Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New lamps for old

Remember the queasy feeling you used to get when you saw Lyndon Johnson's flabby face saying "mah felluh Amuricuns" knowing he was going to announce another escalation of the war in Viet Nam? For those as old as I am, the reports of 20,000 troops scheduled to be "rotated" into Iraq this December brought a flashback today. It's hard to avoid the feeling of history repeating itself, even if the details are different.

It's hard to avoid the creep of rising despair and disgust when reading about how more than half of Ohio's 2004 ballots have been destroyed in defiance of law. Future historians may see the Bush era as a sort of dark ages, with little in the way of records or documentation to tell them what happened. It's hard enough for us to tell what happened while the Administration refuses to release records or to testify. Even former officials like Don Rumsfeld seem to feel that they have a perpetual right to be exempt from inquiry. Rummy seems to simply have ignored the request to testify in the Pat Tillman inquiry and the White House won't respond to a request for information about the death and perhaps the murder of an American soldier who they used as a poster boy for the war. Will they remember to forget this episode when next they chastise us for demoralizing the troops who are going to spend yet another Christmas in Iraq wondering if anyone will ask questions or get answers if they get shot three times between the eyes because they saw something or had the wrong beliefs?

Will I live long enough to see another generation of disillusioned troops return from a military disaster to be neglected by the government and lied to about why their sacrifice came to nothing? Will my grandchildren witness the scraggly gray haired veterans of Bush's wars sleeping in vacant lots next to the VFW hall grumbling about how Michael Moore lost the war for them? That's one of the curses of growing old. You can't see the present as anything new.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Die Gedanken sind frei

There's an old German song I learned long ago in school. Written in the 16th century, it became popular again as the Nazis began to take over during the 1930's. It's called Die Gedanken sind frei: Thoughts are free. For most of history, one's inner thoughts were the only kind of freedom most people had.

Freedom of thought has always been a precious commodity and back when the United States meant something; back when people used to call it a free country, there weren't any government databases listing what each of us thought about politics and religion; about our sexual thoughts or about the things we have bought.

That was then. That was before the Commander Guy. Our department of Homeland Security is building a database of all airline passengers entering the United States whether they are American Citizens or not and it will include Race, Sexual orientation, political opinions, religious beliefs, credit card records and of course fingerprints.

"We're going to be able to connect the dots more quickly," says DHS's Russell Knocke adding that"it's a powerful tool that really can help to save lives." It can ruin them too. The information will be kept for 15 years although presumably if you fly within that time, it will be kept another 15.

Isn't it time we connected the dots? Bush is doing the same thing they did in Germany to terrify us into submission and to keep such good records that any enemies of the state can be identified and dealt with. Our stubborn belief that "we're the greatest country in the world" may be the deciding factor in our becoming another fascist police state with imperial ambitions and if we don't start looking at where the dotted line is pointing we surely will lose most of our freedom.

The Constitution - best if sold by Bush - no preservatives

I've had it with these people. I'm packing, I'm pissed and I'm going to pistol whip the next nattering nitwit who says "Liberal Media" within my range of hearing - and that's only if I'm in a good mood.

The Associate Press issued this gem yesterday, just in time to spoil my breakfast. Appearing in the "Notoriously Liberal" Palm Beach Post and many other print and broadcast media, the headline reads "Bush Pushes Bill to adapt Surveillance Law to Tech Age." Apparently "Tech Age" means an age without protection from being spied upon at the unfettered whim of the President.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which at present provides the legal basis for Bush's enormous wiretapping program, says the article ". . .allows information about terrorists' communications to be collected without violating civil liberties." "This law is badly out of date."

Democrats, says the AP in passing, want to insure that any changes do not give the executive branch unfettered surveillance powers. Democrats; they mention Democrats as though two thirds of the nation didn't think Bush was stomping all over law and order and liberty with those shiny new two thousand dollar Lucchesi boots. It takes a certain kind of arrogance to marginalize the majority, to pretend the rarely equaled public distaste for a president gone wild is some insignificant product of a fringe minority's bias. It takes a Republican dominated, war mongering, freedom hating press.

Larded with the administration's rationalizations about why Bush needs unrestricted and extra-constitutional powers, along with repeated digs at the Democrats for being behind this unpatriotic obfuscation, the article concludes with a quote from John Boehner saying
"Rather than learning the lessons of September 11 - that we need to break down the bureaucratic impediments to intelligence collection and analysis - Democrats have stonewalled Republican attempts to modernize FISA and close the terrorist loophole."
Apparently that loophole consists of the already slim protection you have against the random curiosity of the Government; against the abuse by a government who really has no reason to believe you're a "terrorist" but just wants to know and doesn't want to be bothered explaining to anyone as annoyingly unpatriotic as the courts why it's reading your e-mail.

Friday, July 27, 2007

An American soldier

It's difficult to write about the Tillman story. It's difficult even to think about it without conjuring images of some ancient Mayan priest parading around in the flayed skin of his sacrificial victim. To be sure, it's still murky enough that I'm not sure exactly what happened, but if what I suspect to be true proves to be true and if those responsible for his death are not tried for murder and perhaps treason, there is no longer any reason to have any respect for the United States of America or the filthy, despicable and patriotic brand of religious bigotry it espouses.

Had Tillman not been stuffed full of straw and used as a promotional hero for George Bush and George Bush's wars, it would be no more than another case of an officer fragged by his men, but that's not the case. He became the poster boy for the "they're fighting for our freedom" scam along with Jessica "I'm an American Soldier Too" Lynch. Although Lynch refused to corroborate the manufactured story about heroism and a heroic rescue, the government keeps flying that flag and the morons keep saluting it.

Pat Tillman however has lost his usefulness as a moron magnet as information comes out that not only was he openly opposed to the Iraq invasion and the President who ordered it; not only was he likely to return home and become an outspoken critic of the Holy Neocon Jihad but worst of all, he was not a member of the Standard Government Issue Religion. Atheists are the most feared and disliked group in America, although calling atheists a group is a misuse of language. Polls show that people will vote for a Jew, A Muslim or a Mormon long before they would support a non-believer. Atheists get killed for being atheists and support for Tillman instantly vanished along with the illusion of his religiosity. From hero and icon of military perfection to "He deserved what he got" was a very short trip. He's now being used in the usual illogical way to show just how unpatriotic "Liberals" are in their godless way.

Libby at The Impolitic made me aware of the latest information yesterday and I went looking. Josh Swiller at the Huffington Post considers the possibility that Tillman was not accidentally shot, having taken three hits to the forehead from close range, amongst other facts. Although I sincerely hope I am wrong, I cannot discount the possibility that Pat Tillman was another martyr of Christian supremacy.

Tell God to reserve some busses

Well at least they're honest. Kansas Senator Brownback's "prayer coordinator" Lonnie Berger is invoking the power of prayer to change the mind of the invisible creator of the universe so that "Christians" as he defines the term, will come out and vote on August 11th in the straw poll for Republican candidates. Apparently it's contemptible for Democratic politicians to adjust their opinions according to poll results, but it's OK for that wishy-washy Yahweh to consider what Lonnie and his Corn Fed Christians want done while making his inscrutable plans for our vast and unfathomable universe.

If God forgets, or if God doesn't hear from them, then the "Christians" may not get what they want, because he then won't have "supernaturally activated" them as Berger asks and "when Christians stay home, the enemy wins." I guess I'm the enemy. I feel so proud to be listed among the other enemies like Tom Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, Tom Paine and Ben Franklin. No wonder they wanted us to keep and bear arms.

Lonnie also wants Kansans to "Pray that God would use this poll to weed out those candidates that would push our country away from the Lord." I really don't know if God is enough of a flip flopper to respond to such demands or that he's uncertain enough to need political advice from a raving lunatic like Berger. I don't know if praying for the logistics needed to organize a fleet of buses for the pilgrimage to Ames will be as effective as dealing directly with the bus company, but it's all up to God and his willingness to treat demented morons as a superior breed. I suspect he won't and in fact I'm sure he never has and never will do that or anything else, but what do you expect from me - I'm the enemy.

Bits and pieces

The family that strafes together stays together? Seems odd, but then this is a story about Republicans. This August in Manchester, New Hampshire Republicans with 25 bucks to spend will get to bring the wife and kids to a family machine gun shoot. "It's a fun day. It's a family day," said the organizer, Jerry Thibodeau of the August 5 event. "It's quite exciting."

I'll bet it is. Politically I think it's sheer idiocy, but as a way of letting Republicans feel macho without sending others to kill and be killed, it's great. The Brady Bunch is making much of the "ease" of purchasing a handgun in New Hampshire, there being no requirement to register it with the police, but of course they don't ask whether one is safer in that rural state than in Brooklyn with its handgun ban.

They finally subpoenaed Michael Moore for filming in Cuba, although many of my European friends and relatives have taken vacations there. It feels good to live in a free country, doesn't it - where the White House plutocrats get free medical care and the New York Firemen Bush posed with get more smoke.

"Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow." Says the New York Times today, quoting Bush administration officials. Our Allies and Bush business partners seem to be supporting Sunni interests in opposition to our supposed puppet Maliki. A senior official declined to say whether that support was going to Sunni insurgents because, he said, “That would get into disagreements over who is an insurgent and who is not.” So when is an insurgent not an insurgent? Sounds like a job for the Decider, but I'll bet it has something to do with the Bush family business interests. Otherwise it would be hard to understand why we attacked Iraq to retaliate for an attack by Saudis and why we are itching to attack Iran for supporting insurgents without worrying about "disagreements."

Does anyone else think Sleazy Gonzales will soon be handed the medal of Freedom and shown the back door? ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale!

Blast off

The most important thing in rocket travel is the blast off. I always take a blast before I take off! Otherwise, I wouldn't go near that thing!

-Jose Jimenez

Old timers like me remember laughing at comedian Bill Dana's comic character Jose Jimenez' astronaut routine that was so popular during the 60's that even the Project Mercury astronauts, if the movie The Right Stuff is to be believed, adopted him as a mascot. Although the comic stereotype may seem a bit questionable to today's sensibilities, it's not hard to identify with the sentiment. Getting into a vintage vehicle with a few million miles on the odometer, built by the lowest bidder and filled with enough high explosives to light up the night sky 200 miles away is something that I couldn't do without a heavy slug of the right stuff either - better make it a triple.

It shouldn't be a surprise that some astronauts are alleged to have had similar feelings and according to Aviation Week & Space Technology's Web site, a special panel studying astronaut health found that on two occasions, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a safety risk.

There was a time when I viewed NASA as a wonderland; a golden gate leading to a brave new world, but that wonderland has become as shabby to look at as any Motel 6 in rural Alabama. One by one, all the reasons I once had to brag about the United States of America have been tarnished, debauched or sold down the river. This doesn't come lose to the embarrassment I feel at living in a country that has George W. Bush as a president, but it doesn't help.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bush secrets, Bush lies

Look at the long history of the Bush family and you see patterns. Disturbing and even horrifying patterns. It's no secret that the Bush family patriarch, Prescott Bush, was a Nazi sympathizer, involved in a New York bank that laundered money for Hitler. After a Herald Tribune story calling him "Hitler's Angel" exposed his bank as a de facto Nazi front organization, the Bush assets were seized under the Trading With The Enemy Act of 1941 . The media coverage was minimal and for over 60 years the story has been denied, but for anyone interested, the records are there and more are appearing.

The funds were returned after the war and Prescott went on to become a Senator from Connecticut using the laundered Nazi money. As Prescott's father Samuel Bush served during the First World War as a government official in charge of coordination and assistance to major weapons contractors, it's fair to say that the family tradition of profiting from war is at least of four generations standing.

Prescott Bush himself served in the military during the Great War and while he was in France, he wrote letters home bragging about his medals for bravery but had to retract the story when he was shown to be lying. He later claimed he had only been joking about his medals.

Prescott returned from the war and failed at several business ventures until his father in law got him a position as vice president of Harriman & Co which through a series of mergers became Brown Brothers Harriman & Co with Bush as a partner. This bank represented the interests of German companies including the interests of Fritz Thyssen, who had been an early financial backer of the Nazi party. Thyssen's deposits at the time were said to total aver 3 million - a very large sum at the time. Thyssen later authored the book I was Hitler's Banker.

But now for the really scary part. The BBC investigative program Document has revealed that during the Great Depression, Prescott Bush was involved in a plot which included prominent businessmen to overthrow the government of United States, replacing President Roosevelt with a fascist system like the ones they admired in Europe. He was also a supporter of Eugenics: the practice of sterilizing "inferior" people for the benefit of the "race."

I don't have to fill you in on the Bush family's continuing connection with the Military Industrial Complex, which includes Saudi arms companies and some shady deals, not to mention a very profitable war based on lies and forgeries, but you can see certain patterns in the Bush dynasty, including shady dealings with criminal governments, The use of dirty money to promote family enterprises, love of totalitarianism, lying, war profiteering and of course treason. No wonder the passion for secrecy runs so deep!

Think of impeachment not as ridding ourselves of a criminal administration, but as cutting off the head of a snake; a very big, long and dangerous snake.

This and that

"What you have right now is partisanship on Capitol Hill that quite often boils down to insults, insinuations, inquisitions and investigations," said Tony Snow and if he was aware of the irony, it wasn't visible. You see, America only despises George W. Bush and his administration of crooks and liars because they're "Liberals" and not because of anything he's done.

As I recall that was the last defense of Richard M. Nixon, the only other president to generate as much contempt through contemptible behavior as Bush. People still buy it, of course. Meanwhile the
insinuations, inquisitions and investigations that began as retaliation for forcing Nixon out of office have continued. Never mind the contempt of Congress Tony, your master has the contempt of the world.

I had a chuckle this morning reading one of my newly favorite blogs, Connecting.the Dots. The latest bizarre explanation for the claimed obesity epidemic is that knowing somebody who is fat will make you fat. That's a bit rich for my diet since for the last 25 years I've lived with someone who can eat anything and never exceed 100 pounds while I have to starve, but Robert Stein, the brilliant blogger and journalist, gives me just the advice I want to hear. Forget diets, just avoid Sumo wrestlers and hang around fashion models.

It may be titled the Accura Sports Car Challenge, but as usual, the first two GT-1 cars across the finish line were Corvettes. The 7th straight win this season and with a new track record. It was the 5th straight victory for the Corvette factory team at Mid Ohio. This leaves the American guys with 146 championship points versus 19 points for the second place Aston Martin team. It's on to Elkhart Lake on August 11th. I wonder how much American world domination it takes for looserhood to sink into the heads of the Europhiles? Perhaps Ann Coulter will vote Democratic before that happens.

God and Country

There's supposed to be a difference between them, but to the religiously demented, who will swoon over a rust stain on a wall or a piece of burnt toast, any image containing intersecting lines is proof not only of an omnipresent deity, but one who is his own father and born of a teenage mother through the agency of a bird.

Try this at home. Shine a bright light through a bedsheet and you'll see that because the sheet is made of millions of threads at right angles to each other, you will see the bright light as a cross. It's not magic. Photographers use a fine screen to make bright lights look like stars in night shots all the time. It doesn't mean that God is in the headlights or sitting on a lamp post and if you think it does, that means you've been made stupid by religion. I promise that you will see the same cross pattern in a French flag or a Pirate flag or a soiled sheet from the Mustang Ranch. It means that God is present to the same extent that a stalagmite in some cave represents the virility of Vishnu. What this piece of cloth does not mean and what the person who sent it to me does mean, is that the United States of America is intended to be a religious colony with laws derived from legend, which values its citizens by their degree of departure from reason and is ruled not by the citizens, but by the viceroys of a mythological triumvirate invented by 4th century Roman pagans.

So when I got this piece of religious drivel in my e-mail this morning, I elected to follow its advice to non-believers. "If you don't believe God is watching over us, then delete it." I did, but not before posting it here.

Sinclair Lewis, the Nobel prize winning author wrote: "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." It's arrived.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Can we talk?

Obama blew it. That headline and other rather overblown readings of Senator Obama's response that he would be ready to hold talks with the bad guys are everywhere today and sadly Senator Clinton's website seems to be one of those places.

"irresponsible and frankly naive" said Mrs. Clinton to an Iowa Newspaper today, adding that such a meeting should only be attempted after lower level diplomatic exchanges had been exhausted. Obama's response was to raise the question of her responsibility and naivete in voting for Bush's war along with pointing our her self serving interpretation of his answer.
"What she's somehow maintaining is my statement could be construed as not having asked what the meeting was about. I didn't say these guys were going to come over for a cup of coffee some afternoon,"
Sometimes I wonder if we're listening to adults here, but Obama was, in my opinion, right in calling this a manufactured controversy. There was nothing in his response that indicated he would try some reckless act nor am I sure the kind of diplomatic dance that she advocates would really be a reflection of her greater foreign policy know-how rather than just an opportunity to pose as a wise statesman. Obama never said he'd ignore diplomatic channels.

Is this attempt at differentiation another example of Freud's narcissism of small differences, or is it just childish political ritual of the type that has given us so much formally stupid discourse over the years?

Katrina Vanden Heuvel in her blog at The Nation, writes that
"In signaling that he was willing to meet with the leaders of these countries, Obama was signaling that the United States has the confidence in its values to meet with anyone. But he also signaled a certain humility that reflects the understanding that the next president must reach out to the rest of the world and not merely issue conditions from the White House and threaten military force if it does not get its way."

I agree and perhaps it would also be a signal that the traditional formality of ignoring everyone who disagrees with us, that has brought us this traditional hostility, can be set aside. The Viet Nam era policy of negotiating only from "strength" and never having a discussion without a predetermined outcome has proved to be a great system for eliminating constructive conversation as well as for losing conflicts.

I don't know if Hillary Clinton really represents the same old, same old, or whether she's doing what her same old strategists tell her, but if the country ever wanted a change in the way it's affairs are conducted more than it does now, I'm not aware of it. The idea of cutting through the BS, bluster and bravado and sitting down to talk may just be the kind of refreshment this weary electorate wants.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I am the law, and the law is secret.

I wrote the other day about Bush's directive giving himself nearly unlimited dictatorial powers following an "emergency" but now it seems that my horror was not at all excessive because there is a section of that directive the administration deems too secret for anyone to see: even if you are a US Congressman on the Homeland Security Committee with the power and duty to see it.
"Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right,'' said Congressman Peter DeFazio . D-Oregon after his request to examine the classified sections of the May 9th Presidential Directive.
Imagine a President writing law under an authority he grants himself. Imagine that the law gives him unlimited power when he decides and for as long as he decides and imagine that the lawmaking branch of government is forbidden to see it. No, don't imagine it, it's true.

Will these last two months be seen by future historians as the turning point; the cliff American Democracy fell over, the beginning of an American Dictatorship? Who can call this conjecture irresponsible in light of a President's declaration by fiat that he has the power to be an absolute ruler when he decides it's necessary, that he can destroy anyone who gets in the way and now that we can't even have an elected representative inspect the documents?

Now what is the difference between a president with unlimited power that may not be challenged and may not even be examined and a dictator?

Honey, I shrunk the dollar!

Early on, at the dawn of George Bush's struggle to become President, he made a point of sticking out his chin and insisting that he stood for a strong dollar. No doubt it was, like most of his statements, made because strong sounds good and dollar sounds American, but ever since, his administration has supported a weak dollar. In this one respect, they have had a measure of success. Every administration in at least the last 30 years has actively bought in the market to support our currency. Bush has not. The dollar continues to fall.

The US Dollar hit a new low against the Euro yesterday and it now takes more than two dollars to by a British pound. Weak sounds bad, of course and it's a word that Bush only likes to apply to his enemies, but the weak dollar may be behind whatever optimism prevails amongst the foreigners who own our debt and much of our assets. Bush cheerleaders persist in telling us that the economy is booming because the Dow keeps rising and it is booming because Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are getting tax cuts, but perhaps the only honestly healthy sign is that exports are up because American goods are now more competitive abroad. Americans still prefer anything foreign, but that's for reasons of snobbery and credulity. American Airplanes, tractors, soft drinks, weaponry and heavy equipment are selling much better than they did.

Foreigners are buying American securities too. Witness the record Dow Jones numbers last week. Some Americans will benefit, but since only about 3.8% of Americans have seen any real wage escalation, does this really make the DJIA an indicator of economic health? The homes that Americans have been borrowing against to finance an exuberant life style are now declining in value and are expected to continue in that direction, fuel costs are up and probably will continue to rise indefinitely and our growth rate is the lowest in five years. The promise that our military adventure in Iraq would generate a net profit, or at worst break even, is now believed only by those few in the White House bunker or perhaps in padded cells. The rest of us compare Iraq to a black hole. Yet "consumers" seem optimistic. Some still support Republican economic policy - in as much as one can be said to exist.

I'm not in the prophecy business and for no less of a reason that I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm still looking at all the corners we're promised we will soon be turning and I'm waiting for the Piper to be standing there, invoice in hand. I fear there will be a point at which the weak dollar will become too weak. Equities will be dumped, interest rates will climb, banks will foreclose, inflation will inflate.

Of course, and as usual, the very richest of the rich; the people for whom the game is rigged will benefit while the serfs will suffer. Perhaps it's only a question of when.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hail, hail Rock and Roll

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Imagine calling a town Hail Mary. If you can't that's all right, because there is a real one. The town of Hail Mary, Florida is now open for occupancy.

Florida is a state full of such things: trailer parks and campgrounds, Church retreats and theme parks with religious themes. "Jesus is lord at Sheffields" was declared on billboards in the days when I used to drive from Chicago to Florida. Perhaps he still is, although I never spoke to them about whether he was Lord elsewhere. It's a state full of cars and trucks festooned with religious slogans and quotes and even sales fliers I get in the mail tend to have bible quotes and that little fishy symbol on them.

Nobody ever seemed to mind that I've noticed, but when I read on the ABC News website about the completion of Pizza man Tom Monaghan's project intended "to help people get to heaven," as he says, I was struck by the defensive nature of the comments. A heavenly host of straw opponents was invoked to make it seem like the town and it's inhabitants were being persecuted and attacked (Just the way Christians all over the country are) by Liberals, non-Christians, the ACLU and other heretics who "attack Christian values." I'm not sure whether Protestants are included, but that's their fight, not mine.

Unless you consider freedom of religion to be a license to interfere with others' freedom, this is of course, nonsense or worse: an attempt to justify aggression by using a manufactured enemy.

I'm very much inclined toward a live and let live policy and whether you say Hail Mary or Hare Krishna; whether you say Allahhu Akhbar or like me, worship doughnuts at the snack bar, I really don't care as long as you leave me alone and don't make me pay for it. I think most Americans agree and our laws are based on such sentiments, but evidently that's not enough. They have to pose as victims, carry chips on their shoulders and vilify laws that are there to protect the freedom they enjoy.

I am not a believer. I am a Liberal. I belong to the ACLU. I don't care that Ave Maria exists or that people want to live there as long as they don't indulge in the religious persecution that so often abounds in sectarian enclaves. My only regret is that another piece of Florida's natural beauty has been paved over and that we have to put up with another batch of professional victims spoiling for a fight. Otherwise. . . .

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fairness is unfair

Marie Antoinette never really did say "Well let them eat cake" but Mark Fowler, former head of the FCC evoked the spirit of arrogant royalty when he said "Well, let them have unfettered access to information" in response to the attempt to re-instate the "fairness doctrine" that once required broadcasters to provide air time for rebuttals to editorial content.

The fairness doctrine was eliminated in 1987, under the wise leadership of another George Bush and the excuse was that anything designed to protect the people from distortions and propaganda espoused by the few people who own the media was unwonted interference with corporate free speech. 20 years later, we have even fewer people in control of what we hear and more of them are ultra conservative corporations with an ever deeper involvement in the editorial policies of media outlets.

To Fowler, "unfettered access to information" would suffer if the fairness doctrine were to return and people like Bill O'Reilly had to listen to their lies being analyzed by someone not hand picked by Rupert Murdoch.

An anti-Fairness doctrine bill introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota was beaten back by Senate Democrats this week despite arguments such as Coleman's assertion that "There is no limitation on the ability of anyone from any political persuasion to get their ideas set forth." Of course that sentiment ignores the 400 pound corporate gorilla that controls much of what people do hear and that is well insulated by its size, wealth and government support, from public accountability.

Of course the internet has done something to provide an alternative source of information, at least so far, as a free internet is an idea rapidly being undermined by telecommunications interests, but as it is now, several million blogs can hardly compete with the platform given to people like Limbaugh, or Coulter or Hannity or O'Reilly. It's not about freedom of speech, it's about freedom to profit from without responsibility to the country that provides that profit.

Is it 1984 yet?

The character of the man with the sandwich boards saying "the end is neigh" used to appear regularly in cartoons and sometimes on the streets of New York. I used to laugh along with most people and because the end has always proved to be a little further off than proposed, but also because the end always seems nigh. There is an end to everything, however and the end of Freedom in the United States seems visible to the point where I'm about to join the club. The End is Neigh.

This week, President George W. Bush signed another one of those amazing executive orders that in former years would have had Americans loading up their flintlocks, grabbing coonskin caps and taking to the hills. Bush now asserts his right to confiscate the property of anyone who interferes with his war. The definition of 'interfere' seems hazy enough to fit far too many circumstanc
es and of course the ultimate definition lies not with the courts or the Congress, but with George.

Of course, just in case Congress starts to act as though they had some of the powers they are assigned by the Constitution, George W. Bush is ready for them. The Washington Post tells us today that Bush's thugs now assert that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege. Along with his order of May 9th: the "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20," Bush has virtually unlimited emergency powers, immune to any powers of the legislative and judicial branches among which is the ability to define "emergency." How much longer will any of us be able to write critically of Bush, to read anything unauthorized? Is it 1984 yet?

Paul Craig Roberts is a conservative with credentials:
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He's calling for impeachment and impeachment now. Like me, he's concerned that the stage has been set for a staged attack or provocation that would allow a drastically escalated war and the invocation of emergency powers. It's hard for me to see why these outrageous executive orders, coupled with the relentless "chatter" about threats and gut feelings of threats aren't the top stories of the day and I fear that by the time they do hit the headlines, Bush's Thousand Year Reich will be in full swing.


I read at a New York Times blog that Defense Undersecretary Eric Edelman has written a letter to Senator Hillary Clinton asserting that: “Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,” Clinton, of course is a US Senator and asking the Defense Department to come up with a plan to withdraw troops wouldn't be seen by a sane administration as anything but a request for a plan and not aiding and abetting an "Enemy." But of course this is not. Of course the Defense Undersecretary is expressing an opinion, but as of this week, that opinion has teeth - big ones.

Impeachment now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What did you expect?

Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals

Judge John D. Bates helped Kenn Starr go after Bill Clinton. Judge John D. Bates allowed Dick Cheney to keep his secrets about the Energy Task Force and is now a close associate of Chief Justice Roberts. What did you expect?

Wasn't he just the man to dismiss Valerie Plame's suit against the White House gang over their use of executive powers in a private vendetta against her husband?

They keep it all hid. They have all the bases covered. Look out kid.

Groundhog day

To be fair, it hasn't been a full month since Douglas Lute was approved as "War Czar" but the nation seems to have forgotten him already. The Carpetbagger Report writes today that

About 200 lawmakers were invited to the Pentagon for a classified question-and-answer session on Thursday with [Ambassador Ryan] Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. The two men were to brief lawmakers via satellite from Baghdad.
Bush’s new war adviser, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, also was to be in the room. He wasn't. He didn't report on anything, give any analysis or projection or do anything one might consider Czarish, unless that includes relaxing in the Summer Palace somewhere.

It's almost as though Bush has had second thoughts and decided to let the matter drop, hoping we'd forget about it, or maybe Lute is being kept in the background in favor of General Petraeus, whom Bush likes to call "David." The Washington Post reported last Sunday that according to the President, "David" is his
"main man" -- a "smart, capable man who gives me his candid advice." And on Thursday, as the president sought to stave off a revolt among congressional Republicans, he said he wanted "to wait to see what David has to say. I trust David Petraeus, his judgment."
Bush, says The Post, has mentioned Petraeus at least 150 times this year in his speeches, interviews and news conferences, and there is speculation that he is being set up to be the fall guy in the Fall, when the Iraqi puppet government reconvenes and reality becomes harder to hide.

Meanwhile I'm having trouble finding anything about the Czar anywhere - anything at all. Could it be that he will re-emerge from his den as the shadow of Petraeus departs, to declare that there will be six more weeks of surge, or perhaps that Springtime for the president is just around the corner?

cross posted at The Reaction

Tale told by an idiot

The good thing about Republican leaders is that you don't have to smear them. The bad news is that the wonderful job they do of making themselves look like idiots doesn't seem to affect their standing as Republican leaders.

It takes a certain kind of brain to see a link between legal abortion and illegal immigration. That brain belongs to Tom Delay.
"If we had those 40 million children that were killed over the last 30 years, we wouldn't need the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today. Think about it."
said he to a college audience. To be sure, he's playing inventions on a theme by Zell Miller, who doesn't need me or anyone else to provide further evidence for a diagnosis of idiocy. His linking of the alleged ills of the Social Security system with Roe Vs. Wade provides everything you need.

Neither needs me to elaborate on the use of the term "Children" or the distorted linking of dubious claims into some crude simulacrum of a logical presentation and the last thing I would recommend is that anyone take Delay's advice to think about it. For one thing it leads straight to the Lebensborn breeding project to replace racial inferiors with Blond workers and provide cannon fodder for wars of aggression. It's a well worn path that leads steeply downhill.

The only real link between the straw men of immigration and abortion and Social Security is the Republican Party and its need to burn as many them as brightly as possible so as to hide the corruptions, perversions and high crimes of that party in the glare.

Max Blumenthal took video, now playing at the Huffington Post and apparently was escorted out of the building for his pains - too late of course. If there is any justification for a free internet, making it harder for them to tell different lies to different audiences is it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The joy of killing.

There nothing uglier than turning killing into a virtue. It degrades everything about our country and its legal system, and the strengthening and "streamlining" of the process after years of right wing bluster reveald the true basis of a practice that is based on little more than anger and blood lust. Justice delayed may be justice denied, but the risk of killing an innocent man outweighs the expense and lack of patience, or at least you'd think it would in a place like Georgia with all it's Christian family values pretensions.

Although Troy Davis now has a 90 day reprieve during which his attempt to have his conviction reexamined based on new testimony and recanted testimony, the rhetoric coming from prosecutors and family of the murder police officer does a great deal to lessen my sympathy for them. From what I read, it seems they simply want to kill someone as a way to ease their pain and they don't want to be bothered with details like the reasonable doubt that the right man will be anesthetized and suffocated.
"I believe they are setting a precedent for all criminals that it is perfectly fine to kill a cop and get away with it," said the wife of the slain Savannah police officer. "By making us wait, it's another sock in the stomach. It's tearing us up."
I'm sure she's torn up but I can't excuse her grossly illogical and grotesquely untrue statements because of a now 18 year old grief. I can't have any sympathy for disregarding a reasonable doubt because you think you'll feel better if someone dies. Anger is not the Basis of law and the relief of anger through violence is not justice otherwise the jungle would be a just and orderly place.

Testimony received in the hearing included the murdered man's son telling how it was to grow up without a father. Very sad, but that has nothing to do with the question of guilt or innocence. Does he really not care who dies as long as someone feels the needle and the sooner the better? Perhaps so and as I said, justice is not about how angry you are or how much you want someone to die. The urge to kill is no more noble in an offended party than in anyone else.

If you feel as I do, that participating in the death of an innocent man is murder, whether sanctefied by faith or law or anger or political expedience, then perhaps you will agree that the only way to avoid being a murderer by proxy is to halt executions entirely. I think it's simply idiotic to assert that somehow this would grant license to kill cops as it is to officially smile on the good feelings some aggrieved person might have in watching someone die. In fact saying it's legitimate for the state to kill someone out of anger, it weakens the concept that it's not legitimate for an individual to kill someone out of anger.

But that's just my opinion - you might be an idiot.

Sales figures

Is the Surge getting harder to sell? It's hard to gauge the feelings of the troops who aren't being polled and whose blogs are censored, but there are indications. IraqSlogger relates that plain spoken and plainly anti-War Republican candidate Ron Paul seems to be raking in donations from military personnel. 50% of all the donations by the military are winding up in Paul's camp.
"One might think such criticism of the war and the Commander-in-Chief's leadership would make Paul a pariah to the military community, however, the latest figures indicate the antiwar Republican is receiving more donations from employees of the US military than any other Republican candidate."
Perhaps the people on the scene have more trouble maintaining their faith in Bush and his military brilliance than those safely removed from the carnage.

Meanwhile, as The Reaction points out, General Peter Pace continues to sing the jingle and the lyrics now tell us that it's working so well we should have some more. Great idea, but I'm not buying.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday in America

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

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

If I thought the national urge to get George W. Bush and his politics out of the White House included a desire to put religion back in the homes and churches and take it out of government, I was probably wrong. A Time Magazine poll published along with the article How the Democrats Got Religion in the July 23rd edition shows that the majority of voters affirmed the statement:
"We are a religious nation and religious values should serve as a guide to what our political leaders do in office."
Interesting, but not enlightening, was the breakdown showing that 74% of Republicans agreed as opposed to 38% of Democrats. A minority of those making over $75,000 per year agreed but a majority of those making under $35,000 said yes. All in all, the more religious one is, and the less affluent, the more one wants leaders who believe in the values derived from mythos and priestly authority so resoundingly condemned by the creators of the United States government.

Although 98% claimed they had never voted against a candidate mainly because of his religion, having no religion was the one single biggest negative stimulus out of the religious categories and the only category of belief in which a majority of respondents would reject the candidate was atheist.

The poll of course was not able to address the question that has been surveyed elsewhere ; the question of how intelligence relates to religiosity. The answer to that question seems to be that amongst the very intelligent, belief in a personal God is very rare and that belief, to a strong degree is inversely proportional to IQ. I won't argue that point, but I will argue the fact that the men who founded our government were not at all religious or receptive to the idea of a personal God or the validity of the Bible or the people who make a living interpreting it.

Does this mean that America has lost faith with its foundations? Does this mean that America prefers the nebulous mandate of invisible forces to a government of and by the people? Do we see our national mission as submission?

I can't answer that, but I can point out an article in the same issue of Time asking Will Georgia kill an innocent man? I can point out that procedures championed by the godbother Newt Gingrich allows that religiously boisterous and former slave owning State of Georgia to kill a man without really being sure of his guilt. That killing him at all is supported by "religious values" is enough condemnation of such values and the ability of human beings to justify absolutely anything with them.

I can point out that it is long past time for us to stop sucking our thumbs and put away the teddy bear and stop inventing reasons to avoid responsibility for what we do. I can point out that the American Revolution was in itself a violation of Christian principles. I can point out that we can never be a free country unless we affirm our constitution's declaration of independence from religion, but no one would listen who didn't already agree.

Year without China

One of the least charming things about Americans is the dog-like way we respond to the signals of our trainers. A word or gesture or toot on the dog whistle and we go after the designated enemy with all the eager bravado our little brains are capable of. Of a sudden we have an urgent desire to fetch that stick or rip that throat and rarely stop to ask whose needs we are responding to.

Of a sudden we have cartoons everywhere portraying Chinese food as poison and Chinese goods as dangerous. Some street vendor out of millions of street vendors in a place we couldn't find on a map add chopped cardboard to his dumpling filling and we know and care about that while ignoring the diner in Arkansas that puts sawdust in the sausage. The FDA finds things in farmed fish that might, after many years of eating it, possibly be detrimental, but we're not sure and we panic more then we do when we read several times a year about millions of pounds of tainted hamburger. Some toys are found that have some unspecified amount of lead in the paint and no incidents of harm and we panic. Some crook in china looked the other way when someone sold anti-freeze as glycerin and let melamine into some dog food. He was shot for it the other day, but China is now an enemy - the enemy of our economy and out health - although it accounts for about 15% of our imports.

Somehow when hundreds die from bad hamburger or spinach or peanut butter, when a restaurant chain sells a burger that's nearly 100% filler, when hundreds of thousands of cars and tires are recalled for safety concerns, when thousands of toys are pulled off the market because some kid could stick it in his ear we don't think about war with Germany or Japan or Korea whence we import huge amounts of stuff or with California or Kansas. Domestic fish, farmed and wild, contain industrial pollutants. Tap water in some places is unsafe. Domestic Chicken, beef and milk contain residues from hormones and pesticides and perhaps antibiotics. As a nation we don't care that much or feel terribly unsafe, even though people die from domestic products.

many people have died from defective Fords - we don't boycott Michigan products. Firestone built a tire that failed too often when abused - we didn't declare war on them or on Japan nor did we write books about a year without "made in Japan" much less any of the other countries we import food and manufactured goods from.

In fact we prefer imported good and we have for a long time. Whether it's California wine or Detroit automobiles, we will spend more for the imports even when they are demonstrably inferior or more dangerous. In my local grocery store, Mediterranean sea salt sells for more than Caribbean sea salt, even though the salt is identical. We will pay more for coffee with some fake foreign sounding name and a paninni is much more desirable than a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Nearly all our decisions and most that we defend the most strenuously are based on pure prejudice and our prejudices often are plug and play items furnished us by others for their gain.

If someone now wants us to be really upset with China, but not upset with the countries we import more from, shouldn't someone ask why? Isn't it time we asked some questions of ourselves when we hear the dog whistle blow?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Barbie's Ban

There was a time when legal terminology was larded with Latin, but of late we have laws enacted as a response to a personal grievance with names like Megan's Law, named after someone's murdered child and the result of one man's efforts and one man's grief. The desire for justice, tolerance and a harmonious society, although it takes both authoritarian and libertarian forms, often seems more of an institution than a popular or private movement; an institution that has produced some odd and occasionally disturbing children of it's own.

Mark Twain wrote many of his books in the dialect of the time, which includes the now infamous but then universal "N" word and so many schools refuse to allow the books of one who dedicated his life and risked his livelihood championing minority rights. Of course our literature is full to the gunwales with books of more or less malicious depictions of racial and ethnic groups like Sax Rohmer's once popular Doctor Fu Manchu series and Joel Chandler's Uncle Remus tales. In the last few days there has been an ad hoc ruling by the nameless institution that rules on these things, and booksellers like Border's are taking a comic book style publication in the popular European series Tintin out of the children's section because depictions of Africans therein seemed undignified to an irate customer. The book was first published in 1931. All these things are in a sense relics. The message has got through to most people that our smug Eurocentric attitudes are something worth leaving in the past, but is it going too far to insist that we redact the literature and the culture that produced it so that historical attitudes are no longer visible? It is, in my opinion. Having read all these things as a child doesn't lessen my loathing for racism any more than having read the Bible has interfered with my contempt for the ethnic, racial, class and religious bigotry enshrined therein.

I think there's a danger both in the "ban it" reflex and the tendency of one perceived grievance to set it off. We are far too ready to ascribe the opinion of one man to the kind of "communities" we invent so that we don't sound racist by talking about "the Jews," "the Chinese," etc. Sometimes it's not a community, it's a professor, it's just teacher or some irritable guy with a grudge who can wield unchallengeable power. Perhaps if we began to adopt the current legal fashion and called it, for instance, Mrs. Appleby's Ban or Reverend Plushbottom's Censorship, some perspective might be restored.

A society that buries its history creates dangers for itself which include repeating that history as well as acquiring the ability to bury any part of history, such as the secular origins of the USA and gains the ability to create a fictitious history as is being demonstrated today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I am not Ron Paul

I promise I'm not. I know I've been saying the same things and you have read some of it here first, but I'm not Paul at all.

Paul Watson at Prison Planet quotes the Republican candidate as warning us against a staged, Gulf of Tonkin style attack and the subsequent invocation of martial law under Bush's Executive Order of May 9th, 2007 making him a dictator if he so chooses. No, I don't wear a beanie with a propeller on it and neither does he; we just read the news and contemplate historical precedent.

Paul also worries about severe economic consequences to any expanded military endeavors, as do I. A sense of confidence based on little but a rising Dow Industrial Average may prove very transitory if Bush's dependence on prolonging and extending war to support the economy as well as to support his sense of entitlement to ever increasing power.

As different a person from Mr. Paul as Barbara Boxer is talking impeachment - and I promise I'm not her either, nor am I Dennis Kucinich. What we all are, is a part of one of the greatest areas of unanimity ever seen in the US; the vast majority who see Bush as a loose cannon. I'd like to think that Robert Wuhl's assertion on his HBO special that incompetence is a time honored American institution and we will get through it as we did with Franklin Pierce, but I cannot. We live in a nuclear age and on a very much smaller planet. There has never been a time when a bad president; a mad president could do as much harm to everything as is the present.

There has been a lot of argument about whether Bush/Cheney has done anything that really warrants impeachment, but if you see us on the road to world war, as losing our economic leadership, moral leadership and most importantly: losing not only our civil rights but our democracy, what else can we hope for but Impeachment?

Innocence is no excuse.

Never confuse justice with the law. Since most of the gross injustice resulting from the enforcement of the law happens to people we don't identify with, we don't give a damn as a nation. Our real concern seems to be making sure that we punish as many people as we can as severely as we can, so that if we're a citizen, we can deal with our irrational fear and if we're a politician we can seem "tough on crime."

There's blood on our hands, since we don't do anything about it in so many cases and too often, we not only don't care, we help the situation along. We succumb to emotionalism in writing sentencing guidelines and in our fear of anyone guilty of anything escaping, we're not scrupulous about justice.

Take the infamous case Herrera Vs. Collins. Our allegedly "Activist" courts ruled that as long as an innocent man's sentence of death met legal requirements, it didn't matter if he was innocent. People get 55 years for selling weed, a teenager can get ten years because another teen had consensual oral sex with him, people too mentally defective to know what death means are killed by the State . It's all about the system, about the rules and procedures; all the things that are more important than justice.

So the law here in Florida can demand child support of a man who didn't father the child and can throw him in jail for it even though he can prove it wasn't his and the child's mother says it wasn't his. Florida wants him to pay and pay and pay and Florida is alone in that demand and why? Because some filing deadline was missed and missed because the kid was 11 years old before Francisco Rodriguez ever heard of her.

We're tough on crime here in Florida - yes sir. We're so tough we don't care whether there is a crime or if you're guilty of it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is there anything left worth saving?

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

I got a call from young mister Crankyboy today. I guess he thinks if I have a stroke he can have my yacht. Not just yet, but thanks for the story.

People like Reverend Flip Benham constantly prove that there is no deity that gets involved in human affairs, else he'd have been reduced to a glowing ball of his constituent elements when he attempted to raise holy hell in the Senate. If you go to his website, you'll read how

"Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers."

I don't know who should be the most offended, the founding fathers who despised organized religion and Flips kind in particular -- or Yahweh who has somehow been forgotten by the Flipster with his sons and mothers and holy birds. If he has a personal relationship with Jesus it couldn't be more than the kind of personal relationship lice have with their hosts.

Flip and his accomplices shouted "Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," and "This is an abomination,We shall have no other gods before You." Raw Story has the video.

If anyone needed more evidence of how religion spoils everything, here it is. If anyone wants to e-mail Flip with - oh perhaps 500 pages of anti-religious tirades by our Founding Fathers, his address is osa@operationsaveamerica.org

Or you can call him at
Phone: 704-933-3414 and play him your Hare Krishna tapes, or Fax a picture of your finger to 704-932-3361 or mail a nice ripe box of shit to

Operation Save America
P.O. Box 740066
Dallas, TX 75374

Be sure to tell him Fogg sent you. America is worth saving.

Must be the heat

Well this proves it. George W. Bush is totally insane. If he were just a garden variety liar he would make up better stories than what he spewed at today's press conference.

The people planting roadside bombs in Iraq "are the same ones who attacked us on Sept. 11." says Commander Guy. "The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq are the ones who attacked us on Sept. 11." Of course they're not really the same; those guys are probably still dead. We of course bomb innocent people constantly, but that's collateral damage and that's different. Dead Iraqis are automatically al Qaeda.

"Al Qaeda in Iraq has pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden," Bush said. "We need to take al Qaeda in Iraq seriously just like we need to take al Qaeda anywhere in the world seriously."

Good, it's about time you did. You've been telling us Osama doesn't matter and it was all about regime change. He's not In Iraq, by the way, nor in the US, but the Bush plan to get him still requires that he read your e-mail and listen to your phone calls.

"No question al Qaeda is dangerous ... that's why we need terrorist surveillance programs,"

No question it's a good plan though, after all 6 years of it have produce no results and that makes it a winner since as long as Osama exists; as long as any two bit religious loony with a book of matches "pledges allegiance" to him, we can keep telling you they're everywhere. and if they're everywhere, we can keep standing in the middle of some Baghdad street waiting to get blown to hell while insisting that it's getting better all the time. See? We needed to destroy that country and open its borders to Jihadists because al Qaeda is there. Makes sense.

Impeach the bastard.

Support the troops

The "support the Troops" stickers on cars and trucks are now so faded by the Florida sun that most are no longer legible. I don't see many new ones and I don't think that Taiwan has any difficulty keeping up with the demand. I still see Bush/Cheney '04 bumper stickers, but the "Is it 2008 yet?" tags are newer and fresher looking.

Supporting the Troops may still be used as a way to stifle dissent and thwart any attempt to end the occupation of Iraq, but it's become apparent that any physical or moral support they're getting comes from kind old ladies that send packages and letters to men and women who have been separated from their families and in harm's way for years now as the hope of coming home is dangled before them like a carrot on a stick. Of course Senate Democrats are trying to get them some time off from the meat grinder, but as usual Republicans are treating it like treason or worse, an increase in the Minimum Wage.

I'm getting tired of referring to Orwellian Doublethink, but since since an obvious morale booster can be objected to in the name of keeping up morale, I have only to conclude that the morale being protected is that of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, see the Senate proposal to give troops some more time at home as a "backdoor way to hamstring" deployments. So I'm back to Orwell - support the troops means screw the troops.

The image of Richard M. Nixon telling us he wasn't a crook; that he had earned everything he got, is seared into my memory after three decades. I'm not likely to be here three decades from now, but perhaps some Fogg of the Future will still be thinking of Richard B. Cheney saying "go fuck yourself" or George W. Bush in front of his Mission Accomplished sign. I hope not, I dream that what remains in the mind and appears in the history books is the image of both of them in orange jump suits and handcuffs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Go to your room George

You're probably not old enough to remember the Checkers speech, or the "you won't have Nixon to kick around any more" outburst, but there's something vaguely Nixonian about Bush's rejoinder to Press Corps questioning today while he was cutting a ribbon to officially open the newly renovated briefing room. The condescending implication that the press are just rabble, asking questions just to be annoying and acting like a patient but very sarcastic martyr, had tricky Dick written all over it. I may be imagining it, but I sense that he senses his inevitable helplessness.

"Let's do this. Let me cut the ribbon ... and then why don't you all yell simultaneously. Like, really loudly. And that way, you might get noticed. I'll, like, listen, internalize, play like I'm gonna answer the question, and then smile at you and just say 'got it. Thanks. Thanks for such a solid, sound question."
That's vintage Nixonian martyrdom mixed in with the snottiness and sarcasm of a born loser who knows he's losing again and knows that we know it. There's something in it of Ratso Rizzo banging on the car hood and shouting "I'm walking here."

We're not to the tearful resignation stage yet, and I don't think Boss Cheney will let him declare he's not a crook, but the martyr complex is showing. It showed in Ohio when another caustic reply to a 13 year old girl's simple question about immigration made her break into tears - upstaging his spoiled child act.

Of course it's an act that comes from his nature; he is a spoiled brat with an arrogance that comes from long experience with self contempt over mediocre achievement, multiple business failures, weaseling out of military service and now a Crusade turned to ashes. He's been surrounded with sycophants since daddy became an important public figure and he's employed an army of world renowned yes men to prop up his rickety ego, but it's falling apart. People are leaving. People are standing up to him and so he barks at a little girl.

But he's a spoiled brat with an army and a navy and nuclear weapons and sometimes when you send a naughty kid to his room, he burns the house down.

Cross posted at The Reaction

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Preaching and practicing

My first reaction to the story about Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter was "who cares?" If he patronized Pamela Martin & Associates' escort service along with other sorry senators, sad sack military men and assorted other public figures on the public payroll, that's his business and his wife's business, not mine. He claims to have confessed a "serious sin" to his wife and applied for forgiveness with the god of his tribe, but neither are making statements. I don't think "sin" is the business of the government but I have to admit taking pleasure in the irony of yet another "Sanctity of Marriage" hypocrite being exposed as no more than a meddler and opportunist.

The sanctity of marriage and indeed the sanctity of anything isn't the government's business, as our Constitution aims to insure, but Vitter is the co-author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, that attempted to impose religious criteria on a civil institution and although he may invent gods to forgive him, he won't get it from me.

"We need a U.S. senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts values." said he in his campaign, somehow ignoring that he's trying to force his religious values on a nation. "This [ gay marriage] is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. senators won't do anything about it,"

Of course the "Hollywood left" has nothing to do with a social change that has affected such diverse places as Mexico and Canada and Europe and I suspect there are older institutions in human history, but down in the Bayou, where men are men even if they can't read too well, it's just another tail they pin on the donkey. It's the culture that is redefining marriage and it's the culture and the people who should. God is not a US citizen, does not pay taxes and doesn't get to vote. People do and they get to vote against the involvement of religion and its bigotry. If Vitter is bitter about secular democracy and would prefer the rule of godly authorities, he doesn't belong in public office and I do hope he's swept out in '08 along with the rest of the trash.

I don't know or really care about Vitter's marriage, but it seems that it's suffered more from the tail that Dave got than the one he's trying to pin on "liberals."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Would Jesus wear Gucci?

Mary Zeiss Stange asks "What would Luther do?" in her USA Today editorial. What an odd question to ask in the 21st century! The conjecture concerns acceptance of gay relationships by Protestant churches. While acknowledging Martin Luther's condemnation of "sodomites" she asks "
But would the man whose break from Roman Catholicism involved a revolutionary rethinking of the role of sexuality in human relationships take such a negative view of homosexuality today?" and answers "Most probably, given the way his theological mind worked, he would not."
Of course that's precisely to say that he would no longer be the Luther who wrote On the Jews and their Lies and who had a real appreciation for the light they cast when burned alive. That would not be the Luther who told us that the Devil was the God of the world or who ran about his bedroom in a frenzy; flinging his own feces at Satan. It wouldn't be Luther at all, in fact; it would be a ventriloquist's dummy mouthing modern sentiments to soothe the modern conscience.

Of course she's only following in the ancient tradition of sculpting a God who tells us what we want to hear and justifies our prejudices, actions and inactions. When Paul of Tarsus says "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female," would he today add "gay or straight" she asks? I'm almost as concerned to know what Jesus would do for lunch if he were a Pakistani convenience store owner in Festus, Missouri.

Is there any more bone-headed tendency of the human ape than to ask questions of long dead people who couldn't survive in our world about what they would do if they weren't themselves? Asking a bigoted, unwashed, superstitious religious zealot from the 16th century if he would retain his prejudices today is as absurd as it is unproductive. The question we need to ask of ourselves is why do we retain his prejudices?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Some of the people all of the time

Somewhere in the heaps and piles and boxes of things I should have tossed out years ago is a reel of 1/4 inch recording tape with an actor reading from a transcription of Richard Nixon's infamous tapes. It's read by an actor because of the outrage from the Nixon loving Republicans, many of whom are very much with us today. They were able to tell us and convince the media that any direct exposure to the tapes would be misleading and that they had to be read by someone else in a lugubrious robot voice to avoid any "bias" creeping into it. Presumably they also had straight faces when they made this argument. Despite 37 years of ever increasing documentation proving that Nixon was not only a crook, but a bigot, liar, scofflaw and quasi-paranoid binge drinker with a staff of people willing to kill to keep him in office, the hard core still cling to the fiction.

The "don't believe what you see or hear" lobby is still here telling us that nothing is true and nothing can be trusted unless you hear it from them, but at long last the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Museum in Yorba Linda California is demolishing the Watergate exhibit, not because the public has lost interest but because it's even more of an embarrassing monument to mendacity than the Creation Museum. People who are still convinced that Nixon was the innocent victim of Liberals and the Liberal Jew-Controlled media Tricky Dick liked to speak of with his equally tricky friend Billy Graham, will now have to travel elsewhere to enjoy the rank lies and deceptions they are addicted to.

I read in Connecting.the.Dots ( a site I enthusiastically recommend,) that the fake exhibits with all proof of Nixon's perfidy removed are themselves being removed and that the renovated museum will now offer real transcripts and some 78,000 pages of previously hidden papers.

It's taken some 17 years to replace the Nixon Fiction with something resembling the truth. I wonder how long it will be before the sealed documents of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush will see the light of day. I suspect I won't live to see that happen and that my children and their children may never see the incriminating papers of the Cheney-Bush administration displayed in the shrines that will be built to these men. I hope the United States of America itself lives to see that day and more importantly will learn from it.

Just can't stop winning.

Lime Rock is a difficult course; narrow, bumpy, twisty and often compared to a roller coaster. It's not for the warmed over "race car inspired" vehicles using obsolete technology we are relentlessly told are the only true sports cars because they go stop and turn less well but are not American. It's easier and more profitable, of course, to make slick claims about performance than to build something that wins all the races and America is better at convincing people we're winning some war that isn't a war than at convincing people we make the best sports cars by actually winning sports car races again and again and again.

The Corvette team placed first and second again yesterday at Lime Rock, just as they almost always do in the GT-1 class, the category for the fastest production based sports cars. Somehow for me, that seems more appealing than "attitude" and "edge" and all the other nebulous and empty measures touted by advertisers, but what do I know? After all I'm one of those out of touch sorts who thinks the Dodgers aren't in Brooklyn any more and insists the 1972 Oldsmobile hasn't been made for 35 years -- and apparently I'm absolutely clueless with regard to urban semiotics.

So it's on to Mid-Ohio on July 21st and probably on to yet another season's championship for the American guys that will go entirely unnoticed by American guys.

Don't get me wrong, Companies like Audi make terrific "prototypes:" purpose built, off road only race cars that are great feats of engineering, but they cost millions and you probably can't buy one or drive it home much less find parts or service anywhere any more than you could for an Indy car or Formula 1. Unattainability is a strong attractant for some, but daydreaming about owning an R10 is just less satisfying than owning a thoroughbred you can still make the trip to Grandma's house in. That's just me though, you may prefer to spend two or three times as much for a loser. It's a free country.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mr. Murdoch's neighborhood

You'd think Fox News with all its sanctimonious high sentence and pious pretensions would like the late Fred Rogers; he was an ordained minister after all and he tried to tell kids to be nice and friendly and gentle and not to hate anyone including yourself. But Rogers of course was a Presbyterian and not the snarling kind of Talibanic terrorist for whom anything not related to blood, sweat and endless toil endured to expiate inescapable guilt, shame and self loathing is neither Christian nor worthy of a Christian.

Don Chance, Professor of Finance at Louisiana State University started this Fox feeding frenzy by making some references to his anecdotal evidence that students are now "narcissistic" because Fred Rogers' attempt to make kids feel good about themselves didn't include Neo-Calvinist lectures about work - and more work. Normally this wouldn't be news, but by normally I mean in a world without Fox News and its crusade for an every man for himself, law of the claw, dog eat dog, ant hill Utopia.

If Americans are in fact work obsessed, as indicated by the abnormally long hours we work and abnormally short vacations we take, it's because of our Calvanist heritage with its confusion about whether we work to live or live to convince God not to damn us when we die. We even speak of work in ethical terms. It's called an ethic of course because it benefits employers, on earth and in heaven and our being gleefully exploitable benefits those who teach us about ethics and exploit us. Perhaps it's natural that a professor of Finance would see life and ethics and perhaps all other things in terms of a balance sheet. Perhaps he's more likely than others to reward hours punched on the time clock than actual mastery of the subject he's there to teach, but Fox, the voice of the Employer, is certainly likely to pounce on any anecdote no matter how much they have to stretch it, that allows them to promote, in the name of free enterprise, a meaner, more work oriented society of a kind dear to the heart of Stalin.

It's easier to pick on poor dead Fred, who made kids feel welcome and safe and protected and never once mentioned hell, sin, damnation and endless toil, than to blame a trillion dollar industry that broadcasts self contempt and dissatisfaction in order to sell diet food, exercise machines, makeup, plastic surgery, snake oil and acne cream by teaching you to hate everything about yourself, your house, your car and your freedom. It's not so easy to show that some guy from Louisiana who somehow prefers to be a professor of finance rather than a financier and has no background in the social sciences, knows that his students have a sense of entitlement that grew up in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, but that doesn't matter to Fox. It's even harder to expand that to "case closed" status as concerns an entire continent and its culture, but that doesn't matter to Fox either. They feel entitled to promote the interests of the entitled and that entitles them to denounce your entitlement to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's what they get paid the big bucks for, after all.

Of course We went through this same transcendental idiocy with Doctor Spock who, to a previous generation of crypto-Calvinist Conservatives, single handedly engendered the social and civil rights revolution of the 1960's because not only did he suggest that it was a good thing to express affection for your children rather than to let them feel fear and rejection just for the economic efficiency of it, he didn't implore parents to teach their children self-loathing - the kind that leads to "discipline" which means work. That these were people who were able to dismiss the struggle against institutionalized injustice by telling those involved in it to get a job, is telling.

The Great Depression was depicted by the same "work ethic" peddlers as the result of the laziness of the American worker and the narcissistic self indulgence of those who spend rather than save. You have to admire them for being able to segue into promoting spending and borrowing, yet still blaming the younger generation for being lazy, undisciplined and too concerned with subversive Liberal nonsense like social justice, equal protection under the law and democracy, or sometimes in Louisiana, expecting teachers to be teachers rather than accountants and gatekeepers and makers of lists.

I don't know much about the scapegoats of 19th century America, but children's books were more often than not all about grasshoppers and ants by way of saying work, work, work, you lazy, good for nothing dreamers, lest ye feel the cruel lash of the Lord. The first half of that century produced arguments for slavery based on the native laziness of the enslaved race as compared with the julep sipping slave owners. The same old lies and only the liars are new.

In the grand opera of America, Fox News is only the latest fat man on stage, singing the same leitmotif in the same booming baritone we've been listening to all along. All that is new is that this one has a microphone.