Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tropical and topical depressions

My disbelief is at an end. Faced with another hurricane, I prayed to Zog, a god I created for the purpose. The hurricane turned into a tropical storm and then into a tropical depression and all that was left was a breeze and a short drizzle.

How can I now deny the existence of Zog? Certainly nobody can disprove it after such a miracle, although there will always be heretics and atheists and those who hate Zog because we are as humans forever tainted by the original sin committed by Shirley Jones in 1945, shortly after the world was created – but that’s another story. By the grace of Zog, the merciful and compassionate, the storm has been quieted.

My attention turned from watching the radar and the Weather Channel, I can now get back to important things like watching the end of the world as we know it. It’s one thing to turn aside the wrath of wind and wave and another to turn away the wrath of people who stage Death to Israel rallies in one of the only countries in the world that cherishes freedom enough to allow it. Certainly, were a public demonstration of dissatisfaction with Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Syria, or Jordan staged in those countries, we would see torture and oppression far in excess of what Israel and its “puppet government” the United States of America have inflicted on those countries. One wonders how likely it is that people will march in the streets of Tehran in protest of Taliban murder and oppression in Afghanistan and one wonders about the strident complaints of victimhood amongst successful middle class Muslims in the US and abroad who owe their survival and prosperity to a society that eschews (for the most part) the oppression, corruption, torture and regressiveness of the places they came from. How often does one see public “death to Saudi Arabia” or “Death to Muslims” rallies in this country, even after Muslim countries kill our citizens for their twisted, hate-filled reasons?

"The torture and murder inflicted on Muslims by Israel and the penetration of the U.S. media by Israeli intelligence" will be the psychodrama in Salt Lake City where perhaps the sympathies of the good folks with harems of 14 year old girls will be on the side of the organizers. Meanwhile the torture and murder of Muslims by Muslims will continue in its ancient course and nobody will have the time to go out in the street to do anything about it, but that’s because, by the lights of such people, Muslims are special by virtue of belief. If it necessitates the death of millions to redress what might by a more rational group be seen as something that can be achieved by other means, kill them all! Why compromise, when you can kill kids? Why be a decent person, a decent government, a decent religion when you can claim to be a victim and have an excuse to kill?

But of course if China, for instance, oppresses some territory, like Tibet, foreign advocates of Tibetan independence seek to end it in some fashion short of murdering thirteen thousand million Chinese. That kind of extremism may or may not be unique to the Islamic world, but it’s a kind of extremism that does not seek to solve problems, but seeks to kill and to kill groups, religions, nations. If Muslims slaughter Muslims; if Shiites dismember Sunni children, maim, torture, slaughter with chemical weapons and oppress – well then, never mind! If Muslims slaughter multitudes of infidels, well then heaven awaits the perpetrators, because as every psychotic jihadist knows, God himself is under attack by Jews, not by psychotic Muslims and have no doubt about it, Islam is under attack – always has been and always will be. If it were not, theocratic governments would have to make peace.

It can only end in one of two ways. Israel will be destroyed, but in the process, millions and millions of Arabs and Persians will die with them, leaving the remaining faithful to find some new outside group to blame, or the world will tire of having to deal with the terrorist attacks and constant calls for death to someone and everyone - and countless Muslims will die.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Say it's not so

You haven't heard from me for a few days because I had surgery on my eyes last Friday and it hasn't been easy for me to focus on a computer screen.

You might not hear from me for a while because for the fourth time in the last three years I'm about to be hit by a hurricane - Ernesto seems aimed right at me according to the latest track from the Weather Service. This being the anniversary of Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, the coverage is constant, but the folks in my area who have been hit by Francis, Jeanne and Wilma haven't had much publicity and proably won't get much more when Ernesto sets us back three years once again.

Some houses down the road from me that were totally destroyed are nearly rebuilt and since they're not finished, may be destroyed again. More businesses will go under, more people will lose what little they have. It will likely be another year or two before the repairs on my house are finished now and that's only if we don't have another hurricane. I'm not betting on that.

Lightning does hit more than once in the same place and hurricanes do too, but one would have thought that two in the same spot within two weeks would get a lot of attention, or that another one in the exact same spot a year later would raise an eyebrow or two. Now that a fourth one in three seasons is expected to hit us again in exactly the same spot, I'm sure the country has lost interest. The damage is spread out and hardly worth sending a news crew, but it's real none the less and I really have to deal with it.

Another 12 hours or so of terror, another week or so of running on generators and sweltering in the heat, another year of clean up, disappointment, heartbreak and repair bills.
The season is just beginning.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Traditional values

Maybe what they need in Red River Parish, Louisiana are Air Marshals, although I guess you’d have to call them School bus marshals.  Somehow I had thought the segregation battle had been fought and mostly won when I was a teenager, but either the Red River Elementary School is the nexus of a cosmic wormhole where it’s always 1956 or like so much of our great nation, it’s repudiating, one by one, the great advancements of the last few centuries.

It seems now that the trouble on Northwest Flight NO0042 out of Schipol airport began when the flight crew noticed a group of people in the back of the plane passing around a cell phone and attempting to move to other seats.  Many or most of them were Indians and of a darker shade and wearing traditional Indian garb.  Federal Marshals tool control and the plane returned to the Netherlands.

No one took control of School bus driver Delores Davis’ bus however, when , as apparently is her custom, black students were forced to cram into two seats in the back of the bus – all nine of them – some sitting on the laps of others.  Of course there have been complaints and the NAACP is, according to the Shreveport Times, considering filing a formal charge with the U.S. Department of Justice.    

A new, déjà vu laden solution to the problem of where to allow black people to sit on busses was obviously needed and School Board officials decided Monday to have a black bus driver drive across town to pick up the nine black children in a separate bus. There is no word on whether the bus is equal.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The surplus population

``Are there no prisons?'' asked Scrooge.
``Plenty of prisons,'' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
``And the Union workhouses?'' demanded Scrooge. ``Are they still in operation?''
``They are. Still,'' returned the gentleman, `` I wish I could say they were not.''
``The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?'' said Scrooge.
``Both very busy, sir.''
``Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,'' said Scrooge. ``I'm very glad to hear it.''

-Charles Dickens-

Wall-Mart has of course disassociated itself from Andrew Young’s sleazy denunciation of Arabs and Jews and Koreans or anyone else brave enough to operate a story in some inner-city neighborhoods, but they really couldn’t avoid it or afford to back him up.  It’s bad for business and business is their business, or more accurately, maximizing profit to the detriment of any other ethical, moral or environmental scruple is their business.

To this purpose they are willing to do almost anything to stifle and thwart any discussion of Union organization or any other hint of benefits for their employees, who as we have had pointed out are encouraged to go on public assistance if they can’t live on  Wall-Mart wages as well as forced to work extra hours without overtime. Even Scrooge was more kindly disposed toward Unions than the Waltons.

Andy Young’s words are like so many sticks and stones after all and Arabs, Jews and Koreans among others are used to such abuse, but being forced out of a job and into the Dickensian world of Wal-Mart employment is something anyone can fall into in our strong and dynamic economy. Wal-Mart isn’t giving up on making America more of a fertile field for their kind of Industrial Revolution style exploitation.  They continue to, as the movie Wall-Mart, the High Cost of Low Price claims, use any means at their disposal to resist treating their employees as human beings or to comply with environmental laws.  

Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group that promotes the interests of Wall Mart, not working families, has their own fleet of Swift Boats and is quite willing to engage in the no-holds-barred – no-truth-told tactics of the RNC, Fox News and Ann Coulter.  According to a piece in Raw Story today, Herman Cain, an African-American businessman and radio show host affiliated with the group has posted a column at the opinion website in which he tagged potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, among them Sens. Hilary Clinton (D-NY) and Joe Biden (D-DE), as "Hezbocrats ... determined to take down Wal-Mart."  Hezbocrats are, per Cain, a “roaming band of militant guerrillas seeking their party’s 2008 nomination for president”

Some might be puzzled that voting or running for office is a militant act of guerilla warfare, but such is the rhetoric of Cain and such is the rhetoric of the rapacious and irresponsible right.  That which made America the land of opportunity is to them a threat to their new  world order. No grotesque plethora of hyperbole therefore is too much; no slander too scummy.  Wall-Mart’s mouthpiece would, without a doubt or hesitation compare Mother Theresa to Hitler or indeed anyone who suggested anything that cost the Walton family ( or should I call them Wall-Mart Wahabbiyah?) a dime out of their staggeringly huge profits.

"Hezbocrats risk a huge political backlash by drawing horns and a tail on Wal-Mart’s trademark yellow happy face,"  says Cain with a huge grin.  Perhaps he’s right, perhaps not.  Perhaps America now stands for unrestrained exploitation and the end of domestic enterprise.  Then too, it’s possible that the well paid Cain who doesn’t have to deny himself medical care so that his children can eat is wrong and the Republican backed Cleptocracy has a more limited future than he proposes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fool me three times, you can fool me forever?

Sounds like a quote from our genius in chief but really, it seems to be true. Times of relatively high fuel prices and shrinking affluence have brought back scams that were popular off and on since the 1920’s. Yesterday someone forwarded me a story about a couple who were surprised to see that their brand new mini van was getting something on the order of 100 mpg on a long highway trip. Soon, returning from a rest stop, they spied some men in black hoods removing a device from their car and running away. Of course, the van began to get much more ordinary mileage.

I didn’t bother to look this one up in any of the hoax databases, because that story has been around since the Great Depression. It never happened. The sinister oil interests aren’t sitting on a cheap black box that will give your Hummer 200mpg or that will allow it to run on water. Mothballs in your gas tank didn’t help the Ford Model T and it won’t help your Toyota to get better mileage. Neither will magnets on the fuel line, little spinning gadgets in the air intake, things that clip on the spark plugs or distributor. Aerodynamic devices glued on to your Honda Civic do nothing but create drag and waste gas.

As a teenager, I used to laugh about the things that promised nearly perpetual motion results advertised in mail order catalogs and wonder about who was dumb enough to buy them as they had all been debunked regularly for decades. That doesn’t stop the business of marketing them and faith based drivers often do claim to see a difference in mileage, but according to a test done by CNN along with Popular Mechanics magazine and auto mechanics from the Universal Technical Institute in Houston, Texas, the devices don’t work and usually degrade mileage.

Rocky Rothwell and his wife Liz, a retired couple from Florida having no background in chemistry, physics or engineering and who probably did their homework in high school instead of reading J.C. Whitney catalogs like me, were taken in by a multi level marketing scheme selling green mothballs to improve mileage. The Texas attorney General recently shut down the company ( who still claim that it works) but not soon enough to save the Rothwells and others.

There are of course ways to save on gas, the most obvious one being not to drive like me. You can inflate your tires for instance, you may notice a true improvement and if you have a lot of disposable income you can buy expensively machined cylinder heads, add less restrictive exhaust and intake components and do some sophisticated computer reprogramming although you may well be accused of “illegal tampering.” It hardly pays however, if mileage is all you’re interested in and you’ll most likely have to use high octane gas.

There is no free lunch, but there are cheaper lunches. There are ways to use less oil that don’t involve exotic technology, but all of them require some big changes in the way we live and where we live. I’m not looking forward to it but I'm not getting fooled by the same city slickers that scammed my grandfather's generation.

Monday, August 21, 2006


You don’t normally think of Watertown New York as being in the Bible belt, but perhaps these days the entire country is being squeezed by the Bible girdle. Whatever you call it, it’s tight enough to have squeezed Mary Lambert out of the Sunday school teaching job she has held for 54 years. That’s not because she stole funds or molested children as such a large number of church men and women have done; it’s because she’s a woman and Saul of Tarsus had a problem with women.

That’s not to say that Jesus did, the evidence is otherwise, but the First Baptist Church of Watertown, like many of the increasingly medieval Churches in America prefer to ignore the teachings and adopt an attitude of exclusion, denunciation and persecution of their fellow man.

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." wrote Paul to Timothy (2:12) and despite the fact that the Baptists see Jesus as God and God said otherwise, they choose to listen to the man from Turkey who never met him. The key words are “I do not permit” not God does not permit. Bible idolaters do have a problem distinguishing between men and God or admitting that their Bible is something assembled by human agency.

I continue to maintain that there really are no Christians, only Christianists who seek power and worship their own sanctity, but whoever they are and whatever they call themselves, all that separates them from the Taliban or Wahabbists is the fact that we still retain a legal prohibition against writing their “culture and tradition” into law. At least for now.

It's a mad, mad, mad world

The Ayatollah Khamenei accuses the West of wanting to obstruct scientific progress in the Islamic world. Such heights of absurdity give me vertigo. Iran is not researching biology or physics or astronomy or paleontology or medicine; it’s researching the enrichment of Uranium. There’s little that’s unique or unknown about the process that needs original research and whether or not there is a real movement to delve into the mysteries of the Universe in Iran or Lebanon or Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria, such things are unlikely to get past the Ayatollahs and mullahs anyway. As with fundamentalists everywhere, looking outside the accepted books isn’t accepted.

Khamenei’s claim of victimhood was of course in reference to international concerns regarding its nuclear program which to an outside observer seems to have little to do with the desire to expand mankind’s knowledge and less to do with the amusing Idea that Iran has an energy shortage that only Nukes can solve. Coupled with it’s support of forcing the infidel out of what he calls the “Islamic World” and its stated hatred of Israel, it’s not a stretch to think that Iran has the same ambitions Saddam’s Iraq had when it built the Tammuz nuclear reactor in the 1980’s; the annihilation of Israel and the domination of most of the territory between North Africa and Indonesia.

Our options of course are limited. Iran’s nuclear facilities are hardened, we don’t have the military capacity to invade, and an embargo seems unlikely to happen or to be effective. What do we do when the Ayatollah has the bomb? Can we depend on the Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD strategy of the cold war to keep Iran from simply turning Israel and its 7 million people into ashes? Will Israel be provoked into a preemptive strike? Does MAD work with madmen who welcome death in the cause?

Just what creek are we up anyway and did anyone see the paddle?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cursed is the ground. . .

A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. — Mao Zedong, Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan --

Mao also said that political power comes from the muzzle of a gun, but the lie is mightier still than the gun or the sword. A revolution can be a lie, an election to a school board, the breaking of a law - or so Dr. D. James Kennedy and Ann Coulter and their legion of liars have set out to prove.

The process that is likely to destroy democracy and liberty and end the centuries of progress toward a more just and free society is accelerating. That process is called Christian Broadcasting and Christian publishing and the insurgency of the Religious Right. Of all the great and destructive “isms” of the last few hundred years, Militant Fundamentalism may be the most deadly; attacking the foundations of the society and the very type of society that once did so much to end the tyrannical and destructive doctrines of Fascism and Communism.

The Coral Ridge Hour, one of those pseudo-Christian purveyors of lies, fallacies and twisted logic, is launching a television series designed to replace truth with The Word. The Word of Dr. D. James Kennedy, that is.

Dr. D. James Kennedy hopes to convince as many people as possible that the demonstrable truth is not truth at all by using the time honored practice of denying it in a loud, firm and relentless voice. He hopes that by enlisting the ravings of the lunatic fringe of science he can marginalize centuries of rigorous study and hard evidence. He also hopes that the raucous shrieks of the white boned demon, Ann Coulter will persuade the multitudes that the nearly inexhaustible well of evidence for evolution is not there while the total absence of any evidence for divine creation is irrelevant.

Without the corrupting effects of the fundamentalist delusion, anyone smart enough to tie his shoes will recognize the absurd reduction of post hoc, ergo propter hoc and not require an illustration of how the Theory of Gravity, Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics enable all wars. In fact firm religious “truth” such as the Coral Ridge insurgents seek to substitute for sanity and justice and liberty is the direct root of a preponderance of wars and the support of nearly all of them, but you can’t fight people like Ann and D. James with logic or with facts, no matter how rigorously presented. They simply state over and again that the case for Evolution is presented without rigor, deny the need for evidence to support their own case and shout vicious denunciations to drown out reason.

Ann Coulter, who makes her dirty living by equating honesty with Godlessness, makes a case for Deus Absconditus by continuing her existence. Were there a God who involved itself in enforcing justice as the Books of Genesis tell us, then she would vaporize and truly would the entire Earth be condemned because of her, but we are on our own and if we don’t recognize that we are occupied by an insurgency that means to overthrow us we will be overthrown. There is no time for a dinner party, or the taking of tea.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Granny - what big teeth you have!

Because marketing in America is more and more about working the very young into a frenzy of irrational purchases, the increasing marginalization of anyone rational and over 25 is inevitable.  To me, that would be fine if it meant that I wasn’t under constant assault by people trying to sell me toy trucks and video games, but the real result has more to do with a decreasing number of goods and services that I would be interested in, and worse, the outright mockery of anything that is isn’t about unrestrained adolescent consumerism or anyone who isn’t very young.

We have become very sensitive about using derogatory terms to describe groups, to the point where even terms that are not derogatory are shunned. Witness Asiatic vs. Asian, for instance, but if you’re over 50, you can depend on references to your senility, incontinence and pathetic lack of style made by people with facial piercings who don’t know what World War II was about.

As with many things, it’s far worse if you’re female.  If you’re a woman over 50, you’re Granny.  That’s not used as a title of affection or respect, but of mockery.  It’s rare that CNN does not have some story of Killer grannies, or bank robber grannies or sky diving grannies accentuating the hilarity of gray hair on anyone not knitting in a rocking chair.

Today’s CNN page features both “Hit-Run Grannies” and a video on a “Gritty Granny.”  What a funny thing to be so old that you don’t spend half your allowance downloading ring tones!  You may find it hard to poke fun at Arabs, Koreans, Jews, and people of color without repercussions, but Granny is always fair game.  If a man of 60, 70 or 80 years navigates solo around the world, if he races motorcycles, flies stunt planes or robs a bank, he’s just an old man, but a woman is always the sailing granny, biker granny, barnstorming granny or gattling gun granny.

One of the things on my list of things I want to live long enough to see – right after the Bush impeachment and the Cheney Treason trial is NOW attorney granny suing the bastards or better, Business tycoon Granny buying CNN and making some heads roll.

Friday, August 18, 2006

lies of the 4th kind

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Many of us know the phrase as the words of Mark Twain, but he may have been quoting Benjamin Disraeli. In any event, I don’t think that our Mr. Clemens distorted, edited or redacted it to make it mean something completely different. The man was honest and a Liberal, after all. On the other hand, we have the Republican National Committee; we have liars without conscience or integrity, but I repeat myself.

There is a fourth kind of lie and for want of a better epithet, I’ll just call it “anything you hear from the RNC” the video clip that now appears on the RNC website has Representative John Murtha saying “We're more dangerous to world peace than North Korea or Iran.”

What he really said at Florida International University last June 24th was “Fifty-six per cent of the people in Spain think it's more dangerous, the United States is more dangerous in Iraq than Iran is. Every one of our allies think that the United States being in Iraq is more dangerous to world stability and world peace, every one of our allies, Great Britain, every single country, they think it's, we're more dangerous to world peace than North Korea or Iran. That says something.”

It does, and it says that the Republicans are liars, their campaigns are based on lies and distortions and fabrications. They prosper by buying witnesses and paying them to lie, by hiring fiction writers to malign opposing candidates and incumbents. It says that the greatest enemy of America; the greatest enemy of truth, justice and the American way is the Republican party. They lie, they steal, they get people killed, they soil the flag and reputation of our country. They steal from the poor and give to the rich like some Robbing hoodlum.

Their campaign of late is all about showing that the people to get us out of our dire predicament are those who fight, who lie, cheat and steal to keep us in it forever, and no egregious calumny, no libel, slander or damned lie is too low, too flimsy, too scurrilous to use for their purpose.

God damn the Republican party and everyone who votes for them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Are we on the bottom yet?

Nur Hitler, read the posters – Only Hitler.  Only Hitler could save Germany and supporting anyone else meant hope for the Communists, aid and comfort for the enemy.  

Dick Cheney, like Stalin or Hitler In their day, could not run a peaceful country and needs constant war and fear to keep from being dragged from office and hanged upside down and naked from a window like Benito Mussolini. So sinister old Dick snarls that voting for Democrats puts us all in danger and the reptile Orrin Hatch tells us that a Democratic win would help the terrorists. It’s not just pathetic, it’s not just a grotesque lie and evasion of responsibility; it’s another station on the Via Dolorosa or the road to Saigon.

All of us old enough to remember the rhetoric of the Viet Nam war, remember these precise statements differing only in the substitution of names for the enemy.  Electing anti war candidates, we were assured, would delight the Cong and Ho Chi Min wanted you to vote for Gene McCarthy.  Nixon would win the war with honor if we let him stay the course. Only Nixon.

We are on the same road, ignoring the same potholes, going the same way, saying the same things, telling the same lies, selling the same fabrications, burning the same straw men and yet somehow not expecting to get to the same place we got then: utter and humiliating defeat and dishonor.  Word for word, step for step, lie for lie, it’s the same old road. Only Bush, only the Republicans, only steadfastness in failure will produce victory.

I’d like to think that the day will come when Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush will be remembered with loathing, but  I doubt it, not as long as Americans are Americans; reborn into ignorance and smug self satisfaction every day. Not as long as we have enough iPods and XBoxes, ball games, bumper stickers, Fox News and Bible classes .

Yellow ribbons

According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America about 100,000 veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries. The concussion of a nearby explosion: a roadside bomb or near miss by a rocket propelled grenade can do enough brain damage to leave the victim with lasting dizziness, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, memory loss, and other kinds of more severe brain damage.

That’s the bad news. The worse news is that Congress wants to save a few million out of the billions and billions it spends watching Iraqis kill each other by cutting back on research and treatment for war related brain injuries. I wonder how many yellow ribbons one has to stick on one’s Hummer to make up for the shortfall.

I wonder how big the next generation of homeless and helpless vets will be living out on the streets because of the war mongering bastards, but it’s not their fault, it’s not Rumsfeld’s fault, nor George’s nor any of the Neocon nitwits: It’s our fault. We permit it, we support it and we don’t really care as long as it’s somebody else’s kid or husband or daughter or wife.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thou shalt make unto yourself no graven image. . .

There’s no such thing as a portrait of Jesus Christ. There are only pictures of how someone imagines him to have appeared. Although you can use iconography to convey the suggestion of Christhood, nobody has a clue what Jesus of Nazareth looked like or what he dressed like or how he wore his hair. At least since the Renaissance, it’s been increasingly common to portray Jesus with northern European features and long, brown, lanky hair and trimmed beard. Some 16th century painters, like Albrecht Durer used their own, and in his case blond, faces as models as they used contemporary clothing and architecture to make the Bible stories more immediate. Everyone has his own idea and a right to his own idea, despite what the fundies say.

So when the School board of Clarksburg, West Virginia raised over $150,000 to defend against a lawsuit that centers on the large painting that has been on the wall of the local high school for 37 years, they’re truly defending “our Jesus” as they say on their T-shirts, not someone else’s Jesus. They are defending the supremacy or their sectarian interpretation, using the power vested in them by government to force others to look at their idiosyncratic version of a larger religious iconography, or idolatry if you prefer to regard the Ten Commandments as law. What we are dealing with here are not sophisticated theologians, historians, legal scholars or philosophers but narrow cultural supremacists who think majority conveys license when they bother to think anything at all. We’re dealing with the American religion in all it’s simple mindedness.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court in June, saying the painting, "Head of Christ," sends the message that the school endorses Christianity as its official religion. I don’t know what other interpretation to put on it. The very title “Christ” tells the story. No one thought to title it “head of an early first century Jewish healer who was executed, according to legend, for breaking Roman sedition laws. This is a painting of a God presented to you as an object of worship by Bridgeport High School in open defiance of the US Constitution.

"The ACLU is saying they have the right to come in and find a few people who disagree with the majority and use them to overtake the majority," said Dennis Swindle, a local minister. I swear I did not make the name up. The Reverend Swindle of course is both right and wrong. The “Few people” are the few people who refuse to hand over rule to the clerics because majority or not, the law is the law. Tempering the rights of a majority to protect the rights of a minority is the nature of a free society, our society and using public funds and public office to promote their concept of Jesus over my concept of Jesus is unlawful.

"I feel proud to be a West Virginian and an American today because of what these people did here," said aptly named Mayf Nutter about the fundraising. I didn’t make that name up either, but proud though he may be the Nutters and Swindlers of West Virginia seem to think more of their pride in blind conviction than of their pride in the United States and its constitution.

Heroes from Hell

Seems the balance of the solar system has changed.  Of course it hasn’t changed physically, but we will have to accept some newly named, very cold, very distant objects as planets and we will have to continue to accept erratic little Pluto as a legitimate planet despite its strange orbit.

Of course the balance in the Middle East has changed in the last day or so as well.  We still get to call Israel a legitimate country, but have to watch where we say it lest we have our heads sawn off with a bread knife.  We may have to accept a new breed of country as well: Hezbollahland, for instance, that wholly owned subsidiary of Iran and formerly known as Lebanon.

By using that occasionally independent country as a hostage, Hezbollah managed to produce enough carnage that Israel agreed to pull out in exchange for a cease fire.  There was no winner, only losers of various degrees; the biggest loser by far being Lebanon.  Of course the principle of doublethink allows that to be described as a resounding victory for the dogs of Allah and it appears that the barbarians who murdered Lebanon will, with the help of Iran, become the strongest factor in Lebanon’s future.

Iran is pumping money into Hezbollahland as fast as Americans pump gas into their toy trucks.  Those who wail about their tax money going to Israel somehow seem to forget the colossal sums they pay to oil producers, who use it to make the world a far worse place; running hate schools, terrorist training camps and generally turning out haters of the West willing to kill us all, every one.  

The solar system may seem bigger today, but the world seems smaller and our future narrower. Our grandchildren’s future will have to include either massive nuclear destruction or a grand caliphate in Tehran; a Wahabbist empire flooding the world with hate and murder and war while the US sinks into debt and poverty.

So go ahead – keep painting them as freedom fighters, Robin Hood heroes and victims of Israeli aggression and welcome to the new world order.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The end of law

Nothing is true, all things are permitted

-Hassan i Sabah-

"We came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated." said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah - just as I predicted. Al Jazeera quotes his declaration that it was a "strategic, historic victory" that might rather be called a standoff by an impartial observer. There are of course no impartial observers in this matter and the truth, up to a point, is what is proclaimed by the loudest voice. Is this a case of David overthrowing Goliath or a case of the little guy with a bloody nose getting up off the barroom floor and declaring victory after the heavyweight champ with bruised knuckles went back to finish his beer? All things are permitted.

The David and Goliath comparison that Hezbollah likes to invoke can of course, also be seen as virus Vs. host, or any number of scenarios that vary according to which side one sees as just. But let’s envision a world where Hezbollah had sufficient men and materiel to do what they claim to be doing. Wouldn’t that include the death of some 7 million Israelis and the return of squalor and Sharia to a Palestine once again dominated by foreigners seeking empire?

On the other hand, what about the world in which Hezbollah did not exist, or at a minimum gave up the “Death to Israel” goal. Would there not be a prosperous and progressive Lebanon to serve as an example to other nations in that region where prosperity and quality of life seem to vary inversely in proportion to fanatical religiosity and theological law?

The inscrutable opinion of God notwithstanding, a world that thought less about who believes in which invisible tyrant from outer space might look more like a world in which Palestinians of all ethnicities might be participating in a thriving economy, sending their children to universities and sipping strong coffee under the warm, secular sun.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mars has WMDs!!!

“Who the hell are these 4 out of 10 Americans?” asks Reign of Reason. That’s the 40% who according to a Washington Post poll approve of the job George W. Bush is doing. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to ask what they’re thinking, or if they’re thinking. Personally I’m tempted to think that people hold opinions such as that for the same reasons they hold religious beliefs and that those reasons aren’t approachable by asking why, because it’s not about objective reality.

An even larger percentage of Americans now believe that Saddam Hussein actually had the weapons we were told he had back in 2003. 50% now believe he had them, and that figure has risen as the evidence that he did not have them has piled up to a level hard for anyone to deny. A Harris Poll released three weeks ago found that a full 50 percent of U.S. respondents — up from 36 percent last year — said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003.

It’s no surprise to me that people by and large tend to be stupid, gullible and intellectually lazy to the point that what is believed is what is fun to believe, but certainly Americans suffer no genetic predisposition toward idiocy that others do not. My explanation for a condition that is rapidly rendering the idea of Democracy useless if not actually dangerous is Fox News. Thanks to Fox you still hear people saying that it’s illegal to say Christmas and you have people believing that a few stray, degraded and unusable artillery shells found in the desert were the nuclear arms Condy told us we were about to be blown up with – possibly within hours.

True, we still have George W. Bush to tell us as he did the West Point graduating class last June that "When the United Nations Security Council gave him one final chance to disclose and disarm or face serious consequences, he refused to take that final opportunity." That’s a higher quality lie in that not only did he not refuse and he did allow more than 700 inspections, he had nothing to dispose of, but those eager young officers trained to surrender their intellect without question will doubtless believe and defend that belief for the rest of their lives and reality be damned.

That reality is that the 16-month, billion dollar investigation by an American Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. The UN was right, the French were right, Bush was wrong, but all that is swept away with a lie.

So where have all the weapons gone? The nukes, the rockets, the mobile weapons labs? According to a “speculative” Fox report in late July and backed up with no facts whatever, Hezbollah may have them.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that a nation so addicted to being deceived and so reluctant to question authority is not only no Democracy, but is doomed and deserves to be doomed.

We beat you!

When I pulled over to the curb to let his father’s car into the driveway first, my three year old Grandson was gleeful.  “We beat you!” he said.  What’s funny for a small child is less funny for an adult, yet if you ask anyone with an obviously fast car how many times a day someone pulls a dumb and dangerous stunt so he can claim the same kind of victory, I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of examples.  From Bentleys to econo-boxes, the guy you left a quarter mile behind at the last stop light or toll booth will come booming past you a minute later so he can say “I beat you!”  Unless his car can top 190 Mph, his victory mostly illustrates my restraint and of course, my small portion of sanity.

A CNN poll today asks us who will receive the greater perception of Victory because of the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.  So far, 60% say it won’t be Israel.  That Israel could vaporize Lebanon, Tehran and Damascus and did not, serves to qualify Hezbollah’s inevitable claim to glory and the inevitable perception that they won something noble by demolishing their host country in the name of whatever it is they seek.  

Both sides can claim victory if Victory is only survival. Israel will recover from the damage and expense much faster than Lebanon, yet it’s the guy who, breaking all the rules of law and decency passes you and gives you the finger, feels better about it.  There is no prize for real victory in traffic or in the Middle East.  The prize goes to the loser who gets the respect of all the other losers who resent anyone who has more.  

If the “peace” holds, Israel will bury the dead, clean up the streets, rebuild the buildings and go back to work.  If the “Peace” holds, men with guns will whoop it up in the streets of Beirut and dance in the smoking ruins of what was a beautiful city and was almost a place of prosperity, learning and culture.  “We beat you!”

800 miles from home

Tennessee Sunday
Jesus on the Radio
Three shirts for ten bucks

“Why are the Jews rich?” Asks the man of God in that Baptist tone and cadence reserved for sermons. ‘Why do they prosper? You see them prospering everywhere and it’s because they remember and honor the covenant of Abraham.”

I thought it had more to do with making sure their kids went to school, but what do I know? Maybe it’s a coincidence that the library is full of Indian and Korean kids in the evening, but maybe they prosper because of some other covenant or some other gods.

Somewhere else this morning, the descendents of Abraham are killing each other, while Buddhists and Hindus are working hard.

Bibles all on sale
Seventy five percent off

Welcome to

Elderly country couples, proud in old, worn suits and blue hair, eating at the Waffle House in Tifton, Sunday morning after Church. Pick up trucks in the parking lot with red dirt in the wheel wells.

They drive fast in Georgia; traffic moving at 90. The Georgia boys in the new Japanese truck sporting yellow ribbons made in Taiwan nearly kill themselves cutting me off so that they can go home thinking they won something, at long last. They support our troops, or so the ribbons declare.

Three T-shirts for ten dollars, ten miles ahead. Jesus is Lord at Sheffields campground. 500 more miles to go.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Cerebro-anal inversion

Glenn McCoy, the cartoonist whose graphic excretions appear in the New YorkTimes has given us another glimpse into the foul recesses of the Republican mind. His cartoon response to the alleged plot to blow up airliners is a picture of "80 year old Christian Grandmothers"being frisked while a bearded, turbaned man wearing a Dixie Chicks T shirt passes by, whistling. We are to assume that displeasure with George W Bush is the cause of the worldwide chaos George W Bush has aided and done nothing to abate. Only with head firmly inserted in a dark place does it make sense to equate freedom and honesty with being a mad bomber. That dark place is Glenn McCoy.

Apparently this is a continuation of his psychotic fantasies about persecution of Christians and a customarly egregious attempt to link a music group's statement several years ago that they were ashamed of being from Texas. The basis of humor, Ï think, is its relationship to reality. As so often happens with McCoy, his reality isn't reality but a deliberate and vicious lie designed to smear anyone who is not a Nazi-like partizan fanatic.

That such crap gets published in the name of fairness and balance makes me ashamed to be an American.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I have seen the enemy and he is Bush

Maybe the Bush administration didn’t actually stage the current “terror” bust but Dick Cheney and his puppet George knew about it days in advance, so when he had the gall to suggest that Lieberman’s loss is an indication of lack of will on the part of Democrats and an encouragement to “al Qaeda types” he knew that the plot was about to be revealed when he said it and that there could be no connection. There is no way to deny that he is using fear for an immediate and cheap political gain. I’m not the only one to predict that there would be a major incident before the next election and that it would be used to suggest that only the party who lost control is the party to save us all, none the less, the pure sleaziness of trying to blame the Democrats for the mess the Republicans have made is shocking.

Don’t forget, that despite a whole day of “terror in the sky” headlines, there has been no terror in the sky, only terror in the newsroom. Nobody came aboard an airplane with explosives, no one attempted to get anything through security, we have only reports of a plot that might have been: given to us by a country with a 100% record of getting the wrong man and shooting him.

Perhaps someone is stupid enough to nod in agreement when Bush tells us it’s about people who hate freedom; stupid enough think we aren’t less able to protect the country than we were 6 years ago, but if there are not enough of us to get rid of this administration and its party, we probably should be afraid.

Ask yourself just what Bush has done to protect us - an invasion and occupation of a country that was an enemy of al Qaeda? A bungled attack on al Qaeda in Afghanistan? The near bankruptcy of our treasury? Ask yourself why the man who engineered the 9/11/01 attack is still at large after 5 years and countless billions. I have, and the answer is that George W. Bush is the greatest danger the United States has ever faced.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Give it up

August ninth, 1974 - the day that Richard M. Nixon resigned as President of the United States. By coincidence, a survey released on the anniversary by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University showed that if the 2004 election were held today, swift boat veterans notwithstanding, the results would be quite different and Kerry would have won. The same seems to go for the 2000 election with Gore as the winner.

Now wouldn’t this be a great day for George W. Bush to have at least as much integrity as Nixon and resign?

Te absolvo

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England says that "degrading" and "humiliating" are relative terms. Of course he’s right. Some people might not mind being forced to wear women’s underwear or to pile up naked with other men in sexual poses while their guards mock them, others I imagine, might not care if ferocious dogs snapped at their genitals, but of course that cant be used as an argument justifying the use of such things by the United States – or can it?’

“I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion," England said. "And since it does have an international interpretation, which is generally, frankly, different than our own, it becomes very, very relevant" to define the meaning in new legislation.”

To me it’s a bit like saying that because some people might not mind being robbed, we should consider making it up to the muggers to decide whether they have just committed a crime. This viewpoint is, nonetheless, the given reason behind our unilateral decision to rewrite the Geneva Conventions but it’s really a response to the Supreme Court’s June decision that Bush’s refusal to adhere to those rules was illegal.

That’s the benefit of an Imperial Presidency and one party rule; the law is what you want it to be. Former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo is quoted in the Washington Post as saying that U.S. soldiers and agents should "not be beholden to the definition of vague words by international or foreign courts, who often pursue nakedly political agendas at odds with the United States." I imagine that Hermann Goering would have liked that.

To me, it all deconstructs to a simple “our objectives shall be construed as law”

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ecce homo

Think OJ didn’t kill Nicole Brown? Really? Well if you love this guy, you’ll love seeing him getting a lap dance while shouting “thank you Jesus!”

If the glove didn’t fit, he’s still a piece of shit. Of course that's only my opinion; have a look at and judge for yourself.

“No other website or media outlet has these inflammatory and revealing slices into the private and guarded world of O.J. Whatever opinions, thoughts and theories you hold, these candid and controversial tapes will forever change the way you think about the man called O.J.”

Actually, having watched his trial in detail, I think his guilt is beyond question, but have a look at the man, listen to his words and try not to puke.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I'm in Chicago; the city of cratered streets, crumbling concrete, broken down, torn up, rusted out, shabby - northern. I've been in the land of milk and honey, sand and sunshine for a while and coming home is like a bad dream. How could I have lived here all these years?

Saturday, driving north through Florida, we passed long military convoys; Humvies with rocket launchers, tanks on trailers headed south - the direction of Cuba.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Regarding 4.6% quote for Mr. Strombeck

About seven years ago when I was using the internet to search for property in Florida I began receiving daily spam addressed to David Strombeck (not my name) containing the same misspelled, ungrammatical offer of a low rate loan from an undisclosed source in Brazil, Russia, China or some such exotic place. Each one contains a different, always false return URL. For the past seven years I have received these messages from two to six times a day, seven days a week. It’s only a tiny portion of the spam I receive, much of which offers refinance rates on property I haven’t owned in many years and that wasn’t financed in the first place.

There is never any way to get off the lists these people work from; of the few who offer an opt-out option, most are inoperative and of course, opting out doesn’t prevent anyone from selling your data. For years I dutifully forwarded some of the worst spam to the ISP and to but it’s had no effect.

Spam filters, both in my browser and at my ISP filter out hundreds of offers of sex, drugs and home mortgages every day, but spam mutates faster than the HIV virus and much of it gets through. One learns to live with it.

It’s going to be a lot harder and more expensive to deal with cell phone spam. Screening my home phone calls has been a necessity for many years, National no-call Registry notwithstanding. I’ve now begun to get solicitations on my cell phone for kitchen remodeling, life insurance and – you guessed it; home loans.

David Lazarus writes today in the San Francisco Chronicle that the next frontier for spammers is text messaging. Text messaging of course isn’t free; some users pay up to 10 cents per message and if all the spam that came into my internet accounts were addressed to my cell phone, I’d need one of those loans.

A spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless said her company filters up to 50,000 spam messages every day. That of course is miniscule when compared to the tide of internet spam that clogs world communications, but the trend is clear. The wireless communications companies are either going to have to find a way to eliminate it or like many have already done, watch their customers block all incoming messages. They make money on text messages however, so I don’t expect much in the way of action.

Let’s face it; the business of the world is business, even if much of it is criminal business. There is more profit in a world where every mode of communication from your doorbell, mailbox, telephone, television and computer becomes the property of those who want to sell, cheat and defraud and your convenience, safety, privacy and indeed your freedom, matters not at all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unsafe at any dosage?

Many of the important components of my American car were made abroad; brake calipers, traction control, yaw control and ABS computers and probably some other electronics.  My Wife’s American car was entirely assembled in Mexico, and even though I live in an agricultural State, much of the food I buy at the supermarket comes from abroad. So when the drug industry representatives in Washington tell us that we can’t import drugs from Canada, even if they’re made in the US, because it just isn’t safe, I tend to think unkind thoughts.

Last Winter, Federal agents, or the enforcement arm of industrial interests, if you prefer, began confiscating packages of medications sent from Canada and intended for US customers.  Florida Senator Bill Nelson is circulating a petition by e-mail today asking recipients to back new legislation designed to “ease the ban on the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.”  

Seniors most affected are those living on fixed incomes who depend on cheaper Canadian medications to make ends meet” the letter informs me.  I already know.  I’m not quite ready to be called Senior and I certainly don’t lack the means to pay for the few medications my doctor insists that I take, but as my monthly charges at CVS are more than the monthly cost of upkeep, fuel and dockage of my cabin cruiser, I none the less feel that something is out of balance.  For some people, that extra decade of life that medication might provide is just too expensive.  In the new voodoo prosperity the Republican kleptocrats have given us, “some people” translates to millions of people whose future lies in decreasing the surplus population.

The lobbyists have a good chance of shooting down the bill and their record demonstrates their power.  It wouldn’t hurt to let your Senator know that you support the Senate version of the bill, assuming that you do support it.  It wouldn’t hurt to vote the Republicans out of office this November either.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fundies get out of Dodge!

The foulest smelling place I have ever been was Dodge City Kansas.  The aroma of the feed lots on a hot day was enough to make me forget all about the history of the place and head out of Dodge at 85 per hour.

Kansas smells a little better today however, at least in a metaphorical sense, now that one Democrat and two moderate Republicans have won the primary election for seats on the Kansas State Board of Education.  So far today the on line poll in the Lawrence Journal-World shows a 90% approval of this development, but of course Lawrence is a university town and one might expect that.  Let’s hope the rest of Kansas will be content to turn fermenting grain into manure and stop cramming their kids’ minds full of bull shit.

The Smoke Also Rises

Al Capone was a bloody man; a murderer and extortionist whom the world would have been better without. Still he had his supporters. He did local acts of philanthropy and patronage and in a strange way, many Chicagoans took a perverse pride in the man that the Feds had so much trouble taking down.

Hezbollah has its arm chair supporters as well, who are able to set aside the horrendous damage and loss of life that its ambition toward ethnic cleansing has caused and gloat over how many Israeli soldiers have been killed, how difficult it is to defeat them or disarm them and how they continue to rain down rockets on the civilians of Israel.

The Average Chicagoan was not the target of prohibition era gang wars. The killings were strictly business and as such the average Joe felt relatively secure perusing the Sunday paper; viewing blood spattered corpses face down in linguini or some colorfully nicknamed gangster slumped over the wheel of a Packard, but most of the people being killed in the battle between the stateless army of God and Israeli regular troops are Lebanese families.

Reading Islam Online this morning, I was interested to see that web site flirt with open praise for Hezbollah and reminded of the scene in Doctor Strangelove where Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson (George C. Scott) enthusiastically explains how Slim Pickens’ B 52 could fly under the Soviet radar, “Fryin’ chickens in the barnyard” even though the success of that mission would mean the end of life on Earth. Islam Online repeats with like enthusiasm, the obviously inflated numbers of Israelis killed, number of Hezbollah rockets fired and positively gloats over how well trained, resourceful and locally supported are the terrorists who hold Lebanon hostage and who hold so many Muslims in thrall.

At one time in my youth I was so inspired by The Sun Also Rises that I was ready to fight the Spanish Civil War all over again, but I’m not a youth, I don’t find romance in the dismembered corpses of children or devastated cities, in holy wars or the holy bastards who promote them.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rum and smoke

Bacardi 151. It’s about 75% alcohol according to the label and as we all know and as some of us have seen, the stuff burns, making for dramatic dessert presentations at fancy restaurants and sometimes for lawsuits. You may or may not see this as part of America’s dramatic descent into idiocy, but according to Palm Beach CBS affiliate WPEC this morning, there exists a woman who feels the product is defective.

No, it does contain the amount of alcohol stated on the label. The bottle doesn’t leak; it’s not spiked with some toxic substance and doesn’t even have a dead worm in it. It’s defective, according to two lawsuits filed in Miami, because alcohol did what alcohol does when a customer set fire to his menu and used it to ignite the rum the bartender was pouring. One has to feel sorry for the woman who was burned when the bottle became a flamethrower, but of course, only an American would claim defect because air contains oxygen and rum contains alcohol and all in the proportions they are supposed to.

Of all the things that are happening today, this seems pretty small, but then our country is starting to feel rather small in terms of intelligence and moral character.