Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A new face, an old story

Will Henry Paulson be good for the economy?  The stock market? Your pocketbook?  All of the above?

What about none of the above?  That’s what the respondents to a CNN Money poll seem to think this morning.  Whether or not the public knows the man well enough to judge, they know Bush well enough to doubt whether he’s now on board to excuse and obscure the cornucopia of corporate welfare that Bush calls an economic policy.  52% responded: none of the above.

“Bush could use a new spokesman for his economic record” understates another CNN analyst. Presumably that would be someone who is not a blind academic dogmatist and not instantly identifiable as a crook; someone like Goldman Sachs CEO Paulson perhaps, but it remains to be seen whether Paulson is a mouthpiece or someone who can or indeed wants to influence policy.  

With a $900 billion trade deficit, a weak dollar and a government spending as though there were no tomorrow, it’s hard to imagine that anything will change without our voting the Republicans out of office while we can.  It’s hard to imagine that Paulson, who earned $38 million last year, doesn’t like the economic status quo and the corporate feudalism that seems to be creating two different Americas: one for the Barons and another for the working serfs living on their estates.

David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor's, says "I like tax cuts as much as anyone, but some control over the government spending would be nice.”  That’s not going to happen, Paulson or no Paulson.  Bush’s tax cuts and subsidies are the basis of his new feudal society. The rest of us are financing the class of nobles for whom the economy is just fine, thank you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

No dark sarcasm in the war room

It seems hard to believe that even though a substantial majority of Americans think our Crusade in Iraq is misguided, mismanaged and the product of deliberate deception, that people still feel compelled to tell us that our troops are there to “fight for our freedoms” and to imply that a recognition of reality is unpatriotic because it might demoralize those who were sent there under false pretenses to fight for corporate greed and the fortunes of the Bush family.

Watching Adam Buckman’s “Patriot Act:” last night, I was struck by the mocking laughter Drew Carey got from the troops by mentioning that his girlfriend was a Democrat.  Of course this was filmed in 2003 when there may have been a few dummies who still thought that those elusive weapons might be hidden somewhere and a few more who thought that Bush had been telling the truth about the intelligence and the Democrats were all pansies and cowards.  In fact Saddam himself was still on the run at the time and the situation was not quite as deadly and seemingly hopeless as it is now.  The commentary of the USO tour lamented that someone had been killed the day they left Baghdad.  50 people died there today, including a CBS news crew and rioting in Kabul killed 45 more and destroyed a CARE facility.

Cary could still be unashamedly cynical about critics before Abu Ghraib and the torture scandals, the murder of innocent women and children by Marines at Haditha. He could still buy into the idea that things were really progressing nicely but the story was being twisted by the evil liberals of the press.  The lies, the cover-ups, the spying on citizens, the illegal searches, the massive misappropriations of funds, the exploding debt, the waste and corruption – these were easier to ignore 3 years ago; easier to distract from by accusations of not supporting the troops.

But this is now. This is when Bush has the support of a quarter to a third of the public; when indictments are coming out of the weeds faster than hand raised quail at a Wyoming ranch.  Where is the protest?  Where is the outrage? Where are the hundreds of thousands in the street calling for some accountability?

I guess Memorial day is not the time to remember the lessons of past wars, it’s a day to drink beer, watch the Hondas go around the oval, worry about Bird Flu and Rapture and praise the latest herd of cannon fodder while not giving a damn how many of them died because Bush lied. It’s certainly not a day to give a damn about those ungrateful Iraqis who don’t understand how great we are and why we need a permanent military presence on their soil. Those dumb Arabs who don’t think it’s funny to watch GI’s sprawling on Saddam’s throne and using their monuments and swimming pools and hotels and public facilities as recreation centers while they sit in the dark and the heat and go hungry.  Instead let’s pay homage to Toyota, to Budweiser and freedom. Anything less would be giving aid to the enemy. Anything less would mean the terrorists won.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Castle doctrine

My home is my castle – well at least in some states.  More states have been passing legislation recently that allows the resident to assume that someone breaking in or trying to drag you out or is brandishing a deadly weapon means you enough harm that you are justified in using deadly force to protect yourself and your family.  In Florida, which passed such legislation recently, the law gives you the benefit of the doubt as to whether you used force in self defense.  

In this state, if some gun toting pirate boards my boat (this happens all the time in Florida waters, believe it or not) I don’t have to ask him his intentions or jump overboard and swim with the sharks – I can presume my life is in danger.  If a gang of thugs kicks in a door I don’t have to either jump out the second story window or inspect his .357 to see that it’s really loaded

The obligation to flee has been part of many state laws and particularly when the space one is occupying is a car or boat or temporary refuge.  If someone attempts to drag you out of your car and take off with your child in the back seat, are you permitted to shoot him?  Would you flee or would you consult an attorney before taking action?  I know what I would do and I imagine most of us would do whatever it takes to stop the hijacker, yet the proliferation of “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” laws disturbs many people, some of whom insist it will lead to rampant violence and call it the “Shoot the Avon Lady” law even though the Avon Lady rarely breaks down your door at 3:00 AM, wearing a ski mask and the rampant violence has yet to materialize.  

Law or no law, I would not consider going out the window, leaving my family alone and waiting half an hour for the sheriff – would you?  

Home invasions and car hijackings are all too frequent and I read about such things regularly both locally and statewide.  Take the story of Keil Jumper, a Hollywood Florida resident who this week shot a man who at three thirty in the morning began to break down his door.  Keil, a teenager, took his father’s gun loaded it and when the intruder began to smash open a window using a bicycle, he shot the man and wounded him.

The reporter for the Miami Herald appeared surprised that Keil was unlikely to be charged with a crime.  I’m surprised that anyone would question his right to shoot, to own a firearm or to stand his ground. Meanwhile he and his family are alive.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Drop that gun!

Let’s face it: the Democrats are not going to recover much representation if they are perceived as just another version of the Corrupt and dishonest Republicans. The Republican lie machine can not easily be countered by a group that tells even one lie. It’s time to re-examine some of the shibboleths of the Democrats; to take another look at the things we believe without evidence.

I once participated in an online Women’s rights group that was very supportive of a “Million Mom” march against guns. One of the things repeated endlessly was a figure of more than 400 gun related deaths of children; not 400 per year, but per day. Now I’m no mathematician, but that would add up to 146,000 dead children in a year and that’s fiction on a grand scale.

In 2003, there were just under 12,000 firearm homicides and 730 accidental fatalities in a population of nearly 300 million. The overall trend is not up. The Republicans know this quite well and the NRA knows it better and yet we continue to look like shrill and irrational extremists; easily dismissed as liars.

Yesterday I received an envelope containing the “2006 Grassroots Survey of Democratic Leaders.” The questionnaire contained a question about another favorite shibboleth: the Assault Rifle Ban. Nearly any Democrat I talk to believes that the late, lamented ban was what kept military weaponry from private ownership and that now that it has ended, the police will be faced with a horde of machine gun toting madmen firing armor piercing ammunition of incredible power.

“How would you characterize our gun laws in America?”

“We need stronger laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children and to keep military–style assault weapons off our streets” is the answer they assume you will prefer, thinking you’re not actually familiar with existing gun laws, guns or children.

The Assault weapon ban did not ban assault weapons. It banned weapons that look like military weapons but are not and at that, it banned only foreign made versions. All during the ban, you could walk into any gun shop or sporting goods store and find racks of AK-47 clones that ban or no ban, are not automatic weapons. They are no more deadly than a hunting rifle and they differ only by virtue of appearance. There are so many millions of them in circulation that although the ban didn’t actually ban them, it could not have done anything meaningful anyway since criminals hardly buy guns at gun shops. Machine guns are not found in your corner gun shop, nor is armor piercing ammunition, they are restricted under existing laws and have been for 70 years. No guns were added to or removed from the “streets” by this ban or by its demise. Crime is already illegal and passing crime bills or stronger laws never seems to help. Look at the availability of drugs if you disagree.

There may be loopholes in current gun laws that need to be plugged, but the fact remains that the Democrats are loosing votes because of issues like these. The NRA is well supplied with money and lawyers and publicists and it has yet to be demonstrated that Americans as a whole want to defy the 2nd amendment. Let’s stick to reality and stay closer to the truth. A coherent plan to clean up the mess left by the Republicans should become the new focus because that’s what we can all agree is needed, otherwise we the Democrats are forced to play the Republican game in which the dice are loaded, the cards are marked and the outcome is certain.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's all over now baby blue states

If web porn sites all ended in XXX it would be very easy to keep kids away from them, but true to form, the Republican overlords would rather nobody went there.  Following the same sort of crypto-logic that has them against giving a papiloma virus vaccine to young people because it might encourage sex,  the neo-puritan fascists seem to have used illegal pressure to discourage ICANN the internet authority from adding the .XXX suffix.

This is because they’re all about freedom.

Wyoming, the Cheney State, has been defying the constitution, State and Federal, by giving grants to churches, ministries and religiously oriented anti-abortion centers.  They’re all about freedom too.

We have come to the point where the Government can justify doing anything at all, because they claim “There’s a War on”  and that includes starting a war so that there will be a war on.  So perhaps it’s time to admit defeat; to recognize that our Republic has gone the way of all republics and has become a tyrannical and theocratic oligarchy answerable only to prophets and profits.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sacred steel

All worship is self worship at heart. When steel workers and shipwrights building amphibious transport ships in New Orleans talk about the sacredness of bits of the World trade center that apparently have been mixed in to the steel they’re using to build the USS New York, USS Arlington and USS Somerset, they’re indulging in part of that process wherein reality becomes a passion play and dreams of vengeance elevate the cast to roles of Biblical proportion. Rage is only noble if one thinks highly of one’s self and one’s role -- and nobility is one of the dreams of the insignificant heart.

If the loss of life really makes building materials sacred, why then not the scrap metal from the wreckage of New Orleans? I think the answer is that dreams of battle and victory are more of a balm to the humiliated American psyche than the drudgery of rebuilding a shabby landscape of substandard housing, although thousands died in Katrina.

But the humiliated soul of America hardly cares about assigning blame or shame to the Government that allowed Osama to slap us in the face, by vigorously ignoring his declaration of war, the information that he was about to attack and indeed never held one meeting to discuss avoiding a terrorist attack or dealing with its results until it was all over. Bush had no plan and little ability to capture Osama, yet to face that is to face further evidence of our weakness and incompetence, so we don't want to hear about it.

In our weakness, we were simply not able to endure the further humiliation of facing our blunders or the ugly passions of America that allowed the Republicans to take us over. Better to blather about the French and the Liberals while dreaming about bloody revenge. Revenge lets us worship ourselves, building warships makes us feel like heroes. Building houses for the poor is the pursuit of a different kind of hero.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Greek to me

The Colbert Report aired a clip this morning of the self appointed guardians of the border erecting a useless 400 yard fence on the Mexico/California border.  As the Stars and Stripes flew proudly over yet another act of patriotic idiocy, they began to sing the popular English song that was pressed into service as our national anthem in 1931 in order to counteract the recent “Desecration” caused by someone, somewhere singing it in Spanish.

Congress today, amidst the storm and stress of our collapsing Democracy, took time out to declare English, a language that arguably is dying from malicious misuse and ignorance is our  “Common and unifying language.” So I’m like wow, dude – that’s like impactful.  

Of course they’ve been busy trying to distract us from the massive corruption scandals by raving on and on about obscenity and pornography (Except when used by members of the Administration) and migrant fruit pickers lowering our standard of living, but for once I agree that translating anything sacred is desecration.  I intend to write my congresscrook and demand that legislation be immediately introduced to ban all translations of the Bible.  It’s nothing short of desecration and should be read and studied and sermonized upon only in Hebrew, Syriac or Greek according to the original texts. Want the Ten Commandments on the courthouse walls? Not in English, Jack and if Robertson wants to desecrate the Gospels, let him learn Greek.

Let  the damn foreigners learn Hebrew or let ‘em go the hell back to where they came from!

Fundies want your daughter to die

Now imagine they came up with a vaccine that prevented nearly all lung cancer. Imagine it works best when given to young people. You’ll probably imagine too that everyone would be happy about wiping out this scourge, nor would it occur to you that someone might attempt to ban the vaccine because it’s morally wrong to smoke, the disease itself is the will of God and therefore holy.

If you didn’t think anyone would be that demented, you probably haven’t heard of the Christian right; the people who would rather have drug addicts get AIDS and spread it around than distribute needles, who would rather have our young people get AIDS and various other STD than to inform them about condoms.

Those of us more familiar with the mental disease called “family Values” in America aren’t surprised that the State supported madmen are up in arms about a new vaccine that promises to wipe out nearly all cervical cancer. In their sick and perverted minds, the vaccine, Gardasil, produced by Merck interferes not only with the spread of this deadly disease that God loves to use as punishment, but promotes sex. Because 80% of American adults are infected with this virus it’s important to start treatment before puberty and possible exposure to the virus. It's a far better thing say the Values Vipers to let them risk death then to allow them to risk the fictitious damnation of their sick dreams. Not having sex is the only way to prevent "sin" and it's sinful to interfere with the diseases God likes to punish us with. They've been preaching this since the middle ages - railing aginst personal hygene while killing Jews, Muslims and heretics to fight the plague.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has voted 13 to 0 to endorse the vaccine but Conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, have already suggested that vaccinating young girls would send them a message that premarital sex is acceptable.

So obviously the Religious Right doesn’t care if your kids die, whether it’s from AIDS or the HPV that causes almost 4000 deaths every year in American women. The “Values Voters” or sanctimonious evil-doers as I call them, care far more for their malignant doctrines than they do for life or liberty. More than anyone else on the planet, they hate us for our freedom.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The water engine

There’s a sucker born every minute – and there’s Fox News to take advantage of him. Rising Gasoline prices have resurrected many a scheme to fool the rubes into investing in perpetual motion type schemes the likes of which we last saw during the Great Depression – engines that run on water and things you put in your tank that miraculously slash operating costs. Rising energy costs, declining educational standards and information technology have recombined to make this truly the golden age of bullshit.

Always at the forefront when it comes to bullshit is Fox and a video clip has been making the rounds wherein their sock puppets rave on about wonderful new technology that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen “magnecules” called HHO gas that can then be recombined to give energy. Of course this is basically 19th century technology wrapped in technobabble and bullshit, but in a country where most of us think the world started last Wednesday it seems new. The problem with the notion that you can run a car on hydrogen by using the output of its engine to generate that hydrogen is that it requires an electrolytic process that is substantially more than 100% efficient. That’s the basis of all perpetual motion frauds. Fox also shows a hydrogen cutting torch supplied by this marvelous technology and gushes about how hot it gets – just as Navy divers did in the 1920’s when they were used for underwater salvage.

There’s nothing new under the sun but there’s always something new under the pile of bullshit. A popular myth during the 1930’s was that putting mothballs in your tank increased your mileage. It didn’t and it doesn’t, but myths are durable and memory is short and there’s one born every minute. A firm in Texas, the state that gave us the Sultan of Bullshit himself, has been selling bottles of little pills made of the same materials as moth balls and urinal deodorant cakes that will do wonders for your mileage – or so they say. The Texas Attorney General says otherwise.

Now that Gold is hovering around $700 per ounce, I expect there to be some new developing technology for producing it from lead. You’ll hear about it on Fox any day now and it will be something those plutocrat liberals have been suppressing because they don’t want you to cash in. . . . .

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Can't judge a book

You can't judge an apple by looking at a tree,
You can't judge honey by looking at the bee,
You can't judge a daughter by looking at the mother,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Willie Dixon - 1962

Oh can’t you? Well I’ll bet you can tell a town called Black Jack, Missouri doesn’t share much in common with New York or Chicago or Miami or nearly anywhere else where indoor plumbing is customary.

A story today on CNN tells us that this little part of America thinks it can have something to say about what you mean by family – at least if you live in Black Jack, a suburb of St Louis, the Gateway City. The town's Planning and Zoning Commission has an ordinance prohibiting more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption." Don’t you be looking for liberty or the pursuit of happiness in Black Jack – no sir. And don’t open a convent, monastery, orphanage or shelter either.

Apparently they wanted to change the number to two, but more liberal minds prevailed, leaving the ordinance as it stands, so it’s still OK to be free if you’re no more than three. I reckon the Show Me State sure done showed us wonst agin.

As for those people who hate us for our freedom, I would sure like to know where they think it is.

Grim reaper

Sensenbrenner: in German it’s a blacksmith who forges blades for scythes. In America it’s someone who mows down the American dream like the grim reaper.

Now that the corrupt, neo-fascist nature of our administration is revealing itself to all but the fanatical few, the Republicans are rushing to complete their hijacking of America before America is able to get rid of them with due process. We can look forward to any number of false emergencies and red herrings being used to justify further domestic espionage and curtailments of liberty so that by the time the next election rolls around, they will have enough information to intimidate dissent, enough power to squelch dissent and, horrible to imagine, enough power to stop or subvert the democratic process entirely. After all if the President reserves the right to suspend any provision of the constitution, why not run for a third term? After all there’s a war on and Mexicans are swarming over the border and our children are in such danger from the internet that the NSA needs to read your e-mail and keep a log of every blog, newsgroup and web site you visit.

Or so says Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He agrees with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that ISPs should keep careful records of what you do on line; check out that the links on your blog don’t lead to another blog which leads to another blog that eventually leads to one with a discussion group where someone might reveal information that gives a hint of where someone might find child pornography. If that’s your blog, you’re a felon. If the ISP doesn’t comply, draconian punishment will apply to its executives. Silence and obedience! Never mind the goose-stepping troops and the secret camps and torture chambers – obedience is freedom and they hate us for our freedom.

Face it, totalitarians hate the net. China only allows its citizens limited access because they know the truth can bring down a government. The Republicans know it too and have been trying to hamstring it since the inception of the web, and saving the children has been a pet theme for the kidnapping of our freedom.

No matter how loathsome child exploitation is, the exploitation of such things to deprive us of a voice is more so. That the Republicans can hide the deaths and suffering of Iraqi children while waving the flag proves them to be liars; that they ignore dying, starving and neglected children around the world and justify it asa political necessity, proves them to be liars.

What does it say about this sad, dirty, apathetic and demented country that we put liars in charge of the truth and call it patriotism?

It’s our country – let’s take it back.

Porque no tiene

La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Marijuana que fumar.

Ever wonder how the FDA can insist, despite how easy it is to prove otherwise , that medical Marijuana has absolutely no benefits for those who suffer from overwhelming nausea and depression from Chemotherapy? It’s doubly hilarious in light of the fact that tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active ingredient in Cannabis is manufactured synthetically and sold for that very purpose with FDA approval. Could it be that the impetus for the blind and fanatical laws about cannabis are designed to protect the drug companies? Why is it a dangerous drug only if you buy it from Cheech and not from Merk?

The Federal Government has been lying to us about cannabis since the end of Prohibition and it is because of their propaganda, which includes forged reports of brain damage pretending to be from the AMA, that we have come to call it by it’s Mexican slang term. The intention of those seeking something new to prohibit in order to keep their jobs was to tie something as American as George Washington to those frightening, dirty, sneaky and foreign people: the Mexicans, in order to enlist good old American xenophobia and racism in the War on Drugs.

Whatever would the Federal Government do without the Mexicans?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not with a bang, but a W

Karl Rove says it’s the war that has the public turning away from Bush. “People like the president” he said to CNN. I’m afraid it’s not so, even far right Plutochristians like Pat Robertson are loudly denouncing the grotesque fiscal mismanagement of the steal and spend Republicans. Speaking to a group of teenage Republicans (what a concept) about the famous “bridge to Nowhere” pork project he said "This is our government at work, and unfortunately it is run by Republicans."

Of course Pat is someone who steals from the poor and gives to himself, but if he’s down on Bush, it has to be about something more religious than honesty or ethics or morality – it has to be about money.

Of course Pat who was once caught stealing from his charity to make business deals with Mobutu Sese Seko and Charles Taylor is no stranger to money, or to mendacity, but as far as I know the attack on Bush is novel and I’m glad to see it even if I wouldn’t want that psycho on my side.

Rove on the other hand shows no cracks in the façade and claims with the same straight face we used to see on the Iraqi Information Minister, that the President “in some polls” still is liked by 60% of Americans. I’m sure he has a special and unique definition of “like” but each of these men is a way typifies our modern world where new technology has brought us unimaginable access to information and yet we are drowning in lies and confusion.

When I was younger we used to hear a lot about he Doomsday Clock – a way of showing us how close we were to nuclear disaster. It seems far less threatening today, not that nuclear conflagration is unimaginable, but the world now seems far less likely to end with a bang than with a slow slide into the abyss.


“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.”

-John F. Kennedy-

One wonders why Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi has told the Democratic Caucus and assured the corporate media that the Democrats will not impeach Bush and Cheney even if they win a majority in Congress. All indications are that there is great national support for impeachment, yet the media and everyone seems afraid of using the word. As I do believe that paranoia is a window into the truth, I have to consider that the NSA spying goes further and deeper than we yet know and that the Feds have something on everyone – including Nancy that can keep them in check. It doesn’t seem that long ago to me that J Edgar Hoover had files that could embarrass and intimidate anyone and it doesn’t seem to me that the Federal Leopard has changed its spots over the decades. Like the monocled Gestapo officer in so many cinema noir movies, they “keep careful records.” Who we talk to, what we read, the addresses we send letters or text messages or faxes or phone calls: they keep careful records and for all we know, our credit card records, our medical records, our internet banking and our electronic payment of tolls on the highway are safely filed away to be used against us. As American citizens we no longer have any guarantee that we won’t be taken away in the dead of night to be held and perhaps tortured in secret forever. Can we trust them with all that information? Are we in such danger from abroad that we need to surrender our birthright to the men in black?

I think it’s more than foolish to assume that NSA data mining has any limits, constitutional or moral and that they are not also keeping careful lists of our e-mails if not also reading them. If Bush is not removed from office by impeachment, we may well have lost any real ability to change the course of our country’s journey into totalitarianism. When Bush assures you he isn’t doing something, you can bet he’s doing it. When he swears he isn’t breaking the law requiring judicial oversight, he’s done it and done it for years. When he said Thursday that "We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives
of millions of Americans" the mining and trolling was going on and as each new revelation of his illegal behavior has been ferreted out and not voluntarily admitted to, we may have yet to find his nose in more private affairs than we imagined.

We have a lot more to be afraid of than we did when Roosevelt told us we had only fear itself to fear and I fear that we’re not half afraid enough of George W. Bush and his team of tyrants and thieves to do something about it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mine eyes have seen the Glory

I haven’t been planning to watch the new HBO series Baghdad ER for several reasons.  I don’t really like Emergency Room dramas and I don’t want to get myself all riled up about the needless carnage unless of course it’s a comedy like M*A*S*H where the senseless incompetence, stupidity and futility of war has only a thin veil of bullshit to cover it.

Apparently the Army doesn’t want me to watch it either because of their concern that it may prompt anti-war sentiment.  HBO in fact, has gone to lengths in it’s TV trailers to assure us that it takes no position on the war, in line with the new concept of patriotism that insists on being fair and balanced even if they have to lie to do it.  

The big concern apparently is the effect the documentary, which shows the heroic, bloody and horrifying happenings at the  86th Combat Support Hospital in Ibn Sina, Iraq will have on military personnel and their families.  That is a very legitimate concern, yet one wonders at the need to hide the horrors of war from those most intimately concerned with it; an attempt that the media and the Government for which they stand has been very successful at.  Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army Surgeon General warns that the show depicts the “ravages and anguish of war” and could cause post traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks in military personnel.  I’m sure he’s right. It may also cause the 18 year olds full of visions of glory and honor to reconsider their enlistment.  

To much of America this is a football game; where there is only us and the other team, there is no question of right and wrong, where the game is always necessary and needs no cause or explanation.  The only two outcomes are winning and losing. The only cost to the fans is the price of a ticket or a television.  

Perhaps this program, horrible as it might be will prompt a few more people to shed the blinders of patriotism and party loyalty and question those who started this war on one false pretext after another and who keep the reality from our minds with red herrings and smokescreens and censorship and intimidation.  The question of course is: “Is the pain and death and anguish and terror too big a price to pay for a bungled and perhaps irredeemable attempt to overthrow a dictator in a country willing to die to keep us out?”

I hope Bush and Rummy and Cheney and Rove watch it.  I hope they listen to every scream and prayer and see every drop of blood and shredded flesh and splintered bone and I hope there is a God to have mercy on them and forgive their cowardice and their lies and their greed and their malice.  If there is a God he knows that I cannot.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bye bye roadhog

I’m not sorry to see the Hummer H1 go the way of the dinosaurs, not because it will really make any difference in how much gasoline America burns, but because someday I may be able to negotiate one more corner; one more off-ramp without some lumbering behemoth hogging the road at Conestoga wagon speeds.  Perhaps one day there will be fewer of these death-on-wheels monstrosities riding my bumper at 95 on the turnpike; massive bumper at just the right height to decapitate me if I nudge my 6 piston ventilated Brembo discs a bit too hard.  There are not many more than 10,000 of them on the road and 10MPG notwithstanding, they just don’t matter in the big picture.  Besides, there are still plenty of Escalades, Expeditions and Navigators roaring down the highway and creeping through the corners. The open road is as dead as Kerouac.

At the other end of the spectrum of ridiculousness, I read that some “inventor” in England has built himself a vehicle – I won’t call it a car – that will get over 8000 miles per gallon. Even though the British Gallon is a bit larger than the American unit, that’s astonishing, but of course the vehicle is essentially useless for any purpose beyond winning that contest.  Since the competition that spawns engineering oddities like this doesn’t really explore new technology, but simply puts a chain saw sized engine (35cc) in a vehicle that is as light as a bicycle and not quite as fast, it won’t develop anything like the multi-purpose passenger vehicle that we will eventually need to replace the vehicles we need to support the life style we’re forced to live by decisions made in the 1950’s.

Somewhere between absurd extremes is a vehicle that can carry several people and a bunch of stuff at reasonable speeds to which it can accelerate at reasonable rates and that can be used on long trips but with minimal emissions.  The technology isn’t here yet and playing with existing technology, which includes piston engine hybrids, can’t make enough difference.

Who knows how long we will have to wait for hydrogen cars – fuel cell hybrids or fast charge, ultra light batteries or even capacitors?

Sad to say, a good interim solution exists, but we can no longer afford it nor do we want, it seems, to live that way.  We tore out the rail lines 50 years ago, got rid of the electric street cars, scrapped the electric interurban railway system and moved out to the suburbs where you not only have to commute 20, 30, 40 miles to work, but need to spend all your spare time driving from one mall to another in the suburban archipelago.  There may be no way to cut back without big changes in the way we live and without a bailout from technology that may or may not emerge.  Simply put, our lives and dreams and livings have been engineered by 50 years of cheap gas.

Paybacks are a bitch, as the saying goes and there is nothing we can do about it without pain.  That’s a general lesson the Republicans don’t care to learn.  We no longer make anything and we spend our lives borrowing from foreigners so we can buy their products by driving around in foreign cars using foreign oil.  Sooner or later, a bill will come due and my bet is on sooner.  

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Building a database, taking names

What do you call a man who vigorously defends what he said he wasn’t doing and would never do? What do you do when such a man says “trust me?”

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” says Bush after revelations that the phone records of tens of millions of phone calls by American citizens have been turned over to the Feds. USA Today reports in today's editions that AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies have turned over records of their customers' phone calls to the NSA since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Oh no, we may peek through your bedroom window but we’re not really watching and of course we "strictly target al-Qaeda and their known affiliates." They must have tens of millions of “known affiliates” right here in the US of A. Maybe you and maybe me, George isn't talking, he's just building a database and taking names in a way that has to remind anyone who grew up on WW II movies of that Gestapo officer with the wire rim spectacles and shiny boots.

"The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval," Bush said, repeating what he said before he admitted that they did just that and claimed he didn’t even need approval.

Why do the papers bother to report this wildly inconsistent, self-contradictory and mendacious garbage? Bush does what he wants, denies being restricted by the law and his entire administration refuses to admit any responsibility to the citizens.

Why do we still have ten people in this country who still support this incompetent, egomaniacal and corrupt administration? Why does anyone still support the man who has tossed aside the promise our constitution gave us?

There is an answer to that question but it is too sad and too horrible to contemplate.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I’ve been accustomed to search the news sources for whatever outrage of the day hasn’t been adequately been commented on but the supply has been endless to the point where what once would have sparked a mass uprising only makes me yawn and hardly gets mentioned in the press.

Now of course, I’m talking about outrages perpetrated by the Bush administration; things the lowly peasants do still provoke comment by the media. Take Steve Colbert, for instance. His roast at the White House Correspondent’s dinner was trenchant and sarcastic and long overdue, but what he was doing was what the press should have been doing for the last 6 years and they don’t like to be reminded of it.

“Unfunny and rude” wrote Newsweek. As if pointing out the theft of a nation were something too private and personal to air in public. Newsweek and others still cling to the fabrication that we have a popular president who may be doing unpopular things for our own good and we children should continue to respect and protect him.

It’s appeasement, it’s collaboration with an enemy of the country and now that barely more than a quarter of us think he’s not robbing the treasury, embroiling us in an endless war and openly snubbing the rule of law it’s time for Newsweek to be a little less polite.

For my part, had Colbert abandoned the satire and simply called Bush the crook, liar, tyrant and traitor he really is, I would have applauded him, but Steven Colbert is far more polite than I could possibly be. Respect must be earned and so must contempt. Both are worthy of being mentioned.

Monday, May 08, 2006

It's too late to make it right

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
Idon’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if i could
‘Cause i’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think i should

-Dixie Chicks-

Washington Post suggests that the recent chaos in the White House was an effort to appear to be reorganizing so as to drag Bush’s ratings out of the cellar. To me it looks more like Just chaos and lack of leadership and it may be that I’m not the only one to think this way. Bush’s approval is down to 31% according to a Gallup poll quoted in USA Today. In an understatement that an Englishman would be proud of, Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee was quoted as saying “It is a challenging political environment."

Still, if one were not reading the polls, one would think Bush was still on top of his game and had the mandate of the people. It still seems to be taboo to criticize him, and bad manners to refer to his predicament. Few people have forgiven the Dixie Chicks and the Radio Lie Machine grinds on and on and on.

"By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over." Said Lance Tarrance, a chief architect of the Republicans' 1960s and '70s Southern strategy although both the the beat up pickups and the Bentleys here in the south still have W stickers on them. I would like to believe that it’s the diehards Bushophiles that are dying hard and that they will somehow be tempted to vote for the unappealing urban, northern, anti-gun lefties the Democrats will be sure to set. I doubt it though.

The Republicans certainly are going to make this autumn all about abortion and guns and the Gay agenda and I lose sleep thinking that the Democrats will do the same and thus blow this tremendous lead faster than any team the Chicago Cubs ever fielded.

It all depends on Bush. I’m sure he has done all the cabinet reshuffling that he’s going to do, unless we have some more timely indictments, but what really keeps me awake is the prospect of Bush attempting to appeal to patriotism and fear once again in Gut's and Glory military fashion. That may be his only remaining option.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The outing of a president

If there is anything that defines George W. Bush it’s the feeling of inadequacy his father’s military experience has always given him. As much as George the elder disliked being called a wimp, which in itself is evidence of wimphood, George the lesser has, like many humiliated people, longed for something surpassingly grand. He tried to fly fighter planes, he tried to be an oil tycoon, but only in that last refuge of a scoundrel could he succeed - with a little help from his friends.

My fear is that this grand thing; this grand role he wishes to play so that all those who called him names in the schoolyard will remember and cringe, may be messiah. Does George W. Bush want to be the tool of God, bringing on the destruction of the world, if not merely the destruction of the wicked? Does he dream of being like Eisenhower, leader of a great world war and hero of his age?

It’s impossible to know and he has refused to answer, after much shuffling and stumbling, questions about his role in Armageddon. He has however revealed that in his lurid and cartoonish imagination, the September 2001 attack was the beginning of something I have always feared to hear from a President: World War Three.

To be sure he was in his interview with CNBC only agreeing with the description of David Beamer, whose son Todd died in the crash of United 93, the eponymous film version of which he has lavishly praised without having seen. This sudden change in usage; from “The War on Terror” to World War III might just be the kind of Freudian “outing” that I have feared.

I think George was not starting a small war to make himself seem like an important “war President;” he is starting a World War as part of a megalomaniacal dream of glory.

Bush the lesser has often used shoddy analogies about appeasers and tyrants. This time I think it’s more appropriate turned against him. Do we let him destroy the world by being polite and respectful to his arrogated authority, or do we act like the chordates we’re supposed to be and show some spine?

Friday, May 05, 2006

National Day of Prayer

What could my Lord ask of me, that I could answer?


Honor God at the Courthouse today said the sign out on old Dixie Highway where it runs through Port Salerno. I didn’t and I won’t and I wouldn’t even if I did have some concept of God that might be understood by someone who would go to a courthouse to be seen honoring God by other people who instead of working quietly for justice and the benefit of those less fortunate, were also honoring God.

It’s not just that I think the concept of God is absurd, but the notion that he would be so small as to require or be able to acknowledge such a thing is, like the cosmos, too incomprehensible to be described at all. How great must one be that God would be honored with their presence!

No one went to the Courthouse to honor God; they went each to honor his own religiosity, the sense of belonging to a group; of being on the home team and to honor the sense of supremacy religion gives. To paraphrase the ancient Chinese book, the God you worship is not God and perhaps the God you can worship cannot be God.

The people in the courthouse were honoring themselves for honoring God, honoring themselves for belonging to a country where people gather in a courthouse to do something so absurdly vain as to honor God. If it were not an act of political solidarity and self aggrandizement, perhaps they would simply have waited until dark and spent a quiet hour staring up at the unknowable in the warm Florida night.

Haveil Havalim

Guns, guts and grandmothers

Granny robs bank to get medicine money  blares the CNN web site.  Can you think of any other bit of obnoxious stereotyping that would slide by as unremarked upon as this one?  I wonder why it matters that she had children or not and more about why it matters if her children had children.  I’ve yet to see anyone’s parental status pointed out when they’re accused of some crime, unless it’s a crime against their offspring. Why is their children’s parental status of interest?

Think about it, if some 80 year old movie star drives a race car, if an octogenarian test pilot who has been the subject of books and movies flies a fighter plane, or an aging astronaut returns to space or an aging president goes skydiving, we will hear about Paul Newman,  General Yaeger, Senator Glenn or President Bush.  That’s because in these contexts, names like Granny and Grandpa are terms of disrespect we’re reluctant to use to describe people we admire. You don’t call the Queen of England Granny unless your last name is Windsor.

Oh, isn’t it cute and funny that Grandma’s got a gun?  You can still get away with that while other presumptuous and bigoted stereotypes may land you in trouble and that’s the root of the problem.  Who else are we going to look down on now that it’s harder to pick on Blacks and Gays and Hispanics?  

So listen up - If you were born yesterday and thank that makes you somebody and you want to call me gramps, you’d better either be smiling wider than the grill on a ’52 Buick or you’d better be a certain three year old from Illinois, ‘cause Grandpa’s got a gun!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back in the U.S.S.A

I’ve been making comparisons between the Republicans and the Bolsheviks for some time now and although some of it may be slight hyperbole, the comparison is steadily becoming less of an exaggeration. I refer not only to the American Gulag, the secret trials and detentions and the spying on citizens but to the enormous intrusion of fixed dogma and doctrine into all aspects of life, public and private. I refer to the decreasing level of transparency, the increasing hostility toward pragmatism, science, reason and variant political thought. I refer to the shadowy groups of powerful men whose word competes with law and whose actions ignore it.

Despite their waning popularity, the presence of Party apparatchiks in all levels of government increases, the pursuit of simplistic, utopian Party goals continues and the goal of uniting all branches of government under one party rule so as to eliminate the balances they were to provide; all these things and more continue.

The latest attempt to make the Federal courts another arm of the party, along with the Press, the Congress and the Executive branch is the Republican proposal in Congress to set up a watchdog over the federal courts. To me, it echoes the Soviet Political officers and committees that oversaw all aspects of Soviet life to make sure that everything complied with the Party line.

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg addressed a gathering of the American Bar Association Tuesday. According to the AP, she called the idea that the Party of Bush should monitor courts to make sure that judges were accepting of party members outside financial dealings with lobbyists of other “A really scary idea”

"It sounds to me very much like the Soviet Union was ....” said the Supreme Court Justice whom the AP writer took pains to identify as not only a “Liberal” but a Clinton appointed Liberal.” The media as an arm of the American Soviet does its job well.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, announced a plan last week to create an inspector general to oversee federal courts including the Supreme Court. The inspector general would be directed to report any judicial misconduct to the Justice Department. One wonders at how judicial misconduct is defined in the Party dictionary that seems already to define law as the whim of the ruler.

While the Stalinists in Washington set up guardians for the courts they’ve already packed with party hacks and strive to limit the power of the constitution to limit government under the guise of limiting “Judicial activism” America is struggling to recognize what has happened here through the smoke and haze and clamor of patriotic bellicosity, but we have to do it on our own. They own the press.

The Party is most definitely down by the bow and is taking on water, the life boats are being lowered while the fat men in suits climb over the women and children to get out, but the idiot at the helm steers the same course. Will we mutiny or will we lose the ship?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pack up your troubles

Tom DeLay’s smiling mugshot, Rush Limpbaugh’s smiling mugshot; can two instances be a trend? So far Limpbaugh seems to have avoided the kind of consequences he advocates for other drug users while DeLay may be in bigger trouble, but the theater of denial has become the trained reflex and the trend is to Smile, lie and deny.

"There was no arrest.” Said the pie-faced prevaricator to the Palm Beach Post “There were no handcuffs. There was no perp walk. There is no charge."

Well yes and no, it counts as an arrest to the Palm Beach County jail supervisor Capt. Mark Chamberlain; fingerprints, mug shot and all. It’s going to take a lot of smiling, lying and raving about Liberals to make it not have happened. But if his long record of denying and walking away from offenses is good and he has a lot of help from his friends and I suspect that all too soon it never will have happened.

"The end result will be as if I had gone to court and won," he said on his radio show, even though having actually gone to court and won wouldn’t involve a $30,000 fine and forced drug testing and forced rehabilitation, but nothing means anything any more and the difference between arrest and a tour of the police station; the difference between winning and losing; the difference between truth and fiction is all a matter of “Semantics.”

Semantics; just like the difference between “nice going Rush, it was all political anyway” and “I hope you die from an overdose, choking on your own vomit, you lying bastard.”

And if anyone wants to take issue with that, let me remind you that I never said it, you never saw my lips move and you're a Liberal anyway.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

La bandera de las estrellas

Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it - and they're likely to be Republicans too. I have no doubt that the hoo-ha about singing the National Anthem in Spanish, even if one isn't singing it in the US and one has no status as the leader of any kind of movement, is a smokescreen to keep us from thinking too hard about the President's failures, but what I didn't know is that this latest Republican nonsense has the same foundation in falsehood as Bush's proclamation that 9/11 was the first attack by an enemy on American soil.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish-language version of “The Star Spangled Banner” way back in 1919. The State Department’s website also features four-separate versions of the anthem in Spanish. So when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a resolution requiring the Star-Spangled banner to be sung only in English yesterday he either showed a typical Republican ignorance or a typical Republican unconcern for veracity or a typical Republican willingness to lie in order to enrage the Red State rabble. Maybe it was all three that prompted him to say that the anthem had “never before…been rendered in another language.”

Issues of free speech aside (and I'm sure the Republican Royalists would like to set it aside) the logic behind requiring it to be sung only in English begs the question: why aren't all things considered by the idiot party to be central to our "traditions" limited to English - like the Bible? That way we won't be bothered by scholars telling us that it doesn't say what the Sunday school teacher said it did. Maybe too, we should be restricted to praising the President in fractured English since that's as much a tradition in their eyes as anything else.

Hell, let's make sure nobody speaks anything else - that's close enough to the current state of affairs anyway - and nobody dare translate our Constitution or Bill of Rights into French. We don't want foreigners to know what Lincoln said or Washington Said - hell we don't even want Americans to know. That will just cheapen our sacred documents and allow people to expect us to live up to them.

Now let us please go to the US State Department website and sing after me. . . .

Amanece: ¿no veis, a la luz de la aurora,
Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?
Sus estrellas, sus barras flotaban ayer
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de cohetes, de bombas estruendo,
Por la noche decían: "!Se va defendiendo!"


An as yet unconfirmed report has it that when Bush was campaigning in 2000, he sang the anthem in Spanish in Hispanic neighborhoods accompanied by a Mariachi band from Texas.

Unsafe at any speed

I drive a fast car – and sometimes I do drive fast. Now I have a real time display of all four tire pressures on the dash and I’m using Z-rated “supercar” tires designed for continuous 200 mph speeds. Still, I know it’s dangerous to drive much faster than anyone else, not that this is really possible on Florida’s interstate highways. Cruising at a ten-over-the-limit 80mph, more than half of the vehicles will pass me. Far more than half of those will be large pickups and SUVs. Statistics show that few drivers pay much attention to tire pressures, even though the Florida heat is murderous to rubber and tires rated at 75 or 80 are really over their limits when the asphalt is cooking and pressures are below optimum. Tires blow out a lot down here.

So it’s not surprising to read about the daily SUV death toll. A blown tire, something that’s happened to me more than once, can kill you, kill someone else and can kill your kids. These things are more than twice as likely to roll over and four times as likely to kill someone you hit in the process. Fatalities caused by cars being hit by safety minded mothers in SUVs now constitute a large part of overall fatalities. Not only can the 8500 pound Excursion go out of control easier and take much longer to stop or change lanes, it is almost sure to kill someone when it does.

Such gross problems with instability were solved more than half a century ago for passenger cars, but the solution was to make cars longer, lower, wider and to use more advanced suspension, not to take trucks and sell them as cars and lie about safety.

Now that we live in the post-Regan world of lies, where they can tell you that your Saab comes from jets and that four wheel drive makes you able to swerve faster in a truck than a sports car can, it’s time that someone told the truth: SUVs get in more accidents and many of those accidents happen because people believe that air bags will save them in an 80 mph rollover, that antilock brakes will make them stop on a dime and all wheel drive will let them swerve around an obstacle at 80mph. No electronic stability control will compensate for the inherently dangerous design, lack of crumple zones and collapsible roof structures of these poorly engineered vehicles. Four wheel drive makes the vehicle harder to control in a spin and may actually increase the chance of “friction rollover.” The Insurance institute for Highway Safety tells us that SUVs have similar fatality rates to small cars and higher death rates then mid-sized or large cars. The NTHSA has concluded that reducing the roll instability of inherently unstable vehicles would be prohibitive.

Many people buy SUVs to feel safe on the road. But then many people voted for George W. Bush to feel safer. Both choices are foolishly defended mistakes.

Monday, May 01, 2006

And the voice spoke from the wirlwind

And speaking of blind faith, I ran across a blog this weekend. Pandagon tells us that the Pariah in Chief doesn’t think we should disband FEMA. That agency is much more prepared, he says, but don’t worry about FEMA, what we should do instead is to pray.

Let’s, first of all, pray there’s no hurricanes, That would be, like, step one.'’

Prayer always works. It’s well known that landslides and mudslides and fires and earthquakes and huge waves and storms only kill the wicked and we know it because every time children are burned alive during an Easter celebration, or a church bus goes off a cliff or a pious village in Central America is buried under the mud or some old church lady dies alone in a hot attic in a flooded city, we are told it was God’s wrath against the sinners, or children of sinners or cousins by marriage of sinners or the great grandmothers of sinners and all the other sinners who failed to redeem themselves from sin by persecuting all the other sinners who refuse to persecute and insist on voting Democrat.

As for me, like step one is to make sure I have supplies and the generator is serviced and the shutters are ready to go up. Like step two is to pray that the demon in the storm will indeed seek out the iniquitous and set course for Washington, but that’s something you only read about – it never actually happens.

Dear God, in thy loving kindness send the next one up to Daytona. Those guys are much bigger sinners, what with bike week and spring break and all.
That will leave me with just enough bad weather to remind me that you’re there without trashing my banana trees and pool enclosure and knocking the power out.

I promise to hound as many gay folks as I can identify and put a plastic fish on my new car even though I paid a lot of money for it and hate to screw up the paint.

Just get me through this season without another one and I promise to defend thy holy trees and plastic images and sacred shopping mall displays against the damn Jews and atheists who want to wage war against Christmas and don’t recognize that it’s you, oh Lord, who kicks the shit out of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts every year.

Please remember you smacked me three times now and three is some kind of magic number meaning I ought to get a break – right?

The other Kermit

If or when George W. Bush bombs Iran, or allows Israel to nuke Iran with its German made missile subs, I expect to hear him say what he has said about the amorphous forces gathering against us around the world: that “They hate us for our freedom.”

Americans have short memories and make a virtue of blind faith; so we don’t remember Kermit Roosevelt or Operation Ajax and we believe we’ve always been the good guys. Iran should be grateful to us or to Jimmy Carter for letting the Shah lose power, some of us would say, not remembering that it was Kermit, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt who as an agent of the British and of the CIA overthrew an elected Prime Minister, Muhammad Mossadeq and put the Shah on the throne in 1953. Mossadeq made the mistake of assuming that Iran’s oil belonged to Iran and not to the nation whose manifest destiny was to grab the world’s resources; he nationalized the oil wells and we had him ousted, just two years after he appeared as Time Magazine’s man of the year. Shah Reza Pahlevi’s gratitude and fealty to the West was manifest in giving the multinational oil companies access to Iranian reserves.

So much for free elections, democracy and the phony posturing of the United States. Our policy in this and so many other cases is that free elections are wonderful when and only when they result in pro-US (read pro-oil companies) governments. Iran has an elected government, much as Egypt has an elected government. Egypt has no oil. It isn’t about power to the people, it’s about petroleum to us. But “they hate us for our freedoms” Is Bush’s story and he’s sticking to it. His predecessor Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright, did discuss the anti US animosity in Iran and it’s roots, but facts and the attendant hint of apology don’t sit well with our imperial ambition particularly during the crotch sniffing enterprises of the Republicans. Tough guys can’t admit of mistakes much less admit of not being tough.

Of course the Government of Iran doesn’t need much history to base its hatreds on – xenophobia and religious bigotry provide adequate animosity, but history certainly is more scrupulously observed in some parts of the world than it is here. Iraq remembers how the “Coalition” backed Saddam and Iran remembers how we backed Saddam against them and gave him chemical weapons to do it with. We put the bodies in those mass graves we’re always talking about. The world remembers how we have backed any form of government, brutal or benign as long as it gave us the oil or rubber or whatever else we want. It remembers how we hate them for their freedom.