October 2006

I spent a lovely week at the beach, keeping my eyes on the ocean. It is not a particularly noteworthy or distinguished part of the Atlantic coast, just a lot of development, with a few bits of dunes and nature left. Most of the nature left is the kind that has adapted to human habitation. But the sea is wonderful to watch with its shifting moods of light and color.

One morning, although I could see the surface of the ocean, it was very calm and there was a bit of fog. With the sun coming from the east, and reflecting off the silvery surface of the sea, and off the water droplets in the foggy air, it was hard to distinguish sea from air, except where the breakers splashed gently at the edge with little lines of white along the sand.

Another day the ocean was a deep blue green with a bit of a chop, going out to meet a bright blue sky. And for awhile I watched some dolphins hunting out front. I think there was some sort of a fish run, as there were several little boats out fishing as well. Boats and dolphins went by other times, but they didn’t usually stop to fish.

We watched a sunset of perfect Miami colors on both the sky and sea, blues, lavenders, pinks, peach, with little puffy clouds strewn across.

It was a lovely and restorative interlude.


For this week I’ll be offline. Who knows, you might see me here.

At reason.com Peter Bagge has a terrific comic strip that touches on most of the controversies surrounding immigration. The Bagge comic devastates the anti immigrant arguments, and manages to be both charming and biting at the same time.

The question to ask about the immigrants flooding over our southern border is cui bono, who benefits? Many of the people ranting against immigrants are the same ones who benefit.

The GOP used to preach fiscal responsibility. For decades they have not practiced it. Ronald Reagan ran up record deficits. In contrast Democratic President Bill Clinton left office with a surplus, about the only evidence federal fiscal responsibility in the last quarter century. BushCo has run up deficits that are almost unimaginable. But the media myth that Republicans practice fiscal responsibility continues. Digby captures this conversation with Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman and comments on it. Both Matthews and Fineman should know better, but I’m not holding my breath. Myths are often more compelling than reality or evidence.

Matthews: That’s something the Democrats don’t get and better damn get someday, which is, to Republicans having budget deficits is…

Fineman: it’s immoral.
. . .
Republicans don’t give a damn about deficits except as a weapon with which to hit Democrats over the head when they are in the majority. Every time the GOP gets into power they loot the treasury like drunken pirates and run up huge debts for somebody else to pay. The record for the past 26 years is clear.

Democrats believe that budget deficits are sometimes necessary when an economy needs a boost or to fund long term projects that require borrowing money. It’s straight up Keynesian economics, nothing fancy. Otherwise, they believe in paying as you go. Republicans believe that deficits are “their due” and that “bridges to nowhere” are the spoils.
. . .
Yet, if Democrats ever gain control of the political system, guys like Matthews and Fineman will be out there tut-tutting and nit-picking, falling back on same the fetid, moldy slogans about Democratic “taxing and spending.” And I’m sure they’ll call them immoral even as they try to put the fiscal house back in order after the GOP criminal gang came through and destroyed the place. These deficits will not disappear like magic — and the punditocrisy will help the Republicans fight the necessary hard decisions every step of the way.

This letter has been posted a number of places. I found it moving, informative, and a source of great pride in our fighting forces, if not in our political leadership.

Here are a few of my favorite selections, but read it for yourself, you may have better choices than me.

Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and “battlefield” tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what’s going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they’ve been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.
. . .
Biggest Outrage — Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O’Reilly.

Best Intel Work — Finding Jill Carroll’s kidnappers — all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we’d all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet.
. . .
Best Chuck Norris Moment — 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor’s hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can’t fight City Hall.
. . .
I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer.

Franco & OK Jazz, in all their evolutions and permutations, were the greatest African band of the 20th century, judged by longevity, the vast and extensive list of recordings, their musical evolution and continuing popularity. Franco, born in 1938, formed the original OK Jazz in 1956, and maintained a dominant position in African music for decades, until his death in 1989. His music remains popular, few can resist the beautiful guitar, and sexy rumba rhythms.

You can read more about Franco from the links at FRANCO & T.P.O.K JAZZ.

And you can listen to his music here and here.

If you would like to purchase recordings, there is a good selection at Pan African Allstars, sample tracks are included for you to listen before you purchase.

There is a new ad out for Senator Allen, criticizing Webb, in which a woman says she thinks Webb is a smart man but not an honest one.
The answer to that is obvious:
Allen is a dumb man, but not an honest one.

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