Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review 328: Reds

REDS: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America, by Ted Morgan. 685 pages, illustrated. Random House

This long, strange book gets off to a good start by locating the beginning of McCarthyism in the ‘teens when Joe McCarthy was still in primary school. In fact, Joe doesn’t appear until page 325, and he does not start behaving like a McCarthyite until about page 350.

The first American Reds were what we would now call Blacks: anarchists, many from
Italy or Central Europe and bringing their European resentments with them. With no program or organization, they were insignificant as a political force although dangerous in spots because of their violence (although they killed and wounded fewer than one-one hundredeth as many Americans as capitalist employers did. Americans were in more danger of death from the National Guard than from anarchist bombers.) 

Morgan identifies “the first McCarthyite” as Edgar Sisson. He was, typically, a newspaperman, gullible or venal, or perhaps both; and, also typically, he operated on forgeries. He duped the gullible President Wilson into the first government anti-Red assault, a disastrous invasion of Murmansk, where, Wilson was assured, 100,000 local fascists (as they were not yet called) would be inspired to rise up in favor of the tsar.

As was to happen again and again, the anti-Reds were no-shows and young Americans were slaughtered. A Michigan National Guard regiment suffered casualties at a rate that would have made Pershing blanch on the Western Front.

Morgan then does another good turn by documenting the rise of the racist criminal Edgar Hoover and the inability -- not corrected to this day -- of American rightwingers to identify a Red.

But -- and we have still not met Joe -- Morgan goes off the rails. There was a lot of spying by Communists, both American and foreign, in  the ‘30s and early ‘40s, which Morgan identifies as the period when Reds posed a “real threat” to America. He never says what this threat was.

It never existed.

By August 1939, the revolutionary program of Bolshevism was dead, and the change in strategy to the Popular Front was a complete failure. The Comintern never subverted a government anywhere, and no Communist Party was significant in any country. Most of the Communists outside Russia had been murdered by fascists, and many of the small residue were murdering each other.

Inside Russia, too, Communists were murdering each other. Russia itself was being invaded (by Japanese rightwingers) and had not one ally. Its military, which had been built up at ruinous cost too soon, was obsolescent; the officer corps was wrecked; the country’s agriculture was failing; the national minorities were restive; and Russia was in no position to invade anyone -- something that, in any case, it had shown no desire to do since the close of the civil war in 1921. 

Rightwingers saved Bolshevism. By invading Russia, Germany gave the party a platform to rally the population and to create an army that could and did invade other countries. Also, the prestige earned by the Communists by defeating Hitler recruited nationalists in all the western European empires to resist colonialism under Red banners.

But spying for the Soviets in America was a bust. The information stolen was of no use and was sometimes laughable: Morgan reports solemnly that Communists stole “secret documents” concerning the P-39 fighter. These could not have been helpful, since Lend-Lease was supplying the USSR with thousands of P-39s, which the Red Air Force put to excellent use by destroying German tanks, which is more use than the Americans ever got out of their P-39s. (The USSR did receive some valuable secrets from Japan, Germany, Britain and Canada, but not from America.)

After this long, misguided section, Morgan gets back on the rails to make his second major point: That Truman and his loyalty program had dismantled the Communist Party by 1948 at the latest. This is a position adopted by every historian known to me, aside from the slavering rightwingers.

Thus, by the time McCarthy launched his campaign of lies, there were no spies left, and not much even of the underground party of the Reds. As is well known, except to rightwingers, McCarthy never identified a single spy. All he did was besmirch his country and enrich a pack of snitches who continue to  con gullible 100% Americans to this day.

This is interesting, in the same sense that watching hyenas eat a zebra is interesting, but Morgan seriously underplays the baleful role of the Catholic church and perhaps overplays the role of Eisenhower in bringing McCarthy low, although I think Eisenhower’s role was more equivocal than Morgan makes it.

Morgan also revives for historical memory some of the junior McCarthys, like Jenner, who have dropped out of public memory because of McCarthy’s celebrity; and he is more forthright than most in recounting the Hitlerism of McCarthy and many of his strongest supporters. It was not strange when Ronald Reagan, who sat out the war against Hitler, went to Bitberg. Reagan was always a McCarthyite and he knew how to appeal to them.

Morgan does come up with the best definition of McCarthyism I know: “the use of false information in the irrational pursuit of a fictitious enemy.”

This comes very late in the book, though, in the longest Epilogue I have ever seen -- 50 pages devoted to recounting the persecution of Americans -- often our best citizens -- by McCarthyites after McCarthy died.

McCarthyism didn’t need McCarthy, and his miserable end as a despised and lonely drunk did nothing really to harm it. It thrives today


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The air power delusion

Some people -- well, at least 2 people, John McCain and Nouri al-Maliki -- believe that airplanes are an effective counter to a committed insurgency using guerrilla tactics.

A lot of reporters also seem to think reflexively along these lines, and if you add in the word "drone," they completely lose any sense of proportion.

The little ISIS force that is marching through Iraq the way Sherman marched through Georgia doesn't have any drones, helicopters or airplanes. Apparently, not even much in the way of artillery, either antiaircraft or conventional.

The phantasmogorical Iraq national army does have helicopters, planes and artillery. What it doesn't have is any reason to fight. According to the Washington Post, Maliki said:

 “If we had air support, none of this would have happened,” Maliki said in a BBC interview Thursday.
Yeah, right.

As recently as Saturday, Maliki's so-called government was claiming success for its assault to retake Tikrit. It is regrettable that no reporters are with ISIS, so it is hard to tell what is going on but by Sunday it appeared that that recapture of Tikrit was as imaginary as Iraqi national unity.

On Sunday, the militants claimed they had repelled an Iraqi government counteroffensive against the city of Tikrit, which fell under Islamic State control more than two weeks ago.
The operation marked a major test for the Iraqi military as it tries to reverse the insurgent gains, but it appeared that the attempt to recapture the city had failed.
Ground forces backed by helicopter gunships launched a three-pronged pre-dawn attack on the militant stronghold of Tikrit on Saturday, but residents and a tribal leader said militants from an al-Qaeda breakaway group had repelled the troops’ advance, rigging roads into the city with explosives.
Residents said the insurgents, who have been assisted by local anti-government groups, were still in control of the town center on Sunday. State television had claimed to have cleared Tikrit of militants on Saturday.
It isn't 1940 any more, the novelty of attack from the air is gone. Soldiers without air cover don't panic and run away; they know what to do.The dumbest Muslim sectary understands what John McCain doesn't: Air power is not the decisive element in violent conflict.

(In one of those stories that are small in themselves but revealing of huge changes, there was an interview with a Marine Corps officer who had been mistakenly attacked by an A-10 [flown by the Air Force] in Afghanistan and then again in Iraq. He told a reporter: "If I cannot have Marine air cover, I don't want any at all.")

That's why wars fought by orderly formations of uniformed soldiers, linked in straightforward logistical networks, are so rare these days. And, as we saw in South Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq, the orderly formations usually get beaten, no matter how big their air forces, when opposed by a dedicated guerrilla.

In places as varied as South Sudan, Colombia, Uganda, East Timor and Namibia, forces without planes, armor, artillery, radios, uniforms, MREs or even rucksacks have either prevailed or fought massively armed, modern governments to a standstill.

Did we learn nothing in Vietnam? Most of the Washington apparat did not.


Education policy

And speaking of education policy, and the allegedly better American schools before liberals and unions ruined everything by, you know, allowing every child to go to school, today is the anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act.

Before that, this is what "school" meant for millions of American children:

Or this:

The Doc is in!

I look forward to Sundays, because that's when Doc Zoom continues his long-running review of Christian history books aimed at the home schoolers. Today he is especially hot, perhaps because the books have gotten to the '90s, and there are few things that bring out the crazy in evangelical Christians like Bill Clinton.

In any event, Doc is rewarding reading today.

However, the choicest morsel is not directly concerned with Clinton. It is more about the uncanny ability of rightwing loons to ignore what's right in front of them in favor of believing whatever nutty component of their delusions is to the fore at the moment.

Soon, an outcry arose from those who saw the (proposed health insurance ) plan as too expensive and too intrusive into American life.
Whew! Thank goodness the 100% Americans beat health care reform to death and saved us from rising medical costs ever since 1995.

Still charging the old, low rates

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An unbelievable verdict

I spent nearly half a century in the newspaper business, and met -- and on a few occasions worked with -- crooks and various other sorts of criminals. But they were few. Fewer, I believe, than in most other lines of work.

That may be only participant bias but newspapers are different from other businesses in that you get rewarded, in esteem, by pointing out publicly the lapses of your competitors; or even your colleagues.

Nevertheless, the newspaper business also has a long and storied history of criminality, mostly on the business side. Herbert Bayard Swope was one of the famous American editors of the 20th century. He ended up a multimillionaire and not just by selling papers one at a time for 3 cents each.

Which is all to lead up to a long piece in the Guardian by Nick Davies reviewing the trial in England of Murdoch's minions. Only one was convicted.

I do not for one minute believe the others were not also guilty. Davies sets out the reasons, which are completely persuasive:

The hacking case against Brooks and Coulson was based on a platform of inference. How could they not have known about the beehive of offending around them, the crown asked. How could they not have known about Mulcaire’s speciality when he was one of only two outside contributors with a full-time contract and was being paid more than any reporter, at one point more even than the news editor? How could they not have known the origin of all those stories whose accuracy they had to test? How could they have been ignorant when a humble sports writer described Mulcaire, a former footballer, as “part of our special investigations team” in a story published by the News of the World when Brooks was editor? Brooks and Coulson insisted they had known nothing of Mulcaire’s criminality. They had not even heard his name until he was arrested in August 2006, they told the jury.
The rightwingers have run a campaign for over a generation -- it didn't start with Spiro Agnew but it heated up to a new level  then -- to besmirch the newspaper business and the honestly of reporters. It turns out that, by far, the most guilty are the rightwing component of the business. Go figure.

The trouble with Russia . . .

. . . is that it's full of Russians.

Further evidence comes in this story from Bloomberg News, which recounts the slide into the economic abyss under Vladimir Putin, whose 15-year reign at the top of the heap puts him within striking distance, as for as longevity goes, with those other misgoverners of Russia, Nicholas II and Joe Stalin.

Putin, however, does not have the excuse of having to deal with a devastating invasion by Germans.

The Bloomberg look centers on finances and ignores agriculture, which has been the fundamental problem for the Russian economy since forever, and certainly since Nicholas ascended his throne. It was the failure of agriculture not the rumblings of Reagan that brought down communism. The attempt by the United States to turn Russia toward capitalism by, for example, modernizing its stock market, was a complete failure. The US did make some ineffectual efforts to advise the Russians on improving their farming -- that's a sector where US advice was more likely to be worthwhile than financial markets, where no one would have been well-advised to follow the lead of the Reaganites.

It is not clear to me whether the Russians rejected the American advice on farming or just ignored it in favor of mining gold and oil.

It is obvious what first steps Russia needed to take to get its agriculture on a paying basis -- provide all-weather farm-to-market roads. This would have multiplied the efficiency of farms, which continue to lose much of their output after the harvest; would have stimulated the general economy, New Deal style; would have added to the national infrastructure assets; would have provided an outlet for the economic aspirations of the non-Russian minorities; and would not have been threatening to other nations.

In short, it would have pushed Russia in the opposite direction from the one it actually took.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


About a month ago, I was certain this bougainvillea was dead. It had dropped every leaf and was just a bundle of sticks. The only reason I didn't cut it down was that I wasn't eager to wade into all those thorns.

I was even more certain that it had died because the other bouganvilleas in the neighborhood, although they had dropped some leaves during the winter, had not dropped them all; and they were already opening new buds last month; and this plant had never dropped all its leaves in the 10 years or so since I planted it.

Maybe we cannot fool Mother Nature, but she can sure fool me.

Game over

From this morning's New York Times:

Sunni militants have gained control of a major Iraqi border post with Syria and several nearby towns, the Iraqi government said Sunday, trying to cast a positive light on what it and Western officials described as a worrisome development by saying Iraqi troops had made a “tactical decision” to withdraw from the locations.
The Iraqi prime minister’s top military spokesman, Gen. Qassim Atta, in his briefing Sunday, said that Iraqi Army troops had left the Al Qaim border post, and the towns of Rawaa and Ana, but that the units were joining the battle elsewhere.
 If estimates are correct, the ISIS forces amounted to about 2 regiments, and 3 regiments make a division.

At the first of this month, the Iraqi national army listed a strength of 14 divisions. 4 ran away the moment ISIS attacked, leaving 10 less whoever has run away in the last few days.

On paper, the Iraq army is still 10 times bigger than ISIS, and that's not counting whatever police forces that are supposed to be in the service of the state.

What happened was that the army bugged out again. The Maliki government is toast, and its only strategy is to lie and pretend as long as it can in hopes of finding some really, really stupid and evil Americans who will ride in to rescue its worthless hide.

Dozens are queuing up for the role of stupid-beyond-belief Americans, like Ryan Crocker, John Bolton, the tag team of Dick and Liz Cheney and, not least, the Republican standard bearer in 2008 (the period during which, we are now being told, our 2003 policy was "bearing fruit"), John McCain.

ISIS frightens Liz and Dick Cheney

In one of the silliest remarks to gain currency in American pop culture, Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American life. There are if you are a rightwing Republican failure.


 Bloomberg News has a hard-hitting interview with an Iraqi deserter.

 “Our morale collapsed and we lost the motivation to fight,” the 25-year-old Sunni Muslim said in a phone interview last week from the Kurdish-controlled part of northern Iraq, which he says he reached after hiking for hours with tears pouring down his face. “If there’s a strong Iraqi army, why didn’t it come for Mosul, and how come more areas have fallen? There is no more hope in the army.”
An outsider's view:
 “For long-term stability, you absolutely need an apolitical, professional army,” Austin Long, who teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York and specializes in Iraq, said by phone. “There just seems to be no prospect right now for that happening. Maliki’s response to this crisis has been to turn to the Shiites even more so than he has before.”
And the head incompetent of the incompetents in the US Army, which bugged out when it could no longer stand the heat, said:

 General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked in a June 18 Senate hearing why the Iraq army, which the U.S. spent $25 billion to train and equip, had performed so badly against ISIL. He pointed to a lack of army leaders “supported by a central government that is working on behalf of all the people.” Dempsey said the Iraqi army “has not broken down entirely on sectarian lines, but it could.”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Free advice and worth the cost

So President Obama is going to send Special Forces advisers to the Iraq  national army. What are they going to advise them to do, not run away?

The problem is not that the army doesn't know how to fight -- it may or it may not -- but that it has no reason to fight.

Didn't we learn anything in Vietnam? Obviously not.

UPDATE, June 22

Since America has 5,000 people in the Baghdad embassy, which is considerably over the estimated strength of the ISIS battle force that is routing the Iraq national army, it occurs to me that maybe the problem of the Iraq government is too much American advice already.

We know what happens

Book Review 327: My Life in France

MY LIFE IN FRANCE, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. 352 pages. Anchor paperback, $15

Maybe I am wrong, but I do not think I would fall in love with Paris, and Julia Child’s love letter from there (assembled at the end of her long life) does not make me think I would, either. While not as charming as Elliot Paul’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” once Child gets rolling, and she unmasks her feelings about some people she had to deal with (especially her father), “my Life in France” does attain charm.

But it sure doesn’t make Paris sound attractive, and neither did Paul’s despite its passion and charm. The classism turns me off -- not hers, the French people’s.

The main narrative concerns how she was taught classical French bourgeoise cooking, and then both Americanized and regularized it. She calls her approach “scientific,” and in some ways it was. She also was a prodigious worker.

From this the cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” emerged as a natural entrepreneurial offshoot of the cooking school she and her friends established, although the school cannot have been much of a business proposition itself.

It is interesting, if you like cookbooks, to compare Child’s progress with that of Irma Rombauer to “The Joy of Cooking” (told by Anne Mendelson in “Stand Facing the Stove,” which despite its inexplicable title is an excellent history of  classical American bourgeoise cooking and essential to understanding both the difficulties and the achievement of Child).

But “My Life in Paris” is also the first-person love story of Paul and Julia Child. Paul does not come through as vibrantly as Julia.

It is also, and very much by the way, an insight into the politics of the ‘40s, ‘50s and early ‘60s by an aware liberal (where the conflict with her pa came in). Some of her throwaway lines are devastating, such as the fact that toward the end of their time in Indochina, the French were losing as many officers as were being commissioned out of St. Cyr and the other academies.

Child does not mention -- it would be bizarre if she had -- that by 1968 the Americans were running out of officers, too.

But everything links up, in cooking and in war.

“My Life in France” was assembled by Chlid and her nephew, using interviews supplemented by papers from her files, but it reads well, and as the book progresses, better and better, an unusual accomplishment for such an approach. Julia Child died as the final stages of composition were being completed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Return of the Rubber-type Army

Ready to die for what?
Some things don’t change very much. Every few years, the foreign despots the United States bankrolls get in trouble, and the rightwingers assert that with just a little push, they can be propped back up. No real cost to us.

So the downfall of Maliki in Iraq is following a well-known script, which it is convenient to call the “Return of the Rubber-type Army.”

The phenomenon goes back to 1919, when President Wilson was tricked into believing that 100,000 fierce Russian fighters who could not wait to restore the tsar were ready to eliminate the Bolsheviks. All they required was money (of course!) and the stiffening of a  few soldiers from the Arsenal of Democracy.

So Wilson sent a regiment of Michiganders to Murmansk. The 100,000 tsarist patriots did not show up, and before the Americans were withdrawn they had suffered some of the highest casualty rates of any American troops ever.

The truth was that no one who had a choice was going to choose to die so that Nicholas could accumulate more pretty enamel Easter eggs.

This story has been played out again and again, at the Bay of Pigs, in South Vietnam, in China, in Iran and lately in Syria and Iraq.

But the classic statement of the rightwing fantasy of farmers dying to die for them was made by A.J. Liebling in his “Wayward Press” column in the New Yorker in April 1951.

The United States was interested in having the North Korean and Chinese Communists driven out of Korea, though not so interested that it wanted to pay the blood-price itself. That was a job for poor farmers, preferably brown ones.

The rightwingers, like soon-to-be Speaker of the House Joseph Martin, wanted to “unleash Chiang Kai-shek,” who, conveniently had an idle army holed up on Formosa, whence they had fled after being trounced by the Chicoms in 1948. What would be more desirable than to ship them to Korea, where they would fight for the democracy they had not felt like fighting for in their homeland?

The truth was, in China these men had (for the most part) thought that what they were being asked to die for was landlordism and oppression of people like themselves, and they had voted by running away. It was the closest the Kuomintang ever came to democracy.

But that was not the point made by Liebling. He was concerned about the phony claims of the size of this army. He used an old gag from the printer’s trade about rubber type, which could be stretched or squeezed to fit whatever task was at hand. In this case, he ridiculed the varying claims about the size of the Chinese army available, which ranged from 450,000 to nearly 1,000,000, with several other estimates in between.

If the United States were ever to support a democratic regime led by more or less honest patriots, there no doubt would be a reservoir of patriotic men and women ready to die with our support. But seldom has the United States ever done so. The outstanding exception was under Franklin Roosevelt, where we supported patriots, not all of them democrats by any means, but who were at least not being asked to die so that the rich could get richer.

Instead, we have almost always backed murderous kleptocrats like Mobutu and Mubarek. We can go further than that. While both Democratic and Republican administrations have put their muscle behind these criminals, those have been the only kinds of local leaders that rightwingers have supported.

If I have overlooked any counterexample, I am sure someone will easily correct me.

Now, the notional Iraq army is throwing away its weapons and going back to the farm, just like the tsar’s soldiers in 1917. If reports can be believed (and maybe they can), the still-intact formations in Baghdad are wearing mufti under their uniforms so they can desert as soon as they have the chance.

This is not Barack Obama’s doing. When Incurious George invaded in 2003, he had made no plans for a successor government. It was supposed to arise from the ashes spontaneously.

To the extent that any preparations were made at all, Incurious George wanted the Iraqis to be led by Chalabi, a Sunni grifter with no political base who had not lived in Iraq for a generation. Small wonder that the majority Shia distrusted American bona fides and when they got their man, Maliki, inserted into the money pipeline from Washington, they made a point of showing their independence of American colonialism by running an old-style Arab despotism.

Something very similar is going on in Afghanistan, and it is hardly likely that the notional national army of that fake state will last much longer.

American rightwingers, most prominently John McCain, who has been closely involved in three wars, all of them lost, want to repeat the Rubber-type Army approach. There not only is no chance it will work from here on out, there was never any chance it could have worked, given the corruption and stupidity of the Bush policy.

Rightwingers behaving badly

If I didn't write a blog about pawning, I would not have known about this revealing rant by Rush Limbaugh. You should read the whole thing to get the true smarmy quality, but the summary is, a caller identifying himself as a pawnbroker called Limbaugh to know if his customers were accurately informing him about the state of the overall economy.

Yeah, go figure.

Anyhow, the pawnbroker mentioned that a client came in needing money to tide him over until he received his disability check. Limbaugh was offended that our nanny government pays disability to injured workers (although the workers fund the insurance):

RUSH:  Holy smokes! So somebody comes in, you say, "Why do you need the money?" and they respond, "My disability check won't come in 'til next week, that's why I'm selling you this Rolex" or whatever it is?
It was a lawnmower, and, yeah, pawnshops are in business to provide short-term, usually small loans to people who need a few bucks.

So, Mr. Sensitivity went on:

RUSH:  What are you actually trying to ascertain?
CALLER:  Just to see if, you know, these liberal friends of mine and, you know, them that are saying that the economy's doing so well, you know, but I see people every day that, you know, are not doing well.
Imagine finding people not doing well at a pawnshop. Have you tried the country club, Mr. Pawnbroker?

After some more incoherent exchanges, Limbaugh concludes:

RUSH:  Ask them what they think of swapping five prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl. Ask them what they think of concussions. Are they less inclined to go watch the NFL because they're killing the players?  You know, dress it up however you want.
CALLER:  Right.
RUSH:  Then ask how they're doing, why they need the money.
CALLER:  Right.
RUSH:  And then tell 'em it's not your job to provide it, and see what happens.
Actually, it is the pawnbroker's job to provide money.

The subtext of this exchange is as hateful as anything else you are likely to find in a conversation with rightwingers, and I flag it only because of the implication by Limbaugh that anyone on disability is some sort of welfare king buying Rolexes and crab legs with public funds.

Thomas Hobbes once described Man living in a state of nature -- that is, Small-Gummint Man -- as "solitary, mean, brutish, nasty and short." That's a good description of the friendless and often-divorced Limbaugh, don't you think?

Movin' on, what self-important singer's political opinions are you least interested in knowing about?

No, you cannot pick the hypocritical gas-hoarder John Denver. He left the gas at his mountain hideout instead of putting it in his airplane's tank and so he's dead. Howzabout Pat Boone, author of "A Miracle a Day Keeps the Devil Away" and the 1961 book of advice to teen-agers that sparked the Youth Rebellion, "Twixt Twelve and Twenty."

What has Boone done lately?

He has authored a racist rant about President Obama who is ruining the republic. Apparently the supply of miracles ran out.

Did you know that Pat Boone has been writing an "exclusive" weekly column at World Net Daily for nearly 10 years? I did not know that.

Pat Boone has been writing obsessively for over 50 years, and this week he had to fall back on that tired staple of the columnist who has run out of themes, the satirical dream:

In this dream, a "secret cabal of communist manipulators" selected a likely young "black/white" boy and groomed him for high electoral office, maybe even the highest. But first, they corrupted the elections at the Harvard Law Review to make the puppet "briefly" president of the Law Review, because, as we all know, American voters are terribly impressed by making the HLR.

Once again, you have to read the whole thing to enjoy the loopy weirdness of the rightwing loon in full flight.

So we have answered the question you forgot to ask, has Pat Boone done anything to offend public decency since fathering Debby Boone?

Yes, yes he has.

Maybe it was all a dream! How else, Pat Boone wonders in his WorldNetDaily column today, could America not see that “a secret cabal of Communist manipulators” had trained a “young black/white college student, originally school in Indonesia” to be a cunning politician after getting him "admitted to Columbia and then Harvard”? - See more at:

Maybe it was all a dream! How else, Pat Boone wonders in his WorldNetDaily column today, could America not see that “a secret cabal of Communist manipulators” had trained a “young black/white college student, originally school in Indonesia” to be a cunning politician after getting him "admitted to Columbia and then Harvard”? - See more at:
Maybe it was all a dream! How else, Pat Boone wonders in his WorldNetDaily column today, could America not see that “a secret cabal of Communist manipulators” had trained a “young black/white college student, originally school in Indonesia” to be a cunning politician after getting him "admitted to Columbia and then Harvard”? - See more at:

Thursday, June 12, 2014


In a few days or weeks, these will be the sweetest, juiciest oranges ever.

Although this branch promises abundance, it looks like a small fruit set this year. The tree is a navel orange that I planted nearly 25 years ago.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day anniversary: Thank you, Serbian nationalists

What with starting World War I and massacring Bosnian Muslims, Serbian nationalists don't get a lot of love, but on this anniversary of the invasion of France, let us pause and remember that it wouldn't have happened without the bravery and stupidity of Serbian nationalists.

Lots of other people contributed, too, of course, but had it not been for Serbian nationalist pride, the outcome of World War II might have been different.

Hitler planned to invade Russia in the early summer of 1941, and although there was some confusion about objectives, the plan was to occupy Moscow, the capital and transportation hub of eastern Russia. That almost happened but not quite for a couple of reasons:

First, by September the Russians had beaten the Germans, when they caused the millionth German casualty, one Germany could not replace. After that, all Russia had to do -- not an easy task -- was to hold and on grind out victory. Second, in November the seasonal rains began on schedule, slowing the German logistics train to less even than a crawl.

The Germans still got very close to Moscow, and with a few more days or weeks of dry weather, they might have captured it. The Soviets were evacuating, but it is not certain that the will of the people to keep resisting would have survived the capture of the capital, which was also a key center of munitions production.

Playing history-might-have-been is a mug's game, but in this case a few more days of good weather could only have been a big boost for Hitlerism.

And we all have the Serbs to thank for that.

In April, the nationalists deposed the pro-Nazi regent and installed the teenage King Peter on the throne. The Germans diverted a couple of corps of their Russia invasion force and overran Yugoslavia and also Albania and Greece in a few weeks.

But it delayed the start of Operation Barbarossa until June 22, and weakened the German army and air force somewhat.

If the Germans had not had to keep almost all of their army in Russia, the western allies could never have found a spot weak enough to assault from the sea. There would have been no D-Day, Eisenhower would not have become president . . . .

The Serbians paid a terrible price in blood for their nationalism. We ought to remember that, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vote fraud

Well, the rightwingers cannot provide any evidence, either to the courts or the public, that people are using fake IDs to vote for -- presumably -- liberals, so we are justified in thinking their drive for new voter ID laws are just racism, especially since their record on other race issues is so bad.

But just because liberals are not violating election laws en masse, that does not mean nobody is.

The day after the latest primary is ripe with smelly reports from GOPland. It is hard to decide which is weirder. I am inclined to go with this one:

A candidate who finished fourth in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota was charged on Wednesday with violating campaign election laws, prosecutors said.
Annette Bosworth, 42, a doctor from Sioux Falls, was charged with six counts each of perjury and filing false documents and accused of falsely claiming she was gathering nominating petition signatures in South Dakota when she was really in the Philippines, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office said.
Details are lacking, so it is hard to guess 1) why she found that necessary; or 2) how she thought no one would notice.  But she appears to be, well, nuts:

Bosworth made national news during her unsuccessful campaign for a social media post comparing food stamp recipients to wild animals

But wait! There's more! Down in Mississippi:

there is NO REASON to think that the three people who got locked into the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi were doing anything nefarious. They just happened to accidentally get stuck in the closed courthouse after midnight on the night that ballots were being counted in the Thad Cochran / Chris McDaniel Senate primary that was too close to call. And one of them is a top campaign official for tea party candidate McDaniel.
 This is not, on its face, as funny as the Doctor Who Was in Two Places at Once, but the comments are hilarious.

One of the three was also part of what (so far) is the weirdest incident of the current campaigns, the break-in to video the ga-ga wife of Senator Cochran in her nursing home bed.

Those Tea Partiers, what a bunch of cutups!

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long -- Mississippi gains on SoDak:

"It's a fabrication that someone pointed them to a door," Hinds County Sheriff's Department spokesman Othor Cain told the Clarion-Ledger. "I think that's a total misrepresentation of fact. None of our guys let anybody in."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Creeping de-socialism

Today's laff riot from inside the Beltway is the outrage from plutocrats, Republicans and even a few Democrats over the Maoist/Trotskyist Kenyan usurper's plan to desocialize the coal and electrical generation businesses by making them pay for the garbage they make instead of dumping all the cost onto the public.

 “If these rules are allowed to go into effect, the administration for all intents and purposes is creating America’s next energy crisis,” said Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “As we predicted, the administration chose political expediency over practical reality as it unveiled energy standards devoid of commonsense and flexibility.”

You would think they would welcome being responsible, market-driven economic actors, factoring all inputs vs. outputs to gain a true value for their activity. But no, they prefer socialism.

Actually, only some rightwing socialists deplored the Maoist/Trotskyist Kenyan usurper's move, which, after all is not asking them to pay for all the damage they do, only about 30%.

The owners of Peabody Coal, the world's biggest, were quite bucked up to learn that they will continue to be 70% socialist. Better to be pink as a boiled lobster than a Randian capitalist, I guess.
Koch brothers and legal advisor study Obama rules

Shares of Peabody Energy (BTU_), the world's largest coal producer, were up 1.2% in early trading at $16.35

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Remember the 'surge'?

What was that all about, anyway?

BAGHDAD — Violence claimed the lives of 799 Iraqis in May, the highest monthly death toll so far this year, the United Nations said Sunday, underlining the daunting challenges the Iraqi government faces as it struggles to contain a surge in sectarian violence.
Just an excuse to let the beaten US Army bug out, like the Christmas bombing of Hanoi. Some things never change.

Book Review 326: The Watersmart Garden

THE WATERSMART GARDEN: 100 Great Plants for the Tropical Xeriscape, by Fred D. Rauch and Paul W. Weissich. 236 pages, illustrated. Hawaii paperback, $24.99

“TheWatersmart Garden” could be helpful in most hot, dry areas but Fred Rauch and Paul Weissach work in Hawaii and the book is targeted to the islands. Specifically, the rich part, as about half the selections are tagged as specially suitable “for the beach garden.”

“Xeriscape” was coined in 1982 in Denver. Most parts of America west of the 100th meridian are dry, sometimes very dry, but desert chic has not caught on very strongly in Hawaii. People want the leeward side to look as “tropical” as the windward, although the tropics are not naturally lush everywhere.

Perhaps tiered pricing will push owners toward xeriscape, but the market approach doesn’t work so well when the problem lies where the richest people live. About the time “xeriscape” was being first pushed on Maui I visited a homeowner in Maui Meadows -- naturally about like southern Arizona -- and commented on his jungly yard.

His reply, as I recall was, “Yeah, the house had a dry garden when I moved in, but I ripped it out. This is Hawaii.”

He could afford to think that way.

“The Watersmart Garden” is not merely Hawaii-centric but Oahu-centric. I bet not even half their recommendations are commonly available at Maui nurseries. Dwarf poinciana, for example. I cannot recall ever seeing that for sale, and seldom or never in Maui landscapes.

There are some notable absences, too, like smooth hala.