Why Georgia Matters

First, let me just say people need to more closely monitor what Tom Clancy has to say because he called this conflict in Georgia a long time ago in the fantastic video game Ghost Recon.  Don’t worry.  America wins in the end.  He also wrote a novel about terrorists flying a jumbo jet into the capital building during the state of the union way before 9/11.  The man is really on top of things.

Of course, the US media performed admirably in telling the story of Georgia.  Here is the narrative I heard:  The Russians attacked Georgian cities and infrastructure, killing thousands of civilians in response to Georgian attacks in South Ossetia against Pro-Russian paramilitary units.  The Russian response was overwhelmingly harsh and John McCain swiftly and decisively called on the Russians to withdraw immediately or face the full might of American force.

Of course, this sounds normal to those of us in America because, at the end of the day, there is no such thing as history and everything in the world revolves around how US presidential candidates respond to events.

First, a little context.  Georgia has a significant oil pipeline that transports the black gold from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea oil fields to Turkey and the Mediterranean (and thus the western world) while bypassing Russia (yay!) and Armenia who is officially at war with Azerbaijan.That’s one reason people care about Georgia, but there is another reason this story is interesting and that brings us to the Republic of Kosovo’s recent independence from Serbia.

The global community has not come to an agreement about separatist movements.  When does a domestic separatist movement, many of which use terrorism as a weapon, become legitimate?  When can that territory declare itself free from their current home-nation and create their own.  The US and the West said ‘we decide’ this month when they recognized the Republic of Kosovo after it officially broke away from Serbia.

This separatist issue doesn’t really effect Americans, unless Hawaii decides to bounce, but other major world powers like Russia and China, as well as Pakistan, India, Spain, Israel and many more all have territories that would like to start their own countries.  Despite international guidelines that vaguely outline when a territory can secede, in reality its American and NATO that decides who can legitimately secede and who can’t.  See the Kosovo example.

The Russians, who strongly supported the Serbian effort to keep Kosovo officially within Serbia have a bunch of small territories that want to secede, notably the Chechens.  So when America and the West declared they call the shots over Kosovo, the Russian were infuriated.  That type of precendent could stoke the fire of many seperatist movements the world over, especially in Chechnya.

What makes the Georgian story so interesting is the Russians basically did the same thing the US did in Kosovo.  They support the separation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia.  These territories would then become satellite states of Russia or be annexed and join the Russian Federation.  The thing is, it sounds like most people living in these areas want to leave Georgia and join Russia.  (I’d love to see a reliable poll.)  Should we let them self-determine?

A Coda for the Disillusioned

I recently read the post entitled “A Requiem for the Disillusioned” and I find myself troubled and confused.  I am troubled and confused because I cannot understand how this raving indictment of “the culpable and their children”, which is nothing more than directionless angst, is the highest rated post on this “thought collective”.  I would like to bring “thought” back to this discussion.  Apart from its melancholy rhetorical flourishes, this article attempts to address no specific issue or audience in any coherent fashion, but instead makes vast, sweeping, and uninformed generalizations about “education”, “complicity”, and “fear” that are just as offensive as the instances of cruelty and derision it decries.  Your veiled threats and appeals to mass power are offensive.  You speak for everyone as no one.  I simply will not allow these threats to stand without an informed response.  Whoever this moniker refers to, let me say this at the beginning – I understand where you are coming from and empathize with your assumed plight.  However, this article is simply not helping anyone go anywhere that is better than the status quo that you, very clearly, reject outright.  I don’t really know where to begin, except, of course, with the beginning of this vapid article:

“To the culpable and their children, You fled, brothers and sisters. You fled from dark faces, dirty places. You fled for safety. You fled for the hope of a separate, improved education. You fled diversity. You sought the white picket fence. You felt derision so you sought division. Now you find yourself in a quandary. The very same isolation you required will be your death.”

As for the pleasant introduction to your intended audience, I’m going to pretend you were talking to me – something we in the writing biz like to call a “real audience.”  It must be very nice to know exactly who is to blame for the world’s problems. Is there a list you have?  Does George Bush have it? Like Santa Claus?  No list?  Oh, I see – you must be the Decider.  Please let me apologize for everyone who is “culpable”, we did not know you wrote for questionablesource.com.  While we were busy fleeing from “dark places” and “dirty faces” for “safety”, what precisely were you doing?  I, for one, went to college, after going to high school, after being forcefully enrolled in a state education system, after I was born, after my father inseminated my mother.  From what I’ve heard, that is how it went for my parents too.  And their parents!  It is almost like we are all born into a world with problems that require fixing.  Apparently, this “separate, improved eduation” fulfilled in a sincere attempt to better the world, while living in a house with a nice fence, is complicit with denying “diversity”.  Are you seriously contending that there is a direct link between my private education and racism on my part?  No, of course not.  But your statements are unquestionable, because you are talking to no one.  No one is really easy to pin crimes on, because no one cannot respond.  No one is also quite easy to lay violent rhetoric upon (re: “your isolation will be your death”), because the faceless don’t scream back.  With that said, have We the Culpable failed on some accounts to improve the standard of living for everyone?  Sure.  Have “we” waged horrible wars, have “we” been racist, have “we” been exclusionary? Yes, yes, and yes.  Are you a part of we?  Last time I checked the dictionary, yes.  Shall we continue on this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride down the dark tunnel you narrate?

“Our dollar is down but commodities are up. Your fifty-mile commute will drain your precious money like a sieve. Corporations will bleed you dry, making record highs while you endure unprecedented lows. Welcome to the new America. Buy your ticket at the front gate and watch the tragedy unfold! For the first time in the history of this nation, our quality of life threatens to dip below that of our parents. The middle-class chokes as our global power declines. American society stratifies as we calmly abide, hoping the flood doesn’t claim us like it did our neighbors.”

OH GOD, NO!!! NOT OUR QUALITY OF LIFE!!!  Is it possible that perhaps we are doing the right things for a change and our fat bloated lifestyles that you so inherently criticize are receding?  Is it possible that the “unprecedented lows” you speak of only exist on the old normative scale you so despise?  You are clearly an economist because you used the word “commodities”; so try this pancho on for size.  If there is a fixed amount of physical resources that determine and hold the stored value for all of humanity (in addition to labor, which is population determined), then where there is a reduction in the standard of living, there is a net gain for the rest of humanity.  The Dutch know all about high gas prices.  It’s $10 a gallon there – and they somehow don’t need gasoline anymore – because they innovated and knocked off their foreign oil dependency in the 25 years since the gas crisis of the 1970’s.  Maybe the $500 dollars you lost paying for gasoline should motivate you to ride a bicycle instead of threatening the college-educated’s children on some blog.  But… perhaps we are not doing the right things.  Perhaps the “market” (also known as “what society/humanity values”) knows this and may be adjusting our Google-like price to something more sustainable.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t measure my net worth against the price of gasoline.  As for my “precious money”, the falling “dollar”, and our “global power”, I think these statements make the picture of what you are talking about become a little clearer.  You’re not just a crusader for the little guy – you’ve got the Man’s back, because po’ old ‘Merica ain’t such hot shit anymore.  More people are getting voices in the high school dance that we like to call international politics.  That sounds fine to me, and it’s certainly consistent with your critique of destructive power.  As for the corporations acting all corporation-y, what exactly is your beef?  I have a lot of problems with Corporate America, but I’m not sure you know what yours are.  You claim it is stratifying America just like our racist schools – but We the Culpable “calmly abide”.  Do we?  Last time I checked we nominated a black presidential candidate for the first time in history.  Ah, but he is an “elite” a.k.a. “educated”.  Heaven forbid someone educated at a private university like Barack Obama become president; is it possible to re-elect Dubya again?  He wasn’t very educated and he did a fucking bang-up job.  As for “our neighbors”, are you referring to those ambigious “dirty faces” of paragraph’s past?  Just who are they again? Oh right, you never tell us.

“But you did this to us. Can’t you see? Does your heart burn with at least a tinge of guilt?”

No. It does not. I have done nothing to exclude anyone. Why not indict someone real, instead of everyone fake?

“We live in a world where ambivalence is complicity. You are all complicit. We are all complicit. You followed Nixon and Reagan into a new model of segregation. I let you go. You traded Jim Crowe for unofficial bias in homeowners associations and the same socioeconomic divides that have and continue to cut deeper and deeper into America’s flesh. I let you do it. I still let you do it. Beware the flood that will soon cross the hedge and drown your nitrated lawn just like it did your neighbor’s.”

I concur that ambivalence is complicity, but who is “you” and who is “we”?  Who exactly do you speak for, oh great 80’s talking alien-bear?  The good guys?  Of course you do.  That’s such a coincedence, so does everyone who makes rampant generalizations like this. And then the hammer falls. Nixon and Reagan are to blame and so are “we” for following them! There’s this great thing. It’s called progress. I use it to measure how society is doing.  One hundred and fifty years ago, African-Americans were slaves. Forty ago, they were (for the most part) horribly discriminated against, but they were free.  Now they are exlcluded from Homeowner’s Associations, as you claim. I would swap slavery and Jim Crow anyday for discrimination in Homeowner’s Associations. That’s called improvement. That’s called progress. Is it right? Fuck no. Should it continue? Abolutely not. What needs to stop first is the apocalypse waving loonies who keep telling me the world is going to end because something is a problem.  “Beware the flood”?  What does that even mean? Are you coming to kill me? Problems get fixed by people who know and take a stand.  Your article is not a stand; it is a crutch for you to lean on in the face of not knowing.

“Know that despite your hate, your resentment, your revulsion, we will be there to break your fall. This broken fabric is not to be re-sown. It will be discarded. We will start anew as a collective whole. We will embrace you as vigorously as you fled us. We will celebrate together in victory. We will suffer together in defeat. We will live together. Our kids will go to school together. We will fight together. We will cry together. We will die together.”

Thank you, oh merciful one.  Please don’t hurt me what with your flourish of collective pronouns!  Your “we” is meaningless, for you never identify with anyone or anything. Moreover, I am sick of people saying that we have to start over and abandon the framework.  You’re counting on slam-poetry contests to cure the world, I’m going to become a lawyer and prevent conflict through contract arbitration.  That’s called bettering the system. Claiming that throwing it away is the only option is just lazy and egocentric.

“The foundations we construct are not as sturdy as they may seem. We are often fortunate enough to patch up our problems with minor, short-term solutions. The Dutch boy’s finger cannot hold the dam together forever. Sometimes we must deconstruct entirely lest we find ourselves flooded and without recourse. Soon you will knock on our doors. Soon you will seek our help. Soon you will realize that you need us just as we need you.

But first, you will atone. You will repent for running when you should have fought by our side. You will seek forgiveness for your dereliction, and you will decry our abandonment. You will atone for turning our great American wilderness into a sprawling golf course. The few will repent for growing fat on what should have been our collective plenty. But do not fear us. We may harbor resentment, but our grudge will not endure long. In our hearts, we miss you. We want you to return. We need you to return. You are as much a part of our life’s blood as the currency that oxygenates yours.”

Now I’m actually a little afraid of you. What is with the flood imagery?  Are you a terrorist planning to blow up the Hoover Dam?  Tell me you’re going to drown me once, shame on me. Tell me you’re going to drown me four times, shame on you.  As for the American Wilderness, yeah, that’s a problem. Agreed. What is your solution?  More forced drownings?  Just checking. There is this thing called the Yale School of Forestry. Check it out. Atonement? Repentance? Mercy? Is it just me or do you have a seriously messed up God complex?  Is this death threat almost done? Oh good, the last paragraph.

“Know that we await your compassion. We await your contribution. Most of all, we patiently await your return—and make no mistake, your return is coming. So come down from your towers. They are merely fortified vestiges of the feudalism your predecessors overthrew. Open your hearts and walk away from your closed cul-de-sacs. They represent exclusion. You will represent inclusion. Leave your mega churches. They seek to profit from your ignorance and fear. Your body is your church. Your good book lies in your enduring spirit. Let your mouth be the pulpit and let your words contain soul. In death, you will find the wisdom you ignored in life. You cannot flee the mistakes of our forefathers. Foundations must be rebuilt lest your houses of cards collapse entirely.”

Our return is coming? Towers? Church? Feudalism? Closed cul-de-sacs? This is like the Lord of the Rings and Revelations got mashed up by Girl Talk to form some unclear narrative in suburbia.  As for “profiting from…ignorance and fear”, I would say this article did a pretty good job of that.

Peace in the Middle East,

Tony Kanigliero

8 Reasons McCain Needs a Miracle to Win

John McCainIf you’ve been watching the news for the last month, it seems like John McCain might actually pull out a victory in November.  After months of the press fawning over the unlikely candidacy of Obama (remember, he’s a mixed race junior senator with no executive experience) the press has rediscovered that John McCain actually has the credentials, the political persona and the charisma of a fantastic presidential candidate.  Unfortunately for Senator McCain, he simply doesn’t have the support.  Despite popular polls numbers (this isn’t a popular election after all, it is a state by state winner take all contest) and a receptive media, eight national trends would make a John McCain victory miraculous.

Voter Registration

The Republicans are losing more and more registered voters to the Democrats and independents while the Democrats are registering unprecedented numbers of young, black and formerly disenfranchised voters.
Real Clear Politics states: “The number of registered Democrats in party registration states has grown by nearly 700,000 since President George W. Bush was reelected in November 2004, while the total of registered Republicans has declined by almost 1 million.”
The changes are most notable in Iowa and Nevada, two states that were majority Republican in 2004 (and voted for Bush) and now have more registered Democrats.  The other 5 states with growing democratic advantages are Oregon (10pts), New Jersey (14pts), New Hampshire (-.6pts), Connecticut (15pts) and Pennsylvania (12pts).
By most accounts, the Obama campaign machine has been impeccably organized, and it isn’t hard to understand why the Republican machine is failing.  Quite simply,  being a Republican is no longer as cool as it used to be.  As the Economist so aptly noted a year ago, no matter how clever the Republicans are at politics, at the end of the day when they were given the chance to lead, they failed.


Obama has 336 open offices while McCain has just 101. While field offices, like voter registration, doesn’t directly correlate to voters, one has to wonder where the McCain campaign will base their get-out the vote operations when the election arrives.  More specifically interestingly, McCain has 1 office in Colorado and 1 in Pennsylvania while Obama has 10 and 18 respectfully.


The 1.7m net loss net of Republicans since 2004 means independents are more important for McCain.  Historically he has garnered much support from independents but Obama is denying him an advantage as polls show them neck and neck.

Millennial Generation

One day, the Millenials, which are Americans under the age of 26 and are the largest generation in American history, (over 100m) will dominate American politics.  Obama has a massive advantage amount youth and his campaign has vigorously registered and engaged this demographic.  Whether or not this is the election that will permanently shift America politics from the Boomers to the Millennials, it’s clear that Obama has the age demographic advantage as there are nearly twice as many 18-30 year olds than there are people over 65.  For more go try USA Today and Wikipedia.


While Hispanics gave Bush an advantage in 2004 by giving him 40% of their vote, McCain will be disadvantaged by the fastest growing demographic in America.   Obama has a massive lead of 3:1 (63% to 23%) among Hispanics.


McCain is polling at 61% support among Evangelicals while Bush won 69%.  They aren’t going to Obama, who has the same 25% Kerry had in 2004, they’re simply deciding to sit this one out.  Why?  Many of their leaders want to disengage from American politics while others are under the influence of a right wing media that has historically despised Senator McCain.

Rush Limbaugh

America’s second most listened to talk show host (all hail Howard) thinks McCain sucks and hasn’t and will not motivate his listeners to vote for him.  In fact, he often threatens to work against McCain if McCain doesn’t veer more towards the right.

Read this transcript from his show:
RUSH: Because [the Republican Party] thinks that they own us, in the most crucial of earlier decisions, McCain is misjudging us. He feels he can pick whoever he wants, pro-choice Democrat running mate, and that everybody’s just going to march with him. But he figures wrong.  This is going to be a close election, and it’s not going to take a lot of people sitting on their hands to lose an important state or two.

CALLER: Mmm-hmm.

RUSH:  Now, Obama is out there firing up his base.  McCain is trying to deflate people like you.

CALLER:  He’s angering us, and I wasn’t going to vote for him. I was just not going to mark anything, but then when he pulled this — and I think, Rush, I really think — and I know you’ve done so much to get the word out. I really think that if he puts on a good, strong conservative, he has a pretty good chance of getting elected. But if he doesn’t, then the Republicans are going to say, “What’s the difference between him and B. Hussein Obama?”  And they either won’t vote or I don’t know, and it’s really scary and I’m worried about it.  I don’t like McCain; I never have liked him.

Bush’s victory was consistent with years of right wing media narration.  Those same people have been skewering McCain for a decade.  Now if they wanted to do an about face and support McCain, they would risk alienating their own audiences.


Ron Paul’s revolution is continuing via Bob Barr, a former popular Republican who turned to the Libertarian party and was polling at 6%. Unlike Nader who was a simply protest vote in 2000 and 2004, Barr and Paul, while not officially linked, are both aiming to realign the Republican party around an authentic small government platform.  Paul and his followers are vigorously organizing the “Campaign for Liberty” which will create a constituency that could support a real libertarian third party or could begin to realign the Republican party.   Paul has frequently stated he won’t support McCain unless McCain fundamentally changes his platform.  There will be no better way for the libertarians to flex their political muscle than resisting a McCain’s presidency.

Real Clear Politics Electoral Projections

As I see it, McCain is disadvantaged by national political trends, he lacks a competitive ground organization, he isn’t dominating the independent vote, he has an age demographic problem, he has a latino problem, an African American problem, an Evangelical problem and isn’t garnering support from right wing media celebrities.  Finally, there is a large and growing consistency within his party that would prefer to lose this election and return the Republican party to a small government platform than continue with business as usual.

Least we forget, the media is a business and they would prefer to have a ‘horse race’ political campaign going than inform Americans of the massive demographic hurtles McCain faces.  They would also prefer to report on national poll numbers that represent the insignificant popular vote than look at state by state numbers that clearly show an Obama advantage.  Take a moment to go through Real Clear Politics electoral college and see for yourself.

Obama Willing to Compromise on Oil Drilling

So Barack Obama just reversed his hard line stance against offshore drilling. I genuinely hate offshore drilling.  It’s advocates say it does three things: lower the price of oil, promote US energy security and buy us time for alternative fuels. BS.

First, oil companies are the only one’s who will benefit from expanded drilling because they’ll make billions selling the new oil into a marketplace that fluctuates like the emotions of a teenager.  The oil won’t affect gas prices for a decade and who knows where they’ll be in so many years.  Oil drilling promotes energy security like buying another beer promotes a responsible drinking habit.  It won’t ‘buy us time’ for alternative fuels, it will buy oil more time to dominate our economy. Everyone knows we’re addicted to oil, and everyone knows the best way to end an addiction is to stop using the product.

Despite my dislike for off-shore drilling, I’m not infuriated by Obama’s shift. He says: “If, in order to get [a comprehensive energy bill] passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

When Obama says he’s a different kind of politician, people haven’t really investigated what that means. It means Obama is a compromiser and a deal maker, not an ideologue and not heavily opinionated. While to many this “flip-flop” seems like a display of weakness or political pandering, I think it shows that he has his priorities straight. Right now, this nation’s first objective should be a strong, consistent, well-supported energy policy with ambitious but achievable objectives. Bipartisan support is essential for an effective plan. If the Republicans and 70% of Americans support drilling for more oil, even if that support is manufactured by the oil companies pr strategies, then Obama is willing to compromise to make sure the bigger objective is achieved.

Unconventional politics is compromising with your adversary even when you have an advantage. That is the way long term solutions are created. Unfortunately, many Democrats are having buyer’s remorse. They see a strong Obama and a strong Democratic party, and they want to shove policies down Republicans’ throats. That’s conventional politics and the path to more ineffective government. Resist that urge, compromise and make real progress. An ambitious national energy policy is more important than a few additional oil rigs in the Gulf.