Friday, December 30, 2005

God, Gators and Guts

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech. . .

Nice theory, but 9/11 and George W. Bush and the Evangelists have changed everything.

Think we can freely exercise our religious beliefs? Think we can say or refuse to say anything according to our consciences? Think we don’t have an official religious view? Not in Florida. The Florida constitution requires a “so help me God” oath of office – the Federal constitution forbids it. Florida’s constitution gives gratitude to Almighty God for constitutional liberty rather than to the consent of the governed. If you must be a monotheist, if you must say so in public, then where is our freedom?

Florida law and Palm Beach County laws require students to stand up for the pledge and recite the new Credo of our State Religion; that we are a Nation under God. They may not refuse and so our liberty ebbs silently away like the tide.

65% of respondents to a Palm Beach Post poll agree that students should be forced to stand and recite. Floridians like a God who agrees with their smug self-righteousness and they like a God who doesn’t much care for freedom.

Cameron Frazier, a young man who considers himself a patriot and who believes in supporting our troops and helping victims of disasters, was threatened, publicly humiliated and forced to leave his classroom when he exercised his constitutional rights and obeyed his conscience by refusing to stand up and parrot President Dwight Eisenhower’s religious maxim at the insistence of his teacher last December 8th.

"Oh you wanna bet? See your desk? Now look at mine. Big desk, little desk. You obviously don't know your place in this classroom." Said the irate petty tyrant with patent disregard for everything America was supposed to stand for. Frazier said the teacher cursed at him and accused him of being unpatriotic before ordering him to leave the classroom.

I would have left with him. In my day everyone would have got up and left But this is not my day, it is the day of Christian wrath and this a country where no one cares and no one will stand up for freedom and justice and the constitution but the ACLU, who is representing him in a Federal suit against the School District and Boynton Beach High School teacher/preacher Cynthia Alexandre.

James K. Green, an ACLU attorney in West Palm Beach involved in the lawsuit said:
“If you're being forced to stand while the Pledge of Allegiance is being spoken, the school board is in effect forcing a certain orthodoxy that the First Amendment doesn't allow."
Frazier may well win his case, but the Evangelist States of America under God will roll on and roll over us all unless we start to care about what is happening.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

United against unity

Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a lurking place, every word is also a mask.


“We are not a nation of the common good” says Representative Joe Negron; “we are a nation of individuals.” He’s a Republican of course, who talks about the essentially Christian nature of the United States and the need for sacrifice as long as it’s only the sacrifice of human life.

He was arguing, when he spoke those words, against the practice of condemning private property and transferring it to private developers for the “common good” For the most part, I’m also against the practice, not because it’s not the province of the Government to promote that common good, but because I fear the inevitable corruption that has become nearly the norm.

What ever happened to e pluribus Unum? It seems that in every way, this administration has done every thing it can to divide us and subdivide us and turn us against ourselves, while demanding national unity in support of it. Of course Negron didn’t mean to reveal any underlying strategy; he’s only pandering to that kind of people who feel overburdened by the cost of civilization and who cherish the fantasy of being the lone mountain man, surviving by his own effort alone and beholden to no one.

He does reveal, by ignoring the central contradiction between “nation” and “individuals,” the irrationality from which so much Republican dialectic arises. The notion that we can have a nation, a civilized nation which pays no attention to promoting the public good, is scarcely worth talking about. The real question is where the balance lies, where the limits of private rights are, but that discussion requires admitting that all things cannot be described by zeroes and ones: black and white, Liberal and Conservative, Christian and heretic.

Balance and measure are not popular themes for this administration anyway. We have a President bent on ruling by fiat and grasping for the power to set aside any rights or guarantees or protections. What better smokescreen for the great and mighty Bush to hide behind, than the anger and rage of the rabble his supporters like Joe Negron stir up? “Look out for yourself, you owe nothing to anyone, your brother can keep himself, you should be protected but should have no responsibility to those who make up your nation. Ask what your country should do for you and screw everyone else.”

As a tactic, it makes good sense. As a philosophy, it’s self contradictory. As truth, it isn’t.

Bury my heart

Today marks the 115th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre. It's well to remember the great sea of barbarism and hypocricy upon which our nation floats.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Don't talk to Jesus

The American Family Association is very upset at NBC’s new program, The Book of Daniel. Their point is that the title might draw unsuspecting Faith junkies to watch it and thus be offended to find out that it deals more with the real world than the Neverland of the faithful.

It’s about Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on her mid-day martinis. He has a gay son and a dope dealing daughter. Daniel talks regularly to an “unconventional” Jesus and that’s offensive to those who expect Jesus to act according to their conventions. Webster is a sinner and looks to Jesus for help. Perhaps it’s unconscionable to the Religious right that he would do that rather than purchase his Jesus prepackaged at an authorized local revival meeting along with bigotry and intolerance of others' beliefs they sell.

Students of history can tell you how the Medieval Church was obsessed with finding and killing anyone who “mocked” their rituals and beliefs and now that we are building a post-modern medieval society right here in the USA, we have to keep up that tradition. Their website asks you to contact NBC and protest.

While I support their right to protest, I urge everyone else to defend their right to defend our freedom against this Crusade. I will probably watch the show just because these people oppose it.


If you want to contact NBC and tell them not to cave in to the self-appointed censors, here's the information:

Bob Wright, Chairman
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Primary Phone: 212-664-4444
Fax: 212-489-7592

E-Mail: Bob Wright

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's sacred and holy, God damn it!

I wonder does Boston know why Boston isn’t the cultural center of America? The Boston Boys in Blue closed down Super 88 Market: one of a six store chain of Chinese grocery stores last Sunday – they were already in trouble for remaining open on Thanksgiving this year according to the Boston Herald.

“It’s not a big holiday for Asians,” said the manager, and he’s right. They do close on Chinese New Year, but hey – 9/11 changed everything, didn’t it? Bow down to the Christian supremacist overlords or pay the price. Thanks Fox News!

Funny though, that the same Puritan misfits who gave Boston the Blue Laws, also disliked Christmas, rightly noticing that there was nothing about Dec 25th in the Bible and they banned it in Boston between 1659 and 1681. They would fine you for celebrating it in any other way than according to their wisdom. The Foxes at Fox don’t seem to know, or perhaps they don’t care. The only purpose of the holiday in their shriveled minds is to promote the secular power of their militant pagan form of Christianity and so they have declared that we have declared a war on what, in Jesus’ time on Earth, was the birthday of Mithras. You know Mithras, the guy who was born in a crèche and had 12 apostles?

In his new book The War on Christmas, Fox News host John Gibson argues for a more Christian Christmas, one that includes crèches and carols in public schools and city halls. "Christians are coming to retake their place in the public square, and the most natural battleground in this war is Christmas," he writes. Well, tell it to the Puritans John and preach it to the fatuous Foxophiles who watch your phony tantrums on TV, but December 25th belongs to all of us and I will celebrate or not celebrate as I please. Go Fox yourself, Gibson.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What's in the box?

So what did you get for Christmas? I’ll bet you got at least one thing that the ad-men would call “high tech.”

Associated Press says we’re all “tech junkies.” We’re not. Fewer and fewer of us have any idea as to how anything works. What we are, are entertainment junkies and Black Box operators. Sure everyone thinks he knows something about computers and cars and electronics. Just ask and they’ll say Sony, Toyota, Apple, HDTV, but the great majority would think you’re speaking in tongues if you mention epitaxial diffusion and some would suggest a massage parlor if you were to ask about a three angle valve job. Tell me, do you know a NAND gate from a waste gate or SSB from BPSK-31? Can you tell a Hartley Oscillator from a Colpitts? Do you really understand how a simple AM radio works?

We used to be a nation of tinkerers and inventors, now we have fewer engineering graduates than the countries we used to call backward. If you designed it; if you can fix it, you’re a geek. If it all seems like magic to you, you’re hip; you have ‘tude, you’re edgy.

I am a Tech Junkie. My friends are Tech junkies – physicists, electrical engineers and inventors. Some are old hot-rodders. Most of them are in their 60’s, 70’s and older. Their children and grandchildren think of them as old fashioned, laugh at their beautiful hand made automobiles, act astounded when someone still knows Morse code or prefers to chat with some crony in Antarctica with complex equipment he built himself rather than buy the service from someone.

“What about using the telephone?” says my son after I’ve been talking to the captain of a 220 foot ocean tug pulling an oil rig near the coast of Angola. What would I talk about in that case? Certainly I wouldn’t have the pride of doing it with a system I put together myself, using the sound card from an old Toshiba interfaced with my transmitter to convert the upper sideband output into binary phase shift keying so that the “conversation” can take place on a computer screen just like a chat room. Besides, it’s faster than “instant” messaging and just ask anyone in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana or the Caribbean how useful cell phones and the internet are when things go awry.

“That’s Marconi stuff,” says Crankyboy, looking at the radio equipment sitting in the corner of my office with its three video screens, two CPU’s, keyboard, half dozen meters and countless buttons and knobs. Well not really. Guglielmo never used Amateur satellites or bounced signals off the moon or sent photos or digital files to a distant repeater interfaced to the internet. Of course I built several Marconi type stations when I was 10 years old – and primitive computers using rotary stepper switches from junk pinball machines. The first time I heard Elvis on Chicago’s WJJD was on a homemade germanium diode radio with preselector and an early PNP transistor as an audio stage. I built go-karts from old lawnmower parts, radios of all sorts and even a triode vacuum tube.

I wasn’t unusual; I just needed to know how things worked. I still do – I’m a tech junkie.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Whatever you celebrate - or don't celebrate today, may it be a merry one.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Ihr Ausweis – und schnell!

What would you call a law that allowed the police to stop you anywhere without reason, ask for your papers, your name, address and birth date and toss you in jail if you couldn’t produce them? You can’t tell me this doesn’t conjure up knee booted Hollywood Gestapo or Cold War cinema noir about Eastern Europe.

It also conjures up Ohio. According to News Channel 5 in Cleveland, a new bill which not long ago would not have seemed possible in this country awaits the signature of Ohio Governor Taft. How did this happen in the “land of the Free?” Simple – just say 9/11 800 million times and it will all come clear. You see, it’s not fascism, it’s a “tough antiterrorism bill.”

"It brings us frighteningly close to a show me your papers society," said Carrie Davis of the ACLU, which opposes the Ohio Patriot Act. Do you wonder why the Republicans hate the ACLU so much?

If it looks like Fascism; if it sounds like Fascism; if it clicks its heels and asks for your papers like Fascism – what do you call it? Whatever anyone calls it, I don’t call it freedom.

L'État, c'est moi

Republicans aren’t traditionally inclined to argue for lesser punishments due the offender by virtue of youth, but they are quite content to invoke that shibboleth of “youthful indiscretion” when discounting the actions of one of their own. Young Bush is received into the fold as a prodigal son and yet some kid who did what he did might never have the right to vote in Florida again.

Never mind what he said back then, Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee was a young man when he wrote a memorandum in 1984 saying that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits for ordering wiretaps of Americans without permission from a court. He was a young man, so don’t worry that he might just be a closet fascist or that his appointment is insurance for the Bush administration against prosecution for cutting a swath through the constitution.

The memo argued that top officials should not be subject to liability for damages for decisions relating to national security, even when they knowingly violated the law. But he counseled against appealing the issue to the Supreme Court "Because we now must argue that the official should be immune from violating clearly established legal standards," there is a "high risk of failure." That risk may be significantly smaller with a Court stuffed full of Bushiviks.

He also argued that the 1978 FISA law creating the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, which considers and issues warrants for gathering intelligence in the United States "clarified the procedure in this area and probably reduced in large measure the potential for future litigation." That might have been the case had Bush elected to inform that court of his massive data mining enterprise. Perhaps Bush had good reason not to, as today’s New York Times alleges that Bush’s wiretapping is vastly larger than we have been informed of.

“As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications. . .
Alito suggested that his superiors wait until the heat over Nixon’s violations died down before pursuing legislation that would enable an administration to violate the law with impunity. He was a young man.

George W Bush is not a young man. He is a man who wants the power to act outside the law in the name of national security and he wants to be the man who tells us when that is necessary and he wants to be the man to decide whether we can know about it. How much longer can we survive George Bush’s freedom?

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Prince

I remember the first speeding ticket I got. With the kind of naïve confidence only a 16 year old can have, I told the officer that everyone else was traveling just as fast. “But you’re the one who got caught” said he with a smirk I still think of every time I see our President trying to scold us like a medieval baron chastising the peasants.

Bush’s lame excuse, or at least the lame excuse issued by the White House: that Jimmy Carter and the universal scapegoat Bill Clinton also spied on citizens without due process just won’t do. Neither will his assertion that 9/11 changed everything or that he just didn’t have time to be bothered with upholding the constitution he swore (to his higher father) to uphold.

“In fact, Carter and Clinton issued those orders specifically to conform surveillance practices -- including warrantless searches -- to limitations imposed by the law, which was new when Carter was president and amended during Clinton's years”
Ann Wolner, columnist for Bloomberg News.

His secret order of 2001 authorizing the National Security Agency to listen to international calls involving U.S. citizens suspected of ties to terrorism, claims the Texas Tyrant, was given with the implied permission of Congress. It wasn’t.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 requires permission from a special, secret court - FISA- to conduct such investigations. In the kind of emergency Bush suggests is the case, permission can be granted ex post facto for up to 72 hours. In the case of a declared war, 15 days is allowed, but of course we have not declared war on anyone since 1942. We are moreover, not in a state of war with the Quakers, environmental groups, peace advocates and people with funny sounding names - so much for that excuse.

Perhaps this is another one of those cases which define the President’s life. When the rules are burdensome or compliance might be inconvenient, he ignores them, whether it’s the requirement to report insider trading, or report for duty in the Armed Services or to inform the courts. We know that Gonzales told him that Congress would not waive the law or the constitution to suit the President and so Bush did what Bush does – he ignored the law and lied repeatedly to the American people about it; invoking patriotism and fear.

Our constitution was intended to protect us against the power of the Government but for decades that protection has been eroded by fear mongers, liars, Republicans and opportunists. I suggest that we are in far greater peril from the lack of such protection than we are from any foreign enemy. I suggest that rather than being the result of having foreign enemies, Bush’s emergency powers are his prime objective: enemies having been created to suit his need for power.

While some are calling for censure and others for impeachment, the time is growing short. What powers will his manufactured emergency require next? What manufactured emergencies will arise to justify more and more authority?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A road through the Law

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More
: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More
: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

-A Man for All Seasons-

One of the Administrations first proclamations after the attack on New York and Washington by Saudi Islamic Extremists was that we would have to endure some abridgement of our civil rights. The surprising speed with which this statement was made after the earlier lethargy in addressing the warnings of a terrorist attack caused many to recall the 1933 Enabling Act which allowed Germany’s new Chancellor Adolph Hitler to bypass many provisions of the Weimar Constitution. The act was pushed through after the “Terrorist” attack on Germany’s Parliament, the Reichstag, the burning of which Hitler blamed on the Communists. Had Bush been looking for an opening all along?

Of course the quote “Is it time to be checking the sprinklers in the Reichstag?” has been tossed about so much that I am still unable to trace its source, but it was met with accusations of hyperbole and irresponsible excess. Those accusations seem a bit weaker today. The Republican attacks on the courts seem more understandable now that they are not only flirting with the unconstitutional and illegal abuse of power, but have been caught in flagrante delicto.

The Twin Towers have already burned and Bush may not need further conflagrations to continue to set aside the checks and balances that we have relied on to stabilize our Republic. He no longer needs to do anything but chant 9/11 and invoke the “tare-ists” to justify anything he wants to do and one thing he dearly wants to do, like every other tyrant does, is to eliminate criticism.

We are assured that due process is observed and that the Feds are only investigating with probable cause, despite compelling evidence that the surveillance is being used against anyone who might possibly disagree with Bush’s War or perhaps any war as well as those with dubious overseas connections. They no longer can or care to defend the lies but with that last refuge of a scoundrel.

Can we afford to wait until 2008? Will we be able to choose anything not on the Republican menu by then? For our own safety’s sake, can we continue to support this President?

Extra, Extra

CBC news tells us that the group of Yukon high school students who attended a peace demonstration in Alaska last year and were labelled a threat by U.S. Homeland Security have now been downgraded to a non credible threat - whew - I was worried. Aren't you glad we have these people on our side?

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Emperor Bush

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
-Joseph Goebbels-

President by the Grace of God Bush told us today that "We’re at war, and we must protect America’s secrets, and I presume the Justice Department will proceed forward with an investigation," thus lamely attempting to counter the investigation of illegal leaks that had no other purpose but to punish the tellers of truth.

"It is a shameful act," said the Tyrant Bush, whose many shameful secrets are his own and not the country’s.

Of the grossly unconstitutional spying which exceeds the authority of any President, he could only say: "The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." The fact that he authorizes unconstitutional acts which harm the foundations of liberty was not mentioned – at least by Bush.

Thus the Nixonian blackmail routine returns along with the imperial ambitions of a would-be king and tyrant.
"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders . . . All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism."
-Herrman Goering-

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Wars III

Revenge of the Claus

Haven’t I exhausted the subject of the fictitious War on Christmas yet? Yes and no. I’m tired of writing about diabolical Fallwell and the Worm O’Reilly, but have you heard about the Battle of New Zealand?

A group of about 40 Santa Clauses went on a drunken rampage in Auckland, New Zealand the other night. They raged through the town, spraying graffiti and urinating on walls, looting stores, vandalizing Christmas trees, throwing bottles and attempting to board a cruise ship.

The “event,” called Santarchy, according to the event's organizer Alex Dyer, was a worldwide phenomenon designed to “dismantle the commercialization of Christmas.” So far, the worldwide bit remains wishful thinking on his part. It seems that the attempt to put Chaos back in Christmas is confined to New Zealand, where the grass is green this time of year; where men are men and sheep are circumspect.

Our own Santa Corps seems sober and hard working so far, but can we trust them?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Judices in stuporem

Death in Texas

One’s right to life rests more upon technicalities than moralities in the State of Texas. About a dozen years ago, the Supreme Court decided that as long as someone had received a “fair” trial, new evidence showing innocence was inadmissible and therefore killing an innocent person is constitutional. [Herrera Vs. Collins] So much for the arguments against moral relativism one hears from the Red States. So much for arguments about activist judges twisting the law.

The State of Texas, red in tooth, claw and politics has once again decided that killing a retarded man is acceptable because of a technicality and the courts support the clamor of the Red State crowd.

The question of right and wrong isn’t what our legal system is about says Crankyboy. If you’ve received due process, you’ve received your due, but then, he’s tautologist as well as an attorney. Still, who can disagree that the law is not for us, but a weapon used against us.

The New York Times reports today that although the Supreme Court has prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded, a Texas death row inmate with an IQ of 61 and who has trouble understanding how a belt buckle works, cannot raise the issue in federal court because his lawyer missed a filing deadline.

"However harsh the result may be," said a Federal Appeals Court, its hands are tied by deadlines established in a 1996 federal law, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The same law now forbids Marvin Lee Wilson to appeal the Fifth Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court which in 2002 ruled the execution of the retarded to be illegal. The SCOTUS has been critical of the Fifth Circuit’s handling of capital punishment cases. Capt. Fogg is too. The judges who handed down, or rather excreted this decision were Jacques L. Wiener Jr. and Emilio M. Garza, both appointed to the appeals court by the first President Bush, and W. Eugene Davis, by President Reagan. It’s not that I think that the Republicans are a lot of amoral hypocrites – I think they’re animals. I await the snubbing of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the execution of children is illegal and I’m sure Texas will step up to the gibbet before long.

I’d rather not hear any more Red State garbage about morals, family values, Christianity or the danger of Liberal thought. If due process in our country can allow judges to wash their hands of the blood of children, the mentally ill and the innocent and cite some Faeces taurum as an excuse, then our country has nothing to lecture the world about.

Let them rave on about their fake war on Christmas, let them mock at the trial of the innocent and let them hope that God is not just.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mullahs and ballots and bombs - oh my!

So they held an election in Iraq and lots of people came, although with the possibility of at least 80,000 names illegally registered, but this new birth of freedom, as some would have it, was a difficult labor and the question remains: is an election held and manipulated by an occupying foreign power really an election? Is an election by itself really an exercise in political freedom anyway?

"We need a powerful person who rules the country without wanting to finish unsettled business like the Shiite politicians do," says a young Sunni voter quoted by Newsweek. That is, no doubt, what type of leader they will elect and he is right. Unfortunately Strong Man politics and civil liberty don’t dance well together, particularly in a violent place full of ancient hatred and passionate religious beliefs.

Our founding fathers were quite concerned to eliminate religious dogmas and passions from our government, knowing that it leads inevitably to tyranny, but there is no chance of that in Iraq: a country filled with God, guns, plastic explosives and anger. It will take a powerful person, ruling rather than administrating, like the former Shah of Iran or the powerful Ayatollahs who replaced him when we, in another attempt to spread “freedom,” allowed him to fall. It will take a man like Saddam at worst or Mubarak at best, but if the country of Iraq survives as a single political entity, it will have “A powerful person who rules the country.”

"It's going to take some time for them to learn democracy," said Sgt. Eric Mallette, who spends most of his days patrolling Kirkuk's highways for the roadside bombs that still account for most U.S casualties in Iraq. "You can't just throw some alligator clips in there and change 2,000 years of culture."

How close we are to understanding and how far we are from admitting it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Once upon a time

It was a long time ago when things were exactly the same. I stood on the college chapel steps with about 20 people holding candles, silently wishing for the War to end. The candlelight vigil was organized by the local Society of Friends, the Quakers; a Christian group preaching non-violence, a group in whose tradition Richard Nixon was raised.

At the bottom the steps were the men in black, ticking off names on clipboards and taking pictures. Anyone who has a conscience and indeed anyone who did not sufficiently support the endless quest for “victory with honor” in the War in Viet Nam was more than suspect of being dangerous. His name was sure to be on a list.

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists calling themselves The Truth Project met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

Of course then as now, such behavior is explicitly protected under the Constitution. The right to assemble, the right to petition the government and the right to free speech are pillars of our nation. We’re supposed to have protection against the power of the State and the Government has never liked it. Using the universal excuse of 9/11, the Bush Administration is actively spying on peaceful, law abiding Americans and using powers it bullied and frightened the public into granting.

“This peaceful, educationally oriented group being a threat is incredible,”
says Evy Grachow, a member of the group. She’s wrong, it is credible and it is traditional with administrations obsessed with their power and obedience thereto.

“I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far,”

says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin. The public is not concerned, although the extent of information gathering and invasion of privacy goes far beyond what I can describe here. The public loves a witch hunt and if witches are needed, we will have them. According to Raw Story, On November 21, 2004 approximately thirty demonstrators held an anti-torture rally across the street from the US Army Intelligence Center's interrogator school at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The peaceful protest, which resulted in no arrests, had been listed as a "credible" threat.

This type of behavior by the British was a strong factor in fomenting revolution and Americans have always valued their privacy, but the ability of fear mongers and patriotic con men to talk about less intrusive government while greasing up the proctoscope has grown beyond all bounds. When this nation falls to the right and becomes a totalitarian theocracy we will be the last to know because we don’t want to know, because we don’t want the responsibility of freedom and because we’re cowards.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Truth? We don't have to show you no steenking truth!

The Township of Saginaw Michigan says you can’t wear red and green this season because they’re part of an anti-God group or they’re Liberals, which is the same thing, right?

Oh really?
No, it’s O’Reilly. Crooks and Liars – the perfect place for reports on Bill’s creative talents – tells us that the unruly O’Reilly broadcast that story on his radio show on Monday last.

"In Saginaw , Michigan , the township opposes red and green clothing on Anyone, In Saginaw Township they basically said anybody, we don't want you wearing red or green. I would dress up from head to toe in red to green if I were in Saginaw Michigan

I’d love to see that. I’d love to see him tied to a 40 foot Douglass Fir trunk with red and green lights festooned from his tarred and feathered body – but that’s just a dream.

Actually there isn’t even a germ of truth in it and the Saginaw Township hall is at this moment decorated with red and green Christmas lights, according to WNEM-TV5 in Saginaw. But what the hell do they know – they’re probably Liberals.

Is there any greater force in the universe than the Republican’s ability to deny truth even when it’s crammed down their throats like boiling oil – but that’s just a dream.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris

"Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die."

John Donne -From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623)

I don’t know very much about Tookie Williams or the crimes he was convicted of committing. I do know that a significant percentage of convictions for serious crimes are flawed and owe more to a lack of reasonable people than lack of reasonable doubt. Money buys acquittals, lack of it fosters capital punishment and the taint of racism is hard to deny.

If one or two executions out of ten are flawed, we’ve reached a level at which God himself would have spared Sodom. How many killings does it take to make one a murderer; how many to make us all murderers? Is it acceptable to forgive one’s self if one does nothing to interfere with the killing of a prisoner whether from mercy or the uncertainty of a flawed system? Are we forgiven for just following orders? I may have hated Williams If I knew him – who knows, but I hate myself for living in a country that killed him, propped up on a little stage, tied to a tree and in front of an audience thrilled to watch him die.

Every time I hear someone preaching about our national lack of morals being the result of not carving the Ten Commandments on our walls and every time I hear someone affirming the mandate of “Judeo-Christian values” I remember that the nations who share our satisfaction with the process of burning, poisoning, gassing, beheading or breaking the necks of the convicted tend not to be Christian but rather Communist, or Islamic. For all our Christian Supremacist bellicosity, we are a very violent nation with respect to our official actions.

Thou Shalt Not Kill is often softened by translating it as “Thou shalt not murder” as though the distinction were clear and unambiguous, but to me, the borderline is need. We did not have to kill Tookie Williams in order to save ourselves or to ensure the survival of our nation or any small part of it. We don’t kill to stop the killing; we kill because we feel good about it. We feel good about it because we are part of a culture that teaches that justice is the product of outrageand morality the offspring of anger. If we hate, if we are consumed with rage, then it’s OK to kill as a group, but not as an individual.

This is hard to understand in the context of gang violence. How big does the gang have to be before the killing becomes legal? If the gang is called – say Texas, is it then permissible? You know the answer.

This is one of those seasons when the Christian Right insists that we all pay homage to their majority. It’s a shame that there is no season when they pay homage to mercy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Have yourselves a Jerry little Christmas

Even though Jerry Fallwell is making money telling people that the Government is trying to stamp out Christmas, and even though the State of Georgia has introduced a bill making it illegal for the Government to tell anyone they can’t say “Merry Christmas” (they’ve never tried to) and even though the Religious Right is doing a war dance centered around the fiction that the ACLU is filing suit against anyone who vocalized that sentiment – the latest Crusade is against Science, reason and freedom of belief, not against Christmas.

Paul Mirecki, the professor at the University of Kansas who was beaten by Kansas Kristians after making statements critical of the “Intelligent Design” crusade, says he has been forced to resign his post as chairman of the Religious Studies department. Mirecki said he’s angry because KU didn’t back him after “religious conservatives” attacked him for his plan to teach a course dealing with intelligent design as a religious idea, which of course, it is.

"The University penalized me and denied me my Constitutionally protected right to speak and express my mind," he said in a written statement Friday for the Lawrence Journal-World.

Our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion have never been under such a concerted attack. The religious Right has no interest other than to assert themselves as the founding authority or our country and they have no moral scruples whatever about doing what it takes to conquer.

Our constitution was designed to keep these people at bay without interfering with their right to lie to us. God help us if we allow them to interfere with our right to hear the truth.

Friday, December 09, 2005

What's that smell?

Andrea Merkel may think the air has been cleared by Condoleeza’s doubletalk about torture, but there’s still a smell in the room that won’t go away.  As usual with this administration, what is, depends on what the definition of is is.

According to BBC World News, the US admits that it has “detention facilities” into which the Red Cross is not allowed.  It’s not a great leap to assume that such facilities are the very ones the CIA is accused of running without international oversight.

John Bellinger, the State Department’s top legal advisor made the admission but gave no details about where such prisoners were held.  This casts some doubt over lyin’ little Condoleeza’s statement that we follow the guidelines of the Geneva conventions, although her notorious moral and semantic relativities would make Einsteins’s head swim.  The Geneva Accord deals with prisoners of war and who knows how the prevaricators and equivocators in the Administration define the men, women and children it grabs off the street and flies secretly to secret locations to extract unreliable and illegal and immoral confessions through torture.  

On Wednesday while in Germany, Doktor Rice stressed that all American interrogators were bound by the UN Convention on Torture, whether they worked in the US or abroad. Of course she did not say whether foreign torturers in the employ of the US were so constrained and she did not define torture.

Once again, as we have asked over and over as concerns the activities of the Bush administration, we have to ask: why do we have to redact the constitution, stonewall congress and tell transparent lies if there is nothing to hide?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Religious wrong

I’ve written several times about the Christian Supremacist war on tolerance, human rights, science, art and history and I’m afraid I will never see the end of it.  Terrorist bombings and murder have been used by the Religious extremists who see abortion as murder, but Christian Supremacy has been less aggressive in other areas up until now.  The attempts to bowdlerize history and equate mythology with science have been confined to relatively peaceful, if heated argument.

Things may be changing.  According to the Wichita Eagle, A Kansas professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design dismissed such concepts as mythology was hospitalized Monday after a roadside beating by two men in a pickup truck.  He has cancelled the course.

The “conservative” Christian group Focus on the Family has, according to the Chronicle closed all its Wells Fargo accounts because the San Francisco bank contributed to a gay rights group that promised to use the funds to "fight ... the anti-gay industry."

Focus on the Family's move follows a recent onslaught of conservative boycotts and other actions against large companies that support gay and lesbian causes, or who advertise in media that caters to gay people or who otherwise show tolerance and Christian non-judgmentalism against them, including Walgreens drugstores and Kraft Foods Inc., both of which contributed to the Gay Games or Levi-Strauss which donates only to charities that do not discriminate against gays.

To be sure, evil and hypocrisy have always been with us, but it is the affinity that Republican Party and Faith-Based greed for power have for each other that has damaged our country.  The kind of Christians we have supporting these tactics and arguments are the Christians who supported slavery, who opposed an independent and secular United States, who mocked a woman’s right to vote and stood up in righteous indignation against the extension of equality to people of color.

It’s the very people who are making the most noise about putting Christ back in Christmas by putting crèches on the village green who have completely taken him out of their religion.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fly me to the Moonies

Some of us know Presidential Brother Neil Bush as the Silverado Kid and he fits well into the Bush family tradition of shady dealings and shady associates.

But maybe Neil doesn’t think he cost us enough with the Savings and Loan failure that he saddled the taxpayers with – that’s only pigs knuckles – what every Bush Republican wants is Pork, gigantic Pork, Jurassic Pork. Heard about the bridge to nowhere? Get ready for the tunnel to Siberia.

Neil Bush is currently in Manila on a 100 day tour with the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, owner of such Liberal Media outlets as the Washington Times. Readers of the Crooks and Liars Blog know that the Bush family has long supported the Moonies. Barbara and George H.W. Bush have long attended Moon's lucrative and stately peace festivities, which stress the Reverend's mastery of family values as God's path to world peace. The Reverend's movement controls more than $300 million in commercial, political and cultural enterprises. The path is paved with gold, it seems. It's unclear whether Neil Bush, who played at family values with prostitutes in Asia, has any reliable roadmap to God of his own.

They’re all willing and eager to pass the pork though. Neil has been seen in Latvia with Latvia with Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive Russian tycoon indicted in Russia in connection with a $13 million fraud case and has lobbied Congress for Scientology and its attack on scientific Psychology. The Reverend Moon is advocating a tunnel linking Alaska and Russia, with help from the chairman of the Arizona GOP.

One can only speculate as to whether God’s path to world Peace will soon have a bypass through Alaska, built on now worthless land to be purchased by friends and family, but who would be surprised?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beans and Rice

Some sport was made of Condoleeza’s shoe shopping while New Orleans drowned, yet somehow, of all Bush’s gang of thieves and liars, she has been the least affected in terms of her public approval. I think we’d all be better off letting her shop.

According to Associated Press, when discussing the case of the abducted German citizen flown off to Afghanistan for some spirited “interrogation,” Rice admitted to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the US botched that affair, but most astonishingly maintained in spite of all the proof to the contrary, that the US does not use torture.

Rice, who is perhaps the most astute double talker in an administration manned by masters of mendacity, maintained a broad defense of our aggressive pursuit of “intelligence” as a practice not to be thwarted by any moral or legal concerns.

''This is essentially a war in which intelligence is absolutely key to success,'' Rice said glibly. ''If you are going to uncover plots, if you are going to get to people before they commit their crimes, that is largely an intelligence function.''

A nice way of saying that the end justifies the means. When citing 9/11 as an example of not having had previous knowledge that Osama bin Laden planned to attack us using stolen airplanes, Rice sidestepped the fact that we had the intelligence we needed to prevent the major terrorist attacks like the Sept, 2001 incident and that she herself played a role in keeping that data and indeed any concern with fighting terrorism from getting to the decision making level. The term liar simply fails to describe the ability of Fräulein Doktor Rice to make astonishingly untrue and contradictory statements with composure.

With regard to the US operation of Soviet era Gulags and secret prisons, Rice offered the predictable:
''Were I to confirm or deny, say yes or say no, then I would be compromising intelligence information, and I'm not going to do that.''
Nor is she going to be so crude as to say it the way her masters would: “ We will do whatever we want and say whatever we want so shut up or we’ll torture you too.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

More Fudge from Drudge

Two unremarkable articles sometimes fit together into something scary. A piece in Raw Story says that the Drudge Report has been honking about a Jerusalem Post article that Drudge claims quotes Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It does – it quotes him incorrectly. The lurid piece, titled "El Baradei: Iran only months away from a bomb," takes a comment Baradei made to the British newspaper, The Independent, completely out of context.

"The jury's out," he said. "It's difficult to read their intention. We're still going through the programme to make sure it's all for peaceful purposes."I know they are trying to acquire the full fuel cycle. I know that acquiring the full fuel cycle means that a country is months away from nuclear weapons, and that applies to Iran and everybody else."

The Post article omitted the “jury’s out” part and substituted “will make a weapon” for “could make a weapon.” Scare tactics are not rare in the Jerusalem Post, but one has to wonder if Drudge is also on the Administration payroll.

The other half of the puzzle, which when combined creates a sum greater than its parts, appears in Global Security Newswire. The US now, it brags, can effect a global preemptive strike.

CONPLAN 8022 is “a new strike plan that includes [a] pre-emptive nuclear strike against weapons of mass destruction facilities anywhere in the world,” said Hans Kristensen, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Oh goody! We’re paranoid about the nuclear intentions of the world and we have a President whose only ambition in life has been to be a “warpresident.” We have media that cooperates with the Warpresident to create danger where there is none and diminish it where it exists and we can preemptively strike anyone in the world that the madman in charge wants to.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lies, damn lies and George Bush

It’s not just that our Texas bullslinger lied about why he just had to attack Iraq, or that he is still lying about the progress or that he lied when he told us that the whole world believed Iraq had nukes and missiles and anthrax bombs and the like. Of course nearly all the world’s leaders told us he didn’t and yet, because we’re stupid, we still hate them for telling us the truth while believing they didn’t tell us the truth. Orwell called it doublethink – I call it willful amnesia when I’m in a good mood – blind stupidity when I’m not.

All along our drugstore cowboy in chief has been calling the Iraqis terrorists and insurgents, hiding the fact that they were not terrorists until we blew up their infrastructure and started torturing them and stealing from them and established ourselves as yet another infidel colonial power on their sacred sands. We’ve read report after report that the number of foreign insurgents in Iraq is small and the “insurgents” we’re fighting and calling an enemy are the people we are “helping.”

We’ve disregarded such reports, when they make the US papers, because the evil cabal of traitors who run our country and the sick bastards who support them have trained us to dismiss any bit of truth that sneaks past the reactionary plutocrats who own the media as “Liberal bias.”

Our only significant ally in this insane undertaking is England and yet the English press has far less reluctance to printing negative information. The Telegraph seems to confirm my belief that one of the reasons we plant news stories and pay reporters to file bogus reports is that we are fighting Iraqis who want us out rather than “fighting them (al Qaeda) over there.”

“Iraqis, rather than foreign fighters, now form the vast majority of the insurgents who are waging a ferocious guerrilla war against United States forces in Sunni western Iraq, American commanders have revealed.”

Such stories have run here, but not where people can easily find them nor have they been adequately addressed by the TV media. We prefer to and we continue to lump Iraqi patriots, disgruntled, unemployed, outraged Iraqis and a handful of foreign opportunists as “terrorist insurgents” just as the Nazis did the French Resistance and as we did in Viet Nam.

Sure we have had reports that the locals don’t support the “insurgents” but now that we know the US is planting such stories, we have even more reason to doubt that what’s going on over there has any relation to what we’re told by the Texas Tyrant and his faithful minions.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Doomed to repeat it

I admit it – I’m a pessimist and although some are taking heart that Bush’s poll numbers and trust in his administration are sinking, I think that light at the end of the tunnel is a mirror reflecting our own headlights.

According to a Time Magazine poll, when looking forward to the 2008 election, three-in-five (60%) surveyed by TIME say they would like the next President to be “completely different” from George W. Bush while 36% would like someone similar.  

Bad for the Republicans?  I don’t think so.  If this poll is to be believed and If the last presidential election were being held again today, it would be a dead heat again  with 47% for Bush and 48% for John Kerry. That doesn’t even account for the effects of the inevitable recrudescence of the Republican Slime Machine, Swift Boat Veterans for Slander included.

We don’t learn: we’re not just a nation of idiots, we’re a nation that prefers idiots, prefers to be cheated, prefers war to peace, prefers bigotry to tolerance; authoritarianism to Democracy and safety to morality.  There’s an element of savagery in the human heart but here and now it’s rising to the top as it does time after time and place after place.

It can happen here, it is happening here and we don’t care.  Just give a tax cut to the oil men; give us an army to cheer for and we in our trailers and we in our slums will sleep tonight while visions of sugar plums dance in our heads.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Divided we fall for Fallwell

It’s that time of year. There’s no frost on the pumpkin down here, but you can tell by the battle cry of the Christian Supremacists that the annual battle is beginning.  

Strident shouters of shaky certainties are writing in to editors, calling in to talk shows and agitating for the installation of more and higher wattage displays of their graven images on public property.  The same arguments, canned and packaged by the Crusaders for Christian domination and distributed from pulpits, Sunday schools and religious media outlets everywhere; from newsletters and magazines the word goes forth: we are the majority and we are being persecuted and deprived of our rights by a minority (read Jews, atheists and secular humanists.)

I’ve already gone into enough detail about the antipathy the drafters of our Constitution had toward religious influence on Government and the intent of our constitution to separate Religious and clerical power from political power.  It’s an idea under attack as are most of the precepts of our Republic that have at least allowed it to survive and sometimes approach its lofty ideals.

Jerry Foulsmell wants you to think Christmas is under attack because he gains power and money by doing so. His adherents want to believe that it’s under attack because they have so little in their lives that they find their modicum of pride in being part of what they see as a majority group and sometimes a majority race that is somehow special.  From my experience, Christian supremacists, now often called Christianists to distinguish them from Christians, know next to nothing of religious history, theology, their scriptures or the history of their scriptures and practices.  They don’t seem to care, because the purpose of Christmas, judging by what I read in the papers and hear on the street is to declare themselves to be a master race and not to celebrate any beliefs about Jesus’ life or teachings.  Christmas in the Bible Belt has become a celebration of “America, be a Christian or leave.”

Nobody knows where or exactly when Jesus was born, the hint that it was in April is likely there to identify him with a lamb and the Passover.  The place, in  Bethlehem used to identify him with a mistranslated bit of Micah.  The wise men and the crèche are too similar to what we see in Mithraism, a dominant Roman religion.  In fact, the events supposedly surrounding his birth don’t hang together historically and were likely written centuries afterward.

None of this demeans Christmas in my opinion. It was a good holiday when it was the birthday of Mithras or the holiday of deus Sol Invictus and before it, just the Roman celebration of the equinox and remained so when it became a Christian celebration of peace, benevolence and generosity.  

Would Jesus have approved of displays of religious figures on government property?  Not if he had any feeling for the second Commandment. Would he tell anyone to follow the words of the priests to the letter or get out of the country? I don’t think so.  The Christian Right has poisoned Christianity, and is attempting to poison our Constitution as well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Where there's a Will, there's a way

Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne. Und die trägt er im Gesicht. Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer. Doch das Messer sieht man nicht ...

-Berthold Brecht-

George F. Will writes a column for Newsweek called The Last Word. It t should be called the Fast Word. One gets carried along by his clever erudition and when he’s successful, the games he plays with language and logic go unnoticed.

His piece in the December 5th issue follows in the path of most of Will’s swill by attempting to obscure Republican financial transgressions by alleging similar infractions and hypocrisies by the California Democrats, but the real gravamen of his tediously relentless Liberal Bashing lies in another one of his usages.

“Attacks on freedom of political speech are becoming more brazen. Because the attackers aim to enlarge government's control of the political campaigns that decide who controls government, the attacks advance liberalism's program of extending government supervision of life.”

Never mind that political speech no longer bears any relationship to truth and there is no accountability. Never mind the Swift Boat Liars for Bush. Will, like many Republican banshees and like Orwell’s Big Brother, defines Liberal as Totalitarian or at least Authoritarian. Like Most Republican supporters, he has no problem with authoritarian practices like spying on citizens and suspending Habeas Corpus because he finds them useful. Democratic ideas of limiting the influence of the massively wealthy is not useful, so it’s authoritarian.

To him then, a crime is a crime only by virtue of who commits it. It’s about what side you’re on and the reasons for being on Will’s side are, like Mack’s knife, hidden.

Unlike most Republican supporters, Will probably has read Orwell. Like them, he’s not ashamed to base his arguments on conveniently reversed terms, doublethink and doubletalk. So when we read “The Last Word” we should not expect, unfortunately, that it will be.

But we live in a world like that; where people howl about moral relativism in language so idiosyncratically defined that anything can mean anything they want it to. If I mention that Bush’s war in Iraq is mostly supported by people who have blind faith in Bush, I can be accused of being a communist – because Marx made statements about religion. If the Kansas School board can’t make Faith fit with Science, they can redefine Science as Faith.

Oh well, in that case. . . . .


Got kids? You may want to look into this. Saw Jailhouse Rock 47 times? You’ve got to have it. Want to lease space to the CIA for the non-torture of prisoners? Buy this jail.

Huntsville Missouri is selling the Randolph County Jail on eBay – prisoners not included. The historic building has 4,396 sq. ft. above ground and it has a full basement. Asking price $32,500. Just the spot for a blues club or a religious cult or make it into – wait, that’s illegal in Missouri.

The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin' and the joint began to swing
You should've heard those knocked out jailbirds sing
Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock