Sunday, May 30, 2010

You and whose army?

It's Memorial Day weekend again in the New South. It's nice to know they've finally accepted a holiday they once loathed. Of course it was Decoration Day until 1967 and after I was grown and had a family. It was as you know, about decorating the graves of Union Soldiers and after the next horror of the Great War, the graves of the 117,465 American dead: a day of solemn reflection.

But by 1967, the year before they changed it to Memorial Day to make it more compatible with our imperialism at the height of the senseless horror in Vietnam, it was about Dad's cremated Hamburgers and Indy; parades and patriotic hoo-ha, but perhaps it's because I now live in the South, it's taken on a new tone. Perhaps too, it's because I live in an area flooded with retired military folks filled with their own importance and those employed by the notorious Military- Industrial Complex -- but my in-box is once again flooded with glorious stories about our glorious military and the glorious things they do. A good part of them are hoaxes and of course there are no mentions of our heroes of My Ly 4 or Abu Ghraib or of the recent glorious heroes who accidentally slaughtered 30 or so civilians using robot planes in air conditioned comfort from halfway around the world.

No, what I get are bogus stories about Marines rescuing babies on 9/11/01 and how it is the Veterans" we owe our freedom of religion, press, speech and the rest of the rights we've had abridged because of the martial spirit of the times -- not the constitution, the courts or the Government of the United States.

Have we forgotten that the biggest enemy of freedom on this continent was the American South? Was anything we can call our own freedom at risk in most of our wars? Andrew Jackson's slaughter and deportation of the Seminoles? the use of Federal troops in slave raids into Florida? The Mexican War? The Spanish American War? The war against Philippine independence? What kind of threat to our freedom of speech necessitated suppressing free elections in Vietnam or the killing of two million civilians? What threat to our freedom of Religion was posed by Iraq? What threat were flower carrying kids in Ohio that they needed to be shot in the back by American troops? Were the troops driving armored vehicles down Chicago's State Street in 1968 there to support our right to assembly or to shut us up?

It' s not that I have any disrespect for veterans, living or dead, but our Constitution wasn't written by the Generals, no foreign power is any threat to it and that we still pay any attention to the Bill of Rights owes as much to the "activist" courts and the ACLU as to anything else. It owes nothing whatever to the Tea Bag flag wavers who hate government power unless it's carrying guns. It owes nothing to Macho flag wavers from John Wayne to Bomb-bomb McCain.

Memorial day has become an encomium not to dead soldiers; an expression not of profound grief. It's not a day when we mourn our losses or of any remembrance of the horror of war and militarism, but to celebrate living veterans, sing praise to the Armed forces and to the glory of war itself. It's a day we now use to decorate ourselves, congratulate ourselves on our military prowess and this in a country that's been fighting all my life but hasn't been on the winning side of a war since 1945. It's a day too often used to obscure the real threats to freedom with red white and blue bunting and it's good to remember that the same folks crowing about military defense of freedom are quite happy to require anyone with tan skin to carry proof of citizenship at all times, quite happy to give the local police the power of Federal Marshals and to forget all about warrants and probable cause. What army is going to protect us against our own smug racism, bigotry and expansionism?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The River

A week on the St John's


The hanging flags of Spanish Moss make the oaks and cypress weep like willows and they have reason. The landscape looks primeval, but the 3500 year old trees are long gone and harvested to panel rec rooms and mulched to blanket the flower gardens and walkways of the people who see Florida as a place to transform not to revere. But things grow fast here, even the hardwoods and the 100 year old trees still look beautiful with their Gothic buttresses and the spires of their knees where the Heron and Egret watch for fish as still and patient as if they too were made of wood.The nests of man, the cabins and fish camps and bait stores and boat houses are part of the river and the culture of the river, but it's an illusion. Only a short distance inland the concrete spreads like Kudzu, the roads lined with trashy plastic signs of chain restaurants and gas stations screaming electrically into the night; Arby's, Burger King, used cars, liquor stores and Ruby Tuesday like every other road in America -- anywhere in America with pretentious developments built on drained wetlands and vast forests scraped to bedrock with names that come from England and end in pointe.

Pawn shops and beauty parlors in dilapidated strip malls in mushroom-looking faux-Mansard disrepair, fortune tellers, tattoo parlors; fast food shipped in frozen from 5 thousand miles away. "Urban" music thumps away from massive imported trucks, bullying and roistering from bar to bar. But turn here, that narrow road where the moss hangs from the phone lines, a few miles into the woods, past that road house with the big old Indian with the red leather saddle bags parked in the gravel lot in front, where it's still a little like it used to be and they sell cold beer and live bait and there's a little park with a launching ramp and you can push off away from the continent of mass produced consumer culture into the network of creeks and lakes and spring runs; into the river and away -- where alligators bask, dreaming of the Cretaceous and the giant oaks sigh for their lost children.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Let there be -- bacteria

Said the J. Craig Venter Institute research team - and there was life.

While the human race, or at least Homo Americanus is preoccupied with destroying itself with it's pet mythologies and peremptory political philosophies and general stupidity, a few of us have been at work actually creating something that constitutes a giant leap for mankind. It's always a very few, isn't it?

A team of American scientists have succeeded in animating a cell with a synthetic genome made out of raw chemicals. The implications of this huge accomplishment are beyond anyone's ability to foresee and I'm not talking only about the ability to design or reproduce life from scratch or even to bring extinct species back from extinction: I'm talking about dispelling another myth, explaining another mystery without relying on further myths and mysteries ad infinitum.

Remember the scene from Blade Runner where the genetic engineer looks at a snake scale to find an identification number encoded in the artificial snake? Perhaps the team who put together a synthetic "replicant" bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides remembered when they encoded the names of the 46 scientists in the project along with the project's e-mail address into its genome.

Beyond being another blow to the "I don't understand how it works so God must have done it" fallacy, the creation of living, reproducing things from bottles of Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine will require us to re-examine the nature of life itself and just when it "begins."

I wonder if looking back at today's newspapers 200 years from now we won't wonder why it didn't make the headlines, but perhaps the reason is the same reason we're in so much trouble right now: 300 million self-absorbed, short sighted, ignorant life forms trapped in solipsistic bubbles ( or tea bags) unable to see much beyond the membrane.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The will of the WASP

Rand Paul is not Ron Paul and I'm not flattering him by saying it. There is a difference between principle and bull-headed intransigence and Paul the younger seems as unclear about that as he is not quite up to the task of successfully debating Rachel Maddow about his distaste for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Asked whether he thought a restaurant had the right to refuse service to black customers, Paul commenced a rather evasive dance around the subject by trying to describe regulation as ownership.
"What about freedom of speech?" asked the less than candid Candidate. "Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other?'" Paul replied. "Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion."
Unfortunately, more than just being grammatically confused, he's wrong. He's equivocating and the debate is, of course, entirely about practical matters. Can we agree, for instance, that being black in a restaurant is fundamentally different than carrying a gun in a bar and if so, his analogy is defective and a fallacy of distraction? Certainly a speed limit is not Government ownership of my car, health regulations imposed on food producers aren't the equivalent of owning the family farm nor is forcing Woolworth to stop creating two Americas with their policies isn't Marxism.

Is the government of and by the people allowed,as the founding documents imply, to promote liberty for all, to promote peace and domestic tranquility by imposing limitations on individual behavior? Is he arguing for a government so impotent it must inevitably fall into feudalism and exploitation? Those are the questions he begs and the questions he avoids. Sorry Doctor, I think the balance between individual liberty and being a free country is a practical and necessary discussion.

Is it practical to have a society so far beyond the control of its members that justice becomes only a matter of the will of the strongest and the richest and most well connected -- the will of the WASP? No, unlimited individual license does not allow for a society at all, much less a free one.

Still it's all about the practical as opposed to the relentlessly repeated and self referential principle and we've all heard of or can easily come up with examples where freedom cannot be unlimited for many reasons; where behavior that needs to be restrained cannot be restrained by anyone other than Government. Is it preferable to allow my neighbors to forbid Baptists to live on my block and ignore my freedom or is it better to protect the minority against the majority, which is a common definition of democracy as distinguished from mob rule. No, if this is but a "philosophical" discussion it's because he doesn't want to address the inevitable questions Libertarians invite when they refuse to discuss its inherent limitations.

The traditional 'best government is least government' trope reduces to absurdity all by itself as quickly as does his argument that any restraints or obligations put on behavior or business practices constitute ownership and are an unnecessary stain on the pure and absolute freedom we've somehow decided is our birthright. Certainly although he assures us that he would never patronize a business that discriminates, he realizes that his sentiments are not universal. He realizes that he's giving license to anyone to debase any group he likes and to diminish their lives, their liberty and their pursuit of happiness. He realizes that such a nation as he dreams of would be fractured, Balkanized, a loose, weak, unstable confederation of hostile groups no more pleasant than a baboon troupe and with each of us at his neighbor's throat. He must realize that he's appealing to bigots, racists and sociopaths of no conscience -- and all in the name of principle and freedom.

So why is he debating as though the balance between too much and not enough wasn't worth discussing? As though that wasn't the real question? Perhaps its because he's pandering to an audience somewhat less rational than Ron Paul's: to an audience whipped into irrational fury by the basic requirements of civilization; too hungry for revenge against a maturing world and too angry and self centered to give a damn what he can do for his country.

Clean up in aisle 4

You're going to see more pictures of oily turtles and birds and it will break your heart if you're not one of those religious types who think this "world" isn't worth anything, is ours to destroy and is about to disappear anyway. You'll see pictures of oil soaked wetlands and poisoned mangroves, but if you're not familiar with the part such things and places play in the health of our food chain and in filtering out our foul effluents, producing oxygen and protecting the shoreline, you may really not care, since you live in Ohio or Missouri; but it will affect you and it will affect your children more. Their children will inherit a bleak, dirty, toxic world of privation and perhaps worse.

If you're like most Americans, not really concerned with much more than immediate things; this months mortgage and credit card payments, putting gas in the trucks and getting your offspring to school and the various extra curricular things they have to do to keep them from any consciousness of life in general, you won't care too much and you won't let it occupy your mind for much longer. They'll just clean it up, right? They'll wash the seagulls and loggerheads and bring in new sand beaches for the resorts and rake out the tar balls. The birds and turtles and fish and seals and dolphins and sponges and squid? If they have no food, then let them eat at McDonalds. No, it will all be cleaned up and BP will pay for it.

No they won't. As the Lords of Oil did in Alaska and California, they'll spend a few tens of millions lobbying to have their liability capped and the payments postponed long enough that most of us will forget or be distracted by some other urgent contingency or new witch hunt or celebrity scandal or charismatic leader who will do as he's told. With a tiny fraction of their 50 or 60 billion dollar annual profits, they'll buy a huge publicity campaign, maybe rough up and discredit a few investigative reporters. We'll listen to some Limbaugh on some corporate network telling you oil is natural, that the ocean won't be harmed and only beach huggers and Communists care about such elitist things anyway -- and if there was any problem, it's all because of regulation.

I dare not use terms like "environment" or "ecology" lest I sound like the cooks and nuts and extremists who have already been marginalized in the United Corporations of America. The effects on the huge fishing industry? Well your Fillet-O-Fish came from some concrete tank in Vietnam anyway and we all like Burgers better. Burgers are American. Frenchmen eat fish.

Do you care that the entire food chain has been poisoned at the roots and that the poison is spreading perhaps ten times faster than the corporate owned media admits to? Nah, that's too "enviro" sounding and too reminiscent of radicals with long hair. Maybe you'll notice that the job chain that proceeds from fishing, the boat building, the towns with economies based on it, the people who process, distribute and retail it -- it all spreads out into a wide territory, like the oil slick approaching the Florida coast, soaking the Northern Gulf coast and soon to muck up the Keys and Cuba and all the reefs and shoals where the food chain begins. Maybe you won't notice until shrimp and shellfish cost more than lobster or caviar and another ten thousand miles of coastline are mucked up beyond redemption. Oil is natural! The dispersants will disperse it and never mind they're more toxic than oil - you can't see them and that's what counts.

The plankton, the larvae that make so much of our oxygen, that feed everything from sea anemones to blue whales or grow up to be thousands of species without which life will change forever -- how many years, decades, centuries will it take to recover from this one spill? Who cares? We don't care about the forests that produce the rest of our dwindling oxygen either. We need beef. We need lumber. We need oil. We need to expand to fill every space and use up everything faster and faster. After all, the planet that dies with the fewest resources wins!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No TEA for me please.

Rand Paul has things backwards and I don't mean his name. His win in the Kentucky Senate Republican Primary is not quite the same thing as being elected Senator and of course it's at least a few furlongs short of winning the Derby, or "taking back the Government" since, of course it wasn't taken from the voters in the first place. OK, there was Bush V. Gore, but you know what I mean.

Pretending that having been voted out of office was a breach of democracy seems to work for those at the Tea Party table, but then anything seems to work except reality and the reality is that we're not taxed enough already and we haven't had the tax increase they hope you believe we've had. Yes, we may be taxed unfairly and tax policy may have been written by people who can afford lobbyists and huge campaign donations, but beyond the amorphous anger, I haven't heard any proposals for a new tax code that could approach remedying the debt in any reasonable time much less as quickly as we paid off World War II.

They won't come up with one either unless they dispense with the repeatedly disproved fallacy that cutting taxes for the very rich will increase government revenues, spur investment in new businesses and boost employment and won't cause investment bubbles -- and that laissez faire capitalism doesn't lead to monopolies, corruption of government, fewer choices for consumers and less opportunities for small business.

In real terms most of us are paying less in Income tax than we used to -- less than at any time in my lifetime. The countries that have lower taxes are few and tend to have economies based on gambling, money laundering or revenues from things like the Panama Canal. The Republicans were ousted because of public anger and frustration with corporate control over people's lives, because of another apparently pointless and interminable war and the fear mongering that's eroded our freedom. I don't see where Mad Hatters like Rand Paul are addressing that and I do see that the Tea movement, if we can fall it that, is based on the hope that shattering the old form of government will magically cause freedom, justice and prosperity to break out and allow "the people" to control their own destiny. Sound like Marx to you? It does to me too. Does it sound like the same old: "don't trust them, but trust us even though we don't really have a plan other than to cloud your mind with anger?" It does to me too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big tent

The Republicans sometimes like to talk about their big tent. Others, in consideration of the exploits and shenanigans of the party of values and families and apple pie may think it's more like a freak show tent, but we shall see soon enough which kind of tent the Donna Milo show winds up in.

Cuban born, 48 year old "Conservative" Republican Ms. Milo is running to unseat rather liberal Broward County Florida U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Yes, Miami Cuban Republicans are pretty numerous and at first glance one who didn't know that Ms. Milo used to be a Mr. Milo, whose friends called him Ed, wouldn't think anything was out of the ordinary.

Donna Milo is a person who prides herself in getting to where she is by her personal ability and in spite of her differentness -- not like those who we support with our tax money or special favors to Cuban immigrants, perhaps. Will that differentness matter more to the GOP than the traditional Republican attitudes she publicly displays?

It remains to be seen whether the party so traditionally inimical to the rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered people -- their agenda -- as they so often phrase it, will welcome her into the three ring big top with the other anti-Castro, pro-corporate liberal bashing Miami paranoids or ushered out the side door.

Kids in cages

"Children should neither be seen or heard from - ever again" said W.C. Fields.
Surprisingly, our activist Supreme Court has begged to differ. It was only five years ago that the Supreme Court finally decided that killing kids for justice was a bit behind the times, but of course some "Conservative" states have continued to sentence juveniles to life without parole. Chief amongst those states is Florida, which houses about 70% of them.

It would be hard to describe Florida as a particularly child-friendly state. Although I can't say it's particularly friendly to those who prey on them or neglect them, the poverty, substance abuse and ignorance that abound isn't child friendly either. Certainly "55 and older" communities are everywhere and as communities of older people are more likely to be afraid of the noise wild behavior and petty crime, there's a certain hostility. There's a certain feeling of helplessness and even terror amongst older people that can lead to hostility. It's a terror that overrides conscience in some cases and that sides with a draconian justice system while whimpering about a less powerful government.

Of course there's a big difference between chasing those brats off your lawn and locking them up in a cage for as long as they shall live, and that bit of casual inhumanity has at last drawn Supreme attention.
Terrance Graham was implicated in armed robberies when he was a minor and has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. The court voted 5-4 on Monday and Kennedy, writing for the majority said:
"The state has denied him any chance to later demonstrate that he is fit to rejoin society based solely on a nonhomicide crime that he committed while he was a child in the eyes of the law. This the Eighth Amendment does not permit." (as a cruel punishment)

This decision was a majority one because Chief Justice Roberts sided for once with the liberals although with the qualification that it should not apply to all non-homicide crimes. That of course makes the decision less than decisive. It's a step forward, but a timid and qualified step toward humanity; toward sometimes, in some cases allowing a second chance to someone who got caught doing what millions of others have got away with and never done again. That's just the sort of thing conservatives object to: making the law and justice more congruent; making the law for man and not man for the law -- and that's just the reason we need to balance the angry, self righteous and fearful elements on the court.


Friday, May 14, 2010

True colors

"I support Arizona's law as amended, and if the federal government fails to secure our borders and solve the problem of illegal immigration, I would support a similar law for Florida,''
said Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the GOP front runner for Governor of Florida. The law he supports of course, is the one that gives Arizona the unconstitutional power to enforce Federal Immigration Law, bypass the Bill of rights and that makes it a crime for non-whites or people with accents or "foreign looking" faces not to carry papers and furnish them on demand.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ditat Deus

God enriches: it's the state motto of Arizona. To some it surely suggests that the rich are the chosen of God and the poor and struggling? Your papers please.

My hypocrisy alarm has burned itself to a cinder over the last few days simply from the stench coming from our self-styled Libertarian friends from Arizona who have just given far more power to the State government than the Constitution allows and reduced constitutional protection from the power of law enforcement provided by that constitution -- a step away from Libertarian principles that even the notorious Glenn Beck balks at.

Anyway, if God has enriched Arizona in any way, the government of that stolen state has done a great deal to cheapen its claim to being a part of a free country and to impoverish its moral status as well. Perhaps taking a clue from the Texas school board's redaction of American history, Arizona has decided that no courses taught in its schools may give students the impression that they belong to a persecuted minority.

That's right, the Navaho have always had it easy, no one ever gave a black man a hard time and the state itself was never taken by force. It's now official.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Drill until we drop

Perhaps a society such as ours has as finite a lifespan as the individuals it's composed of and I think I'm seeing the kind of memory loss and dementia in the American public that we associate with extreme old age. The aged body sometimes can't absorb sustenance very well and neither can the American public assimilate the things that make a capable and dynamic Democracy possible. a large part of our population, for instance, seems to think that the huge environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico means that we need to do more of what made it happen and in the same careless, unregulated way. Presumably a number of those live far inland and don't like seafood or care that the Earth is becoming less livable because these are still the "end times," but not all of them. Some just think that as long as their immediate, short term needs are met, the rest of the world can go to hell, and so it goes.

A recent poll shows that despite the total lack of evidence and the extreme unlikeliness of the scenario, nine or ten percent of Americans do believe Limbaugh's idiotic proposition that it was the "enviros" behind the drilling platform explosion, but the scary part is that 22% are "unsure." Amongst self-identified Conservatives, the number jumps to 44% who believe it was sabotage by liberals. The evidence to the contrary is out there, the evidence for it isn't out there, so either 31% are unable to assimilate it by reason of dementia or have no interest in the survival of the USA as we think we know it -- or Like many aged people, they've given up and are simply wandering in a senile, paranoid daze of denialism looking for their lost youth and vigor.

"Perhaps most surprisingly 21% of voters said the spill made them more likely to support offshore drilling,"

said Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen. 55% of Americans polled after the disaster began, still supported offshore drilling, according to the same poll.

Am I pushing this too far? Is this really only more of what America has been doing since its beginning? We are, after all a nation that is happy to continue its war on drugs and embargoes on foreign countries that cause more harm than good; a nation that has had to struggle tooth and nail to overcome our vicious habits. Most of all we're a nation that always waits for a calamity before doing anything. What I'm afraid of is that this time the calamity we're waiting for won't come until we're a nation incapable of taking care of ourselves but a nation with a huge Army.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fear and Trembling in the Court

OK, so now I'm worried. I was willing to make some excuses for Obama's new support of offshore drilling; blaming it on previous administrations' infiltration of oil men into the department of energy and the drowning of environmental regulations, but if what I'm hearing about Elena Kagan is even partly true, I'm worried that we're going to have a more dangerous court, more friendly toward unfettered Presidential powers and willing to cut a wider swath through the law to root out nebulous, ever shifting devils and their agents -- making any accusation, any suspicion a de facto conviction without representation, without trial, without appeal: in some cases without anyone even knowing about it.

"Battlefield Law", said she to Lindsay Graham last year, should be applied to anyone we have a feeling is financing Al Qaeda and one's rights should not be read to anyone that might be construed to be a "terrorist" despite the lack of any real definition of what a terrorist might be. Vague definitions and accusations of shadowy connections leading to indefinite detentions without due process? Why have a court at all if we're no longer a civilized nation but a band of warriors on a worldwide battlefield?

Attorney General Eric Holder said on ABC's This Week Sunday, that even US citizens don't need to be read their rights if they're suspected of being involved in terrorism. Suspected is the key word here and in a time when everyone seems to be suspected every time they board an airplane, it's a scary word.
“I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public safety exception." Chopping a piece out of the Bill of Rights is “one of the things that I think we’re going to be reaching out to Congress to do – to come up with a proposal that is both Constitutional, but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that we now face.”


I think it's worth mentioning that the most recent attempts at terrorist acts were hardly impeded by the reading of rights as the terrified terrorists , one of whose gonads had just been blow off, spilled their guts as fast as they could get the words out and when we're happy to torture people so thoroughly their testimony becomes invalid, what's going to change if we tell them they have any rights at all -- which, practically speaking, they don't. I'm afraid we don't either. It's certainly harder not to cry when reading about our forefathers' noble ideals about all mankind being endowed with inalienable rights when we're told that's just too risky these days.
It's always been risky and taking that risk has been one of our valid claims to greatness.

The last thing I expected or wanted from the President in the way of restocking the Court was another battlefield lawyer, supporting the degradation of our most basic American traditions and laws from gutless cowardice. We have more to fear from fear of terrorism, it seems, than from terrorism itself. At a time when the very concept of a government is so frightening to so many, I would have expected a selection with a more obvious commitment to taking the risk of Liberty and willing to face saboteurs without sabotaging our own freedom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Bossa Nova Bomb?

I struggle to understand why Brazil needs nuclear submarines. It's a country where the interior is extremely difficult to penetrate or control and where the coastal cities have horrifying slums controlled by gangs and where poverty is rampant. How real is the threat of invasion? How real is the desire to be the alpha dog of South America?

Of course one benefit of having nuclear powered subs is that the military can impose secrecy on the fissionable materials it stockpiles as fuel and in that secrecy can use it to make nuclear weapons. There are indications that this is just what they're doing or are about to do, with President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva expressing irritation at the US monopoly on nuclear weapons in South America and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

So why the hell does Brazil, it's recovering economy notwithstanding, need the Bomb? I suppose it's because it simply feels it can -- and with the US busy chasing its own tail, hell bent on self-destruction and anarchy, who is to say it can't?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Audacity

We're all aware that one of the rhetorical games people use to portray political opponents negatively is to call them name callers. A skillful user can frame any kind of protest as a hatefest and in our time, when the most vociferous denunciation of the sin of homosexuality seems to come from people who hire male prostitutes, it's not surprising that the angriest political protesters spend more time accusing others of the sin of anger. So the people out in the streets flaunting weapons and sometimes vicious signs make it a point to take offense at those "hate-filled" liberals who like to point out not only the misspellings, the sometimes amusing disparity between facts and their beliefs and often vicious rhetoric. "Look at the way they call us 'Teabaggers'" say the offended parties, foam on their lips still fresh from calling the President a Communist, Kenyan, Maoist disciple of Adolph Hitler. "Liberals are having a field day of hate."

What will they call me for pointing out that they were the first to use that silly term themselves? Jay Nordinger writing for the National Review Online has to admit it, but can't do it without repeating the calumny -- those liberal extremists like Rachel Maddow are nasty, childish name callers -- never mind that we "patriots" started calling them Nazis and Communists years ago for valid criticism of the Republican Administration: baby killers! Grandmother killers! America haters! Terrorist supporters! They should be more respectful or at least neutral.

Sure, there's name calling and there's name calling. Massive tax cuts intended to boost the economy were just that a few years ago, but now they're irresponsible and massive debt increases according to "Tea party patriots" ( to use the term that Nordinger insists we should use if we really were fair minded) and aren't I just a nasty name caller for pointing out the stunning hypocrisy? Isn't this just a hate site for publishing that? No, the Liberal Media like the National Review, controls the discourse and that is why it's become so nasty. By Liberal Media of course, I mean those terrorist sympathizers and Trotzkyites who want to grab your guns and turn your children Gay.

I'd hate to play poker with such people. It's more than just Botox that enables the propagandists and media manipulators and their candidates to say such things with straight faces. So when the Republican candidate for the Governorship of Florida comes on the air last night and with the flippant demeanor of someone explaining to preschoolers that fish swim and birds fly, tells us that "Obama thinks that more government is the solution to all problems."

I have to be in awe of his training, self control -- the sheer dishonesty of his audacity. As he was speaking, of course, one of our time's greatest ecological disasters was and is poisoning vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico and soon to poison a good part of the Atlantic ocean and all the sea life -- and all the result of taking government mandated safeguards out of the equation: the sum total of the Bush energy policy as written by BP and Exxon and Halliburton. When BP drills elsewhere in that oh so socialist world, they have to use a device that would have prevented this spill, but thanks to core Republican policy they got to save $500,000 and cost us untold billions. God only knows what the final cost of this disaster will be or how many decades it will take for the Gulf to begin to recover.

But there you are, I'm indulging in "hate" again when I should listen to Rush and accept that mane made disaster is "natural" and after all, oil is part of nature and it's a liquid just like water and nature itself wants the oil cartel to make billions and billions and billions -- far more than it wants us to be healthy and prosper. I do try, but as they tell me I'm a liberalcommiefascist, it can't be easy to rid myself of that ugly old hate and go along with the flow.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Joe the Dumber

Senator Joe Lieberman is a cheap, pandering whore without a principle in his head and without much concern for history. Instead of being able to come up with some means to combat and prevent acts of terrorism, he's still looking for ways to make a criminal organization into a superpower complete with Army, Navy, Air Force and probably nuclear missiles. Any one working for a foreign terrorist organization should be stripped of his rights as a citizen. He doesn't bother to clarify whether that's before or after a fair trial, but I suspect the whole idea of a fair trial is anathema to his sort of Neanderthal conservatism. What an idiotic response to a failed truck bomb: attack the cornerstone of American liberty.

I wonder if he stops to contemplate how the Jews of Europe were suddenly deemed by the German government as being agents of a hostile foreign power and stripped of citizenship -- allowing the confiscation of their property and their exile to death camps.

No, someone willing to kill hundreds of people at random in Times Square is going to be deterred by a subsequent withdrawal of his citizenship? The shade of Mohammad Atta is laughing in Hell. What about domestic terrorist/murderer Tim McVeigh? Oh, that's OK, he wasn't working for foreigners.

What does Lieberman hope to accomplish other than to give hope to the barbarian Right that we can do as we like to anyone who isn't a citizen? God only gave rights to Americans, you see.

Whether he doesn't bother to or doesn't have the brain power to dismiss that worthless gesture of idiot rage is something not worth speculating on, but it's obvious that Joe Lieberman is all about Joe Lieberman trying to get attention by once again trying to rattle the cage of the ignorati instead of adding anything worthwhile to an important effort.

Heckuva Twist, Brownie

When you want to get the best advice on how to treat a disaster, who're you gonna call? Well certainly not the "enviros" who might know something about nature and how it works. Certainly you don't ask advice from people who have been telling you it was going to happen any day now after the day actually arrived. That would be to close to admitting you were wrong. No, you want to hear from someone whose personal record of handling catastrophic situations has become a metaphor for bungling and incompetence: you ask Brownie.

Of course the hottest new dance, the Tea Party Twist, has the baggers in knots trying to blame Obama for the latest Gulf oil disaster, the kind of disaster we've all been warned about and have been laughed at for worrying about. We dare not mention George and Dick who actually were partying it up while New Orleans drowned and doing Lord knows what for days afterward since it might diminish the outrageous new claim that Obama stalled doing anything about this oil spill so as to maximize the tragedy and give him an excuse to "pander to the environmentalists." You remember them, they're the guys who were to blame for the high prices that made the oil industry so happy?

Come on baby, let's do the twist:
"This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, 'I'm gonna shut it down because it's too dangerous,' " No, this would never have happened but for President Hussein.
"This president has never supported Big Oil, he's never supported offshore drilling, and now he has an excuse to shut it back down."
whined Brownie through the microphones at Fox without regard to the fact that "back down" would indicate that it had ever been shut down and that Obama hadn't been saying all along that he was in favor of drilling when needed if it could be done safely. No he hasn't yet joined Rush in claiming that environmentalist hippies in diving gear sunk the platform and he hasn't mentioned the failure of the safety equipment from Halliburton -- who would dare? Why mention that the free market is supposed to take care of this, not that durned Gummint. Who would be so unpatriotic and nonpartisan as to mention the truth? Lady Sarah after all says we need people to trust the oil industry. That means we need people to distrust the (Democratic) government if not Democracy itself.

So let's go, the band is playing and it's the Blame it on Obama Cha-Cha. Who can resist? Play it loud and you won't hear me blaming this on official drill baby drill Republican policy.

Blame it on ObamUH
Blame it on ObamUH!

Come on everybody!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Who cares?

Can we call public reaction to the Gulf oil spill predictable? I'm not surprised that a CNN poll yesterday shows 47% don't approve of the way the President has handled it, but I would be surprised if many of that group really have no idea of what Obama has or hasn't done -- perhaps the majority of them, perhaps more. Of course the poll isn't scientific and it didn't ask how many people approve of BP's safety record or of the Halliburton safety equipment that failed. It's just another chance for people to show that they really disapprove of the man being in office. Another CNN poll today shows that 61% favor the continuation of drilling. I wonder how many of them live far inland.

Has anyone else noticed the lack of notice that 11 people are missing and presumed dead; either burned alive or drowned in the oil rig explosion and sinking? Shouldn't we be lionizing them for having died for cheaper oil which after all is the only thing that keeps us free and in God's good graces? No, that's predictable too. No talk of sacrifice when it comes to oil please, since it may lead some to consider what sacrifices are worth it and who should be making them. It may prompt people to ask whether the loss of jobs and industries makes the penny or two's difference in the cost of crude worth more and more destruction of the oceans we depend on for food and oxygen.

It's all too easy for us to keep the blinders on. We're too occupied with this week's groceries and next week's mortgage payment and American Idol and Obama bashing and besides we're so damned ignorant of how nature works we can't make the connection between the fish sticks and the fish they come from - if there is any.

Yes, the free market will take of everything and a bull will eventually find his way out of a china shop and besides I don't have time to care about it. I've got to pick up the kids from school and take them to soccer practice and yoga and put gas in the SUV . . . .

Paint it black.

It amazes me how my fellow Floridians, so many of whose lives revolve around the rivers. lakes and coastline of the Sunshine State, so many of whom are actively concerned with keeping the natural environment natural, can still side with the polluters and despoilers when it comes to voting for Republicans who work for and ofter are developers, sugar producers and cattlemen with no vision that goes beyond this month's P&L. Will that change when the Gulf becomes a smelly dead sea, when the white sand turns to black and the drinking water runs out or will Florublicans continue the self-destructive doublethink?

It may be a week or more before the gushing well head in the Gulf is capped. The optimists say it may be months before the Gulf recovers, others say any return to life may take far longer since the oil cloud runs very deep and the dispersants used to break up the oil are toxic to the entire food chain and what settles to the bottom may leave it as hostile to life as a newly tarred section of the Interstate. Certainly the business food chains that begin with fishing and tourism will be devastated, but if you expect the Party of Business and Free Enterprise to give an oily damn, think again.

Palin and Kristol are flapping their jaws like sock puppets covering the hands of Exxon and BP trying to keep up the enthusiasm for more drilling and closer to the shore. It's about "energy security" says the big hair Runaway Governor without addressing the cost of this cleanup and the cost to all those who buy food that may now have to come from Asia and the Southern hemisphere and the cost to those who depend on non-toxic oceans.
“We believe that God shed his grace on thee. We still believe that America is exceptional.” she said while non sequitur alarms were set off around the world.
Indeed it is: exceptional in it's ability to justify being raped, cheated, pillaged and looted by the people for whom she speaks. Our security and the price of oil have little to do with the matter, it's about increased profits for companies whose profits have more than doubled in the last year, who get tax subsidies despite paying little or no US taxes. By the grace of God and Palin they'll do even better next year and it's not because the price of oil will go down or that there's enough offshore oil to make a difference or that the oil that's brought up will not be sold abroad. Far from making us more independent, it will makes us more dependent on multinational corporations with no motivation not to sell to the highest bidder; with no motivation but their own welfare.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Times square terrorism

The big question today is: how long will it take the media to patch together a reason to blame the car bomb that didn't go off in Times Square today on President Obama? I've already had e-mails to the effect that, because the Coast Guard chose, as a cost cutting method, to turn off the obsolete LORAN-C coastal navigation system last February, our "enemies" are now sure to attack us.

The rural right is going to blame it on Obama, who as they know favors the use of the police and FBI to capture terrorists instead of the Armed forces using lots of 9 billion dollar bombers -- just like the unmanly socialist wimp he is. Never mind that it works.

Of course the Pakistani Taliban has already claimed responsibility, but it's already been proved that Obama's college education was financed by Pakistani agents who knew he'd be president someday. He might just as well admit the whole thing.

Another question that's been on my mind is whether or not the two latest attempts to blow stuff up were intentionally defective. After all the real objective is to bleed us dry and turn us against each other and that's just what is happening. Give the Nigerian kid just enough powder to blow his Nigerian gonads off, park the SUV with propane tanks and a smoke bomb on a New York street and you have us all running around screaming for blood, begging to give our civil rights away and destabilizing the country without the risk of major retaliation and without spending much money. It's just conjecture, of course. I'm just sayin' as the foxy folk say.