Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The hellhole formerly known as New Orleans

Bye Bye Big easy.

New Orleans mayor Nagin says the death toll will be in the thousands according to a quote in the Times-Picayune. Floating bodies and bodies trapped in attics and wreckage will be a major health problem. No one has any idea when the flood will be stemmed much less when the water will recede or when transportation and communication will be restored. Gangs of armed looters are using fork lifts to empty drug stores and gun stores and have fired at police; hitting at least one officer in a shootout. Trucks carrying food have been run down by hungry, armed mobs. The city is hoping to be able to send in 70 more officers.

We are asking for more military presence in the city to control the situation better.” Mayor Nagin is quoted as saying. 70 officers? What about 7 thousand? What about 10 or 15 thousand National Guardsmen and a few hundred more in helicopters? A great American city is in its death throes. So where is that military presence? Ask George W. Bush.

According to the New York Times, On New Orleans' Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Miss., people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses.

''The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,'' Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. ''We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.''

Where are the troops, George? Getting ready to attack the Bahamas?

Read here in the Washington Post how Bush has gutted and reassigned FEMA so that it can't respond to disasters any more. Read here in Editor & Publisher how Bush killed funding for levee repair that would have saved the city. Read it, Red States and think about how you voted for them. Read it and weep.

The best Democracy money can buy

30 August 2005 | 10:44 | FOCUS News Agency

Baghdad. The United States have offered to Sunni representatives USD 75 Million to sign the draft Constitution of Iraq, RIA Novosti announced, citing information of source close to the Constitutional Committee of the country, published in the Saudi daily Al Vatan.

Why is Fogg reading Bulgarian newspapers? Perhaps because the sanitized, filtered, abridged, pasteurized and skimmed news we get from the Party controlled media is designed to mislead rather than to inform. If the US media is not giving us the true story – something both sides of the aisle agree upon - the preponderance of evidence seems to me to suggest that despite the assurances of the Right, the war is not going well and the attempt to start a Western style democracy on the holy sands is not going well either. I didn’t need Focus News to tell me that we are quite willing to acknowledge the legitimacy of a corrupt puppet government in Iraq as long as we’re doing the corrupting.

We’re building those military bases in Iraq for the long run because we intend to be there for the long run and we can’t be there for the long run and allow Iraq to evict us militarily or democratically. I’ll leave it to you to determine the motives.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's a hard rain gonna fall

Katrina’s damage is probably worse than we thought yesterday. People are still being pulled from roofs and Amateur radio operators all over the country are trying to relay messages out of the devastated area. I just now listened to someone using SATERN, the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net trying to get help for a woman in insulin shock up on the 20th floor of a hotel surrounded by water. People are still dying. The flood waters are rising. Good people all over the country will be putting their lives on hold and working to help the millions of people affected by this horrible storm.

George Bush has finally found something important enough to disturb his vacation. He intends to cut the 5 weeks of brush cutting and bike riding and confrontation avoiding short by two days. Last year at this time, while my neighbors were lining up in the 95 degree heat to get water from the various relief agencies, George showed up at the local Red Cross office, had his picture taken, disrupted the goings on for most of the day and then went out and had his picture taken giving a bag of ice to a grateful hurricane victim. He then got into his air conditioned limo and then his air conditioned helicopter and flew off to an air conditioned hotel on Miami Beach to "assess the damage."

Miami, which had had no storm at all, received millions in aid. FEMA bought cars and appliances and paid for funerals of people who did not die in the storm. We sat in the heat, slept in the heat and sweltered in the heat while FEMA fiddled. The lucky ones suffered in their own homes, the unlucky slept on school floors for a month or more. We were all so grateful for his hard work.

''We have got a lot of work to do,'' Bush said today – and who is better at hard work – or at least is better at telling us how hard he works during the full year of vacation time he has spent during his term so far? It’s hard work being a Warpresident and it’s going to be just as hard being a Disaster President too. He will have to suffer long minutes of discomfort having his picture taken, although the White house staff, reports CNN, is at least trying to minimize the disruption and interruption of the rescue efforts his publicity visit will cause. Or so they say.

If you want to help the Red Cross, call 1 800 HELP NOW or go to
You can donate to the Salvation Army at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If you are trying to find out about a family member in the affected area, go to

Please do it.

He hates us for our freedom

I mentioned the other day, the specious effort to dismiss Pat Robertson’s blasphemy by equating it with George Stephanopolous’s suggestion that we kill Saddam Hussein without destroying his country in the act.

I believe the same fallacy factory that turned out that confection is also responsible for the Crock du jour now circulating at a newspaper or web site near you: Karl Rove didn’t do anything wrong by exposing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. In a letter in the Palm Beach Post the other day, a local Republican parrot explains the bias of the media in making it seem like Karl broke the law to any significant extent. Did you expect a new kind of argument?

Instead of trying to use the vocabulary of formal logic, let’s just say that I was a lawyer trying to defend a client against vehicular homicide charges. I would put on my lawyer tie and say: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury – the accusation that my client exceeded the speed limit when he deliberately ran down that pedestrian is wrong and therefore you must acquit.”

OK, so I’m not Johnnie Cochran, but you get the point that we are being led away from the fact that Karl and his puppet government are deliberately punishing people who embarrass the President by telling the truth? That’s where the crime is. It’s a crime, not against a single person, but against Truth, Justice and even patriotism. It’s a theft of our American Birthright; it’s a theft of our freedom.

Sooner or later the White House carpet will be forced to cover so much dirt that nothing further can be swept under it. Sooner or later this administration will trip over that rug – or we will pull it out from under them. My fear is that it will be later; perhaps too much later and we will be punished.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Death (tax) where is thy sting?

The Liberals are taking YOUR money and giving it to people too lazy to work. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been listening to AM radio. I’m not talking about Amplitude Modulation; I’m talking about Angry Moron radio. AM radio is one of the cheapest and most effective mouthpieces the gang of thugs and thieves that now control our Government own. It pumps out megawatts of mendacity 24 hours a day and more on Sunday.

AM radio is where you can be enraged about medical procedures they mostly invented to make you angry. You can hear fabricated stories about a judicial system that lets criminals go, about Liberal plots to redistribute your meager holdings to the poor (and lazy) and a holy war that we would soon win in glorious fashion if only those Hippies and Jane Fonda weren’t burning the flag and the Liberal Press wasn’t making up stories about casualties.

But if the Republican crusaders will howl like an abused pit bull at the thought of spending money on Government services, they seem to be quite happy to spend the lives of their sons and daughters and husbands and wives on the very thing that’s taking billions out of their pockets and their children’s pockets and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. The real Death Tax is the war in Iraq.

Treason where is thy stink?

So for all the swooning over invisible entities, magic, legend and a flat Earth, I begin none the less to see a pattern of Natural Law at work within the Party of God. In Newtonian fashion, every action seems to produce an equal and opposite idiocy. Every truth creates a falsehood; every move toward justice creates its opposite. Every honorable action creates a dishonorable response.

Hence we have people demonstrating in favor of those who killed their kids while those who only want an explanation are portrayed as traitors. Does anyone really have to ask for whom the bell tolls?

Spirit of New Orleans

Though the number of this beast is down to 4, it remains a horror that is very hard to comprehend if you haven’t had a 400 mile wide monster try to pound you out of existence, shrieking it’s hot steamy breath in rage for endless hours, ripping the life out of the ground, flattening houses and forests. I’ve had two of them pass right over my house. I’ve had to see neighborhoods turned into wet mulch. I’ve had to spend three nights cowering in the kitchen while the 50,000 foot tall devil squatted on top of Florida’s Treasure coast and expecting any moment to have everything I own or treasure turned into pulp.

The aftermath is worse. Hurricanes are steam engines and their passing often leaves fetid, breathlessly hot and humid air behind. Sewage systems back up, many people have no water or refrigeration or even a fan. Many people have no homes. A year later, many people still have plastic tarps for roofs and some still cannot live in their houses. Many have been financially ruined.

For a pessimist and misanthrope like me, it’s surprising and wonderful to see how most people respond and few things have uplifted me more than to see volunteers turn out, money and supplies come in and a community spirit develop, no matter how briefly.

It’s still too soon to know how badly New Orleans will have to suffer and for how long, But I am sure that this storm will bring out the best in America once again, at least for a while.

Think about how it is to lose everything you have and try to imagine how important a hot meal or a shower or a dry place to sleep can be and contribute to a relief agency. It’s my experience that the government will do too little and do it too late. It’s up to you and me.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Lord's Day

The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The Rev. Fred has been at this game a long time, trying never to miss an opportunity to tell everyone that God hates gays and is punishing all of us for not persecuting them more vigorously. In Fact, according to a publication from Westboro Baptist, Phelps has declared his intention to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral although Falwell is still very much alive. God will take care of that soon, according to Phelps as Jerry isn’t being active enough in persecuting Gays.

The Reverend Fred is no Jonah. He will not shirk in performing his mission. Without even a rudimentary sense of shame showing through his zeal, he’s been demonstrating at the funerals of fallen soldiers. With the audacity of one who truly believes that God’s righteous, albeit vulgar word emanates from all his orifices, Phelps last Saturday brought his posse to a Smyrna Tennessee funeral of two soldiers killed in Iraq.

Phelps’ church is not affiliated with a larger denomination and is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws. The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you." About 10 church members protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City.

America is not quite yet dead however, as the families of the deceased and others chased Phelps and Company down the street, chanting “God Bless America,” "get out of our town" and "get out of our country." So many counter-demonstrators turned up that police had to be called to Ashland City to control the situation.

Sometimes I’m still proud to be an American.

Let mad dogs lie

OK it’s Sunday again and time for your Sunday non-sequitur, brought to you by Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Right Wing Rabble Rousers everywhere.

Last Friday night, Governor Mike used an argument I’ve been hearing and reading recently, which suggests that it was made in some Republican mud-pie manufactory. You know how I love to pick apart fallacies and the Republicans who tell them, but this is so stupid it gives me little pleasure to dismember. What the Governor was talking about on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” show was the infamous call for assassination from Pat Robertson. Looking right at the camera, he attempted to deflect the criticism by saying that George Stephanopolous had once suggested an assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein and therefore one shouldn't complain about Robertson.

Yes, all the other kids were smoking in the boy's room, so it wasn't so bad if I did. Yes, I know, George Stephanopolous hasn’t been making a living being holier than everyone and professing to be speaking for Jesus. Yes, I know we are not at war with Venezuela. Yes, I know that the US attempted to kill Saddam many times and with civilian casualties. It just doesn't matter what anyone on our side does, Clinton was worse and Clinton is to blame.

The appeal to common practice fallacy is further compounded by a false equivalence: that of a government official and a religious leader supposedly devoted to accepting the counsel of Jesus and the laws of God.

As I said, I take no pleasure in this because they have already won; because the truth doesn’t matter and nothing needs to make sense.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dynasty is sometimes a bit trigger-happy and being a skeptic, I don’t react to their frequent calls for petitions and actions without reading up a bit, but this time I think they’re right on target as well as quick on the draw.

I’ve heard a lot of really devious and inaccurate prattle on AM radio of late. It’s designed to get the Lumpenproletariat up in arms about the Liberals trying once again to take their money and give it to other people – this time people other than their children, because it’s about the “Death Tax.” As usual, the Party line is a misrepresentation.

That estate taxes have been around for a very long time is lost on the AM listening public, but then nearly everything is lost on them. Essentially none of them are going to leave estates large enough to qualify for any tax at all. People who are that wealthy usually have availed themselves of Estate Planning; using trusts and insurance to minimize the effect and know in advance just what the price will be. It’s only those who needn’t worry that once again are being used by the Repulsive Right as dogs are in a fox hunt. As with all of Baron Bush’s handouts to his “base” it will affect only the top 2% of all estates. Don’t kid yourself, you’re only one of them if you and your wife leave more than $3 million to your kids and the majority of Inheritance taxes are paid by estates larger than $15 million, or in other words the Bush family, the Cheney Family and their Oil Buddies.

More than just saving big bucks for Jenna and Barbara to spend while military widows and orphans eat cake, they want to restore economic feudalism and suppress Democracy. As Newsweek said, this repeal would "create a new class of landed aristocrats who could inherit billions tax-free, invest the money, watch it compound tax-free and hand it down tax-free to their heirs."

The Senate is going to vote on repealing Federal Estate Taxes next month and it will be a close vote. If you want your whisper to be heard above the roar of the Aristocrats, MoveOn has a petition and perhaps your Senator would like to hear from you directly.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cuckoo's nest in Crawford

Is it demented or is it stupid? According to an AP report in Florida Today, Gregg Garvey of Keystone Heights near Gainesville, Fla., who lost his 23-year-old son to battle in Iraq in 2003 has joined the war protests outside the president's Texas ranch -- but as a supporter of Bush and the military.

He says people have had enough Bush bashing, and that Cindy Sheehan's protest "does not represent all of America."

Indeed, she does not represent all of America. There are, statistically speaking, the 5.5% with IQ’s below 75, some of whom might be expected to follow Garvey’s train of thought; but it’s harder to enumerate the amoral, the irrational and the mendacious as accurately. We do however, have such things as the latest Gallup poll showing Bush’s overall approval rating at a new low of 40%. If 60% disapprove, we can at least say that Cindy comes closer to representing a majority than Gregg.

It would be unfair to conjecture too widely about why Mr. Garvey appreciates having lost his son for a cause that’s yet to be admitted to. It’s possible that he just can’t face having participated in his son’s death and so must think it was worthwhile to preserve his sanity and it’s possible that he’s one of the many examples of Homo Stultus who just like war and can’t feel manly or right about things unless there’s one going on. I don’t know and I won’t speculate further.

I do know that the instant, knee-jerk reaction of the “support the troops” parrots is an attempt to cover up the lack of support from those who are responsible for giving it and shifting the blame to dissenters. I do know that “supporting the troops” was the tool used to rally support for the endless Viet Nam debacle and I do have a firm enough grasp on logic to see that such an idea makes all wars self-justifying and self-perpetuating.

What is neither demented nor stupid, is the Administration’s lack of support for the troops. The attempt to cut combat pay and benefits, the inability to provide reinforcements; the failure of strategy, the failure of intelligence, the false premises, the vague objectives and the failure to supply sufficient or correct equipment while handing out nearly limitless benefits to the most profitable corporations on earth? That’s just criminal.

The Empire Strikes Back

When you get into an argument, you don’t give the answer you wish you could give, you give the answer you know how to give and you give it with a sneer of victory. So when Bush felt he had to respond to Cindy Sheehan, he responded to a different question, the answer to which made him seem strong and determined.

"I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

Now Ms. Sheehan didn’t ask him to do that, she asked what the noble cause was that justified the loss of life. Corporate imperialism isn’t the answer he wants to give, but it’s the answer. She knows it, we know it and the President and his gang of forty thieves knows it.

“This is the biggest smokescreen from him yet. I didn't ask him to withdraw the troops; I asked him, what 'noble cause' Casey died for. I am still waiting for one of the press corps to ask him that. I am still waiting for that answer.”

Cindy Sheehan is renewing the vigil, but she won’t get that answer. The noble cause was greed and lust for power and so it remains. The preponderance of evidence supports the idea that Bush deliberately set the stage, furnishing it with fabrications and illuminating it with suppressed facts and we applauded. There never was a chance that this conflict would pay for itself, only a fool would believe Iraq would default to Western Liberal Democracy in the absence of a strong leader and only a fool would believe that permanent occupation of an Iraq containing a permanent US military presence was not the goal. Only a fool won’t see that this government will do anything, no matter how immoral, illegal or dangerous to serve the Oil Oligarchy.

There are always enough fools eager to be fooled. I followed a car this morning, with two flapping flags and bumper stickers proclaiming every sort of patriotic non sequitur. Why is it that declarations of pride and flag waving are the immediate response to any and all shameful actions by the United States?

I don’t know whether our world will end with a bang or a whimper, but our country will end with flag waving, denial and patriotic slogans – and that’s the only answer I know how to give.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . . . .

Is the best defense a good offense? Maybe, but not always. Sometimes the best choice is to pretend ignorance – at least according to the Bushies. I’ll bet you’ve made little changes in your life to adjust to the price of fuel as most of us have. My boat isn’t getting a lot of use and the $300 or so it takes for a day’s outing is part of the reason. The AAAARRRRHH you hear around the marina has little to do with pirates, unless you consider that metal thing with the hose coming out of it to be one.

People wonder why Bush himself hasn’t made some adjustments – just for the sake of seeming to be like the man of the people he pretends to be. Of course we pick up the tab for his fleet of gas guzzlers – and for everything else he does, but to his handlers any admission that we are not living in an American Paradise where gross and endless excess is only an appetizer, is anathema.

A while back when Cheney was asked why there was no program to reduce dependence on foreign oil by controlling demand, he replied “It’s not the American way.” His prophecy is continuously self-fulfilled. Any admission of anything less than perfect conditions led by perfect wisdom will not be made, nor will any lesson from history be tolerated.

Whether it’s a Peter Pan sort of a thing, or stupidity or just a smokescreen to allow them to steal as much as possible until we throw them out, remains to be seen. But while you’re waiting to see, I will be putting up the hurricane shutters and gassing up the generators and hoping for the best, ‘cause it’s hurricane time down in Florida once again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!

But try not to puke.

Crankyboy said this would happen and I agreed with him. As soon as the fan had distributed its load of fecal material, Pat Robertson, he said, would claim it was taken out of context and he didn’t mean that at all. Stupid, demented and megalomaniacal as he is, he can still tell he’s done something dumb that needs to be made so that it never happened.

What’s done cannot be undone said the Bard and what’s been said cannot be unsaid unless of course it’s been said to a member of the Religious right and ol’ Righteous Robertson, who once thought he could be President, has telegraphed the engine room for Full Astern.

Will it work? Who knows? The truth has long since become a commercial product and in a country where people are made to believe trucks handle better than sports cars and double bacon cheeseburgers will make you thin, people can be made to believe anything.

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things” Said the man of God hoping that we won’t remember that he did in fact use the word assassination in the previous sentence: "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it."

We probably won’t remember and if we do, it will all be washed away in a wave of piety and prayer and condemnation of Liberals. Full speed astern and damn the cognitive dissonance. Pat will doubtless have more to say about this and other things and also without a doubt the money from the pockets of people of faith will keep rolling in as long as his mouth keeps telling his tale.

- it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The Swamp Fox

I must confess that I bought into it. For most of my life I’d wondered if Indian style team mascots weren’t a bit over the top and whether we shouldn’t look at them the way we would any other stereotype, particularly of a traditionally oppressed people who were being used as an object of humor or mockery. So when the NCAA told FSU they’d have to stop calling themselves the Seminoles and get rid of the mascot Osceola, I assumed that they were speaking for the Seminoles.

The Seminoles are an incredible people. Refugees from the attempt to force all indigenous peoples out of the Southeast, their ancestors fled down into Florida where for a very long time they were hunted like animals by the United States Army. I have read that all of the Florida Seminoles today are the descendents of some 300 people who managed to outlast the Seminole Wars, as the genocide was called. The Florida Seminoles never surrendered. The man known as Osceola, the Swamp Fox, was a hero who died a broken man in captivity, having seen his mother tortured and murdered by the United States Army. Are we mocking him by using him to promote sports activities by the descendents of his persecutors?

So I was inclined to take their side against exploitation and Liberal that I am, I backed the move to put mascots like Illinois’ Chief Illini on the museum shelf along with minstrel shows. After all, I argued, the Seminoles should at least own their name to the extent that any corporation does. But here I made the same mistake so many of us make when we’re told that this or that word is bad and that we are racists for using it. I beleived without evidence and without asking questions.

The Florida Seminoles, it seems, are proud to have FSU use the name and mascot and take pride in the authenticity of the costume. An article in the Miami Herald today informs us that:

“the school appealed the NCAA ruling on the grounds that its six-decade relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida was one of mutual respect, so much so that the tribe in June passed a unanimous proclamation offering its endorsement of FSU's nickname and mascot, Chief Osceola”

This wasn't always true, of course. In the 1950s, historically inaccurate Plains Indians bearing hatchets, and Chief Fullabull, who acted drunk at basketball games and ceremonially massacred opposing mascot effigies, were used. But that was then and things have changed becuse of many decades of work by the University and the Seminoles. FSU now offers 13 scholarships to Seminole members and the Seminoles use the games to publicize their tribes, although Max Osceola, Tribal Council member says the tribe isn't interested in making money from the relationship by licensing the name.

So are we so used to assuming that our side is always right that we buy into our own propaganda without thinking? Does all the convoluted language we’re required to speak in order to avoid offending really offensive according the people it’s supposed to offend, or are we looking at the need to publish of some University Sociology Department? The answer is probably a little of each, but if we are to be Liberals, shouldn’t we allow questions or dissent or disbelief? After all, if we don’t, we’re not Liberals by anyone’s definition save that of the Republicans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Man of Peace

Could be the Fuhrer
Could be the local priest.
You know sometimes
Satan comes as a man of peace.


You’d think this fallacy was so easy to spot that even the dumbest of us would spot it. In fact it is so apparent that you might be tempted to think that only the neurotic would refuse to spot it.

So the other day we have the Reverend A. writing in such a humble fashion to the Palm Beach Post that one would be tempted to find him a reasonable man out to find the real truth. The truth he is out to find, of course has already been assumed and his support comes from the Bible. Gay Marriage is wrong because the Bible says so. I love this kind of argument because it’s easy to refute, a kid with no background in logic could do it and so it’s a great way to show how addiction to religion poisons the mind.

You don’t have to know what Petitio Principii means, you don’t need terminology like “begging the question” you just need the kid’s reaction – Sez who?

In fact all bible based polemics from the beginning rest on a solid foundation of gullibility. As the song says “It ain’t necessarily so” and indeed it ain’t. So when are we going to get real and admit that appeals to authority, appeals to tradition, appeals to mystery, appeals to circularities or appeals to common practice or unfounded assertions are not foundations for attacks on logic and fact?

This is why I oppose any religious infiltration of public schools. I never thought the schools did much to teach people to think, but we can at least help keep them from teaching people not to think!

He got a sweet gift of gab, he got a harmonious tongue,
He knows every song of love that ever has been sung.
Good intentions can be evil,
Both hands can be full of grease.
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

And sometimes as a writer of children’s books. As if they haven’t already plumbed the depths of decency and long since abandoned any concept or shame, now they’re writing children’s books that slime the very concept of being a Liberal to kids too young to know, but old enough to be seduced into the Republikan Jugend. I owe this one to Crankboy at the Daily Curmudgeon, even though he ruined my morning by pointing it out to me.

The Republicans are trying to molest your children. Using one of their front organizations to publish an affront to decency called Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed they are trying another Orwellian switcheroo on your kids. By once again creating a straw man called Liberal and having him do all kinds of nasty authoritarian things and calling it Liberal, they want to teach your kid that our very core principles are their enemies. Those Evil Liberals want to outlaw their religion, take away their lunch money and make them eat broccoli – because they are Liberals.

How do they get away with selling lies as entertainment to children? How do they convince anyone that children’s books are trying to make your sons gay and your daughter’s promiscuous and use that to justify this blatant assault on truth?

You knew it all along:

He could be standing next to you,
The person that you'd notice least.
I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Black is the color, none is the number

The letters to the editor in any small town paper are an endless source of amusement. Who needs to pay a comedy writer when there is such great material on line for free in a great country like this?

One local puffball in my area writes this week, with an attitude more appropriate to someone who has just unraveled the mysteries of String Theory or a quick proof of Fermat’s Theorem, that the reason we talk about blue states and red states as Democrat and Republican is because the Liberal Press is trying to hide the “fact” that Liberals are close to being communists: a fact that would be more obvious if their states were colored appropriately. Red is of course, the color of anger, blue of sadness and I’m comfortable with the color designations in this respect, but the smug assertion that the great liberals like Jefferson, Franklin Madison and others who founded this country to be a bastion of individual liberty; a fortress against the forces of kings by divine right, are communists is as nauseating a bit of ripe carrion as you might find dangling from the septic yellow fangs of a jackal.

The main reason we call the Republican states Red, is that there is no color for stupid. But with some work, perhaps we can come closer than the color of some necks that receive too much sun. I would suggest orange, that being the color of the seething, magma filled caldera of an active volcano into which, in a better world, people who write such things would be thrown.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The sliming of reason

“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.
Martin Luther

I believe because I believe – that’s the great turtle upon the back of which rests the world of faith. Faith can’t ask what sea the turtle swims in for fear of running into the absurd, so faith doesn’t ask, faith tells.

It’s Sunday again and every Sunday our local paper has letters from the angry faithful, demanding that the law protect their beliefs from question, or that the law force unbelievers out or that the law be used to push the faith, but it all uses the same justification disguised in one way or another. I believe because I believe; it’s sometimes expressed as “once you believe, you’ll see the truth” which is of course a tautology, a declaration, not a reasonable reason to believe. Sometimes it’s: “it must be true because the Bible says it and I believe the Bible is true. It’s just another circle, another begging of the unavoidable question, another way of supporting belief with nothing but belief.

Of course amidst all the denial of contrary evidence by the faithful, there’s a ravening hunger for evidence of their own, hence Turin Shrouds, Creation Science, endless pieces of wood from the True Cross or Noah’s Ark, signs in the sky and numerology. It’s a primal hunger that causes the beleaguered believer to ignore the taste and wolf it down, or grasp at the straw that won’t support any weight, if you prefer that metaphor. Nowhere is there an unbroken chain of logic connected to any verifiable axiom other than belief itself: I believe because I believe means you sometimes have to believe lies.

Cracker Christians and Crooked Christian Chauvinists, avoid such discussions and simply get hostile at any attempt to analyze what they proclaim, but Real Christians have to contend with it. Martin Luther, the great reformer, attacked reason itself because all the things one must perforce believe to be a believer are unreasonable, which was his way of saying you have to believe to be a believer, but now that I think of it we have the same vicious circle here, don’t we?

What I’m getting at is not just that Faith is a singularity – something that begins and ends at the same point, but the sheer hubris of unquestioned belief. The point it begins and ends with is always what you want to believe, because after all, you have chosen this belief from an infinite number of possible beliefs. Since the objective of belief is belief itself, you have to enforce faith to maintain faith, disobedience or doubt has to be silenced, hence our friend Brother Martin’s preaching death and destruction for the JewsThe Jews and their Lies 1543, hence the Roman Catholic Church and its Inquisition and hence the Kentucky Fried Christians and their war on science, secularism and liberal Democracy.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Springtime for Jesus

“During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? . . .Superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

-James Madison-

It’s not that they’re not comical, but it’s getting harder and harder to laugh about the antics of the Evengelicals and harder still to differentiate them from any other supremacist movement. Of course all believe their manifest destiny is to rule the United States of America, all use false history and pseudo-science to substantiate it and all tap into the rage of those who feel left behind and marginalized by the progress of knowledge and modernity.

I see Christianism: militant religious chauvinism, as the greater danger and far greater than the danger from Islamic Chauvinism in the immediate future. It is, so far, relatively free of the stigma of racism that marks the KKK and by masquerading as Christian, the movement has nearly universal access to positions of power. If there is anything Christian about the Christianists, I have yet to notice, but the public is still in confusion about this and both the true and the nominal Christians of America have been under such a propaganda barrage for so long that many have bought at least a part of the supremacist program:

This is a country founded by Christians with “Judeo-Christian Values.”

Those values underlie our constitution and thus are the spirit thereof.

Christianity is under attack by Godless forces with the aim of destroying morality and JCV.

They need to “Take Back America.

The reference to peremptory yet nebulous values, the conflation of the nebulous values with secular law, the enemy amongst us and the need to take over: these are the tenets of the Christianist Supremacist movement and of course the Islamist supremacist movement and a host of others.

The fictional history, upon which they spend as much time and money as they do creating fictional views of evolution in spite of all evidence, is designed to show that the framers of our Constitution were NOT radically opposed to forming a Christian nation, despite all evidence. They thus can describe their aggression as retaliation, as nearly all would-be tyrants do.

Of course it’s not only fake history or fake science, it’s also fake Christianity, fake values and fake morals. The only genuine sentiment is the lust for power and one has only to look at real history to see the legacy of war, persecution, superstition and ignorance left to us by nearly 2000 years of rulers and nations “Under God.”

Friday, August 19, 2005

It's. . . . . . a BABY!

The late Steven J. Gould said that the real danger to science was not religion, but junk science. Although he may be right, junk science has become the tool of religion and in one way or another junk religion has been raiding the scrap yards of science to cobble together one monstrosity after another. Although many of the theses put together out of pieces of other things seem pretty slick until you think about it for a while, others are obviously the product of sloppy welding and worn out parts.

This is too big a topic to explore to its limits and too weak a metaphor to stretch too far, but our emotions and our reason are under continual assault from one logical and factual chimera after another, banged together by the Religious Right and it’s militant arm, the United States Government. Conventional wisdom, that vast junkyard of superstition, half truth and comfortable assumptions, is both the source and destination of much of the arguments designed to form your opinions and make you resistant to other opinions, or to the facts themselves.

Why is the fogghorn blowing again? Now that the billboards blown down by last year’s hurricanes have been rebuilt, we have to look at those large, baby pink signs informing us that not only does “life” begin at conception, but that embryos have heartbeats at six weeks, brainwaves at whatever stage, etc. etc. It’s designed to make you anti-abortion at an emotional level. It makes me see a lie and two non-sequiturs posing as an argument. That’s junk science.

Both egg cell and sperm cells are alive before conception, both zygotes are already the result of cell division, so what begins and what is the result of continuous process? A chicken embryo has a heartbeat and brain waves probably sooner than a human fetus – it thus does not follow from any of these proclamations that a fertilized egg, a clump of cells or indeed fetus with a rudimentary heart and nerve cluster is a “Baby” nor, more importantly, possessed at the moment with some ineffable property that can’t be seen or measured or detected in any way, yet somehow makes it fully human. Like most emotionally supported arguments, it asks you to see things in binary fashion, and without much fuss and bother concerning the details. The idea that humanity is something that grows over time from the purely protozoan to full humanity is not considered. The distinction between human tissue and humanity is not addressed. There may be arguments against abortion, but this jalopy just won’t run.

Every philosophy conceals a philosophy as Nietzsche said (Jenseits von Gut und Böse Nr. 289) and the “culture of Life” really disguises the attempt to legislate not a respect for life but a mystical, religious belief in souls that live in single celled organisms – perhaps the result of a tiny, invisible God riding a tiny sperm cell, waving his cowboy hat and yelling “yahoo” like Slim Pickens in Doctor Strangelove. That’s junk theology as well as junk science.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No matter how you look at it, you lose.

The stories about Cindy Sheehan aren’t Fair and Balanced because Fair and balanced means you always have to offer an opposing side to every story. Fair and Balanced means you have to find a way to show that Cindy is a failure as a mother and an American because she wants an explanation rather than a palliative platitude.

Sooner or later they had to find someone to be a rallying point for those who are happy that their loved ones got blown to bits in Iraq. So there's no surprise that AP reported last night that at her son’s funeral at Tri-County Baptist Church in Ohio, Kathy Dyer delivered what she believed would have been her son's own message.

''It has been with the greatest pride I have served ... fighting to preserve freedom.'' Would have been is the key here. Would have been if what was weren’t what it is. We don’t know what he thought as he was blown to pieces by a roadside bomb– maybe it wasn’t “gee, it’s all right because we had elections.” In any event he never said it, and she made it up, but we need that for balance.

If this were a war with the objective of stopping international terrorism, she might have a point, so in her mind she makes it into one and makes herself a stooge for the cynical bastards who profit from this slaughter. But it’s not a war against anyone who attacked us; it’s not a war for freedom at all, unless you have to believe it was if you just can’t bear to believe that the kid you bore and raised died for nothing or worse than nothing: somebody’s profit. You have to believe that “they’re fighting for us” as somebody else’s mother said at the funeral – because it’s easier than admitting that your support of this government is the stupidest and most destructive thing you have ever done in your life or that your faith in Washington's Gang of Four is the root of all evil.

Don't kid yourself that this doesn't work. Some wacko from Waco destroyed a memorial constructed by Sherman's group to honor the fallen. Read about it here at Operation Truth. Rabble rousing works very well and there are always enough demented partisans to do any kind of dirty work, no matter how disgusting - Just ask Osama or Karl Rove.

So no matter how many vigils, no matter how many songs you sing or candles you light, they can come up with an opposite that they can use to keep anyone from being persuaded. We are stuck with this war and the war after that and the next one. War is forever, Greed is forever, lies are forever, stupidity is forever.

Season of the Snitch

I finally figured out what the real meaning of “No Child Left Behind” is, but maybe I’m slow. Did you know that the education act of 2001 requires secondary schools that receive Federal money to release personal information about the students to military recruiters? I did not know that, as Johnny used to say, but as I say, maybe I’m slow. Now parents can opt out of this by making a request in writing to their school district, but if you don’t know, you don’t opt out and I’ll bet some people are just as slow as I am.

So now we have another predator to think about when we worry about that kid in the baggy shorts full of little plastic bags talking to our kid in the parking lot or that friendly looking guy in the black sedan. Who knows what information about your kid the schools are handing out, or where that information winds up? Colleges are not being successful in keeping recruiters off campus these days either. It took them 30 years but they’ve finally put a muzzle on campus protest.

Now back in my day, like when we locked the guy from Dow Chemical ( Napalm) in a closet and dumped Sterno on him through the transom, you could make a statement even if it earned you an FBI dossier, but you really have to be careful these days – you have to pick up every stitch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Proud, White America

One reads in the current Newsweek about the White People’s Party being short only a few signatures needed to put a slate of candidates into the Nevada State elections in 2006. Well here they go again, as the Great Bufoonicator would say, but while such bipedal vermin as Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh will find no difficulty in blaming the recrudescence of militant racism on Multiculturalism or Liberals or Bill Clinton or some other shibboleth of the psychotic Right, neither will the White People’s Party. Like the Republican Party’s pathological wing, their cause is to undo the tolerance and multiculturalism that has made less of a mockery of liberty and justice than our Sweet Land of Liberty did in the 1930’s when anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and nativist sentiments joined up with Jim Crow like four grotesque horsemen in some renaissance etching.

No, I’m not making up the name, there really is such a party. If you trace back the aliases through the National Vanguard, The National Alliance - to the Youth for Wallace campaign established by Willis Carto, the anti-Semitic founder of Liberty Lobby, in support of the 1968 presidential bid of Alabama Governor George Wallace, you’ll find its roots are deep and widespread. The group attracted former bigwigs like William Pierce from George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party and its successor, the National Socialist White People's Party.

Their tactic du jour is to ride the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, whipping it in good Limbaughian form into a hurricane of racism that will, they hope, sweep them to their goal: Today Nevada, Tomorrow America: a Proud, White America.

Of course you know where I stand on this – I hope they win big. I hope they roll the rabid right into a great big hate suppository and shove it in the one place in Nevada where the sun don’t shine. How else will this country ever wake up and smell the stink of its own sentiments?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Summer of '65

Sur la Plage, Juan-les-Pins

So white the sun,

the dog turds on the beach steps

are bleached white

and in our little boat

when my toes touched

your white suit

Ah non! you said

You’ll make it dirty.

Yet after forty years she will have become old, like her Spanish grandmother who came with us to watch the fireworks from the beach. Not long ago, I found a picture of her father, standing next to a race car in the pits at LeMans, wearing his work clothes and a tweed cap, a study in gray and white. It was taken the summer I knew her, when the sun had burnt the pattern of my sandals into my feet so dark you could see it for months afterward

Monday, August 15, 2005

By George, he's got it!

I know it happened last Saturday, but it took me all this time to gather my wits well enough to comment. Bush admitted he was wrong.

OK, well he didn’t actually admit it and being able to call it an admission at all depends on the definitions of admit and wrong and possibly is and was. What George said, in his smirking, grimacing, sneering, condescending way, was that as concerns our policy toward Iran and its nuclear build-up, force was the policy of last resort. On a broadcast over Israeli Television on August 13th, Bush, taking a break from his exercise regimen and brush cutting, responded to questions as to the use of force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country."

Yes, we know.

So if force as the President said, is the last option for any President, using it as the first option is ipso facto wrong and by his definition an admission of error. Of course the admission, if it is that and not just another one of Bush’s logic lapses, contains a lie. You didn’t think he could say anything without lying, did you? He lies by continuing to lubricate his invasion of Iraq by telling everyone it was done to “secure our country.”

Now, again, that it’s a lie depends on some definitions. I’m sure that in his mind, saving his failing Presidency and assuring a second term was indeed done in the name of national security. So it’s all pretty simple, he can admit he was wrong but can prove he didn’t admit it because the lie was supported by another lie. Get it? Keep trying – it’s kinda like Zen. You can’t explain it with words.

No wonder he sneers at us all the time – we’re just too dumb to understand him.

By The Way

Have you read the August 13th item in Silent Cacophony about the Clinton Hate Museum? I’ve been blowing the fogghorn for years about the religious aspect of Clintonhate: not that it is supported by religion, but that it is a religion. As such it has no need for verifiable facts and won’t recognize contradictions in its credos.

You believe Clinton is the evil one, because you believe. Clinton’s little lie will always outweigh Nixon’s or Reagan’s or the great Meisterlügner W’s lies and anyone who doesn’t agree is the Infidel, to be despised and persecuted.

I hope they build the thing, this Church of Clintonhate, if only as a monument to human stupidity. I hope it lasts longer than our civilization and that some archaeologist poet of the future finds the ruins in the desert and reads the inscription “I am Rove, King of Kings. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair (and Clinton lied)”

My apologies to Shelly

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Your Sunday Sermon

Certum est quia impossible est


People of Faith It rolls over the forked tongues and past the scaly lips of the most devious politicians, falling gently upon the ears of the misfits, the maladapted, confused and confounded, making them feel that they are the elect, the elite and never mind what those people with their confusing, complex uncomfortable ideas might think – we’re believers.

Since faith, by my definition, which is the one you’re going to hear about, is not really influenced by data, every quantum of faith requires an infinite number of equal and opposite denials. Believe in the One God and you have to deny all the others. You have to deny any possible God we could make up and all those we can’t get around to making up. After all since there is no evidence other than legend for any specific qualities of any deity, there’s as much “Evidence” for Zeus or Apollo or Krishna or Zurvan or Ormazhd as there is for YHWH. You could hardly cite your own mythology as support without applying a bit of science to the mythology of others and you can’t do that if you want your fables to survive. You just have to deny summarily any observations about nature, however demonstrable and repeatable, as you deny all other equally as specious mythologies as your own. You have to deny an infinite number of things, many of which are supported by hard evidence.

Since I could postulate, if not an infinite number of Gods, an arbitrarily large number of them; since I could postulate without evidence any random characteristics of each and every one, none of which can be shown to be true by anything other than appeal to priestly authority, I can keep you denying until Jesus gets back from the grocery store. Since the ratio of denial to acceptance has infinity as its limit, isn’t it far more accurate to call believers deniers?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Persistence of Irony

Surrealism is not a defunct Art movement from the 1930’s and 40’s, it’s the esthetic and creative force behind the Bush Administration. Rene Magritte’s painting of a locomotive exiting a living room fireplace and Salvador Dali’s melting clocks were meant to illustrate the logic of dreams and so indeed do the works of Donald Rumsfeld.

Things that cannot have any logical connection, things that cannot coexist, things that are mutually contradictory: these are what the surrealist puts together in an irrational landscape. What do Country Music, al Qaeda, a walk in the park and the War in Iraq have to do with each other? You guessed it: nothing - it’s surrealism.

And so to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Donald Rumsfeld will organize, according to a recent article in the New York Daily News, a march from the Pentagon to the Mall where a country music concert will be given. Apparently, the families of the victims and at least one veteran’s group, true philistines having no grasp of what the artist is trying to say here, are protesting. Of course Rumsfeld’s on again-off again insistence upon the connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, even in the absence of Saddam, is self contradictory and absurd – that’s what surrealism is all about. To have some Nashville cowboy prancing about in sequined boots to commemorate the murders of New York and international business people by religious extremists is part of the logic of dreams and who can dream like Don Rumsfeld?

But this is where the Art Critic comes to our rescue. Speaking as a supporter of the administration’s exhibition, Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) said in a stunning non-sequitur: “We are at war. It's essential that we support our troops" thus surrealistically implying that singing Stand by your Man was better support than sending reinforcements or adequate equipment.

He also said attacking Iraq was necessary after 9/11. "You do not defeat Al Qaeda until you stabilize the Middle East, and that's not possible as long as Saddam Hussein is in power."

Efforts by bystanders to inform him that Saddam is long since out of power and that the Middle East was far more stable before we attacked Iraq, only illustrate America’s lack of Art Appreciation. This isn’t about vulgar facts, it’s about Art, but you just can’t explain art to a philistine, can you?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Don't go down the basement

Friday Double Feature

Jennifer Wilbanks should win the Shadows and Fog award for her performance in the smokescreen of the year. For what seemed like forever, we had to hear about the “runaway Bride” and how she lied, all to the exclusion of a lot of really important news. In case you were too busy with reality to have noticed, Jennifer was the woman who created a Bogus cover story to explain her failure to show up at her wedding and who was the number one story in the Republican Controlled Media – for ages. So we had to listen to her cover story ad nauseam while Bush’s cover story was stashed in the basement.

I wonder how long the time seemed to our troops and how many of them never got to hear the whole runaway bride story – assuming that they had any interest of course. I can forgive them for not having time to be in touch with our culture of life back here in freedom-land, being up to their ears in blood, guts and death because of the cover story George Bush and Tony Blair cooked up to explain the latest imperialist crusade. Don’t go down the basement.

CNN ran a picture of her just the other day, working off her sentence by mowing lawns and washing cars. Now she does owe a debt since she cost the taxpayers over $40,000 to pay for the search she precipitated and it’s only fair. It’s only justice.

Now how many acres do you think George needs to mow to pay back the families of the dead, the wounded, the maimed and even those who have lost years of their lives? That’s why he spends so much time down there in Crawford, clearing brush. It’s not a vacation, it’s community service.

Clearing brush - down in Crawford

This Sunday, August 14th, marks the 70th anniversary of Social Security. You have not heard much about that in the news, have you? Perhaps it’s because a certain administration and its pals in the media hate to print anything that might irritate the President while he’s busy clearing brush for Freedom down in Crawford. Facts bother the faithful whether the facts are about the origin of species, the age and size of the universe, the effects of economic policies or the fact that over a hundred thousand Americans have left their families and risk their lives so that Bush can cut brush for Freedom down in Crawford.

Social Security and the changes it brought to the country have been a thorn in the side of Republican utopianism for a lifetime and just as they are still seething over the triumphs of Liberty and Justice for all that occurred when our leaders were young campus misfits in the 1960’s, they are still plotting to destroy a program that provides some measure of financial security for 33 million retired Americans and their dependents, 7 million survivors of deceased workers, and 8 million disabled workers and their families. But still, if he says it’s broken, it must be and those Iraqi weapons must be somewhere hidden in the Brush in Crawford along with the African yellowcake and the aluminum tubes.

The many people I know whose lives have gone from prosperous to precarious since they lost so much of their paper wealth in the Bush “recovery” and many of those I know who fought so hard for their right to vote ( sorry Florida , you’re still fighting for it) are becoming skeptical about our Presidential Nonesuch and his Washington Burlesque show. A few of them are beginning to suspect that Bush’s commitment to prosperity, freedom and education mirror his commitment to Family Values – so well illustrated by the support of selling America’s children and families as guinea pigs to the pesticide makers.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hey kid! Want some bug spray?

George Bush is true to his word – he doesn’t want to leave one child behind – at least not when that child is being used as a lab rat for the pesticide industry. I hear from Florida Senator Bill Nelson this morning that the White House’s effort to get rid of the Boxer-Nelson provision in an EPA funding bill that banned the practice of testing pesticides on babies, children and pregnant women has been thwarted for the time being. You heard me right, this isn’t about the infamous Doktor Mengele and his death camp experiments, it’s about George W Bush, the Crawling Creep of Crawford and his Culture of Life. Now, thanks to the unpatriotic “Liberals” we have 6 months more before people can start selling their kids to the Chemical Companies. They still can, of course, cruise the streets looking for the poor and helpless willing to sell their health for the price of a meal. It’s only a small gain for decency and humanity, but after all – just how compassionate can a compassionate conservative be expected to be when there’s money involved?

The government should be ashamed for taking money from the chemical industry to troll around low-income communities looking for cash-strapped people to participate in pesticide experiments” said the Senator. Perhaps they would be if the Republican Party had any idea what it meant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Intelligent design

ID, that’s what they’d prefer you to call the conjecture. It’s a Madison Avenue technique to create the appearance of widespread acceptance through the use of a hip sounding nickname. ID is also the first two letters of the word IDIOT.

The proponents of this product, for that’s what it is, recognize that while the evidence for origin of species through evolution is not complete, it’s none the less massive and growing. They know that there is no evidence for any other explanation of speciation so they resort to a specious speculation. As far as I remember from Logic 101, there is no specific name for this fallacy, perhaps because it is almost too stupid to justify giving it a title, but it boils down to: I don’t know everything about Y, so X must be a better explanation. A quick wave of the reductio wand gives us “I don’t know your blood type, so you must be the Queen of Sheba.” I don’t know, therefore. . . It’s a very short step to the absurd. It’s only a theory based on incomplete evidence, so let’s replace it with a conjecture based on the inability to understand. Seems like a fair alternative, no?

True, it would be hard to assimilate all that is known about evolution in the macro and micro scales of observation, just as it is hard to assimilate all that is known about math or particle physics or cosmology, yet we would be embarrassed to assert that since we never passed 8th grade math, it’s all hokum, or since I can’t see protons, everything is solid. The proponents of Intelligent Design know this of course and some of them were not born stupid. They are simply salesmen and salesmen will say absurdities with enough speed and confidence that you won’t notice. They’re selling you a religion, the religion that passes for Christianity in America.

The fact that Jesus had nothing to say about the origin of species and the fact that St Augustine, who contributed a great deal to subsequent Christian thought, cautioned Christians not to hang on to ridiculous ideas about nature for fear of making them foolish, is lost on the proponents of Intelligent Design. They know that their constituency is ignorant and wants to feel righteous about it. They know that you don’t know and they have a product that will make you feel certain about the unknowable and take away the shame of ignorance at the same time.

What’s in it for them? Well as Salmon Rushdie said: “Fundamentalism isn’t about religion, it’s about power.” In our case it’s about taking over a secular, liberal democracy, so roll that big wooden thing right through the city gates. It’s comfortable, it’s traditional, it will put the infidel in his place. Salvation is only one non-sequitur away!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


August 9th 1974, a date that will live in obscurity. On Television the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon announced that he would resign the following day and for once, he kept his promise.

I recall that in his speech, Nixon mentioned that being an old salt, he knew that the rear end of a boat was called the bow. At that point I began to feel sorry for him as I might for anyone who couldn’t tell his bow from his stern, but of course that feeling has long since faded away, just like the outrage over a President, who was, despite his protestations, a clumsy crook. Old salt or not, he swore like a sailor, particularly when drunk on the job. Of course he was also without any moral compass, a borderline megalomaniac with paranoid tendencies and perhaps a wife-beater as well.

Perhaps I’m one of a dwindling few who remembers some early releases of transcripts of his tapes. His fellow partisans were quite sure that the “liberal Press,” the scapegoat Nixon and his ward Spiro Agnew (he’s not a crook either) so often used, would somehow pervert the innocent words by some nuance of tone and so it was read on the air in a dead-pan voice by actors with far less emotional content than the voice synthesis chip in my answering machine. The tapes were damning anyway and more revolting with every new release; from the “let’s sic the IRS on those Jews” to his stunning conversation with Billy Graham (he’s not a crook either) about how the Jews were ruining the country.

Even when the Clinton Presidency was under siege in a fashion designed flamboyantly to duplicate the outing of Nixon’s felonious administration, nobody seemed ever to mention August 9th. No surprise that the Republicans have swept it under the flag, but the loyal opposition, now that we have an administration that’s as corrupt as any in our history, remains silent, as though the shame were theirs alone.

Perhaps one day, George W Bush’s nefarious and Nixonian scheme to make lies into truth and truth into lies will also fade from memory. After all any kind of accurate memory is the enemy of pernicious consumerism and consumerism has become a force of nature, not to be resisted. Still, I remember bow from stern and port from starboard too. Let the rest of the passengers dance the night away, Captain Fogg knows where the lifeboats are.

Vide et scio – I saw and I know.

Childe Rumsfeld

July the 11th; I often fail to remember its approach until the last minute. Since I’m a guy and since that’s my wedding anniversary, I have to put notes on calendars and on my computer, lest I forget. The consequences would be grave, even if there were no consequences, as any married man can tell you.

Don Rumsfeld is undeniably of the same gender as I and perhaps he simply ran out of post-it notes or is trying to save us all some money by not having a secretary, but Don forgot July 11th was growing near. Don of course, is not married to Congress, but none the less, that group of extraordinary gentlemen had ordered him to prepare a detailed report informing them and us of just how much progress has been made in stabilizing Iraq, how close the Iraqis are to being able to control their own country and just how powerful the “insurgency” remains. In other words, “support your argument for being able to talk about success.” Without this data we really have no yardstick with which to measure the promises trumpeted by the Administration's horn-blowers or to measure the length of their noses.

There’s a lot of data to gather and it would take some time to prepare if he had any interest in providing the complete facts, so perhaps he should be forgiven for turning his homework in late ( after Congress passed another resolution demanding it) and without any reference to the dog having eaten it. These things are hard work, as his Boss has reminded us over and again and usually before leaving for a lengthy vacation, but Childe Rumsfeld and his knights of the backroom table did eventually come through for us with a whopping 23 pages of blank questionnaires and excuses for not knowing the answers. “Rumbo” just doesn’t know how well we’re doing and so can’t tell you when and if we will ever be able to get out of there without leaving anarchy and civil war as our legacy. That doesn’t stop him from telling us he did his assignment and got an A on it or that we are on top of this game. Like any irresponsible parent, we take his word for it and don’t read the report card.

I’ve often accused this administration of amorality; of having no principles other than slogans, but that’s really not fair. Don Rumsfeld’s moral compass has two points: Let's not and say we did, and let’s do and say we didn’t. Put out more flags and blow the bugle, put ribbons on the Hummer and blame the Liberals, Rumsfeld has got it all covered.

Dauntless to my lips the slug-horn set,

and blew “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lex Talonis

"What you do unto the least of them, you do unto me."

The American Christian Right is, in one of its darker aspects, a death cult, having few observable scruples when it comes to slaughter. When the opportunity arises to burn their witches with electric fire, women, children, the insane and the retarded often get no mercy, nor do those who argue for it on their behalf. Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a pro-death penalty group, doesn’t think that frying the living innards of the innocent is any problem, Jesus or the Ten Commandments notwithstanding. "It doesn't appear to be shaping up as a major issue," He said yesterday with regard to the question of Roberts’ position. In response to 85 year old Supreme Court Justice Stevens’ statement last Sunday that our system has flaws, Scheidegger offers only "I wouldn't say that 20 or 30 cases out of 8,000 constitutes a broken system."

In most cases, our idea of justice is to make happen what we want to happen to someone we hate and in most cases, what we want to happen is vengeance. Giving back the money you stole, repairing the damage done: these things are justice. Killing puts nothing right. Despite the countrywide infatuation with Biblical authority, our concept of morality seems increasingly based on personal anger, either against perpetrators or more disturbingly, against those in the categories we put individual perpetrators into in order to simplify difficult questions.

Beyond the question of how we treat the guilty, lies the hazy territory of how we treat the falsely convicted. The arrival of DNA technology has allowed us to prove what we haven’t wanted to know – a very significant number of innocent people have been condemned to death and this has turned away the wrath of many former anti-life advocates. It has only increased the blood-lust of others and often these others are the God-is Love fundamentalists. Our Christian Right, very concerned with the humanity of a single-celled organism is apparently not at all concerned with the humanity of real people and this manifests itself in the frenzy they exhibit with respect to Supreme Court nominees.

We have a Christian President, who “Answers to a higher Father” yet ignores what he would have to insist that lofty patriarch demands if only he could actually read the scriptures he purports to credit. Scrutamini scripturas – let’s look in the Bible; what would Jesus do? That’s what we tell other people, what we act upon is anger. Their faith is primarily a pedestal upon which to display that anger.

Is our soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice an angry enough man to continue to support the killing of the guilty even if it inevitably means the killing of the innocent? Who knows? We can speculate that his wife has influenced him ( she is against the Death Penalty as well as abortion) but whether or not he, like the man who nominated him, can mock the pleas of the condemned and wash his hands of the killing of innocents remains to be seen.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The code of Bush-ido

Bushido: The way of the warrior. George is a War President and proud of it. He may be our first War President, since no other has to my knowledge made such a spectacularly pretentious claim or dared wear pilot’s garb for world wide television. George is a War President and a Hard Worker. He works hard – really hard and he’s worked hard at telling us about how hard he works.

So have another well earned month and a quarter off Mr. President, playing cowboy at your pretend ranch. It’s your reward for being a War President and Hard Worker, which was your reward for taking a four year vacation playing pilot and not embarrassing Daddy during the Viet Nam War. War Pilot that is – I should have said War Pilot.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Revenge of the Real Men

Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds.

Apparently they’re also more apt to feel hostile toward Gays. Well there’s always a new study and often the new study contradicts the last new study, but it’s an appealing take. With a government that is so good at emasculating working class America and so glib at identifying the source of the challenge to masculinity as Liberals, Environmentalists, Elitists, Feminists and Gay men, it’s no wonder that those decimated by Bush’s war support it without showing much interest in its purpose. Glory is the humiliated man’s dream of revenge. The Few, the Proud – the ones nobody would consider weak, or un-masculine. Pride, honor: all the words the humiliated crave to be identified with and all meaning revenge, aggression.

We all understand it and we’re all prone to it in some way or another. Haven’t you been a little heavier on the throttle after the boss made you feel two feet tall, added a bit more leather to your wardrobe after she dumped you – for are we not men? Real men? Maybe the length to which you let your dreams of vengeance go is the size that really matters. Maybe with revenge, smaller is better.

Out in the cold street
It's your death, sharp in my sleeve
See how my breath smokes