Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wise to the words

This being the last day of 2008, it's customary to bring out my consultant Dr. Syntax and air his views about how none of you speak English properly. Indeed there are a number of stupid neologisms, platitudes, Clichés, malapropisms and other linguistic transgressions I'm sick of hearing and you should be too.

It seems however, that academia has scooped old Syntax and released a more official list of awful verbal offal yesterday. Michigan's Lake Superior State University has taken it upon itself, or at least the English Department has, to ban a number of recent common usages, and although my cranky friend is a bit offended at the lack of respect and recognition he feels he deserves, he's used to it and he quite agrees with most of their condemnations.

Carbon footprint has been spewed forth from journalistic smokestacks all year and it deserves to be at the top of the list for many reasons, not the least of which is the inherent misunderstanding of basic chemistry. It's the compounds of carbon fouling the air and carbon dioxide is no more carbon than water is hydrogen, nor does either substance lend itself to having footprints. Find a better term, says my friend Syntax, or you may find his footprint on your you know where.

What else has brought forth the wrath of Syntax this year? Green: yes it's easier to type than ecologically advantageous and easier to attach to every trivial thing, action or policy the creativity of Madison Avenue and other enthusiastic simpletons can dream up. A thermos bottle isn't particularly green, for instance, unless it's made by Stanley, and virtually all things advertised as such wouldn't make a bit of difference even if most of the world bought them -- unless being green in the face from disgust counts. Algae is green and we could do with less of it in our rivers and ponds. Organic? Crude oil and snake venom are organic. Don't look for them at Whole Foods.

Syntax, you'll note I'm not calling him "the good doctor" because that's vapid Cliché number 147 on his list, remains thoroughly opposed to a number of hackneyed metaphors, so overused that they have often obliterated more accurate and legitimate words. The now permanent fatwa on the carrion metaphor impact has been joined by ass kicking and references to suction to indicate incompetence or disapproval. These stopped being creative or even mildly humorous before you were born. Stop it.

Perhaps it will be another 4 years before we have to arrest anyone for using stumping and campaign trail, but please use the time to think of more direct replacements for these bits of verbal road-kill.

Syntax has nearly beaten efforting and texting to death, as he does with "verbed" nouns in general, but nearly isn't enough, is it?

Euphemisms such as right-sizing don't disguise the fact that your company is firing your department and it just makes your boss more of a jerk then you knew he was.

Changing the sign on your Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indian or Japanese restaurant to say "Asian cuisine" makes you sound like a moron and it's an insult to the ethnicities you're attempting to cover with some gluey "Asian sauce." There's no such category as Asian, Asiatic or Oriental food - or sauce, and yes all three words mean exactly the same thing. And while we're on the subject of food, what the hell is comfort food and what would discomfort food be?

Graphic doesn't mean scary, and issue isn't synonymous with problem or concern. A bowel movement is an issue -- constipation s a problem.

There's been nothing new in rocket science since Newton and as a metaphor for technical difficulty, you'd be better off talking about rocket technology. All you'd lose thereby is the association with the lemmings of language.

Warfighter. Did we really need that one and doesn't it serve to dehumanize a soldier? As the military ( right after the business school) is often at the forefront of promulgating misleading and opaque usage, I'm suspicious, although I will admit with some degree of guilty feelings that I've always liked Overkill.

So anyway, the old man is getting a bit tired of you and the thoughtless way you talk and of having to remind you of it every year. We both know you'll be eating double bacon cheeseburgers in front of the TV by next week regardless of all your resolutions and you'll still be using "fell swoop" and "control freak" as though you knew what you were saying, you reprobate you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Light at heart

“Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies,”
said "Chip" Saltsman. I'm sure that many of them would see "Barak the Magic Negro" as hilarious, that many of them would see Rush Limbaugh as a funny man.
“Please enjoy the enclosed CD by my friend Paul Shanklin of the Rush Limbaugh Show”
read the note RNC candidate "Chip" attached to the CD containing 41 tracks of "light-hearted political parodies" and distributed as a message of Christmas cheer to Republican National Committee members. Republicans love Christmas and all it's religious meanings, you know. It's titled "We hate the USA." These light hearted bozos of course can't be accused of hating the USA, they just think most of the people in it are comical Poles, Jews, Liberals, homos, Mexican illegals, murderous Muslims, and of course Negros, any of whom can be stereotyped, ridiculed and condescended to over Scotch and sodas at the good old boy's club where loving America's most obnoxious traditions is as de regeur as a good old black-face minstrel show or lunch at the Coon Chicken Inn.

Rush Limbaugh, you know, the guy who avoided the draft because of an anal infection and who let his housekeeper take the fall for his drug addiction and who thinks it's "light-hearted" to compare a homely self conscious adolescent girl with a dog on national TV, predicted a while back that featuring the song on his radio program would foster accusations of racism. That wasn't hard to predict seeing that it is racism of the most arrogant sort. But no, Chip and Rush and the rest of the country club comedians haven't broken any laws. It's possible that they truly don't see anything wrong in being the douche bags they are and will go to their graves thinking they've been put-upon by moral censors and do-gooders and humorless liberals and there's little we can do about it other than to hope the event comes soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

A warm and humid Christmas morning; the gray skies beginning to clear, making the cumulonimbus towering over Okeechobee visible, reminding us of Summer. Kids in the street on brand new bicycles, one on a sky blue scooter, two in an electric car. It smells like rain and wet cypress mulch.

Groggy from last nights party, not looking forward to tonight's, wishing for a quiet anchorage, a sunset over the endless dark sea of mangroves and the endless swash of the surf. It will soon be over.

Wishing you all a perfect Christmas day and may you get everything you really wanted.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No prospect for recovery

The New York Times humor section asks you to come up with a caption for this picture. I don't find anything funny about it, other than the fact that Americans have so long sneered at the idea of small, fuel sipping American cars while complaining that Detroit isn't technically adept enough to produce them. The little Nash Metropolitan was one of many failures in the era of "bigger is better" and that's an era with no signs of ending. In fact nobody makes cars big enough for us, or clumsy, or unstable enough, so we drive trucks and vans and pretend, like Governor Schwarzenegger said on 60 minutes last night, that magic technology will allow us to keep driving them and keep making them bigger.

I was waiting at a light to turn on to old Dixie Highway yesterday, top down and shades on, when a venerable Porsche 356, followed by a TR-4, followed by an XK120 rolled past in convoy making a joyful noise; tops down in the fragrant, 75 degree Florida sunshine. I had hoped to catch up with them and share the country road and the joy of life for a moment, but of course by the time the light changed, there was an SUV and then another and a van and a huge jacked up pick-up lumbering along, their timid occupants sealed in bank vault vehicles, breathing canned air and peering through their tinted windows darkly.

But of course Americans are always victims, so it's the manufacturers' fault that we hate and fear small cars and American's hate being American so it's Detroit's fault that it isn't located in Japan. Funny though, that Toyota, who also makes the same kind of misbegotten vehicles Americans crave is suffering too and so is Honda and so, it seems, is everyone else. Toyota announced after Monday's close that it expected to lose more than a billion and a half dollars in 2009 and Japan's exports are already down 26%. Spokesmen for Honda say they see no prospect for recovery. But when it does come, if it does come, won't we go back to our same old trucks with renewed lust?

So how do we convince the mothers of America that they don't need 4 ton trucks to go to the beauty parlor and that safety has a much to do with putting down the Evian and the cell phone and learning how to pick a line through a corner as it does with Gross Vehicle Weight? Does it even matter if we will have to resort to buying cars we can actually afford because we can't get credit or are out of a job? Whatever happens, the open road and the spirit of adventure and freedom are gone and those "On The Road" Dean Moriarty moments won't ever happen again if Mom and her Hummer can help it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday of Hate

Michelle Malkin is talking about Christmas cheer. Yes, it's like Kim Jong Il talking about threats to civil liberties, only worse, because we don't have Fox News bleating his demented ravings or calling them "conservative comment."

Yes, it's the atheists, as though they were a group: it's the atheists, the non-believers who are getting in the way of her cheerful enjoyment of Christmas and the atheists who should be treated like "Internet trolls." That, I presume, means to ignore them. Of course, in Fox speak, that means to continue their mythical battle between retail Christianity and the nefarious forces of religious freedom.

Gretchen Carlson, who apparently has a good shot at surpassing Malkin for sheer vituperative viciousness disagrees, saying that religious freedom will be the death of Christianity.
"If you don't stand up and fight for it, it might just disappear! I'm talking about Christianity!"
No, you're not, you're talking about forced unanimity and mandatory expressions of official faith. Christianity thrived actual persecution for enough time to make me doubt that it's future is in jeopardy, at least from other religions, and it has thrived through persecutions of it's own, but it's having a tougher time in some places that leave everyone alone to celebrate if and when and how they like and restrain them from forcing their practices and rituals on others.

Back before Christianity was coopted by those who play to the stupid and ignorant and hateful; back before Fox News and the Aryan Nation, it was an inclusive holiday. As a non-Christian and an atheist and someone who knows all too much about Christian history, about early Christian, Greco-Persian, Roman and Norse practices that form the basis of Christmas: as someone who knows how the holiday (and yes, it's a goddamn holiday) owes more to Coca-Cola, Hallmark and Charles Dickens than to some Jewish baby born to a teenage mother in April of an indeterminate year about 2000 years ago, I've always celebrated it anyway. After all Christmas as we know it is an American holiday and one that used to bring about a spirit of tolerance, brotherhood and generosity to a unique degree. It was a holiday that brought out the liberal in most of us.

Now that it's become a bloody piece of meat in the claws of harpies like Malkin and Carlson, now that we've become as stupid and superstitious and as ready to rend our neighbors as any of our subhuman cousins at the behest of Fox and its stable of demons, I'm no longer interested. Its just another hot poker in the dungeons of the Fox inquisition.

Of course if their were any real Christians in this country they might propose at least to ignore this attempt to make it a holiday of hate, but perhaps that, like liberty and the pursuit of happiness just another lost hope of the secular humanists who first dreamed of it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just Print it

“The Fed is sending a message that it will print money to an unlimited extent until it starts to see the economy expanding,”
says William Poole, former president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank and now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. The Fed today cut the Fed fund rate, or the overnight borrowing rate, to 0.25% today.

It's an appealing strategy because of course, it's been tried in Japan and didn't do much of anything but provide enough liquidity for people outside that country to make a lot of money on their misfortune. It's a good way to pay off massive debts though - just print it. The idea of a 0% main interest rate prevailed in Japan from 2001 to 2006, in order to pump up a sinking economy and stimulate lending. The hope of stimulating commercial banks to lend failed for them, but of course the idea of the US as a separate universe with different laws has been part of our policies for a long time and we still have a month to go before George leaves the building. Gentlemen -- start the presses.

So you say you could use some of that 0% financing yourself? Don't count on it. We're not banks, you know: we just bail them out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One by one

Printing things on sheets of paper and using an army of planes, trains, automobiles and sometimes bicycles to carry tons of printed material all over the country in order to keep the public informed is an increasingly anachronistic process. More ironic is the need to pay other people to collect, remove and recycle all that paper.

Even the most anachronistic technologies can take a long time to die. Decades after the advent of the telephone, it was still necessary to cajole a fearful and suspicious public into realizing that they needed one and of course the habits we make using outmoded processes are hard to break. People older than I am often cite the Sunday morning ritual of coffee and three pounds of newsprint as a high point of the weekend, but people younger rely more and more on the Internet, with it's vastly greater diversity of information, constantly updated and always available.

Television never was the threat to printed paper that the Internet has become. Around the clock news coverage has devolved into the constant mastication of a small handful of stories and is increasingly limited to local and sensational news and sometimes outrageously biased propaganda. The Internet has few limits.

The venerable and respected Christian Science Monitor has now ceased to use the wood pulp technology and has gone to the Web. Virtually all the print media has a Web presence. Advertising revenues are falling substantially and it's hard to think that we're not seeing the accelerating demise of the newspaper as we have known it. The Chicago Tribune has filed for bankruptcy, Detroit papers may soon curtail home delivery, publishers of local and regional papers are laying off staff.

Of course we will lose something intangible along with our very tangible piles of paper. When has there ever been change without loss? I'm guessing that one thing we will lose is the credibility of mainstream sources relative to the blogs, the fringe web sites, the loony bloviators and the special interest propagandists. Just who will the reporters at tomorrow's presidential news conferences represent?

Some seem to be making a joyful noise at the prospect; irresponsible polemicists for profit like Ann Coulter, for instance. Those who thrive on half-truth, fabrication, slander, slur and sleaze might well prosper in an Internet sea of smaller fish, where established entities aren't as easy to differentiate from crackpot sites and propaganda sites and blogs with plain old irresponsible reportage. Such places have little to lose when exposed and can change names and re-emerge. The New York Times cannot and it's far easier to hold reporters and editors who use real names accountable.

Still I won't mourn the inevitable extinction; the gains far out weigh the losses, but still -- if Ann Coulter likes it, it can't be all that good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Step by step

It wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't have the mindless, botox-faced zombies at Fox yelping about the insult to religion. Of course it wouldn't be a free country if we weren't allowed to express our objections to anything or were forced to make religious oaths and follow religious practices. Oh, wait a minute -- we are. It isn't; at least not yet.

Lyin' Bill says he expects "they" (Jews, Atheists, Muslims) will try next to remove the national holiday (what, he called it a holiday?) on the premise that we can't have a holiday based on religion. Of course we can have a holiday based on the fact that nobody would come to work anyway, but that's inconvenient to his scenario and it annoys him that in fact, nobody seems to object to a day off for any reason.

It's my constitutional right to insult your religion, I'm proud to say, and it's only fair since your religion in and of itself insults mine and several others. In fact I take offense at some aspect of every religion I've yet heard of. It's good to live in a free country.

Apparently the sense of relief at being newly out from under the bootheel of religious tyrants seems to be spreading. Newsweek has a very objective over story on the empty bigotry of the war against gay marriage; one that I think couldn't have got past the editors before the election. Keith Olbermann came out last night and condemed Lyin' Bill's comic opera about Christians under siege as the stepchild of xenophobia and anti-Sematism.

It's not as if freedom is breaking out all over, but I sense a weakening of the old guard; the passing of an old, worn out tyranny and again, I'm no longer ashamed to be proud of being an American: not because I think we're the best, but because we're not as ashamed to admit our faults and more likely to do something about it.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

rags to bitches

The McCain Campaign is unloading their surplus property this week in Arlington,VA. I'm surprised that they didn't put the laptops, Blackberrys and folding chairs up for sale on eBay, but perhaps the failure of Sarah Palin to sell that surplus Airplane on eBay (despite the fact that McCain said it sold at a profit) was a lesson to them. Too bad, I'd have liked to run some undelete software on one of those bargain laptops and see what kind of porn the righteous right prefers.

But one thing we aren't seeing is that fantastic wardrobe of Sarah Palin's -- the one she claimed would be returned to the GOP after the campaign. She certainly seemed well and expensively dressed when she was cheerleading for Chandless. Nothing she wore looked like the small town resale shop she claims to frequent, but perhaps I'm being premature. Perhaps it just takes longer to remove the stains of hypocrisy and the odor of mendacity than it does to erase those blackberrys and hard drives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This seat's for sale

Let's hear it for young Rod Blagojevich,
Put his state up for sale, oh boyavich!
They surely won't fail
To put him in jail,
Where his cellmate will make him a a toyovich.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mary on my mind

I have to admit that it looks more like medieval images of Mary than most apparitions appearing in the news: burnt toast, rust stains, grilled cheese sandwiches. Usually any inverted U shape qualifies. This one however, appears in one "slice" of an MRI scan of a local woman's brain and the woman's sister, hoping to raise needed funds for medical care, intends to put it up on eBay.

I could ramble on about the sad story of someone growing up in a town polluted with dioxin and with a lifetime of health problems, including cancer, and who our "every man for himself" medical care system has left on the side of life's road, but instead I'll talk about my kitchen counter. It's a large grained slab of granite and there isn't a morning when I don't discover another hitherto unobserved face in it. It's not that I'm hung over or astigmatic or even mentally unbalanced. Our brains seem to be wired to seek out faces lurking in the weeds. It's probably a survival thing even if it's only Millard Filmore or Maynard G. Krebs staring at me, eating breakfast.

Of course nobody knows if there really ever was a Virgin Mary or whether she actually was Virgo Intacta until Yahweh shagged her -- much less what she looked like. I'm certain she wouldn't have worn medieval European clothing, but none the less, just like we know that Jesus had long, straight, lanky and light colored hair, with northern European features and was somewhat underweight, we know what she looks like. She looks like a structure in the brain of Pamela Latrimore, in blurry cross section.

Ms. Latrimore has no medical insurance and needs the money, so for once I'm hoping that the deranged and delusional will want some object to pray to (God screens his calls these days) and will bid it up. Unlike Burnt French Toast Jesi or tomato slice apostles it won't rot and unlike road stain apparitions of Jesus you can hang it on your wall. Maybe God made us prone to see faces just so that he could inspire people who pray to bird shit splatter on car hoods to actually do some good in the "love thy neighbor" department. Maybe not, but Pamela definitely needs the money.

Dust to dust

To day he shall be lifted up and to morrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his dust, and his thought is come to nothing.

- 1 Macabees 2:63 -

Freedom's Watch, the organization largely funded by a Las Vegas Casino owner really cared about watching our freedom, I'm sure. That's why they promoted the "War on Terror" so avidly and not just because there's big money to be made by marketing fear and demonizing the innocent and righteous. You know of course, that Ari Fleischer, formerly a paid liar for George W. Bush was a board member of the far-right, jingoistic group that now seems to be the latest domino to fall. He may be left no other alternative than to seek honest employment.

Since The Bush economy began to piss away the wealth of our nation, people have had less money to piss away themselves at places like The Sands in Las Vegas, whence cometh most of the funds that kept the lobbying group alive. Freedom's Watch hasn't had the budget to play games with our freedom of late, although they did manage to help Saxby Chandless this year; the same Chandless who ran one of the most reprehensible campaigns in American history in 2002, painting war hero opponent Max Cleland as a coward and associate of Osama bin Laden.

So perhaps deep recessions like this one aren't an entirely bad thing. Like death, it sweeps everything away in time, the good, the bad and the Republican. It's not that there isn't an endless supply of malice, dishonesty, greed and any other kind of evil you can think of ready to take its place, but I enjoy watching the end of Freedom's Watch. Even if justice rarely prevails in this world, in the end everything dies and the smug smiles of arrogant elitists, power mad sociopaths and Republicans in general will have an end.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Buy 'em while you can!

So I leave the dim coolness of the ophthalmologist's office and emerge into the Florida Noonday blaze and gain an immediate appreciation of how a vampire feels when he can't make it back to his coffin before the sun rises. Even with my darkest sunglasses on, my dilated pupils won't allow me to drive so I decide to get a haircut at Bob's, where you can look at his massive collection of old guns, antique ammunition signs and cowboy paraphernalia while you and the good old boys get your hair length reduced.

Even after an hour, I still can't see well enough to drive, so I go across the street to the gun shop looking to chat with the proprietor who, up to now, has been almost as lonely as the Maytag repairman would be if the claims were true, and willing to pass the time talking about outdoorsy things. Of course since Obama the Antichrist was elected, things are different at gun shops and the place was full of people and almost devoid of those non-automatic, civilian versions of military weapons that the more hysterical of us like to call "assault weapons."

The conversation was lively and as gun shop conversations have been of late, all about "that man" and the certainty of his rabid opposition to all forms of weaponry in private hands.
"I don't know" said the creepy guy, using a magnifying glass to inspect a nickel plated double barrel derringer chambered for .45 long colt and 410 shotgun shells.
"I just change channels when that guy comes on" says he. " I can't stand to listen to him."
"Well it's all on his web site." says the Deputy Sheriff, lovingly examining a monstrous, long barelled Smith &Wesson .460 SVR Magnum revolver with green laser sight and bipod. "Jesus, there's nothing in Africa you couldn't take down with this one."
"You've read it?" asks the store owner. "No, but his whole gun policy is on his web site. I just can't stand to read it, but I'm telling you if we're supposed to knock on doors looking for everyone's guns, it ain't gonna happen. I mean he's talking about making lists of all registered guns and there is no gun registration in Florida in the first place. You just know the crime rate's gonna skyrocket."
"I guess the ATF has the authority to come in here and look at my books though" says the owner, let's call him Joe.
"Yeah, but I'll just tell them I sold them all privately or at a gun show and I don't have any guns any more" says creepy guy with a creepy, conspiratorial grin.
"Well it's all on his web site" says the Deppity. "He's going to bring back the Brady bill and the assault rifle ban and all the rest. It's on the web site."

It's not, actually. I looked and what it does say is that Obama believes the second amendment conveys an individual right, that he is concerned with the impediments to hunting and fishing and is determined to increase access and provide incentives to open more land to those uses and that he will protect the rights of law abiding citizens to own, transport and use guns. Of course that's not enough for the NRA and a lot of other people, but it's not wholesale confiscation and it's not the rabid, hysterical and diabolical plan to disarm the general public that the Deppity says it is.

Anyway I asked if he had sold all the AK's he had on the racks last Summer and he said he had, and I asked if was getting any more and he said yes, but he wouldn't say when because it would be a mob scene if word got out, but it should be soon and they would all be gone within hours.

Pasted on the glass counter where bowie knives and ear muffs and safety glasses were displayed was a cartoon of a car plastered with Obama stickers. The driver was saying to a questioner: "No, I don't, but I own a gun shop."

For some people, business has never been better.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Penny for your thoughts

You arrive in the Airport terminal a bit frazzled by the traffic jams, congestion in the parking lot, the escalators; you keep looking at your watch because it's getting close to boarding time and you have that long security line ahead where you have to take off your belt and shoes and have your toiletries examined. You've begun to sweat, your heart is pounding. Quickly you look at the Departures screen to see if maybe you've lucked out and your flight is ten minutes late: WHAT? did I just see that? did the screen say "I'm going to blow up the plane" for a microsecond? Before you can finish asking yourself whether you've broken under the stress of modern air travel, two men in black suits and sunglasses grab your arms and lead you away into a little room. . . .

No, I'm not dabbling in Sci-Fi here. It's entirely possible that it could happen to you if some of the biometric devices being tested to read your thoughts and intentions are adopted. It's not enough to know whether you're carrying a dangerous nail clipper or an ounce too much of Johnson's baby shampoo any more. They want to know your intentions and they think they can do it.
"Several Israeli-based technology companies are developing detection systems that pick up signs of emotional strain, a psychological red flag that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror" says CNN.
"One firm, WeCU (pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden. Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature, heart rate and respiration, signals a terrorist unwittingly emits before he plans to commit an attack."

If the machine can tell the difference between the fear of losing your job if you're late for a meeting, fear of mind reading machines themselves; fear about any number of things including airplanes, I would be amazed, even though we do live in an age of amazing technology. Will the Mercedes dealer install these things to determine if you're really able to buy or are just kicking tires?

Technology gets smaller and cheaper at a predictable rate. I'm absolutely positive that within a few years it will be available for under $100 and be as small as a wristwatch or hearing aid or at least small enough to fit in your wife's purse. So don't rely on those Ray-Bans to keep her unaware of just how fascinating that mini-skirt in front of you is. She'll know.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The McCarthy Code

"The creation myth of modern conservatism usually begins with Barry Goldwater,"
says Neal Gabler in the Los Angeles Times, but was Goldwater really anything like Sarah Palin or George Bush or indeed any Republican president or candidate since his disastrous run?

Gabler thinks the true story bears no resemblance to the heroic epic of Goldwater, Reagan, and the Bush's, but rather that the blood line descends from Joe McCarthy to Dick Nixon to the Commander Guy. Wisconsin Senator McCarthy with his witch hunts, fake lists of Commies in the State Department, Hollywood, the schools and under your bed was the prototype; set the stage for the aggressive use of bogeymen to divide, antagonize and conquer.
"McCarthyism is a way to build support by playing on the anxieties of Americans, actively convincing them of danger and conspiracy even where these don't exist."

Even a man like John McCain couldn't resist the temptation to demonize, to invent doubt and suspicion, to enlist people like Sarah Palin -- and perhaps without the vertiginous descent of our economy, so reminiscent of the Biblical plagues upon Egypt, he would have succeeded.

All the pundits are pretending to ask themselves "whither the GOP?" Now that McCain has sold his withered soul and slithering Sarah is in the spotlight, supporting unscrupulous candidates and hunting witches. Gabler thinks he knows and I think I agree.
"There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes."
Let's hope we acquire some immunity.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Irritating the Libs

One of the more amusing bits of Republican flotsam that wash up on my electronic shore is one that asks wouldn't it "piss off the Libs" if Bush were to resign in favor of Cheney, who would then appoint Rice as VP and then resign himself leaving her the first black, female president.

If I knew just what they meant by "Lib" I might answer that, but since it's really their creation and adjustable to fit any size or type of circumstance, I won't. Of course it's hidden purpose is to assert that the only reason he won was the novelty of his ancestry. That's something they seem far more concerned with than are "the Libs."

It's going to be harder over the next day or two to dismiss him as a lightweight beneficiary of Affirmative Action when one compares the appointment of Condoleezza the oil toad whose credentials were entirely academic and whose career has been marked with little that is noteworthy, and General James L. Jones, the tough-guy Marine who campaigned with McCain. It does make it look as though Obama is actually concerned with beefing up national security rather than in seeking yes (wo)men or making choices dictated by plutocrats.

They will try however.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bond lives

As I keep saying, it's not terrorism if you're not terrified. The notion of a United States with 300 million people cringing and cowering in fear that a dozen nutjobs from abroad might come and shoot us all is, quite frankly disgusting and reminding ourselves at every football game that we live in the home of the brave doesn't seem to have much of an effect. Very odd in a country where so many of us are heavily armed.

As one who grew up in the years immediately following WW II, I've long been impressed with the stories of the citizens of London going about their business, upper lips as stiff as Sheffield steel while the bombs and rockets fell from the sky, night after night. People slept in the underground and in the suburbs, houses such as my parents once lived in had a reinforced bomb shelter in the back garden. If they were terrified, they kept it to themselves. England was devastated, the English were not.

I have to be impressed by the story related today in the Daily Mail by an Englishman who took refuge in a restaurant in the Taj Mahal hotel while the shooting went on on the other side of an improvised barricade.
"I was extremely lucky. I was with a very good bunch of people. Three or four of us were Brits"
said Nick Hayward. Remaining calm and sober, they conducted a search for booby traps and built barricades.

At 5 O'Clock int he morning, as it began to seem that Indian troops would soon retake the hotel lobby, the group, stirred but not shaken, found some glasses and a bottle of vintage champagne.
"the head waiter came rushing across to me and said, “No, no, you can’t do that!” and I said, 'Well we’re going to' and he said, 'No sir, those are the wrong type of glasses. I shall find you champagne flutes.' "
My kind of people -- and my kind of hotel.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Enough already.

Is anyone else as annoyed with the CNN coverage of the tragedy in Mumbai? It's not just the total eclipse of every other story in the world, it's the obsessive attempt to tie this to al Qaeda. Sure it's possible, but at this stage all kinds of things are possible, yet we have Wolf Blitzer inter alia, asking one "expert" after another and getting the same "uh, we don't know, it could be anyone."

Blitzer: Yes, but they're all saying these people had combat training

Expert: But of course India and Pakistan have been fighting in places like the Kashmere for decades and both sides have many, many combat veterans; many groups have many reasons to want to hurt India.

Blitzer: yes, but they're organized - like Qaeda. They have funding, like Qaeda.

Expert: So? The Boy Scouts are organized and it will be weeks or longer before anyone knows who they are.

Blitzer: Qaeda, Qaeda, They could attack us. Qaeda, Qaeda. Oh the humanity!

And on, and on all day long while the "Possible al Qaeda connection" banner scrolls across the bottom of the screen. It won't be too much longer before I have to conclude that these people have no other agenda than ratings and no scruples about fomenting fear and hysteria.

The nightmare before Christmas

No one expects this to be a Christmas season retailers will celebrate. Even people with reliable income are cutting way back and when I read that local stores would be open as early as 4:00 AM today, I pictured yawning employees drinking coffee, trying to stay awake.


A Wal-Mart on Long Island had its doors literally blown off the hinges just before 5 O'Clock this morning and the stampeding mob trampled anyone who got in the way. A 34 year old stock clerk tried to control the crowd and was trampled to death. Merry Christmas, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis - and we don't mean you, Wal-Mart shoppers.

We don't mean the commenter on either, who wasted no time before blaming it on the Liberals and African Americans who will, no doubt, now that Obama is waiting to go to Washington make this sort of thing commonplace from now on.

"Get used to this folks. These are the kind of people that liberalism has created. After four years of Obama and the food , power shortages, and gas shortages that will be engineered by the marxists in order to take down this country, this kind of thing will become routine."

Joy to the world.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Having been severely beaten down and expensively trodden upon by global economic conditions of late, I like to dwell upon the wonder and beauty of life that I'm privileged to enjoy. Life is sweet, as Buffalo so often reminds me; but not for everyone.

It's not sweet for the three defenseless people gunned down by holdup men in a Delray Beach Dunkin Donuts last night. It wasn't sweet for the parents of a two year old boy run over in his own driveway yesterday by another SUV in West Palm. The world is full of hunger and disease and war and the innocent are never spared while the guilty prosper. How offensive to them, should I be thankful it didn't happen to me. How revolting to thank an imaginary entity who allows such suffering.

There will be quite a few formerly comfortable retirees here who won't be having one of those belly busting Thanksgiving feasts this year. They simply can't afford it on social security and the few bucks they're lucky to make bagging groceries and pushing carts at Publix ( no tipping please) and besides the kids can't afford to come down here this year. Evictions are up tenfold. In fact putting food on the table is going to be harder than last year and nearly impossible for some and the food banks are depleted. It's going to be a dumpster based banquet for the homeless and yes, it's cold here at night this time of year.

So the kids aren't going to get big checks from me this year. Instead I'm planning to stop at the wholesale club and load it up with food for the local food bank. I'm not a saint, I just have found that there's nothing like the feeling you get making life a tiny bit sweeter for someone else. It feels good -- do it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scott free

Anyone who has been hoping that the end of the Bush autocracy would entail the opening of Cheney's information crypt will probably be frustrated. It's possible that nothing prosecutable ever done by this administration will ever come to light. Although there is enough evidence of a vast smorgasbord of crimes, misdeeds and prosecutable acts above and beyond the deliberate instigation of a war by means of false information; although the unrestrained domestic spying continues, although the evidence is there that even foreign leaders like Tony Blair have had their bedrooms bugged, that domestic groups have been infiltrated, wiretapped and followed; even eye witness testimony may never be backed up by official records. Millions of White House e-mail records may disappear into the bit bucket forever.

One of the first actions of the Commander Guy was to dismantle the system for archiving electronic records and replace it with a system that never has worked. Apologists for Bush might argue otherwise, but this was just another act in the unprecedented assault on openness that has obsessively classified not only the records of executive misprision, but nearly every day to day thing that was previously held to be public record.

Some argue otherwise and cite the need to "move on" but just as the discrediting of Nixon was held up for decades by his pardon and the loss of crucial records, Bush may be able to stifle history and thwart accountability as thoroughly as the folks who recently tried to arrest Karl Rove were stifled. The resurrection of George W. Bush may take place long before his demise, his policies given a new coat of paint and unmerited dignity and launched against us again. The Party that once convinced us that criminals were regularly let go because of Liberal Judges will, in effect, get away with murder,will be set back on the street to loot and pillage -- and there's probably nothing we can do about it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We used to pray for them, but it's all over now

Well the word is out on Main Street - Tim Geithner can't be trusted as Treasury Secretary because he is Jewish and Jews have divided loyalty. I was interested to hear that and not just because Geithner's family assures us he's an Episcopalian raised and married in that Church.

Is the phony honeymoon over? That the Republicans may be abandoning their pretense of being in love with Israel is a possibility. One perennial Troll at The Reaction called me "an arrogant Kike" for having asserted that no, Barney Frank bears no discernible responsibility for our global recession; but it's really too soon to tell if the frustrated masses yearning to breathe fire will switch scapegoats and replace witches, Liberals, illegal aliens and the ACLU as hate objects. Maybe they consider all those straw men to be Jewish anyway.

Of course it's hard to think of any immigrant group that isn't or hasn't been accused of divided loyalty in this nation of immigrants. John Kennedy stared down that bit of bigoted Waspery with grace nearly 50 years ago, but ask a Muslim -- hell ask someone who isn't a Muslim but has a suggestive name.

Of course it doesn't often occur except to cynics, that preaching the impending destruction of mankind and the dissolution of secular nationhood might be taken as a dilemma in as much as commitment to preserving the USA and praying for lakes of fire and brimstone aren't compatible, at least to me. I can't think of loyalty more divided than that of the Religious Right, promoting the Christian Bible as the foundation of the United States, rather than its secular Constitution. I can't help but think of divided loyalty when presented with a candidate who looks longingly forward to the destruction of our country and the flight of the elect to the Holy Kingdom of God in Alaska (no witches may apply.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stupid Republicans

If we think the very rich are indeed different from you and me, it may not be much of a complement to them.

The talk around the Yacht Club these days involves a lot of snickering about Barak Obama and what "that man" will do to the economy. No, I'm not joking, but then neither are they. Perhaps Malcom Gladwell is right that material success has as much or more to do with circumstances than with talent or intelligence. Take the fellow with a yacht worth far, far more than than Joe the Plumber will make in his lifetime; a fellow who thinks that we're seeing a "slowdown" that will "bounce back" shortly and a slowdown that has nothing to do with George Bush, a Republican congress, deregulation or the idea that debt has no consequences if you cut taxes and pour money down a hole. I have as much faith in his genius as he has in the notion that America's success has been the result of its Christian piety.

Obama of course will raise taxes. That's axiomatic because he's a Democrat. Raising taxes will harm the economy, they say, even though it would be as fair to say that a bullet will harm a dead horse and the economy has done better under Democrats since WW II. Supply side economics will work eventually and even if it doesn't, even if the "slowdown" becomes a full blown depression, we have to keep making it easy for the Great Gatsby to keep the twin Diesels fed. Did I mention that Obama is going to ruin the economy by raising my taxes?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Past imperfect

Anna Quindlen writes in the current Newsweek about Loving V. Virginia, the mostly forgotten 1967 Supreme Court opinion that "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man" thereby ruling against the Racial Integrity act of 1924. Of course we consider a ban on interracial marriage a bit archaic today, even though the fundamentalists who told us that since God had "separated the races" we shouldn't allow them to mix are still here and telling us what God wants and damn the Constitution and its heretical equal protection clause. It's probably what they mean by "Judicial activism" when they complain about the Supreme Court of the 1960's, but of course our constitution was specifically designed to thwart the impositions of religious institutions; impositions that are still the backbone of Conservative culture.

Does anyone sane still think the purpose of our government is to enforce sectarian rules as interpreted by self appointed mullahs? Apparently so. Karl Rove sets forth in the same issue to tell us that in reconstituting the Republican party, the values traditional to people who traditionally oppose any concept of freedom other than their own freedom to impose rules, should absolutely never be compromised. Can we really separate the "conservative culture" he champions from the long standing tyrannical opposition to things as diverse and numerous as "Misogyny," Women's suffrage, the five day work week, segregation or Social Security? Can Republicans seriously consider themselves to be the "Party of Lincoln" when Lincoln was a Liberal willing to ignore biblical tolerance for slavery?

The Social Conservatism of Karl Rove, whether or not it's a smokescreen hiding the dragon of tyranny, is outmoded and has been abandoned by countries along with fundamentalist religiosity and bigotry toward social minorities. In fact it's obvious that much of the world has begin to recognize the freedom of people to define their own family relationships, make domestic contracts and partnerships as they see fit. So far, despite the Fallwellian demagoguery, nothing bad has happened and isn't likely to happen when we catch up with the Canadians, as eventually we will do.

Republicans should come across ( not necessarily be) as morally serious, says Rove, although Rove has long demonstrated that victory is the root of morality. What escapes him is that the Constitution of this country protects me against other people's moral seriousness when it comes to the rights it guarantees. What escapes him is that his vision of a reconstituted party is a party still attached to the losing side of history.
"We can't just dwell on the past" says Rove without any apparent sense of irony. "The Future is already here."
Indeed it is and I'm hoping that the conservative impulse toward clinging to that past is part of the past, and that Karl Rove and the other enemies of liberty and personal responsibility are not part of the future.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rising star.

There's a 25 foot observation tower in the Hobe Sound Federal Wildlife preserve about 150 yards from my house. I took flashlight and binoculars up the steep stairs at about a quarter to 8 Friday night. The night was beautiful and I had a full 360 degree panorama at above treetop height. The full moon was up about a hand's breadth above the mangroves to the east and reflected off the water of the intracoastal waterway below.

As my watch closed in on 7:55, I began to wonder if I could actually see anything through the haze on the horizon, if the launch would go off on time (I forgot to bring a radio) and whether I was being silly for braving the mosquitoes to try to see something over a hundred miles away. I didn't bring a compass either and wondered if I would miss the whole thing because the tower's roof blocked the North star.

Then the sun began to rise in the North, the few clouds traversed the spectrum from a dim, hardly perceptible red glow, to a brighter orange, to yellow as silently, majestically, the long trail of flame rose above the sunrise like a comet.

At about 30 degrees above the horizon, the solid fuel boosters dimmed, separated and fell, leaving only an ever-rising blue-white star climbing and arching over until it appeared finally to be falling as it made it's way across the Atlantic. By the time I got back to my house they were over Africa and half way to dawn.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Commies are (still) coming!

If you really thought the Obama-as-Communist insanity had anything to to with Obama, with National Health Care or progressive income taxes or anything else in the real world, here's some evidence that might change your mind. We've seen many attempts to make us afraid of creeping Communism during the last two years and I've written about some of them: stern lectures about how frogs won't notice if you boil them slowly, fake letters from professors quoting "exchange students" who warn us about small increments of socialism being what brought on communism in Vietnam. Of course Communism never did arise that way anywhere, but by armed revolution or invasion, nor did it grow from or replace socialism but rather corrupt feudalism or colonial fiefdom. The slippery slope argument they all share is a fallacy of course; an unsupported assumption or extrapolation designed to deceive and frighten, but it's one of the few things left to Obama haters and they continue to use it.

The recent recrudescence of a fake quote by Nikita Kruschev that first appeared to the delight of wingnuts nearly 50 years ago is a perfect example. Titled "And so it begins!" the screed tells us that:
" We cannot expect Americans to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of Socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism"

That Kruschev never said it or anything like it and that extensive research supports the fact that it was cooked up by people who had private reasons to object to social security, minimum wages, welfare and unions, doesn't really matter. This is the USA and most of us are either ignorant, dishonest or both and a substantial number are barking mad and willing to believe anything that validates their obsessions, their fears and their greed.

I'm nearly convinced that the biggest problem facing our new administration is not terrorism, depression or climate change, but the enemy within; the enemy who disseminate viral e-mails, throw tantrums on AM radio, giggle and sneer on Fox News: the people who make stupid jokes and the people who pass them on and on and on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Same old Party

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Neither did Dick Nixon, I guess. Whether or not Jesus ever resurrected anyone, public relations, advertising and propaganda regularly do, and while I was disappointed, while watching his funeral on TV, that Nixon didn't rise from the coffin, the old, drunk, anti-Semitic gangster had already been relaunched as an elder statesman and his spirit, like Joe Hill's, lives on in people like Karl Rove and in the Bush administration in general.

Karl Rove may be one of the most disliked men in public affairs but although his brand of politics may have helped sink the Republican party he's been given the robes of a political pundit and a seat in front of the camera. What will happen to the ragged survivors of the GOP's biggest defeat in decades? Will the party flee to the arms of Jesus-in-arms or will it return to it's alleged roots? Ron Paul thinks I'm asking the wrong question.

We should, said he, be asking why the country itself went in the wrong direction. In an essay at, Paul suggests that the Republican party became irrelevant in 2000 when it took control of Congress and the Executive and became more interested in its own power than in the future of the country or in addressing what he calls the cancerous growth of government under Bill Clinton.
"Once the Republicans were in power, though, the promises faded, and all policies were directed at maintaining or increasing power by trying to whittle away at Democratic strength by acting like big-spending Democrats."
That the Democrats actually balanced the budget, shrank the size of the executive and left us with a surplus is not something Paul seems willing to discuss, the straw man of the big spending Democrat being so central to reactionary Republican principles. Yet when he says:
"The Republican Congress never once stood up against the Bush/Rove machine that demanded support for unconstitutional wars, attacks on civil liberties here at home, and an economic policy based on more spending, more debt, and more inflation -- while constantly preaching the flawed doctrine that deficits don't matter as long as taxes aren't raised."
I find it hard to disagree with him and with his distaste for the "dirty tricks" used to foist this upon us.

If a government commensurate with the level of minimalism Ron Paul envisions is, in my opinion, as unlikely and unworkable as any of the great social and economic dogmas of the last centuries, I none the less have to stand up and salute his statement that
"Opportunity abounds for anyone who can present the case for common sense in fiscal affairs, for protection of civil liberties here at home, and avoiding the senseless foreign entanglements which have bogged us down for decades and contributed so significantly to our fiscal and budgetary crisis."
I have some faith that Barak Obama does substantially offer such an opportunity; Ron Paul is sure he doesn't. In any event, the GOP seems no more likely to listen to listen to Ron Paul today than it has since he became a member of that party. It seems far more likely to seek new leaders in the old mold, the old medieval religious mindset; to repaint the old institutions, dress up the old jingoism, xenophobia, bigotry and class warfare in clothes from Niemann Marcus and to sell it using the same old slime and slander.

If to ask "whither the GOP" is not the right question to ask, I think Ron Paul has answered it none the less.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Capturing the flag

During the Bush years, I hardly ever flew an American flag from my home. Only for a period in 2001, did I hang it from my front porch as a gesture of national solidarity, but as it was during the Vietnam era, the flag became, after 2003, an emblem of support for war for war's sake. Don't get me wrong, I'm an emotional sap who gets tears in his eyes at war memorials, even those the public has largely forgotten, but today, I'm putting up the flag again and it's message is clear. It's veteran's day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The war that wasn't

Well the election is over, but the struggle will go on forever -- the struggle to pretend there's a War on Christmas, that is. As early as a week before the election, e-mails were hitting the web claiming Home Depot had plenty of Hanukkah stuff but no mention of Christmas: none. The one I got was in the form of a letter from Donald Wildmon, Chairman of the American Family Association and excoriates the "politically correct" people for "censoring" Christmas. It urges you to e-mail Home Depot and warns you that these villains may "block" your message.

As usual with messages that mention "family Values" or contain pictures of the flag or the World Trade Center in flames, it's bullshit designed to elicit the knee jerk reaction American jerks can be depended upon to make. By "Politically Correct" of course, they mean Jews and perhaps atheists: anyone who isn't supportive of making this secular Republic into Jesustan, complete with mandatory religious observances, oaths and recitations.

Some people would think that October 27th would be a bit early to start flooding the web site with Christmas promotions. Customers typically are out buying Halloween supplies and decorations at that point, but apparently the AFA is more concerned with their bogus message than with any pretense to objectivity. While stores seem to be pushing Christmas stuff earlier and earlier recently, it's probably done out of desperation born of the economic crisis and not from the demented sputterings of Wildmon's wildcats. Home Depot already has Christmas ads up and it's still weeks before Thanksgiving. Christmas is the only holiday mentioned by name.

I'm sure Fake News will be picking up the story and running with it soon enough, but check for yourself. It's Christmas time at Home Depot, just as it was last year when these miscreants insisted no Christmas trees were for sale at Home Depot, only Jew stuff. Of course last year, the local HD had at least half an acre of them and I'm sure it will once again, once it's actually the Christmas season.

Still, there will be believers and believers will believe and Fox News and AFA and all the other people and organizations for whom Jesus weeps will be helping their delusions. They're not doing it for Jesus, they've been defeated at the polls and must redouble their efforts to snap and grasp at the ankles of Lady Liberty like predatory animals, hoping to bring her down.

Perhaps you'd like to contact the American Family Association and tell them what you think about their war on religious freedom. Perhaps you'd like to tell them that Christmas is a national holiday, and nobody in the government will ever tell you not to say Merry Christmas or will try to ban the holiday, nor is anyone "trying to silence the Christians" by asking them not to silence the rest of us. Perhaps you'd like them to stop trying to bully private businesses and private citizens into observing any holiday according to the proclamations of the AFA.

Pretending to be a victim; telling people that some group is trying to silence them and stifle them
is a time-honored tool of tyrants, particularly those who are trying hard to silence and stifle the public. There is no war on Christmas and the only people who every tried to get Christains to stop celebrating it were other Christians. It's a lie, it's a ploy, it's a trick and it's a war on freedom; a war that we lose by losing our freedom.

The AFA is your enemy whether you love Jesus or never heard of him. The AFA is your enemy if you love America as it was intended to be. Call them, write them, let them know.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Le mot Juste

A kind word turneth away wrath and saying just the right thing can create confidence. President Elect Barak Obama said all the right things and looked as presidential as anyone ever has in his first press conference this afternoon. Chris Matthews even had to admit that there was no sign of a "redistributive" mood in his tax plan although in fact there never was, and who could resist a smile when Obama compared himself to a mutt from the animal shelter?

This is a man confident in himself and who appears to be confident in his ability and confident in our country. It's in sharp contrast to the anonymous e-mail I got last night showing the Obama campaign logo as African tribesmen danced almost naked around a fire. So while I've come to feel that for once I voted for someone I believe in rather than the lesser of two evils; while I am at this moment as proud of the USA as I have been and more proud than I have been in many years, I'm beginning to daydream about blowing the heads off racists.

A christian friend of mine once said that such people were ignorant and should be pitied. I know he's right, but it doesn't help. It only encourages them. So whoever you are "floridajoker" be aware that pity only makes my aim better.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hide the guns!

It sure doesn't take long. My mailbox has begun to collect hysterical warnings about how the second Amendment is in grave danger and we're in for an era of bigger more intrusive government. No, I don't think any of it comes from Mars or from troglodytes raised underground. It's hard to understand though, how any Earthling is able to associate Democrats with big, free spending government in light of the history of the last decades and it's as hard to understand Obama's statements about the second amendment as advocacy for "gun grabbing," as it is to understand how the idea of income taxes is Marxist.

But Americans are as irrational about guns as we are about politics in general. As far as I can tell, Obama supports the current court's interpretation, which affirms the individual citizen's right to keep and bear arms, but insists that communities can pass gun safety laws such as to require background checks. This is hardly "gun-grabbing" in my opinion and although I do question the wisdom of requiring traceable serial numbers on bullets (in fact I think it's a supreme act of sanguine ignorance) it's not "gun-grabbing." It's just an unworkable day-dream only possible to someone who knows nothing about firearms and how they work.

Still, this kind of anti Democratic fanaticism is promoted passionately by organizations from the NRA to Jews For the Preservation of Firearm Ownership. Democrats raise taxes and grab guns - even if they don't. So it is written.

Obama did indicate support for Washington DC's handgun ban and I strongly disagree with him. Of course so did the Supreme Court and there's the catch. Obama can't write laws and although congress can write laws and presidents can sign them, the courts can override them and the courts have indicated that the second amendment, "shall not be infringed" clause and all, means what it says. As a constitutional scholar, Obama knows it.

Obama also knows, at least I think he does, that he was elected to restore fiscal discipline, to restore sensible regulation to financial markets and stop the hemorrhaging of our economy. It remains to be seen, but I think the pet projects of Nanny State Democrats aren't going to be on the agenda for quite a while. Who worries about needing a haircut when their femoral artery is severed? It's way too soon to think about burying your AK in the back yard.

Yes, but. . .

Did Florida redeem itself last night? It depends. Yes, there were enough Homo Sapiens to put Obama over the top, but the Neanderthals won far too many local contests. The miserable bastards of Martin County Florida voted heavily Republican and no Democrat, including Barak Obama came anywhere close to winning. I'm at a loss to explain it.

This is a small county, much of which is rural and much of it is state and federal park land. It's a county that prides itself as conservation minded and it shows, A recent poll showed than nearly 90% of us favor slow and limited growth and many favor no growth at all, but it's a county that regularly -- invariable votes for councilmen owned and operated by rapacious developers. That is to say they vote Republican.

I've regularly been chastised for hinting that Sarah Palin isn't qualified. People bristle at any criticism of Bush, at any suggestion that there is any option for the voter than to go straight Republican. Wealthy people, upper middle class people; you can almost see the reptilian nictitating membrane blink over their eyes at the suggestion that there is no official state religion, that the Constitution does not mandate that people pledge allegiance to (the Christian) God and that we stamp our mandatory faith on our coinage.

Yes a slight majority of Floridians voted for Obama. Counties containing Universities, counties with a high African American population, even Miami-Dade with it's very large Cuban population voted for Obama, but not Martin County with it's relatively large population of billionaires and multi-multi millionaires and a very large number of retired military personnel. This county votes in lock step with the people of central Florida: the people in the rusted out trailers and tar paper shacks and dead cars in the yard.

These fine folks also passed a constitutional amendment banning any kind of same-sex domestic or civil contracts, even though Florida law already prohibits same-sex marriage. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that a State with such a diverse population would have such an affinity for small minded, authoritarian and puritanical politics, but I am and I'm disgusted.

Yes, Florida voted for Obama, but. . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I would love to say something eloquent, but I can't. Our country has done something eloquent, or at least a majority has and all I can say is


Long day's night

Now it is election day and the rising hopes and the long road to who knows what. Before the date changes we will probably know whether the rage of the right has been able to overwhelm the national desire for a departure from the Republican juggernaut, with the lies, the slander, the invented scandals and fake outrages we've seen lately. Obama hates coal miners, Obama is a Maoist Muslim who broke the law by visiting his dying grandmother and Joe the Plumber says he hates Israel. I'm tired of hearing it, tired of arguing with demented idiots and religious ravers and condescending crackpots.

Of course we'll hear from them regardless of the outcome. Ideas and candidates come and go, but the ugliness of American politics endures. The gods themselves fight stupidity in vain, said Schiller and he was right. We're hardly as powerful.

I'm looking forward to being able to fly the flag again without being mistaken as a supporter of the worst administration in our history and its misbegotten war. I'm looking forward to an administration that at the very least will respect our constitution and laws and most of all will respect our citizens who have been living under suspicion and surveillance for so long. I'm looking forward to not being ashamed of my country's attitude and actions and of its crude, ignorant, egotistical and stupid President, but it's going to be a very long day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes a noose is just a noose.

Here we go again. Two Kentuckians face some kind of criminal charges for hanging Barak Obama in effigy. They claim it was in response to a California hanging of a straw Palin. Thank you MSM for inventing a symbol we didn't need.

Right down the street from me, there is something in a white sheet hanging from a basketball hoop by a noose. It's Halloween. Fortunately for them, its race is indeterminate, all ghosts being white as far as I know.

Seeing that not long ago, criminals of all sorts were hanged by the US government and seeing that the most treasured symbol in these United states is a Roman torture implement upon which people were hanged, I demand that the invented symbolism of certain knots be declared null and void. If it's legal to say "hang him" it's legal to hang a bed sheet stuffed with straw regardless of whose name is on it and particularly on Halloween. Jesus has been hanged in effigy for at least 1700 years and I'm fully in support of our right to blow off steam by hanging politicians of every variety in a symbolic way without being accused of advocating hanging them in person.

Is it ridiculous that it's the noose we obsess about and not the crime? Is it ridiculous that it's OK to burn a straw man, blow him up, throw him off a cliff, but not to hang him if and only if the scarecrow represents a black person?

Damned right it is.

Joe the Maoist

I picked up the clip below at A Silent Cacophony, one of my regular reads. Looking for Joe the Plumber in the crowd, John the Candidate tells the audience to stand up because they're all Joe the Plumber. I'm sure the man with umpteen houses and cars and a private jet wishes it were so. I'm sure the Man who has never had a private sector job, much less a blue collar trade, would like us to think of him as a man of the people, a Maoist hero.

The idea of the wise peasant, the log cabin born leader is nothing new and it's typically American, but it's also a central mythology of Marxism. We remember Mao Zedong's cultural revolution during which the professional, academic and educated classes were all but exterminated in favor of leadership by peasant farmers, coal miners and yes, plumbers. That one learns to swim by swimming was a Maoist cliche that implied that education was not only not necessary, but not desired. It took China a generation to begin to recover from the destruction.

The idea still lives here in America, despite our continuing obsession with Communism and Socialism. We still believe in the wise fool; in the wisdom of those untainted by information and intelligence and culture and we still believe in superstitious suspicion of all others. We still believe that Joe, whose name is Charles, and isn't a plumber and can't do basic arithmetic much less understand the tax codes, has the answers we need because he's one of us and not one of them. We're still yearning for the Worker's Paradise promised by Communism. We still admire Forrest Gump and marvel at his wisdom, but we still can't seem to differentiate between the people who exploit us by invoking our class identifications and snobberies and class prejudices, and people who actually serve our best interests. All we seem to see is the working class uniform and not the wolf wearing it.

Only in America would the accusation of Marxism arise from a plan to add 4% to the burden of the top 2% elite in the interest of recovering some of the debt we have incurred in making them rich. Only in America would the accusation of Socialism arise from restoring the top tax bracket we had under Reagan; the progressive structure advocated by Adam Smith and Teddy Roosevelt and that we have had during the most prosperous years of our history.

I could go on endlessly about the irony of invoking a worker's paradise and the bogeyman of Communism to sell economic feudalism, but odds are, if you've read this far, you don't need me to do that. It's the dumb people that can be fooled all of the time. It's Joe the Plumber and everyone who stood up when John the Rich Man asked them to who enjoy the flattery and the snobbery and the smug, stupid certainties sold to them by Sarah and the old man.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You're no Maverick

John McCain, you're no Maverick and you're certainly not the original. In fact the original Mavericks are so disgusted with you, at least two of them say they'll shoot. . . . the TV if they see your face on it again.

The Real Mavericks in fact are Liberals with affiliations going back to FDR and the New Deal, not to George Bush and the shady deal.

But don't take my word for it:

Monday, October 27, 2008

October surprise

The ATF has announced that they have broken up a white supremacist plot to kill Senator Obama along with over a hundred black people in a Tennessee murder spree.

Who knows how far they would have got, but who knows what other evil lurks in the hearts of such people, stoked up on campaign libel and "Joe sixpack bigotry."

No comment has been obtained from Palin headquarters yet, as to whether these are some of the "real Americans she's been talking about.

Military intelligence

The twenty first century. The military might want to shut it all down; in the name of freedom, of course.
"GPS cell phone service could be used by our adversaries for travel plans, surveillance and targeting,"
said a draft report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). No more maps at gas stations folks, and I had better go back to using a sextant on my boat lest somebody hijacks it and uses it to terrorize the Florida coast.
"Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences,"
Damn those vegetarian devils!
"Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives,"
and aren't those Republicans good at it?
"Terrorists could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operation tool,"
and the same thing goes for postcards and telephones and semaphore signals! Who knows what those boy scouts are talking about? Don't they have training camps or something like that?
"Terrorists may or may not be using voice-changing software but it should be of open source interest that online terrorist and/or terrorist enthusiasts are discussing it,"
said the Generals, and if the price of goats is being discussed in Pakistan, we need to get the flock out of there.

Blah, Blah, Blah

John McCain has begun to repeat the nuclear power song and dance he gave during the last debate. The song goes like this:
" We talked about nuclear power. Well, it has to be safe, environment, blah blah blah."
The word environment is a Pavlovian stimulus to Republicans and of course McCain is preaching only to the dogs at this point. "Enviros" are a favorite bogeyman because of course, "gimmie-gimmie, I want it for free" Republicans don't want to talk about the dangers inherent in nuclear power plants at all. They don't want to talk about the huge amount of time they take to build and to make them as safe as they are. When dogs, children and Republicans want something, they want it now, now, now and lying politicians like John McCain are always there to dangle it in from of them.

So what is McCain saying; the hell with safety? I want cheap energy no matter what the risk? I don't give a damn if New York or Chicago become the next Chernobyl? Yes, he is. That's just what he's saying and he's saying it in full knowledge that having it in the near future is out of the question.
"we've been sailing Navy ships around the world for 50 years with nuclear power plants on them."
Aye, aye Captain, but they're small, extraordinarily expensive and aren't spending most of their time parked in Phoenix or Denver or Little Rock. Unlike the expense of building and maintaining a Nimitz class carrier, the public sees the cost of electricity every month. New power plants are going to appear on your electric bill long before one Watt gets generated. To replace the oil we import today, we will need far more plants costing far more billions than High Roller John is willing to discuss.

Indeed there may have been accidents on Navy ships, despite what Mr. McCain says. Of course Three Mile Island comes to mind too. But hey - the hell with safety - we want nukes. We don't want to think about what to do with radioactive waste or what to do with obsolete plants after they have been shut down. Screw safety - Now, now, now!
"I have news for Senator Obama, nuclear power is safe, we ought to do it now."
So far it's been relatively safe but with nukes it's not only about odds, it's about the unbelievable consequences of an accident. A bad accident or terrorist incident can render large areas unlivable for thousands of years. That's why building them takes a lot of time and money. That's why we can't "do it now." McCain will likely be dead before nuclear power makes a dent in our importation of oil and he certainly won't have to worry about the long term consequences of his blah, blah, blah, arguments, will he?

Of course the cornerstone of this argument is essentially false. As with the offshore drilling argument and indeed most of the negative tirades we're hearing about Obama, it's based on what they say Obama said, and not necessarily what Obama actually said or meant. The arguments are so noisy just for this reason: to drown out reason, to obscure the facts. The fact is that to say we need to be careful when playing with dangerous things is not to oppose nuclear power. John is putting words in Barak's mouth only because he wants to win and doesn't care how much he lies to do it or how much his lies would cost you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Going down?

I used to dislike Peggy Noonan for many reasons, one of which was her vulgarization of American political commentary. That was back in the day when calling the Clinton entourage "buttheads" could still make me cringe; that was long before calling a major party candidate a traitor, terrorist, a hard core Marxist radical and an illegal alien who is plotting to kill his grandmother, could be the main thrust of a modern Presidential campaign.

I still despise her, but even she has begun to gag on the candidate she so ironically calls a "symptom and expression of a new vulgarisation of American politics" Sarah Palin. Such an uncharacteristic understatement.

While many important Republicans have been seen leaping for the life boats recently, the new Republican shibboleth may no longer be abortion, gay rights or snake oil tax policies, but loyalty to a losing candidate's last minute and desperate choice for Vice President, Sarah Palin. Those who cling to Sarah Palin and her increasingly insane and inane rants aren't likely to survive. If People like Limbaugh go down with the ship, so much the better. If the most rabid of them spend their waning years yearning for the return of Palin as messiah, I'll enjoy their discomfiture no end.

I don't use the word insane lightly, after all some of my best friends are a little odd at best, but what do we make of the Palin Proclamations about Obama taking away our houses by giving us a tax break, when Republican tax policies are taking them away as we speak? Obama will bring a "nightmare Communist State?" Collectivize all private property? Barak Obama, asserted the wild-eyed harpy would bring about an America "where the people are not free."

Sam Stein at the Huffington Post points out the interesting fact that McCain himself promoted the idea of a progressive tax before he got on the loony train and that Obama's proposed top brackets were the same as during the Clinton years when we had the most prosperous period in our history and erosions of personal freedom were nowhere near the Bush minimums.

Perhaps Palin herself is clinging to the anchor as the ship founders. The only possibility for her new role as the sacrificed savior or hidden Imam would be National Amnesia or a pandemic of contagious insanity. You never know, but the spectacle of the woman who has become the focus and rallying point of the ridiculous right, spitting and hissing like one of Pastor Muthee's witches tied to a stake can't be what John McCain or his party envisioned just a few weeks ago. It's certainly not what I envisioned and feared. Who might have thought the experienced, tested, elder statesman would choose a running mate that could destroy the Republican Party all by herself?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Thing from Alaska

If you've taken Economics 101, you've heard of Adam Smith and the "invisible hand," the principle that causes markets to be self regulating. It's usually considered to be a least a vertebrum in the backbone of conservative philosophy, but people (if we use the term loosely) like Sarah Palin apparently aren't aware of Smith or of principles of any kind even if she can see a library from her window.

Adam Smith, whom some consider to be the father of capitalism, thought it fair, right and proper that the wealthy should pay proportionately more in taxes than the less wealthy. By Sarah's dim light however, the father of Capitalism would be a socialist. In the crepuscular gloom of her perky little mind, any kind of tax is socialism: It's spreading the wealth around. Handing out government checks as a stimulus isn't socialism, but to reduce taxes is the same as to increase taxes because it is socialism if it's taxes. Ok, so you're not from a small town and probably not a real American so to make it perfectly clear, Obama's proposed tax cut for 95% of Americans is:
"the philosophy of government taking more, which is a misuse of the power to tax."
Got that? Less is more and more is less and together it's socialism. Spreading $600 checks around isn't socialism, because it's just giving (real) people back the money wealthier people paid in, but lowering taxes on nearly everybody is socialism because not only is it spreading money around, but a "massive tax increase."
"It leads to government moving into the role of taking care of you, and government and politicians and, kind of moving in as the other half of your family to make decisions for you."
It's really impossible to make any sense of this gibberish, other than to infer from it that she's opposed to funding anything the government does, opposed to having the government do anything but pay for her husband's basketball tickets and her feloniously padded expense account - opposed to government itself.

Who knows if it makes sense to her or to her audience or whether either of them care? It's a hate session. It would be less effective if it made sense. It's the kind of mockery that used to precede pogroms and purges and witch hunts and various slaughters of various innocents in the more primitive dream world Mad Sarah looks backward to as a guide. As pure chant-and-response shamanism, it seems to be as effective at eliciting shrill cries of "kill him" and "socialism" from the howling jackals as it is at scaring hell out of anyone rational. Indeed is anyone rational not terrified of allowing this simple minded sociopath anywhere near Washington?