Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ozymandias

The excellent HBO miniseries John Adams concluded Sunday night with some ruminations by our second President about how the gritty history of the American revolution had, after only 50 years, been lost to the mythologizing processes of patriots and painters and poets. I'm not sure that he ever read Shelly's ironic poem of 1818, although he lived long enough. I'm sure however, seeing his classical education, that he knew that such things are eternal and ineluctable. Indeed, anyone with any kind of memory at all can see that the words and deeds of our current administration are lost to reinterpretation, redaction, braggadocio and denial in a far shorter period than a half century and eventually are reduced to ridiculousness.

If I still had a sense of humor about such things I would laugh at Flim-flam George's latest attempt to blame the effects of his fiscal irresponsibility on the failure of Congress to solve our problems. They failed by looking the other way at Corporate swashbuckling, by bitching excessively about no-bid contracts to companies that pay no taxes and will not be investigated when billions disappear, by not taking the burden of inheritance taxes off the very, very rich and by ignoring a host of other really brilliant ideas like unrestrained spending and profligate borrowing, but of course I don't. I lost it some time ago and all I could wish for is to miraculously to survive the explosion of our sun just long enough to see the man vaporize into a wisp of plasma to be born by the solar wind into the infinite emptiness of the universe.

But I digress. The Bush Nebula is still Earthbound and the Occupation still awaits a definition of "victory."
"I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them,"
said the Sultan of Smirk today. Too bad they didn't block the "warpresident" entirely by impeaching him or at least keeping him from starting the war, but what we're seeing here, I fear, is the beginning of a tendentious falsification of history on a level not seen since the great Redactor put together the Bible.

Canonical History will be kind to George Bush, since it isn't really possible to be unkind in degree adequate to his stupidities, his iniquities and his weakness. Indeed, knowing this country and its love for self-ennoblement, he may be sneering down at us from Rushmore or gleaming at us from the face of a highly devalued Dollar before my grandchildren are old enough to be cynics. Some Parson Weems will emerge to write stories about his early honesty and there will be paintings of George the Brush Clearer and heroic marbles of the Commander Guy in his flight suit poking up through the desolate sands of post-apocalyptic America. Who will be there to laugh?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Watch and weep

Many of us are going to get a government handout this month; you know, the kind of thing the Republicans have usually treated as another form of the Socialist Plague when the dollars are directed toward indigent children. For a good number of those recipients, that money will go not to purchase the Japanese cars, Korean televisions and Chinese everything else that we're being told is an economic stimulus plan that will prevent the recession that has already happened. For most, I think, it won't go to pay down the crippling debt or to pay for needed medical care, but to buy gasoline; the indispensable substance of a nation with the poorest public transportation system in the civilized world.

Our Bushtopia can always find a way to get you to buy oil, no matter who suffers in the process and they're very good at making it sound like patriotism. Of course real patriotism has little to do with lapel pins or stupid looking plastic flag holders clipped to SUV windows or yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons, and while you're pouring your government handout into the tank of your 7000 pound monument to fashionable folly, remember who is suffering and dying so that you can exercise your plastic patriotism.

Remember the men and women living in dirt and filth and blood for year after year until they either die or are discharged with a "personality disorder" like shrapnel in the skull, so as to deprive them of decent medical attention and the support they deserve. If you want -- if you really want to see how Uncle Scam treats our "heroes" when they return home to wait to be sent back for another 15 months watch this video. Watch all ten minutes of it and consider taking the hush money George is sending you and using it to defeat each and every Republican candidate with the gall to support this sham government and its sham war. Use that money to make sure not one of these criminals gets another term; these thugs who get free medical care, large pensions and all they can squeeze from the suffering citizens, abused soldiers and victims of American aggression. Watch it and weep.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ben Stein's brain

I used to watch the Comedy Central quiz show Win Ben Stein's Money; not because I liked the guy, but because I liked to be amazed at what he didn't know. Of course not knowing all kinds of political and historical trivia isn't an indication of being a dumb schmuck, but letting one's name be affiliated with a movie like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is proof positive. It's slightly gratifying that the public largely has ignored Ben Stein's turd of a film although divine intervention in some really ghastly way would have been more gratifying.

The premise that "intelligent Design," the resurrected, quasi-Deist argument that life and perhaps the universe is too complex to have arisen through natural processes, has been so soundly, thoroughly and often humorously debunked over the last two centuries that it shouldn't be necessary to note that existence not only predates our inability to understand it but isn't subject to reducing its complexities to the level where a religious person can understand. Yes this is a religious argument and that's why it's only applied to Human evolution and not to the equally difficult aspects of quantum physics, general relativity and advanced mathematics. Imagine my saying that Tensor Calculus is flawed because it's beyond my ability!

Comprehensive denunciations of Intelligent Design have been around for centuries. It's a buried fallacy now exhumed like some hollow zombie only because our culture has lost touch with itself and the majority of us are as ignorant if not more so than we were 200 years ago. Percy Bysshe Shelley's refutation of Deism and his Necessity of Atheism not only makes Ben Stein's vaunted brain look dull and pedestrian, but illustrates the ironic appeal to victimhood that is this movie's argument. Shelly was thrown out of school for his brilliant efforts; thrown out by the same militantly dishonest dullards who claim to be unfairly treated by science.

The argument from Ignorance has it that biological structures like the eye cannot have originated without guidance from a supernatural intelligence because, say the the proponents of God, they don't understand the process. This proposition begins with the absurd and doesn't need to be reduced far for one to notice that according to such arguments, the greater the ignorance, the more true the propositions must be. To the ignorant, all things are equally possible.

Of course nature can be difficult to understand and even when understood, it can be counterintuitive. Humans took a long time to accept that up and down were relative directions and they roasted scientists alive for showing evidence that myths were incorrect. Battles were fought over such things as atomic theory and of course the heliocentric universe. Being less and less able to do so today, those who cling to and insist that others must cling to myth, have to create an additional saga of their own persecution: hence this movie.

If you buy into it of course, you cannot avoid admitting that you value comfort above honesty; that you see evidence as less valuable than comfort and that you want to punish anyone who disagrees. There is not only no evidence for order in the universe much less order than can only be a design, but the conjecture does not provide for the design of the designer. It's like the classic rebuff to the argument that there is no giant turtle upon whose back the Earth rests: it's turtles all the way down says the little old lady to Bertrand Russel. It's not an argument, it's a hysterical fugue. Imagine arguing for the existence of a "Firmament" or for a world that floats on water or a heaven one can walk into from a mud brick tower! Although ID may require only the Deus Absconditus of the Deists; a God who created things and moved on, there is no evidence, there is no science, nothing that can be demonstrated, nothing that can be inferred from demonstrable fact. ID is of the same ilk as magic, voodoo, deception, outright stupidity and pathological delusion.

The evidence for the origin of species through natural selection is sufficient that no alternative explanation can compete fairly, hence the unfairness, the dishonesty and the outright sleaziness of Steins movie. Do I need to repeat that there is no evidence whatever for the Divine hand other than the argument ad ignorentiam? If we must give equal opportunities for bogus theories and reject all standards for truth in education, we must abandon the notion of education altogether and return the universities to the Churches we took so long to dethrone. Ben Stein has bet his money that we will. I hope he loses every dime.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Don't Tase me Stewardess!

The airlines have been treating us like cattle for quite a while now or when we're lucky, like dogs, but so far the cattle prods and shock collars have remained the tools of the Federal government. No, it's not a Saturday Night Live skit, a Canadian company really is trying to sell the idea that we all, as airline passengers, should wear a device that allows the flight crew to zap the hell out of us if we get unruly, uppity, unappreciative or terroristic. The definition is really up to them and may vary according to how long they've been working that day and with other personal factors.

Great idea, since them "terrists" aren't smart enough to use clear Teflon tape or to make a device that sets off the shock cuffs or collars. It certainly wouldn't cause any weak, young or elderly passengers to die if your "flight attendant" were to see someone praying to Allah and turn on the zapper, or if the damn thing just malfunctioned.

The promotional video begins with what has become the universal symbol of somebody trying to make us do or believe something stupid: the 9/11 crash footage. I haven't the slightest reason to believe any airline would ever adopt this technology, but my advice is that whenever you see the smoking towers, change the channel or hit delete. Lamperd can brush off objections as the careless and unpatriotic sentiments of "privacy advocates" but I hope most of us can understand that treating people like cattle in a pen, to be subjected to extreme pain and the terror of its expectation at the whim of a corporation is the complete end of any pretense to freedom and an invitation to insurrection.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The devil and Mr. Jones

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

-Bob Dylan-

I have to admit I don't know either and I suspect the market analysts of the same confusion. My morning perusal of the news includes a glance at Bloomberg.com and the leading headlines today were:

  • Citigroup has $5.1 Billion loss, cuts 9000 more jobs.
  • Stocks in US rally on Citigroup.

It might make a skeptic think that perhaps these stories overlook something or that nobody really knows what the hell is going on but need to say something in order to get a paycheck. Or maybe it's the same old prophylactic optimism by which they've been trying to ward off disaster with a smile, a shuffle and a little shuck and jive.

Perhaps the same thing applies to the political gigglefest. Are voters really going to change their minds at the possibility that Obama gave Clinton the finger - are they even going to believe it? But they have to say, to print, to televise something and childish nonsense is far easier to sell and more distracting than any serious discussion; particularly a serious discussion about a truly unworthy Republican.

Cogitamus asks us the trenchant but rhetorical question of how the media would treat either Democrat if they had had checkered careers like McCain. Frankly I think the entire Media-as-propagandists truth is laid bare here.

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks

Something is indeed going on, but all you're going to hear is that everything is all right: we don't need to change anything.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The view from Olympus

I've long thought that the Olympic games differ from other professional sports events mostly in that they exploit the athletes with a quasi-religious fervor, rather than paying them. The idea of "amateur" competition, as I see it, was a pretense used to keep working class people out of games meant for Edwardian gentlemen of leisure and inclination toward neo-classical, cthonic re-enactments. Of course today's contestants are scarcely that and hardly amateur, and they're there mostly to demonstrate the athletic prowess and by some atavistic extension the political status of their countries.

Despite the puzzling, faux-pagan Hellenic torch-running ceremonies, it's about politics and not about re-enacting ancient religious ceremonies of body worship and warrior training. So it's no surprise that Jonathan Alter writing in the current Newsweek would presume to use the opening ceremonies as a platform for chastising China. It's too bad for him however, that we're not sitting on Olympus but in the laughing stocks and pillories of the world.

Yes, China could do something about Darfur, but criticism should come from a source not so well associated with supporting monsters and tyrants for our own causes as we are; a source not preening over "shock and awe" terrorism, the slaughter and displacement of millions, the toppling of democracies and a source second only to China in number of incarcerated and executed citizens.

It's all too easy for someone like Alter to pretend that Tibet was a free and independent nation after the 13th century or that the quasi-Buddhist religion that stifled, enslaved and impoverished Tibet and kept it in a state of stupendous ignorance and isolation for centuries was benign, but a country with a history like ours can only succeed in looking arrogant and hypocritical in justifying torture of terrorists while condemning it abroad. Imagine our reaction to China's bellowing at us for occupying and suppressing Puerto Rico and Iraq; our interference in Central and South America, Asia and even Iran. Imagine the giggles at China's biggest client state preaching about its "Global Irresponsibility."

Maybe it's time we just shut up for once and let someone else use the pulpit. Maybe if we want to influence that country we should end the buying and outsourcing spree. Maybe if we want to continue blowing hard about morality we should try practicing it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

God, I hate ( your ) freedom!

That's exactly what Paul Broun is saying. You have religious freedom only as long as it's his God you and the government serve.

It makes one wonder whether the outcome of the Civil War was worth the price, that we have to listen to the crudely captious lies and confused rhetoric of Georgia Representative Broun preached on the House floor as though it were the dank cave of some hirsute and deranged religious extremist? Do I need to mention that he's a Republican?

We need, he says, to further illustrate the lack of separation between (his) God and the United States by removing a comma in the Pledge of Allegiance. There should be
"no separation or implied separation between nation and God."
said a spokesman, even though our founding documents forbid the establishment of State monotheism or indeed State recognition of any deity. Never mind that the Constitution forbids any religious test of any official - ever.

Last year this enemy of freedom supported legislation to honor a group trying to cram the Ten Commandments ( in their redacted Christian abridgements and without regard to the many sectarian variations ) up our collective colons in apparent obliviousness to their irrelevance in, and antithesis to Christian Theology.
"I commend the Ten Commandments Commission for their efforts to remind Americans that we are, in fact, 'one nation under God."
We are not, nor have we ever been, nor are we allowed by law to be and if we are to flagrantly ignore this guarantee of our rights, how many others must we ignore to please the haters of freedom?

If I were stupid, dishonest and deranged enough to be a Georgia congressman, I might introduce legislation stripping Broun of his office for his failure to preserve and protect the Constitution. As a private citizen who loves freedom I would like to see him stripped of his citizenship and deported.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Men in dresses

The Former Cardinal Ratzinger says he's ashamed; ashamed of the pederasty scandals that have drained Church coffers. Of course he is, but I have to wonder whether the public confession made at 40,000 feet above the Atlantic in an Alitalia jet wasn't more of a strategic apology; more of a business decision than a plea for sympathy or absolution. Such speculation can come to nothing, but indeed the opportunities for shame for the infallible moral arbiter who is the latest in the long line of shameful predecessors are almost countless. The heritability of Sin, unless it can be decoupled from guilt and shame by suitable ecclesiastical babble, would suggest that the persecution, the torture, the murder, the kidnapping , the wars, looting and destruction waged against the world for millennia must in turn have wages as deadly as they are shameful and guilt laden.

How ashamed is he about the mass murders and torture and persecution of scientists, Albigensees, Protestants, dissenters, free thinkers, Freemasons and advocates of democracy? When he talks of Jews as "older brothers in faith" is he ashamed of the seventeen centuries of fratricide? Is he ashamed of being a Hitler supporter? Sure, he was quite young, but if a fertilized egg can have sin; can have inherited it from an unidentifiable ancestor many thousands of generations ago, can he ever be free of his own misdeeds? If every sin weighed an ounce, his airliner would never have lifted off the runway.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tax day

It's that time of year again, and unless you're one of the very different, very rich, your thoughts may run to the great disparity in income between our fellow Americans. It's no secret that a Guy like John Paulsen, the Hedge Fund manager will make three and a half billion, or that he has a whole world of tax breaks and loopholes that you don't. That would pay about a hundred thousand High School teachers or perhaps 50,000 Associate Professors. That would pay for a thousand supermodels like Gisele B√ľndchen.

It's no secret that entertainers like 50 Cent make over 30 million or that Oprah earns something like a quarter billion in a year or that the incomes of the upper, upper crust have been expanding significantly of late -- but it's not that I begrudge any of them who make all that money honestly. The root of my unease and for most of us, is that the earned incomes of the vast majority of Americans has been stagnating for at least a decade when inflation is factored in. My discontent has a bit to do with the fact that because of various loopholes, US corporations are subject to nearly the lowest tax burden of any nation; 61% payed no taxes at all at a time when corporate earnings have been trending up and up. That includes 39% of large corporations and that includes defense contractors like KBR who benefit hugely from no-bid Iraq War contracts and make use of Cayman Island shell corporations to avoid US taxes.

With personal bankruptcy and foreclosures multiplying like bacteria in a rotting apple, the news that the tax burden on individuals is climbing while the burden on corporations is declining is making many Americans reach for the bottle of Tums as they struggle to get those forms into the mail by tomorrow.

Perhaps instead of analyzing every word of Clinton and Obama: spending days and nights fantasizing who is the better bowler or about what he meant by this or she meant by that, we should remember what their opponent and his party means when we're signing that check.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fisher of men


The country is all agiggle about the reflection of Dick Cheney's hand in his sunglasses whilst on a Snake River fishing expedition, which if you're drunk or religious looks like anything from a naked woman to "never had sex" Mary.

Hardly anyone gives much of a second thought to further evidence and testimony on the AP wire today that the same hand gave a thumbs up to torturing people to get confessions.
"With each new revelation, it is beginning to look like the torture operation was managed and directed out of the White House,"
ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said. But of course the Media is "liberal" and the ACLU is "far left Liberal" and anyone is a Liberal if they're so conservative as to want to preserve and protect the Constitution. Who listens to them? Not us. Why ask the invisible man to damn America - we've done that all by ourselves.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dogs, snakes and the FDA

If the FDA is here to make sure the things we ingest are safe, they're still not in the business of making sure we have access to things that might save our lives, but that the Drug companies don't feel like producing for one reason or another; like profitability.

I thought I saw a Coral Snake warming itself in the morning sun last month; coiled up on the table next to the hammock on my patio. It wasn't, I decided after checking my old Boy Scout manual, but it can be hard to tell. Others haven't been quite as lucky, like the boy bitten near here last Tuesday. He survived, but only because of the few vials of antivenin remaining in Florida hospitals that were rushed to him. About 40 coral snake bites are reported in Florida every year, partly because so many residents "ain't from around here" and don't watch where they step or take care when retrieving golf balls.

There are about 80 bites from this deadly snake in the country every year, but that's not enough for a drug company to make a profit on, and so it just isn't made any more and the government doesn't get involved to the extent of making sure its constituents have a source of many drugs and treatments for ailments not common enough to be profitable. That would smell too much like Socialism.

Certainly the one manufacturer in Mexico could supply the need, but they're in Mexico and the FDA is usually quick to tell us that they can't assure us of the safety of foreign drugs even if they come from places like Canada. We can however be fairly certain that the snakes have no such scruples and that if you're bitten, you're probably dead. Of course if you're a dog, the FDA doesn't care if Mexican products are used, so perhaps if you're so unlucky as to be struck, you can find a veterinarian willing to risk his license to save your life.

Maybe this is one more example of how markets are self regulating at our cost and our peril. We do have billions to spend on preventing people from using harmless things, but when it comes to saving American lives, the government and the snakes are on the same side.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bonfire of the vanities

Boca Raton Florida, like many American cities, is ten thousand acres of concrete streets, strip malls and parking lots with a few patches of golf course applied like green stamps on a white envelope. It differs in that a careless crosser of its crowded streets is more likely to be run down by a Bentley than in most other places.

It was in his late model Bentley that police found the sleeping Greg Talbot, described by the Palm Beach Post as a "millionaire developer" as though anyone found in a Bentley in Boca needed to be exposed as wealthy. But appearances can be deceptive and in this New Money capitol of the South, they almost always are. Talbot may be the second largest owner of commercial property in the flamboyantly upscale metropolis but like developers everywhere, he's in trouble. Banks and lenders of all sorts are threatening to foreclose and to cut off further credit.

Who can blame him for a bit of alcoholic relief, after which he at least had the sense to park the car and sleep it off? Boca's Finest, if not their brightest, of course. Talbot has a history of fisticuffs, the exercise of which landed him in the lockup three years ago. Perhaps the police who saw fit to interview him in the middle of the night knew what to expect, but when Greg made a phone call and didn't respond fast enough to an officer's request to end it, out came law enforcement's answer to the Game Boy: the Taser. It's not of course, as though the gentleman's behavior was discernible as such. Talbot swore and shouted and strongly resisted being handcuffed for whatever crime is involved in being asleep in a parked car. They had to Taser him repeatedly and that should be a reminder to those who think wealth and social position can place one out of range of the skull cracking, spark snapping enthusiasm of the men in blue. I'd think twice about falling asleep in a Chevrolet.

Of course Talbot's last scuffle back in 2005 resulted in the attempted intervention of his pal, the police Chief. Former Police Chief, I should say, since it didn't sit well with the locals. This time he had to play the rehab card and go straight to Rush Limbaugh's alma mater in Arizona, where for his $40K he will receive such benefits as art therapy. Forty large can be seen as a cheap way to finger paint one's self out of prison although it may not be an option for most people. It still pays to be rich even if you're on the verge of bankruptcy.

Don't feel too smug, Mr. Average. Greg Talbot may have burnt his fingers in this bonfire, but the wind is blowing and it may spread.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

To be a conservative

I don't want to speculate about how many of our publicly educated young people know who John Wilkes Booth was, but I'll bet that far fewer recognize the Englishman, John Wilkes and know about the part he played, by proxy, in shaping the fourth amendment to our Constitution. Because Wilkes ran afoul of the Crown by openly criticizing a treaty signed by George III, a general warrant for his arrest led to his apprehension along with the publishers of the paper that printed his argument. Wilkes had popular support in England and in the colonies and the notion that the King could authorize upon his own authority and without challenge from Parliament or the independent judiciary, a general search or fishing expedition to seek anything they could use to squelch protest, made him a bit of a hero and martyr.

We are no longer a group of colonies. We are no longer the nation that grew out of those colonies and we have another George who insists on the right to unrestricted, unsupervised and secret investigations without court oversight or any scrutiny at all. We are no longer a nation that objects. We are no longer a nation that values individual liberty to the point where we can accept the slight risk of crime rather than the security of a police state.

We've had so many examples of warrantless wiretapping and other acts of indignity without probable cause that anyone who doesn't know, isn't someone who cares, but documents appearing in the Washington Post show how the FBI can and has been indulging in espionage of "suspects" without having to explain who they are or why they are or what they are suspected of by what evidence to any court. Only the Federal government knows for sure; a Federal government that loves secrets and fights to keep them.

That they can use whatever they find for whatever purpose they wish seems to be evident in the case of Eliot Spitzer and the use of his ATM records to show that he cheated on his wife. I'm sure nobody believes that information was obtained for such purposes and we're just too delighted by the circus to care. If we don't send to know for whom the wires are tapped, the e-mails read, the bank records examined, the mail box inspected, the credit card receipts tallied, it none the less tolls for us.

If we're good subjects, the King will be good to us and protect us. He may or may not tell us what he's protecting us from or how or why, but we can trust George or pay the cost of being adjudged, like John Wilkes, a Liberal, a traitor, an enemy of the state.

Which side are you on, Mr. conservative?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Freakolitics

Freakonomics was such a big hit, I had to wonder why nobody has published Freakolitics, but of course in our America, that's probably redundant. Still, that all these weird parallels and weirder contradictions go past us without remark seems worth talking about.

John McCain's medical records, for instance. He used to give us straight talk and his medical records were open for inspection - until after 1999 when he was treated for Melanoma, a very deadly skin cancer. Now, despite promises, no records are forthcoming. Freaky coincidence? Maybe.

But nobody can really accuse Americans of foolish consistency; it's our inconsistencies that distinguish us. Republican owned media generally encourage people like Don Imus and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to cross boundries of decent behavior and the public laps up the idea that they are rebels against a Liberal minority, yet it was the real liberal media; namely Air America that booted Randi Rhodes off the air for calling Hillary a whore. Ann seems only to have benefited by calling Edwards a "fag." We still hear about he Liberal Media bias.

The boot licking Bushites still insist that people who don't believe we should have invaded Iraq; that don't believe Saddam had no WMD, that don't believe Saddam helped blow up the WTC, that don't believe Saddam wasn't training insurgents for al Qaeda - even if at one time or another the very government that thought up these things has admitted they weren't true, insist that it's only a Liberal Lunatic fringe who disagree. Recent polls show that the lunatic fringe is over 80% of the public.

I was resoundingly chastised for mentioning in several blogs, the loud boos the President received the other day. I was reassured that it was only a "vocal minority" as Nixon used to call the vast majority of us. Perhaps though, the stands were packed with historians. Crooks and liars details a poll of historians that overwhelmingly ranks Bush as the worst president ever. Tell it to the bleachers.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

L'etat, C'est Georges

The illegal information feeding frenzy has been going on since Commander Guy started chumming the waters almost 7 years ago. I'm still being called deranged for mentioning it. Let me mention one more thing.

It's too easy for us to tell ourselves we have nothing to hide, it's all for our own good, it's all to fight terrorists and that strip searching your grandmother at an airport is a small price to pay for eliminating the far smaller chance that Osama will blow up the Dairy Queen in Keokuk Iowa. If you don't mind being under constant surveillance and constant supervision and constant suspicion every time you pass a toll gate or take some cash from an ATM or buy a plane ticket, or enter a web site, don't bother reading any further. Nothing I can say about the United States of America and what it's supposed to stand for will mean anything to you.

If you used to be proud of this country, if you used to think we stood for something more than security and unrestrained government power, you might be interested in some Pentagon documents that indicate our military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans' Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies. The American Civil Liberties Union, yes the same group that the swashbuckling right uses to stop the discussion the way the inquisition did with the Devil, has gone through some thousand Defense Department documents to reach the conclusion that
"Newly unredacted documents released today reveal that the Department of Defense is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL (national security letter) power."
Considering the amount of passion the US once felt about having a government that could simply examine anything or anyone without showing cause or reference to any law, it's had not to conclude that the Republicans have put us right back where we were before we threw another George out of the country. And why this pressing need to put our two hundred year old constitution on hold? A massive invasion of foreign troops? Civil war and widespread insurrection? A shipload of tea thrown into the harbor? Sorry, it's "evildoers" sitting in a cave in Pakistan and sending us an occasional VHS tape while Bush's other family in Riyadh finances terrorism. It's Iraqis defending their country against foreign invaders. It's about fostering fear and cowardice in the name of unitary government and one party rule.

Unfortunately the ACLU has been made into a mass produced straw man that can be trotted out for any hate session the Junta needs in order to refute the irrefutable, or to make defending our constitution and our rights seem subversive. I'm sure some of you didn't read past the name. None the less, had they not filed suit against the government, the government would have been unopposed by anyone with the ability to do more than bitch and blog. In fact other than for the ACLU and the NRA, the bill of rights might long since have been relegated to the Bush enemies list.

I once laughed at Spiro Agnew and his Liberal argument that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" but only because the defense of liberty has become the excuse for undermining it while any reluctance to submit is being called extremism.

Sleep well tonight
It'll be all right
Trust us, we're the government.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

State of the Nation

At his regular April First, State of the Nation news conference today, President George W. Bush announced that the blood running ankle deep in the streets of Iraq is proof that the "surge" has been successful enough that we can say "mission accomplished." Civilian deaths are up by more than 30% making March the deadliest month in the last half year.
"It's the blood of patriots"
said Bush.
"Just like Tom Jefferson said every democracy needs. What better proof than that Iraqis are saying 'God, I love freedom! - only maybe not God - I think they say Allah, he, he, he."
Bush continued his optimistic evaluation by pointing out that since 28 million Americans are now on food stamps, the economic "rough patch" is over. He urged all of us to take our $600 handouts and go to Disneyland. White House Press Secretary Phineas T. Bluster had no comment about unconfirmed reports suggesting that the President is planning a surprise entrance to the New York Stock Exchange trading floor at today's close, where he will, dressed in cape and tights, descend from a cable to announce that happy days are here again.

Media reporters all had a great laugh at the silly, doom and gloom Liberals who have been predicting rough times ahead.

Cross posted from The Impolitic