Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Ryan getting ready to hold us up.

Mark Twain said that, while “history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme.”  The arrogance of politicians is the unalterable belief that the outcome will be different for them.
Four years ago, Senator John McCain, a ‘Nam hero because he was held prisoner at the “Hanoi Hilton” after crashing his plane was imprisoned again but this time, in 2008, it was by the far right wing of his own party. 
The party muzzled John’s celebrated rogue manner, especially his inconvenient campaign finance reforms, and forced him to choose a not-ready-for-prime-time running mate from Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin, who didn’t know what she didn’t know, not even the constitutional provision that defined her job as VP.  Palin couldn’t name any publication she read to keep informed, and her myopic view of foreign affairs, she bragged, was the sight line from her back porch through the Aleutians to the Russian shore.  Palin prompted an incurable national epidemic of confidence jitters at the slimmest possibility that she might ever have to succeed the senior McCain as President.
This year we have former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney promising us 12 million jobs that will appear, as if by magic, if we allow him to implement his “secret plan,” can you smell the snake oil, once he’s elected, oh yeah.  You can hear the barker at the carney, “step right up and give up your tax money to save the wealthiest from paying taxes, and your rich friends will deign to rain down upon you whatever excess monies they don’t need, even go so far as to hire you middle class folk – although you may have to move offshore to Bangalore to work.”  The words of a seeming angel cast a veil over the face of the devil.
Mitt announced his running mate, his doppelganger some say, another nationally unproven tyro from the far right, Congressman Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand cultist devotee (who rankles at Rand’s atheism but loves her take-no-prisoner Darwinian capitalism).  Paul has passed only two bills of his own in Congress in thirteen years, but he’s been busy as a beaver more recently proposing a budget bill the bane of seniors nationwide who fear the loss of Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  This was hardly the book move for a presidential candidate, going around scaring the bejesus out of all those retirees in the nation and in Florida – a critical battleground state for the White House.  Mitt’s campaign drifted into a current running against him, so he had to “do something.” McCain thought the same thing in 2008.
I truly believe Romney recognized he’d lost the nomination as he wanted it, on his own terms, when he made the (Freudian) slip, announcing Ryan as the “next President of the United States.”
If Romney has a recognizable philosophy, it may not be what he needs to get the nomination. 
Romney is a lot like Senator Bob Dole who broke the indoor speed record for crossing the political spectrum, with a Guinness world record of inconsistent policy statements, just like Mitt, from the more neutral shades to far right red to land the nomination.  President Bill Clinton then pinned Dole down in the far right corner never letting the Dole of the rightward countenance to move toward the middle where the nation’s votes live in a general election.  It was a rout for Clinton that November. 
Now, I’m not saying that what Romney has done, in his R1-R2 strategy, will lead to a free fall failure as it did for Dole – I am prepared, however, to watch the bleeding begin.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


In an obese society, you would think folk would stay away from heart attack centers like fast food Chick-Fil-A for that reason alone, that it’s not healthy, but now we have another reason, its owner’s avowed intolerance of gays and same sex marriage.
About fast food, consider that a chargrilled chicken club, a dab of mayo, waffle potato fries, sweetened iced tea, and a small chocolate milkshake at Chick-Fil-A is worth a whopping 1,430 calories with 60 grams of fat, and 111 grams of sugar.  (Calculate your own meal - )  Ouch!  Let out your pants if you’re eating here regularly.  Feel your heart grow sluggish lubadub at the last shake sip.  You might pause, however, to worry about the onset of diabetes.  Of course, this is our national epidemic – eating badly.  Nearby West Virginia has the nation’s highest obesity rate at 33%, and the lowest state is in the low 20s; Virginia is “sandwiched” in the mid-distance between the best and the worst.  If this is not discouraging, and you still want to pig out, you can find on-line a Chick-Fil-A near you (  Keep in mind, however, that the USDA calorie counter, based on age, height, weight, and activity, teaches us that you really shouldn’t eat very much more on any day you’ve devoured a “snack” like this. . 
Of course, choosing to eat badly yourself is different than attacking and advocating intolerance against others. 
Dan Cathy, the owner of Chick-Fil-A, said he supported the “biblical definition of a family” and said that Americans have a “prideful, arrogant attitude” about same sex marriage that risks “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”  He also bragged about the men in his family for “still being on their first wives.”
Cathy’s attack on gay marriage, on the patriotism of those who support same sex marriage, and on the alleged harm to the nation he attributed to those who supported same sex marriage was both hateful and intolerant speech.
This has nevertheless prompted folk to defend Mr. Cathy’s First Amendment right to be intolerant against gays and gay marriage. 
It’s no surprise that Sarah Palin is intolerant about gays and same sex marriage when she’s not killing wildlife and field dressing her kill.  It is marvelously ironic, however, that erstwhile Presidential Candidate and Fox contributor, Mike Huckabee, himself a diabetic, having once bragged he lost 100 pounds dieting, has since suffered a relapse regaining his fuller figure, and invited America to join him by eating the fast food that he once railed against, at Chick-Fil-A, to show “appreciation” for the owner’s hateful intolerance.  It turns out that Huckabee has been eating the chain’s chicken (not so secretly) for 35 years and knew the company’s founder.
The fast food owner, Dan Cathy, might have given a second thought when making his remarks given that gays in same sex marriages likely work for him, and eat his food – at least they did before his recent charge they were ruining the nation.  You have to wonder now if he refuses franchisees who are in same sex marriages, and what his policy is about his employees’ sexual preferences. 
One of Cathy’s employees in Tucson, Arizona was asked while being videotaped about the “hateful corporation” she worked for.  She said, she was “staying neutral on this subject … my personal beliefs don’t belong in the workplace.”  Too bad Owner Cathy and his Dad’s best customer and guardian angel, Huckabee, didn’t see it the same way.  
Mr. Cathy might learn something from Bill Marriott who also believes in same sex marriages as a Mormon but does not impose his belief on his employees who work in 3,700 Marriot properties.  In a recent Bloomberg interview, Mr. Marriott reportedly said, “We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else.”  Mr. Marriott noted how, by way of analogy, “Our Church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States.  I don’t drink.  We serve a lot of liquor.”  More to the point, when his church opposed the same sex marriage initiative in California, he publicly stated Marriott’s commitment to gay rights through domestic partners benefits and services aimed at gay couples.
Dan Cathy would have done well to say his personal biases have no business in the workplace.  That he hasn’t is a good enough reason to exercise your First Amendment right to say that he’s dead wrong, and to practice a consumer’s right to get your fast food elsewhere.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Just when you stopped being surprised about black helicopters flying East and West to and from Mount Weather, we have Drones (unmanned aircraft) in America, one crashing to the ground in Northern Virginia recently, so we know they are no longer just in the Mid-East seeking out and blowing up terrorist targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen; they’re also here surveilling us.

Drone-mania started in the Bush White House and continued, as enthusiastically, in the Obama White House.  These flying drones can stay aloft for sixteen hours, controlled by radio signals via satellite to the theater of war 8,000 miles from Nevada where the pilot sits, before a video screen, manipulating “game controls,” from what looks like a portable ship container, relying on live-feed super high resolution video, with ready real destructive power, Hellfire missiles and bombs.

Indeed, every Tuesday, at the weekly counterterrorism meeting, attended by a phalanx of our national security apparatus, drone targets on cards and in PowerPoint presentations are designated in a ghoulish “whack a mole” ritual.  The process is somewhat suspect insofar as we pay $5,000 in bounty for intelligence from local nationals to inform us who the “real” terrorists are.  At least, this has simplified the Guantanamo detention question as to taking any more prisoners.  

Our government has defined away the killing of “innocent bystanders.”  “Combatants,” by official definition, are any “military age males in a strike zone …unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”  A “posthumous” judgment of innocence is awfully Alice in Wonderlandish and disserves our avowed counter insurgency initiatives in Pakistan and Yemen when we rain down Hellfire missiles transporting innocent nationals to Allah.

When we killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, hiding in Yemen, with a drone, we also killed Samir Khan, another American who was with him but not on the “whack a mole” list.

There has been alleged disparity in our government’s reports – that our targeted kills are overstated and the innocent dead are grossly understated.  U.S. Officials on different occasions say we’ve killed “over 20,” then “closer to 50,” finally conceding they really couldn’t say how many. 

Another dangerous genie has escaped.  Our drones manufacturers are selling them overseas to other governments.  

Closer to home, we shall be awash in some 15,000 drones in the United States by 2018.
Public Intelligence, a non-profit, has released a map that shows more than 60 bases in the United States with drone activity.
There are 50 companies, universities and government organizations producing and developing 155 unmanned aircraft designs.  The FAA has recently disclosed all the public and private entities that have asked to fly drones in the United States.
State and county governments want these drones to view, record and tape what we do and say. 
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell can’t get our drones quickly enough; Fairfax County’s Police Chief, David Rohrer, proclaimed he wants to use them “in this region…”

We have to be on guard for privacy violations.  Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) proposed a bill to outlaw the use of drones in the United States without a warrant approved by the court.  That’s a good start.  The Supreme Court in Kyllo v. United States found unlawful any warrantless search of a home conducted from outside the home using thermal imaging.  In United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court objected to a warrantless GPS attached to a car for 24/7 surveillance.  This trend may favor further protection for any expectation of privacy from drones hovering above us, dodging black helicoptors.

If you are interested in self-defense, you may want your own more reasonably priced drone operated from your iPad or smart phone (a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Quadricoptor)(for $300) ( ) in order to watch the government watch you, or to broadcast a birds-eye view of your next political demonstration, perhaps to bust the errant cop compromising someone’s First Amendment rights, or, if you are unsavory, to catch your neighbor sunbathing.

The bottom line is that our public dialogue is arid when we fail to object to how we use drones to kill innocents abroad, export them too freely to other nation-states, and allow them to invade our privacy without our express knowledge or consent.