Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ancestral voices

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far,
Ancestral voices prophesying war


Metaphor may be the thing of poets, but few of us are poets and in common speech and the level below that, called journalism, metaphors become malignant but somehow unnoticed cancers, eating away at language. I can't stop people from their fetishistic obsession with the stale and metastatic metaphor "impact" any more than I can stop malignant politicians from forcing every policy from drug use to terrorism into the procrustean bed of the war metaphor.

No one will sacrifice for a policy or an effort, nor will they look the other way as their liberty is infringed for an attempt, but war is such an ancient part of culture, shaped by countless tales of glory that it sets the young heart beating and the old heart scheming. It makes milquetoast reporters into war correspondents and failed presidents into "war-presidents" and gives second tier entertainers a big stage to perform on; it gives corporate interests what they want and gives military, security and enforcement interests the kind of power and budget they live for. War, even in itself isn't often the best way to deal with anything, but all in all, you can get people to go along with being exploited so that they can support the troops and display flags and feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Obvious? Of course it is, but then obvious things are what we're least likely to notice; the commonplace is what we're least likely to examine. I enjoy reading people who like to disassemble language and logic and what started me off on this second-hand rant this morning was a post at The Rhetoric Garage where you can see the things people say and do in various states of disassembly.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Morality is a joke, says Cheney


I remember standing outside the Federal Courthouse during the Chicago 7 trial and talking to another demonstrator who saw this whole movement as the wave of the future that would sweep away the war mongering and the anti-democratic and totalitarian evils that accompanied it. He was sure that in our children's time, it would be a brave new world. My reply was that no, they would simply go around us and propagandize our children and make us into the enemy and so they did. Now, in my grandchildren's time, I think I can say with sadness that not only did it work, but it still works and they're still doing it.

Behold the man. Dick Cheney, pictured with his arm raised like Hitler, addressing the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point. While many have been concerned that the officers of tomorrow already take a dim view of the Geneva Conventions, Cheney chose to take the low road and make his appeal to the growing contempt for morality amongst the ever more radically fundamentalist military.

"Capture one of these killers" said the worm Cheney, assuming that everyone captured is a demon, " and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."

Indeed, those whose country we occupy by force are not only the "enemy" but sub-human demons and that absolves us of being moral; that justifies any evil we might enjoy in the quest to bring American, Judeo-Christian traditions to the heathens.

"The terrorists know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it. By force and intimidation, they seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to their ideology." And indeed that's just what they say about us and that's what Cheney wants of us.

And just who the hell is "they," Dick? would it be the civilians beaten, raped, tortured and killed in your dungeons and in their own homes? Would it be the victims of your shock and awe? Would it be the millions forced to flee and the millions living in fear and hunger and disease and heat and cold and poverty now that we have changed their regime? Is everyone objecting to your imperialist thievery a "terrorist?" and what the hell is the moral difference between a terrorist who tortures and kills and a sick, corrupt maggot like you who does the same thing in the name of "freedom?"

It's not often that I am a complete loss of adequate words to describe the moral abomination that is Dick Cheney and his gang of murderers, liars and barbarians. No biblical prophet ever execrated any man or act thoroughly enough to suit the crime of his very existence. No advocate of Satanism ever was more eloquent in setting forth his case than he.

I fear to live in a country whose Army is pressed into the same mold as Hitler's Waffen SS. I loathe living in a country where standing up for morality, ethics, decency, liberty, democracy and all I hold to be the foundations of civilization are considered by our leadership to be unpatriotic. Our constitution, our laws, our beliefs about the inherent rights of man; our traditional values, our aspirations to be moral leaders - none of these things mean anything but as objects of contempt for Cheney and not only is he the least moral of anyone pretending to be an American; not only is he the Devil's advocate and propagandist, he's guilty of more high crimes and misdemeanors against our laws then any loathsome invertibarate ever to hold public office.

Dick Cheney is a malignant and aggressive cancer that cannot be removed soon enough. Impeachment and a lengthy jail sentence in some filthy sewer of a prison would have been his fate years ago if this country were worthy of any of the things it still brags about being. Cheney must be impeached and removed from office or we have no reason to exist.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

McCain's last stand


Setting a timetable is like "waving a white flag to al Qaeda" according to John McCain who seems unaware of the difference between the Saudi millionaire living unmolested in a cave in Afghanistan and the religious militants blowing up American troops and Iraqis of various backgrounds in Baghdad.

It's a wonderful analogy of course and to me reminiscent of the strategy that cost General George Armstrong Custer his life and the lives of his troops. Custer, of course, was subsequently reinvented as a hero, but I think the chance McCain once had to be seen as valiant is long gone, what with his fatuous support of every idiotic, lunatic element in the Republican party. His knee-jerk resort to vicious ad hominem attacks doesn't help either. Replying to Senator Obama's comment on McCain's need for a flak jacket when visiting Baghdad, his staff tossed out
"Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong."
The comment of course is meant to both smear Obama with the taint of drug use while inflating McCain's military background in another pathetic and untenable occupation but it also reminds us of the much decorated Custer's military background and how much it helped him make good military and moral decisions. It reminds me that fighting the Indians "over there rather than here" worked out better for the Indians.

A moronic and irrelevant comment indeed -- and it begs us to speculate as to whether McCain knows Integrity isn't a Japanese car. I wonder if he's actually stupid enough to think Bush's "surge" isn't like trying to fight a forest fire by adding a squirt gun to the fire hoses and that no matter how much time you give it to work, you'll only lose the forest and probably get burned in the process. No, I don't think he's that stupid by nature. I think he's just so greedy to be President that he will reduce a situation far more complex than he admits; far more costly of human life, far more likely to inflame the world and far more difficult of resolution to stupid analogies, slogans and infantile name calling. Sitting Bull and Custer; slinging bull and McCain -- different battlefields, same results.

Friday, May 25, 2007

OPEC Day?

OPEC must love Memorial Day. Not because they want to memorialize America's military casualties, but because Americans burn a lot of gas. According to the AAA, 32,100,000 people will travel by cars and trucks for the Memorial Day weekend, up 1.8 percent from last year. About 4.4 million will fly and about 1.9 million will go by train or bus. I and many of my friends will be burning copious quantities of gas and diesel out on the water despite marina prices nearing $4.00 per gallon. My boat is lucky to get 2.5 MPG at cruising speed and of course some of my friends from the yacht club going out to the Bahamas for the week will be getting many times worse than that.

Americans complain about fuel costs but they really don't care enough to trade the Escalade for a real car. The few who benefit from Bush's tax cuts care less. Complaints from those whose lives are adversely affected by gas prices matter little since they'll so eagerly vote against their own self interest if you say "freedom" and 9/11 and "Liberal" enough, it isn't worth accommodating them.

The silliness of the Reaganomic idea that upper bracket tax cuts will enable the upper classes to hire more people and thus benefit the economy can be seen lined up all along the Florida coastline with multimillion dollar, corporate owned yachts registered in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens lined up like Hyundais in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Commodore Gotyatz isn't going to give his employees a raise, he's going to give himself one and will either salt it away abroad or buy a bigger boat from Taiwan or simply run it through the twin Yanmar Diesels humming away below the teak decks in the Caribbean sun.

Of course there are a lot of people who may have to choose between lunch and the gas to get to work, but who cares? This is America, not some socialist workers paradise.

Absurd

I have to like Republican candidate Ron Paul, even if many don't take him seriously. He seems to be the only contender with sufficient memory to recall some of what happened in the world before 2001. Things like the US engineered overthrow of elected Iranian Prime Minister Muhammed Mussadegh and the end of Democracy in Iran. Things like our support for Iraq's brutal war against Iran; all the nasty history the iPod generation is too uneducated to know about and the patriotic revisionists have redacted from the public memory.

When Paul suggested in the May 15th "debate" that they hate us because we're there and because of what we have done, New York's former mayor and drag queen said
"I don't think I've heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11."
  • Absurd:
  • ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous.
  • having no rational or orderly relationship to human life.

Absurd? Perhaps Guiliani's vocabulary is as idiosyncratic as his sense of logic. The idea that our long history of inept, sometimes brutal manipulations centered around beating the Russians to the oil and making deals with many devils to control the wells regardless of how much oppression was involved has had no consequences, is neither honest or credible. If anything is absurd, it's the idea that "they hate us for our freedom" and that we are above concern or blame for the consequences of our actions. Rudy seems to share in the Bush strategy of saying "freedom" and 9/11 as often as possible whether or not it has a rational or orderly relationship to reality.

A reasonable foreign policy has to include an honest assessment of history. It has to include acceptance of responsibility for that history and for current actions. I have to ask myself how many candidates are willing to go there instead of offering cheap slogans and feel-good esteem builders. At the moment I can't think of one on either side other than perhaps Paul or Gravel who is willing to stop pandering to arrogance, to phobias and obsessions and doctrines and get real. The world isn't about us and we can't control it by building H-Bombs and making threats.
They're delighted we're over there because it's easier to fight us there than over here." suggests Paul. "I'm suggesting we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they're delighted."
I'm delighted to hear someone say it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Red moon rising

He who laughs last, laughs best

For the last 50 years and perhaps much longer, the word "imported" had a certain cachet, but until I was well into my adult years, things made in Japan were a primary exception. I remember the sinking feeling you had when you got something from a catalog or brought something home from the store and found that little "Made in Japan" sticker. You felt you'd been had, been almost cheated, that you'd been foolish not to check more carefully. I remember snickers of "yeah it's imported . . . from Japan!"

Japanese products were associated in our minds with cheap tin toys made from flattened Budweiser cans and when, during the late 1960's I read in an electronics magazine about something new on the market: a made in Japan stereo receiver, me reaction was "yeah - right." Japanese companies strained themselves to come up with names that sounded Anglo. Ishibashi became Bridgestone tire and when you found out, you were depressed that you'd been taken.
I don't have to tell anyone how things have changed. Americans will pay more for a Japanese label put on an American made product then they will for the identical thing without it. Chrysler's association with Mitsubishi proved it. Irrational contempt has been replaced with irrational fondness.

How long will it take before we stop linking Chinese products with cheapness, Wal-Mart and low quality? How long will it be before there won't be any more Made in the USA products at all? China is poised to become a leader in space based communications, has launched astronauts, is building a lunar lander, has a manned moon expedition planned and a robotic Mars lander under design and they are building and launching communications satellites with their own rockets.
Our response to our increasing marginalization is isolationism and patriotic mumbling about being "number one." Have we chosen to be overwhelmed by the future rather than to become part of it? Are we afraid to become part of it if it means we can't be "number one" all the time? One of the things we continue to excel at is borrowing money from Japan and China and Europe and buying imported goods with it. Another is getting into disastrously expensive wars and internal disputes. To many, we seem both an excellent host for parasitic relationships and a dangerous, unpredictable pit bull with confused ideas about what needs protecting. Perhaps we're equally as good at not considering the results of any of this.

For a long time I thought Japan had had the last laugh. Now I think there's another and better one coming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Burn baby, burn

The references to the Reichstag fire began while the ruins of the World Trade Center were still smoking and it was just the worst thing in the world to doubt George Bush's integrity or the "fact" that it was all about Iraq and not about Saudi Arabia's support for international terrorism Against American interests based in Afghanistan and in the United States itself. I have been making sarcastic comments about Bush's ambition ever since and about the chance that he would take matters into his own hands and precipitate some calamity which would justify the suspension of elections and the granting of special emergency powers.


George was able to get himself re-elected with only a few suspicions regarding election tampering and didn't need anything as dramatic as Adolph Hitler's contrived terrorist attack to arrogate unprecedented power, but that was then. If the constitution he reviles is to be obeyed, he may not run again and yet, he sees himself as a messiah and the constitution as an impediment. Will he be content to go quietly and await the judgment of history? My suggestion of another national calamity may remain a thing of cynical speculation, but what do we make of the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive?


Signed two weeks ago with little public fanfare and apparently without Congressional oversight, this document deals with scenarios wherein the President's power becomes dictatorial, unassailable and perhaps permanent. Yes, I am aware of using hyperbole when talking about his megalomaniacal and uncompromising desire to be the world's "commander guy" But the history of his administration is beginning to make the most cynical of us seem prophetic. The mechanism seems to be in place for the transmogrification of the wimpy little ex-cheerleader, ne'er do well of the Bush litter into King George, der F├╝hrer George, president for life George, Big Brother George. All that stands between these horrors and reality is the willingness of the man himself to light a fuse. All that stands between the liberty we have enjoyed for over 200 years and an unaccountable dictatorship is the conscience of George W. Bush.

Can we afford to wait for 2008?

Tiger by the tail

Bush's desperate attempts to justify his crimes are so shoddily constructed as to pass enough light to illuminate his lying soul. When he "declassified" or perhaps invented data showing Osama bin Laden had a desire to use Iraq as a base for operations against the US yesterday and used it as a justification for the same operations that gave Osama bin Laden the opportunity to do that, he hoped you wouldn't once again smell the sophistry.

Osama of course had no reason to choose Iraq and no expectation that any attempt to operate there would meet with anything but brutal repression by the Shia-hating and brutal Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein. We gave him the chance, not just by replacing a strongman with a vacuum, but by completely eliminating order and security in Iraq.

Bush is expected to let this bit of self incriminating idiocy loose today at a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. I have no idea as to whether the newly minted Coasties will buy it. Admitting that you screwed up at the cost of a hundred thousand lives or so and at the cost of making the world a very much more dangerous place is not the best way to sell anyone on continuing to take your advice much less continuing your occupation of an increasingly hostile country. But you never know. The urge to follow and even worship leaders is good evidence for the lack of intelligent design behind our species.

Of course the story depends not only on the belief in Bush's honesty and intelligence to serve its purpose as jingoistic propaganda for the troops; it needs you to believe that information obtained with red hot tongs and cattle prods from Abu Faraj al-Libbi, yet another one of the seemingly endless processions of "number two" al Qaeda men is dependably accurate. I wouldn't bet a wooden nickel on it, much less the fate of the nation and the world.

Bush's "tiger by the tail" gambit is a desperate move. it essentially boils down to "yes I deceived you and killed many of you for reasons of profit and power unrelated to your safety, but now we can't afford to stop because it would be dangerous." That's much like the argument against abolition saying that you can't let the slaves go now because they hate us so much for enslaving them.

I have little faith in gung ho young men with their minds stuffed full of indoctrination. Bush will probably be cheered and hats will fly in the air. In his dreams, perhaps the Caligula of Crawford sees the military rising up to stomp out dissent and democracy so his wars can go on forever. That's one small dream for a traitor and a giant nightmare for the rest of us.

Cross posted at The Reaction

Monday, May 21, 2007

Irrelevant

The Holy office in Washington can't tolerate criticism, but because nearly every negative criticism one might make has a good chance of being valid and because to all appearances, the ineptitude, corruption and blind pursuit of a fable deliberately created to promote tyranny, involves more ineptitude, blindness and corruption than we can imagine, they have no choice but to rely on good old argumentum ad hominem.

It's hard to bring the standard charges of unpatriotic thought against former president Jimmy Carter. The customary swift boat might just be so excessive that the attempt would backfire. His moral credentials are pretty good and his dedication to improving America and promoting honesty and justice in the world aren't easily dismissed, so the only practical fall-back position open to the White House Wizards of sleaze is to lump him and his angry denunciations into the same category they put us all in. It's the category of Irrelevance. It's a club called "we don't care what you think."

If Carter calls the Bush administration the worst in history, it's close enough to the truth for all purposes. An administration that is willing to denounce the opinion of about three quarters of the electorate as irrelevant if not treasonous, makes Carters case for him. In fact all that keeps George W. Bush from irrelevance is the fact that he is armed and we are not. He holds the gun to the heads of our troops - criticize and they will die. He has the power to make us disappear into the gulag, to hire his own army, to spy, to torture, to set aside the law. He alone is the State and we, along with our principles, laws and aspirations are irrelevant.

Jimmy Carter is right and most of us know it. The only relevant questions are about how long we will permit this to continue. Will we have to wait until 2008 and hope that we will be allowed to vote him out of office or will we be able to say sic semper tyrannus sooner by impeaching him now?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The enemy in Washington


No, he hasn't died for your sins and he's not going to, but he will lose his freedom, his job, his reputation and probably his career because of our sins and his choice to put conscience above loyalty to George W. Bush; his choice to honor his oath to uphold and protect the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and in the White House.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz, a lawyer for the US Navy, will spend 6 months in prison for having mailed a list of names of 550 men held in secret without the right to council and without the right to know the charges against them to a civil rights lawyer in New York. He claims it was a stupid mistake and it was. He should have been more careful.
"My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States," Diaz said. "I'm not a criminal."
Not in any moral way and since doing what George W. Bush is doing is not only immoral but illegal and Unconstitutional, I will not call him one. Instead I will call him a patriot and a courageous one at that.
"I made a stupid decision, I know, but I felt it was the right decision, the moral decision, the decision that was required by international law," Said Diaz to The Dallas Morning News. "No matter how the conflict was identified, we were to treat them in accordance with Geneva, and it just wasn't being done. I think a good case could be made for allegations of war crimes, policies that were war crimes," he said. "There was a way to do this properly, and we're not doing it properly."
Diaz disputes the administrations obvious lie that we do not torture and he disputes the statement that the prisoners are "the worst of the worst." It has been said that up to 80% have already been cleared of any charge even after years of torture and yet they remain, illegally denied due process and denied access to council despite the Constitution and despite a Supreme Court decision affirming their right to challenge their imprisonment. Because George W. Bush and his ironically named Department of Justice are refusing to say who is in those cages, no lawyer can represent them or defend them.

No, Diaz will not die for your sins or because of them, but you and I are guilty and will remain so until we terminate the evil that has taken our ideals and our long struggle for justice and trampled them, mocked them and defiled them. Are we men? Are we citizens of a democratic republic? Well then, what are we doing when we tolerate this alien invader and his henchmen dragging us inexorably toward being just another evil dictatorship?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dead at last

I'm not always a fan of Christopher Hitchens although I'd never deny his intelligence, but he and I see eye to eye regarding the late Jerry Fallwell. Dead at last, good God almighty, dead at last.

I don't have the time and patience to expatiate on the offenses of the "reverend" Fallwell but it's something that needs to be done and done often, lest we forget that this Bible thumping bigot and hate monger thrived on our our reluctance to turn an honest and critical eye on anyone calling himself Reverend; our forbearance when it comes to perceiving and punishing the evil of religious leaders, annointed, ordained or self-appointed, be they Mullah or Pastor, Reverend or Rabbi, Priest or Pundit.

Hitchens' erudite excoriation of Fallwell and his profession on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 expresses my sentiments admirably, if more politely than I would do. Perhaps you've seen it, but even so it's worth seeing again.

Cross posted at The Reaction

I like Mike

I guess Gravel doesn't think he has a chance either. That's what allows him to be honest about his views. That's what makes him such an appealing candidate. Bush should go to jail, the Government should stop criminalizing drug use, Citizens should be allowed more direct control over many government decisions, Savings should be encouraged over unrestrained consumption - what could he be thinking when he talks like that? The sleaze machine will bury him; turn everything he says into a parody of what he means.

Mike Gravel sounds too much like the right thing to do and too little like the hollow, sloganeering ideologues we habitually vote for and we probably all know it. We never, of course, do the right thing; not when flags are waving, enemies are all around us and drums are banging. We want the comfort of being pandered to with the same old familiar slogans. He doesn't have a chance against someone charismatic, presidential, well groomed, folksy, thoroughly incompetent and probably dangerous.

Too bad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Death, how high is thy center of gravity.

Death, it's a good thing. Without it we wouldn't exist and without it, all the evil bastards from time immemorial would still be here, polluting the world. As sad as it is that we have to leave and face oblivion, it's comforting that Jerry Fallwell didn't fare any better for all his pious pretensions.

I have long tried never to gloat over the demise of anyone but being human I feel worse about some than others, like the 19 year old girl who died yesterday near here when she took a corner too fast in her SUV. Doubtless her parents thought they were doing the right thing. I don't know whose corpse it was that I saw on Mother's day, being loaded into an ambulance parked next to the wreckage of another SUV rollover on Florida's turnpike. Evidently it was an overly aggressive lane change.

The local paper says nobody knows why another SUV rolled over the following day on Route 95. No other cars were involved and the driver, being in a coma, can't help us. At least now we don't have to listen to Jerry tell us it was God's wrath against the tolerant and merciful. We only have the advertising industry, pop culture and the gullibility of the motoring public to blame.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Things that go bump in the night.

No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey teacher leave them kids alone

-Pink Floyd: Another brick in the wall -

What's scarier than a madman with a gun running into a school? The reaction of the American public. Beyond the knee-jerk reaction from the paranoids, the idiots that think banning things make them go away, the mourning and healing addicts and the Police State advocates, there is no end of well-intentioned but horrible acts.

Take the Morons of Murphreesboro, for instance. With the misguided self confidence of someone with a degree in education and little else, the staff at a Tennessee elementary school decided that the kids had to be more prepared for an invasion and staged a fake incident during a field trip. The kids were told they were under attack and cowered under tables in the dark, begging for mercy while an accomplice wearing a hood shook and rattled the door, trying to get in.

Ghost stories around a campfire are one thing; this is another. Parents were understandably outraged and perhaps something will be done with these State appointed guardians of our youth. I would suggest a raid on the teacher's lounge by heavily armed parents during which the perpetrators would be blindfolded and put up against a wall to see how many would soil themselves before being told it was all a game.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's worse than that.

When I reported yesterday that Charges against Ann Coulter had been dropped despite the iron-clad case for voter fraud after a timely call from the FBI, I expected that the farce was at an end. Then came this report on Brad Blog exposing the nefarious activities of the Beast and her goon squad and the most infuriating revelation of all: that the FBI agent who bullied the Palm Beach County authorities into dropping the case was a former "boyfriend."

How long will it be before we realize that the Mafia is no more than a bunch of pickpockets when compared with the group that has taken over our country? This ultra-criminal group of families isn't just infiltrated into a few legitimate businesses, but is in fact the government. Coulter is a made woman in the supersyndicate and she will be protected until we have the courage to jail the lot of them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coulter laughs at the law again

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

-
Aleister Crowley-

Well, at least if you're a member of the club.
How many felons have actually received that phone call at the last minute; the governor deciding to pardon them or commute their sentence? Probably not many, but then your average felon isn't a member of the race of lizards posing as humans who have taken over the government of the United States.

I have to admit I've been waiting and hoping for the axe to fall on Ann Coulter. Registering to vote using a false address is after all, punishable with jail time and in the state of Florida, so concerned with keeping even ex-felons out of the voting booth, you'd think the letter of the law would be paid attention to. You'd think that a case of voter fraud, with the evidence right there in the ledger books, with the testimony of the poll worker who went on record saying he caught her committing a felony, would at least merit an investigation, but no. After half a year of inquiries being stonewalled by Coulter's lawyer, the allegations have gone away, not because of lack of evidence, but because, as I read in the Palm Beach Post of an unsolicited phone call from the FBI. Supervisory Special Agent Jim Fitzgerald, of the FBI Academy's Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Va. seems simply to have told the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections to drop it. They did.

Her excuse, at least the one provided for her, was that she feared using her real address because she was afraid of a stalker. The alleged stalker, arch-
conservative Christian, rabid anti-Coulter blogger Dan Borchers of coulterwatch.com was interviewed by the FBI nine years ago and was told, he says, to be careful with Coulter since "She hollers stalker at anybody who opposes her." Seems oddly hilarious for someone who not only has made a career of libellous vilification of public figures, but has called for the public to harm them.

Perhaps the strategy now, with the GOP backed into a corner and exposed as the pack of lying, thieving, power mad megalomaniacs they are, is simply to so overload us with outrageous acts that we're simply unable to oppose them, at least until the clock runs out on the Bush team. All we really can do for now is what the truly religious do: suffer quietly and hope for a day of reckoning.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dobbs' last stand

At first glance I agreed with Lou Dobbs' commentary on CNN.COM this morning: A Call to the Faithful. He's been ringing the Separation of Church and State bell, proclaiming that the constitutional wall is being breached. Of course I agree that our administration has been promoting their sectarian doctrines over the constitution they are sworn to defend, but Lou's bell sounds a bit tinny and the reader soon recognizes that his real concern is that too many Christian leaders are talking about some form of amnesty or path to legal status for some or all illegal aliens. By insisting that Churches shouldn't take a stand on the question of aliens and their treatment, he's insisting that the subject of how we treat our fellow men is not the province of religion. It's not that Dobbs is a solipsist and I suspect he's not really a complete secularist either. He can see the difference between a President preaching and a preacher preaching. He just doesn't care. He's just making a stand.

I don't know what religion is about other than power and money if it's stripped of any concerns for human welfare and made unable to promote kindness, mercy or compassion. I don't know what kind of religious values Dobbs might be in favor of in that he quotes Paul's Letter to the Romans:
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."
instead of promoting any particular teaching of Jesus. It's hard to understand why Dobbs is furious at Cardinal Mahoney telling his flock that:
"Anything that tears down one group of people or one person, anything that is a negative in our community, disqualifies us from being part of the eternal city."
It sounds suspiciously like a Christian sentiment, if not equally Jewish and Muslim. It sounds like some of the clergy is taking time out from gay bashing and trying to confound science and is instead promoting what Jesus taught rather than what the Roman Paul taught to the Greco-Roman pagans.

It sounds like Dobbs is steamrolling the separation he claims to support if after all, the US government is established by God and must not be opposed. The only supposition that makes Dobbs' tirade coherent is that he just doesn't care about logical consistency or human values as long as we can quickly and ruthlessly expel anyone who entered illegally or overstayed their visa. He's waxed nearly hysterical trying to show that we are all at risk of leprosy and other horrible things because of the "Brown Peril" overrunning our borders. Dobbs explains to us that there is a growing schism between leaders who call for decency and compassion and parishioners who just want the filthy, disease ridden, dope smoking, lascivious Mexicans to go away. Someone needs to explain to him that his "argument" was used to support slavery and trash abolitionists - even though he knows it.

As a rule, I suspect someone of racism when they persist in depicting people as groups and resist looking at the indecencies and inhumanities their policies will inflict on individuals. I think that fits Dobbs like a white hooded robe. Nativism, xenophobia and garden variety racism have been and continue to be as American as the 4th of July. The screams about protecting our borders are not a bit different than what the Immigration Restriction League was howling a hundred years ago; no different than the repugnant phobias against the Irish, the Yellow Peril hysteria that resulted in the Exclusion Act and expulsion of American Citizens of Chinese descent, the arrest and incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent and all the horrors and race riots of the Jim Crow era. The same rhetoric of disease, drugs, corruption of values, traditions, language, ethnic purity and the loss of jobs that was wrong then is wrong now and although I have been on Lou Dobbs' side when he had the guts to question the Bush administration and its lies, I am not on his side now and will not be until he begins to separate the perceived need to control the borders from his need to dehumanize and demonize a group of people. Some people may deserve a legal path to citizenship, others may not. It's not beyond comprehension that we may be able to accommodate both without resort to brutality, that we may be able to treat people as we would be treated - at least not for me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Over there.

These guys didn't follow us home, they were here all the time. Four from Europe, one Turk and one Jordanian planned to start a shootout at Fort Dix, if today's story proves to be true. We may be fighting them over there, but there is not one reason in the world for that to matter to anyone who wants to start something over here, because the "them" the Administration talks about is a worldwide religion whose looniest and most furious members are everywhere; whose ranks have been swelled and courage bolstered by the fact that even our military strength isn't enough to stop their movement. Their movement isn't al Qaeda and it isn't based anywhere in particular and we can't pretend any longer that we're defending America by occupying Iraq.

It took good old fashioned police work to stop them, not a regime change in some foreign country or a missile attack and the same thing could have stopped the 9/11 attacks had the Bush administration been awake and willing to listen to the warnings.

When it came to light just how badly the Israeli government bungled their invasion of Lebanon and when their own investigations revealed systematic torture and abuse, they filled the streets with protest and demands for Olmert's resignation. What the hell are we doing?

Another roadside attraction


I remember stopping in Greensburg, Kansas in the late 90's on my way to the Southwest. Even though I was becoming annoyed at the impossibility of finding the required 93 octane for my Doug Rippie built LT-1 engine anywhere west of the Mississippi and running behind schedule, it seemed an irresistible chance to see the America of "stuck in the 30's" Midwestern towns and roadside attractions I just missed growing up in. I wasn't disappointed.

Greensburg is possessed of more than "The Big Well" for which I had been seeing signs on billboards and barns and water towers; it had and presumably still has, buried somewhere in the rubble, a 1000 pound pallasite meteorite, "the largest of its kind yet discovered" in a museum right next to the disturbingly deep and wide hand dug well boring over 100 feet deep into the Kansas soil like an inverted silo: a testament to 19th century American ingenuity.

Even though it was at the height of the Clintonhate Ecstasy sweeping America like one of the world's great religious conversions and any conversation about our sweet land of liberty with a local would have ended poorly, I moved on toward Dodge City, along a road in one place lined with cartoons of welded steel commemorating "Janet Reno, the fire bitch from hell" with a sense of nostalgia toward a place of classic soda fountains and hot summer afternoons, where people could still look awe-struck at a giant hole in the ground.

Who knows if 6 years of bungling, scandalous kleptomania in Washington has changed people in Kansas, but the tornado has changed that town forever. Something will be rebuilt, but it will never be the same, nor will our country, once the F5 administration whirls away into infamy.

Alas, Greensburg; we will never understand each other but I am diminished by your loss.

Monday, May 07, 2007

For are we not men?

The Guardian and other British newspapers have long been less sympathetic to Israel's actions and perhaps to Israel itself than their American counterparts. Sometimes they may be right. The use of torture is illegal in Israel, just as it is in the US, technically speaking, but both countries have loopholes in the law or have simply ignored its authority.

The Center for the Defense of the Individual and B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has released a report, according to The Guardian, which asserts that Palestinian prisoners have been subjected to starvation, interminable and severe interrogations, sleep deprivation and more and that half of them had been beaten by the military before being handed over to Shin Bet.

According to the Gonzales/Bush definition of torture, they were probably handled humanely by virtue of having survived and there's the problem. The US can hardly lecture about morality and rule of law to Israel and that leaves only the Israelis themselves to protest and perhaps to do something about it. Now that people are out in the street demanding Olmert's resignation, perhaps there's a glimmer of hope that the incompetents and the religious right and the morally "creative" will effectively opposed in Israel. In the US we may have to wait until 2008.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dobbs, Hobbes and snobs

Don't try to make too much sense of that - I just can't resist a rhyme.

But speaking of nonsense, ever notice that Lou Dobbs never mentions the world's most populous country without the epithet Communist? I suppose one might, if one were of the right political persuasion, call the island of Taiwan by the name Republic of China, but when we talk about China, we usually think of the big one, the one that owns enough of our debt that we're afraid to do much more than make useless gestures of disapproval, like Lou Dobbs does.

At this point in our history, it really isn't necessary or necessarily accurate to call it Red China or Communist china any more than it's useful to say Socialist Sweden, Capitalist Mexico, Royalist Saudi Arabia, Dictatorial Pakistan or Theocratic Vatican City. It's a gratuitous pejorative when used to describe a still totalitarian country tripping over it's own shoelaces in its haste to get rid of government ownership of the means of production and become capitalist.

Lou seems happy to find an external scapegoat, as indeed many are, now that we don't have the Soviet union to kick around any more. China bashing is a popular sport with left and right and with Dobbs and since the label Communist still has a lot of punch to it and isn't going to be around forever, he's happy to use it while he can. To be sure, there have been enough recent incidents with tainted cat food and plastics that contain enough lead to make us worry about our children, coming from China and now with ethylene glycol being sold as pharmaceutical grade glycerin and poisoning people, we can't ignore the safety of our imports. It's hard to see however that Communism has anything to do with greedy, unscrupulous capitalists and unregulated free markets in China. It seems to me, in fact, that what we are seeing are the results of massive deregulation of a magnitude that would make Ronald Reagan weep with joy. What we are seeing is a need for regulation and inspection in our country whether or not it annoys big corporations like Wal-Mart.

The notion that free markets are self regulating and that unregulated industry will automatically, as if by an invisible hand, steer toward the public good has done a lot of damage in the US and the lack of adequate inspection of imported food and pharmaceutical substances is an example. China is expanding its free market economy so rapidly that the ability to control corruption and greed has not caught up. The US is not experiencing the growth, yet is still under the sway of the Great Deregulator's voodoo; still being led by people who think inspecting food is kind of pinko and inspecting incoming freight will cut into profits.

And while I'm picking on Lou, I have to mention his tirade about the Martin Luther King Memorial using a Chinese sculptor to supply a statue of Dr. King. It's a bit amusing to watch people like Tucker Carlson and Dobbs howling about how it should be made by a "Black" artist so that the world could see what King stood for. No amount of reminding that he seems to have stood for the idea that race shouldn't be a factor in judging a man or employing him, seems to sway the opinions of these wealthy white men about what black people should do. 90% of the hundred million it will take to build the memorial is private money, and it will be built of American stone by American workers. The statue is one small part of the whole. Using interviews of people on the street, CNN launched into a crusade to make it seem as though there was public outrage. What the effort revealed is that the public either doesn't care - and in some instances thought the monument was to be built in China - or lacks the background to have a worthwhile opinion. Seems to me that Tucker and Lou who don't see the irony in their lecturing the "colored folk" about how to memorialize Dr. King, aren't far behind.

As to whether American monuments need to be constructed 100% of American materials, designed by Americans and built by Americans for the benefit of Americans, I have one answer: The Statue of Liberty. And regarding the nativist crappola about building anything in Washington DC, don't forget the Frenchman, Pierre L'Enfant, who designed it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Liberal Media

Four years ago, in a galaxy far, far too close for comfort. . .

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week"
  • Bill O'Reilly 1/29/03

What about your tongue on toast - medium rare?

"There is a certain amount of pop-psychology in America that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni. . . There's almost no evidence for that at all."
  • Bill Kristol 4/1/03

At least none that you can see with your head up Bush's ass, Billy.

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the Chemical weapons this guy was amassing. . . the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
  • Dick Morris 4/9/03

Yeah, let me know when I can start, Dick.


"The war was the hard part. . . and it gets easier, I mean, setting up a Democracy is hard, but not as hard as winning a war."
  • Fred Barnes 4/10/03

Yep, any day now, Fred.

"The three week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptic's complaints."
  • Tony Snow 4/13/03

Credibility always was your strong suit.

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are the upper West Side Liberals and a few people here in Washington"
  • Charles Krauthammer 4/19/03

Is that straight jacket too tight, Chuckie?

"Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger. . . the women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. . we're not like the Brits"
  • Chris Matthews 5/1/03

no, it's more like we're from the Planet of the Apes.

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back"
  • Howard Fineman 5/7/03

Just which country are we talking about here Howie?.

"American forces are being love-bombed by Baghdadis on a daily basis. . .Everywhere they go, Americans are being cheered and thanked profusely"
  • Mona Charen 5/9/03

Say, is that a bomb in that guy's pocket or is he just happy to see me?

"There is a lot of work left to do but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far. . . The final word on this is hooray"
  • Morton Kondrake 4/12/03

How would you like those words served Morty? Deep-fried or maybe just shoved up your ass?

"It's amazing that more than two weeks into the liberation of Iraq. . . the Anti-War crowd is still spinning a doomsday scenario."
  • Brendan Miniter 4/8/03

Still spinning And isn't that amazing, as the guy at Ronco used to say? Good thing we've got people like you to tell it like it is.

Do I really have to add anything to this? How long did it take for us to forget that Bush insisted that going to war without a concrete timetable for exit was unforgivable and how soon did he and we start blaming "Liberals" for the same sentiment? Fool me twice and shame on me - fool me forever and I'm a conservative.

More of the same McCain

Well if Commander Guy's new definition of victory in Iraq can be boiled down to producing an acceptable level of violence, it's going to be hard to understand what Johnny Jingo McCain's definition of "surrender" might be. After all, by Bush's lights we must have won in Viet Nam since the violence is gone. By the same token we must have won in Korea, even though the nobody surrendered or declared victory and the "enemy" we defeated is building nukes.

Really the attempt to force our Iraq experience into a metaphorical framework based on Napoleonic warfare where lines of soldiers clashed together without such dubious battles as we have in the streets and markets, schools and living rooms of Baghdad is become comical and Procrustean. When McCain spoke of surrender and defeat and battlefields last night, it was obvious that he was debating about the war he wished he had rather than the gang fights, murders, ethnic cleansing, sabotage and chaos he and his party insist we need to "win."

All the flag waving and drum beating; all the slogan shouting and appeals to bravery, honor and glory won't make this ill conceived shambles into the Manichean struggle he wants it to seem nor will the lies upon which it is based and the deranged incompetence with which it has been conducted be buried by the cries of cowardice.

Whether or not we are forced by circumstances to remain in Iraq, the people and the party whose atrocity this is are not to be trusted with our future and by siding with the criminals who started it, using their rhetoric and misrepresentations to glorify and continue it, McCain puts himself beyond consideration as a candidate.

If McCain had confined himself to nebulous dreams of victory, conquest and glory, it would have been bad enough, but to baptize his infant campaign in the font of Reaganite phony water shows that beyond being besotted with the martial spirit, he's as removed from reality and honesty as the babbling idiot he hopes to make his predecessor.
"They looked in Ronald Reagan's eyes, and in two minutes, they released the hostages,"
he said, forgetting that "cut and run" Ronald's hands had just given them missiles. Meanwhile back in Iraq, tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of our troops are being killed by bullets and bombs while he slings the bullshit. This ideologue, this fabulist, this sloganeer, this ambitious liar and panderer McCain must never be allowed to be president.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Soft landing?

It seems perhaps that there really were whores involved in the Don Imus implosion and that they didn't play basketball. An interesting extraction from Imus' contract with CBS posted on the Anderson Cooper 360° blog today shows that the network did more than tolerate the abrasive and outrageous commentary, they encouraged him to step over the line.

"Company [CBS Radio] acknowledges its familiarity with the program Conducted by Artist [Imus] on the station [WFAN] prior to company's ownership thereof and it, and its familiarity with the reviews and comments, both favorable and unfavorable concerning Artist and his material by critics, reviewers and writers of the various media both in New York and nationally. Company acknowledges that Artist's services to be rendered hereunder are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial and personal character and that programs of the same general type and nature containing these components are desired by Company and are consistent with Company rules and policies."


Could be that Imus' fall will be cushioned by landing on the $40 million remaining due on the balance of his contract with CBS if his wrongful termination suit goes his way.

Mice and men

Of course Bush's reasons for having invaded Iraq have changed seamlessly from well before the first bomb was dropped, but so have his stated goals and his definition of "Victory." If he has any skill as a president, it's his ability to do this kind of thing without any fast eye blink or twitch that might signal his bluff. As to his self definition though, his technique is a little bit rougher, having moved from uniter-not-divider to warpresident to decider and now, with a childish little smirk that would have earned him an Oscar if he were playing poor retarded Lennie in Of Mice and Men telling us only he gets to take care of the rabbits -- he's the Commander Guy.

Sometimes I'm just speechless.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The times they aren't changin'

I'm getting a bit annoyed by Lou Dobbs' one man Crusade against illegal aliens. It's hardly on the top ten list of things that are making things worse in the US and it's not going to make rational or humane action any more likely.

Yes, it is possible that the allegedly massive influx from Central America and Mexico is holding down wages, and making it harder for citizens to find jobs, but that trope is one of the many assumptions he makes that seem as undocumented as the workers he rages against. I'd like to see some facts please.

I do know several local businessmen who have hired undocumented Guatemalan workers to mow lawns and paint houses. I do know they were praised as the hardest working, least problematic employees these business have had and it was hard, I'm told, to replace them at any price with anyone other than other immigrants when their papers turned out to be forged. If you think it's easy to find people to fix roofs in the Florida Summer, you're wrong. If you think you can find someone to do it faithfully and with a smile for twice the wages, you're very wrong.

I do not know that it has become harder for local citizens to find jobs doing such grueling things as cutting sugar cane, fixing roofs, cutting lawns, digging holes, washing dishes and the like. I do not know, nor has Dobbs really shown me that there is in fact any negative effect on the US economy and I have seen figures that suggest the opposite: that there is a net gain. We have nothing but his undocumented word that Mexicans are pushing "real" Americans out of fields like scraping plates and cleaning grease traps. We do have evidence that much of what lower income people can afford to buy or to eat wouldn't be so affordable if we were quite so scrupulous and legal minded as Mr. Dobbs would have it. We do have solid evidence that engineering, technical, manufacturing, customer service, secretarial, software development and executive jobs are being legally exported in increasing numbers and that this hurts us much more than does the lack of potato frying technicians born in the USA.

In his article for CNN.COM today, Dobbs stresses the fact that May first is Law Day and seems to be arguing that the sheer illegality of working in the US without a visa makes it something to go to war about, but to judge by what I see every day on the highway, legality and illegality are not questions that excite Americans unless there is some other agenda - like bigotry. I'm simply not offended that someone waves a Mexican flag, as so many Dobbsians seem to be. I'm far more offended at people who dress like leprechauns and drive drunk on March 17th and mostly puzzled by those who wear "Kiss me, I'm Polish" T-shirts and pretend to ethnicity when they are 5th generation Americans who don't know where Poland is. The screams of "Illegal - illegal" simply don't move me as much as does the lawless government we're subject to.

Dobbs also mentions that of course, May 1 is the international Labor Day as though an argument for opening or providing a path to citizenship for those who live, work and have families here had anything whatever to do with socialism or Communism. Are we just playing Pin the Sin on the Mexicans here?

Dobbs, of course didn't comment on the video I've seen of Darth Vader clones beating hell out of Mexicans that reminded me so much of what I saw all the time during the 1960's. Of course there is much else to remind us of that period, including the blind hatred stirred up by patriotic warmongers and haters of freedom. What differs the most is that once we thought we were fighting successfully against what we now have become. If the times have changed at all, they've changed for the worse.