Monday, December 31, 2007

Huckabee comes out

Mike Huckabee is almost a gift to those of us engaged in cynical bloggery. Face it, we need a respite from the horrors of an ever crazier and more nuclear world, and nattering about the differences between most candidates has gone on so long that many of us no longer care about any perceived differences between them.

It's less so with Mike. The main result of the weight loss he seems to feel has cosmic significance is that he's now limber enough to put one or more feet in his mouth without hardly trying. Even though his stunning conflation of Benazir Bhutto's assassination and Mexican immigration left many of his supporters open-mouthed at his illogic and his pathetic attempt to put every bit of news into that Procrustean bed of illegal immigration, he keeps doing it. If that asteroid hits Mars in late January, I'm sure we'll hear about the need to build an even higher wall along the wild and scenic Rio Grande.

The Huckster's latest attempt to appeal to the unlettered aired yesterday on Meet the Press. Homosexuality, said Mike, is a choice.
"We may have certain tendencies, but [we choose] how we behave and how we carry out our behavior,"
he said to Russert. "Very interesting," Arte Johnson used to say, "but stupid." Stupid indeed, unless this is Huckabee's attempt to admit the secret homosexual tendencies so common amongst his peers. If one has to choose which gender to be interested in, one might rightly be able to say it's a choice, but most of us never had to think much about it, our natures having been formed in utero at the latest. Most people have heard the "it's a choice" argument disemboweled long enough ago to be embarrassed to hear their candidate endorse it.

I don't know how many more of his supporters will head for the gang plank after this latest revelation of idiocy, but although the press continues to wave flags for him and invent opportunities to use the name Reagan in conjunction with his, he can't have many left. Telling us that he believes we are all sinners, he doesn't seem to realize that by calling homosexuality a sin, his argument cancels itself out, but all kidding aside, Mike Huckabee is an idiot who attempts to make other idiots feel good about their idiocy so they'll vote for him.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Who shot Benazir?

The short video clip of Benazir Bhutto's last moments shown over and over again on CNN last night does not reveal the exact cause of her death, but two observations are unavoidable: someone was firing a semi-automatic pistol at her from less than 5 feet away and the security personnel, presumably her own bodyguards, riding on the back of the vehicle, took no action other than to duck.

There are reports that police abandoned their posts shortly before the shots and the explosion and although the official story is that she had no bullet wounds, a top aide to Bhutto who helped prepare her body for burial says she clearly showed bullet wounds to the head. Could the shooter have missed three times at point blank range?

Of course the official explanation evokes the al Qaeda bogeyman, but that's just what Musharraf, eager to keep those billions flowing in and himself in power would say if he were somehow complicit. Can this, as Intellectual Insurgent commented here yesterday, be a false flag operation?
"We in effect helped -- helped -- precipitate this dynamic that led to her tragic assassination,"
said John Bolton, former ambassador to the UN on Fox News Thursday. I find myself in agreement. Having urged Bhutto to return to Pakistan and seek power, may have been another bloody consequence to the Neocon doctrine of creating democracy by toppling dictators. I don't know what will arise out of the current chaos, but history suggests many unsavory possibilities other than a quick return to calm and a restoration of democracy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Two plus two equals a 17 foot wall

“We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
Said Mike Huckabee here in Florida last night. He repeated the theme today in Iowa:
“When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,”
The fact that this isn't close to being true is less amazing than the sheer irrationality of his non-sequiturs.
“The fact is that the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce or make beds, it’s about someone coming with a shoulder-fired missile,”
Sure, it is, only it hasn't happened nor has it been made more likely by an assassination in Pakistan any more than the assassination of President Kennedy made it more likely for Texans to sneak into Mexico carrying rockets. The fact that the Huckster thinks Afghanistan is east of Pakistan and confuses migrant fruit pickers with Islamic extremists from Waziristan, is only a small part of the evidence that the man has no idea what he is talking about but has a strong feeling that vague mumblings in an ominous tone will allow him to latch on to the Xenophobic and Nativist gravy train. That's just what we need to represent the United States' interests in the world; a dishonest idiot who thinks Jesus wants him in power and will do the thinking for him. Come to think of it, that's what we have been saddled with for these last seven years of bad luck, and that's what we customarily vote for.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Alas Bhutto

I wonder if Pakistanis are saying "God, I love freedom" today. I wonder when the idiot in chief will realize that elections in a country without stability or where stability exists only in the iron grip of a dictator, don't by themselves make a democracy.

I have no idea what the future holds for Pakistan and I have little idea what the growing chaos will mean for the US, that country's biggest supporter. I have no idea whether the most radical elements in the tribal areas will gain an advantage, or whether that country will long remain an ally, but I suspect that the upcoming elections are not landmarks on the long and tortuous path to modernity for Pakistan.

The only thing I am sure of is that our administration has no idea about how to promote liberal democracy here or abroad nor how to create the security and stability that such a condition needs in order to thrive. I'm convinced that no country so saturated with religious passion can be the host for freedom or achieve the reasonableness freedom requires.

I mourn not only Benazir Bhutto this morning, but for liberty and for peace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blackwater Christmas - not just a dream

I don't know what the spectators at the Armed Forces Bowl this New Years Eve will think when they see Blackwater mercenaries parachuting into the stadium as they did December 1st during halftime at the Sand Diego State/BYU game. Indeed, what will the Air Force team think when they see that those aren't our guys in the black uniforms? Are they staging an armed takeover or just displaying the awesome power of a private military?

I'm sorry to contradict Reagan the Great, but when someone shows up to help, I prefer that it would be someone from the legitimate government rather than armed representatives from a country without borders, or laws or accountability. I don't think it will be long, for instance, before the Bushists privatize the "War on Drugs" by giving license to companies like Blackwater to do all the things we won't allow the government to do ( like start a war in Columbia or Mexico or pour water up your nose or worse) and make no mistake, Blackwater has the vehicles, the helicopters, the ships and the intelligence division to allow them to accomplish most any mission, foreign or domestic, our next rogue president might consider to be too touchy to approach in a legal fashion.

If the next rogue president should be Mitt Romney, we can be assured that Blackwater head, Cofer Black, his chief adviser on counterterrorism, will have a lot to say about military affairs and military conduct and indeed he already has had. Romney's decision not to comment on torture was made with the advice of Black. Of course I'm sure Cofer Black's private army will be happy to accept more and better no-bid contracts from whichever idiot the American people choose to make things worse.

As Jeremy Scahill writes in The Nation,
"the Government is in the midst of the most radical privatization in history, and companies like Blackwater are becoming ever more deeply embedded in the war apparatus. Until this system is brought down, the world's the limit for Blackwater Worldwide. . ."

And what are the chances that this profitable enterprise will be brought down now that they have moved beyond the borders of brutal occupation and commercial espionage into retail sales of everything from 9mm pistols to baby clothes? Is the future a kind and degree of fascism unimaginable even in the Europe of the 1930's and 40's? Why not? With the country rallying behind thugs and idiots in blue pinstripes, what chance does freedom have?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Location, location, location

"If there was a role reversal with the races, I doubt there would be a jury in this country that would convict a man for trying to defend his family."
So said Noel Leader, a spokesman for 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, a New York City-based civil-rights group, about the murder conviction of John White who shot and killed a hopped up, drunk teen ager who along with a mob-like group had shouted threats and insults in front of his house. I'm afraid it's true.

Would it have been the same if the scenario had been transported to a state where it's not necessary to register an old handgun you inherited from your grandfather with the police and where you're allowed to take the threat of grievous bodily harm seriously? Certainly Mr. White should not have gone out to confront the darling son of the tatooed skin-heads who hooted and high-fived each other when they heard the verdict. Yet Daniel Cicciaro Jr. was committing a crime by making terroristic threats and in many States, that fact would have made his unruly, drunken friends accessories to murder. Not so in New York, a State more concerned with the possibility that attackers may be hurt than with any harm coming to the attacked.

Here in Florida, if a group of people threatens my life and is able and apparently willing to make good on the threat, I'm not required to petition the police and wait half an hour for the Sheriff to finish his donut and show up. I'm not required to try to outrun a 17 year old with my 62 year old legs or to abandon my family and hide for fear that I might hurt the young gentleman.

Take the case of Hygens Labidou, the Florida man, who recently was cut off in a busy intersection in Deerfield Beach Florida and accosted by two very large, very angry men carrying a knife, pounding on his truck and yelling " get out of the truck, N****r!"

Waiting for the police would have meant the last of Labidou for sure, but drawing the handgun he is legally permitted to carry, he shot both would-be murderers, one of whom had prior convictions for attempted murder and hijacking. Labidou was not charged and the surviving assailant is now charged with murder since his actions contributed to the death of his partner in crime.

Of course it's not a perfect comparison. White's immediate chances of survival were probably better than Labidou's, yet he lived in a state where protecting one's life and family is of secondary importance to the perceived chance that one may someday use a gun in a crime.

Yes there is a difference between law and justice, but in New York, the gap seems wider. There was a great deal of fuss made when Florida passed the "shoot the Avon Lady" law that is the reason business owner and family man is alive today, yet no Avon ladies have been shot and a variety of home invaders and parking lot hijackers have been. New York is a different place, just ask Bernard Goetz who went to jail rather than be stabbed and perhaps killed by a gang of "kids." In New York, he was called a "Vigilante," In other places he would be called a survivor.

Having had to face down a driveway full of young men shouting racist threats more than once during the hurricanes of 2004, I have to sympathize with Mr. White as well as Mr. Goetz and I have to be glad to live in a State that isn't so jealous of its dubious power to protect me that it will force me to die rather than allow me the constitutional right to self protection.

The sad song of Narinder Singh

Of course it isn't only Icelanders that are treated like subhumans by the United States, the stories of offenses against decency in this cowardly and subjugated country are endless. Thanks again to Crankyboy for pointing out the Village Voice article about Narinder Singh, whose life was ruined by ICE because they suspected that his marriage lacked passion.

Singh was held without charges for five and a half years during which he suffered in solitary, was deprived of everything basic to life but food and water and was beaten and shuttled around from one jail to another like lost luggage. Dare I even mention due process? Returning from his mother's funeral in India shortly after 9/11/01 he fell into the hands of immigration officials who seem to have the right to do do anything to anybody without accountability, oversight or explanation. Singh never got one. Some uniformed functionary decided to find out whether the marriage was arranged in order for him to get a green card. When he was released without explanation, his wife had had to sell everything, he had lost his drivers license, his business and everything else but his wife.

We all lost something too: the right to be differentiated from other paranoid tyrannies.

Bah, humbug

Today he shall be lifted up and tomorrow he shall not be found, because he is returned unto his dust and his thought has come to nothing

-1 Macabees 2:63-


Mike Huckabee is a humbug. When he said

"But if you mention the name of Jesus, as I found out recently, it upsets the whole world. Forgive me, but I thought that was the point of the whole day"
yesterday, he knew damn well that mentioning the name Jesus and telling the country he hopes to be the president of that it needs a religious revival are two very different things. Like the humbug and huckster he is, he's trying to appear to be a victim of those who simply demand religious freedom. That freedom is based on the idea that neither the government nor it's officials have the right to tell you what to believe or what not to believe.

If I believe the point of the whole day is retail; if I believe that the holiday was invented to promote Deus Sol Invictus, which it was, or was the birthday of Mithras, which it was, or a pagan Norse festival, which it was; if I believe that Jesus was born on an unspecified day in April as Christian sources aver, it's my guaranteed right as an American citizen to do that and it's my guaranteed right not to be badgered for my beliefs by the government.

If Huckabee thinks that Yahweh has juggled the laws of the universe or at least the polls to assure that he succeeds; if Huckabee thinks that God's arms are so short he can't reach the ground without the help of Huckabee, then I hope that some divine force exists to grind his arrogance into the dust. Of course I will be satisfied if he simply loses because my fellow Americans are fed up with candidates who hide behind mythology and think they have the power to tell us whether our beliefs are good or not.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Invasion of the Viking Women

A couple of readers* urged me to blog about this story yesterday, but it's one of those things that is so depressing, so horrifying and so disgusting to someone who once loved the United States that it's really hard to do anything but let you read about it yourself and weep. It seems like we're not only to suspect anyone sounding vaguely Islamic of harboring dreams of invading and conquering or subverting the US, but our new Immigration and Customs Enforcement people are worried about an invasion of Viking Women.

I've talked to Europeans who used to maintain vacation homes in the US and have sold them because of the outrageous harassment they get every time they enter the country, including fingerprinting and examination of financial records. I read recently the story of two English entrepreneurs who wanted to bring some capital and open a business here and essentially were thrown out by ICE with no reason given and I've read about people who because of visa irregularities have been held incommunicado and without charges for years without knowing why.

No, I'm not talking about "enemy combatants" I'm talking about tourists like Eva Ósk Arnardóttir, an Icelandic woman who overstayed her visa in 1995 and went home three weeks late. She's been back without any problems, but this time she's discovered the new America, the America of secret prisons, of jack-booted officers and dungeons where ordinary and harmless people are chained and shackled and interrogated and terrorized and poked and probed and intimidated and held without charges or benefit of legal help.

*My thanks to Crankyboy and Swampcracker

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Merry Christmas

God Damn, I can't wait for Christmas to be over. I used to love the holiday (and yes it is a legal holiday even for those who don't consider it holy.) I like it because it's fun to give presents and because people used to act nicer for a few days in December, before Big Religion regained its strength as a political force against freedom.

Will I live long enough for the idiots to realize that there is no law against saying Merry Christmas and that the alleged "liberal" opposition to freedom of speech is a creation of religious authoritarians who, like the Charles Manson family, are trying to carry out a false flag operation in order to promote and capitalize on sectarian anger.

There's a joke in the New York Times comedy section this morning about a woman named Mary Christmas who has to use the name Happy Holidays when in "blues States." (Yes, some dialects tend to pronounce Mary, marry and merry the same) Does anyone actually think there is a rule or law or statute or official policy regarding what you may call Christmas? Doesn't anyone see that it's people like CNN contributor Roland Martin trying to tell you that only his version of Christmas is official and mandated? If there is any war going on, it's a war against history, against science, against logic, against freedom.

Martin is yet another self appointed ecclesiastical censor writing on this morning about how you can't take Christ out of Christmas. Sez who? Isn't it these people who are trying to tell you what to say by pretending that anyone else is trying to tell you not to say Christmas? Hasn't Big Religion been the number one persecutor of free speech since Zeus lost his sandal?
As a citizen of this country, I believe I'm not trespassing on any law by expressing my opinions about whether a certain dead Jew from the Galilee is or isn't the Christ (meaning the annointed king appointed by God) and if I want to put Deus Sol Invictus back in Christmas or call the holiday Mithrasmas, I sure as hell will Mr. Preacher man. You can't make me call him Christ and you can't force me to worship him and you can't push the idea that rulers are appointed by God and can't be opposed and if you're going to imagine a "push to take Christ out of Christmas" I'm going to suggest that you're a liar and an enemy of freedom and should be pushed over the nearest border. Tar and feathers optional.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another loss for the home team

Even though their last attempt in 2003 was shot down by a Federal Appeals Court, the GOP controlled FCC under Kevin Martin has decided, despite public and congressional disapproval that we need less diversity in the media and as of yesterday has made it far easier for the handful of heavily Republican near monopolies that own most of the newspapers, TV and radio stations in the US to move toward unobstructed media consolidation in all markets. In the cases where such cross ownership isn't allowed by the rules, waivers will be granted and if there is no preference for "conservative" viewpoints, I will be amazed.

There's still hope that a wrench can be thrown into the machine once more and another handover of public property to the corporate barons prevented, but we have to let our senators know and we have to do it now. 25 of them have already pledged to overturn this outrageous ruling but we need more - unless of course you really want a country where all you can read and hear is Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and lyin' Bill O'Reilly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bye - bye bulbs

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.

-Daniel Webster-

The last big fuel economy legislation package was enacted 32 years ago. Per Capita energy usage has increased dramatically since then. For one thing, it generated an abiding lust for ever more ridiculously large and heavy vehicles that even $3.50 a gallon gas prices haven't diminished and it did nothing to reduce the longer commutes and increased ferrying of all the little Codys and Madisons to their various activities and lessons.

Technology has indeed improved. Engines are more efficient and more reliable but it's been more than offset by every mother's need to drive an Army truck, by the death of public transportation in many places and by the further decentralization of the population. Dare we hope for a more practical approach in the new energy legislation that the House of Representatives is likely to pass today?

Seems like we can say good bye to incandescent light, our warm and friendly 19th century friend, and hello to harsh, flickering, mercury laden florescent bulbs or to the eerie and expensive aura of light emitting diode arrays. Phillips and GE, who played a large part in drafting the phase out of incandescents will get to sell you things that cost ten times or twenty times more.

I will miss light dimmers. They don't work with florescent light and I will have to find some other way to keep my bedroom and living room and dining room from looking like a hospital. Perhaps it will reduce my electric bill by two or three percent, but I doubt it. Most of the energy usage in my house is from water heating, pool heating, air conditioning and food refrigeration and the electric company is surely not going to freeze rates in response to decreasing demand.

Overall, the legislation is designed to reduce total consumption by 8% by 2030. That's not a lot and the benefit is questionable when one considers the environmental effects of brewing so much alcohol, producing so many silicon or gallium arsenide solar cells or the massive need for ever more petrochemical fertilizers to grow ever larger amounts of ever more expensive grains for fuel. It's really hard to know what the unintended consequences will be. It's likely that there will be more than an 8% increase in population in 23 years. It's hard to know what Americans will choose to drive to avoid the headaches of electric cars or the lack of utility of Smart Cars and it's far from certain that the government will retain it's desire to fund the billion and a half program for the next ten years.

I don't rest any easier knowing that the legislation was mostly drafted by the companies that stand to benefit the most and most quickly and I suspect that the $30,000,000 solar array to be built to power the Department of Energy (during peak daylight hours when the sun shines in Washington) will scarcely profit anyone but the people who sell solar cells.

It's not so much that I'm a reactionary cynic, although I am, but without a major shift in the way Americans live and work and breed, I fear this is only another kind of tokenism and another handout to big corporations and that the unintended consequences may be as bad or worse than doing nothing.

Monday, December 17, 2007


"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor"

Matthew 19:21

"poverty is not an issue"

Father Jonathan Morris on Fox and Friends

Hasn't anybody had enough of rapists, pederasts, embezzlers, adulterers, public toilet Lotharios, swindlers, the cognitively impaired, the psychotic and the high living patrons of prostitutes of both genders waving bibles and telling us how to vote? Not enough of us I guess. Apparently such tin horn casuists; such moral midgets who use Bibles as a sort of elevator shoe, still find a welcome at Fox News and Republicans stupid enough to think God likes Democracy almost as much as he likes Mike Huckabee still tune them in.

Father Jonathan Morris, a "conservative" Catholic priest told us on Fox and Friends yesterday that the reason there was "less response" from Democrats when it comes to talking about God, is that the Democratic platform is at odds with Biblical teachings. So it is, or at least at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church which for well over a millennium has excommunicated anyone who dared deny that God appoints kings and prelates to rule them and told us that because questioning the government was questioning God, Democracy is of the Devil.

Perhaps Father Morris was too busy with the altar boys to study his "Ecclestical History for liars" course or to notice that the Bible doesn't mention abortion and tells us that life begins with breath, not conception. Of course the Bible, even the bowdlerized, mistranslated and tendentious Vulgate Bible the smug Father reads, commands all sorts of things that no one including the Pope would consider obeying, but Morris isn't a theologian or Biblical scholar or an historian or is he even honest or intelligent for that matter; he's a Republican Christian supremacist and Fox News pet. Like Shakespeare's Iago, he's all about convincing us that our best interests are served by killing the thing we love best and in this case that thing is freedom.

It shouldn't take a genius to realize that the aims of a united church and state are not democratic, but authoritarian. One does not arrive at commandments by voting and law based on commandments as interpreted by divinely inspired priests can be no part of a free society.
"Now, this is not judging any Democrat's individual faith, but when their platform goes against Biblical teaching they know they have to be careful when they start getting into details"
says Morris, carefully avoiding the details that show his ignorance and contempt for compassion and decency and liberty and all the human values the values voters can't handle. Indeed, the problem of poverty and how to treat the poor, the subject that seems to appear so often in the words of Jesus is secondary to stamping out abortion says the man in black. After all, the poor go to heaven but those single cell "babies" go elsewhere unless we sprinkle water on them and mumble in Latin, right? Screw the poor, the elderly and the sick. Screw the children and all hail the wealthy and powerful. Jesus is about persecuting gays and abortion, right?
"There's always a hierarchy of value"
says Morris with the kind of self contradictory gall that only a moral absolutist can muster, and by that he means the essential teaching of Christianity is about abortion and gays and not the poor. We can talk about the poor and sick and helpless later when we solve these greater problems. Do you need any better proof that there is no God who punishes us than that Morris is rewarded while innocent children starve and die for lack of medical care?

But as long as America avoids addressing it's imbecile problem; it's ridiculous fear of truth and its swooning submission to superstition and charlatans like Father Morris, we will continue to elect the Huckabees and the Romneys and the other Elmer Gantrys we always fall for. Unless we are willing to admit that the wisdom of the stupid only makes sense to the stupid; unless America is ready to have a reformation and a new birth of secularism we don't deserve any better.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

If it's true that George Bush formulated plans to facilitate unlimited access to all our phone calls and e-mails and faxes in the first days of his presidency, it must be true that he thought of it before the election. It's hard to believe that the idea only came to him on the first morning he woke up with his head on a White House pillow. Given the strong evidence and testimony that he had no concerns regarding any threat of international terrorism and particularly ignored the threat from al Qaeda, one can fairly conclude that clamping down on freedom in the cause of power was an end in itself.

Of course it's not that the government's freedom of your information is an end in itself, seeing the way the ability to write law and to interpret law has been arrogated by the tyrant Bush anyway. It's more likely just a way to facilitate unlimited fishing trips through a sea of data hoping to come up with something they can prosecute you for or intimidate you with.

Stonewalling congress and the courts regarding evidence of high crimes is far, far beyond the previous limits of arrogance set by the late Richard M. Nixon and so is the attempt to bring corporate henchmen under the umbrella of executive privilege by granting them immunity from the law.

The concept of ATT as a freebooter, a private party given license to steal information from Americans that the government believes it owns and needs to prosecute its war on drugs, war on whistleblowers and dare I say it, its war on liberty, is hard to swallow, but remember, licensing mercenaries like Blackwater and it's affiliates to do the illegal is a practice as alive today as it was in the days when kings used letters of marque to license pirates and privateers to prey on their enemies. The difference now, of course, is that Bush has issued letters of marque to be used against what a naive person would consider to be his own people.

Today, Chris Dodd plans to mount a filibuster against legislation that would grant immunity from prosecution to Telecom companies even though Bush insists, with an odd circularity that they have committed no crime. Although I fear the effort is doomed, perhaps there is a faint hope that the country will take some time out from debating which candidate Jesus would vote for if his churches get around to endorsing democracy, and stand up for their right to due process and the protection of the constitution. Is it too much to ask that some of the other candidates put down their Bibles and tell us what they think about enforcing the constitution and the rule of law?

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Is this the same Republican Party that once spent 60 million dollars of our money investigating a 20 year old real estate deal ( and found nothing,) attempted to make an impeachable scandal out of firing a travel agent and actually did impeach a president for denying an act that was neither a crime nor connected to any charges against him?

Is this the Same United States of America that a generation ago ran a president out of office for interfering with a burglary investigation, that ran a vice president out of office for using his office for personal gain?

No it isn't. It's a country so terrified that men with beards will take over our country and lay waste to Festus, Missouri and Keokuk Iowa that we will allow the closest thing to a fascist leader we have ever had to tell the courts to ignore the destruction of evidence in open defiance of a court order. It's a country so insane with irrational and baseless fear that it's willing to do without the law and depend on the honesty of crooks and liars any time the president says BOO!

We're not obligated to obey the law, said the Bush administration to U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy last night, and you'd better not question anything we do either because your laws get in the way of our secret investigations. How much more clear can they make it that we are in such terrible danger that a dictatorship is the only solution and how much more clear can it be that the war on the courts waged by the Neocon insurgents has no other purpose than to allow them to rule unopposed?

Yes, impeachment will be difficult, since they can and will destroy any records or other evidence they like without even bothering to deny it as has been demonstrated, nor will they recognize the authority of any other branch of government to question them, but I fear that impeachment remains the only legal way to remove these pirates from office and I fear that even that may be too little and too late. No outside group of religious nuts will bring down the United States or do us serious damage. No foreign entity can conquer us or will be able to trade our freedom for tyranny. Only we can do that and we will do that unless the remaining support for this illegal government gives way to recognition that the only thing we have to fear is Bush and his lawless government.

Cross posted from The Reaction

Blood on our hands

"summa awilum in mar awilim uhtappid insu uhappadu"

If a man destroy another's eye, his eye shall be destroyed.

-Code of Hammurabi, 1795-1750 BC-


It's funny in a grisly sort of way, to listen to the moral absolutists try to avoid the fact that if you kill a man for a crime he didn't commit, you are a murderer; A murderer with an excuse perhaps, but a murderer none the less. Of course some versions of morality insist that if you kill anyone you were not forced to kill, it's murder. Morality is no more absolute than any other opinion.

In my opinion, arguing for the Death penalty by saying that most of the people you kill are guilty, aren't worth the rebuttal; it only takes one to make it murder and one to make us all accessories, and the fact seems to be that it's been quite a bit more than one. Arguments that justify the probability of killing at least a few innocents, or indeed for killing anyone because doctrine says it's a deterrent are simply arguments for expedience and from fear, not from reason. Arguments that depend on some cosmic system of double entry book keeping are arguments from an ancient religious tradition with no basis in the actual cosmos. I'm fed up with all these attempts to justify hate crimes and so apparently are others.

It's New Jersey however, and not some Bible Belt state that has taken the lead by stepping away from blood sacrifice and away from the totalitarian notion that a life can be taken in cold blood by some committee of citizens made sufficiently angry by paid professionals. To this writer, it provides a glimmer of hope that the United States might some day follow the path of enlightenment, but just a glimmer.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

He pulled out his gun and then he said,
If you make a crooked move, you both fall dead.

. . . He loved the women and he hated the law
and he just wouldn't take nobody's jaw.

Doc Watson -Otto Wood the Bandit-


When I first heard that a Texan by the name of Joe Horn had shot and killed two men he saw exiting his neighbor's house carrying a bag, my reaction was that he was a long way outside the "castle doctrine" law that allows one to defend one's life with deadly force without the requirement to wait until an intruder shoots you or to first attempt to flee.

At least in Florida, my state of residence, this law does not allow one to shoot someone to protect property or to shoot someone in the back as he runs away. Air America spent a lot of time yesterday discussing this case and listening to the callers, two things struck me forcibly: In Texas it's legal to kill somebody over a watch or a toaster, even if he's no threat and is running away, and that public sentiment seems to back the idea that anyone can shoot anyone observed to be engaging in criminal activity even long after the crime has been committed.

Just how far down the freeway of fear have we traveled that one reads comments in the New York Times like these:
"His actions were absolutely and inflariously [sic] justified. It was his Christian duty to protect and defend his neighbor."
"Anyone who breaks into someone's home with the intent to steal, rape or whatever is a worthless human being and deserves to be shot."
" so as far as i [sic] am concerned, the thieves gave up their right to life when they broke into someone elses [sic] home."
The idea that theft is a capital offense and that any witness has the right to enforce capital punishment without even a casual nod to due process or Jesus is something that would have been radical in the illegal mining camp of Deadwood in 1875. Do I have to admit, after half a century of believing in the basic decency of most people, that all that now separates my fellow Americans from unprincipled savages is the threat of violence at the hands of the law?

Of course the years of Republican fear mongering have had an effect. Of course years of Reganite insistence that Government has no answers to any problem have had an effect. Years of declining violent crime rates have done nothing to convince much of the rabble that civilization itself is not the culprit and that the wages of lawbreaking is and should be instant death by the hands of any vigilante or self appointed deputy with the few hundred bucks it takes to buy a decent firearm. Of course this case has been further inflamed by the fact that the burglars were illegal aliens and you'll read that fact cited in may of the arguments that such people have no rights at all much less the right to remain alive.

As for now, I still cling to my childish naivete, but I'm coming close to the point where I will have to declare that I live in a nation of vicious, bloodthirsty, bigoted and stupid cowards more like a baboon troop than a nation.

Shamed by Peru

It's been a couple of days, but it's not that there's nothing to write about; it's just that what used to be a buffet of outrages has become a suffocating cesspool of corruption, just too foul to approach. Things that used to shake a nation like ours seem only part of the background stench and hardly stand out as individual points of corruption any more. One remembers Richard Milhous Nixon, the man whose treachery caused him to flee Washington, as just another cheap crook and not much at all compared with the swashbucklers and scofflaws who now inhabit the White House and the Justice Department and the Courts - and nearly every other position of authority.

Yesterday, Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru was sentenced to 6 years in jail for abusing his presidential powers by ordering a warrantless search of the apartment of the wife of a corrupt official. He faces further charges that could add another 30 years to his tab, stemming from the deaths of suspected "terrorists" and the kidnapping of a journalist.

It wouldn't happen here. Kidnapping journalists and others, holding people incommunicado for years without charges, sometimes torturing them, perhaps allowing them to die in confinement - these things are standard procedures in Bushamerica, as are warrantless wiretappings, searches and other illegal intrusions into everyone's affairs. And of Course, Fujimori never started a war under false pretenses in which hundreds of thousands died, millions were rendered homeless and a country was reduced to ruins. Peru takes action, the United States or America puts on their iPods and mumbles about Jesus and homosexuals and looks to people like Mike Huckabee and his imaginary friend for leadership.

Ex President Jimmy Carter gave a speech back in May of 1974 after having read transcripts of Nixon's tapes:
"The Constitution charges us with a direct responsibility for determining what our government is and ought to be," he said. "I have read parts of the embarrassing transcripts, and I've seen the proud statement of a former Attorney General who protected his boss and now brags of the fact that he tiptoed through a minefield and came out. . . . quote, clean, unquote. You know, I can't imagine somebody like Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing through a minefield on the technicalities of the law and then bragging about being clean afterwards. . ."

I don't have to use my imagination to picture the Bush administration safely cruising that same minefield with total disregard for any consequences in their armored tank called the Patriot Act. The law is what they want it to be; justice is what they say it is and the people do nothing but argue about Christmas and heretics and what the Wal-Mart greeters are saying this year. How sad it is that the country that once had some legitimate claim to holding up the torch of liberty for the world to see has to look to Peru as a lesson in the limits of government power.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Finer shades of idiocy

So much outrage to choose from today. It's hard to post anything that doesn't seem trivial in light of the everyday horrors of living in a stupid, corrupt, greedy world run by the very worst of us. Newshoggers has a piece you'd think would be headlined everywhere, but isn't. A US contractor civilian employee, gang raped in Iraq and held prisoner lest she seek help. World Gone Mad shocks me with a story about 9 Australian men given probation or suspended sentences for gang raping a ten year old girl.

It's a cesspool out there, but of course these stories have attracted the usual insects that swarm around tragedy and injustice and tell us that the bitches deserved it or wanted it and often succeed in drowning out the cries of victims with the chant of liberalibaraliberaliberal.

Here's a more entertaining one though, although it attracts the same Republican flies as the others. James Watson, one of the two fellows credited with discovering the double helical structure of DNA recently got himself into trouble with comments about how people of African descent just aren't intellectually equal to "us." ABC reveals that Watson's DNA, on line for all to see shows some recent African ancestry himself. No wonder he's been maintaining that dark skin endows one with sexual prowess. I wonder if he can jump.

Of course the comments are slime-soaked and full of people who believe that blacks and whites and all the rest evolved from separate pre-human ancestors or that Africans are the "missing link" between humans and Neanderthals, but that only points out the humor of people with a theoretical 5 point IQ advantage feeling superior. It's all about the finer shades of idiocy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

President Jesus

"but these are the days of advance, the works of the men of mind. . ."

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson-

If there really is some kind of anthropomorphic God who watches what we do, then perhaps all we really are here for is to be the cosmic equivalent of some crappy, low budget network sitcom designed to entertain the tired old deity, sitting on some beer stained couch in his underwear after a long day on the loading dock, eating cheese doodles and slapping his hairy thighs as the buffoon, Mike Huckabee, tells us that the problem with the United States is that we aren't religious enough.
"the winds of spiritual change in a nation that has forgotten its God;"
Is what he calls the wholly invented increase in violent crime that such charlatans have always invoked. That's the ticket. That's why there are criminals, that's why young people sometimes snap; they're not groveling and speaking in babble and contributing to people like Huckabee. Our very practice of freedom is a sin.

Obviously God, an unemployable, inarticulate sociopath himself, has been expressing his displeasure with our "sin" by prompting, a la Charles Manson, young people to go on murder sprees because he's forgotten how to inspire prophets or write on walls and he lost the remote some time ago.

Anyway, the nitwit ramblings of Huckabee fit into an age old pattern of blaming any damned thing you please on "sin" and lack of contributions to preachers - anything of course but the sins of preachers themselves. Plague, drought, rain, wind, crop failures or toads falling from the sky - it's all because we dare to take direction from sources other than that oldest and most nefarious of professions - the preacher.

Government, says Mr. Reagan lite, doesn't have the answers, unless of course Mike is elected and replaces our birthright of religious freedom with a Jesus Christ based version of Christian Sharia and then of course the peaceable kingdom will be free of all crime, illness, bad weather or unpredictable geological events. History certainly teaches us that such is always the case, or at least it does to the mindless morons and ignorant idiots that support this embarrassingly incompetent humbug.

This nation was designed to be the first in the world whose government had no religious connection. It was a bold experiment designed to let individual thought develop unfettered. In this light, Mike Huckabee stands revealed as a traitor to the cause of freedom, a willful deluder of men; deceiver, illusionist, liar. That he has a chance of election in any nation were people wear clothes and don't eat each other very often is a disgrace and the only winds of change he represents is the breeze you feel when you've been tricked into walking off a cliff. Are we going to actually vote for a man who insists he's here to replace the legitimate government of the United States with Jesus Christ according to Huckabee? Are we actually not going to prosecute someone who opposes the sovereignty of the American people; who hints that people should be forced to tithe to churches? Is there no tar, are there no feathers, no rails?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The law is over

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time? How stupid are you? This isn't our country, this isn't a democracy, there isn't any law but the Party and if you're a member and you do the crime, you don't pay a dime.

I've been following the Ann Coulter voter fraud case all along and while we were teased with occasional hints that justice might prevail, only idiots like me would believe for a moment that this bipedal lamprey would suffer the slightest indignity or inconvenience for her felony.

Face it, a crime syndicate owns America and the illusion of any rule of law is now something only the deranged or delusional can believe in. If your party credentials are fit, they're bound to acquit - if it actually gets that far.

Ann of the thousand lies ran out the clock on her voting fraud charges after the Florida Elections commission, an arm of the Republican Party decided the crime was committed when she registered a false address, not when she used it to vote. Of course a crime is not a crime when the voice of the Party speaks through your rectum and nobody amongst the Palm Beach legal structure, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, would file charges against her; neither the Sheriff nor the Supervisor of Elections who represent the Republican Party and not you or me.
"We're too sickened by it to cover the details"
says Brad Blog, but they cover it better than I'm patient enough to do. I'm too angry to be sickened. I'm angry, not at the Republicans, but at you, America; the 300 million idiots who bicker about whose bullshit religion has a better fake God and about gay marriages and football and cheap pisswater beer and iPods and Mexicans and talentless gyrating entertainers spewing mindless popular passions.

At least when the Mafia takes over a business or neighborhood, people wait until some windows and kneecaps are broken. Not us. We were just so busy proving that Jews and Wal-Mart hate Christmas that we just handed over our birthright to the Vandals without even knowing it. It's your damn fault and I hope you like what comes next.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hold that thought

"The Terrorism Act and the restrictions it imposes on the personal freedom exist to protect this country, its interests here and abroad, its citizens, and those who visit here. Its protection embraces us all. Its restrictions apply to us all, whatever our personal religious or political beliefs."
said the judge. I'd be ashamed of a country where this kind of cringing cowardice had us abandoning the bulwarks of liberty and rushing to the safety of a smothering police state. I'm glad it was England and not the US who sentenced a 23 year old shop assistant for thought crimes. Samina Malik was given a 9 month suspended jail sentence this week in London for scribbling "terrorist" poems on cash register receipts. It would have gone much harder on her if she had had "terrorist objects" although she did have "information about weapons" and had associated on line with unsavory characters. In other words she did nothing wrong, but there's evidence she fantasized about it. I wonder how such a law might treat people who read the "left Behind" books and dream about Jesus casting Jews into fire pits.

In a way it reminds me of some of the reasons the American colonies got fed up with England, it was a tar-pit of safety traps and brier patch of God appointed kings, just as some would have the USA become today. For at least this fleeting moment in America, I can have weapons, information about weapons, write poems and paint pictures about any damn thing I please and have freedom to assemble peacefully whether it please the whimpering, pants-wetting citizens or their protest fearing government. In fact if "terrorism" consists in subduing people through fear, then Great Britain's Terrorism Act fits the description quite well.

Ms. Malik may disgust me. Her ideas may make my trigger finger itch, but I will not peacefully submit to any laws such as the UK's Terrorism Act. Shame on them.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A loaf, a fish, a crock

There are millions of people out there praying that a little will turn into much, says the would-be preacher president Mike Huckabee. He's right. Very little would have to turn into much more than this shameless huckster could possibly have to offer by himself; for him to be even remotely what the world needs to put in the White House. It may be an effective way to latch on to the dreams of the witless, some of whom are convinced that invisible spirits have a secret plan of Glory for them too, but when half the candidates claim that god wants them as their co-pilots, it gets hard to deal with all the loaf and fish metaphorical bullshit. How long will it be before we see a shirtless Mike with bleeding stigmata or Mitt with his head in a white hat reading the secret golden tablets?

I've been off-line with a nasty virus for nearly a week and the relief of finally feeling better was instantly tempered by the disgust generated by images of Preacher Mike and Prophet Mitt in full revival mode this morning. Which one is more God smitten and thus better suited to understand complex geopolitical, economic, strategic and scientific problems? Doesn't matter. America's problems will be solved by raving and swooning and not by intelligence, knowledge and experience. Just keep sticking our head deeper into the crock and we'll all feel much smarter by and by.

Last week I had lunch with a couple of the country's premier geneticists. We discussed the recent progress in understanding neurodegenerative disease at the molecular level. Not long ago I read that an unspeakably huge hole in the visible universe may confirm the existence of parallel universes. Mankind might seem to some as emerging at long last into the full light and glory of truth. Somewhere in America, blue-suited idiots rave about the Bible like paleolithic shamans dancing around their fires in some cro-magnon night.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Merciful and Compassionate

Is there anything more pathetic than someone who has given their soul to be commanded by the perverts who preach? Yes, Gillian Gibbons is getting off easy, but not because Allah is merciful or because the bastards who tell people what Allah wants are compassionate, but because the Sudanese government needs to get her out of the country before the nature of faith becomes too apparent. She's only getting 15 days in some foetid cell for "insulting religion." If the efforts of the British government are successful, she may be home on Monday.

The believers want her dead because her students named a teddy bear Mohammad. Please pardon the advertisement , but watch the clip and witness what hideous vermin humans become when they have religion where their humanity used to be.

God, I love freedom

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
Nowhere in the 6th amendment or anywhere else in our constitution does the disclaimer "*but not if the decider decides otherwise" appear. Nowhere in the text do I see the suggestion that the law can be bypassed by substituting the word "detainee" for accused or that any of the rights therein described as natural or inalienable are only things to be granted or denied by a sovereign Commander Guy. None the less that's what the Decider decides in this nation of Republistan Under God.

Lawyers defending Omar Ahmed Khadr have been told he can't have the right to know who is accusing him of war crimes. Khadr, being held at Guantánamo, may be the first of the "detainees" to come to trial, perhaps as soon as May, 2009. Speedy and public may be rather difficult properties to ascribe to this case which has dragged on for years and will be held mostly in secret, but at least he will have some kind of representation, hobbled as it must be by the peremptory decisions of the Decider.

The scary part is not that the the Constitution is only window dressing for George Bush's house of horrors, but that such things have become so routine they hardly grab the public's attention.
Of course we're talking about a military tribunal, the venue of convenience for our defenders of freedom. The concept of the natural rights of Man and uniforms don't blend together well which is why it's good for a Decider to have a war.

“Providing the witnesses’ true identities will add nothing to their testimony,” the prosecutors wrote in a legal filing revealed in the New York Times today. Nothing other than credibility or validity, that is. It's hard to imagine any kind of serious cross examination, but then America's love affair with fascism isn't something I understand either.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ignore the man behind the curtain

How anyone can think that anyone in the latest TV blabberfest is presidential material is beyond me. The latest nausea inducing exhibition featured Bible waving and professions of faith and idiotic declarations like Fabulous Fred Thompson's "A nation that cannot and will not defend its own borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation." Isn't anyone tired of xenophobia as a crucial issue at a time when we face economic disaster and another war without end? Funny that we were a sovereign nation for most of our history of unguarded borders and that New York was a sanctuary city for the forbears of just about everybody listening to the actors on stage in St Petersburg.

Funny too, that the media isn't making much of the polls showing a preference for Ron Paul's arguments other to mention that McCain told us Paul's policies are the type that facilitated Hitler's rise to power. And here I thought it was the Germans who elected him. Not only is it getting harder to ignore Paul, it's requiring that once again, Fox News ignore it's own numbers. The nervous laugh and the near hysteria of Hannity's declarations of disbelief are music to my ears.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Winnie the Prophet

You may have gathered that I'm no fan of fundamentalism and that I see moderate religion as a potential petri dish in which crazy religion can bloom faster than staphylococcus on steroids when conditions are right. Consequently when I read of things like Gillian Gibbons' arrest for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammad, I don't feel superior, or feel that my country is superior to those where religion is protected from "insult" by law. It could happen here and many would welcome it. Even Rudy Giuliani the self proclaimed terrorist fighter, once attempted to shut down the Brooklyn Museum for "Blasphemy" and where I live "denying Christ" is seen by some as another form of treason.

Likewise I see laws against "hate crime" as a dangerous precedent. The promoters of hate crime legislation share the loathing I feel toward certain groups and certain actions, but does granting the Federal Government the power to tell us what constitutes hate crime protect us from a government gone wild, or worse a government infiltrated by religious crazies like that of Sudan? Would calling a stuffed animal by a racist or religiously cynical name constitute hate crime? The definition would be up to people you may not agree with.

No, we're not the Sudan. We don't consider calling a stuffed bear by one of that nation's most popular names either insulting to religion or a hate crime. Even though Ms. Gibbons was simply following the choice of her high school students in naming a class mascot something that half their brothers and uncles and fathers are named, the remote possibility that there was disrespect for religion was enough to get her arrested and she now faces the possibility of 40 lashes, a year in a hell hole jail and a fine. Thus demands their Sharia infested constitution. I'm betting that she will get off lightly and probably will be deported, but as I said, I'm not taking delight in illustrating the kind of horror state that every "faith" I can think of has perpetrated at one time or another.

I don't expect the Spanish Inquisition in America any time soon. I expect that all I would get for refusing to parrot the Eisenhower pledge is some social ostracism and if I were to attach a Jesus Sucks bumper sticker to my car, I'd better be sure my insurance was up to date, but let's be aware: It's not Islam; it's not Christianity; it's not any particular religion -- it's religion in general that has to protect itself by infiltrating government or becoming government.

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Sick as the dollar

What do you do with all those dollars? What do you do when their value in the world market is shrinking? It's obvious, you buy everything of value that is priced in dollars while you can and what better to buy than US assets, like CitiCorp. Whether you made all those bucks selling toys or computer components or oil, it's hard to find enough to buy before their value declines further. Do we see it as being bailed out by our friends, or as being bought up by people whose operations are opaque and motives not necessarily connected to our best interests?

Saudi Prince Walid, says today's Times, owns a piece of Citigroup and also News Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo, Time Warner and Walt Disney. Perhaps when we take comfort in the Dow Jones figures we should remember why people are still buying stocks and who they are. Countries like China and Japan own about $5 trillion of United States debt and we'd be in trouble if they didn't.

None the less, it may be signaling the long term decline of American economic muscle along with our declining moral stature and moribund credibility. But as long as we can entertain ourselves by watching the celebrities, complaining about politically correct speech and defending Christmas against the Jews and atheists, we don't really care, do we? What about that haircut on Mitt - sure looks presidential to me -- and that Thompson guy sure reminds me of Reagan. . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Muslims need apply

I haven't yet stooped to using any candidate's religious affiliation against him and I operate under the assumption that most will not let such things interfere with their professional lives or their oath of office. Of course since so many of the Republican tribe have been espousing Christian Supremacy and confusing Church teachings with the law, it's sometimes hard to refrain.

I continue to think it has nothing to do with his being a Mormon, but Mitt Romney may have crossed a boundary and it may be time to ask what kind of prejudices he has or is pandering to.
"…based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
said Mr. Romney to the Christian Science Monitor. I presume that by "lower levels" he refers to something more than waxing the presidential limo but this, I feel, is a revealing position and shows us as did his snubbing of the man in the wheelchair that there is something less under the tailored suit than is advertised. Would it be too much to consider an appointee's knowledge and skills rather than what ethnic pigeonhole you can stuff him into?

In choosing a candidate, I'm not necessarily put off by suggestions that a cabinet "look like America" but I'm not looking for tokens, I'm looking for competence and that's something sadly lacking in recent years.
"More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats"
says Mansoor Ijaz writing for the Monitor and I agree. Would that the idiot George had been able to listen to an adviser who knew the difference between Sunni and Shia and the tensions between them. Ijaz, by the way, is substantially responsible for exposing A.Q. Khan, who had been selling Pakistani nuclear technology on the black market and he did so at some personal risk. Nice to know that Mitt would disqualify him for reasons of ethnic purity.

What I'm looking for in a president is a man who will look for the best and won't preclude anyone on the basis of religion or race or his feelings about abortion or gay marriage or the war in Iraq. That's not Mitt, obviously. I don't care what the president's advisers look like or what ethnicity he thinks they should represent and by automatically relegating people who identify with Islam to lower positions by virtue of that identification, Mitt further disqualifies himself from consideration.

Perhaps he's pandering to what he perceives as an anti-Muslim bias in America or perhaps he really means it. In either event I don't think he belongs anywhere but on the cover of some Men's wear catalog where looking good and holding the pose isn't an act of dishonesty.

Monday, November 26, 2007

She can't hide

Although Ann H. Coulter has a habit of posting personal information about her critics on her website, she doesn't want you to know that she lives at:

PALM BEACH FL 33480 6129

In fact she's finally succeeded at having her name removed from the Palm Beach County public records as the law normally would require. Convincing the County that, whether or not turnabout is fair play, she dislikes having taunts aimed at her and is a victim of harassment, entitled to anonymity as well as immunity from the riot act.

The hateful Miss Coulter (it's her middle name after all) who seems to have told us John Edwards was a "faggot" and should be killed by terrorists; that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned, feels safer now, knowing that nobody knows where she lives in her expensive home at 242 Seabreeze Ave near the Breakers (look carefully, she's removed the number plate) and her rectally infected buddy, Rush Limbaugh. Seems she sometimes gets letters and even hears people shouting at her from the street. Some of the voices might be real.

Maybe it's some of those merry 9/11 widows enjoying their husbands' deaths. Maybe it's one of the judges a follower of Ann actually tried to poison. Who knows? Of course if you knew that she lived at 242 Seabreeze Ave, Palm Beach, FL 33480 you could write her and ask, but you don't, of course.

Lott's lot

Well whaddaya know - Trent Lott is going to resign from Congress today, cheap wig and all -- or so the news is being told. Is it because, as he says, he wants to spend more time with the family or is he scurrying down the dock lines like a bilge rat before he's outed or indicted? Or is it just so that he can escape new and improved ethics laws that would require him to wait two years before getting on the Washington lobbyist gravy train? Maybe it's all of the above, but it's definitely good riddance.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I am not afraid

"There's no question in my mind that horror at militant Islam and fear of Muslim immigration lie behind at least some of the current vogue for atheism--you don't make the bestseller list by excoriating the evils of Lutheranism or Buddhism."
Well at least she qualified the statement to limit it to events in her mind. Katha Pollitt, writing An Atheists Dilemma in The Nation is indulging in a bit of solipsism and she needs it to limit the scope of her sweeping generalities, because in the world outside her mind, it makes no sense.

Atheism or something arbitrarily close to it, seems to be the norm in Western Europe and was so before 9/11 changed nothing. Europe has been wracked by centuries of bloody war over the evils of Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism and other systems of religious certainty. Although American religious apologists, even the moderate ones, seem to look upon Christianity through pastel lenses as something that only a person with a malignant and ulterior motive would criticize, Europeans have too much horrible history to be covered with syrupy faith a la mode Americain. Buddhism of course, isn't about gods although Buddhists and Hindus have been going at it in bloody fashion as well.
"Even if you are a ferocious Sam Harris-style atheist who thinks religion is completely stupid--the province of shysters and fools--you have to admit it would be quite astonishing if that view persuaded the devout anytime soon"
I would be astonished if the average IQ suddenly elevated itself by 50 points too, but it would be a hell of a good idea. But at any rate her assertion that fear of Islam is behind this hard to establish fad for Atheism is even harder to establish. I think there's enough information to show that religiosity declines with education and even more so with intelligence and while that sounds provocative and even smug, I can reply that your religion requires as much suspension (or lack) of cognitive function as any other - if not more.

I see no evil in Islam that I have not seen at one time or another in Christianity and God's Jewish warriors differ only by being a smaller group; and while we're on the subject of Brother Martin, he was a bloody handed son of a bitch and probably schizophrenic; a perfect argument for establishing that you don't have to go abroad to find the septic heart of all faiths and a good foundation for disbelief.

Of course the word "ferocious" wasn't chosen without some thought. It implies fanaticism of the religious sort and distracts from the validity of the distaste the non-believer, heretic or infidel has acquired from uncountable centuries of persecution. It's another version of the pathetic " you're wrong because you're angry" argument common to Bush supporters and other idiots.

If books such as Dawkins' The God Delusion or Hitchens' God is not Great make the top of the best seller list, it hardly indicates a mass exodus from America's fugue state. What it indicates is that amongst the minority of Americans that read, some are willing to part with $24.95 to hear someone brave enough to say what they wish they could say in the presence of mine enemies. It doesn't have a damned thing to do with Islam other than as another example of the madness of religion in general.

If you want to believe something, believe that admitting you don't share the visions or see the portents or believe the fiction is a ticket to ostracism. People won't let their children near you and your job performance rating will fail to glow the way it used to. If there is any dilemma this atheist sees, it isn't the one Pollitt has patched together. It's the same one my ancestors have had to face since Emperor Constantine. Lie and get by, tell the truth and die.

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Friday, November 23, 2007

Four Freedoms

Thanksgiving - another festival of myth and self-delusion; a day when we overeat and tell ourselves we're thankful to some supernatural entity who has favored us with liberty. I'm often less thankful for friends and family on such days than I otherwise would be and certainly on those times when I reflect on Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms rendered forever into kitsch by Norman Rockwell, I'm more fearful than thankful for how they are being taken away and given to the unaccountable and powerful.

Freedom of speech isn't something something I feel grateful for as much as something I demand and am guaranteed as my birthright. We still have it, but the ability of the ruling corporations to bury our words under an ocean of propaganda increases.

Freedom of every person to worship in his own way, has always been conditional although guaranteed and every person who adheres to an unpopular religion or no religion at all knows it. It isn't the government, even this government, leading the crusade for Christian supremacy, but the private agents of that government: corporate religion. Year after year, it seems that our ability to resist acknowledging a god we don't believe in declines and the fight to incorporate religious taboos into our laws continues.

Freedom from want isn't something guaranteed us, it's something we may or may not have and it's something our government has fought to excuse itself of providing for, whether it's want of food and shelter, medical care or enough income to support us if we're too old or sick to work.

Freedom from fear in a culture of fear is a personal thing. One can choose to ignore the panic pushers and fear mongers in the government. One can choose not to be afraid of the bottomless corruption, incompetence and dishonesty of our government; of the swashbuckling information gatherers who tap your phones, read your mail and track your movements and your finances and your purchases electronically almost at will. It gets harder every day. Many of us live in dread of injury or sickness, knowing they can't pay the increasingly huge costs of treatment and medicine; knowing that they may not even have the benefit of bankruptcy protection in a land where the laws are written by the credit card companies and the corporate hospitals and drug producers. Many of us fear that the wanton borrowing, reckless warfare and corporate welfare and shifting of the tax burden will erase any freedom from want our grandchildren might have.

We don't have the freedom of being able to elect a government that considers itself answerable or accountable, we don't have the freedom to be left alone in our homes or in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness in the expectation that we're not constant suspects for crimes yet to be committed. We have an increasingly disdainful government of which we are increasingly afraid.

We don't have the freedom of information we used to. We don't have a government that feels obligated to allow us to know their mistakes, failures or crimes. We have a government that will ignore us and the courts and refuse to tell us who is making policy. We have a growing possibility that the government can declare us outlaw without telling anyone why; to make us disappear without a trace, to be tortured and imprisoned indefinitely. We don't have the freedom from reckless and extravagant government expenditures or hand-overs of our property. We don't have the benefit of knowing that the people who are supposed to watch over us are accountable to us and our courts and not to private and perhaps secret organizations, whether those people be police, jailers, soldiers or intelligence agents. The more cynical of use have begun to doubt that we even have the freedom to elect people to at least pretend to be public employees and not representatives of vast corporate interests. The more paranoid fear that next November we will be told to be thankful that George will remain in office to protect us from fear and want and terrorists.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What happened

What a revelation! Scott McClellan, the guy who used to stand in front of reporters and the minority of Americans not watching Britney and Anna Nicole and "da game" and spout lies, has now revealed that he told us a lie - unwittingly, of course. It wasn't his fault that he failed to check the facts. He wasn't paid to question; he was paid to sneer dismissively at reporters who did.

Scott has a book coming out in April, titled What Happened.
"So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true. "
And guess what Scott, you didn't win the Kyrgyzstan Lottery either and the guy trying to get his millions out of Nigeria isn't any more honest than your ex-boss - and of course there's been a lot of blood under the bridge because of the crime family you covered up for. I don't mean to be cruel, but it's your turn to be sneered at. I really hope you don't make any more money from it than OJ did from If I Did It and I hope you soon get to hear the current mouthpiece defame you with the same sneer and condescension as you used from the same podium you told your lies from.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Abandon all hope

What's next for Rudy, a log cabin penthouse? The pursuit of the "regular guy" image by showing up at NASCAR events by this city boy who probably doesn't drive a car is every bit as irregular as some of the shady characters he calls friends and appoints to important offices and it's as unsettling as the image of him wearing a dress and makeup.

Pandering has become the essence of campaigning and while we all see it as phony, we seem to fall for it. It's not just pandering though, it's pandering to what the candidates believe is the essential American; the kind of person they've spent their lives avoiding and condescending to. Whether it's John Kerry the Hunter or Mitt Romney the Hunter, it's not convincing to working class, duck hunting, bass fishing, stock car racing fans - yet they continue support with the same mindless consistency as our Cuba policy.

None the less, it works. It gave us George W. Bush, son of a wealthy New England clan of old money patricians whom America wanted to have a beer with. Candidates like Ron Paul or even Dennis Kucinich might make me want to have a conversation at length and that's why they're second or third tier candidates, unlike the ones putting on their first pair of brand new Oshkosh overalls over the Dolce & Gabbana underwear so they can step out of the limo and talk about the price of sow bellies.

Yet that's who we traditionally vote for and that's the line we regularly fall for and that's why at this point I'm not wondering about Democrats and Republicans but only if Mitt or Rudy will be the next president.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

If you're black, go back

There's no bronze statue, no stainless steel arch; there's really nothing to show that the stretch of Florida's Atlantic coast from Jupiter up to the St. Lucie inlet is a gateway for the huddled masses arriving regularly from the Bahamas in small boats. Most have set out from Cuba or from Haiti, having paid smugglers to make the 60 mile run from Grand Bahama Island's West End. It's been a smuggler's route since the Civil war and many a case of rum entered Florida in mahogany speed boats during the prohibition era. Only the cargo has changed.

It's common for smugglers to avoid coming too close to the shore. The tricky sandbars and the surf make it dangerous and so they urge or push the illegal immigrants overboard. Some drown and are washed up on the beaches miles away, some make it ashore in places like Jupiter Island where they are rapidly picked up and there's where the strangeness of our immigration laws begins. Haitians are summarily deported and it's unusual for any of them to convince ICE that they fled Haiti in fear of their lives and qualify for asylum. Cubans get to call their Florida relatives to come and pick them up, while the men they paid to transport them will go to jail if caught. I can't think of any other circumstance under which paying someone to commit a crime is not a crime.

You don't hear much about this from Lou Dobbs and not only is there no discussion of building an Atlantic Wall, small craft come ashore by the thousands with very little oversight from the Coast Guard. No one has ever stopped my boat to see who might be lurking below in the cabin, but I've spent an hour waiting to drive into the US from Mexico, and they don't wave you through when coming from Canada any more.

All in all, the Cubans are more likely to take your job than Haitians or Mexicans or Guatemalans; just as likely to be unsavory characters and not much more likely to be fluent in English. Why the preferential treatment? Why will we fight to keep undocumented Cubans from returning but no one else? Why did we continue this practice while Castro cleared out his jails and sent them all north?

There are a variety of reasons for treating Cuban immigrants differently. None that I've heard have been good reasons, nor has this practice done anything to weaken Fidel Castro's regime or to dispel the perception of the US as a racist, hysterical, xenophobic country obsessed with Communism but completely unconcerned by decency or human values.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tom Swift and his amazing electric rifle

I was sick to my stomach after watching the man die screaming on the floor, a policeman's knee on his throat while another hit him with a Taser, again and again. Of course the immediate response was to lie and insist he had attacked the police, but the camera doesn't lie. His crime was being unable to speak English in an international airport too disorganized to have an interpreter on the staff.

I felt the same way when a handcuffed man died in a neighboring town after being hit one of these devices earlier this year and again today about the man described by BBC News who was comatose on the seat of a bus and yet was Tasered by zealous policemen when he couldn't answer their questions.

It's unlikely that any officer will be prosecuted for doing anything wrong by attacking or killing defenseless, unarmed people in this fashion even though all of them had other alternatives. The Taser, which derives it's name from the early 20th century boy's adventure books, is an acronym for Tomas A Swift Electric Rifle. Unfortunately, we're arming people with the emotional stability of a teenager with these things and convinced that it's non lethal, even though scores of people have died after being Tased, they will used them as a substitute for professional police work. Witness the Canadian police, whose first words were "Can we tase him?" and how they ignored the information that he simply needed an interpreter and tased him; tased him again when he was down on the floor screaming and then again until he died.

Taser International's assertion is that the Taser has never killed anyone although many people have died from related causes - like the cardiac arrest caused by being hit by a Taser. That's a bit like saying bullets don't kill people, it's the bleeding. Over 220 people have been killed by them in the US alone.

A quasi-lethal weapon like this is a dangerous thing. It allows or encourages inappropriate and sometimes reckless force without the appropriate restraint. It is being sadistically used against non-violent prisoners. It is being used as a first response on anyone suspicious looking, or anyone angry or shouting or stubborn.

It kills people at the worst, traumatizes and humiliates them at best and quite obviously is a joy to use for those authorities who enjoy traumatizing and humiliating people or are simply too cowardly to be policemen. It's time to ban the things.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

After Musharraf

The White House Chorus may have ended it's performance of What a Friend We Have in Musharraf and our own caped crusader may be scrambling to cover up the heckuva job the Pakistani dictator has been doing fighting "terror" back in the hills with all the money we've been sending him. There's serious worry that with the need to divert troops to maintaining the state of emergency there are even fewer left to keep Osama treed in Waziristan.

The Pakistani Army is demoralized, claims today's New York Times. They are taking casualties in the tribal areas, many have been captured, many have surrendered and the religious extremists (what a polite term for demented barbarians) have been conducting beheadings. The prospect of losing that Billion dollar subsidy from the US can't be helping their mood.

That Bush has outsourced the desultory hunt for Osama to Pakistan; that Osama is in Pakistan because Bush outsourced the attack on Tora Bora to Afghani warlords doesn't do much for my morale either, nor perhaps for the morale of Americans fighting in Iraq for no particular benefit to the US or detriment to the people who declared war on us 6 years ago.

I've been concerned for some time about what will happen in Pakistan and now, at last, some concern seems to have seeped into Bush's fortress of solitude although I expect nothing more than too little and too late.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Want some syrup for your savior?

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."

Of course that doesn't apply to God's own efforts to show his immanence through the medium of rust or mildew stains or burn marks on grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes. There's no prohibition against rendering unto eBay that which you'd like to make a buck on that I'm aware of either.

Current or recent eBay offerings include a wine-stain Jesus and something that purports to be Christ on a flapjack but looks more like an upside down cow's udder to me. Nearly anything parabola shaped seems to qualify for either Jesus or Mary.

Sometimes these things draw crowds of pilgrims the way phony relics used to in the time before the net. Sometimes, if they're small enough to put in a box, they draw bidders. But why people see Jesus in junk is a better question for Doctor Rorschach than for me; I'm more concerned that they vote.