Friday, September 28, 2007


The amoeba that ate the president's brain...

Tomorrow morning we're going over to Portland & Vancouver to pick up a camper-conversion van. We've been looking for one for a while and this came along at a good price and with a good history. We're excited and apprehensive at the same time. You know: it's all the same physiological response, just different mental interpretations.

Speaking of things mental, I came across this in the LA Times:

Perhaps this explains what’s happened to the leadership in Washington:,0,5850018.story?coll=la-home-center

Lake amoeba can kill swimmers
The very rare Naegleria fowleri enters through the nose to attack the brain. ...
From the Associated Press

September 29, 2007

PHOENIX — It sounds like science fiction, but it's true: Killer amoebas living in lakes can enter the body through the nose and attack the brain, where they feed until you die.

Though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it is known to have killed six boys and young men in the United States this year; over the decade ending in 2004, the yearly average was 2.3.

The jump in cases has health officials concerned.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better. In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

The amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, killed 23 people in the U.S. from 1995 to 2004, the CDC says. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since the microbe's discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

This year, there have been three cases in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona.

Though infections tend to be found in Southern states, Naegleria lives almost everywhere: in lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment.

A person wading through shallow water stirs up the bottom, and if water gets up the person's nose, the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for conveying smells to the brain.

The amoeba makes its way to the brain, destroying tissue as it goes, Beach said.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Aryans 'r U.S,

Just to show, though, that I haven’t completely lost my head to rambling thoughts of useless stuff, here’s something.

Nice insight into what “racial” types are popular here in the US—Aryans.

Mad cow ban leads to U.S. shortage of 'European' sperm
Last Updated: Friday, September 21, 2007 | 4:31 PM ET
The Canadian Press

U.S. sperm banks are running low on donor sperm that can produce blond, blue-eyed Scandinavian babies, the result of a 2005 U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on sperm from any European countries with exposure to mad cow disease.

The move effectively eliminated donors from Denmark to the United Kingdom.

While some U.S. sperm banks have had enough frozen stocks to cope with the demand, they are now running low.

"We still have a little bit left, but not much," said Claus Rodgaard, manager of Cryos International, a Danish-based sperm bank with an office in New York.

"We're not here to promote people to have blond, blue-eyed babies, but if those are the kinds of characteristics you're looking for, then Danish sperm is good for that," Rodgaard said. "That's all we have in Denmark."


Life in the feed-lot, or cow-shit? I don't smell any cow-shit

Sometimes I don't know what to get outraged about first. The way the Democrats have slid into a business-as-usual stance. Bush's on-going verbal blunders. The administration's continuing equating of dissent with disloyalty. There's the Republican "alternative" health plan for children, something that could have been written by Herbert Hoover. Larry Craig's moral meanderings are worth a few points in my blood pressure, too, I guess.... But....

And there's a nice minor local issue, some woman in a very very exclusive community hung out her laundry so it could get dry in the fresh air and the home-owners association threatened her with a lawsuit. People are very upset about that—not as many as those who screamed when Mt Bachelor raised the price of their season ski passes, but a substantial number. Shit: nobody put a gun to her head and made her move into such a subdivision—excuse me: exclusive community. Perhaps "discriminating community" would fit even better, but I don't know all the restrictions on their deeds.

After awhile outrage isn't enough. It hasn't been enough since the war started. Hell, it's never been enough. For all we matter, we're watching a movie about corrupt politics in a very slick and sophisticated dictatorship. It happens to be run by dumbells, but it's still slick and sophisticated. I'm numbed out by the sheer volume of stupid shit. It's like if you work in a feed-yard you stop smelling all the cow shit.



Holy shit: been almost a week since I posted anything. Well, it’s OK, I’ve been busy—or at least my mind has been busy. B.’s niece, who lives with us—I’ve mentioned her, she’s 20 going on 14—is hot for a guy at her work. He’s a drunk. Just no way around that: no insurance, demoted on his job because of drinking, pulled over by the cops twice in one week, broke, sort of semi-homeless, and the niece has bailed his car out of impound, got insurance for herself, had to go get one of those payday-advance loans, in order to have any money left for things like laundry... What can I say?

It’s hard to watch her go through this stuff. B and I have told her—and him—that his drinking is out of control. We’ve told her that he isn’t going to change, voluntarily. And it’s clear he isn’t going to trot himself into an AA meeting unless he’s strong-armed into going, and that ain’t gonna work. I’ve seen a lot of people come into AA because of the court system. Almost all of them have left again, back to their old habits. Can’t force people into sobriety. I don’t have much of a sense of the b.f.; the niece has a warm heart and a quick wit...and her usual stance is defensive, which makes sense when one considers the family she came out of.

So all this stuff is time consuming and tiring. I wish it wasn’t happening...but it is and there’s no way out of it except through it. Slog slog slog. Not a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, no.

The news hasn’t helped my mood, either. The shameful response to MoveOn’s ad that suggests General Petraeous is a political hack is disgusting.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Democratic Back-step in Senate

The chicken-hearted Senate vote to prop up General Pretaeus included way too many Democrats. Pretaeus is a front man for the Administration, and may well be the Republicans' great white (pun intended) for a future presidential run. Somewhere else I said he's a whore. I don't actually mean that he cruises men's rooms like some politicians, but that he'll do whatever it takes to help along his career.

The list is here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Already burned my draft card; guess my voter's registration card is next

It wasn’t exactly earth-shaking to read that the Senate caved in on the issue of Habeas Corpus, I’m sorry to say. Or that the Senate also caved in about getting the troops home. The “Hail, Caesar!” routine for General Prateous was disgusting, of course. We’re rapidly sinking to the lowest common denominator: politicians wanting to keep their cushy jobs and figuring that flag waving and sucking off military officers is the best way to do that. I expected no more from the Republican Flock. But it's the other guys that blow me away.

The collapse of the Democrats around these issues is awful. Just mushy, gooey, wimpy shit. The Democratic Party is about as... aw well, they’re all crooked and crazed. I’m about three political capitulations away from burning my voter registration card and cursing both parties for generations to come. What weenies!

Both parties are so removed from the actual rank and file they haven’t a clue what it’s like out here in America ’07. Their loyalties aren’t to us: they’re to each other. They’re not there to serve us; we here to serve them.


Flash! Petraeous NOT able to walk on water!

There’s an old Navy joke “Why are Marines like bananas?” —They’re born green, turn yellow, and die rotten.

So, there is an antagonism between the Navy and the Marines. Has been for years, probably will be for years. The Marines, remain, however, a very efficient mechanism for getting young macho Americans killed.

The Senate is all in a fuss because one of the lefty organizations made a pun on General Petraeous’ name. Wasn’t a very good pun, but it worked.

However, Petraeous has one of the great PR campaigns on his side. He’s almost, if we’re to believe the Republican junta, able to walk on water. And I haven’t seen so many ribbons and medals on a uniform since Ollie North testified to Congress way back when. Not everyone, though, believes Petraeous is all that great. In fact, like many if not most upper-level military folks, he’s a suck-up.

Inter Press Service News Agency
Thursday, September 20, 2007 15:28 GMT

Fallon Derided Petraeus, Opposed the Surge
Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Sep 12 (IPS) - In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.
Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century".

Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush's troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell's office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.

Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- the area for which Fallon's CENTCOM is responsible.

The CENTCOM commander believed the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq urgently, largely because he saw greater dangers elsewhere in the region. "He is very focused on Pakistan," said a source familiar with Fallon's thinking, "and trying to maintain a difficult status quo with Iran."

By the time Fallon took command of CENTCOM in March, Pakistan had become the main safe haven for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda to plan and carry out its worldwide operations, as well as being an extremely unstable state with both nuclear weapons and the world's largest population of Islamic extremists.

Plans for continued high troop levels in Iraq would leave no troops available for other contingencies in the region.

Fallon was reported by the New York Times to have been determined to achieve results "as soon as possible". The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.

Fallon also expressed great scepticism about the basic assumption underlying the surge strategy, which was that it could pave the way for political reconciliation in Iraq. In the lead story Sep. 9, The Washington Post quoted a "senior administration official" as saying that Fallon had been "saying from Day One, 'This isn't working.' "

One of Fallon's first moves upon taking command of CENTCOM was to order his subordinates to avoid the term "long war" -- a phrase Bush and Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates had used to describe the fight against terrorism.

Fallon was signaling his unhappiness with the policy of U.S. occupation of Iraq for an indeterminate period. Military sources explained that Fallon was concerned that the concept of a long war would alienate Middle East publics by suggesting that U.S. troops would remain in the region indefinitely.

During the summer, according to the Post Sep. 9 report, Fallon began to develop his own plans for redefine the U.S. mission in Iraq, including a plan for withdrawal of three-quarters of the U.S. troop strength by the end of 2009.

The conflict between Fallon and Petraeus over Iraq came to a head in early September. According to the Post story, Fallon expressed views on Iraq that were sharply at odds with those of Petraeus in a three-way conversation with Bush on Iraq the previous weekend. Petraeus argued for keeping as many troops in Iraq for as long as possible to cement any security progress, but Fallon argued that a strategic withdrawal from Iraq was necessary to have sufficient forces to deal with other potential threats in the region.

Fallon's presentation to Bush of the case against Petraeus's recommendation for keeping troop levels in Iraq at the highest possible level just before Petraeus was to go public with his recommendations was another sign that Petraeus's role as chief spokesperson for the surge policy has created a deep rift between him and the nation's highest military leaders. Bush presumably would not have chosen to invite an opponent of the surge policy to make such a presentation without lobbying by the top brass.

Fallon had a "visceral distaste" for what he regarded as Petraeus's sycophantic behaviour in general, which had deeper institutional roots, according to a military source familiar with his thinking.

Fallon is a veteran of 35 years in the Navy, operating in an institutional culture in which an officer is expected to make enemies in the process of advancement. "If you are Navy captain and don't have two or three enemies, you're not doing your job," says the source.

Fallon acquired a reputation for a willingness to stand up to powerful figures during his tenure as commander in chief of the Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007. He pushed hard for a conciliatory line toward and China, which put him in conflict with senior military and civilian officials with a vested interest in pointing to China as a future rival and threat.

He demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.

A crucial element of Petraeus's path of advancement in the Army, on the other hand, was through serving as an aide to senior generals. He was assistant executive officer to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Carl Vuono, and later executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Henry Shelton. His experience taught him that cultivating senior officers is the key to success.

The contrasting styles of the two men converged with their conflict over Iraq to produce one of the most intense clashes between U.S. military leaders in recent history.

*Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005.

Copyright © 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.


Disabled woman dies after 10 taser shocks in less than 3 minutes

Tasers are big news. They’ve been that for quite a while. The company’s stock must be way up. However, it’s still a grim weapon. Even if a death by tasering is labeled a suicide...

Yahoo! News

Wheelchair-Bound Woman Dies After Being Shocked With Taser 10 Times;_ylt=AkmGXcsaemxUCbKDgEjTdVHpx0QC
Wed Sep 19, 9:38 AM ET

A Clay County woman's family said it's seeking justice after their loved one died shortly after being shocked 10 times with Taser guns during a confrontation with police.


Family attorney Rick Alexander said Delafield's death could have been prevented and that there are four things that jump out at him about the case.

"One, she's in a wheelchair. Two, she's schizophrenic. Three, they're using a Taser on a person that's in a wheelchair, and then four is that they tasered her 10 times for a period of like two minutes," Alexander said.

According to a police report, one of the officers used her Taser gun nine times for a total of 160 seconds and the other officer discharged his Taser gun once for a total of no more than five seconds.

A medical examiner found Delafield died from hypertensive heart disease and cited the Taser gun shock as a contributing factor, the report said. On her death certificate, the medical examiner ruled Delafield's death a homicide.

Copyright © 2007 WKMG
Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007



Sad Alan's Lament
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 17 September 2007

When President Bush first took office, it seemed unlikely that he would succeed in getting his proposed tax cuts enacted. The questionable nature of his installation in the White House seemed to leave him in a weak political position, while the Senate was evenly balanced between the parties. It was hard to see how a huge, controversial tax cut, which delivered most of its benefits to a wealthy elite, could get through Congress.

Then Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Budget Committee.

Until then Mr. Greenspan had presented himself as the voice of fiscal responsibility, warning the Clinton administration not to endanger its hard-won budget surpluses. But now Republicans held the White House, and the Greenspan who appeared before the Budget Committee was a very different man.

Suddenly, his greatest concern - the "emerging key fiscal policy need," he told Congress - was to avert the threat that the federal government might actually pay off all its debt. To avoid this awful outcome, he advocated tax cuts. And the floodgates were opened.

As it turns out, Mr. Greenspan's fears that the federal government would quickly pay off its debt were, shall we say, exaggerated. And Mr. Greenspan has just published a book in which he castigates the Bush administration for its fiscal irresponsibility.

Well, I'm sorry, but that criticism comes six years late and a trillion dollars short.

Mr. Greenspan now says that he didn't mean to give the Bush tax cuts a green light, and that he was surprised at the political reaction to his remarks. There were, indeed, rumors at the time - which Mr. Greenspan now says were true - that the Fed chairman was upset about the response to his initial statement.

But the fact is that if Mr. Greenspan wasn't intending to lend crucial support to the Bush tax cuts, he had ample opportunity to set the record straight when it could have made a difference.

His first big chance to clarify himself came a few weeks after that initial testimony, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Here's what I wrote following that appearance: "Mr. Greenspan's performance yesterday, in his first official testimony since he let the genie out of the bottle, was a profile in cowardice. Again and again he was offered the opportunity to say something that would help rein in runaway tax-cutting; each time he evaded the question, often replying by reading from his own previous testimony. He declared once again that he was speaking only for himself, thus granting himself leeway to pronounce on subjects far afield of his role as Federal Reserve chairman. But when pressed on the crucial question of whether the huge tax cuts that now seem inevitable are too large, he said it was inappropriate for him to comment on particular proposals.

"In short, Mr. Greenspan defined the rules of the game in a way that allows him to intervene as he likes in the political debate, but to retreat behind the veil of his office whenever anyone tries to hold him accountable for the results of those interventions."

I received an irate phone call from Mr. Greenspan after that article, in which he demanded to know what he had said that was wrong. In his book, he claims that Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, was stumped by that question. That's hard to believe, because I certainly wasn't: Mr. Greenspan's argument for tax cuts was contorted and in places self-contradictory, not to mention based on budget projections that everyone knew, even then, were wildly overoptimistic.

If anyone had doubts about Mr. Greenspan's determination not to inconvenience the Bush administration, those doubts were resolved two years later, when the administration proposed another round of tax cuts, even though the budget was now deep in deficit. And guess what? The former high priest of fiscal responsibility did not object.

And in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent - remember, these are the tax cuts he now says he didn't endorse - and argued that the budget should be balanced with cuts in entitlement spending, including Social Security benefits, instead. Of course, back in 2001 he specifically assured Congress that cutting taxes would not threaten Social Security.

In retrospect, Mr. Greenspan's moral collapse in 2001 was a portent. It foreshadowed the way many people in the foreign policy community would put their critical faculties on hold and support the invasion of Iraq, despite ample evidence that it was a really bad idea.

And like enthusiastic war supporters who have started describing themselves as war critics now that the Iraq venture has gone wrong, Mr. Greenspan has started portraying himself as a critic of administration fiscal irresponsibility now that President Bush has become deeply unpopular and Democrats control Congress.


More from Greenspan

"Whatever their publicised angst over Saddam Hussain's 'weapons of mass destruction', American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."Asked to explain his remark, he said: "From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don't name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position." —from The Guardian UK

Monday, September 17, 2007


another quote of the moment

Here's an even better quote, for all you Republican groupies:
"If the Mothers were in charge of the world there wouldn't be any Goddamned war."

Freedom of speech if you don't say too much...


Canada Arrests on Secret Charges?

Came across this on the CBC. It's troubling, of course, because it involves mystification—not telling the prisoner why she or he is a prisoner. I thought Nazi Germany, the old Soviet Union, and the United States were prime examples of that kind of behavior. Maybe it's contageous.

B.C. detention was bid to silence anti-war activists, American says

Last Updated:

Sunday, September 16, 2007 | 4:10 PM ET

CBC News

An American peace activist, who was detained by immigration officials in B.C. for two days, is accusing Ottawa of engineering her confinement to silence critics of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Alison Bodine, 22, of Broomfield, Colo., was carrying anti-war pamphlets in her car when she was arrested Thursday at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey, B.C., which is the main crossing between Vancouver and Seattle.

Bodine, who studied physics at the University of British Columbia, said she works with an anti-war group based in B.C. called Mobilization Against War and Occupation.

When she approached the Peace Arch crossing, Bodine said Canadian border officials told her there was a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest.

She spent Thursday night in a jail in Surrey and then was transferred to a holding cell at Vancouver International Airport before being released Friday night. She told CBC News she still hasn't been told what crime she is accused of committing.

"All I've been told is that I have an admissibility hearing coming up on Monday at two p.m. at the immigration offices," Bodine said on Saturday. "I do not get to hear my full case until that hearing."

Bodine said other activists should worry she was arrested.

"This was a bit of a test, to see what happens when they arrest someone who isn't agreeing with their current foreign policy."

The Canada Border Services Agency said it could not comment on specific cases.

Canada has about 2,500 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Canada started the mission in early 2002, in the wake of the U.S. invasion that overthrew the Taliban government.

The United States has thousands of troops in Afghanistan and about 160,000 in Iraq.


Quote of the moment:

"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." —Alan Greenspan


Liberal bias in the media? Uh-huh, sure, right—Are you sure you took your meds today?

The Bend Bulletin is an interesting paper. It provides good local coverage, middling national coverage, a fairly wide-open letters-to-the-editor policy and a whole slew of conservative columnists.

Yesterday's paper, on the op-ed page, had four pieces. One was by Thomas Sowell, an African-American guy down at the Hoover Institution; he called for allowing the cops to use more "force" in high speed chases—like having a sharp-shooter in a hovering helicopter being alowed to take a "well-aimed shot" at the fleeing suspect. What a swell idea! More force is always productive, yeah, sure. Another column was by Jonah Goldberg, from the National Review, mumbling about "shriller voices on the left" and the falsity of the term "blow-back" in describing what's happened to America's fortunes in the Middle East. Jonah Goldberg is famous, of course, for claiming that the national media is biased on the left—and elitist, of course. A third column, by Victor Davis Hanson, also from the Hoover Institution, claims that to be opposed to Israel's repressive policies toward Palestinians is to be anti-semetic.

The fourth column is about a nun working in an orphanage in Rumania: something good and decent as opposed to neo-con cant.

Yesterday's newspaper editorial slant was about as far to the left as Margaret Thatcher.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Chapter two on a lazy Sunday

Slow Sunday. Here's some fiction from me.

r 2 rev
Over the years, I learned to travel light. It had to do, a long time ago, I guess, with being poor and deciding most things weren’t as important as they seemed to be. It also had to do with being a drunk and doing “geographics,” attempts to change my ways by changing the scene. So it didn’t take me long to follow the Doña’s advice.

I was out of Tuscon in a week. I’d sold or given away almost all of my possessions; got the treatment center to lay me off so I could collect unemployment, packed, and caught a flight (north to Las Vegas, then for some obscure airline reason to Salt Lake and finally to Spokane). I tried to do just the stuff in front of me, the stuff necessary to get “home.” Back to the ranch. Meanwhile, back at the....yeah.
From Blue Mountain airport, I rode the airport bus into town and then caught the county shuttle out to Speelyai. Once upon a time there was regular Greyhound Bus service to the rez, but no more.
Two hours on the bus; an hour and a half around the bus depot in Blue Mountain; seven hours of planes and airports from Tuscon to Blue Mountain. Ten and a half hours of travel. I was happy to get off the bus.

When I got off at Speelyai Agency, I tried to do about three things at once. I still had a lot of big city energy with me.
I tried to take in the scene, find my luggage, and remember the town. Excitement, in other words. The driver was fumbling with keys to the luggage compartment; I managed to slow down my breathing and check out how my body felt. Stiff from hours of airports and planes, buses, and bus depots.
At first glance, Speelyai Agency looked like just another tucked-under-the-rimrock small western town.
The highway followed a bench down into the valley of Tulepas Creek; the town is right at the transition from higher ground Ponderosa and buck-brush to low-land juniper and sage. Cottonwoods shimmered green down along the creek and below, along the Whitman. The highway once formed the main drag, back when I was in high school; now there was a sleek cut-off that left only the relocated Roadside Cafe and Wayne’s Chevron station as businesses that might snag tourists passing through.
A mile on down, where the creek entered Marcus Whitman River, on the flats, was the tribal sawmill, and machinery dealers, a lumberyard, used car lot, and anymore I didn’t know what else. The Whitman is the west boundary of the rez; right across the bridge is a supermarket, where we used to buy beer and wine. The rez has been dry as long as I remember.
The bus station was the parking lot of the Roadside (“Roadkill”) Cafe, next to the Chevron gas station. Someone who reminded me of Wayne Shoostrum was pumping gas. Probably was Wayne. The Speelyai Trading Post was just down a side street. Beyond that was another cafe, across the street a cut-rate gas station and a stop-and-rob convenience market, something new.
The side-street sloped off to the south, toward the tribal housing part of town, across Tulepas Creek. The government office complex was along the creek, too. Mobile homes, government cement architecture, World War Two-era wood buildings—it was definitely complex. Or it would give you a complex.
To the north, another road angled uphill; a church spire showed over the hill-side. A few more tribal housing units were up there. The ground was spotted with junipers and evanescent sage.
It wasn’t just another small town.
The cinder block Roadside Cafe had a banner across the front that said “Fry Bread and Indian Tacos.”
The men hanging out and driving by had dark skins and long black hair, and a couple of cars parked at the cafe had bumper stickers that said “This car stops at all pow-wows!” and “Support Treaty Rights.” Not just another small town at all: it was Indian Country.
Diane, the young woman who got also got off, was Indian, with a round face, high-cheek bones, and a broad body. We’d sat next to each other on the bus. Her hair was teased and moussed up in front. Her hands didn’t work too well, but she could operate her iPod.
We watched the bus pull away.
“Indian Country, Bro.”
“Feels like it,” I said.
She nodded toward downhill. In a grassy field behind the community center, just across the creek, were several dozen tipis, rows of RVs and parked cars. “People packing in already for the pow-wow. I’m glad I got here in time to go. You gonna go, aren’t you?”
“Maybe. It depends on what else is going on.” I didn’t see anyone I knew. After the years I’d been away, that didn’t surprise me. The dry air smelled spicey-dusty. Twenty miles north, up by Stoney Creek and Wanapam Lake, at the ranch, the air would smell of cedar and fir and moss. Higher and wetter there.
A battered Ford pickup swung into the lot and honked. Diane waved at it. Two people in front and a couple of kids and a dog in back. Diane looked at me and looked at her bags. I carried the bags for her. What the hell, I wasn’t her counselor and she wasn’t a “client.” Not yet anyhow.
The kids, a boy about seven or eight, and a girl a little older, solemnly looked at me. The dog wagged it’s tail and panted happily. A couple in their twenties grinned out at us.
“Sam, Marie, this is Paul, his family’s here.” We shook hands. Diane held her hand out and softly brushed mine. Bad teeth and a happy smile. There was a funny look in her eyes, though, that I’d seen in some clients. “Good to be home. Hope I see you at the pow-wow.”
I waved and watched them join the string of cars and trucks headed toward the pow-wow. A few cars rolled past on their way over the mountains. I moved my duffle and flight bag over into the shade of the cafe roof and squatted on my heels to wait. Sooner or later I’d see somebody I knew.
It took about ten minutes. Then the same old dingy Suburban I remembered pulled up to the cafe and honked. The driver’s window went down and Dorie’s weathered face looked at me. Her carroty hair was cut as efficiently and carelessly as always. I was the dark one, she was the light one. She looked sun-faded.
“You early or ‘m I late?” Dorie didn’t waste a lot of time.
“Well, we’re both here at the same time, now,” I said. “I’m glad to see you. Where’s your half-side?”
“Down at the store, buying soda pop. Throw your stuff in back, let’s go.”
The Suburban smelled of saw-dust, cigarets and sage. As familiar as an old pair of shoes. An eagle feather hung from the rear-view mirror. The dashboard was cluttered with casette boxes and empty rifle cartriges, a chain-saw wrench and a file for adjusting the chain, rocks, and all the things that rural dashboards carry. The glove compartment didn’t have a door, and a piece of cardboard was duct-taped across the bottom half to keep stuff from falling out.
Louie was waiting in front of the market, talking to some men in army fatigues. Two older guys wore Viet Nam-era camos, and three were younger and wearing the Desert Storm camos. Their boots were polished and their berets cocked smartly. Louie looked up, saw me, and grinned. The older men gave tentative nods of recognition toward me. I vaguely remembered one of them, Louie’s older brother, Abraham Tom; he’d done a tour the year before me. I’d worked in the woods with him once or twice. One of the younger ones, I realized, was a woman.
“Who’s that?” I asked Dorie.
“Abe’s daughter, Rachel. She was in grade school just about the time you left. She’s like our neice-in-law or something. They probably have a name for it. She’s pretty much the local eco-freak. The guy next to her is Timmy Smith—his dad owns the new motel down at the river. These guys are probably the color guard for the grand entry.”
Louie walked over with his heavy rolling, ex-cowboy gait. “Hey, my favorite White-Eyes! Welcome home!”
I climbed out and we hugged each other. Abe and the others came over and we shook hands all around. A light grip, one emphatic pump.
More than half the men wore their hair in braids, I noticed, something only the oldest and most traditional men had done the last time I’d been around. Even the younger ones had hair down past their collars. Abe’s hair went in a pompadour over his forehead, the way Chief Joseph’s hair showed in old photos. Wachaat people wore their hair that way. I didn’t remember Abe being particularly religious.
Louie pulled cans of soda out of the sack, the way we used to pull out cans of beer in the old days, and handed them around. Even Dorie got out and leaned against the rig and we stood and made small talk.
Finally, Abe said, “You’re a vet, Paul, we need you in the grand entry.”
I was back.


The pow-wow wouldn’t start until seven. We drove to Dorie and Louie’s house, up the hill past the Catholic church, and onto Dry Creek Flat. Their house was basic 1200 square feet ticky tack: a BIA project house with undersized two by fours and painted T-111 siding, minimal insulation. The yard had a weeping willow in front; grass grew under the willow and nowhere else. My old International Scout sat on blocks next to the garage. It looked like it had been fixed up and recently painted. I was glad to see it.
“We never did get rid of your shittin’ truck, Paul,” Dorie said. “Figured you’d come back for it someday. I almost like seeing it.”
Louie said, “I kept the block full of oil. We put a battery in it, stuck some tires on, she runs pretty fair, bro.”
Dorie shook her head. “Damn old antique truck. Y’oughtta get yourself a new one, Paul. Something doesn’t drink a gallon of gas every time you look at it.”

The inside of the house seemed almost the same. Familiar smells: sage and meat and wood-smoke. There were more Indian things around than I remembered. Pendleton blankets and bead-work. There were even some pictures of Dorie with Indian women, and of my neices in dance regalia. When she and Louie got married, a lot of Indians wouldn’t have anything to do with either one of them. But after of years of working in the tribal offices, Dorie had finally gained some acceptance. That and she’d always been a good fighter.
Louie walked over to the gun rack and took down my old .30-30 and my Sweet Sixteen. They shined with good care. He handed them to me, with a gentle smile. Then he got out my old Marlin lever-action .22; my favorite illegal deer rifle. “I still got your fly rod, too, bro. Can’t say I got much of your tackle left, after all these years, but you’re welcome to as much of mine as you want.”
“I don’t guess we’ll fish for a while.”
Louie looked at the floor. He nodded at the .30-30. “We’ll have to go out and get us some meat. Haven’t got my deer this month...Done any hunting since you been gone?”
I shook my head. Part of me felt like I’d never left. A body feeling came from my gut. It oozed through me, warm and relaxing.
Dorie zipped in close, kissed me on the cheek. Her eyes were shiny. “Welcome home, my brother, welcome home.”
That was about as much emotion as I ever remembered coming from my sis. Wouldn’t be in public; she might blow off on somebody, maybe even slug them, she sure wouldn’t show tenderness around other people. It seemed like quite a lot... I had to swallow a couple of times.
I put my bags in the spare room. There was a picture of Dorie and me and Mom and Dad, from right after I got back from the war. They looked pretty happy. I looked awful.
A brand-new Pendleton blanket was on the bed. On the blanket was a package of folded bright red flannel. I unwrapped the cloth and found a calico ribbon shirt.
Dorie said, “We figured you’d like that for the pow-wow.”
“The folks know I’m coming?”
“Mom said she’d been thinking about you a lot the last few days. Pop said he has too...They’re coming down for Grand Entry.”
“So what’s going on up at the lake? I want to know everything.”
“Let’s sit and have some sodas,” Louie said. It was a gentle reminder of the change in time zones. Indian Standard Time in Indian Country.
We took some folding chairs and sat under the willow. Louie brought out a plate of smoked fish and some crackers. A slight breeeze moved down off the mountains. I heard Indian singing from somewhere. I ate some salmon and sipped at a soda pop. Every time a car went by, the driver honked and waved. We all waved back.
Louie lit a cigaret, offered me one. I shook my head.
“Finally got clean of that one, too, eh?”
“Treatment center I worked in didn’t have caffeine or sugar or allow smoking. They figured if people wanted to get clean and sober that meant really getting clean and sober.”
“You hear about Mona Pulls?” Dorie asked in the way I remembered her using when something major was coming.
Mona. I’d dreamed about her, the night before, dozing in the Salt Lake airport. “No...”
Dorie leaned forward, glanced up at the tree as if she was looking to see what it said. “Car wreck, three years ago. Three years ago this week. They’d all been down at the pow-wow. Drunk guy hit them head on.”
My heart began accelerating.
Dorie counted on her fingers. “Dewey, the two boys, and Mona’s mom. All dead. Mona was hurt pretty bad. Crippled. Only one good leg. She still has that store, though.”
Louie was watching me out of the corner of his eye. “Dorie goes up and helps, once or twice a week, when they get deliveries. Mona gets around pretty OK.
“Used to be kinda sweet on each other, you guys.”
Dorie snorted. “‘Kinda sweet,’ huh? Ain’t the way I remember it. You two screwed your way through high school together, Paul.”
Louie finished his cigaret and shredded the tobacco out on the ground. “Good looking widow woman. Old days, she’d have had to marry Dewey’s brother, Nathan...”
“Nathan?” Dorie said, “Hell, nobody’s seen him in five years—I heard he’s in the joint down in California or somewhere.”
My heartbeat had slowed down, and another warm feeling came through me. Carefully, I asked, “She still single?”
Louie grinned. “Uh-huh, still single. She don’t know where you are, though.”
“OK. Tell me what’s going on up at the lake.”
Dorie spoke first. “The resort was leased by some outfit called ‘Mango.’ Just ‘Mango.’ They spent a lot of money, fixed up the hot springs and the pool and the cabins, even put up tipis. Jacuzzi pools. Organic garden and a little green house for tomatoes, stuff you can’t depend on. Built a sweat lodge, even. “
Louie leaned over and tapped the arm of my chair. “A Sioux sweat lodge, man.” He winked like it was a big joke.
“Sioux-schmoo,” Dorie snapped. “They turned the place into a shittin’ New Age resort. All them airheads from California and Portland and Seattle come up for ‘seminars’ and ‘workshops’ and that kinda shit.”
“Is it making money?”
Nobody answered for about ten seconds. Louie politely looked off at the hills until I realized that wasn’t what it was all about.
“What do the people on the rez think of that?” I asked him.
He pursed his lips for a moment. “We got all kinds of people here, you remember. Some Yakamas, some Bannocks, Shoshonis, Salish, Nez Perce, even some of Sitting Bull’s people who didn’t want to go back to South Dakota after...he surrendered. People married into other tribes, so we even got a few Navajos and Blackfeet... Life’s hard, just getting along’s hard...
“The old folks don’t think much about it. Too many other things to worry about. Some of the younger folks are kind of resentful—they don’t like Indian ceremonies being done for money. Some of the elders have been up there for conferences. That kinda cuts them off from the younger ones...I been there, too, for some environmental meetings about logging...We all gotta work together on this environmental stuff, Paul, Indian people and white people...”
“That’s pretty clear. So what’s this ‘Mango’ outfit like?”
Dorie shook her head and lit a cigaret. “They wanta buy the place. Dad wants to sell. The resort’s making a lot of bucks, Paul. Offered the folks a good price. They been real lavish in making sure Dad gets buzzed. Mom’s worried about hospital bills. Dad really needs heavy medical treatments...” She bit her lip.
“Radiation. Chemotherapy,” Louie spoke softly.
She nodded and concentrated on her soda pop.
Louie finally said, “There’re some political people here, though, but...I don’t know, mostly they seem to argue about who’s a real Indian. Younger people. Moved here in the last few years. Lot of them were raised in cities, or adopted out and raised white. Pretty angry about things.”
“Like Mango doing ceremonies? That stuff was coming up down in Arizona—people teaching the medicine for money. We did sweats at the treatment center, and some Indians around Tuscon had bitched. The administration got some Pima guy to do the sweats and the Sioux got mad.”
Louie nodded and shrugged. I guessed I’d come close.
The phone rang. Dorie got it, said something I didn’t hear, and then called Louie. He talked for a few minutes and then hung up.
“Winston Blue Horse. Said he heard you was back. They got a sweat going over at his house. Said to come on over—if you’re up to a warrior’s sweat.”
I shook my head. “I got some other things to do first.”
Dorie grinned. “Uh-huh, and one of them is stopping at Mona’s store.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The "President" made quite a speech the other night. He extolled the progress we're making in Iraq; how the people in Anbar Province asked us to help them out; that life in Baghdad was returning to normal.

Many commentators were stunned. Not all of them, of course: the Bill-O and the Rush and the Fox Family were jumped up and down, saying "See, he agrees with us! We're right! We're winning!" But the majority of commentators, even the middle-of-the-road Republican-symps, were stunned. They wondered if Bush was dwelling in an alternatve universe or perhaps on drugs or if he'd just gone totally bonkers. I think he was probably being true to facts: the executive branch now has so much power it doesn't even need to tell half-way true stories. Bush could just as well have said, "We are making steady progress against the dreadful Blue Cheese mold that is spreading throughout the Middle East," and it wouldn't have made any difference. True lies. You don't like what the administration is telling you? Tough shit.

The Democrats can fuss all they want. Ultimately, they're as tied into the killing machine as the Republicans. They're out to save their jobs and be loyal to them what bought them their jobs. However, they're still allowed to pose prettily for the cameras and cluck their tongues.

And the rest of us? Well, our taxes are going up and the received services are going down. We will be allowed, though, to see our corporate masters (and mistresses) drive past in their luxury cars. We may even be allowed to throw flowers at them...although turds would be more appropriate.

Friday, September 14, 2007


9-14 is a what kind of military exercise?

Hell, who knows. The military, these days, is getting the kind of hype that hasn't been seen since the German press applauded the German army for invading Poland—or since the Russian press talked about the "heroic" rescue of Hungary from the revisionists.

"Support the troops," according to many people, is to simply applaud them for whatever it is they do, including their generals, and to imply that anyone who doesn't is an ally of The Satanic Enemy. It's like if you said anything against the army's behavior at, say, Wounded Knee or Sand Creek you were an "Injun lover," and unAmerican.

Well, yes, I am an "Injun lover," and I'm not pro-American the way Rush Limburger is, but. But But but. Blind approval for an army ends up with governments like Pinochet's Chile, Franco's Spain, or Stalin's Soviet Union. It's really foolish and naive. The truth is, armies all the time do stupid things and generals constantly do stupid things. Petraeus is simply another political opportunists with great ambitions for himself. Yeah, like Franco or Pinochet or MacArthur. Being an officer in the military is about power; the higher one ascends, the more power there is. And power is one of the ultimate drugs, like money: you never have enough, once your addicted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Bush's model for his speech...

A little history lesson for the United States of Amnesia...Richard Nixon one-up-ing George W. Bush on justifying troop levels.

President Nixon's Speech on "Vietnamization," November 3, 1969.
Edited for Length

Good evening, my fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to talk to you on a subject of deep concern to all Americans and to many people in all parts of the world the war in Vietnam.
I believe that one of the reasons for the deep division about Vietnam is that many Americans have lost confidence in what their Government has told them about our policy.

The American people cannot and should not be asked to support a policy which involves the overriding issues of war and peace unless they know the truth about that policy.
Tonight, therefore, I would like to answer some of the questions that I know are on the minds of many of you listening to me.

The war (has caused) deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.
In view of these circumstances there were some who urged that I end the war at once by ordering the immediate withdrawal of all American forces.

But I had a greater obligation than to think only of the years of my administration and of the next election. I had to think of the effect of my decision on the next generation and on the future of peace and freedom in America and in the world.
Let us all understand that the question before us is not whether some Americans are for peace and some Americans are against peace....the question facing us today is: Now that we are in the war, what is the best way to end it?

I could only conclude that the precipitate withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam would be a disaster not only for South Vietnam but for the United States and for the cause of peace.

For the South Vietnamese, our precipitate withdrawal would inevitably allow the Communists to repeat the massacres which followed their takeover in the North 15 years before.
...With the sudden collapse of our support, these atrocities ... would become the nightmare of the entire nation and particularly for the million and a half Catholic refugees who fled to South Vietnam when the Communists took over in the North.

For the United States, this first defeat in our Nation's history would result in a collapse of confidence in American leadership, not only in Asia but through-out the world.
For the future of peace, precipitate withdrawal would thus be a disaster of immense magnitude.

A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends. Our defeat and humiliation in South Vietnam without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest.
This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere.

Ultimately, this would cost more lives.
It would not bring peace; it would bring more war.
For these reasons, I rejected the recommendation that I should end the war by immediately withdrawing all of our forces. I chose instead to change American policy on both the negotiating front and battlefront....
The Vietnamization (Nixon's version of “when their troops stand up, our troops will stand down) plan was launched following Secretary Laird's visit to Vietnam in March. Under the plan, I ordered first a substantial increase in the training and equipment of South Vietnamese forces.
After 5 years of Americans going into Vietnam, we are finally bringing men home. By December 15, over 60,000 men will have been withdrawn from South Vietnam including 20 percent of all of our combat forces.

The South Vietnamese have continued to gain in strength. As a result they have been able to take over combat responsibilities from our American troops.
Two other significant developments have occurred since this administration took office.
Enemy infiltration, infiltration which is essential if they are to launch a major attack, over the last 3 months is less than 20 percent of what it was over the same period last year.

Most important United States casualties have declined during the last 2 months to the lowest point in 3 years.

Let me now turn to our program for the future.
We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the South Vietnamese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces, and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable. This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.

I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program. And there are obvious reasons for this decision which I am sure you will understand. As I have indicated on several occasions, the rate of withdrawal will depend on developments on three fronts.
... An announcement of a fixed timetable for our withdrawal would completely remove any incentive for the enemy to negotiate an agreement. They would simply wait until our forces had withdrawn and then move in.

The other two factors on which we will base our withdrawal decisions are the level of enemy activity and the progress of the training programs of the South Vietnamese forces. And I am glad to be able to report tonight progress on both of these fronts has been greater than we anticipated when we started the program in June for withdrawal. As a result, our timetable for withdrawal is more optimistic now than when we made our first estimates in June.

Now, this clearly demonstrates why it is not wise to be frozen in on a fixed timetable.
We must retain the flexibility to base each withdrawal decision on the situation as it is at the time rather than on estimates that are no longer valid.
Along with this optimistic estimate, I must in all candor leave one note of caution.
If the level of enemy activity significantly increases we might have to adjust our timetable accordingly.

My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war. -I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.
Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary, a plan in which we will withdraw all our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom.

It is not the easy way.
It is the right way.
It is a plan which will end the war and serve the cause of peace not just in Vietnam but in the Pacific and in the world.
In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.
Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people.

I recognize that some of my fellow citizens disagree with the plan for peace I have chosen. Honest and patriotic Americans have reached different conclusions as to how peace should be achieved.
.. If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this Nation has no future as a free society.

And now I would like to address a word, if I may, to the young people of this Nation who are particularly concerned, and I understand why they are concerned, about this war.
I respect your idealism.
I share your concern for peace.
I want peace as much as you do.
..But I want to end it in a way which will increase the chance that their younger brothers and their sons will not have to fight in some future Vietnam someplace in the world.

Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism.
Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

As President I hold the responsibility for choosing the best path to that goal and then leading the Nation along it.
I pledge to you tonight that I shall meet this responsibility with all of the strength and wisdom I can command in accordance with your hopes, mindful of your concerns, sustained by your prayers.

Thank you and goodnight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Damn, it's 'Nam: jamais vu, all over again

In Viet Nam, victory was always a light at the end of the tunnel; but that light was always a train coming full-tilt boogie at whatever was standing in the tracks. It ran over 58,000 American troops and wounded tens of thousands more.

That light is again shining on us from Washington: we’re making substantial progress in Iraq, we’re told. Uh-huh. Just like in ‘Nam before Tet. We spilled the Viet Nam war over into Laos and Cambodia in some bizarre and immoral hopes of...what? Winning? Today America’s leaders are trying to slosh the was over in Iran in some bizarre and immoral hope of winning. Or at least keeping the war going. Or something or other.

The administration has, as Eric Margolis points out, no memory of past mistakes. We’re winning in Anbar and Baghdad, we’re told, all kinds of little firefights and battles. But the bodies keep piling up. A lot like ‘Nam. We may be winning some battles, but we’re losing the war.

The United States of Amnesia.

Published on The Smirking Chimp (
Damn, it's 'Nam: Americans are now in a familar tight spot
By Eric Margolis
Created Sep 9 2007 - 11:14am

We all know what "deja vu" is. But I recently read of a condition psychiatrists call "jamais vu." That's where one sees something very familiar, but cannot identify it.

Both the White House and U.S. military seemed gripped by jamais vu.

Many of the same mistakes made in the Vietnam War are being repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, but neither the White House, Pentagon, nor U.S. field commanders seem to recognize or understand them.

This week, Gen. David Petreaus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, will issue a report on the "progress" his troops are making in Iraq in the face of serious problems, and hint at future troop reductions.

The report will speak of important security successes in Baghdad and Anbar province. Gen. Petreaus is a very smart, highly respected commander, but one suspects his report will unfortunately be the latest example of jamais vu syndrome.

U.S. commanders in Iraq, like their Canadian counterparts in Afghanistan, keep proudly reporting how their men have occupied villages or towns, killed scores of "suspected terrorists" (usually thanks to air attack), and forced the enemy to flee.

They do not seem to understand they are fighting a fluid guerrilla war in which territory and body counts mean little.


Mao Zedong perfectly described the principles of such guerilla war: "When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue."

The "successes" being reported from Iraq and Afghanistan are illusory.

We heard exactly the same story during the Vietnam War, when U.S. military spokesmen trumpeted daily glowing reports about enemy body counts, strategic hamlets created, Viet Cong tunnels blown up, hearts and minds won over, and smiling children waving little American flags.

While the U.S. was "winning" all these little daily battles, Communists were winning the war.

Institutional memory rarely exceeds 10 years.

Most of Vietnam's bitter lessons, paid for by the blood of 58,000 Americans, have been totally forgotten by the White House and Pentagon.

But don't blame the soldiers. Once again, U.S. fighting men in Iraq and Canadians in Afghanistan have been sent into no-win wars by their poorly informed, badly advised civilian masters, and ordered to keep coming up with rosy progress reports.

I have covered numerous guerilla wars in my time and have never seen Western powers win a single one. Yet we keep forgetting this hard lesson.

We have also forgotten the great Gen. Douglas MacArthur's warning after Korea, "never fight a land war in Asia."

The much ballyhooed Petreaus report will be a key part of the game of political chicken President George Bush is playing with the Democratic-controlled Congress, which wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.


Bush appears determined to keep the war going until his term expires to avoid blame for defeat in Iraq.

Congress is trying to lay all the blame on Bush, get him to admit defeat, and evade its own shameful role in authorizing the trumped-up Iraq War.

But Congress is in a jam. If U.S. troops do withdraw, Iraq may fall into even worse chaos than it now suffers -- which a Democratic president will inherit.

In an election year, Republicans will blast Democrats as "defeatists" for "cutting and running" and "losing Iraq."

That's why worried leading Democrats are now backing off calls for total withdrawal and mumbling about partial pullbacks and "training Iraqi forces."

Meanwhile, the administration refuses to admit Iraq has no real government or army, and is an anarchic stew of competing Shia militias, tribal chiefs, death squads, 22 Sunni resistance groups, and breakaway Kurds. Iran is becoming the real power in Iraq.

Polls show 80% of Iraqis want U.S. forces out. The U.S. occupation is largely responsible for unleashing Shia ethnic cleansing that has created four million Iraqi refugees.

History does not repeat itself, but men's mistakes and follies do.

The latest sombre example is Iraq, where our memory of Vietnam is ... jamais vu.

About author Eric Margolis is a columnist for the Toronto Sun [1]. His web site is [2].
Vote Result


Walden: he'd support an invasion of Greenland if the Party wanted him to

Oregon’s 2nd District Congressperson, Greg Walden, has come out in favor of General Bush’s report on the progress we’re making in Iraq. No surprise: Greg would support an invasion of Greenland if Bush could come up with some semi-sane reasons to do so.

Again, the thing is: it’s an illegal and immoral war to begin with. Bush-Cheney lied about the ties between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein and about the weapons of mass destruction. Utter lies. Bullshit lies.

Under those circumstances, all America can do, morally, is say “We made a terrible mistake, the people who misled us into this war will be punished, and we will do whatever you deem necessary to make amends. We will immediately withdraw and ask for neutral help to repair the damage we have done. We’re very very sorry.”

But, being the most heavily armed country in the world, we don’t have to do that. And we won’t. Chances are we’ll invade some other country on equally made-up reasons. Like Greenland. And Greg Walden will support that.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Petraeus and WMDs

The ins and outs of military politics are as arcane and crooked as any politics. We remember the attempts to bury My Lai. Good military politicians get rewarded, no matter how bad their actions may have been...

Look who’s now the big-time spokesweasel for the “surge:”

13 May 2003
U.S. Troops Find Second Biological Weapons Trailer Near Mosul

(Defense Department Report) (520)
Washington -- Troops from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division - -
stationed in northern Iraq and headquartered in Mosul -- have found
what military authorities believe may be a second mobile biological
weapons laboratory, says the division commander.

"The suspected mobile biological agent production lab found on 9 May
in our area was found by one of our infantry units during operations
at the al-Kindi Rocket and Missile Research and Development Center,"
Major General David Petraeus said May 13 during a briefing from Mosul.
"Our own chemical section looked at the trailer and confirmed it as a
trailer that was very close to identical to the first trailer that was
found by Special Forces southeast of here last week."

Petraeus said he spoke with experts May 13, and they have a
"reasonable degree of certainty that this is in fact a mobile
biological agent production trailer."

Sunday, September 09, 2007


More on Makah and whales and racism

A little more on the story—and controversy—over the whale the Makah Indians took on Saturday. The first whale they took stirred up a rattlesnake den of racial hatred, egged on by Paul Watson and his followers, the Sea Shepherd. Here's an excellent rap:


Sleepy Sunday simmerings

Here's a link you all—at least those of you on my side of the political aisle—would do well to check out:

The idea is to form a movement around a political platform rather than a candidate or a party. Sure: there are progressive values many of us share: a belief in diplomacy rather than armed aggression, universal health care, an end to the oil addiction, and so on. So it would be a matter of having these issues as check-outs for the candidates—OK, here's what I want, Ms/Mr Candidate, where are you at on these positions? That way we don't get hooked into the Cult of Personality that dominates our political system. There's something hard-wired in us that wants to improve the world, I think. Altruism. But it too often gets co-opted by the party system.


And, going from the political world to the, uh, er, hmm....

I spent a few entertaining minutes running down a certain temporarily famous photo of a certain temporarily-young Disney actress who made the mistake of posing nude in front of her mirror—or so the story goes. Who knows? She's really beautiful, yeah. Why shouldn't she be? The entertainment industry (which is exactly what it is) amasses beautiful young women the way CEOs amass bonusus, the way politicians amass donations. How long will she last? Well, nude photos haven't ruined too many actresses careers, over the years. You probably know who she is, so Google her. There, I've done admitting my dirty old man-ness.

Friday, September 07, 2007


The Lords of Yesterday

I found this on the “Friends of the Clearwater” web site. I might add that Gordon Smith is most likely heir to Craig’s network of “friends,” and, in the House, Greg Walden will do his damnedest to sell out the west to the Lords of Yesterday.

The Lords of Yesterday (The fall of Larry Craig)
Posted On: Fri, 09/07/2007 - 12:48
by foc

from the Moscow Pullman Daily News

TOWN CRIER II: Good riddance to servant of timber, grazing interests

By Mark Solomon

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Approaching this weekend's resignation of Sen. Larry Craig, conversations on the fate of our senator across Idaho and the nation often turned into heated debates. Craig has been around a long time.

He has power. Some have profited from his actions as our senator, others have fought him.

Quite a few of us know him personally and, differences in policies and politics aside, were surprised by the harsh judgment handed down by his peers in D.C. Did his fall from grace need to be so sharp, sudden and unforgiving?

I say "yes," but not for the sensational reasons offered by his colleagues. Craig's lack of senatorial supporters and inevitable fall is because he was less a representative of Idaho as he was servant of the "Lords of Yesterday," University of Colorado law professor Charles Wilkinson's phrase for the timber, mining and grazing interests that have controlled our western public lands for the past 150 years. Craig was the last of their errand boys with any power in D.C. He won't be missed.

The forces that gave rise to the power of the Lords are there to discern: relatively small populations in the West's public land states; immense public land resource values; and the reliance of federal land managers on Congress for agency budgets. Combined they gave the Lords a way to systematically fleece the public domain. An Iron Triangle came into being with the Lords, a core group of senators, and federal agencies each delivering and receiving the goods. Craig and former senators such as McClure (Idaho), Murkowski (Alaska), Gorton (Wash.), Packwood (Ore.) and Burns (Mont.) got cash from the Lords to win elections and increase their power through seniority; agencies got budgets from senior senators to build their bureaucracies; and the Lords got our public lands' resources for a fraction of their value. And woe to anyone who got in their way.

An example of the Triangle at work raiding Idaho's national forests - and Larry Craig in action - is the story of John Mumma. In 1989, Forest Service Regional Supervisor Mumma, responsible for the national forests of northern Idaho and western Montana, ordered a reduction in the amount of timber cut to sustainable, legal levels. Forest Supervisors Win Green on the Clearwater and Tom Kovalicky on the Nez Perce supported Mumma. As you can imagine, the Lords could not allow this to continue. Sen. Craig, on their behalf, sent a warning letter to agency chief Dale Robertson, "It is my hope that you will move to assure that (logging) targets are met and line officers are held accountable," he wrote. Ordered by Robertson to increase the cut, Mumma refused and was forced into retirement. Green quit rather than oversee destruction of the Clearwater. Kovalicky left soon thereafter.

The forest liquidation sale resumed, challenged only by forest activists who successfully took the Forest Service into court and outside the short-term control of the Triangle. Short-term, because the Lords' senators were there to change any law that got in the Lords' way.

Craig led the campaign of destruction, eliminating or weakening laws that protected our forests and fish. His favorite weapons were appropriations and budget riders where he could operate in the shadows, unseen. As a senior senator on the Interior Appropriations Committee, Craig created loopholes or cut any federal agency's budget that didn't produce the results the Lords wanted. Remember the 1995 Salvage Rider waiving the "restrictions" of Forest Service laws for one year? That was Craig. How about the 2005 elimination of the Fish Passage Center, a small federal agency that counted and reported how many salmon were making it past the Columbia River dams? Craig. Attempts to pass Lords-friendly amendments to the National Forest Management Act written by Mark Rey (former timber lobbyist, Craig staffer and now Bush administration Forest Service overseer)? Craig again. The list goes on and on.

With Craig's resignation the Lords are left without senior senatorial errand boys. Their ability to control the West's future is seriously diminished. Newer western senators such as Mike Crapo understand the need to balance use of public lands with their protection, something the Lords' senators never did.

I mark these days for what they are: the true dawning of the New West. Go ahead, join the forests and salmon and breathe a great sigh of relief that Craig is gone. I raise my glass in celebration of the bright hope I hold for the West's future as our senior senator slinks into the shadows.

Mark Solomon observes the Palouse from his homestead on top of Moscow Mountain. Town Crier II is a weekly series of columns contributed by 13 local writers. The Town Crier columns run on Wednesday.


Now is the hour

OK: it’s an awful situation. OK, our “leaders” are pricks. OK, our elections are a farce.

Now what?

Well, this:

We are the Ones We've been Waiting For
You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships? Are you in right relation?
Where is your water? Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community. Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.
--The Elders Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation


Secret report says Iraq gov't in collapse

In one way, it’s thrilling to watch the facade of the Bush-Cheney junta start it’s collapse; on the other hand, it’s frightening because those two are perfectly willing to do whatever they think necessary to prop up their props. It's even worse, of course, to see the damage they have done—not just to Iraq or the morale of this country, but to the legacy of America. They've turned America into the stereotype of the power-crazed empire. They're criminals.

Iraq government near collapse, secret report says

Thursday, September 6th 2007, 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers returning here this week got hit with more bad news about Iraq in a confidential report that says the fragile democracy is "collapsing," the Daily News has learned.

The boycott of the government by certain Shiite and Kurdish political blocs has left Iraq's leadership hanging by a thread, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

The report by CRS, Congress' research and analysis arm, was completed Aug. 15 for the House and Senate.

"My assessment is that because of the number and breadth of parties boycotting the cabinet, the Iraqi government is in essential collapse," Kenneth Katzman, the author of the report, said. "That argues against any real prospects for political reconciliation."

Without a political infrastructure in Iraq, any military progress would be short-lived, he added.

Katzman, who grew up in Long Island, also challenged the success of the Baghdad Security Plan, known as the troop "surge," which President Bush claims is working.

"I would even question the military progress," he said.

Many senior State Department officials in Iraq believe a political solution to the war is now "hopeless," according to a top diplomat.

"I would agree with that," Katzman said.

The CRS analysis said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to save a "collapsing government" while fending off rivals who wish to topple him.

While U.S. troops have succeeded in temporarily pacifying Anbar Province west of Baghdad, violence has spiked north of the city in provinces such as Diyala, where Al Qaeda in Iraq relocated, he said.

The influential CRS report obtained by The News was completed before another pessimistic congressional report released yesterday. Both were waiting for lawmakers returning from their summer recess.

Congress' investigative agency, the General Accountability Office, reported that Iraq hasn't completed 11 of 18 U.S.-set benchmarks for progress.


Police crack down on dissent

Paul Craig Roberts, a well-credentialed conservative, believes that unless Bush and Cheney are removed from power, the U.S. could well be a police state by the time of the next elections. Which then wouldn’t happen, right, because of “terrorist” disruptions.
I think that’s about a 70% probability. Not that those guys would actually “want” power, of course—it would be for the good of the nation. To save it.

Police break up anti-war meeting in Washington

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Mounted police charged in to break up an outdoor press conference and demonstration against the Iraq war in Washington on Thursday, arresting three people, organizers and an AFP reporter said.

"The police suppressed the press conference. In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium" erected in a park in front of the White House for the small gathering, Brian Becker, national organizer of the ANSWER anti-war coalition, told AFP.

"Then, mounted police charged the media present to disperse them," Becker said.
The charge caused a peaceful crowd of some 20 journalists and four or five protestors to scatter in terror, an AFP correspondent at the event in Lafayette Square said. No one appeared to have been hurt.

Three people -- Tina Richards, the mother of a marine who did two tours of duty in Iraq; Adam Kokesh, a leader of the Iraq Veterans Against the War group; and lawyer Ian Thompson, who is an organizer for ANSWER in Los Angeles -- were arrested, Becker said.

"A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities."

The ANSWER coalition is trying to rally support for an anti-war demonstration in Washington that is due to take place on September 15.

Last month, the movement was threatened with a fine of at least 10,000 dollars unless it removed posters in the city announcing the September 15 march.

Washington city authorities have said the posters had to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.

"At our demonstration today we were showing the media that the paste we use conforms to the rules," Becker said.

"One of our activists was making a speech when the police barged in and grabbed the podium. At that point, Tina Richards started to put up a poster, so they arrested her and two others."

"This strategy of suppression has not worked. We expect many tens of thousands of people" in Washington for the September 15 anti-war demonstration, he said.
The march has been timed to coincide with the release of a report by the US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and will be part of a week of protests led by veterans of the Iraq war.

A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities, ANSWER has told AFP.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


On the road, 50 years later

This is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s (Jack Crackerjack, a friend called him) On The Road. I think it can be argued that “On the Road” turned out to be the most influential novel of the second half of the last century. My opinion, maybe not your’s. Not the best novel, nor the most interesting, but clearly one of the most creative.

Kerouac’s novel inspired, of course, thousands of hitch-hikers to start moving back and forth across the country. It turned out to be the ultimate road novel. When I read it, I realized something had happened in American lit. I was young and in college and really didn’t know shit, but I did know that something had changed when that book came out. I remember no one in the English Department at the college had read it; they viewed it as simply another Thomas Wolf clone, a flash in the pan. It wasn’t of course.

Kerouac, on the basis of that and a couple of other novels—neither as startling as On the Road—became a monument in American fiction. He wasn’t a good candidate for that job. He was a misfit no matter where he was. Another sad case of a tortured, emotionally stunted, and alcoholic writer. He was a flash in the pan; On the Road has endured and so has Kerouac’s off-center career.

I couldn’t see that at the time, of course. I was young and out of a stuffed-up southern California environment. What Kerouac had done seemed like the most romantic thing since Byron drank wine out of a skull. He, and his pal, Neal Cassidy, drove back and forth across America, drunk, stoned, wired, and definitely alive. Kerouac’s be-bop inspired prose echoed his altered brain chemistry. He had fun, even when he had the blues.

Of course I wanted to be that way. I already knew I was a misfit. But the so-called “beat generation” seemed like a nation of misfits, ready to accept just about anyone who wanted in.

That was fifty years ago. Eventually, I realized that “fitting in” meant fitting in to a crumbling stage set or Hollywood back lot. It meant taking on a role, learning to play a part that really didn’t have much to do with who I was.

I never did learn to fit in. I learned that Kerouac was a lonely and unhappy drunk, underneath it all. He died a drunk, way before the end of his life expectancy. Neal Cassidy was, to be nice to his memory, a womanizer, a speed freak, and a talented sociopath. He died early, too. I’m still here, and I like that just fine.


Biology determines...sigh

I’m not very fond of this saying, but it’s quite true: “Biology Determines.” Evolutionary biology; we’re members of a species and the goal of a species is to continue to exist. For this to happen, creatures within than species have to mate and produce children. So how do we mate?

Well, as a rule we mate by looks. Men look for physical beauty first. Women go for men that can offer material wealth and security. Historically, these have been men we consider “manly.”

And there are those of us who don’t meet those standards quite as much as others do. I sure ain’t no Brad Pitt; never have been, and at my age, never will!

Off to the sidelines.

Looks are everything: study
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2007 | 5:18 PM ET
CBC News

While humans may consider themselves highly sophisticated beings, a new study says that when it comes to choosing a mate, we resort to the most basic of selection processes: looks.

Despite claims by individuals to the contrary, physical beauty is the key trait men look for, according to research by Indiana University cognitive scientist Peter Todd. Women, on the other hand, are choosier but tend to pick men who can offer material wealth and security that is on par with how the women perceive their own attractiveness.

If beauty is the key trait men and women look for, as a new study suggests, could Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt be the epitome of human evolution?If beauty is the key trait men and women look for, as a new study suggests, could Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt be the epitome of human evolution?
(Associated Press)

"Evolutionary theories in psychology suggest that men and women should trade off different traits in each other, and when we look at the actual mate choices people make, this is what we find evidence for," Todd said in a release in advance of his study, which is to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Ancestral individuals who made their mate choices in this way — women trading off their attractiveness for higher-quality men and men looking for any attractive women who will accept them — would have had an evolutionary advantage in greater numbers of successful offspring."

The study used a speed-dating session to compare what people said they wanted in a mate with whom they actually chose. Speed dating is where men and women have a number of "mini-dates" that last only a few minutes, giving them only a short time to decide whether they would like to go on a proper date with that person.

At the end of the mini-date, the men and women must check a box on a card to indicate whether or not they would like to see the other person again.
Continue Article

Todd and his research colleagues say speed-dating events are a "microcosm where mate choices are made sequentially in a faster and more formalized fashion than in daily life."

In the study, 46 adults in a speed-dating session in Germany were asked to fill out a questionnaire that assessed themselves and their ideal mate, grading traits such as physical attractiveness, financial status, health and parenting qualities.

Most said they wanted a mate like themselves, yet when the sessions began, the men sought the more attractive women. The women, meanwhile, were drawn to material wealth and security, and set their standards according to how they viewed their own attractiveness.

The study also found that men wanted to see half the women they met again, while the women wanted to meet only a third of the men again.

Todd said he plans to conduct several other speed-dating sessions to confirm the findings.

"Speed dating lets us look at a large number of mate-choice decisions collected in a short amount of time," he said. "It only captures the initial stage of the extended process involved in long-term mate choice. But that initial expression of interest is crucial for launching everything else."


Biology determines...sigh

I’m not very fond of this saying, but it’s quite true: “Biology Determines.” Evolutionary biology; we’re members of a species and the goal of a species is to continue to exist. For this to happen, creatures within than species have to mate and produce children. So how do we mate?

Well, as a rule we mate by looks. Men look for physical beauty first. Women go for men that can offer material wealth and security. Historically, these have been men we consider “manly.”

And there are those of us who don’t meet those standards quite as much as others do. I sure ain’t no Brad Pitt; never have been, and at my age, never will!

Off to the sidelines.

Looks are everything: study
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2007 | 5:18 PM ET
CBC News

While humans may consider themselves highly sophisticated beings, a new study says that when it comes to choosing a mate, we resort to the most basic of selection processes: looks.

Despite claims by individuals to the contrary, physical beauty is the key trait men look for, according to research by Indiana University cognitive scientist Peter Todd. Women, on the other hand, are choosier but tend to pick men who can offer material wealth and security that is on par with how the women perceive their own attractiveness.

If beauty is the key trait men and women look for, as a new study suggests, could Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt be the epitome of human evolution?If beauty is the key trait men and women look for, as a new study suggests, could Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt be the epitome of human evolution?
(Associated Press)

"Evolutionary theories in psychology suggest that men and women should trade off different traits in each other, and when we look at the actual mate choices people make, this is what we find evidence for," Todd said in a release in advance of his study, which is to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Ancestral individuals who made their mate choices in this way — women trading off their attractiveness for higher-quality men and men looking for any attractive women who will accept them — would have had an evolutionary advantage in greater numbers of successful offspring."

The study used a speed-dating session to compare what people said they wanted in a mate with whom they actually chose. Speed dating is where men and women have a number of "mini-dates" that last only a few minutes, giving them only a short time to decide whether they would like to go on a proper date with that person.

At the end of the mini-date, the men and women must check a box on a card to indicate whether or not they would like to see the other person again.
Continue Article

Todd and his research colleagues say speed-dating events are a "microcosm where mate choices are made sequentially in a faster and more formalized fashion than in daily life."

In the study, 46 adults in a speed-dating session in Germany were asked to fill out a questionnaire that assessed themselves and their ideal mate, grading traits such as physical attractiveness, financial status, health and parenting qualities.

Most said they wanted a mate like themselves, yet when the sessions began, the men sought the more attractive women. The women, meanwhile, were drawn to material wealth and security, and set their standards according to how they viewed their own attractiveness.

The study also found that men wanted to see half the women they met again, while the women wanted to meet only a third of the men again.

Todd said he plans to conduct several other speed-dating sessions to confirm the findings.

"Speed dating lets us look at a large number of mate-choice decisions collected in a short amount of time," he said. "It only captures the initial stage of the extended process involved in long-term mate choice. But that initial expression of interest is crucial for launching everything else."


Hurricane Felix and Miskito Indians

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