Saturday, May 16, 2015

Test Your Political Savvy

This woman is a scream. Good Luck

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case

This post is presented as written by New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, in an opinion piece of the same title printed in the November 20, 2014 issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It is not available on-line except for subscribers to the U-T newspaper.  I have faithfully transcribed every word, including capitalizations,  made by the former governor of New Mexico, presumably to confer honor upon the recipients thereof.

I chanced upon this information only upon buying a day-old newspaper in a grocery store in Oceanside.  I shall dispense with the customary italicization meant to describe quotation.  Hence, the entire op-ed by Governor Richardson as transcribed by Yours Truly, Flying Junior:

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case
As I reflect on the successful effort to bring former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi home after 214 days in prison in Mexico, I am pleased that despite the differing border security concerns that loom high in public perception and national policy in both countries, we were able to find the common ground that ultimately resulted in Andrew’s release.
There are two concerns, however, that remain in the American public’s mind that I would like to address; first, what took so long for Andrew’s release and, second, why Mexico deserves credit.  By addressing the underlying foreign policy issues behind Andrew’s case, I hope to answer these questions and provide a better understanding of the complexities that had to be overcome for his release.
In 2008, then president George W. Bush signed into law an agreement with Mexico – with great political and financial support from congress – known as the “Merida Initiative” which the State Department defines as a “partnership between the U.S. and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering the rule of law.”  Two key objectives of this initiative for Mexico were curbing illicit arms trafficking and judicial reform.
As a former border governor, I am familiar with stories about people making the wrong turn and winding up in Mexico by mistake.  This one, however, was seriously exacerbated by the fact that Andrew had guns and ammunition in his vehicle.  Furthermore, misleading advice from Andrew’s first two legal defense teams had tainted and weakened the “innocent mistake – wrong turn” defense, which made it very difficult to advocate for his release through diplomatic channels.
Mexico was facing a serious dilemma:  It had to decide whether to be consistent with the rule of law as established by the Merida Initiative or undermine the judicial reform’s credibility by what would be perceived by the Mexican public as making an exception, for the very partner that was funding and urging a stronger rule of law.
With that in mind, I started my work on Andrew’s behalf in June by sending letters to officials in the Mexican justice system seeking his release on humanitarian grounds, based on his need to return home to receive treatment for his PTSD.  This was a legal argument – not a political one—that could be used in court as an alternative defense to the wrong turn theory.  A week later I was happy to learn that he had obtained a stellar new legal defense team – and I was subsequently delighted to learn it had adopted the PTSD treatment argument.  It became central in the case’s dismissal and Andrew’s release October 31.
Although it took a long time to accomplish, the most important lesson is that Andrew is free because Mexico’s judicial reforms sought by the Merida Initiative are beginning to work.  Though there were significant flaws in the way the two countries interacted on the case, and though a devoted network of supporters led by Andrew’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, including myself, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce, Matt Salmon and television personality Montel Williams continued to advocate on behalf of Andrew with the Mexican government and by bringing media attention to his story, it was Mexican legal due process  that freed him, not political expediency spurred by pressure from Mexico’s neighbor to the north.  It should be remembered that the U.S. has a great deal to gain by a firm rule of law taking hold in Mexico – and this case was brought to a successful conclusion in a way that strengthened that concept.
Some have criticized me for praising the Mexican government’s handling of Andrew’s case, but this was an important part of the process.  It built the good will that moved forward his release and even gained me permission to personally deliver him clothing so that he wouldn’t have to go through the humiliation of entering the U.S. in prison garb and allowed me to spare him an additional day in custody by substantially shortening his immigration processing before being handed over at the border.
I recently attended President and Mrs. Obama’s Salute to the Troops event at the White House in advance of Veteran’s Day.  Several Marines in attendance took it upon themselves to thank me for my work on Andrew’s release.  That’s the kind of response that makes it all seem so very worthwhile.
Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was governor of New Mexico from 2003-2010.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making Political Hay out of the Misfortunes of a Supposed Hero

Update: Andrew Tahmooressi is now free. Back home in California. For further blogomania, please consult my friend Mike at
Earlier this month, I told my friend Mikeb302000 about a former U.S. Marine from Florida who unfortunately and perhaps accidentally crossed the international border at San Ysidro into Mexico with all of his worldly possessions in his Ford F-150 pickup truck. Unfortunately, these possessions included three legally owned firearms. Understand that guns are illegal in Mexico. I accepted his version of events in his own words. He just got lost looking for a restaurant off of I-5, trying to meet his friends. Even if you do believe his story, the fact that he was driving around with unsecured weapons in the cab of his pickup truck in the city of San Diego makes him a careless scofflaw. Bear in mind that he is a soldier suffering from PTSD, a form of mental illness. I unfairly speculated that he might have been slightly under the influence of alcohol given the fact that he simply continued driving south all of the way to the border without noticing any of the signs about the approaching international border, the last freeway exit into the U.S.A. and even a last ditch U-turn designed to give drivers one last chance to remain upon U.S. soil. Mike was kind enough to create a post from my tip. I was hoping that the regulars would get worked up about the injustice of it all. They did not completely disappoint. Now, three grueling weeks later, FOX has decided to release their take on all of this nonsense just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. The headline is “Leave No Man Behind.” Obama has abandoned this poor soul, when just one phone call from the DOJ or the American Consul could have released this defender of freedom from the ravages of the Tijuana penitentiary system. The article by a FOX contributor does not seem to agree with the earliest press release from the San Diego Union-Tribune which reported that he attempted an escape and then subsequently attempted suicide while incarcerated. He was reported to have been doing much better in his incarceration when the prison provided him with an English-speaking chaplain. I am sorry, but it is difficult to view the U-T article without a paying subscription. Since there is really no way of confirming or denying any subsequent facts, FOX has chosen to say that originally he was chained by both arms and legs to his bed, and that now he only has to be chained by one leg by the Mexican prison guards. I mean, why not lie, if there is no way to check the facts? Much as the leftist blogosphere thrived under the sadistic presidency of GWB, FOX has no apparent reason to exist other than to spread hatred and lies about our president. This was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Make hay while the sun shines!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow? Do You Have any Bees?

My original idea was to frame this as a national inquiry into the health of bee populations in suburban and rural areas.  Surely colony collapse disorder must be associated with commercial beekeepers who hire out their hives to farmers in need of their services.  Because American farms use a plethora of dangerous and unhealthy pesticides, even produce that is labelled as organic may contain any one of as many as seventy-three chemical compounds commonly used to control pests and weeds.  I am extremely interested in the bee populations in your neck of the woods.  I am happy to report that the San Diego coastal palisades remain host to European Honeybees, Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees.
Carpenter Bee
But, of course this is just a shameless gardening post.  My pride and joy are my Lipstick Hibiscus purchased from the Mission Hills Nursery founded in 1911 by Kate Sessions, presumably direct descendants of true Hawaiian stock.

Just as close to my heart remains my prized Arctostaphylos Manzanita Dr. Hurd, a northern California native.  It's the only Manzanita I can keep alive.  This is how it blooms in early January.

My wife refuses to believe that peaches won't grow near the coast.  Here is a picture from happier times.  Last night the local canyon racoons feasted on our ripe peaches and washed their dirty faces in our birdbath.

Tomatoes from seed.

Any pepper will turn red if allowed to ripen.  We grew Anaheim, Pasilla, Jalapeno and Serrano.

And of our beloved California natives, including the Holly-leaf Cherry and the prized White Sage, Mrs. Junior's favorite is the Mimulus.  However, she claims that this Hawaiian pink only occurs in cultivars.  The true natives are either golden or Indian paintbrush red.

She did promise her Dad that we would grow some corn, which was fine with me.  You can tell when the ears are pollenated when the silks turn red or brown.  Right now, they almost look big enough to sell.

Of course we didn't want the crows to get them, so I had to hire Screech the Owl to look after them.

And we could never support such a healthy ecosystem featuring lizards, red-headed finches, mockingbirds, morning doves and assorted migratory birds without two Retrievers to keep the cats at bay.

It's easier than you might think to grow chives.
And just as easy to grow your own green onions. 

All under the watchful eyes of my new BFF, Pepito, the San Diego Alligator Lizard.
And my twenty-three year old California Fan Palm.  Washingtonia Filifera.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Victory for Safety and Common Sense

If you follow California politics, you will undoubtedly be aware that the inactive San Onofre nuclear power plant will be permanently closed and hopefully safely decommissioned at a tremendous cost over the course of the next few years. This plant has continuously supplied electric power from its activation in 1968 until January of 2012. There was never a serious accident or threat to workers or neighboring communities during that time. The only real ecological damage done by the facility, other than the enormous whole in the beach and the blight of an enormous structure on the coast was to raise the temperature of the adjacent ocean waters in what was undoubtedly once considered a very innovative approach to cooling the vast byproduct of heat associated with reactor power. The relatively uneventful and small leak of radiation from brand new yet defective steam pipes manufactured by Mitsubishi late in 2011, had it occurred in an earlier time of lesser awareness and a more complacent political climate, very likely might not have caused a permanent closure, but only a short period of repair and renovation. Because this all happened on the heels of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, issues of the safety of San Onofre were first and foremost on the minds of Californians. Concerned Californians at the recent meetings of the California Public Utilities Commission as well as protesters did not forget the Fukushima disaster. I recall after watching the horrifying tsunami and reading about the citywide release of dangerous amounts of radiation, one of the first things I did was to look up earthquake history near San Clemente and Oceanside California. Of course, our local republican congressman, Brian Bilbray advocated bringing the poison fire steam generator back on-line at the earliest possible day.

Here are some of the things that I found. The San Onofre nuclear power plant is located at the northwest corner of the County of San Diego at approximately 33.4⁰ latitude and -117.6⁰ longitude, just south of Nixon’s Western White House in San Clemente on the northern tip of the twenty miles of coastline occupied by the mostly undeveloped Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton maybe about fifty miles NNW of beloved La Jolla and UCSD. We often laughed at the huge “titties” of the radiation containment domes, clearly visible from that desolate stretch of I-5. This is obviously in a very active earthquake corridor. The largest local earthquakes have occurred in the Mojave desert, but several dangerous earthquakes have been centered right on the coast in nearby metropolitan Los Angeles, notably the devastating Northridge Earthquake which miraculously occurred at 4:31 a.m., January 17, 1994 on the federal holiday, MLK Jr. Day, thusly limiting loss of life. Read for yourself about the widespread damage done to parking structures, tall buildings, homes and freeway overpasses. This led to the earthquake retro-fitting of every freeway overpass and bridge in Southern California. These L.A. quakes are easily felt throughout the southland to the Mexican border. I live within bow and arrow distance of the famous San Andreas fault, but have little to fear because there is no subduction of techtonic plates in a north-south running faultline. I was much more threatened by the possibility of nuclear radiation leaking from San Onofre just over fifty miles away from my home in the event of a large offshore earthquake. Here is my evidence.

September 7, 1984 an offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8, the first entry of the table I cited, occurred at 32.94⁰ latitude and -117.81⁰ longitude, approximately 31.7 miles due west of Torrey Pines State Beach, at a distance of about 33.3 miles from the failed San Onofre nuclear reactors. Sure, nothing we know of happened to the facility. Units two and three were on-line for the second of the thirty-eight years they provided electricity in 1984. But no one can say what might have happened anytime in the next one hundred years in the event a major Southern California earthquake anywhere within fifty miles of the facility.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I Love Code Pink

But let's face it, Code Pink isn't protesting the sadistic policies of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld.  They're not reminiscing about Abu Ghraib or Bagram.  Fallujah or Baghdad.  The kangaroo trial of Saddam Hussein.  The murder of his two sons.  They're going after our guy and his C.I.A.  His Joint Chiefs.  His Pentagon.  It has been long enough.  The policy of American exceptionalism has to end now.  It is not moral to hold the world to one standard of justice and fair play and wholly exempt ourselves from any responsibility to international laws and treaties.

My friend, Che Pasa has offered an affectionate criticism of Obama and the policies of his administration entitled, "Documenting the Atrocities."  It's a good starting point.  He always has something important to say.  He doesn't say it in a way calculated to hurt other people.

I'm not really gifted in the same way.  I need your help.  I don't fucking get it.  Obviously we have all been tolerating these assassinations with their uncontrolled collateral damage as somehow necessary or possibly even justified; the dark underbelly of the insensate beast that is the C.I.A./Pentagon.  Maybe you haven't been so passive in your acceptance.  I don't think I ever anticipated that we would still be talking about this in a second term for Obama.  I understand that one man, not even the president, can really change the trajectory of U.S. national security; the forces that are at play with powerful government and military agencies.  No more than the captain of a large vessel can throw himself in the path of the rudder or challenge the monarch that has commissioned him.  But it is time for the American people to weigh in.  Make our voices heard.  And it is time for the United States of America to take part in international treaties that insure justice and humane treatment for all peoples of the world.

It's not right.  It's not acceptable.  It's probably not legal.  If it happened to us, we would massively retaliate.

Under Bush, the U.S. refused to ratify Kyoto and claimed exception to the International Court.  That's because they were the bad guys, right?  The fucking war criminals.  Obviously there would have been dozens, if not hundreds of cases brought before the Hague.  It's time for a new Geneva Convention or some equivalent meeting of the United Nations.  If drone warfare is not something to be condoned, this needs to be agreed upon by the nations of the world.  Is it right to conduct assassinations in countries that are not engaged in warfare, declared or undeclared?  If the rights of innocent civilians are already protected in Geneva Convention Protocols, should not the U.S. be prosecuted for indiscriminately violating these protections?

I hate this monster John Brennan.  I hope he goes down like a Viet Cong company engulfed by a flame-thrower.  Like the little girl hit by napalm.  Like the innocent Iraqi young men rounded up and shoved into prisons that practiced torture like it was all in good fun.  I hope the son-of-a-bitch never works again as long as he lives.  Carl Levin asked him quite simply if he believed that waterboarding was torture.  His response was a torture of slowness.  He said something like the word "torture" is politically inflammatory.  What a dumb, fucking monster.

In a related moment of American shame, whatever select Senate committee that is privileged to the deepest, darkest secrets of the American exceptionalism model was just subjected to some kind of horrifying legalistic logic that somehow justified drone strikes.  Irregardless of all that has happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.  I recall the tortured legalistic logic that John Sununu and Alberto Gonzalez used to justify torture, extraordinary rendition and illegal detention.

We can do better.  American doesn't have to be the dragon.  Killing muslims and their families only creates more terrorists that hate the United States and their allies.   I thought that we learned that painful lesson ten years ago.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Let's All Celebrate MLK Jr. Sunday and the Second Inauguration of BHO

Greetings to all. Lot's of reasons to celebrate this weekend. The most important being freedom. May we always remain a free and united people. I guess it has been four years since I created what I consider to be my greatest blog post to date on the Dog Report, entitled Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Blogging. The excitement of four years ago has not diminished in any way for true believers. There is much to do and many bridges to build, but we can again unite as a nation and push forward into a brighter future for all citizens. Had a wonderful time in church this morning. I coaxed my old pipe organ into something resembling a gospel organ sound and actually cut loose fairly respectably on We Shall Overcome. I thought it would be fun to check the WNYC website for news this morning. Happily, I stumbled upon this amazing series of never-before-released radio interviews with Dr. King recorded in 1961. You will find synopses of the four interviews which inform the listening. I am listening to the first interview as I type. It is deeply personal and very biographical in an important way to anyone who cares about the modern history of our republic. Enjoy. And soldier on for justice brothers and sisters. We are climbing Jacob's ladder.