Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The worst fiscal deterioration in our nation's history

Well I hope you’re all up for it. The economy is great and “victory” in Iraq is just around the corner and we’re going to hear all about it tonight, condescending sneers and all.

Bush is hoping for a boost since his approval rating is a lower percentage of the population than those who believe in Alien Abductions and he may get it. Even though he’s been just plain wrong in all his predictions, some people still believe him, such is the power of faith.

Here are my predictions:

He will show us GDP figures and call it solid growth, even though last quarter’s numbers surprised even the pessimists. He will credit his tax cuts for that growth and insist that they be made permanent. He will again compare the tribulations of the Iraqi government to those experienced by the young United States in the late 18th century. He will tell us that his station as commander in chief allows him to bypass the constitution and that it is necessary to keep spying on anyone expressing dissatisfaction with his pet war because we are all in such grave danger. We will hear about strong job growth and low unemployment figures. Nothing surprising, in other words.

Gene Sperling, a columnist for Bloomberg News and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress writes today about what you will not hear.

That the main reason unemployment is low is that a smaller share of the population is working or looking for work than when Bush took office. If this weren't the case, the unemployment rate would be 6.6 percent to 7.2 percent

That level of job growth is 2.5 million jobs below the average 2 1/2-year period under the Clinton Administration, and more significantly represents less than half the average rate of job growth in the similar periods of economic recoveries.

That the mere 62,000 private sector jobs generated a month in the Bush recovery represents the worst job recovery on record.

That both family and household incomes have fallen and poverty has risen every year under this administration, according to the annual census report on income and poverty.

Of course since the man once worked for Clinton, all this can be readily dismissed by the remaining 37% who support Bush, by reciting the mystic formula “Michael Moore – Ted Kennedy – Canadian health care system.” But those Democrats, like Sperling and like me, who see the situation as more complex than can be explained only by Bush’s profligate spending and borrowing will none the less be nauseated by those fiscal policies that have mortgaged the future and led to what he calls “the worst fiscal deterioration in our nation's history. “

Monday, January 30, 2006

She take de money and run Venezuela

Come on home Cindy Cindy, Come on home Cindy Cindy
Come on home Cindy Cindy, Come on home to me.

-Elvis Presley-

Cindy, Cindy, Cindy – why did you do it? You had the moral high ground. You had a right to know and Bush chose to cut brush. You looked brave and Bush looked like a sniveling coward. You should have quit while you were ahead.

Cindy Sheehan you’ve made yourself into a metaphor. You’ve made it easy for them to dismiss the case for open, accountable government by calling you a communist. You’ve made it easy for Bush to keep ignoring you and you’ve undercut all of us.
Now anyone who opposes this unprovoked war can be negated by being seen with you, having talked to you or talked about you. 20 years from now, some worthy candidate will be successfully slimed with faked pictures of you.

You couldn’t have done more harm if you tried.

It's just around the corner

Yessir – the economy is doing just fine if your last name is Exxon.  Good job Exxy – let’s give you a tax cut!  Of course if you work at Wal-Mart 67 hours a week and get paid for 40 with no benefits, whereas a few years ago you owned two stores – well sit down and shut up, Commie.  

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest oil company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 27 percent to a record $10.7 billion on surging energy prices, capping the most profitable year for any company in U.S. history.  Must have been those tax cuts for the rich boosting entrepreneurship, right?  Must be, because our friends on the right, the defenders of the people sure aren’t going to tax that windfall. That might screw up the gravy – I mean economy.  

Of course what we’ve been told for decades is that it will trickle down to someone’s great grandmother currently bagging groceries at the Winn-Dixie so that she can almost afford her medications.  I’m sure it will someday.  I mean, how could these oil men be wrong?

Of course we can feel good about the last third quarter’s 4.1% growth while ignoring or doublethinking the next quarter’s 1.1% - that’s the way we keep the economy strong – by talking it up and borrowing on our houses.  A 17.5 percent plunge in durable goods purchases, the biggest drop in almost two decades?  A 1.2% drop in consumer spending for 2005? What are you, some sort of socialist, Michael Moore loving, French Canadian Liberal?

Joe Carson, director of Global Economic Research at Alliance Bernstein, says: ``Low growth in GDP and a decline in productivity -- hours worked rose more than GDP -- implies margin compression and a sequential decline in operating profits.''  Of course these figures get revised more often than George Bush’s promises, but it’s hard to disagree that people are working longer for less, spending more to keep afloat and alive, while the rich get richer.

Something needs to be done – I mean the homeless may be increasing dramatically in my town, but that’s because they are lazy.  The real problem is that it’s getting harder and harder to find a place to keep my yacht!

Con dolcessa, Condoleeza!

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault
: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

Of course you recognize the quote. The glib and unflappable Renault has become a metaphor for the unabashedly self-serving and corrupt official who really doesn’t care whether you know it or not.

As quoted in the New York Times, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders. Well, I’m shocked; and in the same way and to precisely the same degree that Captain Renault was shocked to find that there was gambling at Rick’s.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Doctor Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse.” Ms. Rice pointed out that the election results surprised just about everyone. "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas's strong showing."

Rice should talk to people outside her circle of sycophants. The chorus of jeers and smears, high fives and hot air from the Great Uneducated Right hasn’t completely drowned out the voices that have argued that Iraq would freely vote for someone far more inimical to the West and its interests than was Saddam. And so they may have done, and so now have the Palestinians.

Perhaps if Rice should stop to consider her failures to see, failures to report, failures to anticipate, failures to investigate, she might produce shock enough to start a tsunami – but she won’t. It’s not in the script and after all. We still don’t know why she sat on the warning about an al Qaeda attack, why she didn’t see that the invasion would not go exactly as it did, that we would not be welcomed, that the oil fields would not produce - that Saddam had no weapons or plants to build them or materials to use nor any way to deliver them. Of course the Administration hardly has to justify its gross failures here and abroad while it can count on blind, flag waving, Budweiser swilling patriotism. I’m quite sure my mailbox will again fill with quasi-literate, misspelled, ungrammatical hate mail, filled with references to communism, New York, Cindy Sheehan, Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore and all the other demons of the demented despot loving losers of the Starboard wing.

Martin Indyk, who was a top Middle East negotiator in the Clinton administration, says: "But on the American side, the conceptual failure that contributed to disaster was the president's belief that democracy and elections solve everything." That’s an understatement.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Atilla the Conservative

Ten million words have probably been written about Newspeak: the word George Orwell coined for the dumbed-down language with the purpose of controlling public perception and belief. Certainly the decay of American English has many sources cultural and academic. Certainly many words have lost their meaning and have taken on other and sometimes antithetical meanings. Certainly it’s not all progress and it’s not all accidental.

What does it mean in Newspeak to be called Conservative? I’m not sure the word has much to do with preserving the status quo or with a reluctance to tolerate large or rapid change or even the avoidance of risk any more. As used by our grotesquely politicized mainstream media, it seems to have more to do with extravagant hostility toward intellectualism, toward reason, toward freedom of thought, collective humanitarian pursuits and perhaps even toward ordered society.

Hence Ann Coulter, a woman who in more conservative times would have been hanged, drawn, quartered and burned as a witch, can repeatedly be labeled as a conservative commentator while calling for the violent overthrow of our government and its institutions. The word simply denotes high hate content and a bias against civilization.

Speaking in Little Rock, AK yesterday, psychopathic, Bolshevik revolutionary insurgent Coulter called for the murder of Justice Stevens, one of the most intelligent minds and elegant writers on the Supreme Court. CNN calls that a “strongly conservative view.”

Coulter belongs to a political party that was willing to call “please don’t tell my wife” Subornation of Perjury and “I did not have a sexual relation with that woman” a high crime worthy of impeachment. What then would a person of normal moral character call "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' crème brulee?” Does the word “Conservative” really attach itself to calls for murder and insurrection?

Coulter seems to believe that you can say things like this and write it off as a joke; that if you smile during a felony, it’s all right. Perhaps she’s right and perhaps if I say someone ought to feed her feet first through a manure spreader after pouring boiling nitric acid up her nose, I will be conservative too.

Friday, January 27, 2006

That was then - this is now

Crankyboy, the Daily Curmudgeon gripes today about Bush's dismissal of the 1978 FISA law as being too old to be worth obeying. Check out Wednesday's fafblog satire on the same theme and more. I read it twice and I'm still laughing.

I doubt, therefore I think.

There is no doubt in his mind, says George W. Bush. There is no doubt that domestic spying without court supervision is legal. This is the same mind in which there is serious doubt that the planet was not created in 6 days and populated with billions of living species in 12 hours or so.

Whether or not he believes what he says, nearly everything he has presented to us has been built with false reasoning on a false premise. Even though it seems that about half the country thinks he’s honest, consistently wrong is still consistently wrong and if it were somehow legal to spy on the Vegans and the Quakers or anyone who questions his proclamations, it’s still wrong. You have to hand it to him for doublespeak, though; just as the Clean Air Act was designed to dump more dirt into the air, this program, says the President, is “designed to protect civil liberties.”

Up pops the Devil

Ever notice how Osama bin Laden pops up like a puppet in a Punch and Judy show whenever Bush needs to lower the level of reason in America? Ever notice how the only ones who assure us that these timely tapes are authentic are the same people who told us Saddam had a nuclear program nearing completion and vast stores of chemical weapons? Other countries like Sweden tell us that they are fakes and even Al Jazeera questions their authenticity. In most things, timing is everything and Osama’s satanophanies seem timed to Bush’s needs. Beyond his need to keep the public convinced of Osama’s enduring presence and malice and since “fighting Terrorism” is his most loved attribute, Bush needs to distract from his failures and blunders.

With the Dollar faltering again, oil on the way up, economic signs on the way down, the Army stretched to the breaking point, corruption leaking out of the seams and anger from our few allies at the air strike in Pakistan, George Bush just like Orwell’s Big Brother, feels it’s time to put out more pictures of the bearded devil.

Sooner or later one has to ask, if this “warrentare” is so productive why is he still out there and why have we caught no “terrists” while spying on Americans? The conclusion that comes to my doubting mind is that Bush needs a war to maintain his power and his power is the only reason for that war.

Long Live the King

Two and a quarter centuries ago, our forefathers wrote a constitution and somehow got it approved. Would this country buy such a Liberal document today? Popular outrage at the idea of George III of England looking through one’s dwelling, papers and accounts ad libitum and at random helped the popularity of our Bill of Rights. Now with such things under attack by George II of America, one has to wonder whether our national cowardice has finally led us to choose the security of Big Brother government over the turmoil of liberty.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

People's choice

In the history of our dealings with Iraq, we have made many false assumptions. Amongst those assumptions of which the United States seems to be frequently guilty, is to equate the holding of elections with true Democracy and to equate Democracy with freedom and justice and stability. George Bush offered us the prospect of free elections in Iraq as a goal; a marker of success in building a Liberal Western style democracy, while ignoring the centrifugal effects of strong religious, ethnic and cultural disparities. While we can always find Iraqis who would welcome these things, we seem to be discovering that they may lack the numbers and the power to stand against the popular urges toward Fundamentalism and theocracy.

Holding the recent Iraqi elections, held by an occupying power that has backed certain candidates as an example of Freedom on the March, is a contrived argument, but the Palestinian Elections which seem to have put Hamas, a violent organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel using all means including terrorism, is a good one. Iran too has elected fanatics and militants with nuclear ambitions and other countries, like Iran, have willingly elected dictators and tyrants. It can be strongly argued that governments largely controlled by dictators, kings Sheiks and Shahs have done a far better job of insuring peace and stability with a smaller charge against the account of Liberty than leaders elected by angry, deluded and hostile citizens.

Perhaps we too have elected leaders with certain ambitions, yet so far, our Constitution’s checks and balances have limited such attempts in extent and duration. Of course other countries with exemplary constitutional frameworks have put people like Adolph Hitler in power, illustrating the dangers of weakening our Constitution’s protections against duly elected tyranny.

We have survived other, temporary curtailments of civil rights, yet never before has it been so easy for a President to create a war without the due process formerly required of him. By endless repetition, he has contrived a war against no particular entity, but rather a category of enemy so amorphous and diverse that the struggle may be eternal and could provide an equally long-lasting call for ever greater executive power.

Have we willingly, or even gleefully, given up the only defense we have against the fate to which most democratic efforts have fallen?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Like manna from Hell

It almost sounds like one of O’Reilly’s made up stories, but although it fell into Fox’s lair like a gift, it’s true.  Vermont Judge Edward Cashman sentenced a child molester to just 60 days of jail time -- a sentence he said was designed to ensure the man got prompt sex-offender treatment.  

This is a country where someone can get 55 years for having a couple of lids of weed and a country that jails offenders by the millions, but it only takes one example for the Republican Hate Machine to build a plenary case upon it.  This judge is too lenient, therefore all judges are lenient – sounds logical if you’re an idiot or if you pursue outrage as an avocation as many in the Budweiser Belt do.

Cashman’s argument, that the offender needs treatment and that there is no treatment in jail is factually true, but the argument is incomplete as it assumes that treatment will work and that the offender will be released harmless into the midst of us.  I doubt that this is reliably the case and I’m sure that popular sentiment prefers punishment to rehabilitation in any case.

In sentencing the man to 60 days in jail, Cashman warned the defendant, who allegedly has such a low IQ that he cannot understand why is actions were criminal, that he would get life behind bars if he failed to undergo treatment or comply with other conditions, including a prohibition against alcohol or living in an apartment complex that allows children.  That’s not quite, lenient as it is, the same scenario being flatulated by Fox and it’s disturbingly out of character with Cashman’s record, which is hardly liberal as the average Limbaughian lunkhead would define it.

Cahsman is religious, a Catholic and a man who has jailed parents for refusing to testify against their children. Although he has long had a concern for the convict, as a Christian might be expected to have, his reputation is harsh, but all it takes is one misstep and he becomes another straw man for the burning.  

It’s another victory for the Fox.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Invasion of the Theocrats

"I feel bad about the turmoil, but I don't feel bad about my convictions, which are based on the Bible," said Tom Swartley, a minister at First Christian Church in Elm Creek Nebraska. The problem is not that he apologized to God for our “33 year nightmare” with Abortion rights and for teaching the “religion” of evolution to our children – the problem is that he said it as a morning prayer before Congress.

Too bad he didn’t go on about slavery, genocide, wife beating and giving your daughter into prostitution – other things the Bible seems to oppose very little, if at all.

"We put our children in the same category as other mammals and then we wonder why some act like animals," said Swartley, ignoring the millennia-long history of religious crimes against humanity. Perhaps he would like to repeat this to the nearly countless children molested by priests, ministers and other shameless shamans. Children in the Bible belt are more likely to grow up criminals, to wallow in poverty and dependency and they are more likely to fail at marriage.

Babbling about the Bible doesn’t prevent religious leaders from stealing from the poor or leading lives of luxury, or persecuting heretics or unbelievers nor does our beleaguered freedom of speech prevent them from lying. If our tax subsidized opinion shouters hate anything it’s freedom, whether it’s freedom to choose to terminate a pregnancy, freedom to disbelieve legend and believe evidence or to think logically and associate with whom we will in any way that does not hurt anyone. Tom Swartly’s opinions are a demonstration of the danger of mixing religion, whether legitimate religion or psychopathology and stupidity like Swartly’s religion, with government.

Too bad our Idiot in Chief isn’t honest enough to tell us that the staging of elections does not define liberty, only a constitution that protects the minority against the invidious and occasionally demented passions of the majority can allow liberty to flourish. If believers are free to impose their will on others, there is no freedom.

Truth or Consequences

Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat illa: ἀποθανειν θέλω.

-Petronius: Satyricon-

When I hear Giggling George justify the NSA spying on us with reference to the results of that effort I think of giving up too. It really no longer matters what you do or what you say. What matters is what those who profit by it tell us it all means. What suits a profit seeking oracle best, is a source whose pronouncements are confusing and contradictory to the point of meaninglessness.

  • The results of the massive NSA enterprise have been exiguous at best. One arrest of a man who planned to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch; an accomplishment more absurd than arresting your grandmother for a having a nail clipper on an airplane. The flood of “tips” given to the FBI has lead to nothing, reported the New York Times.
  • You can’t expect us to ignore Al Qaeda phone calls to the US, says Bush, and of course we don’t, but we do expect him to leave the Quakers alone and not to use his arrogated powers to persecute his critics. We expect him to respect us and our laws rather than to pretend that he is Commander in Chief of civilian America as well as of its armed forces.
  • Bush’s claim that: "leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it" is close enough to a lie, that we might as well call it a lie. The National Security Act requires that he keep Congressional Intelligence Committees fully informed and Bush fulfilled the requirement as he fulfilled his military requirements – he didn’t and got someone else to say he did.

George Bush has broken the law. George Bush continually lies about the law and about his having broken it. How long will his diversions and perversions and prevarications and obfuscations go unnoticed or excused? If we do not stop his progress, and stop it now, the future will hold nothing but leaders who start unprovoked and endless wars to nullify or circumvent the constitutional backbone of our nation. George W. Bush has taken us too far down the road to tyranny.

Impeachment is the only solution.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Liberal Extremist Judges

Liberal Activist Judges: I’m told they’re everywhere; legislating from the bench as The Republicans say they do, so I’ve been wasting a lot of time lately looking for one, or at least hoping to find evidence for the assertion that they are here amongst us, like Witches or Commies or the Elders of Zion and making up laws that we don’t like.

I think maybe I’ve finally found one; Clarence Thomas. I read this morning that the National Black Justice Coalition released an advertisement asking if Justice Thomas’ marriage to a white woman is an offense to God. Of course the axe that they’re grinding is the question of gay marriage, currently a Straw Man paraded about by the Religious Right who not long ago told us that interracial marriage was a similar annoyance to the great Republican in the sky. Thomas, that Liberal extremist, has turned up his nose at the traditional, segregationist, Bible based values of the American Right and snubbed the will of the American People. He is a Liberal, at least as concerns his personal rights.

Until I was a senior in college, that marriage, and indeed my marriage would have been illegal in 34 states and a felony in about a dozen. The reason being that God, as represented by the Supreme Court, didn’t like it. The SCOTUS, in fact has a long history of telling us what should or should not be legal as determined by their beliefs about God rather than by the Constitution or the will of the government.

How much more of an activist court legislating from the bench can you find than a court insisting that some people are property, that women should not vote, that people of a certain color must use different bathrooms and go to different schools and only live in places with other people of certain colors? Maybe our courts have long been active in the field of social engineering, so it’s not the principle involved here; it’s the direction of the activism the running dogs of Republican repression hate so much - unless it interferes with their own desires.

What the Fox-infected Republican rabble are opposed to isn’t judicial activism at all, it’s freedom. They aren’t bothered by a judicial system that rules extra-constitutionally on biblical principles. What bothers them is a court that leans toward the letter and spirit of the law; a court that tries to guarantee equal rights and equal protection.

The tactical myth of an activist court is, like the myths about fiscal conservatism and less intrusive government, an exercise in doublethink to sell us activist courts, fiscal extravagance and more intrusive government.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The vermin under the rock

My local paper, like many others these days, has added a feature to their on-line version that allows people to post comments to articles. Often there are none, sometimes, one or two, but if the headline contains the words rape, murder or molester, there can be dozens. They tend to be similar enough that one sees patterns.

Yesterday, an article ran that mentioned a certain piece of evidence would be withheld from jurors in a case involving the abduction and beating of an 82 year old victim. A bloody shirt had been obtained without warrant.
At least one letter advocated the murder of “liberal activist judges.” Another insisted that the country was being swallowed up by crime because of the L. A. J. legislating from the bench. Another insisted that crime was soaring because the courts couldn’t convict anyone, the hands of the police were tied and Liberals like me were at fault. My inevitable reply was to the effect that in fact these were very conservative judges, enforcing the letter of the law and that the law was put there to protect them from the Big Government they used to yell about before their party became Big Government. “It’s not Liberal Activist Judges,” I argued, “It’s the Constitution.”

“Ted Kennedy.” was his reply.

“I have no objection to the Police searching my home at random,” said the irrational voice. “I’d like to see some third world harshness return to our courts,” he added after some gratuitous mentions of Ted Kennedy. I responded to him, mentioning that better enforcement and better police were a better solution, but of course that smelled too much like taxes and he went off the deep end: “Ted Kennedy – Ted Kennedy!”

With the vast network of rabble rousing media underlying the American culture, people like this who listen to hate radio, listen to hate sermons and spend Friday Night sitting in bars glad-handing their hate-filled brown-shirted compatriots have all the impetus they need to continue their America bashing in the face of contradictory previous statements and in defiance of all facts. In fact what they really do want is something like Cuba or Haiti, foolishly thinking that there is a country that will kill weirdos on sight while protecting their private property and their safety. I won’t pull any punches – I think they’re psychotic.

The important facts, of course, are that we do have the harshest punishments of any modern nation, the most people in jail, lower taxes than most and that violent crime has been decreasing for over a decade. Moreover, the prosecutors in this case have an overwhelming amount of damning evidence. The man is likely to get a life sentence.

We do not have a political debate in America; we have something more akin to the replacement of Neanderthals with modern humans – only this time the rude beasts are making progress. The Mainstream Media, hungry for ratings, is joining the America Bashing, the lying, the calls to violence, the constitution bashing and the ignoring of stories that call the scenario into question.

The Republicans have courted the Devil, letting him think he’s smart, reasonable and valuable in order to use him to advance their persecution of civilization. Sooner or later the Devil will have his due.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Not again!

Yes, again. Mining has always been a dangerous business, but have lax inspections under the Bush administration’s kleptocracy contributed to recent disasters like the explosion at the International Coal Group's Sago Mine in Upshur County that killed 12 miners and Thursday evening’ fire that started on a conveyor belt at the Alma No. 1 Mine operated by Aracoma Coal, in which two men are still missing? Don’t worry, Bush will make an appearance somewhere and press releases will be issued and Bush will emerge, smiling and smelling like a rose.

It’s the way things are done in today’s faith based world where facts don‘t matter and perception is for sale. Hamas, that group of religious fanatics who relish suicide bombings and hate Jews is paying a spin doctor $180,000 to persuade Europeans and Americans that it is not a group of religious fanatics who relish suicide bombings and hate Jews.

As Bush’s ratings take another dive, Osama can be heard, prophesying war, but offering a truce so that war protesters here can be better compared by Fox to al Qaeda sympathizers. Can the yellow and orange “terror” tags be far behind?

Spy cameras in Podunk, your internet searches scrutinized by the government, your library forced to spy on you, your calls being monitored, your mail being opened and anyone daring to mention the impending death of liberty being flayed alive by the Kleptocorporate death squad on Fox News: does all this finally make you think of Orwell?

Me too. The Blog called Ministry of Truth has been keeping me in stitches for weeks. I think it’s time to re-read 1984. Of course I’ll have to put on my slouch hat and trench coat and search through the local used book store. I can’t risk the library or an internet search these days. Big Brother is watching you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

CNN sells out

What do you think of a guy who calls the grieving father of a young man whose living, screaming head was sawed from his body by Iraqis a “scumbag” simply because the man was grieving? I know, they don’t make adequate words, or if they do, they’re known only to those in the field of demonology or abnormal psychology.

Of course abnormal psychology includes the study of American Conservative Values and those values include those of CNN’s Headline News who according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are planning to add Glenn Beck to their stable of jackasses. Beck is the one who called Nick Berg’s father a scumbag, who says he hates the families of the 9/11 victims, who says publicly he wants to kill Michael Moore with his bare hands and who told someone who claims to have tortured prisoners he appreciated his having done so.

Jim Walton, president of CNN News Group, said Headline News’ goal is to continue luring an audience that is different from those who watch sister network CNN.

Maybe we could just bring back the Roman Circus where you can watch people having their heads cut off and their guts ripped out, or maybe bring back the burning of heretics – or maybe you could just dig up their graves and have a bonfire with Jefferson and Franklin and Washington and roast marshmallows over the ashes of America. Why not just worship the Devil openly? That would be different. That would boost ratings. That would lure some different viewers.

Thanks Liberal Media. Thanks for your dedicated public service, you stinking, traitorous, criminal bastards.

Dig him up, then hang him

"Hoka hey, it's a good day to die," Allen said in Choctaw. "Thank you very much, I love you all. Goodbye."

It wasn’t that easy, his 76 year old heart, recently recovered from an attack in September, refused to give up and they had to give him a second shot to stop it.

I’m not going to argue that he was a good man and I’m not going to give my usual polemics against the practice of killing people we don’t have to kill. I’m simply going to use this as another piece of evidence that our country is insane and it’s much vaunted value system is a web of lies and contradictions we use to justify having no value system.

Back in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor.

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon as reported by CNN. "We would resuscitate him, then execute him.”

Hocus Pocus; it’s a good day to be insane.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

United they stand

A central theme in Bush’s rhetoric is that freedom and democracy are one and the same thing. He believes, or wants us to believe that he believes that the huddled masses of Muslims are yearning to breathe free and that once there are elections, governments will become less repressive and corrupt.

Of course we’ve been voting for a couple of centuries and we have of late been moving toward repression and corruption at a disturbing rate, but the argument that a country like Iraq will embrace a liberal democracy that respects the individual rights we hold to be self evident, is either wishful thinking or a blatant and cynical lie.

Of course you may consider the rule of extremist Mullahs as preferable to a secular tyrant and perhaps many Americans secretly do wish for something similar in our country, but when given a choice, Islamists in Islamic countries choose strong Islamist leaders and submit (as the word Islam suggests) to their rule willingly.

Witness the success of Islamist candidates in Egypt’s recent elections and indeed Iraq’s.  Seattle Times writer Warren P. Strobel argues that the real beneficiary of Bush’s current excuse for the unprovoked war against Iraq have been the Islamists.  In Lebanon, the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah is part of the government for the first time and Hamas appears likely to do well in the January 25th Palestinian elections.  These, needless to say, are terrorist groups dedicated to destroying Israel and perhaps any other secular government in the Muslim world.  Elected leaders in Iran are building nuclear weapons and threatening Israel, and of course that threatens the world.

An administration that has made much use of false accusations of weakness on the part of its opponents is hard pressed, in my opinion, to make a case for strength on its own part as it wages a war making it more probable that Islamist extremists will prosper and unite against us.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Life imitates Art

With thanks to Reuters

Saturday, January 14, 2006


"If Iraq, in the middle of the Middle East, can build a stable democracy, it'll be unbelievable, really.”

Laura Bush is right. Although the word IF should be done up in flashing neon lights, unbelievable is the key word. It’s a brave new world, that the Bush’s envision. A utopian world where the natives merrily vote, even if at gunpoint and justice ( according to Biblical principles) pours down from heaven like manna.

Nation Building, a practice scathingly derided by Republicans when practiced by non-Republicans, has a shaky history. Indeed failed attempts at putting together countries define the boundaries of the Middle East today.

Liberia is one of the United States’ attempts to restore Freedom to slaves while avoiding the problem of tolerating them as free citizens. George and Laura, in a rather transparent attempt to dress up that horrific country to appear as an example of successful American nation building, is traveling to Liberia to draw attention to their newly elected female President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It was “a really good, competitive and fair election." Says she, ignoring the indifference the US has shown to all African problems of late and that elected tyrants, crooks and madmen fill the pages of history books. Like Her husbands handlers, she doesn’t agree that liberal democracy in an impoverished, savage, ignorant and corrupt land does not flower as easily as the Sonora desert after a rainstorm.

Laura likes the idea of a Woman President, or at least she was programmed to say so at the Stepford institute. I have no objection either, although the notion of a women leader being intrinsically more honest, compassionate and incorruptible isn’t really supportable. I do however object to her terrifying choice of a successor (if he allows a successor) to her husband George: Condoleeza Rice. "I'd love to see her run, she's terrific" says she, sounding like an animated Norman Rockwell image.

Laura is apparently the image the administration wants you to see: a pleasant, white, Anglo-Saxon, small town, devoted wife. As such she can tell us how important it is for Alito to be treated with respect and not hint that the stunt with Alito’s wife was choreographed or that disrespect for Alito stems from his disrespect for the rights of women – or that her husband leads the greatest political smear machine in several generations. The pirate ship of state her husband pilots has become broken, bloodied and in need of some dignity. A nice female figurehead might just help; conservatively quaffed and suited, shy smile carved and painted on the wood.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Born in the USA

You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

-Bruce Springsteen-

You may be born in the USA and on the on the Fourth of July, but if someone decides you are or look like or have the same name as an “Enemy Combatant” you may have no more rights than Ivan Denisovich; you may disappear into America’s Gulag for however long George Bush wants you to. You may never be charged. You may never have a lawyer. You may never have a trial. You may never return.

Our notorious facility at Guantanamo Bay has of course been under scrutiny for quite a while but investigations concerning torture and abuse of prisoners of war involve certain difficulties.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, former commander of the “detention center” at Gitmo, is declining to answer questions in two courts-martial cases involving the use of dogs during interrogations. Miller, who recently requested retirement, took command of the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba in late 2002 with a mandate to get more and better information from prisoners. Military law (UCMJ Article 31) provides the right to remain silent, something like the 5th Amendment protection against self- incrimination given civilians.

I agree, of course with Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told Pentagon reporters that while he expects military leaders to do the right thing, that does not mean they should lose their constitutional rights.

The irony of course is that you or I may lose those rights on the basis of an unfounded accusation. Citizen or non-citizen. You may have less protection from cruelty than the law offers a dog or a barnyard animal.

I read in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that In August 2003, the Pentagon sent Miller to inspect interrogation procedures in Iraq, and he recommended using the Guantanamo techniques on prisoners in Iraq to improve intelligence on the growing anti-U.S. insurgency. He was sent to Iraq in March 2004 to run detainee operations. I expect the old soldier simply to retire and fade away. and perhaps the investigations of other incidents at Abu Ghraib will have similar outcomes. We will get little information from the torturers as we have had little information from the tortured. The boot heel of the Texas Tyrant will press a little harder on the face of America.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Over our heads

I’m old enough to have known people who witnessed from within, the descent of Germany from democracy into dictatorship. Of course those I have known were those who saw what was happening in the early stages and managed to get out. I have always wondered why so many seemed to have believed they were living in and were part of a free and democratic country until it was too late.

Many believe and for various reasons that the rise of European Fascism was a singularity and never to be compared to anything that happens elsewhere. Germans thought it couldn’t happen there too.

In his book titled They Thought They Were Free : The Germans, 1933-45 Milton Meyer writes:
“To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it. . . Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

The Patriot Act, the suspension of Posse Comitatus and habeas corpus, the torture, the spying, the justifications for the President being above the law: each small step has its independent justification; each step is taken with a wave of the flag and cries of Freedom.

More lengthy quotes from this frightening book are at Third Reich Roundtable

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Subversive oats

Those Quakers are a scary bunch of people and the Government just can’t get rid of its obsession with them. The Religious Society of Friends, as the domestic group is also called, does a lot of suspicious things, like raise money to help the poor disaster victims of the world and to promote the idea of peace and non-violence. Perhaps it’s not just their overt Christian behavior; perhaps it’s those Quaker Oats in that distinctive cylindrical container that just might be a weapon of mass destruction, or maybe it’s the puffed rice. It’s shot from cannons, you know.

The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker-linked peace group, has been monitored by the NSA working with the Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department. According to a lengthy article at Raw Story, they are keeping extensive dossiers on participants and the license numbers of everyone coming and going at their headquarters. NSA officials even reported on the balloons being inflated for a 2004 demonstration and the content of their signs as well as the contents of their vehicles. Never can tell what those damned Christian pacifists will put in a balloon – could be anything. The bottom line is that anyone who questions the Tyrant Bush must be an enemy and you know what we do to enemies of the State.

Of course the NSA's United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 strictly prohibits the interception or collection of information about "U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations" without explicit written permission from the Attorney General, but that was when we were a government of laws.

But none of this is new, what’s new and what’s frightening is that some 40% of us don’t see anything wrong in the Government reading the mail, listening in on the calls, hacking our e-mail or stringing us up by the thumbs for as long as they like and all without due process or court supervision.

230 years ago, we declared ourselves independent of King George and used public outrage against just that sort of activity to spur revolutionary fervor. Today, we can’t wait to have King George spy on us and photograph us through our windows. Safety first.

Since 1660, the Religious Society of Friends has been looking for a place to practice their faith. They thought they had found it in America.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Brave and the Scorned

Back when John Kerry was running for the Presidency and being portrayed by the Republican lie machine as a war criminal and traitor, I got into a dispute with the chairman of my county Republican Party, a former Colonel who fought behind a desk at the Pentagon during the Viet Nam conflict.

John Kerry, said the man, was to be compared with Benedict Arnold because of his actions in the US Navy. Not only did the young Kerry disgrace the military and his country, but John Kerry was responsible for the only crimes committed by US forces during that long, unsuccessful and bloody enterprise. Not long before this astonishing announcement, some details of investigations concerning the “Tiger Force” and its atrocities had been made public. Many details of the My Lai massacre had been known for over 30 years and once can still find the photos of the ditch filled with dead women and children and the elderly of My Lai, but of course in a country where nothing but sports statistics remain in the public memory, one can depend upon that public to embrace any fiction that suits them; facts be damned.

I wonder if Colonel W, as I shall call him, noted the death last Friday of Hugh Thompson Jr., the former U.S. Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow soldiers engaged in their slaughter. Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, according to CNN, Thompson, door-gunner Lawrence Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta came upon U.S. ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai. Thompson landed his helicopter in the line of fire between American troops and fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pointed their own guns at the U.S. soldiers to prevent more killings. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped and then killed.

Under cover of his aircraft’s guns, he confronted the leader of the ground troops, saw to the evacuation of civilians and flew a wounded child back to a hospital. Although shunned by many of his fellow officers, although it was proposed by a congressman that he alone should have been punished for his actions, and not those killing civilians, although Lieutenant Calley’s life sentence was reduced to three years by Richard Nixon and support for him was loud and passionate, Thompson remained in the military and in 1998, the Army honored him and his crewmen with the prestigious Soldier's Medal, the highest award for bravery not involving conflict with an enemy. There was of course an enemy and there remains an enemy and the nature of that beast is to support any and all actions “in time of war.” Swift Boat Veterans, who take money to lie about people they never met, Republican Party leaders who promote war as an instrument to increase their power are the ever present enemy.

Thompson is now recognized as a hero, yet the lesson has not been learned by the criminals, traitors and war mongers who have insinuated themselves into power and continue to deny responsibility for their actions. As a nation, we continue to side with mindless and brutal aggression. We continue to be skeptical of “Liberal” people like Seymour Hersh who broke that story in 1969. We continue to be obsessed with the flag and remain scornful or ignorant of the few and the brave like Hugh Thompson who sometimes give it dignity.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Out of Town

Capt Fogg will be off-line and out of town until Monday - seeya later!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Well not yet, but some have been warning that the foundations for Martial Law in the United States were laid by the Reagan Administration when by Executive order, FEMA was given broad powers to be used against Americans should there be a "crisis" such as "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad."

FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, or so it is said, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest. From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defense preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal. They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA. As yet, of course, we have seen no attempt by the current administration to implement such extensive measures, but then internal dissent and national opposition against a US military invasion abroad isn’t yet what it might become. We seem to have no choice but to trust the Executive branch which has cried Wolf[owitz] too often to interpret threats to National Security objectively.

Bush continues to exploit his role of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and continues to let the line between military command and civilian dictatorship appear very fuzzy. According to a Boston Globe report today, Bush, in signing the bill outlawing the torture of detainees left an option open to break that law if he wants to – because he’s the Commander in Chief.

''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

I think it’s clear that there could be situations in which the extraction of information by vicious means could indeed avert mass carnage, although the record of accuracy of such “extractions” is poor. The reality however is that we have a President who is quite willing to create scenarios, using bad data, ignoring good data and outright lies. Who knows what may be portrayed as a threat to national security by an administration with a record of deception, thirst for aggression and hatred of dissent?

The evidence that this President considers himself well above the law and justifies that by using a war he created for the purpose is quite clear. If there is no intent to shift the US toward a Constitutional dictatorship, using extraordinary means resembling martial law; if there is no plan to cut a road through the law to get at an enemy created for the purpose of cutting a road through the law, the Bush administration has shown no more evidence than dismissive smirks and smug dismissal of public doubt.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Welcome to the all-new, all good news Capt Fogg. I’m pleased to report that our fearless Führer and his band of brothers has been right all along that Iraq’s resources would pay for the deposition of Saddam Hussein and the reconstruction of the country. Even though some of it has been appropriated by Halliburton, and a great deal has been diverted by the US to build jails; even though oil production is at a low point of less than half the pre invasion level and electric production is still only enough to provide most Iraqis with 12 hours per day; even though the billions allocated to build schools has gone up in smoke and half of all the reconstruction funding has been used for other purposes, we can call it a success because, despite Bush’s 2003 promise to give Iraqis the best infrastructure in the region, the story has, like so many Bush stories, been modified.

"The US never intended to completely rebuild Iraq," says Brigadier General William McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the Work as quoted in The Guardian.

But Good News! The Bush Reciprocity Principle which holds that all things are their opposites, shows us that the failure of our mission is a success and so the Administration has decided not to seek further funding in next months budget request. Why bother? Mission accomplished! We can bring the boys home by Christmas and leave the mop-up to the Mullahs.

* Dear NSA. No facetious criticism of the US Government is intended or should be implied. I’m a loyal American, unlike Crankyboy, and a full supporter of all George Bush's actions and statements in all their current versions.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Things to come

Because people love to think things have been predicted, they will forgive the twisted logic needed to link the happenings of today to the maunderings of Nostradamus or Mother Shipton or the madman most preferred in Washington, John of Patmos. The Prophet business has never been easier.

Unlike prophets of old, Fogg has the ability to simply deny that he ever predicted all the things that didn’t happen and claim that he was just going to write about the things that did, but didn’t get around to it, so with nothing to loose, I give you the predictions for 2006 of Capt. Fogg, AKA John of Potroast, or if you prefer: Nostradufus.

  • George Bush will launch an air strike on Iraq’s nuclear facilities, unless he doesn’t.
  • There will be retaliation against Israel by Arab Countries and a possible oil embargo – or maybe not.
  • The entire Muslim world will become an expanding front in a world war and thus George will justify all his actions to date.
  • The US economy will go into a recession that will be blamed on war protesters, un-American critics of Bush’s economic policies, the Liberal Press and Jane Fonda, unless it doesn’t.
  • Members of the growing “Impeach the President” movement will disappear or suddenly change their minds after a short trip to Kyrgyzstan.
  • A constitutional amendment will be proposed to allow the suspension of elections and allow vastly increased powers for the President “in time of war.”
  • The US will invade Venezuela in order to “restore order.”
  • A large golden cross will be installed on the Capitol dome.
  • The Rapture will continue not to happen.
  • Capt. Fogg will become a non-person and his ‘blog never will have been published.

There you have it; at least today’s version. I may deny it all tomorrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Backing into the future


Another new year firmly mired in the mud of all the previous years. Everyone else is busy recapitulating the high and low points of crapulous and debauched 2005 - if in fact, they’re not busy rewriting it to suit their political purposes. The future may be beyond our control, but you can make the past be what you want it to be. Who wants to look ahead?

What do we have to look forward to in 2006? We entered this new century and this new millennium with far less optimism, it seems, than we embarked with at the beginning of the 20th century when science and the unraveling old social order was promising us a brilliant future. Perhaps we’ve become a backward looking people, grasping at a past both real and imagined and afraid of the destruction the religiously ill have been wailing about for thousands of years. Even 20th Century Fox has decided against upgrading its name; preferring, as Foxy things do, to tailor the old century to fit its purposes.

The imperialism, laissez faire capitalism and massive injustices of previous centuries seem to be more appealing to our leaders and their followers than the less authoritarian and more egalitarian society I grew up envisioning for the future. Progress has become a word to be scorned.

But of course progress is there to be found if you have a good enough microscope. The State of Florida now has a law designed to prevent road-hogs hanging out in the left lane at 80MPH and thus inconveniencing the luxo-truck drivers. The State of Illinois (or L-Annoy as many inhabitants call it) after so many years of being run by scaly creatures, now has an official State Reptile - the Tiger Salamander. Wisconsin will now extend pre-natal care and delivery services to illegal aliens while Virginia has decided to deny it. New York cut taxes for those making more that $150,000 a year and Missouri, at long last, moved to require homeowners associations to delete restrictive covenants that discriminate by race or religion.

So actually there is progress being made, it’s just a question of whether it’s forward or backward or going around in circles.