Friday, August 31, 2007

The worst toilet in Minneapolis

Frankly I had forgotten about Barney Frank, the Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, until the few remaining Republican apologists willing to attempt the usual accusatory remission of the sins of their fellows, resurrected a twenty year old story about a gay friend of Frank who was found to be running an escort service out of Franks' apartment when he was not home. Upon investigation, the House Ethics Committee found no evidence that Frank had known of or been involved in this activity but he was censured in Congress for having associated with a male prostitute.

Frank is openly gay and usually wins re-election in Massachusetts's fourth congressional district by landslides of various magnitudes, but the comparison with Larry Craig, the man who made a career out of preaching family values, opposing civil rights for gay people and making remarks about "dirty, nasty" Bill Clinton; the man who was caught soliciting gay sex in a men's toilet, just smells worse than any public toilet in any third world country I've ever been in.

It's true that Republicans are tripping over their own wingtips while fleeing Craig's vicinity, but there are holdouts. Glenn McCoy, the political cartoonist whose scurrilous scribblings regularly appear in the New York Times, was quick to reply to the scandal by showing two donkeys, one telling the other, in response to the scandal to "make sure Barney Frank wasn't in the next stall."

Real humor always contains a nucleus of truth, otherwise it's just a smiling villain, ugliness with a foul grin. That's the kind of humor McCoy specializes in; the grotesque, perverted and dishonest humor designed for sewer dwelling troglodytes who would rather dredge something out of a cesspool and smear it on an undeserving victim rather than admit to any failing, any fault, any guilt, any shame or any hypocrisy.

No spring chicken

I've commented elsewhere about the tendency of local restaurants serving Coryphaenidae hippurus or Dolphin, a favorite locally caught Atlantic fish, to use the amusingly inappropriate Hawaiian name of Mahi-Mahi so that the timid tourists from New Jersey won't think they're being served one of those cute mammals.

China, which already has a partially deserved reputation for restaurant menus suggestive of the local zoo's inventory list, is afraid of a bigger problem emerging during the 2008 Olympic games; a much bigger problem than the US has with Chinese tourists suspecting canine origins of the hot dogs they see everywhere. Xinhua, the State News agency of China says that the "confusing, even ridiculous translations" found on menus are on the way out and that The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list of 2,753 dishes and drinks that are to be revised. No more items that "either scare or embarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding of China's diet habits" please.

Don't tell the foreigners their chicken was a virgin or that the meatball wrapped in cabbage leaves is a lion's head. That sweet pudding-like dòufǔ naǒ I enjoy for breakfast? For heaven's sake, don't call it bean curd brains; they tend to believe anything, you know.


I guess that opposition to government interference in the free market was one more item in that vast reservoir of "everything" that was changed when those Saudi militants finally brought down the World Trade Center. Bush is expected to announce today that the FHA will be allowed to guarantee mortgage loans for borrowers who are delinquent and that he will back tax relief for borrowers who refinance. It shouldn't be hard for Bush, even without Karl Rove, to show how 9/11 made it necessary to expand Government exponentially in the interest of smaller government, not to speak of the interests of the mortgage lenders and the interests of an economy dependent upon people borrowing their way into an unsustainable level of consumption.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poison food from. . .

Am I beating this story to death? Yes, I am because it deserves to die. Metz Fresh LLC of King City, California has recalled over 8000 cases of bagged fresh spinach after Salmonella contamination was discovered. This comes about a year after a similar case involving bagged spinach from California and in spite of allegedly improved precautions.

About 40,000 people get sick from this bacteria commonly found in American produced chicken and eggs and vegetables. That's about 40,000 more than have been made sick by Chinese fish or Mattel toys with faint traces of lead in the paint.

Obviously we should boycott everything coming from California.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A year without America

Looks like you can't trust the Americans or their cheap products. A defect in a China Airlines Boeing 737 caused the massive fire that narrowly missed killing hundreds of people who were saved only because of the quick action of the well trained Chinese air crew. Although I 'm sure the responsible CEO will be taken out and shot immediately, the way they do in China, it's not enough. America as a whole should be punished. An embargo against all American products should be put in place until everyone can be sure that Greedy Americans have stopped putting profit ahead of safety.

Don't go in the men's room

You're all too likely to find a gay bashing, family values protecting, Mitt Romney supporting Republican politician looking for fun. It's not surprising that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) who had been so very insulted at the obviously politically motivated accusations of being gay last year, was arrested for soliciting an undercover cop for sex at the Minneapolis airport in June, nor is is surprising that he tried to weasel out of the arrest by telling the cop he was a Senator. What amazes me is that he plead guilty and yet his office now says it was all a misunderstanding.

In a way it was, Craig didn't understand that it was a cop he was soliciting and the people of Idaho didn't understand what the Republicans are all about when they elected him.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chertoff's pet goat.

After Katrina blew past New Orleans, leaving thousands of people stranded on bridges and in the Morial Convention Center without food or water or medical help, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff dismissed the reports as rumors. I think of it as his "my Pet Goat" moment and through his inaction it took five days after the storm hit before help arrived and questions still remain about the allocation and misuse of funds. According to New Orleans, Louisiana Blogger and TV commentator Jeff Crouere, quoting historian Douglas Brinkley, Chertoff actually worked to obstruct and impede aid coming in from the private sector.

Is this just the man to step into Alberto Gonzales' shoes at a time when the Justice Department looks like a Presidential goon squad? If as CNN is saying today, Chertoff's appointment as Attorney General is imminent and, considering an unbroken string of political appointments of underqualified party loyalists I don't doubt it, Congress and the Administration will be faced with two confirmation battles.

Since the pool from which Bush picks his fish is growing shallower by the day, this might be a good time to start some speculation and rumor about the next Homeland Security appointment. What about Henry Hager, a former staff member of the commerce department who is, by coincidence Jenna Bush's new beau?

Cross posted at The Reaction

Friday, August 24, 2007

Yellow Peril part II

NBC news calmly announced last night that two brands of packaged baby carrots contained an extremely nasty bacteria called Shigella. As far as I know, even Lou Dobbs has not been calling for a retaliatory strike against Mexico. Such recalls are common enough and the most frequently tainted products are certainly not exclusively imports. Last summer's packaged spinach recall involved California grown produce, February's Peter Pan Peanut Butter Salmonella surprise didn't involve imports and of course tainted ground domestic beef seems frequently to be in the news. Clearly better inspection of foodstuffs would not be a bad idea. Of course we're not talking about imports from the designated scapegoat - China, or as Lou calls the largest bastion of swashbuckling capitalism: Communist China.

E-mails were pouring into Lou Dobbs' newsroom this week when someone in Indiana claimed her dog got sick on made in China Wal-Mart dog treats. The consensus was that we had to punish, not the manufacturer, but the 1,300,000,000 people of China for making "shoddy" products. Of course it's doubtful that we will get any "never minds" from the hysteria vendors and the public will, for the most part, not read any headlines mentioning that tests showed the dog treats to be free of contaminants.

Could it be that the inspiration for the "shoddy Chinese product" meme bears some relation to the panic much of the world feels at being unable to compete with this enormous producer of sophisticated electronics and technology? Joe consumer seems uneasy with the cheap appliances and tools and clothing he sees on the shelf, but is probably less familiar with the Chinese Space program, nuclear submarines, communications satellites and computer technology and components that make Japan and the US nervous. I wonder if that meme will meet the same fate as the one I remember as a child right after WW II, of shoddy Japanese products made by little bucktoothed and simian featured Japanese people.

There's one law for us

And another law for them. Very little in our nation, under Bush, is private. There's really no impediment to the government's desire to snoop around your house, read your e-mail, tap your phones, look into your back yard from satellites, monitor your reading or anything else, probable cause or not.

Unless, of course, you're a former Congressman. Good old Mark "page pincher" Foley, the disgraced representative from my district in Florida is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, an agency that most would agree has probable cause to suspect that Foley might have exhibited a bit too much interest in minors. They'd like to have a look at the Federally owned computers he used when sending those incriminating e-mails to congressional pages and at first glance one might see little reason to say the government cannot inspect its own property - but no.

According to FDLE, the House of Representatives has refused access, citing case law. It may have been monkey business, but his "work papers" are legislative business and access is denied. Only Foley can authorize the police to see them, they say and of course Foley will not cooperate. Obstruction of Justice charges are only for little people, to paraphrase the late Leona Helmsley.

Foley who, when the e-mails hit the fan, fled Washington with the excuse that he was entering rehab, has been seen of late dining in exclusive Palm Beach restaurants and is being described by his wealthy Palm Beach supporters as a fine Palm Beach gentleman. They get remarkable results, these rehab places.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why we lost the war.

George Will writes today, in anticipation of the September progress report:
"After the First World War, politics in Germany's new Weimar Republic were poisoned by the belief that the army had been poised for victory in 1918 and that one more surge could have turned the tide. Many Germans bitterly concluded that the political class, having lost its nerve and will to win, capitulated. The fact that fanciful analysis fed this rancor did not diminish its power."
Of course we know that this fanciful analysis led to extremism, scapegoating and persecution of the innocent, but what Will does not discuss is the fanciful analysis that has fed the still unbridged divide in the US that followed upon the Viet Nam war. We would have won that one of course, if only or if it hadn't been for Fonda, Hippies, flag burners, the Liberal Press, unpatriotic dissenters, etc. We would have "won" but for the lack of resolve and the "emboldenment" of the "enemy" by those who didn't swallow the false reports and fanciful predictions. We were so close to winning.

The fact that containing the spread of Communism by military involvement in civil wars has been largely unsuccessful since the end of WW II doesn't seem to enter the equation or dilute the argument that what every citizen of the world wants is American inspired and all they need is to have is elections for western liberal democracy to flourish. It was never that we jumped into untenable struggles with inchoate strategies without the slightest doubt of our heroism, it is always the fault of some convenient group who never believed the lies.

Nixon's plan to win was of course, to appear resolute, to escalate in secret and to give false progress reports while predicting that the Vietnamese army would soon stand up so that we could stand down and declare victory with honor. That's the same basic strategy of our Decider, Commander Guy, Warpresident: we win through resolve alone and lose through realism - and he still gets applause for it.

Will goes on to speculate that Petraeus' report will convince no one in the two opposing camps, but in typical Will fashion, he avoids having to admit that there is accessible reality outside of political scenarios. It's as though the deluded and the perspicacious are somehow equivalent and so objectivity is illusory. Perhaps George has been studying Zen or perhaps he's designed an interesting way to avoid taking responsibility for his support of the Neocon crusade.

Viet Nam ended badly because we had no plan for orderly withdrawal short of unconditional surrender of all opponents civilian and military and so it will be with Iraq. Of course it's interesting to note that Bush has finally made notice of the lessons of Viet Nam, the conflict he and his cronies avoided, by warning us of the bloodshed that will ensue if we leave, without taking responsibility for the blood already shed in our arriving and remaining. The precipitous end of our involvement in Viet Nam allowed chaos to ensue because we bombed countries into the stone age and destabilized every government in the area and created more enemies than we could count and didn't have time or the means or the plan to get our friends out. Sounds like a familiar story, doesn't it?

No one will be able to perpetuate this war long enough or be able to deploy enough force to change the indigenous religions and tribal affiliations and the ancient animosities they carry. Iraq will not be standing up for the Maliki Government or anything like it. This war will end badly and is likely to spread and of course to the next, remember-nothing generation, it will have gone badly because of the Liberals and their lack of resolve.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Playing soldier

I didn't even know it was illegal! According to the Army Times, a 76 year old California man plead guilty last week to charges of wearing a US Army uniform showing the rank of Major General without authorization and was sentenced to probation and a small fine.

Augustine Hernandez showed up at a ceremony last December to posthumously award the Navy Cross to a deceased Marine. Bystanders became suspicious of Hernandez, who was decked out with various medals and ribbons including a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and so they hired an investigator. Although it was found that the man did serve and was honorably discharged from the Army in 1954, it was as a private first class.

I guess it's necessary to enforce these things, but I keep thinking of the Commander guy in his tight flight suit and leather jacket parading around a carrier flight deck and playing soldier. The cameras never got close enough to show whether he was wearing his silver spoon.

A god by any other name would smell

"There are people all over the world ... who are using the word Allah in order to refer to a supreme being who supposedly invites them or commands them to kill the innocent in his name," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest on Fox and Friends yesterday, although the word means God and isn't a proper name as far as I know. But in fact, if we look at old Yahweh and his tirades and demands for slaughter and genocide even unto the fifth generation of innocent children, it's hard to maintain the fiction that God doesn't have a worse temper and less of a conscience than half the people we keep in maximum security prisons.

Of course it all hinges on the word "innocent." The Gods invented by Jewish, Muslim and Christian prophets seem to have little sympathy for the guilty and if they are different from one another, it's only in the definition of guilt and innocence.

It all started Monday when Fox News, ever anxious to turn the inconsequential into some pretext for outrage, quoted a Catholic priest's idea that Christians should start calling God, Allah to "bridge the cultural divide." Apparently Christians already do in Arabic speaking countries, which stands to reason. After all they call him Gott in Germany and Dieu in France and other things depending on the local language. All I can do is laugh. Call him what you like, all he ever has been is an excuse to do what the authorities want us to do, no matter how evil. It wasn't Jesus, Yahweh or Allah who started the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades or any religious atrocity but only the religious authorities and the animals who believe.

Too bad the human race isn't smart enough or sane enough to toss the whole idea and don't bother me with the "don't toss out the baby with the bathwater" groaner because there is no baby to throw out and no god to stop us.

Lost another one to Ditech!

"Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend"

And sometimes your shirt. Remember weasel-faced founder and CEO of Ditech, J. Paul Reddam who back in the 90's urged us to borrow up to 125% of our home values to "jump on a hot stock?" That was of course, just before those hot internet stocks tanked. You'd think that would have been a lesson, but although Reddam bailed out of Ditech right before the illegal kickback indictments were handed down and any number of people began to question the wisdom of listening to him, borrowing seems to have become as fashionable as trucks and the folks who have been living by borrowing increasing amounts on their ever rising home values are beginning to feel a truck is parked on them. Foreclosures are booming in my area and retail sales are down.

Of course the credit crunch, the decline of earning power of the American worker and the other financial woes in the papers today are bringing back the crackpot attacks on capitalism itself. Barbara Ehrenreich at the Huffington Post has an amusing take on the current "revolution" by the working poor but she agrees that the credit crisis doesn't signal the end of capitalism any more than did the crash of 1929. What it does signal is the need for responsible regulation and the need to strangle people who insist that the market will take care of itself and everything else from hedge funds to the Mexican guy that rims your hedges. What it proves is that cheap credit is not a substitute for income - at least not in the long run and that we need to get rid of a government that favors corporate profits at the expense of wages, investment, safety, public health and national security.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rudy's Iron curtain

"Your papers please." It was always said with some kind of Hollywood Russian or German accent at some border crossing; some dingy alley with wet cobblestones in the dark of some Eastern European night. The Gestapo agent, or the Man from the Stasi or KGB in a leather trench coat would urge you into the back seat of a Lada or black Mercedes and you were off to some nameless cellar to be tortured and held forever without charges. I grew up in the years after WW II and movies were like that. We were so proud of being a free country and we called ourselves the Free World and the free world wasn't a place where everyone was watching you and an anonymous tip would cause you to disappear in the night.

The Reaction talks this morning about Rudy Guiliani's plan to require all visitors to the US to carry a card with photo and fingerprints and for which, if they fit the profile, they can be asked at any time. If they don't comply they can be "thrown out" of the country. That will sound great to those who view foreigners as swarthy, suspicious, sinister undesirables and will sound like a reason to shun the US by doctors, scientists, engineers, businessmen, journalists, artists, writers, students, tourists and people visiting their relatives who thought a passport was enough.

Perhaps I'm being touchy about the possibility of national ID cards for all Americans, but I don't think so. the SAFE card plan seems like only the first step. A citizen, after all, will have to prove he is not an alien without a card and for that he will need citizenship papers with him at all times, particularly if he has an accent or isn't European looking or has a good Florida tan and a beard, as I do. It's an idea that's been floated about since September of 2001 by fear mongers like Rudy who want to appear as though they are defending America by suggesting the indefensible. The United States of America never was intended to be a police state, a place where you can be challenged, where you can be presumed guilty and spied upon and have your privacy invaded at the whim of anyone and your rights violated, your property confiscated and your head held under water without recourse to justice. It was never intended to be a place where someone can stop you on the street or kick your door down at midnight asking for papers. It was never intended to be led by people like Rudy Giuliani

Rudy, who looks as disgusting in his 9/11 hero costume as he does in drag, has a record of justifying means by their intended ends. He's the mayor after all, who tried to close the Brooklyn Museum and shut down the subway line because it contained a painting he erroneously thought was "blasphemous." Yes, indeed, requiring people to carry ID cards they way they do in China and requiring them to prove legal status at the whim of any policeman would be very useful in exercising total control. It's easy to sell a police state to frightened people and Benito - excuse me, Rudy - seems never to miss a chance to tell us how scary those foreign terrorists are.

No foreign saboteurs or terrorists can ever be more than a thorn in our side. Rudy Guiliani and the party of George Bush can be a knife in our heart.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Prodigal son

One of the many reasons I don't read the society page of the Palm Beach Post is the likelihood of stumbling into a story like this, but sometimes accidents happen.
"Once we sat him down, quite a few of our patrons stood up and went to his table to shake his hand. I think even he may have been surprised. You can tell he's still the hometown boy. He's always been a gentleman around here, and it shows."
So says the maitre d' at the Cafe L'Europe in Palm Beach, just a short limo ride from Ann Coulter's house. Of course he was talking about disgraced Florida Representative Mark Foley. Nothing surprising here. It's not as though he became a Democrat or criticized the President and after all, what happens in Washington stays in Washington.

And now this

A local newspaper in Foley's former district, the Stuart News, published a poll taken yesterday showing that Mark Foley would win against the Democrat, Tim Mahoney, who won election after Foley dropped out. So much for the mind of the Conservative.

Jordan votes

Free elections are dangerous things. The concept was designed to be dangerous to the powerful who can be, in theory, swept out of power by the ill served electorate. What happens however when the electorate feels ill served by good government? What happens when the electorate wants to be ruled by mad mullahs with ancient books? What happens when democracy produces instability?

The King of Jordan issued a decree today, formally dissolving Parliament; an act which starts the sequence of events leading to an election. The Jordanian Parliament officially ended its four year term in April. While Americans like to believe that where there are free elections, there is freedom, history suggests otherwise and this election will contain a struggle of Palestinian Islamists to increase their power. People free to vote, sometimes vote not to be free and that doesn't merely obtain to Muslims.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the main opposition party and the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood has alleged that in the 2003 election, there was vote rigging and other irregularities and indeed Jordan's conservatives have been urging Abdullah II to delay elections as popular frustrations may allow the IAF to increase their parliamentary representation. There is much public impatience with delays in promised reforms in this country where the King has immense power and particularly in urban areas with concentrations of Palestinians. Can anyone be assured however that increased popular participation in that government would not result in yet another militant theocracy?

Of course George Bush doesn't have the constitutional power to simply ignore or overturn or delay elections, his recent declarations indicate we are moving closer to a system where the judiciary and legislature serve at his pleasure, even while Jordan is risking a move in the other direction. I don't know if either country is moving toward secularism, but I am sure than nothing George Bush's government has done has given peace a chance.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yellow Peril

The line between hyperbole and slander may be hazy, but it is there and it is regularly crossed. The USA, being in dire need of external enemies that can be used to distract us from the self destruction we're engaged in, is far from scrupulous when it comes to accurately portraying that vast and growing country upon which we have become heavily dependent: China, or as Lou Dobbs loves to call that authoritarian capitalist nation in order to invoke those dear dead cold war days, Communist China.

Today's New York Times gives us three inflammatory cartoons. One shows a giant and horrifying dragon in the form of a jack-in-the-box toy looming over two terrified children and with a caption reading "Chinese business ethics." Another shows a man trying to commit suicide by playing with a "made in China" toy and a third is a scene of smiling Chinese workers, some in Mao hats, making poison filled toys. It's titled Santa's Little Helpers.

Dangerous toys used to be a pet theme amongst left-leaning Americans in the last century. Television specials, holiday horror stories and endless Saturday Night Live skits portrayed unscrupulous and greedy capitalists as child murderers, but in our new Corporatocracy, it's been turned around with the help of hyperbole and hysteria and some good old fashioned xenophobic lying. It doesn't matter that the levels of lead we're talking about would only be dangerous if your child were to eat Thomas the Tank Engine for breakfast every morning for years and it doesn't matter that domestic food is as likely or more likely to be contaminated as is Chinese fish, it's so much more fun to externalize the dark side of unregulated capitalism then to face it.

In fact, the problems with Chinese goods have been due to that country's explosion into crony capitalism and our country's relapse into crony capitalism where regulatory agencies are seen as the enemy not the protector of the consumer and staffed with republican hacks. That doesn't stop cartoonists from depicting thirteen hundred million people as evil, Fu Manchu inspired enemies without "business ethics" while neglecting to note that the Asiatic entrepreneurs who cut corners or who were duped into buying tainted commodities by other unscrupulous entrepreneurs have either been shot in the back of the head by the Chinese justice system or killed themselves before facing the firing squad, whilst those charged with protecting the American public rarely face any consequences at all.

Interviews of the thousands of Chinese workers now out of a job and furious at their greedy employers and their incompetent regulatory agencies aren't as satisfying to our bigotry as racist cartoons or moldy old references to Communism and the Yellow Peril. When your Sony goes dark and is unrepairable the day after the warranty ends, you usually blame Sony, not the Japanese people. You don't make grotesque cartoons of sneaky Japanese workers plotting to ruin your day. We've learned that such things aren't socially acceptable, but that still doesn't apply to China. Some company makes a fast buck from substituting Glycol for glycerin and it's just fine to draw pigtailed bucktoothed caricatures of The Chinese.

Nobody in the US blamed American workers or capitalism itself when Ford Explorers shredded their right rear tires and went out of control into roadside ditches or when Ford Pintos blew up when hit from behind or when Tylenol started appearing with cyanide in it or when massive quantities of foodstuffs tainted with mercury, salmonella and e-coli endangered the public health, or when some diet drug or arthritis drug or diabetes drug gave you a heart attack. We wouldn't laugh at cartoons showing Americans smiling while putting Vioxx into bottles with skull and crossbones on them. Just keep laughing and remember when hiding your head in the sand, to keep your eyes closed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The best security of a free state

"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. . ."

James Madison. First draft of the second amendment.

Do you really think it can't happen here? A president who exercises his self granted powers to take personal control of all governmental and military functions and call out the troops to round up dissenters, confiscate their property and put them in internment camps? The mechanism is in place and there are only a couple of things that might make the decider reluctant to trade the Stetson for a Napoleon hat. Posse Comitatus is no longer a problem, the camps are available, the Presidential directives in place, but will the citizens stand for it and turn over their arms and their freedom? I hope we never find out, but it seems they've thought of that and there are plans to use a "Clergy Response Team" to soothe and cajole the faithful into submission just like the one they employed in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina when homeowners were forced to surrender the weapons they hoped would defend their homes against looters and criminal opportunists.

Sandy Davis, the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Shreveport, LA says
"In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they're helping to diffuse that situation,"
Dr. Durell Tuberville, chaplain for the Shreveport fire department and county Sheriff's office tells us that the Bible is a useful tool in the supression of civil liberty
"because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."
When the framers of the constitution mentioned a well regulated militia, I believe they envisioned it as something to stand between tyranny and the "body of the people" and perhaps between a standing army and the people. I'm not a Christian any more than they were and I have the same attitudes toward nations under God and rulers that claim divine authority as they did. If the Clergy Response team arrives at my house telling me not to worry and get in the box car they'd better be packing something other than Bibles.

Be careful what you think

Somehow it stinks. The voice of Jose Padilla appearing in 7 of 300,000 recorded telephone conversations where he's said to be speaking in "code," a dubious fingerprint on a document there's no proof he signed; all in all a minuscule fraction of the evidence one would ordinarily need to find someone guilty of being part of a terrorist plot to kill people in some foreign land. Is he guilty of thought crime? Is he guilty of any crime? By the standards we used to have, probably not, but we don't have standards any more; we have panic, hysteria and a government determined to force their frightening scenarios down our throats.

I don't know Jose. I have no idea whether he has sympathies with Islamic jihadists, but he wasn't accused or prosecuted for doing any of the things he was arrested for. He wasn't tried for being an "enemy combatant" as the Führer named him. I have a sickening feeling that he was tried and found guilty to make that Führer look good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gonzo in the sky with diamonds

Look! Up in the sky - it's a bird - it's a plane - it's Alberto Gonzales! That's right, it's not enough to tap your phones and faxes and to read your e-mail and make lists of what you take out of the library or record video of you as you walk down the street; the Bush Administration wants to use super sophisticated, classified spy satellite technology to monitor what you're doing on your own property in your own home. Warrant? Probable cause? Don't make me laugh.

And meanwhile, back at the Surge. . . you know the surge Big Brother's media says is working so well because there was a momentary slowdown in suicide bombings? As many as 250 were killed today when 5 trucks blew up in a Kurdish area of Northern Iraq. Out of one side of his mouth, Major General Mixon tells us it's a typical al Qaeda trick to get us to turn against the war (has he noticed that we already have?) and out of the other side he calls it ethnic cleansing against the Kurds. Which is it? Do the Qaeda boys really give a damn about kurds as much as the Shiah or Sunni militias? Do insurgents and non-insurgents having nothing to do with Osama want us the hell out of the middle east? Does the continued slaughter of innocents mean we're winning or losing? Not hard questions to answer, General and none of the answers seem to lead to any of your twisted conclusions.

And now the death toll is at least 500

And CNN is still telling us it's ethnic cleansing but still has the fingerprints of al Qaeda. What it is is a continuing civil war with the fingerprints of George W. Bush. How's your surge progressing today George?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Heads up!

The popular press has been teasing us since the 1940's about cars that will convert to airplanes in a few minutes and allow us to fly over the traffic to work. Somehow the Gee Whiz journalists never seemed to factor into the equation the basic inability of the average person to master the piloting of an automobile even after decades of experience or to visualize the air above our head filled with drunks, text messaging teens, cell phone yakking soccer moms and winged versions of all the road vermin that infest our highways.

They're still at it, in fact. The NASA-funded first annual PAV challenge just wrapped up in Santa Rosa this weekend. PAV or Personal Air Vehicle is a pointless and euphemistic coinage that sounds like it was minted by the same industry bullslingers who gave us SUV, but that's only a small clue as to the silliness of this entire enterprise. According to ZDNet,
"with the right technology, small auto-piloted planes could one day alleviate traffic gridlock by shuttling people around on midrange trips (jaunts of between 100 and 500 miles) with much more speed, economy and efficiency than a car. "Planes for plain folk" is one motto."
God help us all is my version. The idea of producing an intelligent airplane in which Gerry and Mrs. Atricks or their backwards-hatted hardware-faced grandchildren can safely travel a few hundred miles at 150 MPH may appeal to technophiles, but those of us who daily witness the full spectrum of human idiocy on our roads might just prefer to stay in a bunker if this idea takes off. No technology can overcome the massed powers of stupidity, ineptitude, inability to focus or to judge speed and distance.

The dreamers envision an airplane - excuse me, a PAV - so advanced that it can, along with thousands of other PAV's, be trusted to behave like a flock of migratory birds with scant human intervention; miraculously arriving at some pre-programmed destination in all kinds of weather. I can't help but envision a hailstorm of hot metal and burning plastic raining down on our heads along with the cigarette butts and beer cans and McDonald's packaging one finds on every roadside.

Besides, the American public will not buy two seat, sporty vehicles and the manufacturers will quite soon be turning out versions of military heavy transport planes (SUAV's?) so that every wimp, twit and one-eyed psycho can feel powerful flying to work with all 4 engines roaring and 14 Kilowatt "sound system" booming. Spinning hubcaps sold separately.

cross posted at The Reaction

Words of wisdom

What did Bush do with the real Dick Cheney?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Receding Rove

It's to spend time with his family, dummy. Why would you think Karl Rove's blessed departure from the Administration would have anything to do with avoiding further scrutiny and embarrassment for the White house over the firing of those obviously incompetent attorneys? He needs now, for the first time in his life, to spend more time with his family.
"I know they'll say that," Rove told the Wall Street Journal, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."
The mob of course, being the vast majority of the American people to whom sovereignty allegedly still belongs. With the word mob, Rove gives us a sharp insight into the administration, its loathing for democracy, its aristocratic presumption and its disdain for the people for whom it works. Well, of course it does please the mob and it must please George Bush who has evidently given the bastard two week's notice to be rid of Turd Blossom, the likelihood of his prosecution and all his stink.

Good riddance.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The right to sell and distribute arms

The people who prattle about the ease of obtaining non-automatic assault rifle look-alikes in the US should perhaps look at how easy it is for international arms dealers to move large quantities of real military hardware. The US, China, Russia and a host of other shady entities are selling weapons to anyone who wants them, or so it seems.

A secret $40 million deal to sell Russian-made weapons: 50,000 AKM rifles, an improved version of the AK-47; 50,000 AKMS rifles, the same gun with folding stock; and 5,000 PKM machine guns to Iraq without the US knowing about it, was just broken up in Italy by a task force investigating the Mafia. Does our pet government in Iraq want to use them against insurgents or does it want to sell them to insurgents, terrorists and militias? Despite our coy outrage about Iranian weapons coming into Iraq, there seem to be US weapons being used by other militias against the theoretically friendly government of Turkey and the less friendly government of Iran. No one seems to know where the 190,000 assault rifles and automatic pistols we lost track of went, or where the large inventory of explosives and weapons the US didn't think worth guarding went, but it's easy to imagine that they didn't wind up in the hands of the Iraqi army and police. It's easy to imagine that all these Russian weapons will disappear or be traded in when the US fulfills its plan to replace them with American Made M16's. It's not hard to imagine that the black market will swell like a two day old corpse in the Iraqi sun with Kalashnikovs for sale. It's hard to imagine that making Iraq a vast dumping ground for arms is doing much to stabilize the country or the larger theater of operations.
"It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels,"
said the Italian prosecutor. Yes it does, unless you're aware that the Raison d'être of the war on terror is to sell weapons and other hardware and services and to enrich various companies like the Carlyle group, Halliburton, Blackwater and all the middle men and smugglers and politicians and industrialists who get rich from the destruction and fear they spread.

Giving arms to those who can't afford it and then selling arms to those who then need to protect themselves from the people we arm; arming repressive dictatorships and arming the resistance movement; selling to our allies and to the people who oppose them. We pay for the guns, they keep the profits.

Turkey in the straw

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Who would think that the guy who spends the most money on clothing consultants, hair consultants, makeup consultants; the guy with no stuffing of his own but hollow and meaningless "positions" and tired clichés, would win the Iowa Straw poll? But perhaps that's what a straw poll is about: a suit of clothes on crossed poles in a cornfield, stuffed with straw.

Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass

In part, I believe the Iowa Straw Poll has little meaning and in part that's because I want to believe that the pig farmers and corn bread eaters of Iowa don't reflect the best thinking of Americans. In part I believe this beauty contest represents the kind of thinking that chooses, and with disgusting regularity, the shiny, feathered lure; hooks and all. Of all the candidates on the Republican platter, Romney offers the least. If you're a rabid xenophobe, you might like Tancredo; if you're hot and bothered about other people getting abortions, you might like Brownback. If you're mad as hell and don't want to take it any more, you might well prefer Ron Paul, but Iowa goes for and Iowa went for the department store window display; dummies dressed up and made up like Ken dolls waiting for Barbie and the whole fake, wholesome, vapid and hermetic world that goes along with the fantasy.

Perhaps if the Mitt doll had been so presidential as to take care in choosing who works for him, he wouldn't have taken on Alan Fabian. Fabian, one of 35 co-chairmen on Mr. Romney’s national finance committee, is under indictment for running up $32 million in fake purchases with his consulting company, Maximus Inc. That would have paid for a lot of hair spray and sincerity consultants.

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Iowa, with it's creationists; Iowa, that great faith filled corn muffin of states has spoken. Iowa wants the scarecrow patched together by pollsters and consultants to scare away all that unpleasant reality. Just like last time. Fool me again and again and I'm from Iowa.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Today was no day for a daydream. The Dow managed to recover from most of the day's losses, but what do we call it when the recovery was the result of the Fed pumping in $38 billion; its biggest bailout since the 2001 terrorist attacks, joining central banks in Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada in attempt to avoid the dreaded credit crunch? Maybe it will work, maybe it won't, but calling it a recovery is only slightly less honest as seeing a sign of strength in the turning on of the Titanic's bilge pumps.

The housing market will probably show the first annual decline since the great Depression Some are sanguine about Bernanke's ability to deal with it - others are not, but if your ship is half full of water or half empty, maybe it isn't time to worry about optimism or pessimism, but time to look for the lifeboats.

No questions asked

The amazing thing about human nature is the number of people always willing to believe what they're told; to be angry at what they're told to be angry about, hate whom they're told to hate and cheered up by the lies of someone who has lied and lied and lied. There are always those willing to support a leader whether that leader is Gandhi or Idi Amin.

It shouldn't be any surprise that Bush's ratings have improved lately. It's simply because the believaholics have been invited to another media party, where the Bullshit is on tap and it's always happy hour.

Were the July casualty figures good news because they were a bit lower than June's? Are they a tragedy because they're double the July results for last year? How can anyone possible say that we're being given an accurate picture given the relentlessly wrong figures, predictions and pictures since before this war started.

The CNN poll shows that the prodigal sons of bitches, Republicans who had begun to doubt the sanguine but shifty prognostications of the Administration, are beginning to return. It's giving Bush a shot in the arm, we're told, but if anyone is getting a shot in the arm it's the incurable addicts. Apparently the Democrats and independents responding to the poll remain unmoved, but does that matter since they remain powerless, staring at the headlights of a new impending war?

Sure as hell they will be believing whatever they're told about Iran being at the bottom of this all and never questioning this latest round of fabrication and I think the attack everyone is expecting may come before Congress returns to work - if that's what it's called. Right now I see it as a race between World War Three and impeachment and my money says war.

9/11 II

That's 9/11 two - like World War two.

Stu Bykofsky at the Phildalphia News thinks that's just what we need to keep America on track. He doesn't spend much time questioning where the track leads. Citing the brief sense of community that the attack on New York generated - the slogans, the made-in-Taiwan plastic flags and ribbons, he wishes we had it back. He thinks we just got distracted from the need for war because we're "politically splintered" and we need another attack to make us more patient with the Forever War of George W. Bush.

"America likes wars shorter than the World Series." Says Stu. So what? Great Britain kept troops in Northern Ireland for 40 years, he tells us. Bad comparison. The test of a war's worth is whether the results were worth the sacrifice and whether the results could better have been obtained in another way. This war fails both tests. If by some bit of magic, Iraq became a country where ancient hatred disappeared and a functioning secular democracy allied with the US arose, it would become, like Israel, a magnet for it's neighbors' hatred and the nucleus of another war - and another. Bush's war is rapidly destabilizing the world and every day brings us closer to a new front in Iran and perhaps Pakistan. Every day recruits new enemies, persuades democracies to vote against leaders who support us.

America is not splintered, America opposes the war of George Bush and by a wide margin. America can see that another attack would bring another war against another not-guilty party; another occupation of attrition. If we are impatient, it's because this war is going nowhere, not because it is taking longer than it did to defeat Germany and Japan. It's because there's nothing to win and winning would be losing. It's because this war is steadily destroying all traces of the country we were supposed to be punishing for 9/11 and then were supposed to be rescuing from tyranny and now is the enemy they were not before we attacked them.

To suppose that the solution to the bungled, misguided and mislead crusade is more of the same and renewed patience with it's spread across the world's borders, is an insult to our country and it conveys the same smug snobbery and disdain for democracy that our administration exhibits.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


O dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, Irrecoverably dark! total eclipse, Without all hope of day.

-John Milton, Sampson Agonistes-

The worst of the worst, scum de la scum; they're bad, evil, terrible people we are holding in Guantánamo, or so we have been told all along. Don't feel bad for the men in cages, we're only torturing them a little bit and after all, if someone has information about a terrible terrorist plot, wouldn't you torture them to find out?

Try to reconcile that official rationale for dehumanizing a group of people picked up or kidnapped under widely varying circumstances from many different places and sometimes only because somebody accused them, or they had a name similar to somebody who might have known somebody; try to reconcile it with the steady trickle of prisoners who after 5 years of duress and investigation have been released as not being dangerous or knowing nothing and being not guilty of doing anything.

Isa Murbati, a 41-year-old father of five who had been a Guantánamo prisoner for more than five years without having been charged with anything, arrived in Bahrain last night. Oops, never mind. He's the sixth and last Bahraini to be released and all the men had been in coveralls and cages since 2002. At lease one had attempted suicide repeatedly. If it had not been for the persistent efforts of the government of Bahrain and King Hamad Bin Isa al Khalifa, whose kingdom is considered to be "pro-American" and allows the US to base the Fifth Fleet there, who knows what would have happened to these wretches? Many other prisoners have no place to go because no country will take them. No money, no clothes, no country and most assuredly nearly or fully demented from half a decade of no sleep and waterboarding. The worst of the worst.

The government of Bahrain will seek compensation and perhaps they will succeed. After all they do have leverage, but paying damages would be an admission of having done something wrong and admissions of wrong doing do not escape the iron curtain around the White House any more easily that light will exit any other black hole. I'm sure something will be worked out to save the smiling face of our delusional dictator, but what amount of money can restore a ruined life, a ruined mind?

As far as anyone knows, the amount of valuable information extracted from the torture rooms is about nil. Of course the black hole doesn't emit much light and what it does emit tends to be disinformation or denial, but what can a man who has been in a dog cage for 5 years tell us about? Not much about Osama perhaps, but he can tell us a lot about the United States of America.

Nothing short of impeachment can restore our ruined reputation and bring back the light to the dark and secret nightmare cellars of our nation.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Holy Moley

Just the thing for the kids! What little Dick and Jane need in the way of promoting values and all the other good things religion brings to life is to spend their family vacation in Orlando Florida watching a half naked Jew being tortured to death so that their miserable, sinful and damned little 6 year old souls won't go to hell to be tortured in perpetuity by God's evil twin. That's what the Holy Land Experience amusement park is about - that and converting the Jews, of course.

Holy Land Experience isn't like Disneyland, stinking with tolerance for gay people - it's for Christians and Christians like their blood, pain and suffering as realistic as possible - for the kids' sake of course. As CNN reported yesterday, the Holy Land Experience has been having financial problems and has had to close a few times, but now that Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world's largest Christian television network has bought the place and given it plenty of advertising, business is brisk again and thanks to the money they have spread around Florida's biggest amusement operation: the Florida Legislature, the government is going to allow you to support them with a tax exemption. I wonder if putting a bleeding Jew on a pole in front of my house will get me a tax break too?

Now what of those who would take Jesus as a teacher of morals, giving an ear to his words rather than reveling in gruesome torture? That's a matter of little profit and an affair for those of letters not of superstition. Should anyone venture to criticise me for mocking God or Christianity or Christians, and I'm sure someone will; it's those demented primitives who attend such preposterous passion plays and the mountebanks, charlatans and grifters who milk them of their meager assets and force us to assist them that I mock and mock enthusiastically.

Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush. 21 April 1803

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tough guys don't talk

Prisoner exchanges have occurred throughout history during wars hot and cold and although I may be wrong, talk about humanitarian gestures "emboldening the enemy" don't seem to have prevented them. Such talk has certainly been the backbone of George Bush's policies toward anyone with whom we happen to be engaged militarily however and indeed even the niceties of the Geneva Accords or the demands of basic human decency have been scoffed at because they would "embolden the enemy." Of course an enemy who is quite willing to blow himself to bits to kill you is hard to depict as lacking anything in the boldness department, but we're talking about a George Bush policy. Brain sold separately.

When the Taliban offered the release of the female Korean prisoners, their families dared to hope that Karzai and Bush would be able to negotiate the release of the women in exchange for the release of imprisoned Afghani women held by the US. It appears their hopes have been dashed. I have no idea whether Karzai could have been persuaded to make a deal, but he'd never be able to persuade Bush who is determined not to "embolden the enemy" no matter how many women have to die. Tough guys don't talk - at least not in the world of George Bush and cowboy movies.

As I said, they've got a vast reservoir of bold to draw from and every chance we pass up to appear to be less of the amoral monster the world see us as will help them spread it around and around the world. While George W. Bush is allowed to continue to make us as popular as Satan himself, the Taliban and al Qaeda and their allies don't need to spend a dime on recruiting.

I'm not of course apologising for the pigs who take women as hostages. Whether or not these poor women survive, I hope their captors find the 72 virgins who await them in heaven and may each virgin be a sadist named Hassan.

The Ministry of Logic

And snarling Dick Cheney continues to channel Joseph Goebbels; furnishing a gathering of Marines with enough bullshit, steaming, bubbling and reeking, to fertilize all the poppy fields in Afghanistan forever.

We're fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, not local insurgents, not the Iranian trained operatives we were blaming last week, not the sectarian militias who are united only in their desire to have us long gone. We're facing an organized army led from a central headquarters, and we have to fight them in Iraq because they're fighting us in Iraq. Never mind that it isn't true that Iraq wants us there. Never mind that it doesn't make sense to fight "them" in Iraq, if the leaders are in Afghanistan. Never mind that there would be no al Qaeda in Iraq, if indeed there really are more than a few, if we hadn't invaded and allowed the complete collapse of law and order because of an arrogant preference for political theory over sound military advice.
"If you support the war on terror, then you ought to support it where the terrorists are fighting us,"
Or in other words, if you support A then you should support B where B is, even though the relationship between A and B cannot be shown. These arguments should be preserved in logic textbooks for students to study forever. One hopes that the marines forced to listen to this infantile babble have had enough training to wonder why, if we're not fighting Iraqis in the streets of Iraq, we would have to concentrate on foot soldiers and ignore the possibility of going after the alleged leaders in their headquarters; have enough military know-how to ask why we have to let "the enemy" choose the battleground. But I can only hope they are tired enough of the slaughter, the flag waving, the lying and the dying to see through it all.

Monday, August 06, 2007

But wait, there's more.

And Bush wants it. He still doesn't think he has enough power to do what he will about looking and listening and snooping and spying on anyone, anywhere, anytime. He wants more. He wants those who broke the law before he emasculated the Constitution protected from prosecution and of course as of July 23rd he's made new laws all by himself allowing him to seize the assets of anyone getting in the way - not that he will let anyone see the details. On May 9th he gave himself dictatorial powers and he wants more.

And the witch hunt begins. Since nothing he did in violation of the 4th amendment can now be considered illegal, it seems the administration now feels able to punish whoever exposed his massive and still mostly secret intelligence gathering, spying and data mining directed against US citizens without court approval. According to the August 13th edition of Newsweek, a secret warrant has been used to seize the computers and files of Thomas M. Tamm, who previously worked in the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR)—the supersecret unit that oversees surveillance of terrorist and espionage targets.

Stalin would applaud and now Bush has nearly Stalinesque powers to punish someone who tried to expose the criminal administration in its criminal activities. Such things are not unprecedented, but they are unprecedented in America - and Bush wants more. The man who said he didn't trust government but trusted the people now wants more secrecy, more power and more ability to punish those untrustworthy advocates of a government constrained by law and responsible to the elected representatives of the American people and to an independent judiciary.

It's hard to believe that a lame-duck president would press for such power and such protection from any checks and balances the law provides if he did not intent to stay in power beyond the November 2008 elections. I'm no longer embarrassed to say that I think he doesn't intend to leave and that I think his ambitions are dictatorial. I would however, be embarrassed to say that I'm a citizen of a country that allowed this to happen; a country that snickered about Liberals, obsessed about celebrities, numbed their brains with pop culture, sucked up lies and propaganda like Flavor-Aid in the hot Guyana jungle and allowed it to happen.

Tancredo's hostage

When Tom Tancredo defends his statement that the best way to deter nuclear terrorism by al Qaeda against the US is to threaten to murder milllions of people in a place where al Qaeda is not, he's gone beyond ordinary Republican stupidity; the Bible worshipping madman is posing a threat to the people of the United States. He's handing a world that already hates us for our invasion of a non-threatening Muslim country one more reason to describe us as the quintessence of evil, and of course it doesn't make any difference that the State Department correctly identifies him as crazy. The damage is already done. We can denounce him, but the people who are spreading his sentiments around the world aren't going to mention the denunciation. The damage is done.

By holding Mecca Hostage
to prevent someone from Afghanistan or Waziristan using a nuclear weapon that they do not have is, like all hostage situations involving the innocent, worthy of the utmost contempt. Perhaps we would go further toward preventing a nuclear strike in the US by displaying Tom Tancredo's head on a pike?

Enemy within

J. Thomas Duffy at the Reaction calls it the night of the jackal. I hope someday if we're not forbidden by BB to discuss it, we don't look back and call it the night when freedom died. It's hard to get my mind off of the Congressional sellout that allows Bush unlimited power whenever he decides he needs it. It's hard not to associate it with the directives that allow him to seize your assets if you get in the way of his Iraq agenda and that allow him to declare himself supreme ruler for as long as he deems necessary. It's hard not to see liberty and justice slipping silently and invisibly away like water over polished marble slabs.

Remember when Bush told us he didn't trust government - he trusted the people? Perhaps as Duffy says, the lion sleeps tonight, but the lyin' never stops.

Still, it's important to remember that even if President Bush is the greatest enemy of our constitution since King George III of England, there are other enemies demented and domestic that pursue a relentless process of undermining what is left of the promise of liberty. They send me e-mail almost every day. Saturday evening brought me a very impassioned note showing a picture of the face of the Washington one dollar coin with the huge headline displayed in red letters:
After a fabricated story about having picked up some of these gold tone coins at the bank and the shock, the horror at discovering the omission of that Ten Commandment defying motto, I'm asked again in huge letters: "
"Who originally put In God We Trust onto our currency? My guess is that it was one of the presidents on these coins. All our US government has done is dishonor them, and disgust me!!! Together we can force them out of circulation. Please send to all on you [sic] e-mail list. I am personally offended and fed up with the denigration of God and Christianity in my country. I am certain George Washington would never have agreed to his picture on the coin if it any way diminished faith in God. "
Of course the guess is wrong and he may be certain but he's certainly wrong about Washington. He would have done no such thing, being a Deist and not a Christian believing in a personal or monetary God and having exhibited no particular urge to establish a religion in defiance of the Constitution during his lifetime and there not having been any religious message on any of our coinage prior to 1864. We can be sure he's not rolling in his grave at the moment. It's also a bit odd to say that faith is promoted (albeit in rampant defiance of the Bill of Rights and the stated intentions of those who wrote it) by slogans on money. But of course the whole thing is rendered hilariously moot by the fact that the motto does indeed appear around the edge of the coin. The perpetrator is of course lying for the Lord and at full throttle.

Perhaps the outraged author is ignorant enough not to know that the initial appearance of 'In God we Trust' was on the two cent coin in 1864 and was part of the attempt to assign a religious mission to the Northern side in the Civil War. It was added at the behest of the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. Most people would probably fall for the fabrication:
"The new George Washington $1.00 coin is the first money ever issued by the USA in modern history without the words "In God We Trust". By omitting these words, our politically correct, secularist leaders made a conscientious decision that either; 1) God does not exist, or 2) that God exists, but can no longer be trusted. "
but fabrication it is. It was only from 1938 on that all coins bore the motto and the first paper money to bear it was issued in 1957.

Since it's nearly impossible for anyone to be quite as stupid as the writer of this e-mail appears to be, I can only conclude that it's another attempt by the Christianist Jihad to undermine truth, justice, the monetary system and the American Way. So perhaps by pointing to the correct history and by reading the overtly secularist constitution, I've become a politically correct secularist leader. I'm not actually sure what that means, but I do think it's better to be correct than incorrect with respect to the facts and better to tell the truth than to be a liar, even if it's a liar for the advancement of Christian supremacy.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The strange case of Jack McLellan

It's not exactly a case of punishment fitting the crime. As concerns the punishment meted out to Jack McLellan by Superior Court Judge Melvin Sandvig in Los Angeles, on Friday, it's more a matter of there not actually being any crime to punish - outside of McLellan's head, that is. Unlike those we hear about who prey on little girls, McLellan talks about it on television and has operated a web site discussing his obsessions and his methods of getting close to children and photographing them. At one time he posted photographs legally taken of young girls in public places like parks and playgrounds, but he no longer does because of public outrage.

McLellan has no arrest record. There is no evidence that he's ever committed any crimes and he claims that he never will, yet this homeless man, currently living out of his car, was served with a temporary restraining order while on his way to Chicago to make a TV appearance. He is forbidden to get withing 30 feet of anyone under 18; a condition that will make it difficult to be anywhere in public and nearly impossible to enter any commercial establishment. Since stories about him have begun to run in the media recently, mothers of small children have been making frantic complaints that their children have been photographed and the traditional hysteria that defines America is in full bloom. If you're scruffy looking and unshaven and even perhaps if you're not, it can't be a good time to be out on the streets in Southern California with a camera.

Of course this is a temporary order and he will have a chance to challenge it at a hearing set for August 24th, but I have to wonder at preemptive prosecution and thought crimes and their place in this formerly free country where fear and terror and hysteria issue from the media and consumed by the public like water from the tap. I don't want to make too strong a comparison between Salem and Santa Monica, because child molesters really do exist and witches do not, but with more and more localities putting special codes on drivers licenses tagging the owners as sex criminals for the rest of their lives; with more areas forbidding anyone once convicted of unspecified "sex crimes" to own a house or rent an apartment or have an internet account, I have to wonder if we aren't re-creating the medieval concept of outlaw. My disquiet isn't helped by the fact that more things are being labelled as "sex Crimes," including public urination or "mooning" someone out a car window and the perpetrators of such juvenile things can be linked for life with rapists and punished in perpetuity. It would be more than disquieting if such people weren't actually guilty of anything.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Texastan on the Rio Grande

Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.

-mandatory pledge for Texas Schools-

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

-Third Commandment-


"Personally, I felt like the Texas pledge had a big old hole in it, and it occurred to me, 'You know what? We need to fix that,' "
said Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle about why it was necessary that small children be forced into making religious oaths in an archaic dialect affirming God while "honoring" a piece of cloth. I wonder if the Eastern, secular, Liberal Elite who wrote the Constitution and founded the United States of America could possibly imagine such a political entity as Texas being included amongst those states. Even Texas itself couldn't find support for a secular pledge until 1933 much less one that establishes that state as a subject of Yahweh, but the Texas Legislature, apparently as concerned about holes in things as is Debbie Riddle decided in its last session to require a religious oath of students in defiance of the United States Constitution and the Third Commandment.

Of course they smile and tell you your kid will be let off the hook if he brings a note from mother, in full knowledge that little Dick or Jane will have to sit there looking sick while the teacher/preacher takes God's name in vain and later perhaps be chased around the prickly pear to taunts of Christ Killer, dothead, raghead or worse, but that's OK if it if drives them into the arms of Jesus, ain't it?

Actually Texas' pledge for many years following its inception in 1933 was "Honor the Texas Flag of 1836; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible." that would have been amusing to anyone in that state who could read and was possessed of a sense of humor since the pledge referred to the 1836 Texas National Flag and not the one used then or now. Fortunately by 1951, someone noticed but it wasn't until 1965 that the Lone Synapse State figured out how to delete the words 1836.

Unfortunately, declining educational levels since 1965 and the ascendancy of Neo-Christian supremacists allowed the smiling morons of the legislative Jesus Jihad to notice a big ol' hole in things and as of June 15th Texas Students must take the name of Yahweh in vain and their teachers, by law, must require this sectarian religious observance in defiance of Federal law.

It's getting harder and harder to give a damn any more.

More gasoline for the fire please

Some things don't change. The US has a long history of supporting tyranny of the worst sort as long as it wasn't communist tyranny and as long as a country like Saudi Arabia with it's ritual beheadings, mutilations and brutal repression is willing to sell us oil, we will continue to give them weapons, even if some of those weapons might walk over the border into Iraq and shoot us in the bum.

It's looking like the 20 billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia is a done deal and there has been no talk of any requirement on the part of the Saudis to reform anything or to stop fomenting anti-American religious fervor, much less to put a halt to murdering their daughters for things considered normal in the real world. Saudi Arabia is a medieval country, but a medieval country that owns a big part of the Bush Crime Family; owns them so solidly that they can call our occupation of Iraq illegal when Americans are condemned for saying it. It's a medieval country that practices a degree of oppression almost unimaginable here, yet you won't hear any member of the Bush Crime Family telling us the world would be better off with a Saudi regime change or with some sort of Democracy. Instead we've made them the largest client of the US arms trade so that they can more effectively resist reform, practice Wahabbism and preach Jihad in the rest of the world.

In an e-mail to Raw Story, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said
“I believe that the $20B arms package just announced – and the diplomacy accompanying it – is a complete refutation of the Bush/Rice policy of refusing to coddle the autocracies of the Middle East,” Wilkerson said. “Because we are afraid of Tehran, we are willing to fund massively regimes whose interests are not only counter to our own but who are actively engaged in covertly undermining U.S. interests, from supporting anti-U.S. elements in Iraq to building and funding thousands of madrassas in volatile places like the Federally Administered Territories in Pakistan.”
I disagree in part. I think the Bush policy has been to coddle and protect their friends whether or not those friends mean our country well or ill. I think the Saudis see us as loathsome but profitable customers who will be replaced with bigger customers in due time, but Wilkerson is right that we are aiding and abetting our enemies.

If Bush somehow dreams that other mid-East nations can be persuaded to defeat and annex Iran if we sell them enough weapons and that we would benefit from it, then he is more of a dangerous idiot than I imagined. Add this story to the proposed sale of Iraqi oil to Israel and it is a public relations disaster that will surely fuel more insanity and terrorism and hatred.

There has been much written about the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton having made it hard for him to deal with emerging terrorism. I think that Impeachment may be the only remaining option for saving us all from the apocalypse Bush is hell bent to provide us.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's not over

Not until the fat lady sings or the skinny skank is convicted of felony voter fraud. When I wrote last May 12th that the case against her had been dropped after the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office got a call from an FBI agent Ann Coulter had been sleeping with, I was sure it had all gone the way of any case against a Republican insider. But now it seems that perhaps she's not completely off the hook.

The Palm Beach Post reports today that FEC Case No. 07-211 is still alive and well and that Coulter is still under investigation. WPB campaign consultant Richard Giorgio has filed a complaint accusing her of false swearing and fraud to which Giorgio claims to have been an eye witness.
"This was willful. Anyone else would have been prosecuted."

Undoubtedly so and I have to remember how tens of thousands of people were turned away at the polls because they had been falsely added to the Felons list by the Florida Republican Machine. But this is a Red State and the law only applies to little people.

Coulter is refusing to talk. Her lawyer is refusing to talk and according to the Post t
he FEC could impose $2,000 in fines and refer the case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the state attorney's office for criminal prosecution.

So far she's escaped being tried for committing fraud in front of several witnesses, though the evidence is there in black and white. If somehow her money, hired guns and scurrilous lawyers don't manage to get her out of this latest accusation, she will have finally to face
the Florida Elections Commission. Did I mention that all seven members of that body were appointed by Jeb Bush?

Maybe it is over.