Friday, September 30, 2005
Maybe Sponge Bob or the Teletubbies will turn your kids gay, but never fear, the I Pod can turn them into soldiers. Sign up to have a recruiter call on you and get three tunes to load into the electronic equivalent of thumb-sucking.
Raw Story reports that a veteran’s group is starting a “letter drive” to allow soldiers to tell the “good news” about Iraq. I hope the good news isn’t that their body count is higher than ours, because I’ve heard that joke before. Here's some particularly good news from Spc. Richard Murphy, back from a 15 month tour.
AlterNet reports that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats on Thursday demanded that former Education Secretary William Bennett apologize for remarks on his radio program linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies. “You could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down”
Bennett responded that the comments, made Wednesday on his "Morning in America" show, had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was "morally reprehensible." And what Hitler really meant to say was. . . .
The 1994 Republican "contract with America" claims: "That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money." Now did 9/11 change all that or did Greed, and a lust for power change all that?
Speaking of th epublic's money, today's Miami Herald reports that down in Katrina country, "The government is paying contractors an average of $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof -- even though it's also giving them endless supplies of blue sheeting for free." You see, windfalls for corporations are OK as long as the workers themselves don't get minimum wage.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
As today's Dunesbury says: "There's no business like no-bid ness."
Mardi Gras in New Orleans next year may be a subdued event, but someone will be getting fat – I guarantee.
I’m struggling to think about how many wars of the last century had anything to do with preserving constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in the United States. Certainly backing a corrupt puppet government in Viet Nam had little to do with promoting freedom of speech in the US – in fact the need to preserve that war was a major setback to personal liberty as is this one. The fact that we failed and that today our former “enemies” have a peaceful country rapidly embracing a free market economy while we move toward increased government intrusion into private lives seems to be a lost lesson. Yet the need to believe that whatever military adventure is promoted by the Executive branch is substantially about preserving freedom is still a major bulwark of the fortress of fallacy the dwindling group of defenders still live in.
The need to believe in our Government’s various crusades produces the inevitable “Arrest the Traitors” contradiction we remember from the 60’s and 70’s which somehow makes the freedom we’re allegedly fighting for into treason. That such slogans directly contradict the notion that we are fighting for anything but fighting’s sake is always lost on the Rabid Right,
Indeed blindness to contradiction seems to be the definition of right wing politics. CNN quotes one warmonger as saying "Our troops are over there fighting for our rights, and if she [Sheehan] was in one of those countries she would not be able to do that." Funny that she would not be able to do that in the countries we call allies and staunch supporters either and in light of her arrest, perhaps she really can’t do that here.
True enough that there is little freedom of speech in many countries, like Saudi Arabia, yet a great many countries have civil rights as great as or greater than ours and they don’t seem to have so much trouble trying to preserve them by conquest. There is hardly reason to stifle it here while conducting a war that you’re trying to promote as saving that right.
And then there is the “Support the Troops” argument which seems to be saying that we need to pretend that they must be fighting for something worthwhile because if they aren’t, they will be demoralized. War then, exists mostly to make the Army feel useful. That argument of course would support any horror at all and makes any military action self-legitimizing. Can we conclude that to its supporters, this war is anything but a war on truth and reason? We, I predict, will continue to pretend that it’s about freedom abroad while making freedom the enemy at home and this war and the next war will go on forever.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Hitchens’ take on last weekend’s anti-war rally in Washington is that the entire movement is composed of "phony peaceniks" because the two sponsoring groups he credits for the entire event are, according to “one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well,” United for Peace and Justice and International Answer.
International Answer, says Hitchens, is: “the group run by the ‘Worker's World’ party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the ‘resistance’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda.”
United for Peace and Justice is likewise impugned through an unspecified connection with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and the Worker’s World Party:
“. . . the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary.”
Of course he managed to connect Michael Moore with these “phony peacenik” groups as though to put another plum in the pudding and of course he relies on the standard practice of telling you what they will say and then condemning them because the words they haven’t actually said come straight from Chairman Mao.
I’ve been through it all before and so have the dwindling generations that were adults during the Viet Nam years and remember the same stupid arguments. The gravamen of Hitchens’ argument is not the false identification by association, but the fact that his rabid diatribes are meant to distract us and hide the significant point that the nation now has turned against Bush’s war, a majority believing that we were deceived about the purpose, lied to about the cost and mislead as to the possibility of any of the goals or the time needed to carry them out. We have been robbed and cheated; we have been tricked into selling our freedom, our sons, our daughters, our wives and husbands and all for the profit of a few. The majority of Americans now believe this and it’s not because they sleep with Jane Fonda, go bowling with Michael Moore or even know who Leon Trotsky was.
Regardless of how many secret motivations and sordid connections anyone there on the street may have had, it was the voice of the majority out in the street in Washington. We did not lose the fight to press an unwanted government on Viet Nam because of Jane Fonda and the hippies and we are not stymied in our efforts to press an unwanted government on the Iraqis because of Michael Moore, Leon Trotsky, Mao Zedong or anyone else in Christopher Hitchens’ pantheon of demons. This is George W. Bush’s war, based on George W. Bush’s lies and George W. Bush’s propensity to ignore good advice while listening to war profiteers.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
In 1982, the Republicans ran an ad boasting that President Ronald Reagan had provided a cost of living allowance (COLA) increase to federal workers "in spite of those sticks-in-the-mud who tried to keep him from doing what we elected him to do."
Alas, it was soon pointed out that Reagan had in fact opposed the increase. "Since when," a Republican official asked by way of explanation, "is a commercial supposed to be accurate?"
I remember when the media had to give equal time for someone to rebut charges, but that was before the Reagan Renaissance. Now you can lie about anything without much fear of contradiction: freedom of speech, Republican style.
Perhaps because they feel the election of ’04 wasn’t sleazy enough (trust me, it was) Florida's top elections officials have concluded that most campaign finance restrictions don't apply to third-party groups as long as they don't directly tell people how to vote. According to today’s Miami Herald, the decision from the Florida Division of Elections means that special-interest groups or wealthy donors could pay to air completely false claims or completely false and scurrilous condemnations of opposing candidates, without having to abide by the state's campaign finance limits. The Sept. 21st decision comes on the heels of a recent ruling by the division that points out that state law no longer bars these same third-party groups from coordinating their ads with individual candidates. In other words, a political Party can advertise, using private funds, that their rivals have regular sex with the Devil after performing Human sacrifice and worshipping Jane Fonda - and nobody can do a damn thing about it. Of course they have come close to doing that much already and nobody could do a damn thing about it.
Apparently it’s not enough to use political connections on the Court to unconstitutionally stop votes from being counted or using your connections with Diebold to secretly alter vote counts, they want a license to lie. Hardly shocking. What’s really astonishing is that so few people seem to care. Maybe we should have saved ourselves all that trouble and remained part of the British Empire where a King called George claimed divine approval, because that’s exactly where we are today.
The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Monday, September 26, 2005
Some idiot from the pro war demonstration yesterday was quoted by an AP reporter as saying Sheehan's protest "can affect the war in a really negative way. It gives the enemy hope." The "enemy", of course is the country we were supposed to "liberate."
Sometimes I have to look around carefully to be sure I haven't somehow fallen through some time warp into 1968. We're fighting for freedom of speech, but you're a traitor if you speak. Sometimes I wish I had been born yesterday like these morons so I wouldn't have to watch history repeat itself. We were held hostage for 15 years with that argument in the 60's and 70's and we are fool enough to fall for it again, only don't plan on there being a "Democracy" in Iraq that soon.
After all, if math had been designed intelligently, as everything else has been, it would be easier to understand. If I don’t understand it, if it looks too complicated to be true, some other conjecture must equally be valid – as long as it conforms to my religious beliefs.
You know, many mathematicians no longer believe there is any such number as Pi – they’ve been trying to calculate it exactly for centuries and they still have to admit it’s not rational. I mean, you even hear them admitting that they just imagine some numbers. Really, things like String Theory just don’t explain the solid, simple and eternal nature of everything. Has anyone actually seen 11 dimensional Kalabi-Yao space? I don’t think so.
And what about Fourier Transforms and LaGrange multipliers? French ideas meant to corrupt American children.
Mathematics leads to things like Relativity and the Uncertainty Principle, which are morally reprehensible ideas - responsible for things like school shootings and hurricanes. There can only be one truth after all and there are no problems that cannot be understood by reading the Bible or solved by giving a tax cut to Halliburton.
No Mathematics is just another kind of Faith and there is no reason to believe in it any more than the idea that the universe is ruled by miracle.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Dolphins are a delight to watch. They chase boats for sport, it seems and they will swim along side with effortless grace so you can look them right in the eye. Often you see them just jump out of the water for no apparent reason. For the sake of the landlubbers who don’t know better, I’m talking about the Bottle Nosed Dolphin, a marine mammal and not the popular sport fish served in all the local restaurants on Florida’s Atlantic coast. These are often sold as Mahi Mahi to avoid having to explain to each and every tourist that no, they are not being served a slice of Flipper. Everyone loves Flipper – except maybe for the Navy.
Apparently, despite the protests of animal rights groups of all sorts, the Navy continues to train these intelligent cetaceans for military service, such as protecting US warships while in port. A story in Today’s Guardian claims that the Navy has been training these creatures in a facility near New Orleans that has been compromised by hurricane Katrina and armed dolphins, trained to shoot terrorists with tranquilizer darts and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Leo Sheridan, 72, a respected accident investigator who has worked for government and industry, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government's marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.”
Who says James Bond movies are over the top?
--Theodore Roosevelt, 1918—
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
"We look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make—it would hope—put a free press's mind at ease that you're not being denied information you shouldn't see."
--George W. Bush 2005--
I used to watch Win Ben Stein’s Money and to some extent bought into the role he played as an intelligent man. Intelligent is as intelligent does and perhaps smart people are just better at being stupid than others. Yes, I knew he had been a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, but somehow his wit seemed to show that he had somehow recovered from a youthful indiscretion. I guess not.
TPM Café gives us some fascinating insights into the Brain of Ben Stein with these quotes:
"Bush's response has not been unusually bad, but amazingly powerful and swift."
"George Bush... does not attack those who falsely accuse him of the most horrible acts and neglect. Instead, he doggedly goes on helping the least among us."
Stein still feels Nixon is a hero and professes not to know what Nixon did wrong. His vision of Bush seems to be similarly wish-driven if not completely divorced from reality. Stein writes a column for the American Spectator, a publication whose title is as much of an example of Orwellian antinomy as Stein’s portrayal of Bush as a powerful and swift leader.
I once had faith in human intelligence. I thought it much less likely that a brilliant person could be fooled or be irrational. Stupid is as stupid does.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I’m most interested to watch the kinds of things Bush is up to while our attention is fixed on the game of Hurricane Dodge-ball we are playing on the Gulf Coast. I think his decision Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, billed as Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers was well timed to take advantage of the distraction. In fact Bush has quietly waived sanctions on several other countries like Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo, the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador and Kuwait.
As many as 800,000 people are bought and sold across national borders annually or lured to other countries with false promises of work or other benefits, according to the State Department. Most are women and children. Some are born into slavery, generation after generation.
Back during his “debates” with John Kerry, Bush brought up the Dred Scott decision, either at the behest of the infamous box between his shoulders or to show that he knew at least one item of history. The irony of this decision, which seems to confirm that once again, the Federal Government will do nothing about Slavery is stunning.
Countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for whose liberty we have gone to war, have horrific records regarding the treatment of women both in terms of their lack of rights and grotesque punishments meted out to them at the whim of male family members. We will all recall how Kuwait promised to make progress in human rights after we gave their country and its oil wells back to them in 1989 and we will all notice that nothing whatever has been done and the country remains essentially an autocracy. Any evidence that any progress has been made is not being shared with us and Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman offered none to Associated Press reporters.
That this country owes too many billions to foreigners and needs too much oil to risk alienating some of the world’s worst régimes seems a likely explanation, as glaring a contradiction as the fact makes with Bush’s current rationale for being in Iraq. George just doesn’t give a damn and perhaps it is our patriotic duty to supply him with damns so that he can afford to give them – so to start the ball rolling: here’s a great big damn for you George.
I read AP’s Ben Feller in the Miami Herald who writes that the House approved a bill yesterday allowing Head Start programs run by religious organizations to hire only those who share their “faith.” The House passed the bill 231-184; only 23 Democrats voted for it.
"This is about our children, and denying them exemplary services just because the organization happens to be a religious one is just cruel," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
If we ignore the fact that such programs are run by organizations that already receive support in the form of tax exemption and if we don’t look at the contradiction in authorizing such “cruelty” to teachers, assistants and janitors who don’t belong to the proper religion and if we remain oblivious to the obvious fact that no child is being denied anything but the opportunity to be proselytized, then the argument makes sense. If the alleged “right” to hire only coreligionists with taxpayer money weren’t about exposing children to a particular religion at the taxpayer’s expense, then there would be little reason to exclude Catholics, for instance, from teaching at Methodist schools.
Americans aren’t good at making rational judgments; after all we buy 8000 pound paramilitary vehicles to drive to the grocery store and elect leaders who don’t lead but steal from us, so this kind of emotional con, based on sectarian partisanship will surely succeed.
Without a change in law, said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican chairman of the House education committee, "Faith-based organizations are forced to relinquish their protected rights to hire individuals who share their beliefs."
No they won’t, they will be forced to use their own money to promote their own beliefs. If it becomes law, we will be forced to give our tax money to organizations that won’t hire infidels like us.
Breitbart.com quotes another AP story this morning about a 14-year-old student expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians who have been together for 22 years and have three children. Do we need a better example of why we should not be giving public funds to an institution that punishes innocent children out of outright, unmitigated, faith-based bigotry?
Thursday, September 22, 2005
“Now is the time for us to begin to make the tough choices,” RSC Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) says. These are tough guys, beyond a doubt.
Citing the introduction of fuel cell hybrids by Toyota and Honda as a reason to stop research in this country is a stunning example of Republican genius – after all what interest do we have in competing with Japan? Again, we’re told there is no further need to research methods of cleaning up emissions from coal burning power plants because GE is running TV commercials advertising their advances in clean air technology.
I could go on, but the tears in my eyes are making it hard to see. See a copy of the document at Raw Story and join me in sorrow.
What is art has never been an interesting question for me anyway. I’m more concerned with what is worth looking at, worth owning or worth preserving. So when I look at a 200 foot long pink, knitted rabbit draped on an Italian mountaintop and designed as the perpetrators say, to remain there for 20 years, my only thought is to be thankful that I don’t live near that mountain and have to look at what is soon to be a filthy, sodden, foul smelling, fungus encrusted health hazard. Some Viennese group calling themselves Gelatin designed it and group member Wolfgang Gantner said: "It's supposed to make you feel small, like Gulliver. You walk around it and you can't help but smile." Maybe it’s just the altitude Wolfie.
- Bush is on the bottle again, says the National Enquirer. Did y’all really think it was a pretzel that caused him to pass out and fall off his couch? The Enquirer quotes “family sources” and Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush on the Couch: inside the Mind of the President, who says: "I do think that Bush is drinking again. Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great.”
- An Associated Press poll seems to show that confidence in President Bush has risen slightly.
- Pravda reports that A Chinese manufacturer is offering Condoms using brand names, Clinton and Lewinsky. “Clinton” condoms are produced for consumers with income higher than average and cost 29,8 yuan ($3,7) for a 10-pack. “Lewinsky” condoms are aimed at mass consumer. They are sold for 18,8 yuan ($2,3) for a pack. Each pack contains package insert with erotic image on one side and an “X-rated” joke on the other side.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Back in March, Interior Secretary Gale Norton sold the idea to our new Senator Mel Martinez, the fellow who won election after a sleaze campaign rivaling the Swift-Boating of John Kerry. He’s been accused by some conservative commentators as being not only unqualified but insane. Blind he isn’t, however and he swiftly dropped his support when he saw the size of the opposition. Hardly anyone here wants to compound the destruction of our inland waters by the Three Sugar Families who run Tallahassee the way Al Capone ran Cicero, Illinois. Last week, a representative of the Florida Water Board (read Big Sugar) told us that to suggest that they make any accommodation just because people want to swim and fish was “irresponsible.”
Next they tried to sneak it into the Federal Energy Bill. When that failed, the work to include the proposition in the House budget bill that would make the White House-Norton plan a certainty. Since it would be part of a budget bill, House rules allow no debate. It's the same underhanded technique oil companies used to win Senate approval for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
There isn’t enough oil by anyone’s projections to affect fuel prices, the only benefit would be to the already engorged coffers of the oil companies – Bush’s base.
This is once again George W. Bush’s ‘Christmas Every Day for the Oil Men’ policy at work. To hell with the Marine Sanctuaries, to hell with the 8000+ miles of coastline, beaches, resorts and fisheries – to hell with what the citizens want, to hell with State’s rights, to hell with everyone and everything that doesn’t make the oily oligarchs richer and more powerful. Bend over America – Bush wants to hear you squeal.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The question is not whether the 400,000 NATO Standard ration packs sent to the US by British taxpayers will be acceptable to God if they are burned at a Little Rock, Arkansas FDA incinerator, but whether the rations issued to British troops and authorized to be served to American and other “coalition” troops should be acceptable unto hungry American evacuees from the Gulf Coast.
The Daily Mirror reports that the rations, some containing meat from Great Britain, Spain and Italy as well as pear juice from Israel has been impounded by the FDA and forwarded to an incineration facility as “unfit for Human consumption.”
Is the same mind-set that forbids us to order drugs through Canada made in the same factories as the pills we buy locally for reasons of safety at work here – or is this just another part of the bureaucratic ineptitude and interagency communication incompetence? Is this just more lack of leadership? Is this more go-it-alone, macho idiocy from our ruling Junta?
I report, you decide.
You’re probably aware that Cindy Sheehan didn’t get to finish her speech today in
Sure, she had the right to speak, but not the right to use a loudspeaker. It’s important to keep the noise down in a quiet place like
Unauthorized use of a microphone seems like such an innocuous charge, doesn’t it?
Monday, September 19, 2005
It seems instead to be on the enemies list. According to AP military writer Robert Burns, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sept 15th, said, "I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act." He advocated giving the president and the secretary of defense "correct standby authorities" to manage disasters. Is this another stunning example of the Ruling junta, who having campaigned on reducing untrustworthy Federal Power for decades, now asking us to trust us, we’re the Government? Arguments are being offered by Administration shamans that Posse Comitatus is obsolete. One member of the JAG OFFice calls it a myth. I see it as a thickening of the plot.
The slippery slope argument is really a fallacy, yet how many examples of the Federal Government arrogating large increments in authority do we need to see an emerging pattern? Do they plan to use the Marines to further steamroll States Rights or is this truly a disaster plan that is needed to put a band aid on a situation caused by having sent the Guard to Iraq?
Perhaps when George Bush told us he didn’t trust the Federal Government but trusted us, he meant it. Perhaps he’s changed his mind. Perhaps he envisions declaring a state of emergency and using Federal troops to seize absolute power. Maybe not, but has he ever told us the truth about anything?
"I think the American people—I hope the American–I don't think, let me—I hope the American people trust me." — George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2002
Sunday, September 18, 2005
The piece in question is a sheet of mock postage stamps by artist Al Brandtner showing President Bush with a gun pointed at his head and captioned Patriot Act. One can take the image many ways: that Bush is committing political suicide, for one, but the Government doesn’t want to take the risk of letting anyone think unauthorized thoughts. In early April when the item was featured in an exhibit at Columbia College in Chicago, Secret Service agents attended the opening to inspect Brandtner’s work. To those of us involved in campus vigils for peace in the 60’s, it seems like deja vu. To those few who remember the art scene in 1930’s Germany, perhaps it’s a small reminder as well.
Of course this may be Brandtner’s big break, since it’s drawing nationwide attention to his work, but if the University can, as The Green Bay Press-Gazette tells us, censor an exhibition because it’s paid for by the taxpayers, then it is a short step to censoring any other material such as theses or dissertations created by students and a short step toward censoring any other material taught to students. That this is an objective of the nascent theocracy in Washington is plain in light of the Intelligent Design credo being pushed on students in lieu of science.
The school’s argument, that it incites violence, seems a bit anemic when put up against the rhetoric of the Religious right and seems laughable when we compare an image like Patriot Act with the other shocking images displayed in this show and other shows of the last decade or so. I wonder if Pat Robertson would be banned from campus for advocating a political assassination or indeed George Bush for attempting to carry out one at the cost of many innocent lives.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
- A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. From The Independent
- A "Diebold Insider" is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc's electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" -- as well as "top government officials" -- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor." The Brad Blog
- Gallup finds Bush’s approval rating climbing since Katrina. The Raw Story
- Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, says The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger
- Conservative Media puts the muzzle back on CNN. The LA Weekly
- Pentagon Official Urges Congress to Reduce Spending on Health Care for Troops to free up more money for Star Wars programs. Operation Truth
It’s a wonderful world – have a nice day.
Friday, September 16, 2005
A while back, there was a fad for license plate frames telling you about the owner’s other car. My Other Car is a Rolls eventually was joined by the usually more honest: My Other Car is a Piece of Crap Too frame.
I live in boating country, and megayachts owned by local sports and entertainment figures are a common sight, but I’ve yet to see any yacht display a My Other Yacht is. . . sign of any kind. Still, I would like to see Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen give it a try. His three hundred foot megayacht Tatoosh carries a 30-person crew, two helicopters, a swimming pool, a spa, a private movie theater, six other surface boats (including a separate 54-foot racing yacht and two Hobie Cat catamarans) and a submarine. You should see his other boat.
Feeling, no doubt, a bit bourgeois with a yacht that was no longer the world’s second largest; Allen leapfrogged the Sultan of Dubai and the founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison, by purchasing Octopus. At 413 feet, it’s just over half the length of the Titanic. Seven decks it has, a crew of 60, including several former Navy SEALs, seven other on-board boats, a basketball court, the obligatory movie theater and swimming pool, and two submarines, one of which can stay two weeks on the ocean floor. And then there’s his two 757 airlines and his other, other megayacht, but you get the point. The very rich are different from you and me.
My other point is that with the help of Rush Limbaugh, the angry rabble rousers on AM radio, Fox News and the Republican Party, their kids will be richer yet because Allen can pass those boats, airliners and all his immense fortune on to them free of tax. The need to establish dynasties is a primary concern with the Republicans and not just because they hope to found them for their families. With the creation of gigantic fortunes and the political power that accrues to them, they hope to use that power and pay for its use with further gifts and perquisites and grants. This, “trickle down my leg” economics notwithstanding, leaves the cost of government on the shoulders of the not-so-rich who are a bit more like you and me.
The GOP would like you to believe that the Estate Tax destroys small fortunes and breaks up family farms, although that’s not actually true. They are not suggesting increasing the marital deduction; they’re talking about scrapping the tax and lying about why. The fact that they’ve made personal bankruptcy so much harder to declare shows they simply don’t care. Paul Allen made his fortune before the Bush tax cuts and people will continue to prosper when they are eliminated.
Perhaps recent events will help people conclude that our country can’t afford to take care of itself when our Government spends and wastes vastly more than it brings in and help them to decide to throw the crooks out, but I doubt it. I’m a cynic for a good reason.
"How can I go to the bathroom when my people are in Bondage?"
"I think I need a bathroom break."
If I were in the business of giving awards for clearing the fog, top honors for the week would go to Christopher Cooper, the wise man from Wiscasset. Every once and a while, I read something that's so good, it just shuts me down and sends me off to do something I know how to do, like washing the car or taking out the garbage. Read Go down in the flood while I sweep the patio.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The Pledge of Allegiance is like a rock. Turning it over exposes all kinds of nasty things you’d rather not see. Fortunately for Bush and his gang of thieves, the mandatory recital for school children is again under attack. The last time there was a perceived threat to the Eisenhower Pledge which effectively instituted a mandatory religious oath in direct defiance of the Constitution, half the vehicles on my local streets appeared with “Under God” painted or stickered on the windows and bodywork.
Of course the power hungry religious supremacists immediately went to work inventing a vast atheistic conspiracy to make our various religions illegal, although some religious denominations, particularly the Jews, also took some flack in the local papers. (We know who you are and we’re going to deal with you, opined one editorial contributor) Once again, it’s apparent that there is nothing that brings out the animal in Man like Religion.
Sadly, our educational level being what it is, there is some confusion about when the nation’s founding documents were written and 1954 must seem to be close enough to make Eisenhower’s nod to the Christian Right an expression of the founding fathers’ sentiments. After decades of active mythologizing, few seem to recognize that the need to make oaths either as a requirement for citizenship or office was anathema and is illegal. This is why we are told by Liars for the Lord that the Constitution is really secondary to and dependent upon the Bible.
The need for communal belief and the need to suppress the infidel was not on the mind of Jefferson, Madison, Franklin or Washington, no matter what the various TV religion channels tell you every day and a thousand times on Sunday. The attempt to establish monotheism as a State belief is expressly forbidden, as is the requirement that anyone, whether school teacher or President, profess a belief in order to participate in civic matters. It’s hard to see the oath of allegiance to a Nation “Under God” as anything other than such a requirement.
There are several reasons to object to requiring ritual invocations of children in the public schools. Indeed there are many genuinely religious folk who object to invoking God on matters of politics or other vanities. But of course the kind of Republic that Jefferson envisioned is unstable at best in a country where the ignorant are so easily employed as soldiers of authoritarianism and such is the land we live in. So perhaps when we finally become a Religious Republic, like the Nations of 18th century Europe we were founded to oppose, someone will be able to enjoy the irony – in private of course.
For the time being, one nation under God makes a great smokescreen for three states under water.
Have a look at Blunderford's humorous take on this
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
“White House and homeland security officials would not explain why Chertoff waited about 36 hours to declare Katrina an Incident of National Significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland security is assigned to do without further presidential orders.”
The Department of Homeland Security has refused repeated requests to provide details about Chertoff's schedule and said it couldn't say specifically when the department requested assistance from the military. It’s significant to remember that the release of this information would undermine the attempt to put blame on State officials.
Several former FEMA directors seem to think that it plain that the show was being run from the White House and so perhaps George Bush was uncharacteristically sincere when he accepted blame. Stories have emerged about how aides were terrified to suggest that he cut short his party schedule and pay attention to the disaster because of his notorious and vicious temper. Let’s see how sincere he is about listening in future.
-from an old blues song-
Every year, the sea turtle eggs on the Florida Atlantic coast hatch at about the same time, releasing seemingly uncountable numbers of little turtles that scurry franticly for the surf and freedom. A great many do not make it, but by virtue of the large number, many do. That’s a natural strategy practiced unwittingly by many species and perhaps by corrupt administrations as well.
If the scandals occurred one by one or two by two, we could pick them off like the sea gulls gobble up turtles, but released in a wave, the birds are overwhelmed and can’t catch them all. So it is with the Bush scandals, it seems. In the midst of all the lapses and inadequacies and the failures of leadership and the cronyisms and payoffs, many will escape notice. Here’s one that didn’t.
South Floridians were all shocked a few years back to find that a Cemetery in Palm Beach County called Menorah Gardens had been selling the same plots more than once by digging up remains and simply tossing them in the bushes. A similar case was “unearthed” in Georgia where some vaults were sold as many as 67 times and remains simply stuffed inside. 15 SCI owned mortuaries were accused of "macabre mishandling, abuse and desecration of bodies." SCI was also involved in an earlier scandal in Texas. Eliza May, former Texas Funeral Service Commission Director, filed a lawsuit accusing George W. Bush, then Governor, of obstructing an investigation into SCI license violations. May was fired.
Guess which company was selected by FEMA to handle the remains of Katrina victims. As North America's largest funeral and cemetery company, SCI, the parent company of those cemeteries and many others that have been in trouble with the law, operates 1,500 mortuaries and cemeteries nationwide. It’s owned by a longtime Bush family friend who has contributed a fortune to their campaigns in return for another no-bid contract. But you guessed that already.
That Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco signed off on this deal is a mystery that remains to be solved, but perhaps she was as overwhelmed by the tragedy as we all are. Perhaps she just relied on the honesty of the Federal Government a little too much. The story is as web-like and complex as any but you can read more about it at The Raw Story
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
But if God did have something to do with Katrina and the ensuing calamity, we have to be wary of asking him to undo it, since it may have served some grand purpose like preventing Mardi Gras or punishing New Orleans’ poor for our attempt to control the internal affairs of Iraq. Perhaps asking him to undo what we believe he has done, whether accidentally or not will make him more dyspeptic than he evidently is. I worry about that.
Then there’s the problem of the dead. If God doesn’t care, it would be presumptuous, if not undiplomatic to bring up the matter and if he does care, he’s made arrangements already – I just hate to nag him about these things, his temper being what our religious leaders say it is.
As to the survivors: if God has done all this for a purpose, should we dare to take care of them? What if the whole thing was about punishment? We have to be careful about humanitarianism in that case and if there was no purpose don’t we have to worry about seeming disloyal by cleaning up a mess he allowed? It would be like rubbing his nose in his mess. He may just get angry. Then too, if we pray that he will take care of the widows and orphans and the poor, aren’t we asking him to do our work for us? Seems like a catch 22 to me.
So somehow, praying makes it all seem like we just don’t trust the Big Dude, like it says on the coins. Maybe we ought to take that off the nickel lest we be challenged to live up to it. It’s just so hard to be a Nation Under God when God keeps getting in the way.
Monday, September 12, 2005
One if by land, two if by sea
Give me Liberty or give me Death
Taxation without representation is tyranny
These are just some of the phrases that are inseperable from the history of our nation. Now there is another: "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney."
They have fought him in the streets, they have handcuffed him in his home, they have deleted his auctions on eBay, but Ben is Back. You just can’t keep a good man down and Dr. Ben A. Marble is a good man. The twice deleted video of Dick Cheney having the words he yelled at Mr. Leahy in the Senate fed back to him is once again for sale on eBay at hard to resist prices. Let’s see how long it lasts.
But there is now a large range of “Go Fuck Yourself Mr. Cheney” products available. Here’s your chance to let everyone know what you feel about Cheney, his disdain for democratic institutions and honesty itself.
Remember, all that is needed for evil to prevail is that good men neglect to tell Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.
I was going to sound the Fogghorn today about the no bid contracts for cleaning up the Katrina damage which will funnel a fortune into the coffers of the usual suspects, like Halliburton – and about the move by Bush to allow these contractors to pay below the minimum wage, thereby maximizing the profits of these already profitable companies while minimizing the boost in jobs that could offset the jobs lost in the storms. I stumbled into a blog of note however that has already done a great job
This last bit of corporate welfare is coming out of the hides of the poor, displaced and desperate who wouldn't vote Republican anyway and Bush's supporters would cheer if he allowed his pet corporations to use slave labor, so what does he have left to lose?
But I have spent the entire morning in a jury selection room listening to Faux News and I’m going to wait until the shock wears off before I post further.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
“There is nothing wrong with
-William J. Clinton-
Remember when presidents offered us hope instead of fear? Do you remember when we were encouraged to make things better instead of being chastised for disobedience, told to *”Go f*ck yourself” or given **“Quack-Quack” as an explanation?
Franklin Roosevelt once and famously told us that all we had to fear was fear itself, yet now for the last 4 years we have been told to be afraid – very afraid. Yesterday we were told that are things so fearful that we may have to use nuclear weapons preemptively. The idea that our administration will once again smell WMD’s in places where they are not is indeed very frightening, but one suspects that the same strategy that brought back the color-coded Terror Alerts on TV news crawls right after Katrina hit the
The idea being sold is that we are in too much danger for us to be questioning them right now. Like most of us, the administration is falling back on things that have worked before. This time it’s starting to work on me. I’m getting very nervous about a President who covers up the fraud and incompetence of his first military endeavor by promoting another and larger one. There may come a point at which he needs to make good by nuking someone. At least, if he does, there will be no second guessing about whether there were or weren’t WMD’s as the place where they were supposed to have been won’t be there any more.
All we have to fear is Bush himself.
I joined the NAACP in large part because of George W. Bush’s campaign of reprisals against any one or any organization that questions him or fails to support his crusade. It has seemed to me that for years the Republicans under Reagan and the two Georges have been snubbing that fairly conservative organization and people of color in general and when George the second went after their 501 C(3) status during the last election I had to show some support.
Listening to the guests on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday night I listened to Bill and George Carlin talk about the inherent but sometimes unrecognized racism of the Right. Contempt for the lower classes, they say, reflects a hidden racism because so many or our poor are black.
I’m not sure I buy it as an explanation of the hesitation to help
But I have digressed; I think that in the eyes of our Government, we’re all black now.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Doctor Ben A. Marble, Physician, artist, musician, hero. Dr. Marble is the man who spoke for much of America when he told Dick Cheney just what Dick Cheney has told Congress and in fact all of us, when he was asked for some sort of accountability.
The news hasn’t carried much about how he was surrounded by men with automatic weapons, handcuffed and held for about 20 minutes before they had to admit there was (still) no law against telling off our government.
Marble, having lost his house and having a newborn daughter, thought he could use some money so he took the video his friend shot of the incident and put it up for sale on eBay. Some time yesterday evening, eBay removed the listing. The bidding was at $670 with 62 bidders.
So far neither eBay nor the seller has responded to my enquiries, but I smell a rat. The listing contained no profanity and it was certainly legal to sell such a thing, but it’s been quietly removed with no explanation.
Capt Fogg has just learned that the eBay listing has been re-entered with a different title. Ebay had objected to "F***" as being obscene. You can see it - and bid on it- for yourself.
Unfortunately, eBay, a company I had associated with a free market now seems to be acting as an enforcer for the Republican Party. Doctor Marble's video has been removed again. Being an eBay stockholder, Capt. Fogg may have a slight chance of being listened to, otherewise it will be a 21 gun broadside and away all boarders - I'll teach 'em to mess with ol Fogg, I will.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Now if only the Domino theory would apply. . . .
Lawrence Kaplan makes the point in the September 12th edition of The New Republic that since the end of the Cold War, there has been a quest to replace that lost conflict with something else that could, as it is explained, restore the spirit of involvement and commitment that many in both parties feel is missing.
To be sure, that spirit has been missing since WW II and I believe the many of the early supporters of the
These endeavors have, for the most part, failed to rouse the martial spirit in most Americans for longer than a few weeks to a few months, and even the attack on
Part of the reason Americans have been steadily less involved in civic matters, volunteer groups and general support of public endeavor stems from Tom Paine’s “That government is best which governs least” as interpreted by the Republican party. The cynicism toward Government by the Party now in power has fostered its own ineptitude in large part.
It’s quite possible that diversion of funds from agencies charged with civil defense and maintenance of flood control devices is related to this idea: that the Federal Government simply cannot and should not try to do anything, from inspecting meat, to delivering the mail, to fixing the roads to preparing for large scale disasters. It’s an idea that blossomed during the Reagan era and is bearing bitter fruit today.
The fact that the Military was set to respond immediately yet sat idle while the President ate cake with McCain, went to parties and while his lawyers argued all night over who had the right to send what and with which and to whom, has only increased cynicism and the perception that indeed – the Government is inherently inept because it is the Government.
So while volunteerism takes off wildly in times of crisis, even to the point of heroism, as we see so clearly today, it soon devolves into apathy, disgust and disappointment as we saw after the attack by al Qaeda 4 years ago.To be sure, the emerging details of waste, deliberate diversion of funds, nepotism, political patronage and corruption have added to the public disillusionment, but when we have a leader who campaigned fiercely on the idea that Government is not to be trusted and that Government should be reduced, yet who bloats that government beyond all previous boundaries and sets it to work rewarding the rich and powerful at the expense of all else, can we blame the people for not wanting to follow him into one dubious battle after another?
What’s the color of horseshit? Brown, Brown, Brown
Time Magazine today shows us how Bush’s FEMA Chief Michael Brown lied on his resume, claiming among other things to have been a professor when he was only a student, an Assistant City Manager of Emergency Services when he was only an intern, etc. The Bush White House didn’t bother to check it out before parading his virtues before us. I guess when you don’t think the Government has a legitimate role in governing; you might as well give the jobs to people who can’t do their jobs.
Go directly to Jail
If the President can decide that a citizen can be held indefinitely without charges as an enemy of the people without any recourse or hearing or trial, and the President cannot be questioned as to why that citizen is an enemy, is there any point at all in talking about a Constitution any more?
Reuters informed us less than an hour ago that according to a Federal Appeals Court ruling today, Jose Padilla, who never actually attempted a crime, can rot in prison forever if the Government wishes and that the courts can do nothing. Bush says he’s an Enemy Combatant and that’s that. Bush can decide what an Enemy Combatant is and that’s that.Appeals court Judge J. Michael Luttig’s decision today may be appealed to the Supreme Court, but then George is said to be considering Luttig for a seat on that court. We have courts, but Bush decides.
If this were a movie starring, say Peter Sellers as the Generalissimo of some fictitious country, it would be funny, but when it happens in a nation formerly known as a free country, it isn’t.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
With hundreds of replies from both sides of sanity, it seems futile to respond, yet for anyone who cannot understand why there should be more hate directed against this administration and the Ruling Party than there was directed against Bill Clinton, I feel I have to say something.
First of all, no one can establish the assertion to my satisfaction. As far as I know, there has never been such a concerted effort to enrage the public against the Government as I saw during the Clinton years and nobody has yet sought to impeach George Bush, but the real point the writer fails to address is that Clinton did not trash the economy, waste untold billions through corruption and gifts to his friends.
You're damn right we're mad, and you Republican bastards can look shocked and dismayed all you want, You've brought this country to the brink of ruination and into the swamp of shame and I hate you for it.
I've already talked about the diversion of Hurricane Relief funds last year, but an Associated Press report today shows how this is a pattern set back in 2001, when this country's outpouring of aid for 9/11 relief was also diverted, wasted and stolen by the Administration whose supporters are so shocked that anyone hates them for their negligence, cupidity and dishonesty.
Read it and weep, if you have any tears left.
According to the New York Times today, the brush cutter in chief will declare Sept. 16th a day of prayer and remembrance. Once again there is an effort to distract from the reality of what happened and the need to make sacrifices to do something about it by calling for mourning and mewling and wailing and sobbing and wallowing in hypocritical pity.
What about a day of paying the piper, what about a day of honesty and fiscal responsibility and social conscience? What about a day of reckoning?
Cheney finds that turnabout is fair play
Remember when Cheney said "Go fuck yourself" to congress? Must have been a long delayed echo today because Vice President Dick Cheney, in Gulfport, Mississippi on a tour of the Katrina hurricane zone, was told to "go fuck yourself" twice on live television. A better man might have laughed it off, a better man still might have engaged the man in a conversation. A stinking pile of excrement posing as a human being did try to insinuate that the heckler was inspired by John Kerry. Read all about it at The Raw Story
There are times when you have to stand up and be heard, so here it is: go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney.
"Someone in the government of Thailand had a penis enlargement operation" a more disturbing report about an Iraqi city near the syrian border, now occupied by al Qaeda mercenaries which has proclaimed itself the Islamic Republic of Qaim.
"Last weekend terrorists under the leader of Iraqi cell of al-Quaida, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entered the city. They declared it the Islamic Republic, hoisting the flag of their organization, which is a sun on the black field. "
Public executions of policemen, local authorities and everyone who is suspected of collaboration with occupation forces began in the city. Militants replaced the existing court with Shariat's law and declared the formation of the Islamic Republic. Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim, the poster at the city entry reads."
Despite the constant wail from Fox Gnus about how the press is giving us a grim view of our occupation of Iraq, I'm starting to think that - just maybe - the truth is grimmer.
Pravda reports, you decide.