24.11.04

Chalmers Johnson hits another one out of the park...

Chalmers Johnson, former CIA officer and author of the outstanding book The Sorrows of Empire : Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic Comments on the recent news surrounding the CIA. It's a longer read but, as usual, it is well thought out, sited and just a wee bit opinionated. Enjoy... (scroll down until you get to the heading "How to Create a WIA")

Vodka magic...

Do you want that smooth tasting Vodka but are tired of paying too much for it? Now you have an alternative, with just a few simple steps you can now turn that handle of pain into something quiet drinkable, enjoy...

22.11.04

Iraq: The way they were...

My good friend Matt let me take a wild stab so here goes.

When I received my orders I knew it was coming, my chance to enter mans greatest effort, WAR! It takes more societal effort to go to war than any other human endeavor, so I figured I would get my chance to make a difference from the inside.

Telling you that the Tigris and Euphrates river valley reminds me of tropical Mexico with poverty stricken people and little or no infrastructure with lush green surroundings, doesn't really paint the whole picture. I would have to relate to you the eerie sound of calls to prayer that are carried on dusty afternoon winds and used to issue attack plans, and the way children chase every American vehicle along bomb blasted roads giving you a thumbs up and yelling for sweets. Children are a gift, a sign of safety as explosives aren't placed where children play very often. I would have to tell you this and much more. Its a strange land.

Iraqi men are fatalistic, "In'shallah", they say. Death is seen as glorious and forgivable, most men are worth more dead than alive, if they become martyrs their families are given a small allowance by their Sheik. So, in essence to seek a living wage for his family an Iraqi man seeks death. Truly a strange land.

I can tell you that the industrious Iraqis are reviled and tortured by their fellow Muslim brothers, two Iraqi workers where I live, in Tikrit had their arms removed for selling bootleg movie DVD's to entertainment starved soldiers. This is truly not what was envisioned when I was told the oldest American doctrine "Fight the enemy in their home, so you don't have to fight them in your home". This is not the way they were...

Book Review: When coal was king: A history of Crested Butte, Colorado 1880-1952

It's time to review the second book in my Colorado mining camp series (I'll be moving along to a different topic soon so don't despair) When coal was king: A history of Crested Butte, Colorado 1880-1952 proved to be quite a contrast to our last offering. The author of this book apparently did very little original research and seemed to have only one period newspaper as his source of information. When you combine this with the fact that a subsidiary of CF&I paid for the book, you get a book that is slanted considerably to the views of the company.
For those of you that don't know much about Crested Butte, a gorgeous mountain town about 20 miles south of Aspen in central Colorado, allow me to provide a little insight. The town was essentially a one horse economy, coal. This gave the mine owner, Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I), a tremendous amount of power in the community. They used this power in the typical manner of late 19th century corporations, to increase their profit regardless of the effect on others or even themselves. They only paid their workers by the ton of coal they mined, not for the time they had to spend cribbing the mine for safety. This pay came in the form of company scrip that was only redeemable at the inflated prices of the company store. These reasons combined with the pitifully small amount the company paid per ton for coal, caused frequent labor disputes. Rather than negotiate a reasonable wage with the miners that would cut into the company profits even slightly, CF&I allowed the strikes to close the mine for months, or in one case, years at a time. Obviously, this approach allowed the company to make no profit during that period. This approach, however ridiculous it may seem to us today, was common in the 19th century. The mine owners felt it was better to sacrifice profit than to allow the miners to gain even slightly.
This book, as poorly done as it is, is really the only book on the subject that I could find. If you are interested in the history of Crested Butte, I would recommend visiting the town and exploring it for yourself, you'll likely learn more than this book is able to provide.

Time for a guest blogger?

My buddy Theron pointed out that this blog might be slightly left of center. I've offered him the chance to add his voice to the din so, loyal readers, be on the lookout for a unique perspective which may come along in the near future...

18.11.04

You knew this was coming....

According to this article, W wants to reorganize the tax system, essentially eliminating taxes on investment. The kicker, and you knew that there had to be one, is that he plans to pay for it (a first for him) by eliminating the tax incentive that companies get for providing health insurance for their employees. If you work for a small business, this may be the straw that kills your health coverage. Aren't you glad you voted for the "moral" candidate, remember it's never too late for faith healing...

16.11.04

What the hell is happening at the Company?

This article in the WaPo seems to demonstrate the confusion in the upper ranks of the CIA currently. It's starting to look like Goss is doing the bidding of the administration and removing the voices of dissent. While this tactic might be expected, it is hardly appropriate. This agency's mission is to evaluate intelligence and come to the correct conclusion. This cannot be done with a room full of sycophants, dissention is necessary for this process to function correctly...

UPDATE This article in the NYTimes seems to indicate that Goss is turning the CIA into a partisan propaganda machine. This quote is particularly choice: [Goss] told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to "support the administration and its policies in our work,'' Well, I guess we don't need to worry about faulty intellegence anymore...

15.11.04

Book Review: The Corpse on Boomerang Road

If you're looking for a chronological, history text like retelling of Telluride and its difficult labor past then this is not the book you're looking for. The author uses a much more personal style in her retelling of events. A style so personal, with such a defined opinion of the events, that it qualifies more as an editorial than a history in some cases.
This, however makes The Corpse on Boomerang Road quite an entertaining read. The book starts off a little slow and in the middle of events that the reader has no real context to. After the first few chapters however, the book really takes off and is hard to put down. The author does a great job of bringing her subject matter to life through the extensive use of period news paper accounts and her own original research. I admit that the subject matter of this book is somewhat obscure (Telluride's labor history around the turn of the last century) but if you're into Western, Mining or Labor History and are looking for an entertaining book, then this is it.

Kaplan finally gets it right... mostly

In this editorial in the NY Times, Kaplan and his band of "realists" seemed to have awoken to the realization that imposing democracy in Iraq presents a different and much more difficult set of challenges than other countries where we have tried this in the past. He lays out a good historical and logical case for why this situation will be more difficult and take longer than our more recent projects in the Balkans. My only question, where was this analyses before we invaded the bloody country?

12.11.04

The obligitory test post

Well, I seem to have a blog now...