Saturday, June 02, 2012


Something on my bicycle, that is.  I rode through northwest Olympia to The Evergreen State University this afternoon.  It's one of my standard routes and I've done it many times.  Eight miles out, on the Evergreen Parkway, I shift gears and my chain starts grinding and growling as I pedaled.  Something else was not right but I couldn't tell what.  I stopped checked it out as best I could and limped along.  As I did, my bike felt unstable, "not solid", like something was loose or seriously out of whack.  My bike may be coming apart, for all I could tell.  I knew I would ride no farther.

Fortunately, I was at the college and close to the bus stop with frequent service.  I soon caught a bus back into town with my bike mounted on the front.  In town, I rode uneasily to a bike shop.  The mechanic said I needed a new chain.  (The one I have may be either a 24 year old original or a long ago replacement.)  He couldn't find anything else wrong with the bike on the work stand.  He took it for a ride and came back saying he felt exactly what I described but didn't know what it was.

My bike remains in the shop awaiting the more experienced mechanics. 

I walked home.

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They're Not Dead Yet

"Advertising that you were a part of GW Bush’s foreign policy team is like bragging that you have genital herpes" is about as pithy a verdict on Condoleeza Rice and the whole CheneyBush cabal that drove America into the ditch. Apparently Rice's name is being floated as a Republican VP candidate for Mitt Romney, providing at once ethnic and gender balance along with foreign policy experience (however questionable). It's a cynical ploy but not at all beyond belief. Maybe the Republicans think that four years is long enough to forget what a fucking disaster CheneyBush was.

Vice President Rice or no, a President Romney is likely to give us more of the same foreign policy that has bled the nation for the past decade. His likely advisers are pretty much the same crew and their intellectual spawn that gave us our current wars.  They see no reason to change anything but maybe some tactics. Not even the disasters in Iraq or Afghanistan give them pause. As far as they are concerned, all is fine, largely due to the policies they set in motion.  Any current success surely does not result from any actions of the current administration but rather from their own wise vision and effective stewardship.

The Big Lie is alive and well. 

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Friday, June 01, 2012

Still Standing After All These Years

Today is Unsolicited Opinion's 8th blogiversary.  I started posting on June 1, 2004 and have been at it ever since--1,444 posts in 2,922 days, one every other day for eight years.  I can't say that it amounts to a hill of beans.  This blog hasn't ignited any revolutions or broken any major stories.  What it has done is given me a chance to not only speak out but also to clarify my thoughts.  By itself, writing requires thought and organization but putting those words out for public consumption provides even more discipline.  

So eight years later I'm still at it.  When I began, GW Bush was running for a second term and I was hoping that John Kerry, what ever his faults, would make him a one-termer.  That did not happen. Even more disappointing has been to see how little changed when Democrats captured both houses of Congress and the presidency.  I would have been surprised in 2004 to think that I could be even more cynical about politics and policy but eight years later I have less expectation for progressive change than I had back then.  Clearly blogging has not made a difference there.

Maybe the best part of the entire exercise has been meeting (mostly online but a few in person) interesting people who share my values.  When I get too cynical, I can at least remind myself  that I am not alone

So in honor of today's occasion, I am re-posting one of my initial pieces.  The specifics are dated but the conclusion in the final graph still sounds like America in the age of Obama.  The legacy of Bush-Cheney survives.

Bush Lies

Earlier this year Bush supporters were outraged that a contestant dared illustrate similarities between Bush’s words and those used by Adolf Hitler. It was a mini-firestorm of outrage and accusation that soon gave way to the next controversy. I haven’t forgotten it, though, mainly because the similarities are too frighteningly similar. I don’t think Bush is a Nazi. He’s no Adolf Hitler. But he and his administration may be as dangerous to America’s security and civil liberties as the Nazis were in Germany.

The cabal that stole the presidency in 2000 has lied, manipulated public opinion and made every effort to expand government’s ability to spy upon Americans and limit time honored liberties. And that’s just at home. Internationally, the Bush Administration is the ultimate rogue state. But unlike the rogue states and terrorist organizations that Bush claims to protect against, the US is able to assert its will against all others, at least in the short run, creating major mayhem in the process. The world did not want Gulf War II but we invaded Iraq anyway. Iraqis may have been pleased to be rid of Saddam Hussein, but our ill conceived occupation has failed to restore their security even as it heaps insult and hostility on them. Much of the world sees the U.S. as dangerous these days.

But what most bothers me and reminds me of Hitler’s Germany is Bush’s manipulating the public. Josef Goebbels knew the power of the Big Lie. And the Bush Cartel has used that weapon extensively. Bush tells the lies that Americans want to believe. We invaded Iraq only in self defense. Weapons of mass destruction are still to be found in Iraq. Only opponents of democracy oppose our occupation in Iraq. The administration repeats these mantras over and over. The overwhelmingly conservative media (America’s equivalent to a state run media) amplify this message. In the meantime, reality moves in a completely different direction. Americans and Iraqis die, hostility grows and the goal of a stable, democratic Iraq grows more distant.

Not that Bush is the first American president to lie or distort the truth to fit his version of reality. Manipulating opinion goes back a long way in American history and has had a particularly egregious history since World War II. But the Bush administration seems to be more comprehensive in the scope of its ambitions to control America and the world. The world must accommodate itself to America’s needs, not unlike the arguments put forth by Germany in the Thirties. And Americans must sacrifice liberty for security. Again, I hear totalitarian echos in these words. We are engaged in a titanic struggle with evil, with The Other. Any criticism endangers our troops and weakens America in this time of peril.

It all reminds me of 1984. Permanent war. Big Brother. A cowed citizenry. Back in the 50's and 60's I always thought the threat was external. I’m older and wiser now. The danger that George Orwell warned about was not from the outside. It came from within. We’ve been at risk almost since he wrote his prophetic words but the Bush Cartel has brought us to a totalitarian precipice. I fear that Americans will not see the danger before we step into the abyss.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due

Two days from now, on June 1 to be exact, this humble blog will celebrate its eighth anniversary.  Unsolicited Opinion may be a backwater in blogtopia (ysctp!) but it is a long-lasting.  Eight years is a long time in internet years so I take a certain amount of pride in keeping the show going, despite low traffic.  I write because I want to say things and publishing forces me to clarify my thoughts.  If I were doing it for the recognition or high traffic volume, this site would have been dead a long time ago.

Although traffic here is miniscule by Big Box Blog standards, it has been picking up of late.  May will be the third month in a row that more than 400 visitors stopped by.  May's total might even top 500.  My average daily traffic has inched up from the high single digits to the mid-teens.  A large part of that growth is due to links on other blogs, especially on The Galloping Beaver where each post on Unsolicited Opinion appears on their masthead until it is superseded by other blog posts.  Some days virtually all of my traffic comes through TGB.  I'm especially pleased that a fine Canadian blog recognizes me.  I'm hardly the only US blog on their masthead but I am pleased to show our neighbors to the north that all Americans are not batshit crazy.

Three other blogs, Herlander Refugee, Disaffected and It Feels So Good, and Under the LobsterScope are also feature my most recent post on their masthead the same.  I see them show up occasionally as a referral source.  I appreciate the recognition and have added all three to my blogroll.  I guess the truly proper thing would be to figure out how to return the favor and show their most recent posts on my masthead but at the moment I don't know how that is done.  Regardless, a blog with readership in the mid-teens is unlikely to generate much in the way of traffic.

In all ways, I appreciate the support of fellow bloggers and am happy to return the favor.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
          I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
          What place is this?
          Where are we now?

          I am the grass.
          Let me work.

     --Carl Sandburg


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Could Just As Well Be the US

From the Halifax ChronicleHerald with a hat tip to The Galloping Beaver.  A somewhat working knowledge of Canadian politics is required to fully understand many of the cartoons but some will resonate with south of the US-Canada border.  All are well done and can be appreciated by anyone who admires craftsmanship.

Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

Leon Panetta on the plan for Afghanistan:
I think you’ve got 50 nations in NATO that agree to a plan in Afghanistan. It’s the Lisbon agreement, an agreement that, you know, others, President Bush, President Obama, everyone has agreed is the direction that we go in in Afghanistan.
“What is that direction? It’s to take us to a point where we draw down by the end of 2014. That is the plan that has been agreed to. And it’s a plan that is working. And very frankly, the only way to get this accomplished in terms of the transition that we have to go through is to be able to set the kind of timelines that have been set here in order to ensure that we fulfill the mission of an Afghanistan that governs and secures itself. That’s what this is about.”
He's a man with a plan and the plan fits the man and we're going to stay in Afghanistan. 

Repeat until fully exhausted.


A Wish for 2012

Steven Pearlstein describes the myriad forms of capitalism in the Washington Post today.  Capitalism, he writes, comes in a variety of flavors.  Each produces a different outcome, often profit and sometimes enormous wealth for some at the expense of many. 

In this national election then, Pearlstein believes it is fair to ask candidates about the kind of capitalism they want for America.
We would all surely welcome an intelligent presidential debate on what kind of capitalism we want to have. Only please spare us the self-serving nonsense about who created or destroyed how many jobs. In almost any form of capitalism, running the government is not the same as running the economy, and neither is like running Bain Capital.
My additional wish asks for non-capitalist options.  Given the choices possible in 2012 America, I vote for humane capitalism.

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