Monday, March 31, 2008

All Fools Day

Perhaps it's fitting that my post number one thousand should appear on April Fool's day. This never was intended to be a political blog, but our "interesting" times have politicized every thing and every thought and have often dictated what I write about. But since it's the kind of day when you can say any ridiculous thing and nobody will really know if you're joking, revealing your true thoughts or actually raving, I thought maybe it might be time for some predictions. After all, if they are way off the mark, I can just pass it off as a joke. If they're right on, why then I'm a genius.

  • Some time before this year is out, Cheney will have his attack on Iran; with or without some manufactured provocation.
  • John McCain will be sold as the only option for a nation that needs another "warpresident" and will just barely slither into office.
  • Massive inflation will begin while the economy continues it's "rough patch."
  • Our civil rights will continue to erode and nothing will be done because everyone is afraid of the results of being investigated.
  • Things will blow up just often enough to keep us aware of how much we need the Republicans.
  • Those who remember the gas station lines of 1972 will experience deja vu

Throw da bum out!

Yes sir, Baseball fans are a loony, Irrational, Bush Hating, Liberal fringe element buncha lefty, commie, pinko America haters who choose to ignore the wonderful things Bush has brought to our wonderful world. It warms my heart to see it confirmed. You may have seen the clip already, but see it again. It may bring some cheer to your Monday Morning.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lights out

There's nothing wrong with the urge to do good, but most often the urge is expressed with romantic, meaningless and even counter-productive gesture. Perhaps "Earth Hour" is one of them. Switching off the electricity for an hour would indeed have some kind of a psychological attraction to those who think technology has done us a mean trick by allowing us to have a more pleasant evening environment than possible whilst squatting around a fire, swatting mosquitoes and worrying about malaria, but I'm sure an hour after Earth Hour, the twin Sub-Zero refrigerators will be back on, along with the pool heater and the air conditioning and the climate control in the wine cellar every house in Beverly Hills is possessed of. I'm sure more kilowatt hours are involved in spreading the word than will be saved by switching to candles made from petroleum based, paraffin wax.

Sure, I could have switched off last night; lit some kerosene mantle lamps and indulged in some battery powered music, but to what purpose? Living in a hurricane zone and being an emergency communications specialist, I'm well equipped for temporary self sufficiency. A home lit by fire however, is far less efficient and far more polluting than one blessed by Edison's genius and the pollution and energy consumption involved with producing and disposing of batteries is far worse than what comes off the grid. It's all a bit like wearing ribbons and going on walks for AIDS or breast cancer. It gets people talking and socializing and feeling like philanthropists, but doesn't really involve them in doing anything constructive. Worst of all it allows those who really are vested in raping the planet to dismiss us as hippies, tree huggers, wearers of sandals and with other meaningless categories. Isn't it a bit like getting stoned and painting your face like a color blind Apache and thinking that's going to bring on a new age of peace and harmony?

Is it really that the benefit of having good light after the sun has gone down has made our atmosphere unstable or is it that there are far too many of us? Is it a grand gesture to do without an hour's light while so much of the world lives in abject poverty and filth and darkness, or is it hypocrisy? It's really only the relatively affluent who do these things for an hour before running the jacuzzi, turning on the 52" TV and cranking the AC down to 70 anyway. Isn't it a sad fact that if two thirds of the world had a third of our comforts, the planet's ecology might collapse?

And who knows what people will really do when the lights are out? We had a mini baby boom here after the storms of 2004-2005 and that gets to the root of the problem - there are so many of us that we may have to keep the larger part in poverty so that the smaller part doesn't have to go to sleep when the sun goes down, gets to eat strawberries in February, can travel at will and is never out of sight of a Starbucks. It isn't technology with it's hand around our throat, it's your kids, their kids and their kids' kids. It isn't technology that makes us give in to the urge to breed like rabbits and it isn't sanity that makes us interfere in other peoples efforts to keep the population under control. It's religion, it's greed and sometimes it's even fear of a socialism free future where society won't take care of us making us think we need to have 18 children.

If there's anything I have faith in though, it's that circumstances will continue to rule us rather than the other way around. It's partly because we aren't quite smart enough or rational enough, but it's partly because we indulge in fatuous displays rather than making hard decisions.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Empire retires?

There's a new kind of darkness come to the Sunshine State. Karl Rove, whose bald pate is sometimes described as looking like a shaved testicle, has bought himself a house in a small development on the gulf coast in the western half of the Florida panhandle. You may have a hard time finding it on the map. It's quite a way from any place with a name you might recognize; the kind of place that gets hurt really, really bad by the hurricanes that scream through now and then. The mangroves and the vegetation that used to protect the dunes are now gone to be replaced by condos and beach houses and the country types who used to inhabit the area have been replaced by more economically upscale and in this case at least, a morally bankrupt politician.

I could imagine all sorts of reasons that Karl would choose to spend at least part of his time in a remote area, even if locals aren't particularly likely to admire him any more than I do, but it seems to interest Raw Story to a degree I find amusing. The stereotype of the typical "liberal" often is someone of limited means with a jealous grudge against those with less limited means. It's not true, but of course one will find examples.

The story focuses on how large and expensive is his abode as though to provide a very unneeded reason to dislike Rove. It has to make a Floridian smile. Perhaps to a rust belt city dweller a 2500 square foot house is big and a million dollars for a seaside property is expensive, but Welcome to Florida. Even in the midst of a real estate slump a 50,000 square foot house was completed last month, just a few miles up the coast from me. A big chunk of the people who live here don't need mortgages and a million buys a rather average house if it's within sight of the water. Did anyone think a high level king maker like Rove couldn't afford it - regardless of his party affiliation? I'm actually surprised at how modest it is compared to the palatial Rush Limbaugh seaside estate in Palm Beach.

The real surprise though, is that the real base of the Republican party, and I don't mean the money people, the influential people, but the guy whose house has wheels, the small businessman resentful of taxes, the retired military lovers of authority who always vote Republican, the Religious right; that such people support Rove and Rumsfeld and Bush and Cheney even now is what amazes me. That they think the Party represents them, is on their side and is lead by struggling people just like them, is beyond understanding. But let's not do so much to further the false image of Democrats that serves the Republicans so well. Let's not make demons of anyone with money when it's those who get rich by lying, cheating and stealing; those who use economic power to subvert politics to nefarious ends who are our opponents. Karl Rove isn't evil because he made a few bucks, but because he made it the way he did.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Never Never land

Should I believe Glenn Beck? I'll forget for the moment that cynical and baseless hyperbole seems to surround him like that elusive halo of dark matter some cosmologists are talking about and assume he didn't just make up the figure of $53 trillion he tells us is "the approximate size of this country's bill for the Social Security and Medicare promises we've made." Beck compares this debt to an asteroid on a collision course with America and if it were an asteroid being ignored by the government, says he, the public would "be sharpening our pitchforks and demanding answers."

Fair enough, but I also want some answers first before I become another empty skulled dittohead ready to declare open season on Democrats. Sure I would like to know how and where he got the number, but I would like to know what would happen if medicare and Social Security simply went away. I would like to know how much money would be spent on providing retirement income and medical care if we went back to the days of widespread poverty and disease and an imperilled "surplus population." Surely medical insurance and annuities and personal savings would still exist, but they would not be free, they would simply come from the pockets of those who could afford them and in many cases they would be more expensive because private, for profit providers would extract a much larger fraction than would a government agency. Such things as retirement and health would become more of a luxury, but they would be paid for by those who could pay for them. Wouldn't that cost suddenly become larger?

When he says the bill is $53 trillion, is that a gross cost that ignores that this money is supporting the health care industry and those who work in it? Doesn't all that spending help the economy and why isn't he factoring that in? What about the cost of having some 20, 30 or 40% of out population in poverty and disease - do we let them die, turn to crime or do we support them, police them, jail them and house them anyway and at a higher cost? I'd like to know how the apocalyptic Republican prediction of bankruptcy would be affected by changing retirement ages, applying means tests or other things before I suck up any more slop from your trough.

What would Beck answer if I could ask him how much more a private annuity would cost than a publicly administered one? How much more would private medical insurance cost? I would guess it would be more, and if the 53 trillion number is real, it's lower than it would be if all that stuff had to be obtained from a profit oriented vendor. Medical care is going to be paid for and is going to cost money - the question is whether a public or private conduit is less expensive and more equitable; the question is whether we force people into a minimum level of planning or let them be a burden at a higher cost later. Maybe I'm wrong, but without seeing that number, Beck has only a preamble to an argument rather than a case for privatizing the whole shebang.

Typically of such ad captium vulgis arguments, even when they are complete arguments and not mere cage rattling, what's for sale is a Utopian image of governmental minimalism that has never proved itself in the real world. Most modern countries after all, provide social services out of tax revenue and are far less burdened by the correlates of poverty, like crime. Sure, it's tempting to imagine how well we could live if we paid hardly any taxes, just as it's tempting to think how much cheaper it would be to drive a car with no insurance, but we require fiscal responsibility in that respect and we require it by mandatory payments to make us less of a burden on society if we get sick and when we get old. I don't see a difference

Why shouldn't I have to have insurance against complete financial disaster which would make me a burden on society when I can't work Mr. Beck? And why will this scary number destroy our country when it hasn't destroyed others? Aren't you just indulging in deceptive accounting? Aren't you all about letting people fantasize about a "screw you, I've got mine" world much like the one we struggled out of so many years ago? Aren't you really supporting yourself in style by being an enemy not only of America but of civilization in general? I mean, I'm just askin'.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Same old George

No, I don't mean George Orwell, although the two will forever be linked with antinomial rhetoric. I know the theme has been beaten to death, but Bush's reflexive promotion of bad news as good news simply won't let the comparison die. When he didn't send enough troops, that was a good thing and then when finally he did, that was a good thing and now that the all too brief and all too small down tick in violence seems to have lost the coat of whitewash - that's a good thing. "It's a positive moment" he said of the renewed fighting to The Times of London; just as it was positive that British troops had withdrawn previously. In fact every military debacle in recent years has been positive to this administration, including the horrible miscalculation that allowed the collapse of Iraq's infrastructure and the rise of an insurgency and the need for re-enforcements.

Reiterating his commitment to occupying Iraq until they become a willing client state and oil source, Commander Guy said he would not listen to "those who scream the loudest," which of course means those who question his fantasy. It's good to know that foolish consistency remains as unchanging as his mind.
“I understand people here want us to leave, regardless of the situation, but that will not happen so long as I’m Commander-In-Chief.”
How long has it been since we've had or even wanted leadership that recognized the sovereignty of "the people here" or recognized that the term "commander in Chief" refers only to command of the military and not to the nation?
"a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law"
says Bush despite the fact that Iraq isn't a sovereign nation and with the smug consciousness that we aren't either. If we were, we would be willing to take on elements we believe are beyond the law instead of gibbering like demented monkeys about Obama's preacher and how we just hat, hate, hate oh yes hate Hillary. If we were a sovereign nation and not the Kingdom of a God chosen ruler, we would have put the junta behind bars long ago.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Same old Dick

I'm rather tired of the false familiarity politicians sometimes use when trying to sound like one of the guys; as though they'd really rather be called Dick than Richard or even "Mr. Vice President" because power and status are uncomfortable to these log cabin born rail splitters with dung on their boots. I'm always happy to call our current VP Dick however, although the opportunity isn't likely to present itself unless we have another hurricane in my part of Florida this summer.

I was beginning to think for a while that Dick was in ill health or that George had sent him to his room so as not to embarrass the party, but he's back. He's back with the same old "go F*** yourself" attitude, the same old so what response to the will of the country he was elected to serve and the same old authoritarianism in conservative clothing. Like most mythological creations of religious organizations do, Dick speaks in parables and his latest and most overused parable seems to be tale of the democratically elected hero who knows much more and much better than does the peasantry about what needs to be done and so steps outside his job description and like a fat Napoleon, on to a white marble horse.

Gerald Ford, says Dick, exhibited the same sort of heroism in pardoning the other great Dick of American History that he and his administration did by fabricating a story requiring us to invade, demolish, pillage and occupy Iraq. Let's not be so formal as to call this sophistry, let's continue with the familiarity thing and call it a foul, stinking, crock of shit and worse: an effort to advance the cause of paternalistic, authoritarian and yes, imperial government. Of course no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of Americans and especially that of Republicans, but it shouldn't be too difficult to recognize that pardoning a cheap, chiseling, neurotic and alcoholic crook like Nixon could never have the same kind or degree of repercussions or involve the same kind of human and financial costs as did and does our occupation of Iraq.

But if anyone still needs help, arguing that because a president may sometimes have to temper the short term passions of the public, a ruthless dictator is ipso facto a good president, is a false argument of insidious intent. Get it?

Dick likes to pose as the long suffering victim of unintelligent and unappreciative liberal advocates of popular sovereignty whom time will eventually exonerate and promote. As you may recall, we were suffocated with similar sentiments concerning the other Dick and so far Nixon looks worse with every passing year and every transcribed tape. I'm afraid glory will escape Dick Cheney in his lifetime and in saecula saeculorum unless of course honest history fails along with our democracy and our republic.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

War on Easter, part II

Of course it there actually were a war on Christmas instead of a few store owners reluctant to offend people who aren't actually offended, there would be a war on Easter too. Certainly nobody is insisting that you mention Pesach also - or instead. These are holidays far more closely related however, than is Hannukah to Christmas and far more essential to Christianity which depends on a resurrection story. Nobody seems to be making a fuss out of calling Easter a Holiday either. They either celebrate it or ignore it.

But of course those with their agenda haven't given it up and we will, in nine months time be hearing the same lies, distortions, inventions and other hysterical denunciations of all who do not celebrate Christmas the way certain people insist they do. I'm no kind of a believer. I don't believe in Fertility rabbits or the eggs bizarrely associated with an ancient variation of Ishtar. I don't believe in belief as a road to knowledge or to anything else actually, but I'm the last one to make war on a pagan tradition providing me with discounted chocolate rabbits come Monday and just to prove it, I'll take the opportunity to say to the few who read this:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Could be

I guess the idea is to keep the lies coming so fast and furious that rebuttal is useless. I guess the idea is just to keep saying things, no matter how factually or logically untrue they might be so that the faithful will continue to have something to hold on to as the lies get shot down one by one.

Sure the administration has denied any connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein or that he had a nuclear weapons program or had chemical weapons factories and the means to deliver all that stuff to Festus Missouri in a suitcase, but they keep saying it anyway; they keep basing arguments on it and they keep getting people to believe their war was necessary.

The McClatchy website today quotes Bush as saying on a Radio Farda broadcast that Iran has "declared they want a nuclear weapon to destroy people" and that the Islamic Republic could be hiding a secret program. [italics mine] Of course they never actually declared any such thing and the phrase could be doesn't accompany the caveat that could be covers everything from the likely to the ludicrous. I could be the Easter Bunny. Saddam could have had invisible nuclear bomb factories and George Bush could be an honest man too.

"they've hidden programs in the past and they may be hiding one now. Who knows?" says Bush. The US has gone to war under false pretexts in the past and they may do it again, say I.

If George Bush had not turned the nuclear inspection program in Iraq into a passion play we would not have had this war and it could be that we could have contained Saddam quite well at a ten thousandth of the cost, which would have allowed him to continue to keep al Qaeda out of Iraq and us to concentrate on crippling the group that planned the 9/11 attack rather than the economy and our civil liberties. Could have - it's a fun game. You can do almost anything.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Impure thoughts

There are some subjects that have been made so taboo even to discuss, that the government has been free to define crime as it pleases and to use any means it can dream up to identify and prosecute people who for instance, abuse children by forcing them into sexual acts. Personally, I have a special kind of hate for people who abuse women and children, but I'm not terribly fond of the kind of crusader who loves fighting this kind of crime so much that they will expand the definition and flaunt not only law, but reason itself to fight it. There are those who argue that criminal intent without action or that conspiring to act upon it is not only a crime, but a crime of thought equally as deserving of all possible punishment as a criminal deed. The difference between a thought crime and a crime become blurred and inconsistent as a religious prohibition and we are not, need I remind us all, a nation where sin is legally equated with crime.

If the State put up a website with a link labeled click here to learn how to steal a car, would you be committing a crime by clicking on it - even if the link was non-functional? Now consider that the link was billed to give you access to child pornography. Now consider that clicking on it allowed the government to have your address; to go to that address and break into your home with guns drawn. Consider that it's being done and that the courts and the law have decided that intent to obtain illegal images is shown by clicking and that an attempt to view is equivalent to viewing and that viewing is equivalent to producing and that producing is abuse of a child.

Is this train of logic soritical? does offering something illegal entail illegal entrapment? Consider too, that you may not have been the one using your computer or indeed your ID and password that day. Consider too that when the swat team bursts through the door unannounced, the accidental shooting of anyone will be charged as murder against you. Consider that ultimately no child has been protected and no abuser of children has been identified much less prosecuted.

Yes, one could consider a random or involuntary click "probable cause" and there are laws equating a mouse click with an attempt to obtain illegal information, but I'm worried that we have cut another swath through laws that were intended to protect the innocent in order to satisfy the zeal of enforcers and the false zeal of politicians eager for one reason or another to appear to be saving the children from harm.

Is it too big a departure to imagine the police putting up a "speed limit 60" sign in a school zone and using it to arrest anyone who believed it? Perhaps it's not a perfect analogy, but perhaps we need to restrain the crusaders or at least constrain them to actions more consistent with justice and with the spirit and letter of our constitution.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Still full of it after all these years

I tuned into CNN just now to find the haggard face of George W. "commander guy" Bush stripped of it's sneering cockiness, but asserting that Iraq is where the US was just after our revolution. I turned it off. He's still full of it after all these years.

Iraq is not a country with a parliamentary history. It does not have a government founded on a concept of certain inherent and inalienable human rights or founded on the concept of the sovereignty of the people rather than obedience to the dictates of a God chosen leader. The infant United States was not a country laid waste, not a country where various religious and political sects were being blown apart by their rivals and most importantly our revolution freed us from an occupying imperial power; it didn't have its government and treaties and laws and business arangements dictated by an army of infidels.

Iraq isn't a self sufficient nation engaged in passionate debate among learned proponents of humanism. Jawad al Maliki isn't Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin or James Madison or anyone similar. Our nation in its infancy wasn't having it's resources syphoned off by corrupt warlords, it's leaders weren't being assasinated, it's churches weren't being blown to bits. In fact nothing in the present circumstances of Iraq has any similarity to the phantasmagoria we have been and are being given by George W. Bush and his familiars.

The strain of keeping up a the shifting series of phantasms, illusions and deceptive appearances, as created by the imagination of the Neo-cons has clearly begun to show. This is not the same man giving us that tired story. One can speculate that he isn't sleeping or that he's drinking again and both guesses may be right, but to me the real horror isn't seeing a crumbling, delusional president, but the idea that he may soon be replaced by one with the same disconnected convictions and freshly charged batteries.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where's the Baloney?

I used to travel fairly often and I always made it a point to learn some useful words and phrases when going somewhere where English or German weren't helpful. Where's the bathroom? How much is that? and too much! probably head my list of most used items. Of course the problem with such partial skills is that one can't always understand the answers.

When asking how much relative to the cost of our invasion and occupation of Iraq, the answers vary and the answers are as confusing as the dialects one encounters traveling in China. "It's only half a trillion or so" say those who wish to minimize it for purposes of maintaining some political attitude. Others like Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University public finance Professor Laura Bilmes may give you a much higher figure that adds perhaps 600 billion in interest payments, possibly another 300 billion to replace and repair the military infrastructure. In fact they give us a total of 3 trillion, which is far harder to sweep under the GDP - and of course the meter is still running. According to Zachary Coile at the San Francisco Chronicle, The White House has not disputed these numbers that show Bush's war so far is second only to WW II in cost making it the second most expensive war in the last hundred years - at least. That makes it ten times more expensive than WW I, 3/5ths of the cost of WW II and yet it has so far failed to eliminate the inchoate and disparate movement that killed 3000 Americans over 6 years ago.

Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor writes in their new book, The Three Trillion Dollar War
"The best way to think about it is: What could we have done with $3 trillion? What is the best way to spend the money, either for security or for our national needs in the long run? The stronger the American economy, the more prepared we are to meet any threat. If we weaken the American economy, we are less prepared."
With perhaps half our National Guard resources committed in Iraq, is our ability to deal with an other and larger terrorist attack less that it would otherwise have been? Can we really dismiss this kind of cost as a serious detriment to our economic future?

It's hard to think that this cost hasn't weakened us, it's painfully humorous to remember how the administration punished people for suggesting that it would cost as much as two to three hundred billion. Rumsfeld called it "baloney"

I guess English is still well enough understood in the US that I don't have to learn the phrase "where's the baloney?" In fact I don't have to ask the question, I know where it is already.

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Monday, March 17, 2008

crisis of confidence

It's already a day of records. It may get worse before the sun appears over the wall of jungle to the East of me. Gold went through $1030 in Hong Kong this morning and the collapse of Bear Stearns along with another cut in the discount rate has stocks falling worldwide. The DJIA is set to open down over 200 points and the Dollar has fallen to record levels against the Euro.

It's a "rough patch" indeed and the latest New York Manufacturing Index figures shows that we're not seeing a slowdown but an outright decline. Of course the official position seems to be that it's our fault because we aren't buying enough stuff and because we're not patriotic enough, we've lost confidence. Paulson seemed to be tripping over his tongue yesterday trying to use the word "confidence" in his interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. What is there to be confident in? Our leadership? Our impending exit from this crippling exercise in nation building? The end to profligate spending, borrowing and revenue reduction?

Sorry, with the media hyping every nuance of every syllable into a fierce and bloody battle; with the presumption of the pundits that another Republican with similar inflexible and dogmatic beliefs has an excellent chance of election, who can have the slightest confidence?

Yes, yes, some anonymous commenter will tell me it's all the Liberals and the Clintons and the war on Christmas and gay marriage and that the Democrats tax and spend and that I'm making things worse by talking down the economy. Take their advice, be confident. Go to Wal-mart and spend. Borrow some more money. Elect another puppet president. I've got mine and who cares about you anyway?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

War on Easter?

With Easter staring at us like the face of Mary from a used paper towel, I'm surprised at the dearth of miracles in the news. Of course there's still time. Then too, I'm more surprised that the nefarious Jews, Liberals and Secular Humanists haven't opened a second front with a War on Easter. Why, if they're hell bent on removing Jesus from the solstice wouldn't they be desperate to take him out of the Equinox? Is Mithras an ACLU contributer while Ishtar is not? It's hard to understand. Of course I never have seen as many department store rabbits as Santas but eggs still roll on the White House lawn even if the heads of the many transgressors haven't - as yet.

The papers haven't reported any rust stains that look like Jesus or potato chips or grease stained lunch bags with the face of his asexual mother lately; things that so often remind us that these figures are truly part of the fabric of the universe and not human fancy. Of course there's still time, and eBay regularly provides an income to those who find any U shaped marks on anything which can be interpreted as proof of their immanence. There's a steady market for such things and for those who don't want to pay miraculous event prices, there is a mold allowing you to produce toast with Jesus, his mother or other mythological figures for your breakfast enjoyment if not compliance with Biblical commandment. A little grape jelly and you get body and blood to go with your Easter egg.

Of course for those who love to see the sacred in the ridiculous - and who doesn't? - nature herself provides an endless supply; enough to feed fatuous faith in the followers of any nonsense one might construct. Behold the mighty duck who swims the endless lake so save us all from sin.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

we don't need no education

We dont need no education.
We dont need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teachers, leave those kids alone.

-Pink Floyd-

It's not always necessary to apply Reductio ad absurdum to a situation. Sometimes things start out at the level of absurdity. You may have read that Michael Sheridan, an eighth-grade honors student in New Haven Connecticut was suspended from school, barred from attending an honors dinner and summarily removed as class vice president. Dope? Weapons? peeking into the girls' locker room? No, he was hungry and bought some skittles from a classmate.

That's right, the school has a no-tolerance "wellness" policy; wellness being a euphemism for health which seems, well, so unhealthy and "no-tolerance" means for the most part, brainless. Who wants to introduce cogitation into the school system? that's just too liberal for America. The comfortable binary form of artificial intelligence that passes for thought in conservative utopias has brought us many examples of kids having had their educational prospects damaged because of aspirin or a nail clipper or items even more trivial. Of course some like to call this sort of thing "politically correct" in their politically correct fashion, or even "liberal" in their self contradictory manner, but I just call it bone headed conservatism. A restriction of rights is not liberal and a judgment as to whether something is allowed under one's political views is ipso facto, politically correct. That's why I avoid falling into the tar pit of those terms whenever I can.

Of course the news got out on CNN last night and the sheepish sheep in New Haven had to give the kid a reprieve, the excuse being ignorance of the commandment "thou shalt eat only what, when and where we tell you to." Lets not talk about no tolerance for ignorance please - my head hurts already.

Michael's "permanent record" will not reflect his sucrose abuse or his illicit candy deals and he will be free to go and not transgress the rules of "wellness" any further. As long as he keeps his boots shiny, pledges to worship god and the flag and avoid high fructose corn syrup, the ridiculous right wing school board of New Haven, Connecticut will allow him some portion of his civil rights and the people who truly love the idea of a country where we all obey the president and think no thoughts against the party and trust in a particular deity will be relieved and will continue to giggle about "liberals."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Bush is certainly right. The decision to create a false scenario to facilitate the killing of 600,000 innocent people, the exile of 4,000,000 people; the destruction of their homes, farms, factories, roads, schools, markets and even their museums and ancient ruins "will forever be" the right decision, but only in the minds of the stupid, the venal, the religious and the inhuman. A speech such as he gave to the annual National Religion Broadcasters convention yesterday would only be cheered by such people as have made the proliferation of lies and confusion their profession and the spread of human misery their quest.

And cheered it was. Larded with his usual references to "Freedom" and "values" the 42 minute harangue was well ballasted with references to God and how much he looks just like us. Indeed he does, since he is us, and as we are stupid, arrogant, violent and stuffed full of our own righteousness to the point of shock and awe, we know that God just loves George Bush and the smell of the blood and burning flesh, the pong of poverty, the stench of fear and hopelessness he has brought to Iraq. None of that will waft its way to George's gentleman's estate. There isn't even the smell of manure to disturb his sanctimonious leisure or soil his Lucchese boots. He will retire to a life of flags, libraries, ceremonies and lapel pins where the cries of orphans and the sight of the maimed are far away and in another country - enjoying their George given freedom.

If this were a different age, a man like Bush might commission statues of himself, looking confidently into the infinite future toward the far bank of the Nile. Such things adorn ancient ruins from Egypt to Babylon, the tyrants and torturers who made them turned to dust or shrivelled mummies. At any rate, I hope he is remembered nearly as long; remembered for what he has done, for his fatuous faith, for his dishonesty, for his contempt for truth and those who speak it.

I wish I had faith in the Devil. I wish I could believe in a hell, that I might dream that the stench of George Bush and his deeds "will forever be" filling its bottomless bowels.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Debt and more debt

The Dow is up more than 200 points this morning on the news that the Fed will use all those unsaleable packaged mortgages as collateral to lend even more money to ease the problems caused by too much bad debt. Make sense?

It's weakening the Yen, which helps many people who are already rich. Will it help the economy? I don't know of course, but the practice of increasing the money supply to bail out a sagging economy hasn't worked for the Japanese for over a decade even though they have been offering borrowers 0.5% interest for a long time.

What do I know, I'm a boat bum, not an economist, but I know that crude oil is up to nearly $108 a barrel and that many banks are still solvent only because Moody's and S&P are keeping some bond ratings artificially high.

But don't worry, be happy. The Government knows what it's doing and is here to help.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer the Spritzer

Ain't it always the way? If this isn't another case of preemptive antanagogy, I'm the Easter Bunny.
Eliot Spritzer who makes no bones, no pun intended, about how prostitution should be wiped out, gets caught patronizing hookers - at the taxpayer's expense. At least Clinton got his free. Read about it at The Reaction.

Maybe he can just blame it on the liberal Press.

Voice of God

The Goofy Blog isn't so goofy, but then the Values Voter Vermin it exposes really are, unless you think the term is a bit mild for the most wretchedly evil minded and hypocritical parasites that infest our great nation today. Tune in and listen to the Oklahoma State Representative tell us that the "word of God" says good people are bad people when they're gay and hear the representative of a 2000 year old indoctrination machine accuse our school system of being here only to indoctrinate students with such unchristian values as tolerance, kindness and love of our fellow humans.

I learned a new word today over at the strangely titled Unfrozen Caveman Rhetorician. It's called antanagogy. An antanagog turns an argument back on an attacker, the way Republicans accuse Democrats of spending too much or Satanic American fundamentalist Republican barbarians accuse people of persecution, of dogmatic indoctrination and of using hateful rhetoric. I'm grateful for the useful term, but my opinion of the Christianist, self-worshipping, hate filled enemies of freedom, justice and decency centers more around the hopelessness of the human condition as long as such people survive. The end of America, the end of civilization, the end of liberty will not come with flood or fire; not with a bang or whimper, but with a whining nasal voice praising God.

Alas, Rock

Remember the Dave Clark Five? If you don't, you can go away now, I'm writing this for your parents.

It's not that I was ever a fan. They were, in my opinion, there only so that some of the younger Rock & Roll generation could pretend that they weren't against anything so popular as the "British invasion" which consisted mainly of the Beatles. To my way of thinking, their soulless enthusiasm, like the roar of the satanic mills of Manchester or Birmingham it came from, was certainly as fulsome and puerile in its mechanical banging and screeching as any Beatles tune I had heard to date.

I couldn't stand either group actually, or their cheap simulacra of the already moribund American genre. It was like listening to some guys in white shoes and belts at the country club, drinking martinis and trying to sing the blues like Manse Lipscomb or Son House; like seeing your grandchildren loving it.

Rock & Roll was already here when Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard. Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins were making the tubes glow in my radio and making the Juke boxes boom in road houses on two lane highways all over the midwest. I think it began to die when the peg pants pretty boys from England's industrial North were making adolescent white girls scream in sports stadiums. All ancient history to most people, sure, but when the Rock & Roll Museum decides to install the DC5 along with Madonna, perhaps it's time to bring in Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack or simply close the doors.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lowering the bar

Now some of you may be thinking on this beautiful March afternoon; brilliant sun burning down through crystalline air; palm trees waving like tall women drying their long hair in the fresh sea breeze. Some of you may be asking yourselves on a day like this: just how stupid, vile and disgusting can a human being be? It's a hard question to answer in an election year and particularly this election year. That well is so dark and deep and foul smelling.

Iowa Representative Steve King, Republican of course, seems to have made an attempt to answer that question by declaring last Friday that
"The radical Islamists, the al-Qaida ... would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror,"
There's no point in asking how he defines victory, much less a "war on terror;" it wasn't meant to be a rational statement in the first place. He doesn't get any points for originality since we've been told that every Democratic candidate in my lifetime, at least, would have Stalin, Khrushchev, Ho Chi Min, inter Alia, screeching hallelujah like a Red State evangelist.

It's about his middle name, says King "because they read a meaning into that" and of course, if they didn't, King will be here to suggest that they do.

But no, King is just a snippy little mental midget. There are things more vile in the Republican depths than you might imagine. Take Ben Stein - please. Yes, the guy from the quiz show with Jimmy Kimmel; the guy with bit parts in the movies who wrote speeches for the slime-god Nixon. He's coming out with a movie next month called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Yes, it's about how science persecutes people who try to teach idiotic lies to your children because faith is more flavorful than honesty; less filling than facts.

Intelligent people of course think the jury is out on logic and mathematics, and most of all on the nearly inexhaustible proof that all life forms today evolved from ancient and simple life forms. That people like Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno and all those other heretics have been persecuting believers who only want the best for our children, is the kind of thing that comes from a deeper and darker and slimier part of the bottomless pit every stinking Republican parasite should be returned to as quickly as possible. I'm only saying that because I could get into trouble suggesting that they be smeared into paste by a red hot road roller.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Stimulus package - yeah, that's the ticket. You can almost hear Jon Lovitz deliver the line. A stimulus package will turn around all the years of fiscal misconduct and everything will be fine very soon. Yes, and we're "winning the war" too. Funny that this flies in the face of non-interventionist dogma; funny that if anyone else had suggested it, they'd be screaming epithets at Liberals. Of course you're all too young or were busy watching sports when this tripe was given us a generation ago and of course you want to believe it, so you will.

The The Fed moved today to add as much as $200 billion to the banking system this month to offset the credit crunch so that the borrowing can continue in the private sector so that we can borrow our way out of the mess borrowing got us into. That and of course, the gargantuan Bush administration borrowing to finance spending that is not particularly beneficial to our economy, but just because we're losing jobs, trading good jobs for subsistence jobs; just because the 9 trillion dollars owned by foreigners are being dumped on the market in favor of Yen and Euros and gold; just because so many people in my area who were living well a few years ago are now bagging groceries at Publix and living in trailers; just because nothing really promises to stem the wave of foreclosures or the rise of oil prices, doesn't mean we can use the R word, does it?

"There are indicators suggesting that growth will pick up and pick up quickly. So the question is how quickly will it pick up" said Edward Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers today. Did those indications come from the same kind of deep thinkers who predicted we'd be greeted with roses in the streets of Baghdad and who assured us that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical weapons and nukes ready to be bolted together like an erector set?

But hey - elect another Republigoon for all I care. I always wanted to live in a third world country anyway.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The persistence of stupidity

Hi kids! I'm Stanley, the Stagflation Stag. Remember only you can prevent Republican economic incompetence!

Two percent of all mortgages are currently in foreclosure. the number of mortgage borrowers who were over 30 days late on a payment in the last three months of 2007 is at its highest rate since the Reagan Renaissance. The trend is accelerating. Oil is $104 / barrel, the exchange rate for the dollar against the Euro is about $1.53 and the DJIA is flirting with 12000 today.

On the other hand, Bush is optimistic, the candidate the Republicans have chosen to replace him wants to increase spending, sustain military involvement and tax cutting, Financiers want to start packaging and selling car loans the way they did mortgages and Americans are calling anyone who objects stupid. We know we're "winning" the war though because the body count in Vietnam Iraq is better.

Yes, flag pins and religious pledges, the same old rhetoric about only dealing with the "enemy" from a position of strength, the same old crap about being there in the name of freedom the same old unaccountability, the same old damn-the-law Executive branch, the same old idiots blaming it all on the Liberals, the same old stupid, ignorant, irrational "conservatives."

Of course we won't know for a while yet. The media are too busy trying to lie with the appearance of "balance" to know how many people are stupid enough to put another Republican in office because Clinton wears pants or Obama doesn't wear a flag pin, but I'm not optimistic.

The sun is shining on this Florida morning, but these are dark days.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More of the same McCain part II

I have no idea whether Rush Limbaugh's "endorsement" of Hillary Clinton had any effect, but her quasi-comeback will ensure that the round the clock circus of opinions of opinions of polls and portents will continue to make it impossible to get any actual news from that big box in my living room. I've had TV since 1949 and I don't recall anything this obsessive.

At least the Republican nomination is no longer at issue. John McCain is set to receive the official endorsement today of the man who has endorsed more crooks, liars, con men and incompetents than any US President I know of. I expect Mr. Strait Talk to accept humbly and without the scathing denunciation no decent candidate could fail to administer. He's a team player, after all and the Republicans respect that same Omerta; the code of silence that provides a modicum of honor amongst thieves.

So I'm sure we'll see him cuddle up to Bush and we will continue to witness that Kabuki theater of the Party's reaction to the horrible, terrible, unforgivable smear the New York Times printed about John's relationship to a lobbyist whose clients had business before his Senate Committee and we'll continue to hear next to nothing about how he accepted a large amount of money to intervene in regulatory matters in behalf of Charles Keating of crooked Savings and Loan debacle and "family Values" fame. After all that is all in the past and irrelevant, unlike Whitewater.

The Maverick Reformer, far too "liberal" for many of the fat toads in the Republican cistern, has been chastised for his bipartisan campaign finance reform bill, but never fear. At heart it never meant anything. Setting up The Reform Institute with one hand while drafting legislation with the other shows it. The Reform Institute is a great sump of unregulated soft money from such benefactors as cable companies represented by - you guessed it.

Who cares if he was shagging "honorable lobbyist" Vicky Iseman? He's been screwing us all right and left and all the mugging and grimacing and liberal bashing; all the howls of outrage and accusation are a distraction from the obvious fact that John "Strait Talk" McCain is just another lie, cheat, steal, borrow and spend Republican confidence trickster. Let's hope his flag pin doesn't poke him in the chest when he hugs George today.

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tort Reform

It's an idea everyone can get behind. We need to stop those lawyers from winning huge settlements that make life expensive for the rest of us, right?

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures." said Daniel Webster and getting people angry or afraid to the point where they don't assess the unintended consequences is the cheap tactic we're usually subjected to - and effectively, I should add. No, I'm not going to rehash the way we've been deprived of our freedom and privacy by the administration's Punch and Judy show. We've been had repeatedly in the same way since I can remember.

Since I started studying being propagandized in grade school, I was told that in this great country, (say it's the greatest or you're a traitor) everyone was entitled to his day in court. That principle is one of the many casualties, not only of our invasion of Iraq but of the success of our unofficial Corporate House of Lords.

Some of the boilerplate you may have signed when dealing with employers, banks and other entities may effectively have been a Faustian bargain if not worse. Ask the Woman who was raped by co-workers for KBR in Iraq why she has no recourse whatever and why KBR was allowed to dispose of evidence without breaking any law. Ask her why she is denied the right to sue in Federal court. Tort Reform is the answer.

" 'Tort reform' is a deliberately deceptive term coined in the 1980s by tobacco, pharmaceutical, insurance and gun lobbyists and lawyers who set about to transform our civil justice landscape by eliminating corporate exposure to civil liabilities."
writes Peggy Garrity in the Los Angeles Times.
"Tort reform is a game of bait-and-switch in which ordinary citizens have been snookered by carefully orchestrated and relentless propaganda into seeing a phantom boogeyman in the much-reviled "trial lawyer" who brings "frivolous lawsuits" to "runaway juries" that render "out of control verdicts" in "judicial hellholes," making insurance rates and the costs of all goods and services go up."

We're still waiting for the results, but Halliburton, the recipient of corporate welfare so massive as to defy description and which, being now based in Dubai, doesn't have to bother with those pesky taxes, is essentially free to deny that day in court to anyone who works for them and anyone else if they happen to be raped, harassed, beaten or killed in their Iraqi fiefdom.

Wave the flag, America. Make sure you lapel pin is in place and let's keep booming and bragging about how great we are and how unpatriotic our critics may be. Just keep marching and don't pay any attention to the cliff.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Prodigal son, part two

I avoid Palm Beach. The homes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are there. The place still has too many remnants of its former "Gentleman's agreement" and "no Jews allowed" snobbery and I still remember once being openly sneered at by a liveried doorman in front of Gucci as I shoehorned my brand new but still too plebeian $60,000 car between the Bentleys on Worth Avenue. It's the sort of place I associate with former Congressman Mark Foley.

It's not that Foley was born with a silver spoon in his mouth or made any great fortune as is typical of the local gentry. In fact he spent some of his youth removing forks and spoons and dirty dishes from restaurant tables. Still, he seems to be seen at the right restaurants and clubs and in the company of the right people; sometimes very far right people.

Foley is back from his brief social exile, having completed as he says, his rehabilitation from alcoholism. As a guest at the ball that opens the Palm Beach Fashion Week, he was celebrated by appreciative well wishers at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Friday night. Although he didn't represent that district, that's where his support and his fountain of funds has always been. Attendees seemed to appreciate all that he did "for the community" which as I remember was to push for poorly conceived laws to shut down nudist camps in the Sunshine State and to make it illegal to draw pictures of minors that Foley saw as hot, hot, hot. Of course he did facilitate that minor miracle of getting a Democrat, Tim Mahoney, elected. I have to be grateful for that.

I presume that Mark has changed his ways and is no longer chasing after minors, and it seems that he is using his former contacts and skills in that frequent fall-back profession of deposed politician: a Florida Real Estate Salesman. He's now open about his male partner; a wealthy Palm Beach dermatologist. I wish him well. I think he's paid for his indiscretion and his hypocrisy. His friends, of course, don't need my best wishes and his party would long since have disappeared if my wishes had any influence in the matter.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Singing the blues

Blues fallin' down like hail
And the days keeps on worryin' me
There's a hellhound on my trail
Hellhound on my trail

-Robert Johnson-
You'd think there was nothing going on if all your news came from CNN. Nothing but a rather polite discourse between the presidential candidates being promoted as a gladiatorial combat to the death. There may not be a 400 pound gorilla in the room, but that big thing with the antlers around the corner isn't Bullwinkle, it's Stagflation and the Supply Side prestidigitators are hoping the beast won't go on a rampage before November so they can blame it on "tax and spend" Democrats.

Of course the people who have been preaching the wisdom of the invisible hand have been the first to hop into the maelstrom with rebates and handouts and rate cuts trying to keep it all from going down the drains, but I'm afraid that once the chain is pulled, the toilet will flush and nobody can stop it.

Has nobody noticed that February was the fourth consecutive down month for stock indices? Profit estimates are lower, Losses higher, unemployment creeping upwards. Nine of 10 industries in the S&P 500 declined after reports showed the U.S. economy grew less in the fourth quarter than economists forecast and business activity fell to the lowest since 2001. Reports due next week are expected to show further contraction and higher unemployment. The Fed is likely to cut interest rates further and this has pulled the rug out from under the Dollar while the government spends and spends and borrows from the Chinese to do it. Large tracts of brand new houses sit empty like ghost towns. Homeowners are walking away and leaving their houses to the banks and banks are foreclosing at record rates. Boat builders are closing plants as the debt-ridden middle class has had to forgo such luxuries as boats and recreational vehicles. Consumers aren't confident and the rate cuts aren't helping. There will be bank failures, said Bernanke to Congress on Thursday.

Deja vu? All over again. Are we looking at another decade or so of big league inflation to pay for Bush's war - or longer if McCain keeps us there for the rest of the century? Some are predicting a recovery later this year, but then they always have seen prosperity around the corner. Many however, see inflation rising and a panicked return to high interest rates to counter it while the economy stagnates, bringing back those old stagflation blues to trickle down on us like hail.