody knew where he got his funding from (it costs $10G just to file for the election) yet he beat a better funded Dem in the primary with 59% of the vote, despite not placing a single ad, or even printing up yard signs. Rumours were he was a planted candidate selected for his complete inability to run for Senate.
I think that may have been a test run of a new strategy Republicans are going to attempt more and more and it's happening again:

No one has seen him; no one has heard him speak. Outside of his home county of Pike, there is probably no Democrat who could recognize him on sight.

Tuesday, the Waverly resident won -- barely -- the popular vote in the 2nd District's Democratic primary, while Brad Wenstrup was busy in the Republican primary upending a GOP incumbent member of Congress, Jean Schmidt.

Smith came out ahead of Madeira's David Krikorian, who ran against Schmidt as an independent in 2008, by a scant 59 votes out of slightly more than 20,000 cast. Once the official count is done later this month, there may well be an automatic recount.

"I have never seen. I don't know him," Krikorian said Wednesday. He blamed his loss on a mysterious super PAC that may have paid for calls for Smith and other Democrats.

I smell a Turdblossom on the wind here...


The Dinosaur Walked

Rush, you're out of touch, and out of your league.

On one side, there is conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh doing what made him famous on the airwaves – throwing incendiary word bombs. This time, he dubbed a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a "prostitute” after she said at a congressional hearing that insurance should cover contraceptives.   

On the other side, a one-two punch: social media amplifying the concerns of a wave of protesters – particularly women – railing against what they saw as outdated misogyny.

I'm going to put this in terms that Sun Tzu would readily appreciate: asymetrical warfare.

Also known as "death by a billion tweets."

This isn't the first time Rush has mouthed off and been over-the-top offensive, and he's gotten away with it every time prior. It may very well end up being his last, however.

Why? Mostly because his criticism had been from outlets he could readily poo-poo as "liberal mainstream media," like media critics or talk show panels. It allowed him to focus his fire on those symbolic critics without ever addressing the underlying audience. He was fighting other dinosaurs and he was the biggest meanest of the herd. His targets were large and easily fought.

This allowed his fans, all 15 million of them (5% of the US population, believe it or not,) to discredit the criticism easily while ignoring the actual insulting behavior.

Yes, people have tried the boycott advertiser route with Rush in the past, and it hasn't worked because there hasn't been a critical mass-- it's much easier for conservative activists to gather the financial resources to launch an ad campaign-- achieved.

In the world of social media, that paradigm is broken, and in this spew Rush will lose. You don't need money to send a tweet to boycott Carbonite or Sears, and your hundred or thousand followers can read it. Multiply that by millions and then the tens of millions of re-tweets and replies, and next thing you know, AOL is synonymous with Rush Limbaugh.

And therefore, AOL becomes the responsible party for what Rush says. After all, they're paying big bucks to him to say it. Remember, tens and hundreds of millions of tweets will reinforce that appearance. That Rush is hemmoraghing advertisers-- despite his brash "they're coming back" claims to the contrary, he's still down a net of 35 by my count-- is not a surprise.

I mean, it's not like it's been a secret that Rush was offensive, but he had been able to clamp down the controversy quickly and it passed from public view.

Worse for Rush, it would be impossible to find each and every tweeter and start pulling their wings off: first, even if you could somehow devote the resources necessary to investigate tens of millions of tweets, you'd fail miserably in characterizing them because many of them are mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters of his listeners, which would diminish his audience right off the top, and second, the signal that sends is one of abject desperation.

Rush, predictably, blamed liberals. He resorted to "fighting the last war," and Sun Tzu would have chuckled. Meanwhile, the anthill he's stepped in is sending more and more ants (tweets and Tweeters) to attack him. And those tweets are flashing past the screens of people endlessly. Those free commercials for getting rid of Rush are far more common now than the actual commercials the advertisers paid for.

Of course, they ain't selling soap, they're selling the idea that advertising on Rush's program will get you a drop in sales. For companies like Sears, who just announced they were throwing in the towel, this amounts to suicide. And in an economy like ours, as feeble and straining as it is, bad news is not no news. It's bad news and that means a hit to the bottom line where today even a small hit can create a loss.

So Rush is left flailing not because he said something stupid-- as I pointed out, he's done that before and gotten away with it, so there's no reason to think he'd learned from those-- but because he failed to read the environment he was operating in. He believed he was safe from backlash, that if he battened down the hatches for a couple of days, the storm would pass.

It hasn't. It won't. And until Rush comes to God himself and makes a sincere apology taking responsibility for what he said and promising (as Keith Olbermann did last night) never to let it happen again, you can write his career off.


Can Iran Comply?

Yesterday, the Big Six-- the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain-- issued a join communique urging Iran to open up its nuclear facilities to inspection by the IAEA.
For the sake of world peace, one can only hope they can comply.
Deep in the background of this story should be the lessons learned on both sides from the run-up to the Iraq invasion: Saddam Hussein swore he had no weapons, even got some confirmation from former weapons inspectors like Scott Ritter (who was then mauled by the right-wing dirty tricks units) and from Joe Wilson (again, mauled).
Events proved Hussein was right. Ironically, all he had to do was open his borders again to the IAEA and he could have caused more embarassment to the Bush administration than the war itself eventually caused.
Indeed, a deeply paranoid and cynical person might make the claim that Hussein was complicit in the war, that he was made an offer he couldn't refuse to play his part in his own demise. More likely, tho, is that he simply assumed the US was bluffing, since the establishment of the No-Fly Zones had effectively cut Iraq off from the outside world and the economic embargo was taking its toll. "What's the point in attacking me?," I'm sure he thought at some point. "I have nothing, they know it, and I had nothing to do with September 11."
It's understandable that he'd grossly underestimate the desperation of the Bush administration to do something in the wake of 9-11.
If there's anything good to have come out of the Iraq debacle, it's that the US exposed itself as an unstable and easily antagonized world power. This is at best a dubious asset to have.
It could work to our benefit in the Iran situation, however. Ahmadinjead needs to keep recent history in mind as he makes his next calculation. Right now, the "cold war by proxy" being battled by America (through Israeli intelligence) and the Russians and/or Chinese (more likely the latter, since Russia has its own oil and gas reserves to worry about even if a spike in oil prices makes Putin happy) is a relatively stable place to be.
Yes, there are threats that it could go nuclear, in both senses of the word. A quick analysis of the whole mess indicates there's really no endgame, no way to provide a clear victory, short of armed conflict and the subjugation of either Iran or Israel. And that would require a withdrawal of the backing partners.
I think its precisely because there can be no winners that the situation-- and I stress this: right now-- is stable: it also means no one can lose, which means no one has to become desperate about survival. That doesn't mean that it can't become an armed conflict, by the way, but I think as with the real Cold War of the 60s and 70s, this will be done in ways that will mask the actual nature of the conflict. For that war's Vietnam, we'll see a Syria devastated by weapons.
In the Fifties, a term of art was used to describe the state of that Cold War: brinksmanship. I think this is the game theory that Iran is pressing now. Push the world as hard as it can, and see what they can get away with. So long as it sees a firm opposition to its activities, it will be hesitant to push very hard.
Which means, of course, it can't open its borders to nuclear inspection, simply because it doesn't matter.
If Iran has nukes or nuclear capability or the capacity to develop nuclear capability in the near future, this will firm up the NATO and Arab League arguments for shutting them down and pretty much force Israel's hand.
If Iran is nowhere near this capability (more likely, but you never know,) then Iran loses a very valuable piece on its board. Losing it may in fact destabilize the situation and force Iran to attack Israel simply as a show of power.
So, win or lose, the one thing Iran cannot do is allow inspectors in its borders now. Here's hoping we can find cooler heads on our side.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Pissed Palin Off

Imma think that Mitt Romney winning her home know, when she's not in Arizona...pissed Sarah Palin off.

Clash Of The Titans

It's sad that, even tho the nation has begun its shift back towards progress, we had to see one of these two great liberals lose a seat in the House:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a liberal establishment in the House, conceded defeat Tuesday night in Ohio's 9th district Democratic primary to longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

[...]Kucinich made his concession speech just past midnight Wednesday, when Kaptur had a 24-point lead with 84 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

Both well-known Democrats, the 15-term Kaptur ended up competing against the eight-term Kucinich after Ohio lost two congressional districts because of the state's declining population. Kaptur started the race with an edge in the new 9th district, which retained more of her old district than Kucinich's.

It was a spirited contest, which is a polite way of saying what started out as a gente(wo)manly battle between two ideologically similar legislators became a bit testy. Kaptur, for all her progressive street cred, did vote for the Bush wars where Kucinich famously did not.

Two bits of good news come out of Ohio yesterday, tho.

First Sam "Joe the Plumber...NOT!" Wurtzelbacher won the Republican primary and will be executed by Kaptur in November. Thus endeth a minor blip on American history.

Second, in a stunning upset, Jean Schmidt, also known as the Wicked Witch of the West (Ohio Franchisee), was roundly beaten in her re-election bid by a podiatrist, which is a little like losing the dogcatcher election to a mouse.

Of course, the guy who beat her is fucking loonier than she is, but there you go, Cincinnatti!


Why Obama Picked This Fight

(photo courtesy)
Look carefully at this infamous photo.
Now read this (paywall, sorry):

The 1994 campaign ad that turned California from a purple to a blue state began with grainy black-and-white footage of Latino migrants sprinting the wrong way down a six-lane freeway near San Diego. "They keep coming," the narrator announced over an ominously thumping soundtrack. The ad helped re-elect GOP governor Pete Wilson and pass a ballot measure, later tossed by the courts, that barred undocumented immigrants from nonemergency public health care, education and social services. The California GOP, however, has yet to recover from that double win. "It absolutely damaged the Republican brand," says Jennifer Korn, who led George W. Bush's Latino-outreach effort in 2004. "Conservatives have not realized how their tone and rhetoric has turned people off." Over the next six years, the chances that California Latinos would identify as Republican dropped from 34% to 12%, while the odds they would identify as Democratic rose from 38% to 63%. At the same time, Latino voter registration boomed as unions and community groups mounted citizenship and registration drives. Richard Nixon won California three times, Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush won it once. Since Wilson, no Republican other than Arnold Schwarzenegger has won a top statewide office.

But instead of learning the Wilson lesson, Republicans have repeated the error across the Mountain West. In 2010 the Nevada GOP's Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, ran ads that reprised the black-and-white images of menacing Latinos crossing the border. ("The best friend an illegal alien ever had" was her tagline for Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who won overwhelming support from Latino voters.) Arpaio, the Republican sheriff in Phoenix, has been chastened by the Justice Department for unlawfully profiling, detaining and arresting Latino residents. And the 2012 Republican campaign trail has more often than not echoed Wilson's approach. Romney named Wilson as honorary chair of his campaign in California and toured South Carolina with the Kansas secretary of state who helped write the Arizona law that pushed Valenzuela and Team Awesome into action in the first place. "You look at what Pete Wilson did in California 15 years ago," says Messina, "and that is what this primary is doing with Latino voters."

Within months, the damage to Republicans among Latinos was measurable. In a January survey for the Spanish-language network Univision, pollster Matt Barreto found that 27% of Latinos felt the Republican Party was hostile toward Hispanics, while an additional 45% believed Republicans "don't care much" about them--a total of 72% who don't feel welcomed by the party. (And the numbers are getting worse: back in April 2011, just 20% sensed hostility from the Republicans.) The GOP's nativist drift led Newt Gingrich, who takes slightly more centrist positions on immigration, to call Romney "anti-immigrant." It has rallied a group of party elders, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and strategist Karl Rove, to appeal for a more moderate tone. "We know that this is the fastest-growing segment and that we have to increase our share," warns Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican Party, who recently spoke to a gathering of conservative Latinos in Florida. "In 2020, if the Republican nominee for President gets the same percentage of the white, Hispanic, African American and Asian vote that John McCain got in 2008, a Democrat will be elected to the White House by 14 percentage points."

Now you know why the White House let this pass without much comment.

Obama has had some serious fence mending to make with, sorry, that allegory was a bit outré. He took pride at one point at having deported more undocumented immigrants in his first two years than Bush did in his entire administration. Clearly, that's not a way to curry favor with people who are suspected of being illegal-by-accent.

To his credit, well marginally to his credit a cynic might point out, Obama has made some strides for Latinos in this country, like not forcing spouses to leave the country to apply for citizenship and finding ways to keep families together despite immigration statuses. He has also made at least three attempts at getting the DREAM Act passed, whereby minors who entered this country illegally would be welcome to stay to complete a college degree or serve two years in the military. Filibustered by Republicans each time.

And he has much work to do still, but at least in Obama and the Democrats, this fast-growing sector of the population doesn't experience downright animosity.

A side note: ever hear a Republican talk about illegal Irish immigration? This is a racial issue, first and foremost for them.

My own stance on immigration is simple: open the door. Immigrants have been the single biggest engine of economic growth in this country since, well, colonial times. At this point in our history, facing chronic economic malaise and massive inertia to do nothing amongst our political classes, and an obvious inability on the part of the wealthy to "create jobs"-- there's a laugh-- we need all the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit we can muster. Immigrants provide that.

Coming here with few preconceptions except that it's possible to make a living here, immigrants open the grocery stores, the laundromats, the card shops. They send their kids to school to get an education to make lives that are one step easier than they have it.

Eventually, they pay their way into the American dream, buying cars, houses, a college education for the kids. Instead of pasting a label of "illegal" on them, let's do what we've always done: take the huddled masses yearning to breathe free and integrate them into our culture.

Language issues, you say? So? The English you speak now is a compendium of the English that was spoken in the 19th Century, plus a few thousand foreign words that made their way into our dialogue. It's messugeh to think that language is a set-in-stone communiqué, capisci? Gracias. I'm glad we can discuss this mano a mano and come to some verstandnis.

So Obama letting Jan Brewer get in his face is a very powerful image, one that Latinos in Arizona, as well as nationwide, will immediately identify with.

After all, Brewer is the face of the man who wants to keep Latinos in their places, the one who doesn't mind them picking the crops so long as they don't ask for health insurance or a decent wage.

She's the cop who pulls over because she sees a band of mijos standing on a street corner and demands "papers, please!"

She's the neighbor who complains at eight o'clock at night that the party is too loud and that awful native musica!

She's the boss who tries to "speak the lingo, gringo" because it will keep his workers smiling and productive, and not lazy.

She's the grocery customer who keeps a close eye as the cashier rings up the sale, making sure nothing gets scanned twice, and that she gets all her change, because you know how shifty "they" are.

And she's the one who wants to build a fence so high that it doesn't keep people out, but it keeps her mind closed.



Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Not For Nothing, Missouri, But...

Did you change your nickname to the "Slow Me State" and the state emblem to the short bus?

Mitt's Supermarket Scanner Moment

Ann Romney claims that she is not wealthy
$250 million networth. That's the kind of poverty I could suffer in.
I guess she is who Ronald Reagan meant by "welfare queen driving a Cadillac."

The Death Of Zealotry

Sit down for a minute. Close your eyes, and take a few deep cleansing breaths. Now, listen closely around you.
Hear that? That faint wheezing? Our long national nightmare...words usually spoken in jest but in truth today...may finally be over. If it's not, it's in its death throes.
I speak, of course, about rightwing militant religiousity.
The eulogy may have inadvertently been delivered last week by Jon Meachem in the pages of Time Magazine (paywall):

Conservatives and liberals alike can find the American culture of compromise on religion and politics frustrating, though for different reasons. Broadly put, the right would often prefer a more theologically coherent public policy (the Roman Catholic "culture of life," for example, put into political action). And the left can find the whole notion that faith has a proper role to play infuriating, especially when Republican candidates are found to have been musing on satanic attacks on the body politic.

History and experience show that Americans of faith are welcome to politick and proselytize, but not both at the same time. The covenant of compromise on God and public life is the best answer the country has come up with to the question of how to govern in a fallen world. That's a matter of history, not theology, and in that history lies our hope.

He writes, of course, in the wake of four years of slanders against President Barack Obama, of six months of debates over whether a) a Mormon should be considered for the Presidency and b) Catholics should take their marching orders from the Vatican, as filtered through a lens of conservative Republican dogma, and at least two candidates declaring that God spoke to them and told them to run.

To be sure, the Bible is at best an ambiguous document. For every "suffer the children to come unto me," there's a tale of destruction and devastation in the service of advancing the cause of Judeo-Christian religion. I prefer to interpret the words that Jesus himself spoke as a religion of peace and understanding, of tolerance and knowledge. Others prefer to dispense with the logic inherent in that and indulge the passions and rage exhibited by a zealous God.

The separation of church and state, for that reason alone, must be solid and opaque. An official crossover is anathema to freedom. We may examine the roots of our beliefs and how they color our public policy, but as Jesus tells Pilate at His trial, "My kingdom is not of this earth." They cannot and should not be the basis of that policy.

Also, He says, "Render unto Caesar," but that's a different column. Too.

And it's true that the Bible, at least the New Testament, rarely discusses secular matters (Jesus does address divorce as adultery, in all cases of remarriage, for example, but odd how you never hear that one raised by Newt Gingrich). The Old Testament does go in depth into tribal laws but not in the context of God, always in the context of "this is good for society," including a surprisingly pro-choice stance on abortion.

Now, if ancient rabbis could come to some understanding with respect to codifying that morass, we should be able to pick up a thread of compromise too.

The past few weeks have exposed a real deep threat to the GOP's relevance, and that is this whole zealotry of the moronic. Rick Santorum clearly believes what he's saying, and his chances rest or fall with how many people he can persuade of the rightness of his wrong positions.

In other words, his base is the proportion of people who read the Bible about as carefully as they read the End User License Agreements that come with the software pre-loaded on their computers.

Thirty-odd years ago, Lee Atwater devised what he called "The Big Tent," which would somehow fit the Religious Right under the same party umbrella as the economic royalists and the right-wing "libertarians" and still manage to keep everyone from getting wet. It was a fractious, noisy and argumentative group united by one thing and one thing only: a nation more liberal than it was.

A nation where mistakes were not punished but people assisted in getting back on their feet. A nation where women were being treated as basically equal because the American family needed them to work in order to keep a lifestyle to which Madison Avenue made us accustomed, despite Rich Lowry's idiotic bleatings to the contrary, families became stronger until his ilk decided to decay all this from the bottom up. Cut taxes, shed jobs, create a permanent underclass, then whine how no one has skills and nothing gets done anymore.

And now, they have what they asked for: a nation that's violently shifted to the right and back a half century, and a people going broke for it. They still blame liberals-- just look at Rush's "apology" yesterday-- but in truth, they have no one to blame but themselves. Indeed, if anything, liberals have been the ones to rush in and try to stem the tide, only to fail and finally give up any hope of working with Republicans.

In many ways, the GOP mirror what has gone on in the nation as a whole after the defeat of the Soviet empire: having lost an enemy, one that motivated us to greatness, we've become a nation of small minds and smaller feats. Instead of boldly going where no one has gone before, we've retreated into the comfortable recesses of our fears and trepidations.

We've lost courage and for that, we have no one to blame but the right, and their brand of religion which teaches fear above love, cowardice above courage, judgement above accomplishment.

But, I think people have had enough. And I think we have Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum to thank for that.



Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear Oreo....
Happy eating to me!

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Largest Municipal Bankruptcy In American History

Not LA.
Not NYC.
Not Seattle.
Not a blue state or city.

Today's Password: Ambiguity

There's been a certain false tension in the Republican primary season, mostly made up by reporters trying to justify four-hundred-dollar-a-night hotel rooms with a concomittant bar bill: Mitt Romney will win the nomination, it's just a matter of when and that story can be written from my couch when he does.
So this story is almost anticlimactic. Even if Santorum wins, he loses in the end. Even if somehow this vote keeps his campaign alive, all it does is a) force Mitt to spend money he no longer has now instead of in the general and b) makes Santorum's "fifteen minutes" almost zombie-like in its inability to end. It's creepy, in fact.
The only question that remains unanswered for me is, after all that Santorum's said and done to alienate anyone left of Torquemada-- and anyone less Catholic, too-- that he draws even a third of the vote in a state like Ohio, which nominally has, you know, colleges and stuff.

We're Number Two!

It's often been pointed out by liberals like me that the US spending on defense is far higher than any other nation and that you could make combinations among the next ten and still not outspend the US.

That's going to change, and soon.
China may have taken a page out of our Cold War playbook and will try to spend us into oblivion.


As you probably know by now, a resolution condemning the tyranny of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was introduced into the Security Council of the United Nations this weekend. It had the backing of the United States and European Union but more important, the strong endorsement of the Arab League.
It was immediately vetoed by the Russians and Chinese. A curious development to be sure: Syria is not a thriving economy like Iran and does not make large purchases of arms from the Russians and Chinese like Iran.
What it is, however, is Iran's closest...some would say only...friend in the region.
What we have here, my friends, is the next Vietnam. We have a war by proxy, so to speak. In many ways, I'm kind of surprised that the US didn't veto the resolution, given this situation.
See, Syria does most of its arms purchases from Iran, who in turn has to buy them from either Pakistan, North Korea or Russia and China directly. There's a chain of mark-ups there; I'm guessing a lot of this trade is done with oil.
In turn, the rebel alliance (not often I get to use a Star Wars allusion) is funded and armed by the Saudis, among other oil-producing nations, and very possibly Israel. And guess who they get their arms from?
I lay all the pieces out on the chess board to use them to illustrate a very severe danger in this game.
This is now, I think, the most likely scenario for World War III. Syria could be Armageddon's first battle.
It's not a leap to imagine Assad, in an act of desperation, provoking Israel into a conflict (possibly through action in the Golan or directly from Lebanon) to deter it from attacking Iran directly in order to eliminate it's nuclear weapons threat. Or even to open a second front in that cold war (which has seen Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated, along with Israeli diplomats in nations like Kyrgistan.)

Or maybe simply as an act of desperation to get Iran to openly fight Syria's battles for her. I have little doubt that the US support for the Syrian insurgency is less an attack on Assad-- after all, there were plenty of opportunities to do that in the wake of the turmoil following the death of his father-- than an attack on Ahmadinejad and an attempt to persuade Iranian moderates to stir up internal trouble.
Or it could be Israel who decides that, since the US would have a problem with Israel directly attacking Iran (despite Obama's assurances to Netanyahu) that Syria would make a good demonstration of Israeli military capability. You know, just to remind Iran who they are dealing with.
And it's not even that far a leap to imagine NATO piling troops onto the Syrian border (Turkey is a likely candidate, except they have their own Russian-Chinese issues, but hey, Jordan might make room and surely Iraq still has our bases available) and provoking Russia and China to respond in some fashion.
There's not a tightrope here to be walked. There are many tightwires, and they intersect, cross over and touch, and one false step by anyone will cause everyone to fall into the abyss. Human nature being what it is, I cannot imagine how this doesn't come to pass.
Better start your prepping now.

Moscow Spring

You'd think Vladimir Putin would have learned a lesson from last year's civil unrest in the Middle East and America.
You'd think Putin would have learned that stealing an election does a President no good, and that it taints not only him but his administration and party orgnization for at least a decade. After all, he was Bush's "Pootie Poot."

There were "serious problems" in the vote that returned Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency, the head of the major international election observer mission said Monday, adding fuel to an opposition testing its strength with plans for a massive protest rally.

Putin rolled to victory as expected Sunday to return to the Kremlin and keep his hold on power for six more years, but opponents claim the voting was rigged. A rally has been set for Monday evening on Moscow's Pushkin Square, one of the central city's most iconic locations, with news reports say some 12,000 police and troops will be on duty to ensure order.

A brief synopsis by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission did not address complaints of widespread cases of people casting multiple ballots, but said the election "was assessed negatively" in almost a third of polling stations observers visited.

Well, I mean, it's not as blatant as stealing 600 votes in Florida, or the entire state of Ohio, but it's not a good way to kick off your "re-election."

Earlier protests across Russia, according to think Putin's Pravda-- that upwards of 30,000 people protested in St. Petersburg ahead of the election, which means it was probably more like 50,000. And that was in support of fair elections, not protesting Putin's theft.

The mayor of Moscow (not Mikail Blombergski, by the way) has already categorically stated that no permanent encampments will be allowed in his city, so at least one Russian is aware of the historic parallels.

What drives a zealoted tyrant to decide that he's above the law, above the people? The afore-referenced Michael Bloomberg defied not one but two ballot referenda and ran for a third term as mayor of New York City. Likewise, President Bush stole two elections. Neither man is particularly beloved by his people and neither has had an administration worth discussing except as examples of what happens when bad men steal power and become tin-plated dictators with delusions of grandeur.

Yes, power is seductive and yes, power is useful, but it is corrupting and wresting power wrongly is always, always, a bad idea.


Another Episode of SASQ

This form of sex abuse must stop, of course, but here's the thing: when you call someone a name a dozen different ways, you intended to harm him or her. As Rush is on the public airwaves, and as he was malicious and negligent, both he, his broadcasting company, the radio network that promotes him, and any station he's carried on, are liable for a rather large lawsuit, which I hope Jessica Fluke has already probed and decided to greenlight.
Rush claims to be a comedian and a case could be made that testifying in front of a Congressional committee opens a person up to fair comment which can include slanderous commentary, the claims Limbaugh made, and the repetitive nature of those claims, suggests that he knew he was crossing a line, almost daring Fluke to retaliate publicly.
Which would have taken him off the hook.
Fluke has some amazing people guiding her, it seems. Either that, or she's preternaturally gifted in the art of verbal self-defense.
Limbaugh's show lost seven sponsors over the weekend, and while his sponsors are not exactly major corporations (he gives his programming away to stations so he can control the ad revenues, so it's never been about getting GM or MicroSoft to sponsor him,) it's a not unsizable hit to his bottom line.
One can only hope the weak-ass nature of his apology infuriates more advertisers into withdrawing. That, and being associated with what could be one of the most important "free speech" lawsuits in history might drive Limbaugh to sign up the local dogcatcher's re-election committee.