Friday, September 28, 2007

Why grandpa says inappropriate things

That's the title of a smug little piece of fluff that appeared the other day on the site. It contains a little anecdote about an elderly gentleman who used the word "colored" to describe someone and it continues with a bigoted diatribe about how the "social security generation" are all a bunch of senile bigots and maybe it's because their brains are all rotted out at age 65 as everyone under 30 knows.

Older adults might be "more prejudiced than younger adults because they can no longer inhibit their unintentionally activated stereotypes.” is the quote from some Australian psychologist dredged up for the purpose. "Studies since the late 1990s have shown that older Americans tend to be more racist than younger people." That seems odd to me since the people who were shot in Mississippi, and hosed and gassed and beset by dogs - the people who had that dream, who spent years fighting against discrimination, segregation and for civil rights are all in the "social Security" generation.

Of course you'll recognize that this is a rigged argument and one based on a bigoted stereotype. I'm not for instance, her "grandpa" and resent being told about how I am, what I am and how I think, based on her preconceived, negative notions of her elders. The definition of racist here has nothing to do with belief or action but is about the use of "inappropriate" words and guess who gets to decide when we stop saying Afro-American and start saying African-American lest we grow hair on our palms and be called racists for it? Guess who gets to decide that Mark Twain was a racist because he used the language of his day accurately or that Dr. King was a racist for using the word Negro or that the NAACP are a bunch of bigots for using the phrase "colored People?" And the people who got shot at and gassed and hosed and torn up by dogs and cracker cops for civil rights from Selma to Chicago become racists - and worse - old racists with decaying brains.

Of course to believe this bullshit at all, one also has to disregard the self-evident prejudice of younger Americans of all races. If you don't like the way I talk, perhaps you have to make allowances for the fact that I have a better command of English than those who learned it yesterday and I know what I'm doing when I choose my words. You might want to remember that I'm old enough to be fed up with the petty condescending scorn of tongue clucking 20 year olds who don't remember segregation or Jim Crow and spend their days examining the entrails of words and sniffing each other's drawers for the odor of racism while exhibiting the most galling contempt for those who handed them their civil rights on a silver platter.

"The frontal lobes’ decline is not inevitable. To the contrary: aerobic exercise enhances their functioning among older adults." says Sharon Begley who is probably closer in years to crapping in diapers than I am. "Next time grandpa utters something out of “Birth of a Nation,” suggest mall walking." Next time Sharon writes this kind of crap, I would suggest keel hauling. Those barnacles can rip the smirk right off your face, ya know?

And next time Sharon is out like mall walking with like her friends, maybe like she'll like remember that "Grandpa" owns it and just might have her and her stereotype-soaked frontal lobes thrown out.

Crossposted to The Impolitic

Thursday, September 27, 2007

General Pace or General Disgrace?

Oh hell, let Congress censure me, but I'm an American citizen and I don't work for the government and I have a right to call it the way I see it. I have absolutely no obligation to respect the opinions of people I consider to be enemies of freedom and particularly those people on the public payroll who insist they work for an invisible entity not the taxpayers. I will not be bullied into worshipping authority or their authoritarian gods.

So when Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Congressional hearing yesterday that our secular democracy should
"not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law."
I have to call it disgraceful. I have to call his "upbringing" disgusting and I have to call the private and legal behavior of consenting adults none of his God damned business. There is no religious test or requirement for service in the armed forces and our troops are not required to bow to the beliefs of generals.

Screw Pace, screw his superstition, arrogance and his upbringing - and as for his god - screw him too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Abandon all hope

Maybe one of the most horrible things about being in Hell is how similar it is to ordinary life. Maybe not knowing whether you're there or not is part of the punishment. It's a bright beautiful Florida morning, but something's wrong. I can't put my finger on it, but there are signs.

"What really gets me about airport security is the people they hire," says the woman across the table from me at the club. "I mean this woman has a dot on her forehead and they think I'm dangerous?"

The TV picture comes on, tuned to CNN's Lou Dobbs show: "Are the rich liberal elite betraying the country? more, after this. . ." In disgust, I switch to another news network. There must be some liberal media somewhere.

It's a commercial. The sleek exotic sports car sits alone in the showroom window as mommy vans and SUV's stuffed with rowdy rugrats and rugrat paraphernalia drive by. There are tears in the Lamborghini's headlights. Perhaps the 200 MPH exotic is dreaming of growing up to be a garbage truck. There are tears in my eyes too.

Maybe hell isn't a place where your momma has a 1/4 - 20 bolt through her lip and an anchor tattooed on her chest. Maybe hell isn't just a place where the world screams at you day and night to buy cheese fries and diet meals and sports water and sleeping pills and get out of debt scams and refinance your third mortgage to take the kids to Disneyland in a dump truck. Lobotom-On, apply directly to the forehead.

Maybe it's not just a madhouse where we hate American Hindus and Mexicans because Saudi Arabians blew up a building in New York. Maybe hell is a place where all this happens and people think it's normal.

Take these medals and. . .

I guess he has no immediate plans to run for office and that's good for Josh Gaines, a 27 year old Iraq war veteran who announced his plans today to mail his medals to Don Rumsfeld. Since he did nothing, says Gaines, to protect our country or to further the Global War on Terrorism, he doesn't deserve them.

“I’m going to give those back because I truly feel that I did not defend my nation and I did not help with the Global War on Terrorism. If anything, this conflict has bred more terrorism in the Middle East.”
Gaines, according to Army Times today spent a tour of duty in 2004 and 2005 guarding two military bases and issuing ammunition to soldiers. He never fired a weapon.

Of course one doesn't need a weapon to shoot oneself in the foot and the man has reason to resent the Army for having discharged him "less than honorably" for smoking cannabis after his return from Iraq; to help him, as he says, to sleep. It's a shame of course, since I essentially agree that demolishing Iraq and presiding over the smoking ruins isn't protecting the United States and is creating more hatred towards us than anything else, but his gesture will only provide fodder for the war lovers who would like to dismiss all dissenters as dopers, misfits and fringe elements. It would hardly take the Swift Boat Veterans a moment to sink him with their wake.

I realize that Americans need faith that we're always in the right and our wars are always part of the good fight and I know that all soldiers are heroes save those with the courage to question the ruler, but like at least one man who served with him said, I'm also proud of him and I wish there was less pride in submission and obedience in the ranks. I wish that more generals could give their real opinions and I wonder what Colin Powell has to smoke to sleep at night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What, me worry?

Bush's speech before the UN today was all about human rights violations in Iran and Burma and Syria and Belarus, but unless my hearing is going, I didn't hear any concern for the crackdown on the opposition to Pervez Musharraf in recent days. Perhaps that was not a proper venue, but the concern remains over incidents like that in Islamabad yesterday where police broke up a protest outside the Supreme Court which is hearing a case challenging the constitutional validity of General Musharraf's dual role as president and chief Army officer. Leaders of two political parties have been jailed and are being held incommunicado.

It's disturbing enough that Condoleezza Rice expressed concern over the arrests in this nuclear armed country that contains both moderate and extreme elements including Taliban and perhaps Osama bin Laden. So unsettling indeed that our embassy has issued a statement calling the arrests "extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan," and calling on the government to free the detainees. Our moral superiority in such matters, of course is severely wounded by our denial of habeas corpus to perceived enemies at the whim of our own government and suspicion of election tampering in the last two presidential contests.

Accusations, explanations and justifications are flying around from various factions too numerous for me to comprehend and the concerns of the US have been rebuffed by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry:
"If the U.S. Embassy is confused, it would be well advised not to make such statements,"
said spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. That doesn't do much to make me feel better and I'm sure it makes Dr. Rice feel as ineffectual as she is.

Dictator and treader upon human rights that Musharraf may be, and possibly worthy as some of his opposition may also be, there are worse who would like to depose him and al Qaeda in Pakistan is a far less dubious reality than al Qaeda in Iraq. Will his attempt to stifle opposition play into the hands of the worst of that opposition? Pakistan's Daily Times worries about it and who's to blame the rest of us that understand even less of this complex and fragile situation from worrying? The only thing that will help me sleep tonight is knowing that George Bush and his administration are on duty.

Cross posted at The Impolitic

Monday, September 24, 2007

What is truth, part III

Nothing is true, all things are permitted

-dubiously attributed to Hassan bin Sabbah - but who knows?

"There's nothing known as absolute,"
said Iranian president Ahmadinejad. That's an uncharacteristic statement for a religious man, but quite characteristic for someone trying to eat his words without swallowing them. It all depends on what "thing" means and what knowledge means and what absolute means you see -- and if you're adept at that sort of rebarbate rhetoric you're adept at saying you didn't have sex with that woman or that Hitler didn't kill all those Jews or that there are no homosexuals in Iran without leaving enough of a handle for anyone to call you to account for the apparent ambiguity.

Insinuating that the Jury is still out on something as massively documented as the Nazi genocide by talking about the rights of "Scholars" is a ploy all too reminiscent of Bush's assertion that the jury was still out on the equally massively documented subject of evolution. Neither jury exists. There is really no Debate concerning geology or cosmology or any number of things that people want to deny by insinuating one. There is not much of a debate about who hired the hijackers in 2001 and one has to suspect the motives for insinuating that perhaps it was the same "Columbian drug lords" who slashed Mrs. Simpson to pieces. I won't argue the inherent uncertainty in all things, nor would Doctor Heisenberg, but I will suggest that some things are close enough. There are Homosexuals in Iran and I think the pictures of teenagers swinging from ropes are real.

Perhaps though, the undoubtedly embarrassed president was forced to offer something more like a debate than the snarky "it never happened" crap that's been attributed to him elsewhere.
"Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?"
That's a debate and a stunning opening for further debate that may never have happened during a long distance propaganda battle.

Does the Ahmadinajad shuffle indicate that the man regrets his statements and is trying to wriggle around them while not antagonizing the supporters who were just fine with holocaust denial? I'd like to think so and I'm sure that like any politician, he has to please people he doesn't agree with. I would also like to think that he's being forthcoming when he says Iran doesn't need a nuclear weapon and thinks Israel should not be attacked militarily. But as he says: nothing is absolute and of all those things not absolute, trust is near the top of the list. There is in fact a debate about Iranian nuclear progress and its aims and there are contradictory assertions about its policy toward Israel and toward the US occupation of Iraq. That's a debate where all parties have a credibility problem and where we all desperately want and need to know the answers.

Unfortunately I doubt there will be any step toward dialog taken by our horseless cowboy but one can hope that nothing blows up until we - and perhaps they have another administration.

Flowers for Ahmadinejad

In Iran, the president isn't what a president is in the United States. Ahmedinijad isn't the alpha dog of Iran; that would be Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mahmoud, with his mangy beard and 80's vintage polyester jacket looks more like a cab driver or someone who hustles bags at JFK on weekends for a few extra bucks. It even seems as though he's a comparative liberal back home on issues like women's rights, so it's not surprising that Iranians wonder why we pay so much attention to him.

He's good at what he does however and what he does is push American hot buttons to the same effect as kids tossing peanuts at the primate house until the apes get hysterical and start shrieking and tossing dung. He's an expert in rattling our cage. So just what do we do with Ahmadinejad when he gets here? We don't have the discipline to ignore him and he knows it. Do we let him talk? Do we let him visit the holy hole in the ground? Do we let him control the situation?

Libby at Newshoggers
suggests that we arrange to have some half naked college girl lay a big smooch on old stubbleface and maybe blow his chance for paradise -- or maybe worse: a young man in a tight speedo. ( I would suggest red with sequins) Perhaps a toilet paper parade or mass moon-in would send him home without that trademark smirk, but I have little doubt that we will play along with his game by hooting and flinging banana peels and making him feel important.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

To draft or not to draft

I keep running into conversations centering around ending the Iraq war by instituting a draft. Doesn't anyone remember Viet Nam? The kind of people who support wars without particular concern for the cause or effect also support obedience as a virtue. The draft creates the draft dodger and the draft dodger becomes an effective straw man to use against many forms of protest, disagreement or even rational discussion.

The sons of Senators will not be drawn into dubious battle, they will either find deferments or medical problems or will do supervised and fictionalized tours far from the fray, like George W. Bush. It will be your kid or mine or maybe you sent to Baghdad.

Certainly no amount of public protest and demonstration will soften the resolve of those who think in terms of hard and soft, tough and weak, since they admire George for ignoring the people who employ him. It doesn't seem all that long ago to me that we had countless people demonstrating against another brutal, pointless and probably illegal war: business leaders, veterans, clergymen and other pillars of the community, all of whom were nicely dismissed as hippie draft dodgers or "Peaceniks" simply because there was a draft.

This war won't end until we are rid of the Bush crime family and the old Nixonians and neocons they associate with. Until we learn not to jump to take up arms every time some dimwit beats the war drum; until we learn not to identify with the kind of people we customarily elect, we will be in the same position we are in now every few years as a new crop of patriotic fools arises. A draft won't change a thing.

I am not a lesbian

And neither is Hillary Clinton but what's said cannot be unsaid. In our modern world, any accusation will be believed by someone and any denial will make it worse for the accused.

There is a legendary tale about Lyndon Johnson in his early political career having "leaked" the story that an opponent had made a lifelong practice of carnal intercourse with the sows he kept on his farm. When told by an adviser that nobody would believe such a story, Johnson replied that it didn't matter, he just wanted to make the guy deny being a pig-F***er. Even if there is no evidence, one reporter after another will try to gain notoriety by asking if the rumor is true and thereby validate the hoax that there is in fact a rumor. The trick is old, but the audience is always young.

Mrs. Clinton has been studying under that great teacher of experience for a long time and is no stranger to the slinging of the slime. "People will say what they want to say," was the perfect answer and the complete truth and it avoided the dilemma of confirming by denial or confirming by refusal to comment. If the Meth-addled Ann can call John Edwards gay and get away with it, the GOP skunk works has little to lose and may have a few votes to gain by trying it on Clinton.

Cross posted at TheImpolitic

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just some thoughts

Nothing is really the new anything.

Every day the universe is unimaginably bigger than it was yesterday.

Nothing you buy or do or don't do is going to "save the planet."

No one has ever succeeded in bringing back the way it used to be.

Nobody gives a damn about your diet.

There are no synonyms.

Some day there will be no Republicans.

Bearing false witness

The real defining battle with religious extremists isn't what they tell you it is and I'm afraid it isn't a battle we can win. I believe it's a battle that will, if we lose it, be the end of the American Dream.

It's tempting to think that the Christian supremacists, the evangelical horde are a fringe group that will be prevented by our firmly antiestblishmentarian constitution from ever being more than a nuisance or a local problem, but they are making gains, little by little and there is really no way to stop them. They are too well funded and we are too little educated.

It's easy to laugh at the idiotic attempts to squeeze references to the Ten Commandments into courthouses and for a lot of reasons. They really aren't part of Christianity and they command behavior that Christians assert they have been liberated from by their new covenant. Of course most of those commandments have nothing to do with civil law anyway and the three that do aren't unique to those commandments but rather descend from earlier Mesopotamian law codes. But we're talking about American tribalism here and none of that really matters. It's part of a much bigger strategy.

The myth of the Christian fathers and their quest to establish a Christian nation in the New World is of course a hoax and readers of Jefferson, Washington, Madison and Paine have a hard time crediting the sanity or honesty of the Christian Nation Crusaders, but those who would replace our constitution with a religious agenda as interpreted by a polyester priesthood of self proclaimed prophets have, quite literally, more money than God; enough money to make anything true. They have enough money to publish books carefully crafted from bits of redacted, illicitly inferred and blatantly confected fact that will prove to anyone willing to believe that old Tom Jefferson was a 21st century fundamentalist despite his well documented contempt for preachers, gospels, churches and the priests who buried the secular teachings of a secular morality teacher from Nazareth and twisted them into a false and freedom hating religion. Some day, said Tom, the divinity of Jesus would be as antique and unworthy of attention as the divinity of Isis or Jupiter. Religion itself was to be considered tyranny over the mind of man and its influence on government eternally to be opposed in our new land - so Christian was he.
"They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly"
Sure it's easy, particularly if you produce a huge, impenetrable volume and your audience is not only wholly ignorant but gleefully gullible, to argue that Washington was a Christian when he wasn't, or that old evasively agnostic Franklin and hysterically anti-Christian Jefferson were too or that Madison's endless anti-Christian polemics mean that the constitution was intended to be interpreted as a Christian document for a Christian nation with an official Christian, gay bashing, Jew baiting, heathen hating, anti-abortion religion.
"Be afraid ACLU. Be very afraid. Morris packs The Christian Life and Character with page after page of original source material making the case that America was founded as a Christian nation. The evidence is unanswerable and irrefutable. This 1000-page book will astound you and send enemies of Christianity into shock."

Bearing false witness, of course, is the foundation of all preaching and the people who sent me an e-mail advertising two books designed for the Consternation of the ACLU and other devils are as false in this attempt as they are in their attempts to prove that science is just conjecture and conjecture is God's word, but it works and it is working and it will continue to work as we allow our country to be dumbed down, debased, mislead and proselytized into oblivion; the home of religious crazies led by madmen, crooks, liars tyrants and thieves where free thought makes one an "enemy of Christianity."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

87.0736% extremist

New York Rep. Peter King thinks there are too many mosques in the US. I don't know whether that's true. I can only say that I've seen exactly one since I was old enough to know what a mosque was and I've been old enough for a long time. But Representative King is a Republican, a part of Guiliani's campaign and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee and so has a personal financial interest in the marketing of hysteria and the promotion of irrational sectarian hatred.

85% of them, however many of them there might be, are controlled by extremist leadership, says Representative King. 85% -- although that number is probably there because it sounds like statistics but would be impossible to confirm or deny -- and besides, extremism is a relative and thus easily invoked term. Extremism can, according to traditional Republican values, be good: "no vice" as that icon of Republican virtue and multiple felon Spiro Agnew once told us. All in all, it's not a good argument, just one of the few left at the bottom of the barrel of bullshit.

Of course I think there are far too many Churches in the US and 87.0736% of them are extremist in that they are promoting the restriction of civil rights according to the teachings they invent for the purpose of undermining democracy and liberty and justice for all. They've succeeded in requiring our children to acknowledge their pantheon of bizarre deities and to swear that magic beings are involved in the government of the US. They have succeeded in replacing our coinage with little copper and paper religious engravings and they are constantly telling us what we can read, see, say and investigate; whom we can spend our lives with, how we can define our families, what we can teach our children about science and mathematics.

They not only promote wars and violence, they teach us that religious wars and violence are good when done in defense of an almighty dictator and are happy to provide all the fictitious history you could ever want to benefit their crusades and their war against science, math, physics, history, law, logic, cosmology, geology, paleontology, meteorology, statistics, probabilities and the origin of species through natural selection.

They promote the kind of mental illness that would allow, for instance, Mitt Romney, a follower of one Joseph Smith: demonstrable liar, forger and sexual pervert, to elevate his campaign to deny civil rights to people his sexually perverted and somewhat unclean looking prophet didn't like. It allows extremist followers of a Roman Bishop like Rudolph Guiliani to close a public museum for Blasphemy because he didn't think we should have the right to view a painting of a magic virgin who has babies with invisible gods that didn't adhere to the precise iconography of his church.

Too many Starbucks, too many SUV's and burger joints and way too Goddamn many churches.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Say it ain't so, Jesse

Jesse, Jesse, Jesse - you know I've always tried to like you and sometimes I've succeeded in admiring you and I've forgiven your "Hymie Town" slurs and the way your accent changes when you talk to different people, but you really haven't learned, have you?

So Obama is "acting like he's white" for not being "all over Jena." Are you accusing me of being a bigot like your friend Louis Farrakhan who threatens the Jews with destruction and thinks white people are devils? because that's what "Acting White" means in that context. I didn't accuse you of "acting black" when you accused the Jews of trying to defeat you while ignoring the large amount of support you've had from them. That's not fair and I know you're a man who has always tried to tell other people to be fair, unless of course you're referring to Jews or Hymies as you call them. That's not fair to Senator Obama either because if a man is going to be president of the United States and all its people, including Hymies and white people and others and commander of 30 thousand nuclear warheads and all, he's going to have to indulge in a bit of arrangement of things according to priority.

A good president simply isn't going to have time for and shouldn't have time for making the sad story of racial hysteria in a tiny town the center of his attention. That wouldn't mean he was "white" unless you consider responsibility to be an exclusively white trait and you don't, since you're not a racist of a kind who would talk down black people. I know that.

I'm quite sure you aren't promoting the idea that a president should intervene personally in judicial matters like the current administration and I'm sure you've heard Mr. Obama express his regrets at this unhappy situation that seems somehow headed for resolution without the Senator "being all over" it. So what is it really all about? do you really want to tell black people what they should or shouldn't; can or can't be because of their skin color?

I'm confused, I really am and although it could just be because I'm white, or worse yet - a hymie from hymietown, but maybe you could explain to me why Senator Obama isn't enough like you to be president.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Look the other way

It was a little bit of '68. It was a little bit of passion play. It was a taste of the police state and the sheep-like mental state of generation XBox, who sat there by the hundreds doing nothing but take pictures with their imported camera phones while a student had the crap beat out of him while held to the floor by a pile of University of Florida rent-a-cops who tasered and tasered and tasered him again while he screamed "let me go and I'll walk out of here."

What did he do? He ran longer than his allotted time - speaker John Kerry had given him permission to ask the final question and said it was a question worth answering. He was bubbly with enthusiasm - perhaps a little insensitive. What was the crime? Apparently it was not instant obedience to the goon squad trying to interfere with his right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Apparently he was too young to know it's the cops' country, not ours.

39 years ago Walter Cronkite told us "the whole world is watching" and they were. Today we're asking if anyone is watching, if anyone gives a damn what happens as long as their umbilical is still firmly attacked to the entertainment supply. Today I'm asking why those Nazi animals weren't confronted by thousands of angry students and forced to relinquish their prisoner. I'm asking why they're still in uniform.

Damn them and damn everyone who lets them get away with it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Men in Black go back

Are we witnessing a new birth of testicularity in Iraq? It seems like Blackwater Security; the guys with the black helicopters and carte blanche to do as they will in Iraq are being kicked out by the Maliki government. The company that operates out of a secret and massive privately owned military base in North Carolina and charges enormous fees for shady operations free from any military code or oversight is accused of being involved in a Baghdad shootout that ended 8 lives.

The astonishing rise of Blackwater has been, in my opinion, one of the most frightening developments of the Bush administration. They rose from relative obscurity to being an enormous private army for hire after 9/11 - George Bush's private army paid for by the public, sometimes at a rate of over $100,000 per man as we saw when they were hired to police New Orleans. If we allow the free government of free Iraq to exercise a bit of freedom, the men in black may be back home for Christmas. What about your son or daughter, or father or cousin?

Fight to be free

Everybody's had to fight to be free
You see you don't have to live like a refugee

-Tom Petty

Jupiter Island, Florida is one of the wealthiest spots in the US but its exact status is difficult to determine since the people who live there are so low profile. I'm not sure there is a phone book. Residents include Old Money and political Old Money families and a few more recognizable folks like Tiger Woods and Celine Dion. There are no commercial establishments of any kind and the streets are lined with security cameras and cruising police cars. You would think it was the worst place in Florida at which to drop off illegal immigrants from Haiti and the Bahamas.

It is. A crew working on some umpteen million dollar house last Saturday observed a rickety boat and some people struggling in the water with a few coming ashore. Although someone in the water was calling for help, other boats were ignoring him.
"And at that point, we were going, 'All right, there has to be something wrong going on out here.' Because if it was a regular person, just yelling for help or something, somebody would have stopped for them" said one observer.
Apparently, black people are not regular people and under the circumstances can be presumed to be without papers. This is the churchgoing, Bible studying, God pledging south, but illegal is illegal so let the bastards drown even if the law requires you to lend assistance. It's happened before and US citizens have been left in the water to perish by bad Samaritans. A host of comments attached to the article in the paper today confirm the anti-immigrant sentiment with a degree of passion that would make Lou Dobbs blush.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker is chastising the Department of Homeland Security for dragging its feet as concerns the processing of some 10,000 Iraqis whose lives are now worth less than a Dinar since they assisted the US government and are approved by the UN for political refugee status.

There are at least 2 million homeless Iraqis who are victims of the ethnic cleansing that has allowed the government coyly to argue that sectarian violence is down. There are 2.2 million more who have fled to other countries that are bursting at the seams. 60,000 are fleeing their homes every month or being forced out and there is no place for them to go. We are willing to use these people to argue that we must stay there indefinitely to protect them, but we are not willing to take 10,000 of them in. There's no oil in it for us after all and besides, like Haitians and Bahamians and Mexicans, they're different than "regular" people.

Cross posted at The Impolitic

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Florida justice

Maybe it isn't just the very rich that are different than you and I; the very Republican often can rely on a separate and not very equal justice. It seems that flirtatious Mark Foley won't be prosecuted for soliciting sex from a minor because there is a statute of limitations and he was able to run out the clock by invoking some prohibition against law enforcement being able to look at his computer even though it's owned and paid for by the taxpayers.

Ann Coulter may likewise scoot from under the felonious cloud she raised by voting in a precinct not her own and giving a false address when registering in Palm Beach Florida. Today's Palm Beach Post tells us
"The Florida Elections Commission investigation into whether populist conservative pundit Ann Coulter voted illegally in Palm Beach is expected to wind down in time for the commission's mid-November meeting. Complainant Richard Giorgio, a political consultant, just sent in additional paperwork on his testimony that he witnessed Coulter's vote in the wrong precinct in February 2006. .."
I have to admit I had dared to hope, but eyewitness testimony and documentary evidence against such as Coulter, with her friends in the FBI and the Republican Party make prosecuting her as difficult as prosecuting an 18 foot alligator in mating season. I'm sure she will slither away as easily and with the same contempt for the law as any scaled swamp thing. Perhaps the election commissioner should have called Animal Control in the first place.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hostages, martyrs and liars

If William Randolph Hearst had had television, I'm sure it would have been necessary for the US to attack some crumbling empire less pathetic than Spain's. As it was, the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor was the 9/11 of its time that allowed the media and McKinley to contrive a reason to bring freedom and American values to Cuba and the Philippines and annex the country of Hawaii.

If Fox News and Freedoms had been there, I'm sure they could have challenged France or Germany or England, if not all three. Hearst didn't have slick Ads using one-legged Judas goats to lead more people to martyrdom and he didn't have the families of the fallen to persuade us that to die a martyr for commercial interests and a president's ambition is sacred.

The lesson of the 1960's, for me, was that any war is sacred and once it's begun, reasons for its continuation will arise. Protest is bad because it decreases the morale of those being martyred for the cause that may not be questioned. Now as in the dear dead days of Vietnam, we have people who want to hold our democratic process and free speech hostage so that they can maintain the comforting illusion that their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers died for a noble cause. So it is that Merrillee Carlson, national chair of Families United for our Troops and Their Mission, went on Fox News to protest the use of the names of the dead in a protest against the continuation of the War for Oil.
"When somebody goes and abuses our son's courage and heroism by using it in this manner, it just strikes right to the heart and causes such pain that is unbelievable"
said she to Tucker Carlson. I'm sure her son had courage and he may or may not have been a hero; he may have thought George's oil grab really was a cosmic Manichaen struggle between Good and Evil, but my need to believe that and Merrillee's differ. Indeed if she believes he was abducted by aliens because it eases the pain, it is not America's problem nor is it America's duty to kill more and more and more so that she can sleep at night free from the suspicion that it was George W. Bush and his gang of Neocons who abused his courage and heroism, not the rest of us.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tu est Petraeus

et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam

- with apology to Matthew 16:18

There are a lot of disgusting things going on in the world, but Rudy Guiliani hasn't made a fuss about them. He is however in full faux outrage mode at present and it's all about the lack of respect George Bush's pet General is getting for what seems to many to have been more of a pep talk than an open and honest assessment of conditions in Iraq. Petraeus may be an ass kisser, but the red marks on his backside are from Rudy's lipstick.

Certainly Rudy wouldn't be defending the GAO report if it were being inquired into by Hillary Clinton, but then the GAO isn't the hand chosen spokesman for wars and their indefinite continuation. About the most we can say for Petraeus and his report is that he may be right that Bush did not clear it beforehand, but he did choose Petraeus, reputation for sycophancy and all, in pretty much the same way he has chosen everyone in his circle. You swear on the bible and with lips on Bush's butt. He chose Petraeus because the barrel of reasons for the war is about empty and he had to have something apparently rock solid to build his church of war upon.

The notion that respect for generals should prevent scrutiny of their reports even when world stability, the economy and millions of lives are at stake, is reprehensible even for a grandstanding drag queen with delusions of grandeur like Rudy who seems far too often and much too conveniently to forget who works for whom. Evidence of the administration's respect for the American people has been harder to find than evidence for Saddam's chemical, nuclear and biological weapons facilities.

I never had any respect for Guiliani and any vestige of respect for Petraeus was substantially dried up when he pulled the malodorous cliche so many war lovers rely on: that we only have freedom of speech because soldiers gave it to us. It's a partial truth at best and partial truths are the worst kind of lies. Nobody is fighting to preserve the Bill of Rights in Iraq and few if any administrations have done more to weaken and nullify our civil rights than this one. By trying to make our long term occupation of an oil producing country; building airfields, bases, fortified embassies to facilitate making Iraq an economic subsidiary of the US and the international oil companies seem all about our civil liberties, Petraeus has indeed betrayed us and betrayed the people to whom we were supposed to be bringing freedom and independence. By playing along with the bomb-and-switch game of falsely identifying Iraq with al Qaeda and 9/11, he has betrayed us.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Would you buy a used war from this man?

Expect to hear a lot more about the Petraeus/betray us ad in the New York Times. Expect never to hear the end of it. It's something that looks like it's got more legs than the photo of Jane Fonda on the Anti-aircraft gun. Somehow we're supposed to give him the kind of respect that asks no questions, looks at no prior performance and refrains from comparing his word to the words of others with less personal involvement. Somehow we're supposed to skulk away like a punished hound dog when blind respect for blind leaders and their sycophants is what got us involved in this mess in the first place. If past experience is any indication, we're going to be shown this ad as evidence that we "lost" the war in Iraq because of peaceniks and wimps called Bush's pet general a traitor. Our grandchildren will believe it. Our grandchildren will think it was a noble war for a noble cause and will refer to it while fighting to "Free" some other country.

The Mainstream parrots may stumble over their tongues trying to cast him in gilt bronze, but his superior officer, CENTCOM Chief, Admiral William Fallon, thinks he's an "ass kissing little chickenshit" and told him so to his face. It's going to be hard to smear Fallon with the usual slime however; he may have more than enough firepower of his own to blow any swift boats out of the water, so the media will no doubt do what it does - ignore him while parading their painted soldier.


If you're a human being, you are saddened by the story of Youssif, the Iraqi boy set on fire by unknown assailants. His face is deformed and we can only imagine how this child's view of the world is deformed by the pain he's been through and the ugliness he sees in the mirror. Of course you and I are pleased to see that some American hearts bled enough that he will receive the best in burn treatment and reconstructive surgery in the US.

Dr. Peter Grossman spoke on CNN this afternoon, outside the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks California, about the course of surgery that will probably involve more pain and as much as a year of treatment. He seemed a bit non-plussed when the reporter asked him how seeing Youssif had changed his views. For a second I half expected a denunciation of war, of violence, of the unthinking, uncaring horror of using massive military force to bomb crowded cities, but no, Grossman gave CNN what CNN wanted.

CNN wants heroes and has been blathering for weeks about heroes as though we needed men of marble instead of a world where common decency was common. Acting as though the masked men who burned a little boy could be taken out of context of the country we have destroyed in the name of fake freedom and real oil, he told us that all the good, warm, caring loving Americans who will surely send him teddy bears and pay for his expenses until they forget about him, balance out the bad men.

Youssif is 5. Had he been a dozen years older we would care about him as much as we care about all the other "Hadjis" we identify with "alqaeadainiraq" many of whom are shot, arrested tortured and blown to bits with little fanfare every day: just another brown skinned teenager standing in the way of the oil giants. It's too much to expect of CNN to ask how many children have been burned by American bombs or Iraqi bombs in the war America started; burned maimed, killed, orphaned, made homeless and deprived of a childhood and education. It's exactly what we expect of these toads to blame it on "alqaedainiraq." It's exactly the kind of tokenism we expect of self-idolizing Americans.

That this story was followed by an expensively produced ad gushing over America and it's commitment to FREEDOM accompanied by golden sunsets and pictures of men in battle dress, is fitting. Why bother with truth, justice, honesty, and a concern for humanity when we can grab the oil, kill anyone who stands in our way and make it all disappear behind a curtain of flags and patriotic advertising and a few token acts of mercy?

cross posted at The Impolitic

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Let's just give up.

It sometimes seems there is no end to the sea of lies, superstition and stupidity in which America floats and one of those times is now, when John Boehner can smugly announce to Wolf Blitzer this evening that any price to pay in Iraq is worth it if we stop al Qaeda there and because al Qaeda is the main enemy we are facing there. Do we have a future if someone like Blitzer can pass over this without saying "wait a minute - how stupid do you think the American people are?"

Do we have a future if the CNN switchboard isn't jammed with violently furious citizens sick to death of the lying and the corruption and the rule of morons? Is it worth pointing out that stopping a world wide operation by killing some of them in Iraq is meaningless?

Probably not. America is a country where power is always given to the stupidest, the most dishonest and the best able to lie with a straight face. We're the country that won't vote for someone perceived as smarter than us and dreams about some bumbling rube of a hero born in a log cabin with a vocabulary of slogans about honor. America is a place, where according to Jack Cafferty this evening, the majority think the Constitution establishes Christianity as a state religion and that the founding fathers sought to establish a Christian nation. It's a place where a substantial number believe that religious freedom applies only to Christians and that the Bible should be used as a standard history reference in the public schools.

Does this country retain a shred of the intelligence, education and indeed, the sanity to make a republic possible or will we be looking at our iPods and grumbling about toys and Britney's belly in a state of oblivion as we fade into history? Is it acceptable that a quarter of us didn't read a single book last year and the most literate perhaps read 4 romance novels or new-age self improvement crap?

Go ahead and call me an America basher - an America hater or anything you like, but if I had a brain in my head I would have abandoned this vast national celebration of ignorance a long time ago. It's only because I love what this country is supposed to be that I hate what it has become and I hate the people who have made it as it is and if I knew a word more hateful than hate I would use it.

A man walks into a bar. . .

“I can’t get with any religion that advertises in Popular Mechanics."

–Woody Allen, Annie Hall

Nor can I, but I find it equally incongruous that we have television advertisements for a war financed by people who produce and direct it. Neither the Rosicrucians or Ari Fleischer hiding behind his war mongering Freedoms Watch group have invented anything here. Contrived religions, wars fought and passionately supported for business reasons, quack medicine and sports insanity are old traditions.

So when a man wearing a Texas Longhorns T Shirt gets his scrotum torn off in an Oklahoma bar by a 53 year old Church Deacon, Federal auditor and veteran of our much honored, supported and honorable armed forces, I'm not surprised. Although neither the scrotum ripping Sooner Supporter nor the de-horned Texas man had ever attended the schools in question, the incident was a clear intention to attack Oklahoma values and freedom by Lone Star insurgents. Pre-emptive castration was the only real option. They attacked Oklahoma, after all. Oklahoma and its barroom bullies had little choice but to defend their freedoms and values and honor. Oklahoma is OK.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And another thing

Jesus of Nazareth has no legal immunity to criticism, be it genuine or slanderous and in fact, a cornerstone of our republic is my right to say what I please about him. But you can't tell that to the cringing, timorous bastards of the media or the bombastic, peremptory theotwits who insist on badgering us about blasphemy while buggering kids and stealing from the alms box.

After receiving her Emmy last weekend, Ms Griffith said:
"a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."
That's absolutely true and since it's a bit of a joke at her own expense, it's funny. The question of whether Jesus or any other god has a sense of humor is of course moot, but the people who pretend gods exist for power and profit do not tolerate humor and they have bullied the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences into bleeping and redacting her speech. Catholic League President Bill Donohue, called it a "vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech" yesterday. Bill doesn't know what hate speech is. This is hate speech: "Fuck you Bill - and the Bible you slithered in on."

Bill doesn't seem to know that we don't have and may not legally have blasphemy laws in the US and he doesn't seem to know that someone who does not exist can neither be harmed by anything or protected by law. Bill seems to think he has an invisible bodyguard. Fuck him too.

Of course they have every right to air what they want but the right is mine to decide to ignore their tawdry events as well.


Of course the Republicans want to make a big deal out of the advertisement; condemning it as a "despicable act" although none of them has ever spent a moment condemning scurrilous attacks on any Democrat. It's not as though public figures and public employees are above criticism or have a history of not deserving it.

Somehow though, nothing can be said these days about anyone in the military without bowing the head and mumbling formulae about honor and sacrifice. It's not about honor and sacrifice, it's about being wrong. It's about the kind of bravado and blind confidence that gets people killed. It's about having a history of predicting imminent and rosy outcomes that never come out as predicted.

Respect, of course, is what you demand when you are defending something most people doubt and you have a record of defending misestimations and mistakes, but respect for generals and their opinions and their ability to speak against their commanders commands has to be earned and so far I don't think that Petraeus has earned respect for his predictions or objectivity, PhD notwithstanding.

It seems that a majority of Americans doubt him; doubt the independence of his thoughts and statements and the success of adding a few more troops after the country is nearly destroyed. A majority doubts that the word "Victory" or "Winning" really apply. While I wouldn't go so far as to say he has betrayed us, and while I give him respect where it is due, he owes us, we don't owe him or Bush or any of his gang of forty thieves. By trying to make the opinion of the public seem the delusion of a fringe group wearing silly hats or some nasty terrorist loving Liberals who don't support the troops or worship the generals and pay too much attention to GAO reports and independent news sources, they are simply distracting us from remembering our own sovereignty.

None of us ever would have voluntarily spent 10 billion dollars a day, year after tedious year or suffered thousands of casualties or hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in order to risk a one in a million chance of a liberal democracy friendly to Western oil exploitation if we had know the cost or anticipated a war that could take another 10 or 15 years to produce a very dubious chance of success. None of us owes any particular respect to any of those who conned us into it and who act petulant when we demand out. None of us need feel bad about disrespecting those who have done nothing whatever to punish the 9/11 perpetrators and who have invoked their deeds every other minute and have convinced us that they are around every corner in order to cow us into continuing on a losing and self destructive course forever.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ignorance is evidence of innocence

Senator Larry "restless leg" Craig: the season's biggest gift to the Stand-up comedy industry. Senator Bojangles Craig, his toes a tappin' and his lyin' lips a flappin' has got himself a lawyer to tell us all that his guilty plea was the result of stress from having been outed by an Idaho newspaper.

Billy Martin, advocate for the tap dancing Senator with the wide stance, assures us that photos of Craig in gay bars notwithstanding, a vehement denial "put to rest" all the evidence of gayness and so in order to assure everyone that he is not now and never has been a homosexual, he plead guilty to soliciting for gay sex in a toilet. Make sense? Ask a Republican like Arlen Spector.

Under Minnesota law, says Martin, a guilty plea can be overturned only if it was unknowing and unintelligent. Perhaps, if he can convince a judge that Craig is an idiot who doesn't know innocent from guilty he might have a chance. As Spector says, after all ". . . what Sen. Craig did was by no means intelligent."

If the "I'm not intelligent" defense works, just think of how soon we can empty the jails!

Cross posted at The Reaction

It's getting better all the time

I'm no longer in that 18% who thinks Congress has enough good men in it to recommend that Yahweh not dispatch it to the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah. They did their best to make this all about how wonderful our troops are - it's not. They tried to make it about those nasty lefties making it a personal attack on the General - it's isn't. They tried to make it all about the left wing minority - it isn't and they're not a minority who think this "report" is not objective. They tried to make it all about standing up to an enemy and thereby keeping the respect of our allies - it isn't; the enemy is the people of a country who never attacked us and never sponsored "state terrorism." Our allies and our detractors haven't had any respect for us since we allowed the Commander Guy to call himself the President. In short they made it all about what they have been doing and saying day after day to those who question, who doubt and who are aware of the disparity between the official story and the story told by everyone else.

Petraeus says they want us there. Others say 70% want us out. Petraeus says the police and army are improving, others say they are totally ineffective and massively corrupt, some selling the weapons we provide on the black market. Petraeus says we can't get weapons to them fast enough. Others report that we have no idea who we gave them to and that they are turning up in the hands of insurgents in Turkey.

I'm past caring. America will do the stupid thing - we always do and when the piper presents his invoice we will spend generations rewriting history to protect the idiots - we always do. And then we'll do it again, using fake lessons from this debacle to justify another one. We always do.

Waiting for Petraeus

Any minute now General Westmoreland Petraeus, lips still warm from kissing his boss' ass will give us his pep talk about Iraq. Is there any more reason to see at as more informative than the endless harangue about how much weight Don Shula lost on the Nutrasystem Diet or just how much of a sports car the latest land blimp is?

Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch has been hammering all morning on CNN about "they attacked US" and about how if we quit now, "it all will have been in vain."

Why bother to watch? We know what they're selling and if they were half as honest as the diet scammers, they would put up the same small print on the screen -- "Results not typical."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fear and loathing at breakfast

"This is the horror of American politics today -- not that Richard Nixon and his fixers have been crippled, convicted, indicted, disgraced and even jailed -- but that the only alternatives are not much better; the same dim collection of burned-out hacks who have been fouling our lives with their gibberish for the last twenty years."
I often wish Hunter S. Thompson were still around. Anything I've tried to write about what has happened to the country we both mourned has owed something to him. I've recently begun to read and re-read his voluminous work and Fear and loathing in the Bunker, which appeared in the New York Times on New Year's day 1974 was this morning's breakfast.

Our feelings about Nixon's villainy, his dishonesty, his ambition to rule can easily be transferred to George W. Bush, whose coven includes many of the accessories to Nixon's crimes and in a way, looking at what we're enduring now with only small traces of the reaction that forced Tricky Dick out of office, produces more of those signature emotions than all the fear and loathing of the early 1970's.

On that New Year's day, Thompson was taking some pleasure at the discomfiture of " the main villain of my political consciousness for as long as I can remember." He correctly predicted the coming resignation, but speculated on what tactics President Nixon might chose to remain in power, including:
"A long-term treaty with Russia, arranged by Henry Kissinger, securing Moscow's support of an American invasion, seizure and terminal occupation of all oil-producing countries in the Middle East. . . and give the Federal Government unlimited Emergency powers."
Of course we don't worry too much about Russia any more and don't need their support for the other part of the plan which was a nuclear strike on China. Yes we have some different pawns on the chessboard. China is more threatening for making plastic toys now, but we have Iran and its "terrorists."

Nixon did of course resign, but Nixon's entourage re-entered the mainstream and Pat Buchanan and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and all the Neo-cons and ex cons and Nixonians who populate the Republican Party are carrying on the legacy aided by a much more scientific and powerful ability to manipulate opinion and create false scenarios.

Pat Buchanan compared the Nixon debacle to the tale of Sisyphus. "we rolled the rock all the way up the mountain . . . and it rolled right back down on us." Pat has certainly found other rocks to roll and Bush has rolled that same rock nearly all the way up a new hill and rolled it over us in the process. The fear that he will succeed where Nixon failed and the loathing I feel thinking about how we have done nothing to prevent it and much to promote it must be emotions I shared with the late Mr. Thompson who of course finally succumbed in that second year of Bush's war on Democracy and ended his life.
"Despite all the savage excesses committed by the people he chose to run the country, no real opposition or realistic alternative to Richard nixon's cheap and mean-hearted view of the American Dream has ever developed."
Yet there was optimism in 1974:
" It has been a failure of such monumental proportions that political apathy is no longer considered fashionable, or even safe, among millions of people who only two years ago thought that anybody who disagreed openly with "the Government" was either paranoid or subversive."
It didn't last.
" Political candidates, in 1974 at least, are going to have to deal with angry, disillusioned electorate that is not likely to settle for flag-waving and pompous bullshit."
Perhaps he underestimated the memory of our born-yesterday, dumbed down, entertainment oriented and gullible fellow Americans and the power of our eternal enemy.

I don't think I'm the suicide type, but I understand the Sisyphean horror, the frustration, the hopelessness that comes from loving the country this should have been; that we hoped it was; that we thought we could make it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Path to nowhere

You remember that ABC mini-series The Path to 9/11 that caused much controversy last year because it invented dialog, invented meetings between people, invented events and slanted history to blame Bill Clinton for the attack on New York. The ratings turned out not to be so good for what they had to call "docudrama" since it wasn't historical enough to be called a documentary and "historical fiction" was too close to the truth to be good for sales. Had anyone heard the term docudrama before? I hadn't.

Apparently sales of any possible DVD aren't expected to be very good either because ABC has expressed no interest in releasing it, but the Iranian refugee who wrote and directed this tedious and tendentious program is making the circuit drumming up right wing rage with the story that the Clintons are trying to block the video. As with the series itself that contained much fiction and fantasy masquerading as fact, his claim has no verifiable factual basis.

Cyrus Nowrasteh, whose family fled Iran after the fall of the US installed Shah and thus has a likely motivation for hating Democrats, has claimed in the Los Angeles Times and on Fox News and through Rush Limbaugh, that an unnamed ABC executive gave him a vague warning that the Clintons were trying to block the video release. Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer denies even hearing about the DVD until he read about it in the paper. ABC, who along with their parent company Disney received an enormous negative response in advance of the series and decided to edit out the most egregious inventions denies that it has any plans to release it on disc.

Nowrasteh would of course like to have it out in time to slander Hillary Clinton by proxy and profit by the sleaze that is sure to be launched against her. His supporters see the absence of a DVD as a violation of his "artistic freedom" but it's impossible not to consider that having had their reputation tarnished once already, ABC would just as soon forget about being involved in or seen supporting a party whose integrity is harder to locate than Osama bin Laden.

This way to the egress - part II

APEC / OPEC. Austria, /Australia; the only connection between these organizations and countries is the addled brain and braying mouth of the man who controls America's largest white-collar crime cartel and America's Nukes.

In Australia for the APEC conference, the embarrassing Mr. Bush proudly presented his dimwitted confusion and once again the Commander guy couldn't find the exit and someone had to show him the door, a metaphor in action that can't have escaped notice or comparison and surely prompted the cringing majority of Americans to be be happy to show him the door as soon as possible.

Check Raw Story for the video

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Right on Ron!

One of the reasons I hate watching the TV political debates is that I can't stand up and say what nobody ever stands up and says while listening to the slogans and platitudes about victory and honor and perhaps it's just as well I'm not there to be arrested for it, but at least we have Ron Paul. He and I may disagree about many things like public education and social security, but all along in this premature political contest, when he speaks up about our history in Iran, when he calls hucksters like Huckabee on his claims that continuing the Iraq horror story is about "honor" I'm on my feet saying "Right on Ron."

It's not about honor, it's about saving face and the insistence that saving face is more important than doing the right thing is the same thing that made Nixon prolong the war in Viet Nam. Huckabees memorized babble about "unity" reminded me more of gangsters needing to stick to the story to avoid prosecution than about us all getting behind a lie and a war and the liars who started it. It's not unity it's saving face.

Crooks and Liars has the video here.

Freedom's just another word

It's to the point where every time I see another picture of those damned smoking towers I know somebody's going to lie to me and last night was no exception.
"They attacked us!"
says the legless man in camouflage; The ad run during NBC Nightly News showed that same old video as though he wasn't talking about two disparate and essentially unrelated "they's." A shadowy organization calling themselves Freedoms Watch is shamelessly promoting the Big Lie that Saddam Hussein attacked New York and with the smug, condescending attitude of a second grade school teacher talking to small children about keeping order in the lunchroom.

If we pull out now, the sacrifice will have been in vain, says the pathetic victim of the Bush family vendetta. Well here's the only point on which I agree since it was all in vain from the start. If I don't keep trying to turn lead into gold, I will never turn lead into gold. That's logically true, of course, but a misleading tautology. I won't turn lead into gold no matter what I do.

So what the hell is he really selling with the crude sophistry and fatuous fallacies? Nobody goes to the trouble of creating false equivalences and forging them into truth by relentless hammering on the anvil of American ear drums unless there's something to be gained by it. Freedom's Watch doesn't hide their mission, although they keep their identity and funding out of sight. Their web site is festooned with flags and eagles and tawdry tokens of cheap souvenir patriotism and its mission statement is as gaudy and cliché as one would expect from any carnival barker:
Our mission is to ensure a strong national defense and a powerful fight against terror, especially in Iraq.
National defense being deceitfully defined, of course, as committing all your assets in an attack on and occupation of a non-threatening nation. National defense is using those troops as hostages in an imperial endeavor. But terror is fear, not a country and sorry to say, I'm not afraid much less terrified, so for my part the question is moot.
Our group will give a voice to those who believe that victory is America's only choice.
Which begs the question the answer to which has been accepted by most rational people including the Generals. The question is "what is victory for us in someone else's civil war" and the answer is that military victory is not a concept that applies here. Dealing with the fact that hating America to death is growing like an epidemic that grows faster every time we kill someone in a country that did not threaten us or attack us does not include the prolonged military occupation of Iraq. Those who believe, in this case, are most likely to be those who profit.
Those who want to quit while victory is possible have dominated the public debate about terror and Iraq since the 2004 election.
But that's not too surprising because Victory is undefinable, occupation unsustainable and what seems to be the largest possible majority in America wants out of it -- and they want out because they believe "victory" is not possible. There is in fact no debate about Iraq and terrorism. Iraq was never a supporter of international terrorism. Those countries who supported al Qaeda are being called allies.
For those who believe in peace through strength, the cavalry is coming.
Yes, this is a John Wayne movie and will end nicely as the credits roll on the silver screen. Don't worry about it. Strength means constant war, doesn't it? Strong people are always picking fights.
Our goal, as we await General Petraeus' report, is to make sure our elected leaders do not abandon our nation's mission in Iraq and that they do not cave in to the demands of those who want to cut and run.
After all, it's not their job to execute the will of their constituents, is it? It's what the nameless and wealthy warmongers and plutocrat profiteers want that should matter to them. It's also rather suspicious that they seem to know what General Petraeus' report contains, but of course we know the source of all this, don't we?

There's no fallacy or misstatement there that hasn't been beaten to death, but human nature being what it is, repetition wipes away refutation and lies become history. Click on the about us link at Freedoms watch and you won't find anything about them other than an assertion that they are legal and are asking for money, as though the people who fund it haven't made so much money from this war that they don't need your contributions. What they really want is your freedom, and your future and the blood of your children.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Kicking it

"We're kicking ass" said the ever-eloquent George W. Bush to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile. That's not to say, of course that we're making Iraq safe for American occupation and oil exploitation, much less making it safe for Iraqis and it's certainly not to say that we're winning. We have however, kicked a lot of people out of their country and they may be the lucky ones. "Kicking Ass" to my way of thinking is one of the exhausted idioms George Orwell refers to as a token of insincerity. It allows Bush to seem sanguine without actually lying.

Bush, of course, is in Australia seeking to aid the re-election of Prime Minister John Howard over the Australian Labor Party's Kevin Rudd and of course to sell his war. Somehow the full scale riots expected in protest of his presence and his policies would make the effort questionable, but questionable efforts, questionable ethics, and questionable deeds have never really seemed to matter to Bush who listens to higher sources than the people he's hired to serve. I'm sure he will kick ass in Australia too.

Conversations overheard

A TV was on in the doctor's waiting room and Creepy Craig's lawyer was on NBC telling us that Craig had a good chance of saying "never mind" to the Minnesota courts and getting off on the misdemeanor charges, but of course Congress was wrong, says he, to censure a Senator for a misdemeanor - that should be and always has been reserved for treason, high crimes and misdemeanors quoth he. Glossing over the obvious contradiction, let's go straight to lyin' Larry Craig's support of impeachment of Bill Clinton.

I really do like lawyers and the entertainment they provide. The idea of changing your mind and getting a re-trial not on the basis of new information but because some lawyer says he can get you off and getting off is "exoneration" is worth a real chuckle.

But speaking of chuckleheads, the news continued with Matt Lauer and Bill Clinton. The goon sitting next to me, wearing an "Army Dad" t-shirt began to explain to his wife that Bill was laughing at us. "here we threw him out of office and he's getting free medical care for life and a free office and a pension and police protection and you and I are paying for it - no wonder he's laughing." He had coasted right through the Larry Craig story. I didn't know Mars had an army.

Sitting at the Yacht Club on a recent Wednesday evening -- we don't usually talk about politics, but the town and the membership tend to be iron clad Republicans -- the fellow across the table began a joke about Bush and two other ex presidents. I tried to hide my cringe, thinking taxes and Monica and those damned liberals were about to be presented, but no, it turned out to be a joke about Bush's stupidity. Maybe Lincoln was right that you can't fool them all, all of the time.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fade to black

Tell people the same thing over and over until they're blue in the face. It doesn't matter. Tell them ten thousand times that A is not B but when you ask again later; from 30 minutes to three days, depending upon their age, all they will remember is A and B and how they must be the same because they appear together all the time.

The Washington Post talks today about several studies confirming this sad fact, although it's nothing new. Creating false associations always has been the game of the powerful and those who would be but even without ill intent, it happens. Say SUV and safety often enough and you forget the statistics. Say Illegal and Alien often enough and you associate foreigners with crime. It doesn't matter what separates or comes between A and B; after a while they become identical in memory.

False associations affect public opinion whether they are accidental or deliberately manufactured. During Bush War I, for instance, the writer Andre Codrescu wrote about the way he was set upon in New Orleans by people screaming "America - number one" because he had dark hair and a moustache and an accent. He is of course, not an Arab, much less an Iraqi, but Romanian. That was simply the result of ignorance and nationalism. Worse of course is when we learn to associate Iraq with 9/11.

The article speculates that all the information that has repeatedly shown that there is no significant association simply serves to create an association as memory blurs. Worse of course is how Bush's junta has striven to connect those two things. An interesting new blog, unfortunately named but very erudite and highly recommended Unfrozen Caveman Rhetorician points out the sly way that Bush used what Kenneth Burke called "merger terms" to conflate al Qaeda and Iraq in a speech in Charleston, SC last month. Merger terms, like his continually repeated "al Qaeda in Iraq" are
"rhetorical expressions used to obscure the material differences by falsely subsuming via an ideological frame of reference"
Somehow he and Cheney and their various mouthpieces, through this phenomenon of forgetfulness and rhetorical sleight of hand, have come to be able to rely on an argument that has not only been refuted years ago, but even previously denied by them.

Island of lost souls

"Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"

H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

Well the jury may still be out, according to George Bush, on matters of science and evolution, but the jury of George's peers; the stupid, the ignorant, the fundamentalist, would be harder to put together in other countries. Plans to allow British scientists to create human-animal embryos are, according to The Guardian, expected to be approved tomorrow by the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The idea is to use one of several techniques to derive human stem cells using only animal eggs, such as inserting a human cell nucleus into an egg from another species. The goal is to be able to have a sufficient supply of these all purpose cells to study treatments for degenerative diseases and spinal cord injuries.

Tomorrows decision comes after a year of argument and lobbying between research scientists and religious groups opposed to blurring the distinction between men and animals; blurry though science shows it to be and of course the untimely release of unredeemed souls from bits of biological matter that may or may not be human. Does a rat-man have a soul or half a soul and does it inherit original sin through its mother if it doesn't have a mother? Demented minds want to know.

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's decisional

I'm not even going to bother with the dictionary. If Decisional is a word, it shouldn't be, but a Decisional meeting is what Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell called today's "surprise" get together at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq's Anbar province; bringing together senior U.S. military leaders, top Iraqi political leadership, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and of course, the Decider in full Decisional mode.
"Nothing beats the opportunity to look David Petraeus in the eye and Ambassador Crocker and say, 'What's the situation? What do you think?'"
said an unnamed "senior official as quoted by ABC News today. I don't agree. I think we'd be better off, decisionally speaking, having the opinion of someone whose career doesn't depend on selling vain hopes and sanguine dreams to delusional deciders.

Whether or not there has been a significant and stable gain in overall security in Iraq of late, and whether the administration is simply sprucing up the stage set or building a full scale Potemkin Village, one can be forgiven a bit of skepticism -- and particularly one old enough to remember General Westmoreland's hauntingly similar vision of a "light at the end of the tunnel" 10 weeks before the Tet Offensive.

cross posted at The Reaction

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A three hour tour

How far is it from Fantasy Island to Gilligan's Island? Our Iraq experience should give us a clue, but perhaps we'll have an even better fix if what Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center said last week at a meeting organised by The National Interest comes true. According to today's Times of London, Debat said:
"The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days."
We know what the Minnow's three hour tour turned into and we know how the "matter of weeks at most" Iraqi adventure turned out. Can we hope for anything better with a "three day blitz" in Iran? I think we can hope for worse - much worse. Debat believes the Pentagon’s plans for military action involve the use of so much force that they are unlikely to be carried out because they would seriously stretch resources in Afghanistan and Iraq, but of course we have plenty of nuclear weapons and a president that's desperate to win something by doubling up his bets.

Perhaps Bush is trying Richard Nixon's "madman theory" in the hopes that Iran will be afraid and back down, but it didn't work against North Vietnam and I don't know why it seems more likely to work now. Bush is beginning more and more to appear like the frustrated schoolyard bully who has turned everyone against him and out of desperation brings a gun to school.

cross posted at The Reaction