Monday, March 26, 2012

Dearly beloved

The world is full of mysteries, great and small. I hope to understand a few of them in what remains of my lifetime, but I'm not sure that there are some questions that shouldn't be left unanswered. Those have to do with human behavior and in particular the question of how and why people arrive at and maintain some of their opinions.

Take attorney Craig Sonner, long time friend of George Zimmerman and his family, who insists that not only is Zimmerman not a racist, but that when many listeners to the 911 recording discerned Zimmerman's voice calling the unfortunate Trayvon Martin a "fucking coon," what they really heard was a term of endearment. Yes indeed, said Sonner to ABC News, amongst the teenagers who reinvent our English language anew every day, "goon" is a term of endearment and that's just what Zimmerman was calling his victim as he prepared to shoot him to death. Most terms of endearment of course are preceded by the gratuitous, yet nearly ubiquitous "fucking" and followed by gunshots. Makes sense, right?

Perhaps it will play a part in Zimmerman's defense if Federal charges are filed and it no doubt will if the charges need proof that the shooting was "racially motivated" but as a pure example of deriving an argument by rectal extraction, and of the ability to state the preposterous with a straight face, this one is remarkable.

There is always the remote possibility that Zimmerman might have done the same to any person wandering the neighborhood. It's possible that he just hated kids, a group probably not intended to fall into a category protected by hate crime legislation, but the problem with hate crimes is that it isn't the crime on trial but rather the motivation and it's very hard to prove motivation. And yet, the kid is dead.

Is it possible, in our emotionally driven and politically directed society for Zimmerman to get a fair trail? I think the facts speak for themselves and I fear that minds are long since closed as usually is the case with witch hunts and lynch mobs and of course those with institutionalized agendas have already reached conclusions that make their causes the root cause of all evil.

It may evolve that there is no clear cut motivation that explains it all, no loophole in Florida gun laws, no ties to the KKK and little more than laziness on the part of the authorities. It may be quite the opposite, but people parading around in hooded sweatshirts or baggy pants or lace up shoes without laces or calling each other goons and calling for gun bans or simply indulging in public cultivation of anger is not going to help justice. The rusty gears of the system are turning and there's no rug big enough to sweep this or any other mixed metaphor under. It's time for the party to end and for dispassionate, blindfolded process justice to begin.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

If I had a son

"You know, if I had a son he would look like Treyvon,"
said the president and I guess that's true to some extent. He'd have dark skin, of course, but I took it to mean that his son would be an ordinary looking, ordinary acting 17 year old and not a shooting gallery target.

Newt Gingrich took it differently because he saw the comment, which was clearly an attempt to show compassion and to suggest that he couldn't avoid putting himself in the place of the grieving father of Treyvon Martin, as an opportunity to launch another Fox-faux outrage. Hasn't the entire Republican reaction to the election of Barack Obama been a collection of phony, trumped up, fabricated and exasperatingly stupid outrages?
" Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn't look like him?"
said Newt to Sean Hannity on Fox News. Certainly Fox is the Cape Canaveral; the launch pad of most such desperate grasping at rhetorical straws -- the place where the unscrupulously ambitious launch calumny after slander after blatant lie, not because this president is beyond criticism, but because they, the Republican insiders, are themselves accessories before, during and after the fact of the collapse of our economy, the corruption and outrageous economic policies and the unjustified war that precipitated it and only wild claims can distract the public from remembering. Only wild, unsubstantiated and preferably ridiculous statements can rally the bigotry against honesty and decency.

So is the president suggesting that it was only a tragedy because a black kid was killed? Only a Republican could twist words and facts to make it seem so and only a man of the "I will never apologise for America" persuasion could reflect on the Republican support for segregation, opposition to civil rights for minorities, females and non-Christians and not see the killing as part of a continuum; part of a mentality they've been promoting for at least a century.

The gambit is an old and tired and disreputable one, as much so as is Gingrich himself and the others Fox News gives the megaphone to. "Is George Washington suggesting that he should be king?" In fact he suggested the opposite, but the question suggests that there is indeed a question. Is Newt Gingrich a dishonest, morally unscrupulous, hypocritical liar blinded by an unholy ambition and hunger for power? Does a newt shit in the swamp?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Obama's gas

I confess, I'm a loud-mouth critic of people who insist on driving heavy and dangerous trucks to the office or to do daily errands, but a guy who nevertheless owns a vehicle that gets, with a good tailwind, about one mile per gallon.

It's a boat, of course and these days I think carefully about where I'm going with it before I leave the dock. I probably don't use too much more than 500 gallons a year, which is still a whole lot less than I used to use as a commuter driving a small car. If gasoline rose to 5 or 6 or 7 dollars a gallon at the fuel docks, I probably wouldn't change the number of hours I put on the boat, but if I were driving to work, as many of you do, that 7500 pound, 8-12 mpg "SUV" or super heavy duty monster truck might just get traded for something less absurd.

So I have to make another confession: I secretly wish fuel prices would soar long enough to make urban hipsters go back to taking the bus or driving Fiat 500's, and suburbanites trade in their grotesque fashion statements for cars.

Of course the noises bubbling up from the bottom of the national cesspool have been blaming Barack Obama and "liberals" for those scary numbers that appear on gas station signs, as if it were the president or some government office that dictated prices on the free world market rather than the laws of supply and demand and the mechanisms of capitalism. I'm tempted to say that the self-appointed guardians of the free market either haven't the most elementary idea of how those markets work or perhaps are simply too dishonest to risk not blaming Obama for rising world demand. No sir, there's no pea under that particular walnut shell and if even a small proportion of Republicans had the mental wherewithal to deal with the notion that economic recovery means increased demand for resources, they might figure out that those screaming the loudest have a vested interest in a collapsing economy. As the infamous Rush once said: "I hope he fails."

So yes, some Republicans, some voices from the corporate owned media are also wishing for a big increase because the public is stupid enough, or so they hope, to believe that the "socialist" Obama is behind it all. You'll remember John McCain making that moronic accusation when gas prices soared under George Bush. No, he didn't blame Bush or the huge demand for fuel his wars gave us, he blamed Obama, because that's what Republicans do, they blame the other guy for their own actions; they blame the opposition for the workings of the natural forces of the same free markets they pretend to worship.

No, the old song is about the holy market and how all the ugly features of unrestrained capitalism like disregard for public safety and the powerlessness of an oppressed work force would wither away if we only let them drill for oil in your town's reservoir or chain your kids to a punch press the same way those Commies do, but the reality is that they have a very selective interest in capitalism and the high priests of 'enlightened self interest' are trying as hard as they can to take the enlightenment out of it.

So yes, rising energy costs sap the strength of the recovery and so that's just what a certain party wants so that they can go on pretending there is no recovery or that it would be a much better recovery if only they had someone like that Mad Monk Santorum in the White House. So maybe "jobs, jobs, jobs" is now last month's mantra because we're creating more jobs every week that were created under that 8 year Republican debacle. So it's time to turn on a dime and let's put on that Jumpin' Jack Flash disc 'cause now it's all gas, gas, gas.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Act Now! No Time to Lose!

Henry Kissinger -- the name could be a metonym for dishonest defense of imperialism and reckless disregard for the consequences of military action, and so it's no surprise to hear him tell us to ignore the consensus of all 16 US intelligence agencies that there is no evidence Iran is building or is about to build nuclear weapons.

Yes, of course they could all be wrong and there is always the argument from cliche that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but even in a nation of emotionally disturbed amnesiacs like the US, some might want to remember our useless attack and occupation of Iraq for which we continue to suffer and will continue to suffer for a very long time. In case you don't remember, that country had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the materials or technology needed to produce huge, heavy nuclear prototypes much less the probably fictional "suitcase" bombs we were told could be smuggled into the US at any moment. Act now!

On CNN's GPS with Fareed Zakaria yesterday, Kissinger told us he was "uneasy" with the intelligence and that we should ignore it as we ignored the lies about Iraq and make the presumption that a bomb was forthcoming.
“I am very uneasy with the so-called intelligence report that say we don’t know whether they are actually working on nuclear weapons. I think we should start from the premise that they are undergoing all this in order to achieve a military capability. I don’t think that is a disputable point.”
I think it is disputable in the extreme, considering that we're listening to a war criminal involved in and culpable for massacres, invasions and genocides in Indochina, East Timor, Chile, Cyprus and Bangladesh talking about fomenting yet another dubious and probably disastrous war.

Kissinger and warmongering toadies like Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu tell us we have no time to lose; that the time to attack is now as Former Secretary of State Rice once told us. Shoot first and pretend there is no question to ask, lest the "smoking gun" of evidence turn out to be a mushroom cloud. Frankly I think we have everything to lose, including our future and any basis upon which to base the proposition and pose of being a force for good in this world.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Let them get pregnant, like God intended.

What's worse than a bunch of creepy old man religious perverts conspiring against the health and well being of women? Well, perhaps a creepy young woman trying to make sure -- using copious amounts of taxpayer money -- to fight a requirement that health insurers cover the modest cost of birth control. Worse still, she's fighting something that in some cases is a medical necessity and in very many cases will prevent women from becoming unable to work and winding up in poverty and their children on public assistance.

Such things don't seem to matter to GOP apparatchiks like Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General who is suing the Federal Government over the Affordable Care Act, a law that is starting to provide health care to Florida's 4.5 million uninsured and access to contraception. As the ACA will come before the US Supreme Court this month, the redundancy of this suit is as obvious as the smug unconcern Bondi has for truth, justice and freedom from the tyranny of religious nuts.

Sold as another attempt at "smaller" government, it's really nothing but a power play by the Religious Rich to make their perverted, obsessive, inhumane and antique dogmas into public policy no matter the cost. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may not be one of these foul, disgusting old men, but she sure as hell works for them while collecting a salary paid by the people she'd like to keep barefoot and pregnant and poor and in thrall to the superstition salesmen with the effrontery to use our freedom of religion and our tax revenues against us.