Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I know what you're thinking

My first thought was: I've seen this scenario in some cheesy Tom Cruise infected Sci-Fi movie. Apparently that thought occurred to the Nature.com editorial staff as well. The Department of Homeland Security it would seem, is testing a system to detect malicious thoughts. No really.

They call it Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) because that's what government departments do with their doings, lest clear speech shed clear light. They make up acronyms that disguise the tunnels they dig under the foundations of liberty, but I digress. The technology purports to identify individuals who are planning to blow things up or have "malintent" as they say in the dialect.

Like a more traditional polygraph, FAST measures heart rates, among other things. Heart rates respiration and perspiration go up, after all when you're nervous about the bomb in your shorts or wishing you could throttle some thick-skull TSA twit as he gives you grief over an aspirin in your pants pocket that shows up on a scanner and starts groping you for explosives as you put your hands over your head in abject submission. Hell I'm sure I'd set off all kinds of alarm bells right now just thinking of how I've so often been treated as a felon on his way into the penitentiary instead of a tired traveler trying to get home.

I have no idea about what else this electro-mechanical night club bouncer measures and I'm not sure it invades any privacy that hasn't already been taken away by the cowardly traitors who passed the "Patriot" Act. I'm too lazy and too unwilling to provoke myself into another Lewis Black style tantrum to read the " Privacy Impact Assessment" our bureaucratic brethren at DHS have given us. I'll leave that to you. Besides my loathing of people who seem to exist only for the purpose of inserting that fly-blown and putrid metaphor into every sentence, it was written, most revealingly, by someone any German speaker will recognize as the Devil himself: Hugo Teufel III, Chief Privacy offer at the DHS under George W. Bush.

Does it work any better than the Polygraph does at detecting the evasions of sociopaths? It would have to, since those tend to be the people we're looking to put on no-fly lists and of course we won't have the results interpreted by a seasoned professional, but rather someone who was promoted from K-Mart security officer last week.

No, it's the stuff of B movies or sarcastic Dr. Strangelove sequels or even Orwell novels, but perhaps we've lost the ability even to see what the politics of fear has done to us in our cringing, cowardly new century.

Friday, May 27, 2011

If they're for it, we're against it.

The natural state of men, before they were joined in society, was a war, and not simply, but a war of all against all.

Thomas Hobbes -

Scanning the Facebook page of my congresscritter, Tom Rooney (R-FL) I find the real interest not to be the simplistic banalities and the strained attempts to generate outrage against Barack Obama. It's not the continuing effort by Rooney to portray the assistance being given NATO's actions in Syria as a constitutional violation; it's more about the truly demented calls for impeachment by the people who post there; calls that remain in view without comment by Mr. Rooney, who claims that he maintains the page to be more "in touch" with the sentiments of his constituents rather than as a tool to promote irrational rage for political purposes.

If he has some constituents other than me who disagree with the "Oh I just hate, hate him" and "Oh he just makes me sick" and the "he uses the constitution to line his bird cage" swamp dwellers, they must indeed like me, be very reluctant to post comments there under their real names. He's created a milieu quite hostile to reason and reasonable people offering constructive criticism.

Yes, of course there are many questions about the legality of George W. Bush's legacy, some of which -- too much of which -- remains in place, but the War on Obama is not really based on his alleged and often misrepresented constitutional infractions, and we know it because they weren't presented as such during the previous administration and indeed were eagerly supported by the reactionary beasts who hang out on the Rooney page to congratulate themselves and outdo each other on the size of their hate. Indeed, that place is a microcosm of our war against ourselves, a war of all against all.

It's not that I like Senator Rand Paul or his familiar pose of principled outrage, but I am indeed on his side when it comes to addressing the real constitutional outrage of the Patriot Act. I have to smile at what may be the end of his naivete because it isn't the Democrats at war with the Leahy-Paul Amendment, designed to allow greater oversight of ever increasing Government warrantless surveillance powers under that cynically named act. It's the Republicans supporting precisely the kind of power they pretend to oppose while posturing as libertarians to the frothy-mouthed and furious rabble.
“Unfortunately, what we’re finding now is that the Democrats have agreed to allow me to have amendments but my own party is refusing to allow me to debate or present my amendments.”
Said Paul. Imagine that.

But as the man said, the joining of people into a society serves to prevent the chaos of nature, and I have to ask myself whether the effort to portray anything social or designed for the common good as the unqualified evil of Socialism, did not have the promotion of that very bellum omnium contra omnes; everyone at war with everyone and every man for himself as a purpose. Perhaps when everyone is against everyone, such things as consistent viewpoints are illusory as is anything resembling principle. If you're for it, I'm against it may be as close as we can get.

Friday, May 20, 2011

T minus 34 hours and raving

Dies iræ ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla !

Well the End is neigh and a Day neigher than it was yesterday, but the proof is certain, says Harold Camping, even though he formerly had 'proof' 1994 was the big one; the Dies Irae, the End time.

But he has proof that God is allowing us to have gay pride parades and same sex marriage as a set up for the fall and the proof is in something called the Book of Jude, which I'd never heard of, my Bible ending somewhere around the book of Daniel or so and being in various Semitic dialects, not Greek. Anyway Camping says God all gaybashing mighty explains it in Jude 7 which is funny because although the Bible has at least two names for God ( and two versions of the stories to go with them) Jude isn't one of them. The real Tanach doesn't tell us that the elder Yahweh or the somewhat later Elohim wrote it either. That was Moses, it supposes -- nor did the prophets claim to actually be God, but that's a long road I won't go down today, you'll be pleased to hear.

But seriously -- it's important now in these last days before John the Revelator's ( also not God) psychotic episodes come true, to be familiar with the words of God, speaking through Jude and Camping (the least godlike of all) of course, so I looked it up to see just who this fellow was, but although I did find a site that explains it all, I had to stop reading the explanation when the writer accused Theologians ( as to be distinguished from believers) of incompetence.
" This subject is under constant dispute by many theologians. The trouble with them is they can't read English."
Stunning and in the interest of brevity I could quit right here -- but I won't.

I certainly can read English, but I can't claim to be an authority on this questionable early second century book, since I can't read Greek, so score one for The Bible Study Page. I'll even overlook the gaseous certainty that whoever the author claimed to be, he must then be, and the ubiquitous practice of naming anonymous religious texts for long dead prophets. I'm just not in an argumentative mood.

So I'll have to believe them when they say that God himself guarantees that Jude, like James, the Upright, was the brother of Jesus, but as the English language was more than a thousand years away in the future and out of respect for Mrs. Christ, or Miriam as poor old impotent Joseph ( who none the less made other kids with her) called her, let's call them Jehudi and Jacov just like their mother did. Not nice to contradict Jewish mothers, I can tell you -- I mean you want to talk about days of wrath?

So then -- just what does Jude 7 give us as the WORD OF GOD that can't be attributed to Jehudi son of Miriam or some other writer in another country?

"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

Well I guess Jehudi would know, being the half brother of the son of God or maybe the full brother - who the hell knows, but it's funny that neither of the real Gods, Yahweh and the Elohim mentioned this a thousand years and a half earlier and what they did mention didn't need some adopted son to relay the message. I thought it mentioned something about inhospitable treatment of strangers, and condoned tossing your virgin daughter to a crowd to be gang raped, but as the book was likely written quite a long time after these cities disappeared, who the hell could possibly know?

Anyway, since neither Lot nor his daughters were blasted to hell for incest, I think we can dismiss the sex thing entirely, OK? If Mrs. Lot was fossilized for looking over her shoulder, but Lot gets off for free (yes, that's a double entendre - aren't I wicked?) the whole God-hates-perverts thing came right out of Jude's ass and into Camping's mouth.

As far as I can gather from Bereshit, or Genesis, Gay Pride wasn't the problem with the cities of the plain at all, and as far as we know, ancient Greece wasn't blown to hell by a firestorm like Gomorrah, nor was Egypt whose kings made Oedipus look like a prude, but who am I to argue and point out contradictions?

Like the Wrong Reverend Phelps, Camping believes "God hates fags" and is going to kill most of us for allowing them to live in peace like other people, just like he killed the Sodomites and Gomorrans for their gay pride parades and same sex marriages. And he'll find proof somewhere whether it makes sense or not, and since none of his followers are really quite sane, it doesn't matter.

The real proof of Camping's high fecal content will come at the International Date Line ( no, not the phone sex number) on 6:00 PM Saturday when nothing at all happens and the Repo men will begin to pick up all those vans, The leases on the billboards will expire, his followers will stand around like fools looking at them and wonder how they're going to get their property back and the 18 million dollars Camping has raised will likely disappear into various "good works." Perhaps he'll rapture himself to Marbella or Monte Carlo.

Anyway, Even though there are two sets of commandments given in two slightly different settings by Gods with two different names in the Bible, it's obvious to me that God doesn't like having words put in his mouth and for those who believe Jesus was Divine ( no, not the Drag Queen) I think Jesus didn't think much of you putting hate speech or damnation in there either. Of course in my personal religion, God not only speaks through our mouths, he speaks only through our mouths and thus nobody can be certain of what he's all about. Certainly for those like me who escaped out the back door during those weekend religious study classes and actually read it in its entirety, Psalm 77:19 comes to mind.
"Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. "
Like the Poet said: nobody knows where God is going or where he has been and his wake is long lost in the waves, so stop pretending you know.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two pathetic losers

Once upon a time the wood shingles on my house caught fire from a spark that came out of the chimney. It was on the surface and I could have put it out with a garden house in seconds, but the fire department insisted that it was in the attic and tore up the ceilings trying to get at something that wasn't there. I wasn't allowed back in the house until they'd done 15 thousand dollars worth of damage - a lot of money in the Early 70's. I was angry but I never called them "fucking traitors" They were after all, trying to keep me safe and perhaps to protect evidence should it prove to be a crime scene.

I loved Easy Rider when it was first released. Hey, I was a young guy with long hair and a motorcycle and it was the first movie with a contemporary sound track. I saw it again a year or so ago and it was unwatchable; a stilted, cliche-ridden and pretentious film that confirmed my belief that as an actor, Peter Fonda was born to play the roll of standing in front of a tobacco shop with a fist full of cigars.

He's still a spoof of himself and every bit as self-important as Hanoi Jane. If I wasn't already aware of his unimportant self, his claim to have sent the President a letter calling him "a fucking traitor" for allowing BP employees and the Coast Guard to keep him and his cameras away from the oil spill clean up site would confirm it. ( I'll bet you were wondering where I was going with this.)

Fonda has an interest in a documentary which he co-produced, so he stands to profit by this adolescent behavior, which gives me even less respect for him. It's almost worse than Ted Nugent's "suck on my machine gun, you piece of shit" anti-Obama rant, because Nugent at least has the excuse of being stoned, drunk, neurotic, demented and full of guilt for dodging the draft by shitting in his pants (after getting a student deferment when he wasn't a student.)

Fonda has far less talent and his desperate efforts at getting attention here are nothing short of pathetic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Apocalypse fer sure

Well folks, here it is again. The doomsday circus is back in town and guess what's happening in the big top in less than three days - that's right, it's the rapture and we're all gonna die screaming! OK, maybe some of y'all are actually Holy Smoke Church members and won't have to sit here through the tectonic shimmy, the lakes of fire and all the other rides while Jesus, like some Mexican wrestler with a gruesome mask is gonna kick some infidel ass, but not yours, Mr. camo pants. You get to go to the magic kingdom. You'll have to leave the truck behind, of course.

Yes, May 21, 2011 is right around the corner and Doomsday, as it has been countless times before, is almost here. For perhaps the first time however, these prophets have recognized that there are a dozen time zones and so Saturday at 6:00 PM, starting at the International Date Line out in the pacific, the apocalypse will march across the planet at a thousand miles per hour - boy can those horses move! That means we'll get to watch it all on TV as that Titanium robot, or whatever Jesus comes dressed as these days. kicks hell out of Asia and moves on toward Europe. That will give a lot of people her in God's own US of A enough time to convert and yes, you can do it on line through Paypal.

Not me though, It's going to be months before the planet is cleansed of disbelief and animal life and since the righteous will no longer be here, I get to grab their trailers and second hand pickup trucks and ATV's and guns and stuff and me and the other heretics can shoot guns and barbeque like Ted Nugent. It's gonna be a hell of a party - as long as the beer don't run out before that lake of fire thing.

Anyway, the Rapture should hit the fan at my house at 7:00 PM Eastern Daylight time according to God's infallible plan and I'll be watching it all unfold from poolside and I'll have plenty of ice on hand. Perhaps I'll live blog the whole thing. Stay tuned.

I am not an animal

Said the elephant man, and we know what he meant, but of course if we divide all living things between, viruses, plants, bacteria and so on, you'll find that humans, or most of us anyway, are animals. There was no point in our evolution when we suddenly broke the connection with our past and became something other - we're just big brained apes.

Big brained apes who like sex however, should stay out of Florida, says Southern Fried Science with tongue firmly implanted in Southern cheek, since the language of Florida's latest legislative idiocy Law outlaws sex with or the enjoyment of watching sexual activities of animals would outlaw sex between human animals as well as watching porn, human or animal -- unless you're a veterinarian or horse breeder of course, in which case, saddle up!

"An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices"

Ok, ok, I'm stretching the point, since Florida law does distinguish between human and non human animals and since this one doesn't use the word "person," that Spring Break escapade in Daytona isn't necessarily going to get you locked up, but of course in the Bible belt, evolution never happened in the first place, we're not animals but animated mud and so no foul here. Sorry to have bothered you.

Cities of the plain

There are people who give Free Speech a bad name; people who use any freedom the government protects to undermine and destabilize and overthrow that government and exploit the population -- and all for personal ( and corporate) gain.

Such are the shadowy, entities behind the multi-headed beast pumped into a frenzy by unaccountable and uncountable millions they get for the purpose: entities like SOCYBERTY.COM whose recent post was sent to me by a breathless Republican eager to impart the secret knowledge that no, President Obama did not give the order to enter Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan because he is a dithering, indecisive coward and the reins of government have been pried from his trembling, black hands. You see, Leon Panetta had to "override" Obama with the help of cabinet members and that eye-rolling Minstrel Show clown is too afraid now to tell the truth. Holdouts like Valerie Jarett aren't telling us either because of the "investigation back in Chicago" but there was a silent coup and Obama is no longer in control.
"What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound."

Of course no news agency; not ABC or NBC or FOX or CNN or BBC or Deutsche Welle or al freakin' Jazeera knows about this, only SOCYBERTY.COM and all the other PAC funded heads of the same hydra who are cutting and pasting and posting these stories. Google it and you'll see. They have secret sources in the cabinet, you know, who will commit treason only for them.

Sure, we can see it as the desperate death throes of a humiliated racist party, a wicked witch melting and hissing on the floor, but I can't forgive it and I can't forgive the people who e-mail it around the country like some titillating photo of some stoned starlet getting out of a limousine in a short skirt. I can't forgive, I can't forget and while old Yahweh was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of ten good citizens, no God worth his scriptures would forgive a country that contained ten such unpunished liars as these.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The knock on the door

We've got a hard core Socialist Radical in the White House if you listen to people like the Koch Brothers -- and make no mistake, we do listen to them whether we want to or not and whether the slander comes from their mouths or the thousand mouths that speak their words. Yet the slide toward the right, the slide toward authoritarianism, the slide toward the business of America being war, continues without much popular resistance. Unless you mean the resistance of the voters of course but the voters don't matter since they're drawn along like hyena puppies following their mother, snarling about Socialism and Taxes.

Can we blame Obama, who hasn't done much to stop the wars, close the torture chambers and offshore prisons, end the DADT charade, temper the growing power of the Executive Branch or give us the kind of transparency in government we were promised? Sure we can, but if every naive campaign promise had been acted upon, we'd still have a long way to go to stop that slide.

Even while the Republicans, including my own Representative Tom Rooney, (R-FL) are howling about Obama exceeding his powers by authorizing a no-fly zone in Libya, his party has proposed giving the president even more war powers. The House Armed Services Committee's National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the United States to use military force anywhere there are terrorism suspects, including within the U.S. itself, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Yes, yes, I know, you hate the ACLU Libtards, but I don't suppose you like the idea of a president sending the marines to your neighborhood or invading any country the president suspects may be harboring "terrorists" either. As it stands there was little opposition in the house save for one member of the House Armed Services Committee: Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) who was the sole dissenter. Now let's all raise our right arms and shout "Libtard."

The President didn't ask for this awesome power boost. He didn't suggest that he needed it. He didn't ask for the extra billions in military spending or another extension of the Afghanistan War. It was the smaller government folks. It was the Republican House hissing with a forked tongue from both sides of their smirking mouths.

Yes, we're sliding and it's not toward Socialism but toward a military/police surveillance state. It's the courts, like the Indiana Supreme Court that has handed us a ruling suggesting that Indiana Police no longer need warrants nor to be in hot pursuit nor need they have probable cause to enter and search your home for any reason - and may beat hell out of you with impunity if you "resist."

“A right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,"reads the decision.

And we're babbling about Planned Parenthood and NPR and the ACLU Commies and against right of the government to flood some fields to save millions of people or take poison of the store shelves in violation of sacred property rights. We're fantasizing about being economic secessionists free or restriction or responsibility. We're oozing lofty proclamations about property rights and the government of no government like medieval monks talking about angels and pinheads and hunting for witches and heretics.

Obama can't fix this and all the Republicans can do is offer people like Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann. Maybe we can't fix it either and if you want to know who's to blame, you need look no farther than your bathroom mirror.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why we need Ron Paul

I rather hope Ron Paul becomes the Republican presidential candidate in the next election. It's true that I agree with some of what he says, some of it quite strongly and it's true that I disagree as well and just as passionately, but if he is Barack Obama's challenger, the nature and tone of the debates and the wider campaign will have to address some fundamental assumptions that always are ignored. One of the many fundamentals that separate the left from the new right is the ranking of rights in our society. Paul asserts what most of his party would rather hide beneath heaps of polemical hyperbole: Property rights are the basis of freedom and being thus fundamental, must not be abridged for the common good.

I'm one of those people, you see, who thinks all ethics, or at least all ethical judgements are situational and that what we like to call fundamentals is an abstract construct, a bit like Euclidean geometry, which is immune from other, perhaps decisive factors. Parallel lines do indeed intersect in a universe with curvature and morally clear decisions become less clear when they have to cope with the purpose of morality and ethics.

Speaking to Chris Matthews last week, Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) declared that he would not have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- not because he's a racist, and to be sure he says he would have desegregated government institutions like schools, but because the rights of property owners are fundamental to our basic freedoms; freedoms that our constitution implies, are rights inherently and independently fundamental as they stand. Is he insisting that those with no property have fewer or no rights? That's up to him to clarify and I expect he would like the oportunity.

“I believe that property rights should be protected,”
says the man from Texas. Who would disagree when presented in the abstract. But life isn't an abstract thing and may I defend building a nuclear waste dump next to Manhattan because of that declared axiom? Are property rights part of a constellation of rights all designed by humans to make human life free of certain abuses? Are rights, like Newton's laws, fundamental or descriptive? If they are things invented by the people and for the people, to what purpose were they invented; to protect the one against the many or the many against the one or both? Do they apply equally at all points on the long curve or are only around the middle where we experience things?

I'm sure Paul would have to admit with liberals, that there are limits to "fundamental" rights, but just what those are and for what reason those limits are put there needs to be dragged out of the cave and into the light. Do rights exist for the benefit of people and if so does the right of one man always trump the right of every man? Are we here for the law or is the law here for us? Do the rights of all really flow from the rights of an individual or are individual rights sometimes an impediment? If there is an impediment to that road to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, must 300 million of us endure it so that the abstract right of one may be protected? Yes, that's extreme, but as with Newton's laws, it's the extremes that absolutes are shown not to be so. In short, can Libertarian theory produce a country that any of us will want to live in - in whole or in part?

(Of course if I were to debate him, I would, in my quasi-deconstructionist way ask him what he means by property and whether that question isn't more fundamental because without asking that, defending property rights can defend slavery or rape and some slightly worse things.)

We need to talk about it. We've been stuck at this point for too long. These concerns aren't new and they aren't going away and we all need to rethink our opinions at a fundamental level as a regular practice. I think Paul and Obama are both well qualified to do it and will do it -- and if we have to endure another hysterical fugue about flag pins and death panels and birth certificates and Communism aimed at the stupidest elements of the population; lies and slander and tactical statements of opinion that a moment may reverse - - well let's just say that the civil war doesn't need to be fought this way again.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I am not an animal

Said the elephant man, and we know what he meant, but of course if we divide all living things between, viruses, plants, bacteria and so on, you'll find that humans, or most of us anyway, are animals. There was no point in our evolution when we suddenly broke the connection with our past and became something other - we're just big brained apes.

Big brained apes who like sex however, should stay out of Florida, says Southern Fried Science with tongue firmly implanted in Southern cheek, since the language of Florida's latest legislative idiocy Law outlaws sex with or the enjoyment of watching sexual activities of animals would outlaw sex between human animals as well as watching porn, human or animal -- unless you're a veterinarian or horse breeder of course, in which case, saddle up!

"An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices"

Ok, ok, I'm stretching the point, since Florida law does distinguish between human and non human animals and since this one doesn't use the word "person," that Spring Break escapade in Daytona isn't necessarily going to get you locked up, but of course in the Bible belt, evolution never happened in the first place, we're not animals but animated mud and so no foul here. Sorry to have bothered you.

Freedom is slavery

A mind is a terrible thing to make up, uncertainty being a fundamental building block of nature, but I've come close to making up my mind that a mind is, unlike all other things, not really subject to change and so those who spend their time trying to change minds damn themselves to a great deal of suffering.

So then, I'm not going to try to convince you that Rand Paul is having another one of his captious fallacy fests by trying to convince us all that if one believes that Americans have a right to have a certain degree of health care, one believes, ipso facto, in slavery.

Why try to go through his tortuous logical progressions and attempt to refute them as factually or logically false? Why indeed, since humanity runs on a blend of unconscious bias and packaged rationalizations. Who would read the list of ingredients on a pack of cigarettes anyway and who bothers to question politicians who mock people you don't agree with? We just inhale and we like it and we come back for another pack.

So, to reiterate the claim that freedom from untimely death is slavery will be enough for me this sunny morning when I should be enjoying life instead of following the lives of celebrity idiots. I'll just leave it to you. You may think of Orwell and smile, you may dream of being the only man in the world and growl in approval, you may jump off a cliff, you may do as you please. I've got mine and screw all y'all, as it says on the Tea Bag and if my wake upsets your boat, or you're thrashing about in the water, screw you twice, loser -- I'm nobody's slave.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The quality of mercy

There's been a lot of talk about my country losing it's soul because we finally managed to off one of the most dangerous mass murderers of the last few decades, who was still involved in plotting to kill thousands more.

I was raised to believe than any man's death diminishes my own life and that it's wrong to celebrate it, but although that's what I still believe in general, it never occurred to me to think those people famously pictured in Times Square on VJ day, were doing anything immoral or that they should instead have been in morning for the enemy dead. They were celebrating the end of the killing of millions. They were celebrating life and survival, which are as close to victory as we mortals can get.

In the celebration of the Passover, Jews customarily withhold a drop of wine in remembrance of the Egyptian soldiers said to have died in pursuit of the fleeing slaves. It's a nice gesture I've always thought well of, but although I consider the deed done by the US Navy to be a solemn one; one that shouldn't include parading impaled skulls or photos of the dead in some barbaric way, I'm glad they did it at long last. Think of what might have been and what might not have been had it been done 10 years ago instead of waging war.

I have to wonder what the world would have been like if someone had managed to invade Germany's sovereignty and Adolph Hitler's personal liberty by assassinating him in his living room in 1936. Can we really call the men who plotted to kill him morally bankrupt or brave heroes? No, I think this would be a better world if we hadn't had to do it the hard way, if you'll forgive one of the largest understatements ever made. I could think of other horrors involving the death of tens of millions and the suffering of hundreds of billions that could have been averted by such actions.

Of course, you can see that I'm not a moral absolutist who sees morality as a set of fixed rules not subject to interpretation or to extenuating exceptions, nor do I see the law as something that should stand in the way of justice or believe in a mercy to one whose life has been a celebration of mercilessness to thousands of innocents. I saw no moral dilemma involved in the choice to hunt down the people who murdered innocent athletes in Munich and I see none whatever in the killing of Osama bin Laden. I find the torture of suspects far more repugnant, yet not quite so much as sawing Daniel Pearl's head off -- or most importantly the acts of terrorism bin Laden arranged. Can we even talk of such people being owed any respect or consideration or mercy much less of how wicked we are by exterminating them on or off the battlefield?

I certainly see less national soul loss than we incurred in the bombing of Iraq, the destruction of tens of thousands of lives and the exile of millions just to kill one dictator - the loss of civilian life in the bombing of Dresden or Hanoi or Tokyo, to name a few.

No, I'm sorry. Respect for human life is not diminished and in a way is affirmed by violating the 'sovereignty' of Pakistan and the sanctity of Osama's bedroom and standing on principle against it requires a kind of selective set of values that mystify me. I cannot morn the murderer in the same way or to the same degree as the murdered and if I have a soul that mourns or rejoices, I have it because of the timely deaths of all the evil men who would have killed me with a smile had they prospered. And think too of the souls that would have been lost to this man had he lived. Let's rejoice for their sake.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Shame

"Let's be clear on this: Obama DID NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama, just a few weeks ago, was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found Osama Bin Laden and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN VICTORY!! Repost if you agree!!!!"

Did you get this in your in box too? I'm re-posting it because I agree that whomever wrote it - or more precisely whatever GOP committee wrote it, is the number one enemy our country has at the moment.

Are Naval Special Warfare Development Group members previously called "SEAL Team 6" really "soldiers" and did they wander about Afghanistan and Pakistan for years searching house to house after Bush bungled Tora Bora by tipping off tribal leaders? I don't think so. From the vantage point of not having my head up the GOP it seems more likely that civilian and military intelligence work by a lot of people and quite a bit of high level planning went into this successful raid and all that is hardly accidental.

Of course it's an American victory and nobody disputes that. Obama did not take credit for it. It may be the only significant military victory since 1945, but nobody is claiming that the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy or piloted bombers over Germany were just out for a day's fun when the war just happened to end and neither Roosevelt nor Eisenhower had anything to do with it. Obama must be made to look bad so facts and quotes are invented and there are any number of people who would see our country defeated rather than co-operate with a Black man and a Democrat in killing someone who attacked all of us.

And excuse me, but I remember the president who tried to deny combat pay to people who were being shot at and blown up every day and I remember which president tried to sell the Veteran's hospitals, and his middle name wasn't Hussein.

Of course it's an American victory and it's payback for an attack on all of us and I'm disgusted that there are people low enough to make this into another sleazy, dishonest attack on Obama. I remember which president happened to be in office when the economy collapsed as predicted. He was of paler complexion and didn't speak English all that well. I remember.

New Rules

So what's the difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives you might ask? There are many, but the important difference is the the House, like the inner circles of hell, is controlled by Republicans. Abandon all honesty, ye who enter here.

It's funny -- strange funny, not humorous funny -- that until the other day I couldn't get through a meeting or conversation or ball game or almost any other gathering with out a sometimes tearful encomium to the US military and nearly every vehicle around here is covered like some sort of vinyl pox with testaments to the owner's unspecified support of "the troops."

Who knew that "support" meant only keeping them engaged in dubious battle and didn't include appreciating a job well done? My several public utterances of "let's hear it for the SEALS" went not only unaffirmed, but drew glares and in the same venue where a fellow club member became so choked with tears explaining that our freedom is owed to the US armed services more than to anything else that he had to sit down and stop.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a resolution commending the armed forces, the intelligence community, the President and even George W. Bush for a job well done in eliminating the world's most wanted criminal, but since the House passed a new rule forbidding such an encomium just last January right after the Republicans took over, they refused to relent and decided not to follow suit. Too busy trying to kill NPR and Planned Parenthood, don'cha know.
OK, ok, some Democrats are buying into the ban too. I never claimed they were much better, but despite the bumper stickers and flag pins and the empty words and salty tears of John the Weeper, things like the surrender of the Axis powers, landing on the moon and the killing of bin Laden don't happen very often and putting their mouths where their flag pins fly could be managed in a few minutes. Could it be that they simply don't want to say anything that contradicts the anti-Obama hyperbole?

I don't expect much from the House of Representatives and I usually get less than I predict. I didn't predict the sudden silence of my patriotic Republican friends however. If there ever was a time when saying "mission accomplished" would be appropriate, this is it and if you can't support the anonymous members of SEAL Team 6 because you can't accept that Obama defeated an enemy, you can take your flag pin and stick it.

Osama lives

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

I've read that Mormonism is the fastest growing religion, but I doubt it. I think it's Denialism, at least in the USA; and yes, it's a religion. Like other religions, it offers peace and a feeling of importance, enlightenment, inclusion and a chance to be part of something bigger than oneself. You don't need to read any long and boring scriptures either and for ADD America, that's a major selling point. There aren't even a lot of commandments. "Whatever they say is a lie" covers most of it and almost anything can be denied: that the Apollo program ever landed anyone on the moon, that high bracket tax cuts boost the economy in a healthy way (or at all,) whether smallpox and Polio went away because of vaccines, and that oil reserves are finite -- and a long list of things.

It only takes a rare overthrow of scientific opinion or historical interpretation or the discovery of any actual conspiracy to cast a warm blanket of approval over all the tenets of Denialism. 30% of Republicans still believe the president, like John McCain, was born abroad. That's not going to change and any release of DNA tests or gory photos of bin Laden with the top left quadrant of his skull blown off and his homogenized brain oozing out isn't going to do more than put a bigger sneer on the face of Denialism.

Now I don't mean to say that all Republicans are Denialists or that all Denialists are Republicans by any means, but the biggest clamor for releasing the gruesome pictures and videos is from the right side of the aisle and from thence comes the argument that there's a huge worldwide "debate" about whether the bogey man is dead. Claiming that there is a "debate" that involves any participants outside the faith is, by its own right, is an act -- a typical act -- of Denialism. I'd be amazed to see evidence that any large part of humanity questions the demise of Osama as a fact but I'd be more amazed if the media doesn't continue to milk the manufactured controversy and politicians don't attempt to cash in on it.

To be sure, there were debates about whether Hitler was dead for many decades; whether Josef Mengele was dead or Martin Bormann. We had no pictures, no tissue samples and no credible witnesses, but although one of those men did indeed survive the war, the belief never really was about the evidence, but about sustaining the holy state of denial and the profitable state of fear. After all we still have substantial belief that Jesus didn't really die or the Hidden Imam or Elvis. The Princess Anastasia cult may still have some hangers on. Denial after all, is faith and to be human is to have faith and the maintenance of faith often forces a choice between pain and denial; forces us to create other forms of reality where our heroes and loved ones live -- and sometimes our bogeymen. The loss of bin Laden is, like the loss of the Soviet Union, a setback for fearmongers, after all. Profiteers who even now are assuring us that revenge will be swift.

But Osama bin Laden is dead and time will only confirm that Osama bin Laden is dead and as the President said, he's not coming back, ever. Which is another way of saying that like Elvis, Jesus, Satan and the Buddha, he's always going to be with us.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011


I can't laugh, or smirk too hard since it's pretty easy to mix up the names Osama and Obama even for those who don't have old age as an excuse. But when Glenn Beck came up with “lets kill Obama” would not be “a tough call to make” the other day, it certainly had to raise an eyebrow even the eyebrow of one who long ago lost faith in Freud and his slips.

It's a different story though, when Beck had to temper his admission that some respect was due with the notation that the president seemed "a little arrogant." He didn't seem so to me even if I force myself not to remember his predecessors little end-zone dance on the flight deck where he had just pretended to land a fighter plane and with his parachute harness arranged to accentuate his manhood. I didn't notice any Foxers laughing that "mission accomplished" day -- quite the contrary, really.

Obama was a model of confident restraint as far as I'm concerned, but that's just what his paid detractors would prefer to call "uppity" if they hadn't been told not to. I mean, isn't the fellow who accomplishes what you've failed to do in ten years and without breaking a sweat or busting the budget going to feel a bit arrogant to you, even if he's a bit to classy do the victory dance and the high fives?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Swingin' round the circle

Long before we had Steven Colbert with his espousal of conservative views that reveal trenchantly cynical commentary beneath, we had Petroleum V. Nasby writing in the dialect of the South in praise of the "secessionists" and their northern friends the Copperheads. But it works both ways and the infamous Palm Beach man of the people, Rush Limbaugh is borrowing the technique to express his gratitude to God that we have a man in the White House like Barack Obama.

Such a character as Colbert uses takes strength and skill to maintain, but it's a strength that Rush either doesn't have or doesn't want to have. Like a dog who just can't sit still with the smell of bacon in the air, it didn't take long, yesterday night, for Limbaugh to crack under the strain of decency and honesty and reveal what hunger lies beneath.
"I, me, my, three of the most used words in President Obama's media appearance last night, not a single intelligence adviser, not a single national security adviser, military adviser, came up with the idea...not one of them... according to Obama, had the ability to understand the need to get DNA. This was Obama's message last night,"

said Limbaugh. I suppose he simply didn't listen to the same speech I heard and perhaps he wrote the script before it even aired, but at any rate even the faux appearance of pleasure at our success in doing away with mass murderer Osama bin Laden was too much of a strain and the cynical, dishonest and slimy hate just had to come out.

No, Obama just couldn't be honest enough to admit that George W. Bush really was responsible for it. Couldn't resist telling us that it would have been better just to carpet bomb Abottabad and perhaps start another trillion dollar war against Andorra. He couldn't even be a man enough to admit being a Muslim and to stop fooling people with his birth certificate. But then what can we expect of a black man and a Democrat?

The eyes of Texas

It's no secret that Florida's economy is hurting more than that of many other states, but I'm sure it would be much worse if our sales tax cap on yachts costing more than a quarter million weren't in place. Of course mine didn't cost quite enough for me to benefit significantly, but it's gratifying that some of my friends saved enough to pay for a few thousand gallons of fuel. I'm sure it puts a smile on the faces of the many who have to choose between lunch money for the kids and driving to work. I'm sure that the several of my neighbors in foreclosure are altruistic enough to be glad those with that level of disposable income might use the savings on that Taiwan built vessel for an extra trip to the Abacos this summer.

Texas, which has a share of the yacht trade, is jealous, which is an extraordinary thing to say of our second biggest state with its continental sized self esteem. A Republican sponsored bill to cap the sales tax on yachts is now out of committee and will be considered by the Texas House along with deep cuts to education, nursing homes and other things that benefit only the surplus population.

The eyes of Texas are on taxes and the rest of us are watching.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Proof at last

The Body of Osama bin Laden was, we're told, disposed of with respect to Islamic custom. There you have it at last: Barack Obama respects Islam because, as his long form birth certificate stated before it was photoshopped out, he is a Muslim himself.

And curse him for not respecting the SEALS and attempting a military action without consulting the Tea Party, the Tyrant!