Monday, October 31, 2005

Here come da Judge

Well we knew it was coming.  Miers was part of the setup: offered to us so that the next appointee would seem well qualified to the point that we would feel a sense of relief.  I feel a sense of dread.

Alito’s record fortunately is no secret. His record unfortunately is troubling.  This is a man whose dissenting opinion [Doe Vs. Goody 125 S.Ct. 111, 2004] upholds the police officer’s right to strip search a 10 year old girl and her mother, because they had a warrant to search her father for drugs.  It was “reasonable” says his decision, making child molestation and humiliation acceptable in the cause of ferreting out drug dealers.

He shows a pattern of imposing extremely high evidentiary burdens on plaintiffs in sex and race discrimination cases and cases of sexual harassment. He has rendered opinions denying the Government’s right to ban machine guns or to ban guns on school campuses.  You can read the long list of strange decisions here. I’m sure the NRA will be dancing with glee while women and minorities and immigrants will be groaning.

We knew it was coming and from the beginning, the fear was that Bush would pack the Court with authoritarian cranks who are troubled by too many guarantees of freedom and who see the role of government as protector of an elite and subjugator of everyone else.  What disturbs me the most is the selling of Authoritarianism as Conservatism and the depiction of Judicial excess as restraint, but I will have to get used to it. There is every chance that Bush will appoint more Supreme Court Judges. And there is every chance that the cornered animal in the Oval Office will do something akin to Hitler’s flooding of the Berlin subways to take us all down with him.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Wilma diary

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, and germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!


Three O’clock in the morning of Wilma and the jungle is quiet. The constant background drone of insects, the whisper of the wind are gone from the palms and the thick mangroves and the humid air hangs from the sky like a wet shower curtain in an airless bathroom. The desultory quack from the obnoxious Bufo Marinus, the Cane Toad who haunts the light over the back stairs hunting insects, sounds like an unechoed sonar ping in the stygian depths of a bottomless sea.

On the morning of Wilma, the wind comes up with the sun in the south east, but twilight remains while the wind rises in gusts. Now is Wilma upon us and her wind slowly building. Hear her now, she is a rising howl as trees wave like sea grass and the air thickens like smoke. Grand old trees fall, ripped and riven or snapped like matchsticks; everything with leaves is stripped bare and the thick green paste of wet mulch coats the windows. The lights flicker and go out and steel hurricane shutters begin to rattle as the monster outside tries to pull the doors open; tries to peel the roof back, tears the rain gutters away as though they were made of paper, breaks loose the great heavy aluminum beams of my pool enclosure; beating on the roof and showering the patio with metal. Green flashes fill the late morning darkness as transformers on the poles explode silently in the distance. Palm fronds fly like ugly birds with a speed that could kill you if you were foolish enough to be out there like Lear in the storm and strong enough to stand up to 95 mile per hour winds.

And then, after agonizing hours, after the slowly building crescendo, there is silence punctuated by one huge gust and then two more - and then nothing, like the D minor interlude in Wozzeck. Silence falls and a damp drizzle and brumous air. The barometer stands at 28.12 inches of mercury. The eye wall has passed over us and for a while we can go outside and assess the damage to houses and trees and shrubs and boats. “It’s not so bad,” says neighbor to neighbor. “more damage last year – the second half will be easier now.”

Then there comes the north wind. Then the mouth of Hell gapes open. Now there is no more to our kind mother nature than a furious hatred. The wind tops 110 miles per hour between the pounding gusts that sound like demon voices screaming. Is it fading now? No it’s louder now and louder again - like air escaping from a high pressure hose two hundred miles across.

We huddle over the battery television and listen to reports of exploding buildings, cars rolling sideways down deserted streets. The picture shakes as transmitting antennae whip in the wind and stations go off the air, one by one. The Red Cross and the Emergency Operations Center are losing contact with shelters and fire departments and hospitals and police stations and Amateur operators begin to take over. My antennas are blown away and I check into the Amateur Radio Emergency Services net with my portable VHF hand-held.

Two O’clock and the wind is down and my generator is humming on the patio and my chain saw is cutting a path through fallen trees wide enough to pass a car in my driveway. There is a chill in the air that we have not felt since last January. The north wind has brought us the flavor of Autumn and the morning and the evening were Wilma.

When we finally get out of the neighborhood, we see shredded mobile homes strewn all over and twisted aluminum siding wrapped around trees and electric wires. Lines are already beginning to form – cars waiting for ice and food from the National Guard and fuel at the one or two gas stations open. Just as it was last year, many who have little have lost everything. Those who have everything have lost landscaping. My wife goes off to work with the Red Cross and I take my turn directing the Red Cross Emergency Communications net.

The pre-Edisonian nights are stygian and in the leafless jungle behind my open window, only a lone owl hunts in the moonless dark. The sky is bright with stars such as can be seen only in very remote places and the bright slash of the galactic arm grins down at us from a quarter million years ago. Mars hangs red over the sea like the tail light of a departing God.

The predictions were that power would be out until mid November, but my lights and phones came on last night. The street is lit up again and the stars dim at night. It will be a week or so before I have much time to post here. I will be going down to Palm Beach County to do more communications work and I have a mountain of work to do around the ruins of my property, but I shall be back and I shall be cynical.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Hammer and the Anvil

The license plates say “Sunshine State” but it’s also known as God’s Anvil. Even though hurricanes come ashore all over the Caribbean coast and the eastern seaboard, one tends to associate them with Florida. Perhaps this is the legacy of the cluster of strong storms that blasted Miami and south Florida in the 1930’s shutting down the land boom, but the last year has been as bad in terms of the number of storms.

My little corner of Paradise is about to take another hit. Wilma is scheduled to visit on Monday morning to undo all the careful, meticulous work I’ve done the last year which just now had my garden back to near Edenic status, giving forth pineapples, bananas, loquats, orchids and exotic flowers of all sorts. By Monday night it will be gone and Hobe Sound will have had more hurricanes in the last 13 months than it’s had during the entire 20th century.

It’s enough to make one a believer. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not about to be born again and I don’t think the universe was created by an old man in a bedsheet; I’m starting to believe in Thor. My universe is ruled by a giant with steamy, hot bad breath and a huge hammer. He has many names, but it’s Thor and I’m about to be hammered again, Thor be praised.

The storms this year are the result of a nation that has turned away from Thor and Thor isn’t taking it lightly. I think we must repent before it’s too late. I think we have to put Thor back in Thursday and we need, each one of us, to make Thor out personal blacksmith.

So I’ve put up the steel shutters, put away the patio furniture, gassed up the generators and filled up the fridge. My boat, Doris is in dry-dock and I’m ready.
I will be off-line of course as the internet connection will go down so by the grace of Thor I will be back in a week or so and Thor be praised, gloat aver the coming indictments and Republican scandals. Seeya then and

Hail Thor!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Go Fox yourself!

Fox News – say it softly and it’s almost like swearing.  I normally don’t allow it in my house, but since I’ve been glued to the split screen, watching two hurricane reports at once trying to see how much time I have left, Fox managed to sneak through a couple of times.  

Last night the traitorous blowhards were screaming about the Assault on Christmas.  Yes, those liberals are trying to outlaw Christmas.  Today they’re yelling about how people shouldn’t live on the coast because they cost the taxpayers too much money and that leads to the headline “Democrats are going to use the storms to raise your taxes.”  So close the seaports, the refineries; shut down New York, Baltimore, Boston, San Diego – shut it all down and wait for Jesus to come back and eliminate taxes.  

I’m beyond wanting to respond to this treasonous insanity. They don’t believe any of it themselves; it’s just another skirmish in Fox’s war on America., but you’ll excuse me if I ask God to prove his existence by diverting Wilma and using the storm to tear these bastards limb from limb.  

Fox owner Rupert Murdoch, who became a citizen in 1985 in order to pursue a monopoly over American broadcasting is getting closer to his goal every day.  With the help of the FCC under Michael “melonhead” Powell, he is succeeding.  With the help of the millions of demented and angry morons of America he is succeeding.  

As Abe Lincoln once said, America will never be destroyed from without.  As I say, it will be destroyed by its own stupidity and the malignant greed of Rupert Murdoch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The open road

Author and columnist Carl Hiaasen is known for comical mystery stories set in South Florida. Nearly all have a strong environmental stance and concern the runaway corruption, greed and graft that characterize the state. A typical story might include a hit man who walks around for a month with the decomposing severed head of a pit bull clamped to his arm.  Hiaasen’s books are hilarious; the reality of Florida is less so.

What about an elderly driver tooling around all day with the body of a dead and partially dismembered pedestrian halfway through his windshield?  Florida seems to give a free pass to anyone with a driver’s license. You can renew by mail and never again have to take as much as a vision test.  A few years ago, a neighbor of mine was hit broadside by an elderly driver. Several ribs were broken.  The confused driver attempted to back up so that the victim could exit his BMW but then stepped hard on the gas and rammed him again, breaking some vertebrae this time.

According to a CNN story, yesterday a toll booth operator in St Petersburg saw to his horror 92 year old Ralph Parker drive through his booth on the Sunshine Parkway with a body protruding through the windshield and called the police.  The victim, with one leg severed has not yet been identified.

According to authorities,  Parker who renewed his license two years ago, did not seem to know where he was or what he was doing, but loved to get in his car and drive for the sheer enjoyment of the open road.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Inside information

Breaking News

Dr. Rice testifies about George W. Bush's hidden assets.

Details later

The little guy

The Federal Communications Commission, since it’s inception in 1934, has been more of an enforcement arm of the broadcast networks and the electronics industry than a protector of that public property known as the electromagnetic spectrum. One of its first efforts was to thwart the spread of FM radio on behalf of RCA and NBC by placing severe power restrictions on FM stations, particularly educational broadcasters and by moving the band allocation in the 1940’s to give it to the infant television industry, thus making all FM radios built earlier obsolete. Col. Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM, committed suicide after decades of struggle with the FCC, RCA and NBC. Some historians would say they were all one and the same thing.

Under the Reagan Administration, the FCC embarked on a deregulatory approach toward communications policy and began chipping away at the protections in place for ensuring media diversity and the protection we had against monopolistic control over the media.

More recently, the Bush administration FCC under Michael Powell came under fire from the Amateur Radio community for actively promoting BPL: technology allowing Electric companies to send broadband internet over power lines, causing in some cases, massive radio interference contrary to its own Part 15 rules.

The FCC has long been instrumental at promoting the interests of large corporations at the public expense, although the spectrum belongs to the public. Under the Bush administration, the FCC has taken on a further role; that of promoting the interests of Corporate Christianism. I read in the Boston Herald
that Maynard High School in Maynard Massachusetts which has operated WAVM, a ten watt FM radio station for educational purposes for the last 35 years will have its license taken away and given to a “Christian” broadcast network.

There is of course, no lack of Christian broadcasting on the radio and the few of us who sometimes scan international short wave radio know that every available radio broadcast band is heavily populated by Jesus, Inc. From the world’s most powerful broadcast station, HCJB down to your local 500 watt AM station, radio evangelism uses gigawatts galore.

That’s not enough for our corporate theocrats. There’s no money in teaching kids about electronics and broadcasting when compared to the preaching business.

`The little guy does not stand much of a chance. Legally, we don't have a leg to stand on,’’ faculty advisor Joe Magno said. He’s right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sympathy for the devil

Ronald Reagan felt a bit of heat through his Teflon coating when he visited a German cemetery where lie the remains of Waffen SS officers, yet it was nothing compared to the rumblings created underground when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid homage to Japan’s WWII war dead Monday at Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, where war criminals convicted by an Allied tribunal are honored.

Americans of a certain age have long forgotten and little note the actions of the Japanese military in a war against such countries as China and Korea that killed untold tens of millions of civilians and brought the world into another age of unrestrained terrorism and massive atrocities. Not so in Asia where the conflict known as the Japanese War has not become as irrelevant as anything happening before last Wednesday tends to become in the US. The memories of events that make Hitler’s atrocities pale in comparison are still strong and far more so by the unwillingness of the Japanese Government to admit their enormities or to teach the history of their imperial aggression as a subject in school.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon swiftly summoned Japanese ambassador Shotaro Oshima to complain. According to Xinhua, Ban stated: "We strongly protest the visit to Yasukuni shrine despite our request and strongly urge that it is not repeated,"

Japan’s assault on Korea began in 1910 and the brutal occupation of that country lasted until Japan’s defeat in 1945. China has not forgotten the terror bombings, the mass beheadings and the live burials of hundreds of thousands of civilians by Japanese forces. The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement which included : “Japanese militarism hurt the Chinese people most in the modern history. Japan, as the party causing the sufferings, has every reason to correctly treat the tragic history and respect the painful feeling and emotions of the victims"

Japan has long sought to emulate the West. Here’s one place they have succeeded.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It’s only a Rumsfeld wasteland

There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

-The Who-

Man is naturally a noble creature. All we really need to do is to remove the institutions and leaders who have perverted the natural nobility of Man and something like Utopia or at least, Western style Liberal Democracy will arise almost immediately; right?

There was a time that this was widely believed and it seems that some would still have it true, or at least they would have you think that they think it’s true so that you’ll see their incompetence and aggression and greed as leadership.

Remember the Taliban? Remember the Faith Based people who blew up those ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan? Amir Shah of Associated Press breaks the news that a former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two massive 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign was elected to the Afghan parliament last month, according to results from two provinces now just finalized.

Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, who was the Taliban's governor of Bamiyan province when the fifth-century Buddha statues were blown up with dynamite and artillery in March 2001, was chosen to represent the neighboring province of Samangan. He says it wasn’t his fault.

Although results from only four provinces have yet been finalized, three former warlords still suspected of having ties to armed groups also were declared winners in those areas.  Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy director of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, says ``Many of the winners are linked to armed groups or drugs. `The number of elected lawmakers who are honest and interested in reform may be tiny compared to the regional strongmen who are only interested in themselves.

Elsewhere, U.S.-led coalition forces killed four police officers after mistaking them for militants during an operation in the southern province of Kandahar,

Yessir, George, all we needed were some elections - nice job Georgie.

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

Does she or doesn't she?

Well there you have it. No more conjecture about Harriet Meyers and why she was nominated.  According to an AP report a few minutes ago.  On an April 1989 questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group, she checked “yes” to the question "If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature,"

She checked “yes” for the question about whether she would use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off city health boards and commissions.

Of course this is not exactly the same as asking whether she would rule against Roe Vs Wade in any specific case, the question of whether she opposes abortion rights is answered: Yes.

Wilma won'tya stay away?

Tropical Storm Wilma may become the first W Hurricane in history if the winds pick up just a bit. Wilma the Storm is a long way from me, but some predicted courses show it arcing through South Florida next weekend. Having endured direct hits by a cat 2 and a Cat 3 last Autumn and suffering damage that still, as yet has not been repaired, I’m taking it seriously.

It’s hard not to draw strained comparisons between W the President and W the storm; both represent mindless forces, harm the innocent and benefit Halliburton. Both clear a lot of brush, neither can be trusted.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Harriet Miers, the meticulous, detail oriented and dependable candidate for the Supreme Court has had many liens placed on property she controls in a low income part of Dallas. This is the 10th time Dallas has had to go after Miers since she assumed control in 1995 of real estate parcels her mother inherited.

The problem was brush – uncleared brush that the city had to have taken care of. A neighbor claims the property has had no regular maintenance until recently.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bills have now all been paid, but the city has no record of the dates, amounts, who paid them or how they did it, according to Celso Martinez, a city spokesman. But questions about her reluctance to obey the law and her tardiness to pay off liens remain. It does however explain her unabashed toadying and lavish praise of Bush. The girl needs a man who can cut brush.

The Daily Curmudgeon believes that Rove and Libby will be indicted in the Valerie Plame affair. I don’t think so, but if they are, my guess is that some catastrophe will emerge, moving the proceedings from center stage and requiring the Warpresident to ask us to remain quietly and indefinitely in our homes until the “Terror” level abates. I’m stockpiling food and water.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Bird is the Word

The word we’re getting from people like Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt is that the strain of influenza now affecting birds in Southeast Asia and a few other places will eventually mutate into something that can pass from human to human. Leaving aside the question of why they can accept evolution in this case, we have to wonder why anything having the potential to kill more people that any weapons Saddam Hussein would have had if Hussein should have had weapons, produces so little action by our Government.

Prevention, Leavitt says, is just not possible. Instead, he suggests a network of surveillance so that when it becomes too late we can be on the spot with something that is too late to be of value. The drug that seems most effective against bird flu is Tamiflu, which was created to treat ordinary human flu but is now in short supply and can't be made fast enough because of pandemic fears and because it’s patented. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested patent rules might be suspended in an outbreak to allow other companies to make generic forms of Tamiflu, produced by Swiss-based Roche Holding AG, but anything that would cut into the profits of a major drug company is anathema even if it means death to millions of Americans. Leavitt instead supports intellectual property rights. Much better, says he, to hand out some more money to the industry to boost production.

Is al this beginning to sound familiar? We have enough Tamiflu to protect about 2% of America – coincidentally the same percentage as is supported by Bush’s tax breaks. As long as his base is protected, Bush is fine with it – it can hardly hurt to eliminate some of the surplus population as the poor will undoubtedly suffer the worst casualties.

What is the plan? The plan is to quarantine us, so that we will be prisoners in our homes under martial law and kept there by the Army to fend for ourselves, as Bush has suggested. Someone more paranoid than I am would consider that we will be kept at home during an election so that a certain party may become the permanent ruler, but why worry - be happy!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


“It is dangerous to be right when government is wrong.” – Voltaire

A new study in Calgary Alberta as reported in the Globe and Mail shows that regular administration of Cannabinoids promotes neuron growth in the brain and  according to researchers may lead to many new treatments for things like Glaucoma and Crone’s disease.

"Ultimately, new therapies could be developed as a result of these findings," said Keith Sharkey, a gastrointestinal neuroscientist at the University of Calgary, lead author of the study.

Cannabinoids, such as marijuana and hashish, have been used to address pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures caused by epilepsy, ischemic stroke, cerebral trauma, tumors, multiple sclerosis and a host of other maladies.

Don’t hold your breath Cheech– it could cure everything, but it won’t ever be legal in the US.

Pentagon officials are denying that a live video conference between President Bush and U.S. troops in Iraq was staged, according to Fox News, even though some of the coaching of the troops was caught on tape. Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.  Could it be that the troops in Iraq are not thrilled at the progress we’re making? Can you believe you’re hearing doubts about the war on Fox News?

A fake of a fake

Is a fake of a fake genuine?  Afraid not.  A story in today’s Guardian  tells us that Majed A. Ihmoud, 52, a member of the Saudi Royal Family, has plead guilty to attempting to sell a reproduction of  Rembrant van Rijn’s “Man with the Golden Helmet'' for $2,800,000 in St Louis last year in a transaction witnessed by undercover FBI agents. The “Original, of course, hangs in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, but it is now believed by experts that it was not painted by Rembrandt himself.  Maybe the Saudi Royals should stick to something easier like scamming the American public.

The affair brings back memories of one Michael van Rijn (no relation) who attempted several questionable art transactions in St Louis back in the 1980’s. Maybe they should change the motto from “Show me” to “Show me the fakes?”

Love is hate

WENM TV in Michigan tells us that soon the KKK will have its own TV show on Michigan Public TV. The first airing of the program will be on Saturday, October 22nd.  According to their website, the Ku Klux Klan brings “a message of hope and deliverance to white Christian America. A message of love, not hate.”

Sounds like a big pile of sheets to me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Star Wars - the last episode.

After years and years of the GOP stressing the idea that ballistic missile defense is the Nation’s most important military priority, the decision has been made to stop upgrading the technology, reports UPI. "After many years of investment in the midcourse interceptor, (the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency) has now essentially decided that the first generation (ground-based interceptors) will also be its last generation," said the Senate Committee on Appropriations in a report accompanying its version of the 2006 defense appropriations bill. The report, published last week, said the decision would risk wasting much of the time and money already invested.

Considering the decades of frantic and stupendous spending and dire predictions of the immediate necessity of anti-ballistic missiles, one would think this would make headlines.

No word yet on when further admissions of error will be made.

Secrets and lies

“Secrecy and a free Democratic Government don’t mix”

-Harry Truman-

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a book that was quite popular back when our country was a functioning Republic, describes a Galactic President; a man whose job it was not to wield power but to conceal it. Perhaps this is one of the few books George W. Bush has read. Perhaps he’s only seen the movie but the job description isn’t fiction at all.

The only way to figure out who the players are in the Bush administration is to find out who stands to profit most from its actions; there is no scorecard. Records have been sealed and all inquiries are stonewalled. After 8 years of trying to erode executive privilege during the Clinton Presidency, that term that gave us goose bumps during the Nixon years has returned in greater strength, but no longer a subject of scorn, it’s the iron curtain behind which Government deeds are hidden and behind which the wielders of power effect the subversion of our government in safety. The ‘Blog, tells us:

“Expressing a determination to halt what they see as an "erosion" of the prerogatives of the Presidency (and even the Vice Presidency), Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and other administration figures have asserted a sweeping view of executive privilege to impede public access to historical records of prior Presidents and Vice Presidents, to completely block public release of large numbers of Justice Department documents, and to thwart congressional investigators and public interest groups from even learning who was a part of the Vice President’s Energy Task Force (let alone what they did).”

Indeed, the stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation, the refusal to give out any information about the Cheney Secret Energy Task Force despite court orders and limiting or eliminating access to Presidential records are only a small part of the program of secrecy and denial that are the chief characteristics of the Bush administration. The censorship and falsification of scientific data, the weakening of the public’s ability to have product safety data and even to access weather information paid for by our taxes – all these are only a small part. Overturning a law making Presidential records public property in defiance of legal precedent and court decision – just a little piece of the puzzle.

A report released by the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform in September of 2004 finds that there has been a consistent pattern in the Administrations actions:

“...laws that are designed to promote public access to information have been undermined, while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or to operate in secret have been repeatedly expanded. The cumulative result is an unprecedented assault on the principle of open government."

The War that was supposed to last only a few weeks and cost us nothing is a complete failure, but even if he doesn’t get to dress up in a costume and land on an aircraft carrier, Bush can certainly look at his record of destroying the transparency, the due process and the checks and balances our government was founded on and say Mission Accomplished.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

For the birds

While as a certifiable paranoid and professional crank, I suspect that the sudden attention paid to the latest Avian flu virus scare is diversionary, others seem to be taking the prospect of another epidemic quite seriously. An acquaintance of mine was orphaned as a baby by the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 that is said to have killed nearly 50 million people and I have read old newspaper clippings that seem much like science fiction – describing a Chicago where there was nobody to keep the electricity on, the trains had stopped and the streets were deserted. The horror of an epidemic that has the potential of killing up to half of those infected can’t be overstated and an epidemic in our country, crippled by incompetent, crooked leaders and a depleted treasury is all the worse to contemplate.

True to form, the Incompetent in Chief has appointed another crony to be in charge of making sure America is prepared. Stewart Simonson is Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He has no public health management experience. He got his job because he is a close associate of former Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. His job before joining HHS was as corporate secretary and counsel for Amtrak when Thompson was chief of the rail service. Prior to Amtrak, Simonson was staff lawyer for Thompson when he was governor of Wisconsin.

Is Simonson another Michael Brown? Can we afford to find out the hard way?

Of us we sing.

Anyone who protests is a traitor, anyone who questions a “warpresident” is a traitor. We paste flags on everything. We write God on anything that has to do with the USA. We need above all to believe in our divine mission and our divine grace and the complete goodness of everything we do and anything less than fulsome self-adulation is treason.

The Reign of Reason today has a great article on American self-worship. Will falling on our knees before our own graven image bring us down?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ann of a thousand lies

"we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

-Ann Coulter, Sept 12th 2001-

Ann Coulter: she has all the sincerity of a computer generated animation and she laughs as though she were reading from a script. It’s hard to vilify her sufficiently and it’s difficult to say anything nasty about her that isn’t an understatement. I often watch Bill Maher’s show, yet It was with great difficulty that I allowed the image of that Cloroxed cockroach into my home last night.

“”God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"--- Ann Coulter on Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01

I enjoy picking apart fallacies, but I can’t dignify her words as being such – they are simply lies and lies told so quickly and in such volume that even Bill Maher missed the biggest ones. In trying to show, for example, that “Liberals” hate Black people, Coulter cited the Butterfly Ballot fiasco of the 2000 election which she claimed had been blamed by them on dumb blacks in Palm Beach County. Of course the truth is that Katherine Harris and the Republicans had blamed it on dumb Jews unable to follow instructions while the Democrats blamed it on crooked, white Republicans. As we know, the election was flawed because the Republican Harris laid out the ballots contrary to regulations and illegally took tens of thousands of black people off the voter rolls.

"People like you caused us to lose that war."
Ann Coulter - To a disabled Vietnam vet: on MSNBC

I recently read Freakonomics and recently enough that I remembered that it made several statistical links between poverty and Crime: something that machine gun of mendacity Coulter denied the existence of last night. When asked by Maher whether that link existed, she claimed the “Liberal” book had linked being black with being a criminal. As Maher was reduced to stammering, she outflanked him with another barrage of high speed lies.

Coulter, who in 1997 said on Politically Incorrect that all laws passed since before the Emancipation Proclamation should be repealed, lies so fast and lies so often and lies so boldly, no one can keep up. Because catching her in any lie generates a flood of other lies, it’s only possible to refute all of them in writing and so even with quick witted Maher, most of her shots get through unchallenged. Still, by the fact that he asked people not to boo; that he failed to call her the vicious, amoral, psychopathic liar that she deserves to be called, Maher failed us badly.

"My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that's because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism." --Ann Coulter - MSNBC 2/8/97--

I don’t believe in a Devil as an entity, but with Coulter around, he’s superfluous anyway.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Wages of sin is negotiable

"Warnings year after year by godly evangelists and preachers went unheeded. So why were we surprised when finally the hand of judgment fell? Sadly, innocents suffered along with the guilty. Sin always brings suffering to good people as well as the bad."

Or so says godly Alabama state Senator Hank Erwin. It would be redundant to state his party affiliation. Erwin, quoted in Beliefnet writes a column that he distributes to various “news” outlets in which he evidently uses God to justify his diseased ideas about the world.

"New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness," Erwin wrote. "It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God."
Never mind that the God of godly Erwin kills cute little children, innocent peasant farmers and cuddly puppies by the tens and hundreds of thousands to punish people who don’t insist that we pledge allegiance to Erwin’s God or who like to put a quarter or two into a slot machine or worst of all, don’t support the Republican Party.

"If you are a believer and read the Bible, you know sin has judgment," Erwin said. "New Orleans has always been known for sin. ... The wages of sin is death." Apparently Erwin is covered by a Union contract and has a different pay package.

Erwin, a former “conservative” talk-radio host, is now a media consultant as well as a blasphemous bastard and Republican, if you’ll pardon the redundancy. All the innocents who were killed may not have been the target he claims, but they got in the way of God’s clumsy animal rage.

Televangelist and professional felon Pat Robertson said Katrina might be linked to God's judgment concerning legalized abortion, and some “conservative” rabbis suggested Katrina was retribution for supporting the Israeli pullout from Gaza. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suggested the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the violence America had inflicted on Iraq. Militant Muslims around the world hold similar views, the 40,000 dead in Pakistan notwithstanding. No word yet from Pat Robertson as to whether they all died horribly because they were Muslims and no word from Farrakhan about whether they died because they weren’t Muslim enough.

How many religious leaders can grind their axes on the same stone?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Legitimately illegitimate

Well we all knew Karl Rove was a bastard, but it’s possible that he really is, in fact a bastard. James Ridgeway wrote in a Village Voice article back in July that in 1969, when Rove’s father walked out on his mother, he learned from relatives that the man was not his real father.

One can of course overlook that kind of bastardy, there being no fault of his own involved, but then there’s Karl Rove, the professional bastard who smeared candidate John McCain in 2000, accusing him of being a stoolie while a P.O.W. in a Vietnamese prison. Rove also credited with spreading rumor that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter is black and illegitimate and his wife a drug addict. Rove also spread lies about Ann Richards’ office being staffed entirely with lesbians when George was running against her

Back in his college years (he dropped out without earning a degree) the Washington Post received a tape of his bragging about looking through opponents' trash for information to be used against them in crimes such as identity theft, petty larceny, and campaign fraud. Rove is the bastard who smeared WW II combat pilot George McGovern for being a coward, long before he did the same thing to decorated hero John Kerry. Rove is the professional bastard who in 1970, during the campaign of Alan Dixon for Illinois State Treasurer stole official campaign letterhead and sent out 1,000 invitations to people in the city's red-light district and soup kitchens, offering "free beer, free food, girls, and a good time for nothing" at Dixon headquarters.

Perhaps – just perhaps, some of Rove's bastardly ways may bring about his deserved downfall. His lies concerning his participation in the Valerie Plame affair may put the cuffs on his wrists yet according to an article in the National Journal, If it can be shown that he deliberately mislead the White House or the FBI in furtherance of a criminal plan, but he’s had a lifetime of getting away with a vast array of profitable sociopathic behavior and I wouldn’t count him out yet - the bastard.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Poor little Bush

There’s always that 40%. A letter in my hometown paper today insists that criticism of Bush is a “carefully orchestrated conspiracy” because there are so many criticisms of the same failings and that Bush has remained above the criticism by “turning the other cheek.” It’s amazing what fiction they will produce and what fact they will ignore to maintain the faith. Have you seen one instance of Bush having failed to punish critics? There seems to be much information that it’s in fact dangerous to contradict the president within earshot and hazardous to one’s career to point out to him that although he has a birthday party to go to, people in America are drowning.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

--Theodore Roosevelt, 1918—


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Kill, Kill, Kill

While you were sleeping, a huge and deadly earthquake rocked Pakistan, collapsing buildings in Islamabad.  The death toll is not yet determined.  

I asked God what this was all about and he said he was aiming at Osama and we should not worry about collateral damage.  He added, a bit sheepishly, that all those hurricanes were an attempt to hit Pat Robertson but he’s still having trouble with that nasty slice.

KUTV, Channel 2 in Salt Lake City, reports that a former U.S. Marine in Iraq alleges in a book just published in France that his battalion committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, including shooting unarmed protesters.  Jimmy Massey, a staff sergeant who was in the Marines for 12 years and served three months in Iraq before being honorably discharged with post-traumatic stress syndrome, details the allegations in his book, Kill! Kill! Kill!

Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, said the Marines are committed to investigating all allegations of violations of “law of war or rules of engagement.” “Mr. Massey made allegations of genocide by members of his command, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, resulting in an investigation,” she said. The investigation was completed in June 2004, “and these allegations were found to be unsubstantiated in regards to law or rules of engagement violations,” Chapin said.

That of course is quite different from saying it did not happen.

Someone my age can’t help but recall the My Lai 4 massacre of Vietnamese women, children and old people – which although it did happen, has been made not to have happened as time went by.  I’m sure that soon, this incident will not have happened and Massey will have been seen with Jane Fonda if not also Leon Trotsky.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Put me in coach

It’s not just the Republican addition to the Pledge, it’s not just the Ten Commandments on courthouse walls and lawns and in lobbies; it’s not just the religious phrases on our coins and bills, it’s the Air Force Inquisition.

CBS News brings us the latest in the saga of the Air Force Academy acting as the indoctrination center and heretic persecution agency for Evangelical Christianity.  A suit has been brought against the Secretary of the Air Force in Federal Court by Albuquerque resident and Academy graduate Mikey Weinstein.
Weinstein claims that evangelical Christians at the school have coerced attendance at religious services and prayers at official events, among other things. He is not the first to make such allegations.

According to CBS, there have been complaints at the academy that a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and that another Jew was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet. A banner in the football team's locker room read: "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ." Also, there have been complaints that cadets were pressured to attend chapel, that academy staffers put New Testament verses in government e-mail, and that cadets used the e-mail system to encourage others to see the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion of the Christ."

Of course the Air Force denies that there is a problem. An internal investigation has been widely faulted for not having spoken to those who have complained. Capt. MeLinda Morton, a chaplain who spoke out against what she considers strident evangelizing on campus, said she was interviewed for a scant 15 minutes on the task force's last day of investigation. A Yale Divinity School professor who helped flag the religious problems at the academy was never contacted. The official report found little to worry about, but I’ve seen first hand the number of religious posters, placards and other imagery at Army facilities I’ve toured and heard the frequent reference to God and the divine mission to an extent I’ve never seen or heard in the private sector.  Whether I’m seeing an artifact of a volunteer military or just a cross section of America, I’m bothered by the idea that we have a potential conflict between Civilian control, Constitutional allegiance and religious authoritarianism of the Fundamentalist kind.

Jesus is said to have admonished us to love our enemies, the atheist Nietzsche warned us against becoming the enemies we fight against.  Militant American Fundamentalists don’t seem to listen to either of them

The things that you're liable to read in the Bible

It ain't necessarily so

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,”

The only surprise in that statement is that it comes from the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland. According to a story in the Oct 5th London Times, a new teaching document, The Gift of Scripture states that he Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation,  but continues: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

In marked contrast to the war on modern scholarship of Pius X in the late 19th century we have a Church position on the first 11 chapters of Genesis that recognizes the two conflicting narratives and that much of it has been cribbed from other religions. The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. Coming as it does, at a time when the most advanced nation on earth, or so we like to call it, is rejecting science, reason and objective scholarship in a way reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church’s inquisition and persecution of scientists, Jews and heretics in the 16th and 17th centuries, this American reader confesses to being stunned.  Of course it was Augustine of Hippo (354-430)  who wrote: “We must be on our guard against giving interpretations which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers” (De Genesi ad litteram) but that idea is quite lost on America’s Christian Right.

The Fundamentalist approach, we are warned, has significant dangers

“for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

The Bishops say, for instance, that the infamous anti-Jewish “blood libel” in Matthew (27:25)  Stems from first century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians and has no application in our time.

Who would have thought?
The things that you're liableTo read in the Bible,It ain't necessarily so.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

God wills it

And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far,
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

George Bush hears voices. Not our voices or the voices of reason; he hears voices in that coke addled, booze pickled blob of mediocrity between his elfin ears and thinks it’s God.

A new BBC series to air October 17th reveals that George has told Palestinian Ministers that God told him to invade Iraq. In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October,) Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Foreign Minister says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.”

Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

It becomes apparent that George W. Bush’s crusading spirit is more than a metaphor. It becomes apparent that his attempts to gain more control over the military and the ability to use it domestically; his attempts to increase the Pentagon’s power to spy on us without a trace of due process and his willingness to veto a bill banning torture are pieces of a horrifying jigsaw puzzle picture.

“God wills it” was the rallying cry of the first Crusade which took Jerusalem in 1099 and which for the first time made slaughter a sacred act for which the killers would be rewarded in heaven. And so George W. Bush puts on the mantle of Osama bin Laden and begins his religious mission to bring on the apocalypse he believes in.

Back in the Eisenhower years the concern arose as to what to do if the President became mentally unfit to serve by reason of, in Dwight’s case, something like a stroke. How long can we survive with a madman at the helm? How long will it be before we see him in women’s clothing, claiming to be Joan of Arc?

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise

Kubla Khan

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge- 1798

Texas Torquemada

The Senate voted 90-9 on Wednesday to back an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. Colin L. Powell and John M. Shalikashvili, former Joint Chiefs Chairmen, backed the bill sponsored by John McCain who declared:

"Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But every one of us - every single one of us - knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies."

The legislation faces heavy opposition in the House and a threatened veto by the madman in the White House who calls himself the President and who isn’t very different from our enemies. In a time when one can be called a Terrorist and threatened with prosecution for tacking a picture of the Dirtbag in Chief to a bulletin board.

The alcoholic crack-head Quixote from Crawford will be giving a pep rally for his crusade today. Let’s see if he’s still willing to justify torture in God’s name and let’s see if his speech boils down to the same “stay the course” argument Richard Nixon used to lead us to a humiliating defeat in Viet Nam after 15 years of war and the deaths of perhaps a million civilians.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Only in Amerika

Only in Bush’s America that is, would a high school student become an enemy combatant for putting a picture of George W. Bush on a bulletin board with a thumbtack. No, I’m not joking. According to Raw Story, Selina Jarvis, the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina gave her students an assignment “to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights.” One student took a magazine photo of Bush, tacked it up and photographed it with his hand in the thumbs down position and sent it off to Wal-Mart to be developed as a poster.

Nothing would have happened if this had been a free country, but it isn’t and yesterday, the Secret Service came and took the poster away. Jarvis was told that the poster “would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted.”

Thus ends our lesson on the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately thus also ends our Bill of Rights.

This story continues to develop, but I have to go now – there’s a knock on the door. . . .

Tell me why

I thought that Senator Santorum’s attempt to forbid the National Weather Service to give the public information that the public owns and has paid for would quietly fade away for lack of support. For those who were asleep last Spring, the bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa (Did I really have to tell you he was a Republican?) would keep the public from getting nearly any information from the Weather Service except under special and vaguely defined circumstances. If you want to know where the storm is going you would have to go through a private company and you would have to pay for it.

Those of us who live in areas where the weather can be dangerous and deadly as well as those who go out in boats or up in airplanes were outraged at Santorum’s blatant payback to Accuweather for their generous campaign contributions and some saw it as outright theft from the public as well as a disregard for public safety. Did I mention that Santorum is a Republican?

After the Katrina blamefest, the prospect of important information being further delayed in distribution was enough, so I thought, to make the idea go away, but when I read in Raw Story yesterday that, according to a leaked Sept. 29 email memo sent out to all NOAA staff, including employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) -- both of which are under the Department of Commerce -- employees must collect information from reporters and forward it to the Department of Commerce for approval before talking to them. The policy requires that local weather offices forward media requests to the NWS press office, who in turn would forward the request on to the Commerce Department’s public relations office. The Department would then decide whether comment should be granted.

Did I mention that the Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez is a Republican and according to the DOC website, a core member of President Bush’s economic team?

It’s hard to believe that there is any other reason to isolate the Weather service or NOAA from the public other than to give another handout of public property to corporations who back the Republican Party.

Dirty Girl

The sleaze never stops and it seems the unknown quantity, Harriet Miers, is an appointee in the mold of most of Bush’s other cronies.  I read at Counterpunch that according to public records, Miers’ law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp paid $22 million in a suit alleging it aided a client in defrauding investors through a Ponzi scheme.  That’s a lot to pay if the firm was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Then there’s the complicated layer-cake of scandals at the Texas Lottery Commission, but the icing on this cake is that Gtech, the company with the contract to run the lottery and which had been implicated in a huge Texas bribery scandal, employed as a lobbyist one Benjamin Barnes who just happened to have the low-down on how Bush got into the National Guard to avoid going over to Vietnam and had spilled the story to the press.  You can guess what happened: A short time after Barnes was fired, Gtech had its lottery contract renewed even though two companies had bid-lower than Gtech had.  I don’t wish to insinuate that the Republicans are guilty of giving no-bid contracts to their friends, but Former Texas lottery director Lawrence Littwin thought so and filed suit, as he thought the whole charade smelled of scandal. Littwin's lawyers suggested in court filings that Gtech was allowed to keep the lottery contract, which Littwin wanted to open up to competitive bidding, in return for Benjamin Barnes's silence about Bush's entry into the National Guard. Littwin apparently was paid $300,000 to drop the suit although he now wants to talk to the Senate about the affair.

Miers’ law firm had been retained by the Bush Gubernatorial campaign to go after Barnes, a prominent Texas Democrat and a former speaker of the House in the state legislature, who told friends he’d used his influence to get George W. a guard slot after receiving a request from Houston oilman Sid Adger on behalf of George H.W.

How far we have come since a President was impeached for losing money in a real estate deal!

You’re waiting for the funny part?  Well, the funny part is that she’s not seen as bad enough to be any good by the Far Right wing.  Now if Darth Vader were only a woman.

Don't ask - won't tell

It takes more than coffee to cut through Fogg’s morning fog, but this lead article in today’s New York Times put the wind in my sails and heeled me over to leeward.

We don’t know much about Harriet Miers, nor does the Senate and if she is to be a Supreme Court Justice, we ought to know something about Harriet Miers. We do know something about George W. Bush and that is that if he had his way, we would know nothing but what he is willing to tell us.

According to Richard Stevenson’s article today, when asked at a news conference whether he would release some or all of her legal work as White House counsel, Mr. Bush said that the principle of executive privilege was important and that any Senate request for documents would be a distraction from considering Ms. Miers' qualifications.

"I just can't tell you how important it is for us to guard executive privilege in order for there to be crisp decision making in the White House," Mr. Bush said.

Stevenson does not tell us whether the representatives of the press dropped their pencils or spit up their breakfasts at this mention of “Crisp decision making” by a President who notoriously took 7 minutes to decide whether to pause in reading My Pet Goat and who decided to go to a couple of parties rather than react to Hurricane Katrina, but there is no astonishment in the fact that secrecy is important to a “leader” whose incompetence, malfeasance and mendacity exceed the worst we have ever faced as a nation.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary whose job it is to say whatever it takes to disguise the President’s motives without regard to veracity or even to previous statements, is quoted as saying:

"It would be unprecedented to release confidential, deliberative documents of a sitting president," he said. "There is a separation of powers issue here."

Again we are not told whether giggling erupted amongst the press corps at the suggestion that Bush might prefer a separation of powers to the direct Party control over all branches he enjoys, although his concern for his privilege and the privileges of the privileged is well known. It is to be remembered that one of his first concerns upon ascending the throne was to prevent any of his father’s papers from coming to light and it may take more decades for the boil to be lanced than it took for Nixon’s foul recordings to be made public.

If White House Press conferences are ever to be more than cynical propaganda sessions, we need someone there who truly represents us all. We need someone with the courage to speak up. We need Dr. Ben Marble.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

He's in the money

"Ronnie Earle is trying to criminalize politics.”

-Tom DeLay-

Have you stopped laughing yet? According to CBS News, Reporter Leslie Stahl intercepted DeLay, who had been turning down requests by 60 Minutes for an interview, at a news conference in Washington to ask him about the case.

Stahl: Can I ask you about Ronnie Earle? What is your real charge here? You’re, you seem to be suggesting he’s doing a whole investigation just to get Republicans. Is that really what your charge is? “DeLay: I know CBS likes to create news. But we’re here to talk about children…”

Rep. Mark Foley of Florida stepped in: "We'll ask those questions and answer them later. … We're not talking about Mr. DeLay today."

Is it a surprise that Foley, my Representative, received $8,531 from Tom DeLay's fundraising PAC? I didn’t think so. Foley may well wish he’d never heard of Delay, and he may not be talking about DeLay on advice of counsel, but if you’d like to speak with him, pick up the phone and call: 202-225-5792

Tell him to return the money, as Rep. Jeb Bradley, R-N.H. has done, or donate it to those children he was there to talk about. Perhaps Foley cares about children more than does Delay, who it’s been reported by CBS , diverted funds from a children's charity Celebrations for Children, Inc. for lavish celebrations for Republican donors at the Republican convention.

Who's your monster?

“…a state of war is not a blank check for the president…”
                     --Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, June 28, 2004

I may come to miss Sandra.  Despite three Supreme Court rulings that the detainees at Guantanamo, foreign citizens and American citizens alike are entitled to a trial, whether or not the Navy Base there is on foreign soil, yet still they are there in wire cages and there they will remain, without a doubt, until there is a régime change in the United States - Habeas Corpus be damned.
Although a de facto state of war may exist, we have of course not declared war. The danger of allowing a President to unilaterally engage in wars, ad libitum, has since Congress made it all too easy, eliminated the intent of the Founding Fathers to make it difficult for any President to hold the nation hostage by starting a war and demanding a blank check.  This President wants more – he has arrogated the right to set aside the Bill of Rights when it suits his cause.  There’s not much difference between the “warpresident” as he defines it, and any other cheap, third world dictator.

In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that citizens held as “enemy combatants” are entitled to a fair trial. In an opinion backed by a four-justice plurality and partly joined by two other justices, the Court ruled that, although Congress authorized the detention, the Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to contest that detention before a neutral decision-maker.  So far, the Court might just as well not have bothered. The administration that can’t stop using the word “freedom” is free to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. The nation they have spent so much time and money stirring into animal rage simply doesn’t care what goes on unless it affects their taxes and what used to mean “savage” now means “conservative.”

Convicted US soldier Lynndie England tells us in her first post court marshal interview that far worse things were going on at Abu Ghraib than we know about and that military commanders were full aware and supportive.  How many of us really care?

When we were at war with empires that truly had the means to destroy us and our way of life, we treated prisoners as human beings.  Yet we won, and we won with our dignity intact and our respect in the world elevated.  We are now a nation that can give a teenager a life sentence for petty crimes, a nation gleefully eager to execute minors and a Nation obsessed with the idea that we are not savage enough.

"Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird.”

“Who fights with monsters should see to it that he doesn’t become a monster in doing so.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

Too late!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Man the Swift Boats

It’s reported by the Independent Online that an official and independent report commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defense claims that our foreign wars, despite the bluster from the Right and the chorus of denials from the Dittoheads, are a major cause of our woes in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

“The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."

The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of civil-military relations at the Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts. Henthorn, from what I read in Stars and Stripes, is a supporter of “staying the course” in Iraq and hardly one who can be called any of the names that the Republicans love to call Democrats. His report is also highly critical of the New Orleans City Government for having diverted flood control funds to “vote getting” projects.

None the less, the report states that Brigadier General Michael D Barbero, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, refused permission for Special Forces units who volunteered to join relief efforts, to do so. General Barbero also refused to release other troops. We have all seen the video of the Navy helicopter pilots being chewed out for rescuing civilians.

My prediction, of course, is that the failures of the New Orleans Mayor will be played up by the Conservative Press and the shortcomings of our military and the connection of those shortcomings to their being bottled up in meaningless foreign wars will be either ignored or obscured by an attack on the report itself.

The official Fogghorn stopwatch is running. Let’s see how long it is before pictures of Henthorn and Jane Fonda appear. Swift Boats away!