Monday, July 31, 2006

Some people say a man is made out of mud. . .

"Americans just aren't gullible enough to believe that they came from a fish," says John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego which is an organization that actually does no research and is part of the movement to create and maintain an underclass of deranged and passionately idiotic supporters of their nefarious will to power. Apparently he thinks we are gullible enough to be quite certain that every last one of us descends from a homunculus fashioned out of red Mesopotamian mud and animated by the magic breath of a magic and usually invisible man. Apparently he does think that Americans are gullible enough to believe Bible stories whose accuracy is verified by asserting that they are accurate in stentorian and peremptory tones.

The inaccuracy and validity of science of course, he and his idiotic ilk denounce with the time-honored argumentum ad ignorentiam: I’m too dumb and too unwilling to understand the data and therefore other arguments that have no data whatever are true.

While somewhat more venerable if not more credible religious organizations have grown to be rather apologetic for such excesses of certainty as resulted in the silencing of Galileo Galilei, the gruesome murder of Giordano Bruno and the general war with scientific method that retarded the rise of Western civilization from its morass of barbarism, ignorance and filth, the psychotic purveyors of corrosive ignorance who call themselves Evangelists are still ready, able and willing to bring the kingdom of darkness to America while getting as rich as the devil in the process.

A twenty five million dollar facility dedicated to deception, lies, fallacy, disinformation and irreparable damage to the future of our nation is being built near Cincinnati in Kentucky. It will contain fantastic dioramas proving that Dinosaurs and all the billion or so extinct species thrived in the Garden of Eden along with mud-man Adam in precisely the same way that Disneyland proves the existence of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Cinderella.

Its founder, Ken Ham, who has made a fortune publishing fatuous fairy tales as history, claims that the Creation Museum will be able to show that all the massive, detailed, rigorously tested and documented scientific data that shows our planet to be several billions of years old and the overwhelming library of cataloged, dated and chronologically arranged fossils and even DNA samples are just plain wrong; wrong because he says so. Wrong because he says the Bible is right.

"If the Bible is the word of God, and its history really is true, that's our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there,"

If he is stupid enough to believe that saying it’s so makes it so despite all evidence; if he’s stupid enough to deny that evidence plays any part in interpreting reality; if he’s stupid enough not to realize that arguing backward from an arbitrary and unsupported assumption takes you only, like Omar’s phantom caravan, to the place you set out from, then our survival as a species is at risk. But it’s more likely that he is just another mafia capo, getting rich by soaking the suckers and getting a tax break on the spoils and all for the advancement and profit of that family of radical fundamentalist churches of intellectual terrorism dedicated to the destruction of America if not the world.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ham, Shem and Japeth

I have no doubt that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doesn’t like Israel; he’s told us that, but when Howard Dean called him and Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani anti-Semites, I had to wince.  Now if you’re going to accuse someone of something, it behooves you to know what you’re saying or you might, as Dr. Dean did on CNN this morning, sound like a dummy.

Although the Bible tells us that Semites descend from Shem, the son of Noah and suggests a Semitic race by that family connection, the term Semitic really refers to a language family, which includes many languages, used in many countries, the most widely spoken today of which is Arabic. Of course the Bible is a political mythology and while there is no evidence that old Shem was a historical character, there is solid evidence that Semitic languages share a common and ancient root as do languages in other language families like Indo-European and Finno-Ugric.  People speaking related tongues are not necessarily related ethnically. Finns, for instance, speak Suomi which is related I’m told both to Hungarian and to Manchurian and not to the Aryan or Indo-European languages. But getting back to my point; Nouri al-Maliki is as much a Semite in linguistic terms as is Ehud Olmert.

Dean is a politician, a Physician and sometime maker of strange noises at inopportune times, but apparently not a linguist.  That doesn’t excuse the Republican National Committee of making the idiotic statement that he was trying to make “cheap political points” by pointing out that al-Maliki doesn’t like Israel. He doesn’t like Israel, he says he doesn’t and I certainly believe him!  Perhaps the cheap political points accrue to the Republicans (as most cheap political points have done in recent years) for trying to smear someone for stating the obvious facts.

From the mouth of Mel

Mel Gibson is starting to look so much like Saddam Hussein that it’s hard to tell them apart. Ugliness is only skin deep however and there is little similarity between the men. Saddam doesn’t hate Jews as much and Saddam isn’t known to be a chronic drunk driver.

The story of his recent arrest for drunk driving has aired on most news outlets but the sanitized version initially released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department doesn’t tell us the good part. Details are only now coming out, and they’re not pretty. According to celebrity news source TMZ.COM and the New York Daily News, not only did he resist arrest, not only did he threaten the cops, not only did he call a female police sergeant “Sugar tits” but he went into a tirade about the Jews, blaming them for the world’s wars and threatening to sexually assault the arresting officer.

The protracted event was so spectacular that it was videotaped, yet L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee was directed to write an edited version for public release so as not to embarrass the great man and another official version to be kept under lock and key.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told TMZ: "The L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigation into the arrest of Mr. Gibson on suspicion of driving under the influence will be complete and will contain every factual piece of evidence. Nothing will be sanitized. There was absolutely no favoritism shown to this suspect or any other. When this file is presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, it will contain everything. Nothing will be left out."

Nothing perhaps except the part where he denies the whole thing with a straight face and the Christian right blames it all on the Jews. The Reaction quips: now that Gospel Gibson's true nature regarding drinking, swearing and disrespecting mankind is out in the open, "he is now all the more qualified to be president of the United States one day." I'm sure he'll have the full support of the Religious Right.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thy sword and thy shield

"What I can tell you is this. We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

"What that means is, in plain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then *using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defense Forces),"

These words and more were e-mailed Just last week, by Maj. Hess-von Kruedener, one of the UN observers killed this week by Israeli artillery to CTV, the Canadian Television News service. Of course, and as I have stated repeatedly, belief that Israel deliberately kills innocent people will continue to prosper amongst people who have a political and ethnic reason to believe it. If there could be humor in horror, it would lie in the fact that the notion is used to excuse and defend people whose entire life revolves around killing innocent people – although, of course, they maintain that it’s impossible for even an Israeli infant to be innocent.

Although the official UN position as set forth by Kofi Anan is that there was no Hizbullah activity in the area and the shelling was “apparently deliberate” Kruedener reported before his death that the post gave the observers a view of "Hezbollah *static positions in and around our patrol Base."

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday, Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnian civil war, said it’s a tactic he's seen in past international missions: Aside from snuggling up to UN posts, fighters would operate near hospitals, mosques and orphanages in order to maximize civilian casualties. This of course, is not the opinion of one man, killing innocents to make your enemy look bad defines the tactics of terrorist groups almost universally. The only thing that is more disgusting than such inhuman slaughter is that the ploy works so well in generating support for the two legged vermin who use it.

*italics mine

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Did she or didn't she?

Was the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 accidental as the US media would have it or deliberate as the press in other nations insisted?  I have no idea.  Against my reaction that doing such a thing would have been absurd, reports arose from the predetermined conclusion about reasons NATO had for doing so.  I don’t think we will ever know for sure, but certainly the areas that believe it was deliberate are congruent with the areas where it’s traditional or a good strategy to be anti-American. The American Embassy in Beijing was attacked.  America itself simply got on with sports and beer and big trucks and didn’t give enough of a damn what anyone in an inferior country thought to really care.  

Was the bombing of UN observers in Lebanon by Israeli forces deliberate?  I have no idea, but I doubt it. I think that I doubt it because it would have been such a stupid thing to do that only stupidity or poor communications could explain it, but then, like everyone I’m more likely to lean one way than another no matter how rational I claim to be.  Others have no idea but believe it firmly.  Once again, it runs along ethnic lines and perhaps, like a Rorschach ink blot, the ambiguity reveals much about the viewer and nothing about the object.  Certainly whatever reasons one might think up to make it seem as though Israel did this strategically, it has to be admitted that it looks very bad even if, as a UN spokesman said this afternoon to Wolf Blitzer, Hizbullah is in violation of international law for putting offensive weapons in schools, mosques and apartment buildings. And Lebanon is in violation of a UN resolution demanding that they disarm Hizbullah.

History pivots on things just like this.  Was there really a second deliberate attack on US warships in the gulf of Tonkin?  Did the battleship Maine really blow up of her own accord or was it a Spanish torpedo?  Did George Bush allow 9/11 to happen to give him an excuse for attacking Iraq, Did Roosevelt allow Pearl Harbor to happen to shut up the pacifists and let us get into the world war? It doesn’t matter.  What matters is what side you’re on and sides, I fear, are taken and firmly held for reasons that don’t reflect well on the sentient nature of our variety of ape.

What would Stalin do?

John McCain said on The daily Show the other day that the administration was aware of its many errors and had learned from its mistakes. This was of course an evasive answer to the question from host Jon Stewart which was something like “are they all a bunch of F#$%(#@ idiots?”

Evasive and false: this administration continues relentlessly to pursue George Bush’s ambition to be the sole “decider” and the author of justice without hindrance from courts or representatives of the American people. According to The NewYork Times today, a draft of a new proposal is circulating that would allow the Royal Nonesuch to conduct trials in absentia and would allow hearsay evidence. Even the Salem Witch trials offered the accused a better shot at justice.

If George learned anything from the Supreme Court decision to deny the use of military tribunals for Guantanamo “detainees” or if George Bush is aware that his policies are in error, the evidence is lacking. As in many things he will stay the crooked course, following the dictates of some power higher than the Constitution and laws of the United States of America until he is able to hold summary executions with kangaroo courts, unrepentant tyrant that he is.

In a time when things that have been public record for decades can be re-classified as a matter of pretend National Security; at a time when classifying misdeeds and crimes is routine, at a time when anyone, citizen or not can be accused of being an “enemy combatant,” Bush’s insistence that trials that allow hearsay accusations that are at the whim of a prosecutor, “credible,” seem nothing short of the tactics of the Grand Inquisitor.

A White House spokesman is quoted as saying “We are in the middle of a process of getting reaction from the various stakeholders, and that is why we circulated a draft.” One can only speculate with horror as to who those “stakeholders” are likely to be although as US citizens and human beings, we are all stakeholders. If we have a government that yearns to be able to say with pride that “we can do anything to anyone at any time and if you disagree, you’re an enemy combatant” then we are no longer a country that deserves to continue, but rather a rogue state, a tyrannical state with nuclear weapons and the desire to dominate the world. While he is reluctant to admonish Bush or his party in front of an audience, McCain is none the less reported to oppose this travesty for the obvious reason that it would expose our troops to equally horrific things should they fall into the hands of an enemy.

Have we not come to the point where impeachment and immediate impeachment is the last, best hope to save our country from this man and his party? Perhaps even to ask is to invite a secret trial and a sordid death in the basement of some secret prison.

My country, 'tis of thee. . .

Craig Ferguson was a single father raising 6 children. He put in long hours in the crushing South Florida heat as a construction worker. The circumstances of his death last month are surprising to those who knew him as a devoted father and winner of an “Ultimate Father” award from Frontline for Kids, an after-school program in St Lucie County. Executive director Jerome Gayman who knew him for almost 7 years, said the 49 year old Ferguson was active in his children's activities and served as a good role model to other young people in the program.

Ferguson drowned, according to Sheriff’s deputies, in an alligator infested canal on a moonless night while they watched him struggle and call out in vain for help.
According to police records, officers had attempted unsuccessfully to stop Ferguson’s van because of defective brake lights and he had been attempting to elude them.

The van reached a dead end street in Ft. Pierce, a dead end town on Florida’s ironically named Treasure Coast and the driver fled, jumping into a canal. Just before reaching the other side, Ferguson, an excellent swimmer according to a family spokesman, began to struggle and call for help. Witnesses in the area heard gunshots.

According to the police report, no attempt was made to save him; the officers elected not to follow him into the murky canal, notoriously full of alligators. According to Sheriff Ken Mascara, the deputies thought Ferguson had a warrant out for his arrest, though it turned out to be for a different person with the same name. A spokesman for the Sheriff said that as no agency policies were found to have been broken, no internal investigation was done.

The family however was not allowed to see the body and was told that an autopsy confirmed drowning as the cause of death. With the help of a prominent local attorney, they have finally obtained a second autopsy, the results of which the family hopes will confirm their suspicions of foul play and reconcile the cause of death with reports from other witnesses.

I should mention that Craig Ferguson was a black man, a native of the Bahamas who was unable to get his driver’s license renewed after September 11th, 2001. He had been in trouble a few times since for driving with an expired license, but had no convictions and could hardly be called a terrorist. He helped rebuild our homes after three hurricanes, he tried to make his neighborhood a better one. Yet he was a foreigner and we no longer like or trust foreigners and particularly dark colored foreigners.

So whether the investigation goes anywhere or finds an evidence of foul play, none of it makes America look good, none of it makes me proud or comfortable. The comments attached to the article in the on line version of today’s paper are sadder yet: not a trace of compassion for the six orphans, much conjecture about how he must have been a bad guy and drug user and all the other things smug, white, angry America attaches to black men. There is no sorrow in any of them, no humanity, no trace of that Christianity that’s bragged about on every possible occasion, no trace at all of the fictitious land of justice and opportunity I once believed in.

My country, ‘tis of thee, hate anger and bigotry
Of thee I sing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Your mouth and your money, together again

I'm sure those who are lamenting the genuine horror of the destruction and disruption of the human tragedy in Lebanon and Israel will want to actually do some small measure of good by contributing to the American Red Cross International Disaster Services. The Red Cross is now affiliated with both the Red Crescent and the Magen David Adom and offers aid and relief to refugees and victims of the fighting.

Free like Iraq!

“I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq, where there’s a free press and free religion.”

Yes, that’s George W. Bush, the slouching, cud chewing, Chancellor-grabbing, pig eating, stupid and delusional Chief Executive of the stupidest most delusional nation that ever was, addressing the world and being made to seem an utter ass by Vladimir Putin.

It’s getting hard to find a good laugh in a world full of war, lies and neo-cons. None the less, “gallows humor” of the painful and cynical sort is all too available.

Speaking of Chief Executives and gallows, have a look at The Worst President Ever A good cry is supposed to be therapeutic.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, part 2

There have been any number of movies wherein someone from the future travels back in time to alter the past, often for the benefit of some evil empire. It’s a great concept, as fans of the Terminator films will testify. The Republicans don’t have time traveling robots, but they do very nicely with other unstoppable evil entities like Fox News.

The top military brass is quite aware that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, says Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. High ranking generals he interviewed are very much concerned about having to go into Iran with the same kind of flawed and fake information that created the “monster” we have in Iraq. The idea, however, that such things have been found but are somehow and contrary to everything sensible classified, proliferates and effectively works as a vaccine against the truth.

According to the Washington times, a recent Harris poll shows the number of Americans who now believe that Saddam had these unspecified weapons has risen strongly from 36% to 50%. Many now believe that Saddam had ties with al Qaeda and an amazing 70% think Iraq, bloody civil war and all, are better off now.

Sure it’s easy to blame it on the massively funded disinformation technology of Fox, on the shameless and unscrupulous lies of two bit terminators like Santorum who wave pieces of paper and insist that some rusty drums of decomposed sarin found in the wilderness were a clear and imminent threat to the continental US. The real guilt however lies firmly upon the shoulders of the idiots of America, whose partisan neurosis leads them to suspend what little cognitive function they have. History once again, serves its master and what the master says it was, so it will always have been and shall ever be.

To me, the question at hand is whether this country deserves to survive as a free Republic as much as whether it deserves to call itself a beacon of freedom to the world. I think it’s demonstrably true that groups of people can be just as insane as any individual and having weaponized insanity more effectively than nerve gas or anthrax, the madmen who run America, who rewrite history, invent truth and cloud minds are on the winning side of history – after all, they invented it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

All is quiet at Kibbitz Meggido

It’s hard not do descend into pettiness, but how can one talk about serious issues in a world gone completely mad and partisan and as contrary as anything one would find down a rabbit hole or through a looking glass.  Instead of taking care of business, I wasted a morning chastising Florida Senator Madman Mel Martinez for insisting that the Government’s job is to protect biblical tradition and to keep the courts from interpreting the law, and I wasted more time informing the illiterate pre-teens who write ungrammatically for CNN that Condoleeza Rice is  “ concerned by Humanitarian suffering” unaware that this would describe the suffering of humanitarians and that if they had any interest in ending human suffering, they would  go away and find other jobs.

But what can you do when you’ve lost all hope for peace and progress and for a world my Grandchildren can survive happily in.  We have a Nobel Peace Prize winner saying she wants to kill George Bush.  We have a Republican Senator equating massively documented scientific research as the “Big Lie” and comparing climatologists to the Nazis for giving statistics on global warming while California roasts at 122 degrees and the glaciers disappear.  While crime continues to decline, hysterical legislators are forcing ex-criminals to live in the woods like Robin Hood, in order to protect the children.

Christian fundamentalists are exited at the prospect that the bungling incompetence of their chosen president will bring about the end of the world and I am beginning to wish that they weren’t just paranoid delusionals and would get their behinds raptured to another invisible universe and leave the rest of us alone.

I can’t tell the serious from the psychotic any more and how could it matter anyway when everything means anything and nothing.  I’m tempted to give it up, to lapse into solipsism and misanthropy and escapism and a world of beer, cheetos and NASCAR on TV.

Crime and punishment

Nobody is really objective. Some people don’t try to be, but listening to CNN while on the treadmill this morning, there was little to be heard other than the carnage in Lebanon. Of course it’s real, it’s horrible and it’s infuriating, but does that make CNN objective? Collateral damage, our usual euphemism for civilian casualties, from the US invasion of Iraq was far higher, although I am fairly certain that US weapons were not deliberately aimed at housing blocks, hospitals or markets. We were often reminded that this was the case while the Shock and Awe was shocking and awing. Still some military targets were hard by civilian structures and when we attempted to bomb a restaurant that we thought held Saddam Hussein, we didn’t phone ahead for a reservation.

Of course the carnage continues in Iraq and is reported as one isolated event after another and presented as the work of outsiders or extremists without reference to the fact that such things were impossible before we destroyed the country, removed all leadership and opened the borders. It’s just more collateral damage that we regret cannot be avoided. The rogue troops who rape, loot and pillage, torture and kill are a fringe element that will be dealt with and they do not reflect on leadership or policy at all. Such things just happen. If we do disagree, we’re traitors, or worse: Liberals who don’t support the troops. Objectivity is relative.

Artillery rockets are not guided, they are fired over the horizon on a ballistic trajectory, like the Nazi Vergeltungswaffen; the V1 and V2, to land where they may in a certain area. When launched by Hezbollah or Hamas, they are as likely to hit an Arab child as an Israeli government building and serve to promote an atmosphere of terror as much or more than to damage infrastructure. Not much more than a dozen Israeli civilians have so far been killed from these random rocket attacks and not much coverage has been given. Perhaps the death toll would be higher if Hezbollah had weapons that could be accurately aimed and perhaps higher still if Israel put munitions caches in apartment buildings and parked rocket launchers next to buildings where people work and live and go to school, but the death toll in Lebanon is certainly quite a bit higher than in Israel and coverage of civilian carnage is relentless, emotional and filled with pictures of empty bassinettes and scattered toys. Rightly or wrongly, the incidents; the attacks that launched a thousand planes have been obscured by the blood of the innocent and the guilty.

Some years ago, I was excoriated by a German national in an internet forum because while I was being born, Dresden was in flames and the civilian death toll was enormous. The fellow went on an on, invoking the screams of old men, women and children, until I asked him about what noise those millions who died in Hitler’s gas chambers and ovens and death camps made? I asked who was responsible for the deaths of 50 million people; those who started it, or those who defended against it? As you can imagine, no such discussion can have a conclusion, and I fear that the current conflict will have no conclusion, much less will any discussion of it. Yet to my way of thinking, no discussion is relevant or objective or pertinant unless one question is answered: Does Israel have a right to exist or is it's existence an act of provocation?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Back to the future

“OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat”

-Rudyard Kipling-

For most of my life, the world has been littered with the divided refuse of colonial powers: East Germany and West Germany, North Vietnam and South Vietnam, North and South Korea, Pakistan and India, Jordan and Israel and more.  Some of it has gone away, but each to me marks a failure.  

The latest failure of our Colonial Republic’s ambition is the civil war in Iraq.  There is no reason to call it anything else and there is little reason to assert that it can be resolved without the Shia and the Sunni retiring to their own corners in a divided Baghdad or perhaps a divided Iraq.  Whether the division includes an independent Kurdistan, I certainly don’t know, but the notion of a Western liberal Republic, free of corruption, free of intimidation by religious groups and able to be seen as legitimate by a large majority seems increasingly fatuous.

The choices left open are continued and increasingly bloody occupation by foreign troops in the face of animosities that will never wane,  an apocalyptic civil war that will end in partition and disputed boundaries, or a partition by the occupying power – with disputed boundaries that will be fought over forever.

If people are relocated, they will try to reclaim lost property for generations or forever and the partition, even if self-caused will be blamed more on the US than on any native inability to make peace.  Each side may ally itself with other countries that will use their cause to further their own interests and prolong conflict indefinitely despite any effort by even a majority of Iraqis to seek peace.

Of course you can see the parallel with another raging conflict, the resolution of which seems hopeless. Welcome to the future.

One cell, one soul?

The consensus amongst the “right to life” people I hear from is that a fertilized human egg is fully human and has a fully human soul. Those of them who believe in original sin believe that if harm comes to that egg, old God-O-Love will send that soul, somehow transmogrified into an adult human consciousness, to some magic, invisible place that is less than comfortable. This assumption is a cornerstone of the religious opposition to several kinds of research that use fertilized eggs or multi cellular clumps of stem cells.

Without arguing about what kind of soul and what kind of personality a thing comprised of 16 or so cells would have in its afterlife; I still have to ask if the soul it possessed as one cell is now diminished in each cell to one sixteenth of its soulness or if souls multiply as well. If they do, of course, I have to wear black every day to mourn for all the soul-laden cells that die every day, but if they don’t, there is no other conclusion that this original soul deposited into the egg I grew from still resides in one cell in my body. What if it dies? I might have become soulless decades ago and not know it. I mean, if it’s long gone, can I forget about Hell, or is that cell already there?

Or perhaps souls follow the physical laws governing gasses. Perhaps they expand freely into all the cells of one’s body and quickly withdraw as each cell ages. That being the case, my soul would be have considerably more volume that it had, say 20 years ago, although it would be less dense and presumably cooler according to Boyle’s Law or was it Charles’? Of course a soul with physical properties that followed physical laws would be measurable and would therefore by subject to empirical science and that’s simply not acceptable since it might lead to conclusions that question belief. Best not to go there; God insists on his privacy, at least according to those in the God business.

But say that the one cell, one soul model obtains, as would be suggested by the wisdom of the anti stem cell research people. Without my body to keep them all together, would they go their own way? Would some head north and some south and would God have to coordinate the purchases of harps and pitchforks to accommodate them, or does a majority rule apply: if my hands did wrong, do my feet have to go to hell too?

But let’s get back to the beginning. If both gametes that unfortunately combined to make me, had no souls, where did the primal eggsoul come from? If they had souls, which one was passed on to me, and why then am I not simply a part of my mother’s or father’s soul or some chimera composed of both as my genome might suggest? If neither had a soul, then that would argue for the gaseous model as the parent souls might have withdrawn from each component cell, but if so, then there must have been divine intervention at the moment of conception or I, at the moment of DNA absorption by the egg-me would not have a soul (as has been suggested by some parties.) That calls into question God’s wisdom in starting something he didn’t intend to finish since miscarriages, stillbirths and things like Ann Coulter do occur. If there was not divine intervention, than the “life begins at conception” mantra is invalid. It’s invalid anyway since both gametes are very much alive, soulless or not. The question is rather: when do human rights begin and this is a case where science is fuzzier than Bible babble. The Bible would suggest that life begins with breath along with the right to be called human and tends to use the world soul as a metaphor for individual life. So do the Biblical inerrancy / stem cell with a soul crowd have a Bible to stand on in the first place?

Are you following any of this? I could go on and on into strange territories of absurdity as one inevitably does when following the example of scholasticism wherein we argue from a received position backwards toward conclusions that often lead into the Cimmerian forests of absurdity.

With a nod toward Occam, which is all I’m going to give him, I will suggest that the only argument that makes sense is the absence of souls which renders the above arguments and all their infinite and contradictory ramifications into some arbitrarily huge crock of shit.

Let’s recognize instead that being human is not a property of a string of twisted DNA any more than a blueprint is a building and that becoming human is a process with no definite boundaries and let’s do the research and reap the benefits and stop trying to find answers in the ancient words of people who knew nothing as interpreted by modern politicians who don’t care to know anything and want to make damn sure you don’t learn.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pedal to the metal

Nobody can accuse the nattering nabobs of the nanny state of pragmatism or even of knowing what’s going on. There are those who think 200 million firearms will disappear if we make them illegal and there are those who think that a 55 mph national speed limit not only promotes safety and fuel economy, but that people actually obey it.

Although measurement after measurement has shown that only a tiny fraction of drivers on the interstates actually observed the late and not lamented National Speed Limit, but it was also shown that the same fraction were involved in most of the accidents.  Despite the head over heels proclivity of passenger trucks to kill people, the death rate has fallen very significantly since the “55 Stay Alive” mantra died. Whether or not the recent upward changes on many interstate highways results from recognition of reality, the reality is that people tend to travel at 80 to 85 on rural stretches despite the speed limit.  My own frequent observation is that the traffic on Florida’s Turnpike cruises at 80+ even as the limit varies from 55 to 70.

An article in Today’s WSJ cites a study showing that fewer people will exceed 80 if the speed limit is 80 than if the speed limit is lower than 80, meaning that it’s simply more relaxing for the driver not to have to scan the horizon and the bushes for radar traps and he will stay near the limit if the limit is reasonable.

Of course the argument that we should not be increasing speeds while fuel consumption is such an issue is still offered, although once again, everyone is driving at the speed they feel comfortable at and not at the posted limit and the difference in vehicles is far more important than the difference in speed.  In fact,  most of us burn more fuel in city or suburban traffic than places like the I-10 through Texas that now is posted at 80mph. In fact I get better mileage at 180 (no that’s not a typo) than a Hummer H1 gets at 40.  In the days of 55, one would often burn more fuel trying to get past the knots of cars refusing to pass each other, booming up to 80 and down to 55 when the radar alarm went off than one would get cruising at a steady 75.

Still we hear the nonsense phrase repeated “speed is a factor in all fatalities” which means precisely nothing as speed is a factor in transportation.  Again, the article points out that other factors, harder to reduce to a number, predominate in the safety equation; weather, fatigue, mechanical condition, intoxication, driver ability and vehicle ability.  If safety and economy were really the sole determining factor for speed limits, then why not a 15 mph national limit?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Congress commits treason

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

-Thomas Jefferson-

That was then, now you can’t.

`We do not need the federal judges to dictate what our pledge says,'' said Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican. Capt. Fogg replies that we do not need a gang of redneck representatives to dictate religious belief and require a religious oath that may not be questioned for as long as this nation survives the depredations of the Priestly Party. That will not be long if the Congress keeps passing bills requiring religious belief and religious oaths as they have done today.

What the House is saying is that they can tell you what to say and that you have nothing to say about it. What the House is saying is that you acknowledge monotheism, or you shut up. What the House is saying is that belief in God is not only official, but official beyond question. What the House is saying is that we don’t need judges to judge what the law says – we need some confederate Jeez-twit with a 96 IQ and a Bible. If you don’t agree you must be aiding and abetting enemies of the State like Jefferson or Franklin or Washington.

What I’m saying is that each and every one of these bastards has violated his oath to preserve and protect the constitution and should be impeached and deported to some other wacko fundamentalist hell hole of a country and forced to recite the Hare Krishna Mantra until their tongues swell up and they choke to death.

Turning worms

Are you the guy that used to get his books dumped in the high school hallway? Are you afraid of everyone? Someone saw you buying Tofu?  Someone pushed your kid aside in the playground and you were afraid to defend him? Someone steal a parking spot from you? Had a hard day working in your cubicle?  Well then, you miserable, weak, sniveling automobile driving worm – “reclaim your Manhood, buy a Hummer.”

I’m not making this up, the commercials have been running all week.

Thanks Hummer (division of GM,) for confirming what I’ve been saying all along.  The people who buy these grotesque, pretend military trucks are the very same pathetic, spineless, cowering eunuchs you direct these ads at.  I mean we knew it all along, but it’s good to hear you admit it.

I’ll bet everyone in the Bush administration has at least one.

Veni, vidi, veto

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-Thomas Jefferson, 1813-

Perhaps our founding fathers thought they had dealt a knockout blow to the influence of religion on government when they wrote our constitution. They certainly tried and they certainly were passionate about depicting that influence as a form of tyranny and a disruption of the natural rights of man. I’m not sure they could imagine, given the level of technology of the late 18th century, a decision based on determining whether a certain single celled organism had a soul or not, but I’m sure the intent was to prevent the government from making statements about what we should or must believe about souls as defined by Christians or any other religious organizations.

Yet here we are over 200 years later, competent to explain what the processes, mechanisms and molecular structures are that define life, to explain exactly why this cell can be made into a rabbit and that into a woman, yet being ruled by that same “tyranny over the mind of man” that Jefferson called organized religion.

George W. Bush, having little mind at all, surrounded himself with dog collared enemies of freedom and squashed the bill passed by elected representatives of the people that would have eased restrictions on scientific research. This because it might interfere with the magic transit of magic, insubstantial and immortal entities into a magic kingdom enabled by a magic ceremony. They are afraid God, in his wisdom, might throw those sinning protozoan souls into hell. Thus, with as casual a stroke of the pen as he uses to condemn someone to die, he wrote religion into law.

Such was never the intent of our constitution. Souls, heavens and hells are a religious construct devoid of evidence and contrary to everything we know and accept and making law based on belief in them is a de facto establishment of religion. The question of whether the President cares about the constitution; whether the president is too stupid to notice the infringement; whether the president needs the votes of the religiously demented too much or whether the voices that he admits to hearing tell him to veto stem cell research may be moot. We simply don’t have the freedom to say no to religion; a freedom guaranteed by the constitution.

According to an AP article, Bush managed to find 18 women to attend the veto who had volunteered to have some unused bits of microscopic matter inserted where the sun don’t shine so that with God’s blessing, they can grow into living and fully loaded with inherited sin human beings that can have their souls saved only by a ceremony.

And all the while people were dying.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Smilin' Tom

Could it be that reality has finally wiped that idiot grin off Tom Delay’s face? According to Roll Call News , Ol’ Smiley has spent close to a million Seven on legal defense and the meter is still rolling. Apparently he’s only got $640,000 or so left of what contributors have given him and with chump change like that, you’d think his new name would be Tom Who?

Of course the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, a congressionally chartered group, doesn’t let an indictment get in the way of issuing honors. Delay who escaped being drawn and quartered by the Ethics committee by sneaking out the back door will be honored in a special tribute to Retiring Members of the 109th Congress being held in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

The only question remaining is whether the marble bust will be smiling or not.

Of course “Duke” Cunningham was stricken from the honor roll yesterday after much protest over honoring a convicted felon, but if it were up to me, I would have been quite happy to see a gleaming alabaster rendition of Duke in a striped suit with his serial number stenciled in red and a brass plaque reading: Randy Cunningham – R-California.

Oh it's Taliban here and Taliban there. . .

Oh the winds do blow cold
Through Kabul I’m told
So you keep a half-pint in your pocket
For there isn’t a bar
North of Kandahar
That hasn’t been hit by a rocket

Our quest to replace the Taliban with a US friendly pseudodemocracy led by another ex-oil man has to be counted as less than successful even by those who, as I did, supported the attempt. Events continue to argue that it’s much easier to kill people than to kill a belief. Of course we don’t have a large enough presence in Afghanistan to really control the country and we haven’t done much to stimulate a non opium based economy that might eventually build a nation strong enough to deal with the roving bands of Godbastards that oppose with violence anything resembling progress.

As bad as it is for our troops in Iraq, it’s got to be hard for the occupiers of Afghanistan to fight off despair.

When you stop a course of antibiotics prematurely, you risk the return of a stronger infection. If we had not been diverted in our mission to eliminate those who trained, aided and abetted al Qaeda, perhaps we could have eliminated the Taliban – perhaps. At any rate, the Taliban are still there, still a danger to that long suffering country and recently took over two towns in the south.

"The Taliban extremists have taken control of the areas of Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi, however, coalition forces do have them under observation," said a military spokesman to CNN. The fighting continues, coalition forces are still being killed, suicide bombers are still blowing up government officials and the optimistic smiles of the Administration are starting to look strained.

Then too, I read in The Independent that the Karzai government has approved a plan to re-introduce the Department for Promotion of Virtue and Pervention of Vice, a group we will remember as the guys with bats who went around beating hell out of the guys with short beards and women who acted as though they were human beings. Sharia of course is part of the constitutional government George Bush likes to compare with ours.

Now your life can be brief
In Mazur i Shariff
And the women keep knives in their shoes
So you stay in the camp
And fight off the damp
With your contraband bottle of booze

Monday, July 17, 2006

How long?

How long is forever this time?
How long until one night, you don't come home again?

-Willie Nelson-

We read in the Washington Times that at “a closed-door conference last spring at Fort Carson, Colo., home to the 7th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon Jr., the division's commander, invited scores of retired generals and admirals in the Fort Carson area to hear the commanders and give them feedback.”

Last Spring, when things were going better in Iraq than they are at the moment, the consensus of the gathered brass seems to have been that another ten years of American presence in Iraq would be needed. I have just a little intuition that this is a very optimistic prediction, as predictions of ultimate victory by Generals so often are. Cynicism aside, I say this because a factor in their calculations is the same tattered and tawdry assumption that the vast majority of Iraqis will welcome our presence. The same fable we were given by the Rumsfeld mafia before the invasion. Another assumption is that our superior technology will increasingly be able to outsmart the bomb makers and saboteurs. These assumptions have the same fishy odor as the nearly identical predictions I read about ultimate victory in Viet Nam.

To the Vietnamese, that flag waving, carpet bombing, defoliating, mine laying and prisoner torturing juggernaut we like to call Freedom looked an awful lot more like colonial exploitation and foreign domination. Buddha knows they had enough experience with foreign domination and the lies it rides in on.

I think it looks much the same to a large enough percentage of Iraqis and because the US also represents the religion of the Crusaders, maybe it looks even worse. In short “winning the hearts and minds” of a population already flirting with civil war is the stuff dreams are made on; dreams and disasters.

We will be there about ten more years and they will thank us for it, say the generals all of whom must have been in the boy’s room smoking weed the day the history class talked about wars of attrition: the kind of war that the people with the least to lose tend to win.

How long is another ten years? How long is forever?

Alas Lebanon

Everybody loves war. Once the shooting starts you don’t have to make sense any more and making sense can be a problem when you’re a politician. I’ve accused this administration of seeking a war for the sole purpose of increasing and consolidating power in the hands of a small group of oligarchs and I still stand by that story.

Now we hear from Mr. Gingrich who wants Bush to declare WW III. Of course only Congress can declare war and Gingrich hasn’t told us with whom we are at war, but the fact that someone set off some bombs in India, North Korea tested some missiles without warheads, etc, is sufficient unto him. And why should we do this? Because if we can say there’s a war on, we can do anything and in fact anyone can do anything – because there’s a war on and all’s fair therein according to Shakespeare ( or was it Smedley?).

And just what would Mr. Gingrich have done in the world pursuant to the new doctrine of anything goes? Well it doesn’t look encouraging for Lebanon, at least in the short term. Newton thinks Israel should just take it over.

"Israel wouldn't leave southern Lebanon as long as there was a single missile there. I would go in and clean them all out, and I would announce that any Iranian airplane trying to bring missiles to resupply them would be shot down. This idea that we have this one-sided war where the other team gets to plan how to kill us and we get to talk, is nuts."

The only difference between this and Bush’s “strategy” in Iraq is of course that Iraq never attacked us and could not have had they wanted to. The cost of “Victory” is left out of the equation.

Of course Newt’s forked tongue is planted firmly in his cheek, what he is doing is delineating a marketing strategy for the GOP in November. Declaring war simplifies thinking and that attracts simple minds and patriotic votes. Public opinion is tiring of War Without End but quoted in the Seattle Times yesterday, he suggests that public opinion can change "the minute you use the language" of World War III. The message becomes "OK, if we're in the third world war, which side do you think should win?"

Forget about red and blue, all we can see is black and white. There’s a war on. Win or lose and forget all other considerations. Will this be the GOP message this fall? Will prophesying war become self fulfilling? When George Bush begins to seem like a moderate, I begin to worry. Speaking to Tony Blair in private before the G8 meeting today, he was overheard saying.

"See, the irony is what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit."

He might actually be right. We may be better off without war and that goes for Lebanon and Israel and everyone else. Somebody needs to stop this shit.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Eggs Benedict

VATICAN CITY, July 14 (Reuters) - The Vatican on Friday strongly deplored Israel's strikes on Lebanon, saying they were "an attack" on a sovereign and free nation.

A sovereign and free nation that freely chose to declare and execute repeated and relentless acts of war against the sovereign and free nation of Israel, that is. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said the Vatican condemned both "terroristic attacks" and military reprisals, thus insinuating that the US should have left Italy in the hands of the Axis powers rather than attacking sovereign and free Europe.

The difference of course, between the two events concerns military reprisals by Jews, an entirely different thing than reprisals: kidnapping, torture, genocide and murder, by the Vatican against heretics, scientists, Jews, heathens and Protestants for the crime of not being Roman Catholic.

"In particular, the Holy See deplores right now the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and assures its closeness to these people who already have suffered so much to defend their independence," said the man in a red dress on Vatican Radio.

Oh but wait – Israel hasn’t suffered for 50 years to maintain its independence has it? Oh wait, Lebanon isn’t really independent as long as it’s controlled by religious militias, is it?

So maybe I should strongly deplore the proclamations from an organization that took a fortune from Mussolini to look the other way while Jews were rounded up in Rome and that somehow forgot to excommunicate Hitler, much less “Deplore” his actions.


Can't get enough of Fogg? Look for my guest posts at The Reaction

Hands of the wicked

The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter

-Sam Spade-

Iraqis will not “sit by with folded hands” while Israel strikes at Lebanon said the pig in cleric’s clothing Moktada al-Sadr as reported in the New York Times. Presumably Israel should always sit by with folded hands when attacked by Hamas or Hezbullah or so goes the logic of religious hate.  Of course, folded or not, his hands are already full and his arms too short to reach outside Iraq. His Mahdi Militia are under increasing attack by American troops and he needs to reinforce the identification between Israel and the United States in order to energize his unclean rabble.

Like Hezbullah in Lebanon, Sadr’s legions wield a lot of political power in Iraq’s new government and have been a primary cause of the wave of killing and torture against Sunni Muslims. There is of course no trace of separation between religion, religious leaders and secular government in these countries and one might argue that such is the inevitable result of letting religious insanity out of the bottle.

“Let it be known to everybody that we in Iraq will not sit by with folded hands before the creep of Zionism,”

That this man lives is proof enough of the absence of God.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Up the down escalator

Israel Hits Hezbollah's Beirut Offices, Damascus Road, Escalating Conflict reads the headline on today’s Bloomberg page. If you read the article you’ll also see that Hezbollah has been launching a flotilla of inaccurate ballistic missiles into towns, cities and villages because to them there is no difference between civilians and soldiers unless of course the direction of fire is reversed. Yet we read that a directed and precise attack against Hezbollah offices and facilities is “escalation.”
All the pictures on CNN show Lebenon in flames, you have to search to find the parts about the scores of rockets hitting Israeli towns and ships and the pictures are scanty at best.

Maybe I’m prejudiced. None of us are free from bias, but by such definitions, the Allies escalated WW II by invading Normandy.

All the presidents I can remember refer to Israel as an ally. I wonder whether other allies don't wonder what would happen to them if neighboring countries launched missile barrages against civilian targets - for years. Would they expect America to stand by and advise restraint while huge armies invaded them as we seem to do with Israel?

When Hezbollah has attacked our military installations and war ships without provocation we did nothing much and when the same groups attack our "ally" we ask for "restraint." How at odds with the usual bellicosity and bravado of the Bush administration, how strange. Can our other allies like Japan or South Korea expect us to protect them against a North Korean attack or advise restraint to the survivors?

The answer to the question of American commitment to its friends depends of course, on how much oil they have.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A pig and the son of a pig

"No one deserves to rule Iraq other than Islamists,"

said the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Mahmoud al-Mashhadani after a Parliament meeting Thursday. According to an AP story today, all the kidnappings, indiscriminate killings, the beheadings are not the work of Iraqis at all. This according to a man for whose job 10,000 Americans have been killed or seriously wounded.

"These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew."

For my own part and fitting that description, I would suggest to Mr. Mashhadani that this might be the proper time for him to blow himself to bits and I would be happy to light the fuse for him and any other foul and faith based piece of human garbage like him. May there be a hell for him to rot in and may ten thousand Jews piss on his ashes.

Royal nonesuch

It isn’t hard to believe that the real reason Mr. Smith goes to Washington is to get rich. Senators, it seems are far more likely to make it big in the market and of late and by coincidence, are very supportive of rich man’s rights. A few years ago, the Christian Science Monitor published a study about the portfolios of US Senators relative to market insiders and the public at large. According to the article,

“a majority of US Senators were trading stocks - and beating the market by 12 percentage points a year on average. By comparison, corporate insiders beat the market by 5 percent, and typical households underperformed by 1.4 percent.”

You don’t have to be a statistician to see which way the profit flows. There seem to be surprisingly few regulations, de jure or de facto, controlling the way politicians benefit from their connections, but more surprising to me is the degree to which the public tolerates the political gravy train. We know about the “blind’ trusts that wealthy politicians like Dick Cheney and Bill Frist use to make it appear that they are not getting rich or benefiting personally from the actions of the government they are part of and we observe how Congressional Fat ( in more ways than one) Cats like Dennis Hastert have traveled from rags to riches while they are on the public payroll by using secret land trusts to buy and sell property that, although Hastert denies it, fluctuates in value because of nearby government projects.

Of course I’m pointing out the obvious, but it’s obvious only to those not on the winning team that everything the Federal Government does promotes the establishment and perpetuation of feudalism and concentration of wealth. Redistribution of wealth has long been anathema to the Right and at the top of the list of things Socialists and Communists and Liberals are guilty of, but of course it never has been about redistribution, it’s been about the direction. Duke Cheney and Baron Hastert along with Emperor by Divine Right George are doing an excellent job of providing us with the nobility we’ve secretly wanted since 1776.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On the Road

I went to see the USA in my Chevrolet, but couldn’t see anything because of the schmucks in their trucks.

I came of age reading Kerouac, whose name still fills my head with that long lost American night of the open road that went on forever, the smell of old cars, the mystery of neon lights from road houses with 50 cent beer and juke boxes that took nickels.

There are still a few, scattered and hidden scraps of old America left in places like South Florida, the kitschy shell shops and diners and dives and tourist cabins and weathered marinas and clap-board fish shacks and fruit stands, but like the arteries of my generation, the clogged roads are increasingly lined with Sheratonhyattholidayinnmarriot mountains of concrete corporate sameness and the plastic sign forests of frenzied franchise foodmongers blaze like ugly flowers forever and ever, road without end, without variation, without sense of place. Sometimes, cruising in the sealed and air conditioned car, if you can take your eyes off the roadrage racers with the ghetto wheels and megawatts of distorted bass and cell phone gabbing drivers; the videoscreens glowing behind blacked out windows long enough, you can see the clear turquoise and aqua waters of the Florida Keys.

The streets of Key West’s old town are lined with American Victorian architecture of the Southern sort, slowly and gently decaying and peeling in the soup thick and stewpot hot air, but a cruise ship the size of Cincinnati fills those streets with sunburn-red tourists by the thousands, more shabbily dressed than the homeless men who sleep in the vacant lot next to the VFW hall on Elizabeth street where feral chickens peck in the dirt for bugs. Somewhere in the old harbor someone is playing a guitar and trying to sound like Dylan but you can only hear it through the BAROOM BOOM – BABOOM BOOM from someone’s fully pimped, chrome wheeled and purple Japanese bubble car with Pokemon eyes weaving slowly through the Excursions and Navigators and Hummers and drunks on scooters while somewhere in the dark, out behind the honky-tonk hell, the vast and blood-warm Gulf of Mexico glows softly in the moonlight.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Polydimethylsiloxane Valley

Whether or not Senator Biden’s quip about Indians and convenience stores was taken out of context, as he claimed on CNN’s Situation Room, or he’s just not too bright, (as I’ve long suspected) and doesn’t think about what he’s saying. He also made two references to “silicone valley.”

Being a true journalist of course, I had to check for myself if it was necessary to have a slight Indian accent to be allowed into a 7/11 and I can testify that, at least in Florida, it is not, and like the Senator from Delaware, I’m not joking either. A plain old Midwestern pronunciation will get you a quart of milk and probably anything else you like.

As to Silicone Valley, I can only assume he was referring to some Delaware equivalent of the Bada Bing and being a married man and one whose wedding anniversary is a few days away, I think I will simply trust that no particular accent is required in that sort of place either.

Silicones or Polysiloxanes, have more to do with anatomical amplification than than the element Silicon, which in monocrystaline form, forms the substrate of many semiconductor devices. This is pretty basic stuff and I’m guessing that most 6th graders would be aware of the difference, IPod brain damage notwithstanding.

It’s embarrassing. Do we need a better example of how someone in power can get away with being ignorant of the basics of the modern world? Well, we have Nukular George with his Fizzible materials, but you really expect more from a Democrat and that’s no joke.

Wolf! Wolf!

With not much more than 100 days before the mid-term elections, we can expect to hear much more about plots and terrorists.  Just as a few rusty artillery shells can be “weapons of mass destruction” if it suits Fox News to make the argument, a couple of guys e-mailing each other about blowing up something can be a terrorist plot.  Of course you have to take such things seriously, but the advantage to the administration of inflating dangers is obvious.

The plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, seems pretty inchoate and speculative. The “plot” uncovered in England a few weeks ago that involved in the shooting of an innocent man seems to have been nothing and although the jury is out on the current scare in New York, it doesn’t seem to be anything like a specific plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel and flood lower Manhattan as some papers have said.  None of these things of course have the credibility of the report George the Unready ignored in August of 2001.

The Holland Tunnel Plot, in fact may have nothing to do with that tunnel.  "At this time, we have no indication of any imminent threat to the New York transportation system or anywhere else in the U.S.," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko to CNN.  U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said that no money had changed hands, no explosives were purchased and that nothing had been done to implement the plot.  Indeed that the Holland Tunnel was part of the plot at all may owe more to the New York Daily News than to sources familiar with the arrests.  The fact that Lower Manhattan is above sea level and water is somewhat uncomfortable with running uphill or remaining in large piles does not seem to have occurred to those willing to believe.

The announcement certainly was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the very real bombings in London last year even though the arrest of Amir Andalousi in Beirut occurred a month or so ago.

It’s hard not to be a cynic and it’s hard not to think that the limits of credulity will be stretched in coming months in order to depict George W. Bush as being an effective fighter against terrorist plots.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Death at Disney

"Zoom from zero to 60 mph with the force of a supersonic F-14, take in high-speed loops and turns synchronized to a specially recorded Aerosmith soundtrack and zip through Tinseltown in the biggest, loudest limo you've ever seen."

That’s option one.  Option two is that you die.  You may well have some heart condition that you don’t know about or that is minor enough that you would have a normal life expectancy if you didn’t zip through tinseltown in the biggest, loudest limo you've ever seen.  It’s hard to tell how many people die on these rides – the stories don’t get much exposure.  The story of 12 year old Michael Russell may be an exception.  The daughter of a friend of mine met a similar fate a few years ago and he says the Disney folks were busy telling the press how it wasn’t their fault before the body was cold.  She was a grown woman and left two children. The family was told it was her own fault for not being fit enough for fun and that’s the story that ran in the press.

Disney has deals with Florida so that they can inspect their own equipment and they certainly can afford better lawyers and politicians than you or I can, so if they have to pull your cold dead body out of some cute ride with pictures of Mickey on it, your family will likely be up the creek.  Somewhere and somehow, you will have had some defect.

"Walt Disney World engineers and ride system engineers completed a thorough inspection of the attraction overnight and found it to be operating properly," said Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty.  I’m sure it is and I’m sure that it will still kill people who had no idea they shouldn’t be doing aerobatics in an F-14.

I don’t know that the Russells will receive a settlement or if it will be adequate to make them forget the horror of trying to revive a dead child during what was advertised as a day of fun and children cavorting with fictional rodents.  I don’t imagine however that the ride will now have a sign saying “you may feel fine now, but in 5 minutes you may be dead” over the entrance; bad for business, after all.

So if you want to experience the acceleration of the F-14, perhaps you ought to be as dead certain of your fitness for the experience as the Navy is and if you aren’t, like most of us, Top Gun Material – try taking the kids to a ball game instead.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rush's little passions

Way back when, I knew a fellow about my own age who used to brag about taking one or two trips to Santo Domingo a year for the purpose of having sex with 12 year old girls, or so he said to those unfortunate enough to suffer his confidences.  So when I heard that Rush Limbaugh had been detained after arriving at Palm Beach International from the Dominican Republic because of a bottle of Viagra with questionable provenance, the first thing I thought of was those stories of underage brothels catering to American men of questionable or non-existent morals.

Crankyboy was right when he told me nothing would happen to Rush, the hero of the Values Voter and upholder of Family Values – the drug using scourge of drug users.  In fact he broke no law by having the pills with someone else’s name on the bottle to spare him, as he said, the “embarrassment.”

No embarrassment for having enhancement pills that is.  Why should he be embarrassed that we can be pretty sure he was coming back from a sex tour in his private plane and may suspect he had been indulging his obscene lusts with the children of a third world country.  His friends don’t care as long as he continues to lie about, libel and slander decent people for the sake of the Party.  First things first and all’s fair in love and evildoing.

Boots and spurs

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, the defender of free thought against all forms of tyranny over the minds of men, enemy of Monkish Superstition and upholder of science, was too ill to attend the 50 year celebration of independence from England, one nation under God and its King Dei gratia, George.

To those assembled in Washington DC on July 4th 1826, he sent these words of hope that every anniversary of that certain day in 1776 “may be to the world, what I believe it will be -- to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all -- the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

In this day, alas, when one man and one party has claimed the right to rule according to ancient texts and twisted interpretations, has shut the mouths that ask how, stifled the judges, challenged our right to assemble, to speak, to hear the truth, to be free from compulsion to follow the religious precepts of others; it is apparent that we have lost the dream and sold our birthright for a bowl of false security. The light of science has been drowned in superstition and corporate greed and above all, our right not to be held hostage by spurious, capricious and illegal wars has been stolen.

Jefferson envisioned us free of the booted and spurred few who would ride our backs with the help of established religion. Have we ever been further from the America of his dream?