Friday, May 30, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand lies

I guess I should be pleased that the Republican dogs are still gnawing on the bones of Barak Obama's alleged "gaffe" or misstatement about his uncle having liberated Auschwitz. It means they're scraping the bottom of the cesspool for want of anything substantive; but then the Al Gore bit about inventing the internet still flaps the lips of the fatuous and he didn't actually say it.

Glenn McCoy, the cartoonist who appears in the New York Times is an example of such nonsense, but then most everything he publishes is. Can we really compare the brilliant and erudite Obama to Dan Quayle? Yes, if we're so desperate and if we have an audience so deranged that any spurious attack will please them. Yes, that's just what McCoy does once again in his latest graphic excretion.

Yes, Obama's Uncle ( not his grandpa) was in the unit that liberated part of Buchenwald. If I told you that my great grandfather fought at Antietam when it was really Gettysburg would that be a gaffe? Would it mean he never fought in that war? But with a man like McCoy, all's fair in slime and slander and the Republicans are always right.

The other part of McCoy's coy mendacity is the insinuation that the press doesn't report these egregious "gaffes" because they're so biased in favor of Obama. Since the press has been full of this non-story for days while giving a free pass to the most corrupt, incompetent and blatantly criminal administration in our history, that makes McCoy ignorant, dishonest or both. Since he never has spent a moment illustrating the constant stream of lies, inventions and evasions; the gaffes, misstatements and other verbal idiocies of the Bush presidency, bias isn't a concept he should be hurling about -- lest someone stick it up his nose.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

They burn witches, don't they?

Who do you think of when you hear "Wicked Witch?" Perhaps you recall the green lady from the Wizard of Oz, but for me it's Michelle Malkin. It takes a certain kind of nut job to see Jesus in bird droppings and really believe it, but to assert that Rachel Ray is secretly supporting international terrorism because she wore a paisley scarf in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial, takes Michelle from Hell.

We're clueless, says she. We (liberals?) are clueless that the Kaffiyeh is the symbol of Palestinian terrorists and even though Rachel is a woman and women don't wear these things; even though she wears it around her neck and not on her head and even though in fact it's a paisley scarf given to her by the producers, that's enough of an argument for the Mad Miss Malkin to expand into a tirade against:
"ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."
We all know that Left Wing Icons, like Gays and Hollywood celebrities all support violence and terrorism - especially against Israel.

I think I need a scarf to keep my jaw from hitting the floor.

Back in the late 60's I had a Mao hat and little red book that I used to poke fun at the "conservatives" who accused anyone who opposed the war in Viet Nam of being an International Communist conspirator. I think perhaps it's time for me to don a Kaffiyeh myself.

Call me Ismail.

Childe Barak

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

-- Robert Browning


When does enough become too damned much? Immediately, when we're talking about any US election and this one is exceptional only in that it went over the top before it even started. The latest bit of fake outrage at the Republican "he said, she said" buffet is that Barack Obama told a whopper when he said an uncle of his helped liberate Auschwitz. The man actually participated in the liberation of Buchenwald.

No straw lacks enough buoyancy to be grasped at by the party drowning in its own deceit.

"Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief,"

said RNC spokesman and ethical cripple Alex Conant. No, they don't, but he wishes they did. He wishes they would raise the kind of doubts that should have prevented the coke and booze-addled serial failure, cynical liar and duty shirker George Walker Bush from being elected to public office. George, the guy who promised to keep us out of foreign conflicts and nation building and to restore honor and dignity to the Presidency.

grandmother's brother, was a member of the US 89th infantry division that went into Buchenwald and that's a fact. It has no more or less significance than if it had been another camp, although of course Auschwitz is in Poland and was liberated by the Russians. No honest man could identify this as a lie, but then we're talking about Republicans.

No candidate's programs, promises, plans or platforms ever survive first contact with reality anyway, It's all for show, but if Obama is being dishonest by naming the wrong concentration camp and George Bush was honest by claiming he had never been arrested for drunk driving, then it's time to stop talking about honesty and begin talking about gross, offensive hyperbole and ruthless hypocrisy. It's time to get real about who's exaggerating and how it reflects on the GOP and its candidates.

Cross posted from The Reaction

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Holy Grail, the lost Ark and voter fraud

One of the problems with the religious neurosis is that it seeks the sanctuary of belief so avidly that evidence for a thousand demons and a thousand thousand plots spring forth from the minds of believers, like Athena from the head of Zeus. As with the Great Reagan's invented "welfare mother" who lacked only actual existence to be an example of the abuse he believed in, the prophets of the Republican cult, as we see in the closing scenes of Recount, can see voter fraud issuing like a stink from the unwashed minorities they believe compose the Democratic base. It's easy to turn their crimes into virtues when they are seen as efforts to contain a greater evil; greater because it's done by the other, the heretic, the minority, the smelly brown tide kept at bay only by the heroes of elitism Liberty: the Republican Faithful.

So it is that the Republican struggle against the dragon of "Liberal" voter fraud remains as Dahlia Lithwick (Newsweek June 2, 2008) dubs the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Indiana's voter ID law: a solution in search of a problem. The problem is creating evidence of significant incidences of inellegible voters casting ballots and as these would undoubtedly be voters with accents and little money, casting ballots for Democrats.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing of "flagrant" examples, included a 140 year old New York mayoral election and a single Washington incident in 2004. No mention was made of the disenfranchisement of perhaps 50,000 Florida voters in 2000.

Will the Indiana photo-ID requirement keep legitimate voters from participating in elections? I won't indulge in the willful confusion of possibility with probability. I simply don't know that it will or won't. I don't know how many indigents or elderly shut-ins simply don't have passports or Drivers licenses or State issued photo-ID cards. I do know of one very visible case in Palm Beach Florida where the evidence is iron-clad, but the prominent Republican polemicist who committed it wasn't prosecuted. I will venture a guess that some 85 year old black woman from Indiana who doesn't drive a car would be turned away at least and made into a criminal at worst, under the same circumstances. We shall see if voter ID laws are one more tool of repression and authoritarianism in due time. There's no appeal possible from the decisions of a Supreme Court stuffed with Republican activists anyway.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Raiders of the lost recount.

I've yet to read any reviews of HBO's latest creation Recount. It's about the deep, wide and muddy river of corruption that runs through Southern politics and about how democracy was torn from the banks and washed away while America looked the other way or snickered or gloated -- or participated in what may have been the most shameful election meddling in the last 50 years.

The reviews, I'm certain, will fault it for bias, because it damns the Bush organization and the Florida political machine of Jeb Bush. They're certain to say that it's fiction, loosely based on the truth and that there are (hold your nose) always two sides to a story.

There aren't, of course. There's the truth and as many lies as there are liars to tell them and truth is not to be found by bracketing it with lies or finding the mean between the false extremes. It's not fiction that Katherine Harris, who represented both the State of Florida and George Bush's campaign, used $4 million dollars to commission a list of names similar to the names of convicted felons and without confirming the data or informing anyone on the list, used it to turn away tens of thousands of registered voters from the polls without letting them cast provisional ballots. It's not bias to assert that she used every trick she could employ to stall and obfuscate the recount she was required by law to make.

It's not fiction that 80 years of precedent was overturned and replaced by contrived new rules for counting ballots. It's not fiction that minority voters in Florida were warned by people identifying themselves as State Police to stay away from the polls. The infamous butterfly ballots that the nattering nitwits on Fox told us were without problems had major problems. I have 20:20 vision and had difficulty making them line up properly and difficulty making the worn and dull stylus punch cleanly and even in being sure the beat up machine was holding the ballot properly. If you want to believe I can't read or that I think Pat Buchanan is a Democrat or that I'm just plain stupid, go ahead -- but you know better. This is, however, the age of marketing magic and with a wave of the wand and a flap of the jawbone it all becomes the result of stupid, old (the same thing) grandmothers who can't follow instructions and unsavory far left liberal America hating effete Volvo driving welfare abusing Democrats.

It's not fiction that recounts weren't performed as requested, that gangs of Republican thugs, flown in from out of state by courtesy of Bush's best friends at Enron, physically halted the Miami-Dade recount or that the legally mandated recount was deliberately stalled by Republican operatives so as to run out the clock.

It's not fiction that The Republicans on the US Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of this mess, but none the less permitted it "just this one time."

The 2 hour production did cover the invalidation and subsequent re-validation of absentee ballots that had no postmarks, no witnesses and no dates by Republican election commissioners anxious to obtain as many military votes as possible. It didn't mention my county where the Republican commissioner actually took the ballots home without supervision and decided on her own that they must have been valid. There were never any repercussions.

"Democrats go wah. They go wah wah wah" said Ann of the Thousand Lies. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a snicker.

2000 was the year I gave up on the United States of America and although I've since repented to a degree, I will never again have faith in the ability of our democratic Republic to operate as it was designed to do, free of the ability of entrenched power to bend it to their will and against the will and control of the electorate. Since that day, the ability of our government to control what we know, what we believe, and whether or not our votes get counted has grown further. Their power to know what we read and who we talk to has grown and their power to create false history is unmitigated and all but unchallenged.

Recount ends with a dolly shot of a vast warehouse full of boxes containing all the Florida ballots and perhaps it deliberately parallels the famous final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, slowly revealing, as the camera recedes, the vastness of the endless stacks of crates of artifacts relegated to the dust and official oblivion. It's a metaphor -- a powerful one.

It's not hard to look at history and see the pivotal moments when civilizations begin to fail, governments begin to fall and liberty begins an inexorable slide into the spider hole of authoritarianism and corruption. So far, the presidential election of 2000 seems likely to feature as such in some future volume of the Decline and Fall of the United States of America.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Any comparison I can make between the way the government of China and the government of George Bush handle national disasters must be suspect, since I can't really know the whole picture, but I don't recall any surge of national pride and unity after Hurricane Katrina waterboarded the Gulf Coast. "As Chinese we must be united," was a comment made by a student in Tienanmen square to CNN. "We Chinese can do it!" It seems they can. Video reports seem to show well organized refugee camps and a large military and government presence.

Of course and as I said, I can't make a fair comparison, but I certainly remember only bitterness, recriminations, depression and the idea that we can't, and our government can't do a damned thing to help ourselves after Katrina. Some argued that New Orleans should be left to rot; some argued from parsimony, others from racism. Some insisted it was the fault of the Democrats, others the Republicans. Others railed about God's wrath against homosexuals and against those who tolerate them; who tolerate free thought and secular government, but I don't recall any optimism or pride or expressions of unity: only bitch, bitch, bitch.

The students whose parents' generation held out against the government in that vast, dusty square 19 years ago are immensely proud of China's accomplishments and they have a sense of progress and a sense that progress is good. They are on the other side of the world in more than one way.

Friday, May 23, 2008

For the pipes of the Lord have spoken it

You know the "reverend" Phelps and you've heard about the Westboro Baptist Church, which consists mostly of his family. They're the creeps who picket military funerals with "God hates fags," "Thank God for 9/11" and "thank God for dead soldiers" banners and tell mourners their lost sons and daughters were killed by God because our country doesn't actively persecute homosexuals.

They appeared in Stuart Florida today to picket a Memorial Day ceremony honoring, as we do on this holiday, the fallen in our many wars: it wasn't a good choice of venue. Local motorcycle clubs, which in this area include many, many veterans, pledged to turn out and they did, the distinctive rumble of V twin's rumbling up East Ocean Drive past the county courthouse and to the band shell and park where the array of white crosses was set out in the 92 degree heat.

Interviewed by the local paper, some tattooed and leather-wrapped bikers expressed their support for freedom of speech and for a country that allows such vermin to exercise it. Like Michelle Obama, I felt really proud for once. There was no violence, just words and signs blaring "don't listen to these idiots."

Asked by a reporter whether he liked what the "church" was doing today, a Phelps offspring of perhaps 5 years of age replied "yes" and "because it makes the Lord happy." like most opinions about what makes God smile, there was no evidence for it.

Whether or not God hates homosexuals or kills soldiers of countries that fail to punish them is something no one can know, but oddly today a drought of many months was broken in the city of Stuart by a heavy tropical thunderstorm, and the rain fell hard enough to bring a man to his knees; pouring down on the crosses, on the Phelps family, on the protesters and veterans alike, drowning the hate slogans of the Phelps', while thunder roared like Yahweh in his glory, blipping his throttle into wide open pipes.

This land is their land

I try not to trust official stories, neither the government's or that of political parties. I'm not entirely sure that the oil fields under the north slope of Alaska or the offshore resources in the Arctic are huge and I'm not sure that the reason we don't tap them extensively is the fanaticism of "left wing environmentalist crazies."

Environmentalists, of course can't be summed up so easily and the idea that the unitary government of oil men would be unable to move without their permission seems flimsy. After all the scarcity of oil serves them well and another huge discovery would slash profits. The standard currency of the world is oil. It props up the dollar which might otherwise be worth very little. How would it serve the people who sell oil to sell it for less? How would it serve the US if OPEC couldn't buy our debt with the dollars it makes?

I try really hard not to trust vast paranoid scenarios and the notion that all the politics of the last few decades is explained by the machinations of oil men, but the arguments of Lindsey Williams have set me back on my heels.

He's been making speeches for years, about the world bank, about the oil cartels and perhaps there are weaknesses in his arguments. Certainly I know oil geologists who strongly disagree. It's far too complex for me to repeat or even to summarize, but listen for yourself. Make some popcorn. It will take you over an hour.

I would like to believe he's wrong, but I think that in essence he's right. I think I've seen new light on our enmity toward Iran. I think the people blaming high oil prices on reindeer huggers are dupes. I think people blaming it on speculators are fooling themselves. I think people blaming it on the Chinese are wrong. I think I'm scared, not because I can't afford $5 gasoline or $10 gasoline, but I'm afraid I've just looked into the mouth of hell and seen Dick Cheney beckoning.


no federal agency has the authority to issue 'official' rulings legally binding on civilians or civilian groups. Consequently, different interpretations of various provisions of the Code may continue to be made.


Barak Obama must be seen as the man to beat these days, or at least the man to slime. I've been getting an increasing number of e-mail screeds excoriating him for singing the National Anthem without his hand on his heart. Sometimes the story has him pledging allegiance. Often it includes his appearing without the plastic patriotism pin or pledging to give the country away to "the ragheads."

The latest issue includes references to the flag Code which show Obama to be in violation for not making the required salute, although of course that code clearly states that these rules do not apply to and cannot be made to apply to civilians and any behavior is acceptible as long as respect is shown. Just a little bit of information makes the lie go down, to paraphrase the song.

Much is being made of Michelle Obama's “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” It's really impressive to watch the faux outrage build up to an hysterical psychodrama. I'm having trouble remembering the last time I was really proud of this country and of course her adult lifetime rivals the age of my favorite shoes. Sure, I'm proud of the part we played in the two World Wars, I'm proud that we landed on the moon, but I'm not proud of Slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, the Trail of Tears, Wounded knee, the battle of Little Big Horn, Joe McCarthy, the internment of Japanese American citizens, the Gulf of Tonkin hoax, the training of the Central American death squads to rape nuns and murder peasants, the sale of weapons to Iran while they were holding US prisoners, and yes, the invasion of Iraq and its attendant hoaxes. Being unable to feel shame is the mark of the sociopath, not the patriot.

So I guess Michelle and I along with her husband aren't Patriotic; at least as long as patriotic is defined by being overwhelmingly proud and elated at every foul, stupid and misguided thing our government has done.

I've yet to receive any of these sneering, cynical and indignant assaults on John McCain, not that there aren't any outraged opponents of the man who waffled about torture and has steadfastly promoted a war while steadfastly opposing anything designed to improve health care benefits for those returning from it. John McCain voted against veteran's benefits in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 and continues to vote against anything designed to benefit the VA hospitals even when (and perhaps because) the bill would be payed by closing tax loopholes.

But John McCain is a patriot - he wears a pin to prove it. He supports the troops as long as it doesn't require putting Halliburton's money where his mouth is.

The VA hospital system is said to be the best health care system, public or private, in the country but the privatization pirates, wearing their patriot pins and waving flags, have been trying to board it and sink it for years. John would rather have veterans go to private health care providers, the same ones who regularly bilk Medicare and deny claims that eat into profits. Why? Ask the lobbyists for the health care industry, the lobbyists for the Cerner Corporation, for instance, who have replaced a high functioning, open source electronic information system with a private, closed source package at the expense of veterans. Why? Could it be because the VA is admired world wide for efficiency and thus contradicts the Great Buffoonicator's proclamation that Government can't do anything?

Who cares? The web of Republican reasoning isn't worth unraveling and there's only a spider at the middle of it anyway. Needless to say, those who scream about flags and pins and national pride the most have their agendas, and one man's patriotism is another man's treason. Oh, and yes, While McCain sold out the vets again, Obama voted for improved benefits. Tell me again about how patriotism is about pins and flags.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fifty gallons of crap in a ten gallon hat

Dick Cheney. Is he wearing that idiotic hat to cover up his horns or is he just reminding us that Nixon may be dead, but the cowboys are still in control?

Using a captive audience of Coast Guard Academy graduates to promote the idea that occupying Iraq is a "war on terror," Cheney persists in insinuating that because it is a war, it can be won and that because it is a war, to desist would be surrender, betrayal and dishonor. Because it is a war, anything we do is justifiable except to to pay for it.

The relentless cramming of the occupation of Iraq into this battered, stretched and sorely abused metaphor of war, the relentless evocation of cheap comparisons to every conflict since Rameses II rode into Kadesh, still stirs the souls of war lovers, a couple dozen of whom, calling themselves "a gathering of eagles," showed up "to support the troops" in some fashion far, far beyond my ability to comprehend.

"We're proud of our government," said one of the eagles.

I won't put words in anyone's mouth, but I would love to have asked him what it would take to turn that pride into shame, or indeed if anything could. I would love to ask whether he would feel pride if we sent troops to club baby seals and dishonor if they were forced to leave any alive. I would love to ask how defending a dishonorable act could be honorable; but of course I don't speak their language or follow their thought processes and I'm sure the answer would be less meaningful than the screeching of birds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The cult of Freedom

It's my personal observation that the average Englishman has a better vocabulary than the average American, but it's not a point I want to argue. That the British are just as full of self-righteous idiocy as anyone is an argument more to my liking, and I have evidence. According to The Guardian, a London teenager has fallen into the hands of the Linquistic Inquisition and is facing prosecution for having publicly used the world "cult" to describe the cult of Elron Hubbard, known as Scientology.

The crusade to rid language of any words that might somehow be construed to be offensive, is raging on both sides of the Atlantic. Such things thrive in inarticulate America, but apparently the Brits ( it seems to be allowed to call them that but don't call the Japanese Japs) are just as bad.

Why isn't Scientology a cult, and whether it is or whether it isn't, why is that a bad word? My casual readings in Archaeology frequently contain mentions of the cult of Isis or Venus or the Magdalene or the Virgin Mary. It derives from the Latin word for worship, but apparently, what's good for one Scholar is bad for another - we must consult the oracle.

The very American Merriam Webster dictionary defines cult as:
  • formal religious veneration
  • a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
  • a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious
  • a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
  • great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.

The veddy British Oxford dictionary adds that the word sometimes describes a religion that exercises excessive control over its adherents, but then all of these definitions can apply and have at times applied rightly and honestly to any religion at all. In fact these are all definitions of religion and that includes the fact that every religion is unorthodox to other religions.

Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" read the confiscated placard peacefully displayed at a peaceful demonstration in front of the opulent London Headquarters of the Church of Scientology. Would it have been less "offensive" if it read: "Scientology is not a cult, it is a dangerous religion?" Who can tell, because either statement is, in my reading, equivalent. Someone is telling us however. Someone, some authority not derived from the will of the governed has an arcane system by which their dark stars favor a word on one day or denounce it on another and it sure as hell works in mysterious ways. By mysterious, I mean stupid.

If any speech offensive to someone looking for offense is actionable, then do I have the right to have the Gospel of John confiscated and half the works of Martin Luther banned for vicious condemnation of the Jews? Should the finally deceased Jerry Fallwell have been arrested for saying God Didn't listen to Jews or that the AntiChrist was a Jew? Forgive me for being confused. If Christianity or Islam or the cult of Refafu claims that whatever religion I might have is dangerous to any soul I might have, then Christians or Sufis or any other cultists anxious to discuss the error of my ways should be silenced and prosecuted along with anyone standing at any pulpit, who describes anyone else as a sinner, apostate, heretic, gentile or reprobate. The wages of sin is death? as a member of the Church of Sin and a committed sinner, I'm offended. Call the police! Call my lawyer!

Of course, in the interest of preserving my own freedom of speech I'm not hoping to see any such thing, but I am hoping that whatever mysterious and invisible entity there is that decides what I may or may not say -- and whatever dangerous cult surrounds it -- will reveal itself unto me so that I can dedicate myself to offending it.

Monday, May 19, 2008


A place where life is a long summer afternoon of the smells of cut grass and jasmine and new rain drops on dusty hot sidewalks and the feel of bicycle tires on dirt roads and the mysterious newness of old things and memories.

A parallel but separate plane perhaps as is the Florida of the arrivalists who see a clean slate for writing a new story in the old iconography of stucco and concrete and mink coats and champaign and Cadillacs and imported palm trees and grass lawns and condominiums and malls and money.

That shell shop has been here since the 30's and that restaurant -- see where the tourist cabins used to be when there was nothing but sand and pine scrub for miles along the Federal Highway that took you from Maine to Key West, mostly at 35 mph. That little grocery now cut off from the main road, the old, black woman smiling behind the counter who inherited it from her grandmother who ran the only store for miles back when segregation had a long future. That Thai restaurant used to be a fish camp long, long before the new bridge where people would come up from Palm Beach and from way up North to fish in the St lucie.

Nobody tries to grow pineapples out on Hutchinson Island any more, unless it's in the tailored garden of some big house. Most of it has gone back to the impenetrable wetland it used to be when there were bears here, and the Loxahatchee is still a wild and scenic river lined with cypress and oak and filled with alligators. It's still a good place to stop counting the days and to live them as you did when you thought they were endless. There's enough of it still here. Empty beaches still run for miles and miles and people still live in pink houses in charming towns where a cup of coffee is still called a cup of coffee and the restaurants aren't national brands and the fish isn't frozen and sometimes you have to put the engines in neutral to let the dolphins cross the channel and Miami Beach is still a hundred miles away.

White mangroves on Hutchinson Island

The Loxahatchee

Nothing but wilderness

Picturesque Stewart, by the St. Lucie estuary

Dolphin, riding my wake

The Blue Moon and her Captain

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Zero Tolerance

Every breath you take Every move you make Every bond you break Every step you take Ill be watching you. . .

-The Police-

"No matter how minuscule, there is some risk,"
said the prosecutor -- and apparently accepting that astonishing proposition, the jury decided
Willie Campbell was attempting murder when he spit at a Dallas cop. Willie, to be sure, is HIV positive, but since the risk of spreading the disease in this fashion is minuscule, it calls into question whether changing lanes without signaling, something with a far higher chance of killing someone, should be considered assault with a deadly weapon and a crime worthy of a sentence like Willie's: 35 years.

"That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death."
That means, according to
Dallas County prosecutor Jenni Morse, that the remotest of possibilities is to be treated as a certainty and because it's possible than nearly anything you do, any object you pick up or put down, every movement you make, every breath that you take could harm someone, it's a deadly weapon. Think carefully the next time you change lanes . Think twice before cursing your boss - curses just might work.

OK, so Willie Campbell isn't a nice guy - he has bitten other inmates and has attacked other officers. Mens Rea or criminal intent isn't hard to establish in his case, but precedent is precedent and if I have now to consider remote possibilities as accomplished facts, don't I have to wonder how our increasingly Zero Tolerant country will treat pillow fights that go awry or anything said or done in anger that by some freak of chance results in death?

Absurdity is reality today. You can be guilty of a serious crime for possessing an empty container which once held a substance that is illegal. You can be guilty of a crime if you open an e-mail with an illegal drawing, even if you delete it. You can be given only 18 years for giving a lethal dose of heroin to a minor as
De Leon Vanegas Jr. was given in the courtroom next door.

From the Jury and the lawmen, good Lord protect us.

Good ol' boy in Gucchi loafers

As much as I like living in small towns - and I do live in one - I must be out of touch with small town America; at least insofar as Karl Rove is being honest and genuine. (feel free to snicker.)

Karl has taken it upon himself, as a true man of the people and judge of patriots, to point out to a meeting of the National Rifle Association yesterday, that Barak Obama is out of touch with the people one needs to be in touch with in order to be the chief executive of the United States, Commander in Chief of the armed forces and representative of our country to the world at large. I must be out of touch because I am, given the chance, going to vote for Barak Obama. I own a number of firearms and learned to shoot when I was 10. I'm an outdoorsman who once had a farm, doesn't drive imported cars or drink Zima and is often seen dining with the local fisherman and bikers at the local tavern. I'm a Democrat. I'm educated. I don't support the NRA. I don't believe in faith.

Rove, whose neck is only red when he ventures out of his burrow, lives in a brand new palatial home in Florida and has spent most of his life promoting the interests of the very powerful to the detriment of truth, justice and what we'd like to call the American Way -- as well as to the detriment of the interests of the people he is now pandering and condescending to by insisting that Barak Obama is a panderer.

Convoluted? Sure, but that's Karl Rove. Karl, whose name has become synonymous with mean, ugly and dirty politics recently advised Obama
"Americans want to see you scrapping and fighting for the job, not in a mean or ugly way but in a forceful and straightforward way."
One has to wonder at the twisted and hidden paths Rove sees as the high road.

Karl, of course isn't exactly the hunting, shooting outdoorsman he was condescending to at the National Rifle Association Convention, and much less is he the God, Guns and Guts kind of a guy I'm familiar with in rural Florida. His face isn't tanned. I'm sure he doesn't wear camo boxer shorts or drink Budweiser or shoot pool with the boys after he punches out for the day. I'm sure he doesn't drive a 'pickemup' with Jesus stickers or gripe about them Jews driving up the price of gas or the Mexicans stealing his livelihood or the mill he works for shipping jobs to India. So it's a bit hard to see him as anything other than the manipulative, propagandizing, phony, lying, condescending, pandering bastard who has been sucking up to the power elite since he had hair.

By suggesting that the political opinions of what he calls "small town Americans" are what is and should be the policies of the United States, he's suggesting the kind of dictatorship of the proletariat that would have him screaming Marxism like a crazed parakeet if any Democrat had said it, and by categorizing the vast majority of us who live in urban or metropolitan areas as unAmerican by virtue of education and affluence he proves himself to be little more than an opportunist looking to rise above the masses by standing on their backs.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Screening room

I spent much of yesterday afternoon in a hospital waiting room with CNN blaring on the small screen and after reading everything from half a dozen elderly Field and Stream issues to the current Working Mother Magazine, I had to give up on the printed word and pay attention to the blather. I rarely watch CNN any more and if you wonder why, it's because in three hours, all I heard from them other than advertising, was about "John McCain's vision for the future" and the terribly, terribly important overturn of a gay marriage ban in California again and again like some fast paced version of Groundhog Day.

"Many people are concerned that we need more conservatives in government so that we won't have judges who decide this way" was nearly the entirety of the commentary, the balance was the observation that it was the Constitution (hence not the judges) that stood in the way of preserving the "sanctity" of marriage. Regardless of the now apparently reduced sanctity of my own marriage, I continued to wait for my dear wife to have her X-ray with undiminished dedication.

Sanctity, of course is indeed a subject that our Federal Constitution excludes from the business of government. Establishing religious rules or laws based on religious rules is specifically forbidden and not applying any laws in a discriminatory fashion, whether based on religious taboos or not, has long been established in the law. What does CNN mean to imply here: that we should get rid of that nasty secular Democracy thing so we can all be holy? What else can we infer?

And then there was John McCain's vision for the future. It seems rather blurry even for his 71 year old eyes, but then any serious predictions of a brave, new Republican World had better be blurry lest it appear too much like the cowardly old Republican World we've been suffering through at length. The "war" will be "won," sayeth John, quoting from the Gospel of Nixon. Of course he's right, since the war was won 5 years ago. What continues is the occupation of a hostile country and occupations are never won but maintained only at tremendous and usually increasing cost.

None of this seems to have left a trace, at least on CNN or Perhaps it's because of some fleeting sense of embarrassment or perhaps there are so many new inanities and so little time, but my sense of despair remains. No story hits the street save through such sources and no story is told without the Greek Chorus of hysterical idiots making it into something to stir the primitives to frenzy.

Maybe the public isn't as stupid as they appear. Perhaps the West Virginians John Stuart featured Wednesday night who told us they wouldn't vote for Obama because "we've had so much conflict with the Other Race" or "I've had enough of Hooooo-sayn" or "He's a Moslim" don't represent the rest of us, but the fate of old optimists like me is to become an old pessimist like me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Who would bin Laden vote for?

It's been called Godwin's Law, the idea that the longer a political dialog continues, the more likely Hitler will be brought up. Of course, it's not a law; the longer any conversation continues, the more likely that anything will come up, but reductio ad Hitlerium as other wags have dubbed it, does seem to occur all too often when the subject is a government we dislike, a political figure we hate or when a policy we are trying to justify needs a good old fashioned bogeyman to override considerations of accuracy, truthfulness or sometimes even sanity.

The notion that trying to deal with any bogeyman without the use of bombs and tanks and sanctions is "appeasement," has been a standard gambit since British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement of 1938, but rarely if ever has it been an apt analogy but rather a clumsy attempt to denounce diplomacy as a political tool. Is it any kind of surprise that it was used by the neocons against continuing to inspect and assess Iraq's nuclear potential? If that were true, airport security checks would be "appeasing terrorists" which makes no sense.

Did Nikita Khruschev really back Kennedy over Nixon because Kennedy was "soft on Communism?" Did Ho Chi Min really want Hubert Humphrey to win? Are we really not sick and disgusted of all this idiocy by now?

Hardly surprising that the strutting little Commander Guy has little other defense to the suggestion that talks with "evildoers" may sometimes be productive. No, talking to Adolph Hitler in 1938 wasn't a way to keep him from invading Poland the following year, but then not talking to Fidel Castro hasn't done a damned thing while we continue to appease the Saudi Royal Family and their medieval monarchy.

Let's be honest. Dealing sensibly with the Germans in 1918 might have made a difference and dealing with Palestinians differently in 1948 might have made a difference, but when it comes to deciding when it's time to stop trying and to start bombing isn't something the "Decider" seems to be good at deciding, is it?

Analogies can be helpful, but only in so far as they are honest and accurate. Neither of those terms applies to much we hear from the "Warpresident" and his latest jive from Jerusalem insisting that Barak Obama and other Democrats would endanger Israel and perhaps the world by actually engaging Ahmadenejad and other bogeymen in a conversation. "rewarding bad behavior" is the typical administration phrasing, as though trigger happy America is the world's school teacher, but either way, it's an opinion much related to past failures and with little success to its credit.

It's the sort of thing he hopes Israel will buy into, since he would love to have them pressure American Jews into supporting Republicans. In my opinion, that's bad behavior; the kind dishonesty and cowardice usually produces and I would hate to see the losers, crooks, cowards and failures we flatter by calling Neocons, rewarded for it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Maverick

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them doggies movin'
Rawhide! ...

Samuel A. Maverick (!803 - 1870) had a life filled with adventures too numerous to list, but in his later years as a rancher who refused to brand his cattle, his name entered the American vocabulary as a non-conformist; a person of independent thought and action. That's hardly descriptive of John McCain, a man who followed in the family tradition of military careers, used family connections to get into the Naval Academy (and nearly flunk out) and whose political career is and has been marked by the influence of lobbyists and special interest spokesmen of dubious allegiance. The cattle at this Maverick's ranch seem to have dubious markings on them and maybe it's time someone did brand John McCain's cattle.

Some of the old doggies in the McCain corral; two of his campaign staff that is, seem to have spend time grazing in Burma in the pastures of the criminal Junta currently letting huge numbers of people starve while stealing their food. What advice has John the Maverick been taking from them?

Charlie Black, McCain's campaign chairman, ran a lobbying firm that represented vicious dictators like Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire ; even terrorist rebel Jonas Savimbi in Angola. What advice has Cowboy John been taking? How well does he examine the backgrounds of his advisers, or is it that these are the kind of people he prefers to associate with and take advice from?

Black was also an adviser to Achmed Chalabi a man who may have been working as a double agent for Iran and whose mendacious advice to the Bush administration fed their lust to invade Iraq, has also been affiliated with Blackwater Worldwide, the firm that has made a colossal killing (pun intended) from the war.

And then there's campaign co-chair Tom Loeffler, who has represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - need I say more?

For a man who is supposed to be independent of the influence of others and disdainful of lobbyists, it's a bit strange how the others who influence him seem to be former lobbyists for repressive dictators and oil interests and others who see the US as a cash cow to be milked dry and then perhaps led to slaughter.

Maybe it's time to round them up and move them out; the whole damned lot of them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Après le déluge, rien.

Political and economic repression probably bother the Burmese less of late than the problem of staying alive in the mud along with the rotting corpses of man and beast. It's a natural disaster of bigger than average proportions and some estimate the death toll will be over a million when the toll of disease and malnutrition is paid. The earthquake in Sichuan seems almost inconsequential in comparison and so do the hurricanes, school shootings and lead paint scandals of recent times, yet the "Hillaryobama" chant continues to dominate all three rings of the 24 hour American news circus.

If the magnitude of the tragedy is lost on most of us, the significance of the event is clear to the Apocalypse fans. It's more evidence of the end times. It's more evidence of the the human sacrifice demanding Yahweh "who so loved the world" getting warmed up for the big one. To some, possessed of a more informed and wider view of history, it's just another small incident in a billion years of much worse. To others, it's a demonstration of the perils of overpopulation and poverty. To the more fashionable, it's the alarm bell of the Global Warming warning system. To the religious leaders to whom America listens while condemning Reverend Wright, it probably shows clearly the perils of not accepting their processed Jesus product and at least hints of various sexual improprieties of the oriental sort.

To me? Well I just knew you'd be interested. To me it all means nothing. It means we live very briefly in an unfathomably huge, ancient and hostile universe in which we and all we do are supremely insignificant except to each other. It means we waste our brief and often miserable lives by pretending it's otherwise.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Silly Sunday or where have all the mothers gone?

This being my first Mother's day without having a mother, I tend to notice all the hoopla from the people selling things, from flowers to Caribbean cruises, with a bit of sadness. Of course being a language snob and a grammatical elitist, at least in America where using the language at above the Kindergarten level is like carrying Chairman Mao's little red book, I'm disgusted with the metamorphosis of Mother's Day into "Mom's Day."

"I always wanted to be a Mom" reads today's local newspaper headline. The respect implied by being someone's mother would be too much for down-to-earth, anti-adult Americans. Maybe we should stop saying Mother of God or Mother Theresa or God forbid, Mother Miles and change them all to "Moms."

Isn't it bad enough that we wear backwards caps like the Little Rascals; do we have to talk like toddlers? Grow up.

And while we're on the subject, why the hell not a Grandparent's day? Particularly when the grown children are still being subsidized by said ancestors? Just don't call it Gramps' day or Granny's day. Why? Because I'm a pistol packin' Grandpa and I don't like it, that's why.

*All the above is null and void if you actually are my grandson, of course. In that case you can do no wrong.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Our newest ambassador

One of the weaknesses of our normally peaceful presidential change of watch is that someone like Bush, leaving office peacefully, with ceremony and not in handcuffs, isn't an event that shows the world we have attempted to cleanse ourselves of his administration and its arrogance. Regardless of who his replacement will be, it will be hard to convince the world that our government has any respect for basic human rights, justice or the rule of law.

Newly released Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al Hajj returned to his native Sudan Monday to begin his new mission of United States bad will ambassador to the world. He was held in our Guantanamo prison camp without charge for seven years, apparently because he contributed money to a charity suspected of supporting terrorists, once interviewed Osama bin Laden and worked for a beverage company whose director supported Muslim forces in Bosnia and Chechnya. After seven years, or as he put it in a televised speech, "After 2,340 days spent in the most heinous prison mankind has ever known" he was released. Was this vengeance for his having reported human rights violations in Afghanistan? Maybe, but if this kind of evidence can justify seven years of enhanced interrogation, nobody the US targets for reprisals is safe and of course the world knows it, hates us for it and hates us the more for our not caring, for nattering endlessly about flag pins, what brand of whiskey is preferred and other insanely meaningless crap.

It will take a long time for the image of the US as a dangerous country run by paranoid megalomaniacs and peopled by cowardly, greedy entertainment junkies who have no clue or care, to fade. Who knows if it ever will? Who knows if we ever will be able to get clean of the addiction to diseased patriotism, ignorance and delusions of grandeur, but if we won't Punish, Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and the entire cabal, perhaps the election of Barak Obama will to some degree signal that a change has occurred in America. Without that perception, ambassadors like Sami al Hajj will unite the world against us and ignite the passions of ten thousand terrorists. We can chose to become an isolated nation dependent upon the fear of our nuclear weapons for protection, or we can begin to reverse course, to live again as free and courageous people who deal with the world honestly.

Our choices are very limited and there is no perfect candidate, but for my part, I think Barak Obama, whatever his faults and weaknesses may be, is the best choice we have.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The strange case of Mister Bah

We've come a long way from the founding principle that all people have certain inalienable rights, even if they're aliens. Of course that enlightened idea has so often been honored in the breach that it may be hard to make the case that the US is in decline, but it's still disturbing to hear about imprisonment so devoid of oversight and so absolute that dying people can be thrown into solitary confinement, incommunicado and with no effort to inform anyone in their families or their respective embassies simply because they missed a plane or their status was changed without notification.

There have been too many examples of late where tourists from such terrorist hotbeds as Iceland, for instance, have been abused physically and mentally for overstaying a tourist visa by a few hours. 66 people have died while in custody, some in privately owned and operated prisons. Nobody seems to give a damn about what happens to foreigners; after all we were attacked by foreigners, weren't we?

Take Mr. Bah, one of 66 prisoners to die in custody since January 2004 to November 2007. A tailor from Guinea, he fell and hit his head (or so they say) while in custody. He was in custody because they revoked his green card without telling him. Because he sustained brain injuries and was incoherent, he was shackled and left in solitary, vomiting and foaming at the mouth. No one outside was informed and it took five days for his family to locate him. It took another 4 months for him to die without ever regaining consciousness. Such things seem to be typical and considering that privately owned prisons for profit are the fastest growing form of incarceration, giving our swashbuckling government agencies like ICE an opportunity to make people disappear without a trace. The more people we toss in the clink, the more money the private jailers make and can contribute to Republican campaigns.

But of course we don't care. We were attacked by foreigners and although Bah, a 52 year old tailor whose family has been here since 1943, who lived and worked legally in New York for ten years, his elaborate gowns displayed in Manhattan boutiques, must therefore be a threat to our ethnic purity and our safety because his green card was suddenly revoked while he was abroad and he was automatically jailed upon his return for 9 months -- until he died. Did I mention that we were attacked by foreigners?

So why bother about them; why investigate when there is really no law requiring ICE to do so? ICE can, like so many agencies public and private under the Bush autocracy and is all but immune from oversight. Bah had family in the US who were able to get a few details, albeit too late; many detainees don't and some have been held for decades without anyone outside knowing what happened and doubtless many have died and been disposed of as quietly as were the countless victims of Stalin's godless system. We trust in God and we're Christians and foreigners can stay the hell out of our country -- and what's this about Samaritans -- they're foreigners, aren't they? We were attacked by foreigners, weren't we?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

One thing after another

Floridians can, for the moment at least, relax some vigilance over the safety of their lives, liberty and property as the Legislature has ended it's current session as of Friday last. As is often the case, the greatest relief may be felt at their failure to pass certain bills. Of course the results were mixed. The death of the bill requiring restaurants to provide ample toilet paper may rightly be mourned by civilized folk, while the failure to allow the police to issue tickets for having plastic bull testicles displayed on one's trailer hitch will result in red neck rejoicing. All in all, it does give one pause to wonder what more pressing matters were avoided by such trivial pursuits.

The religious insurgents won some battles this year, murdering a bill that would require the schools to teach a little more about sex than that it should conform to the ancient and rarely observed codes of abstinence. It should be another good year for gonorrhea and unwanted pregnancy. They crucified another that would have required health facilities to tell rape victims they can get emergency birth control pills. They did lose the battle for a license plate showing a cross and stating I Believe however, and they failed to get the law to protect teachers from any repercussions from teaching the Sunday School science instead of Paleontology. They even failed to mandate that causing the death of a fetus always be classified as murder. Even the American Jesus can't win them all.

Some failures do seem to defy reason. Providing that the State can deport illegal aliens incarcerated for crimes seems to beg the question: why not? Some measures are too obviously sleazy even for Florida, like the bill allowing a special tax break for a dog track's slot machine income.

But it's over and although I'm truly disgusted by the failure, once again to pass a bill forcing slow moving cars to relinquish the left lane, I have to be grateful it wasn't worse. We've survived another legislative session and can now devote our attention to surviving the next hurricane season, which while equally devastating and in need of constant monitoring, is quite a bit more unresponsive to special interests.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Shell game

Hillary Clinton and John McCain agree, at least to the extent that they support a gasoline tax holiday this Summer. John is pandering to families with children, saying this will help them buy school supplies. Hillary is pandering to anti-corporate sentiments by saying this will take money from the deep pockets of the Oil oligarchy. Both seem to be pandering to the " not thinking too clearly."

Alison Fitzgerald at says that economists in general aren't buying it. A projected savings of $35, spread over the tax holiday isn't going to be very useful, and particularly when acquired a buck or two at a time. The retailers aren't likely to reduce prices very much and the overall ten billion dollar tax revenue will be directed back to the refiners and must of course, reduce the general revenue; a loss that will have to be made up elsewhere. All in all, it looks like a shell game to me and an Exxon Mobil game and a BP game and even a Citgo game.

Clinton is pushing the estimate of a $70 savings to consumers, but Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., said families would save only about $18 a month. Burman estimated the total savings from Memorial Day to Labor Day at $28. Even if the savings actually materialized "it would be chump change," he said. An extra beer here and there, a couple of packs of cigarettes and there won't be much left for Johnies new backpack.

But to a nation of chumps, conditioned to slobber like Pavlov's dogs at the phrase "tax cut," it may seem like a good deal. We usually do sit up and beg when a candidate offers to put a dollar in our pocket while sending us a bill for five bucks plus interest and fees. We'll take the nickels and dimes while the roads and bridges continue to crumble and our transportation system, already about the worst in the first world, gets worse and the war grinds on and on.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bye bye Deborah Jeane

Many people believe the Comedian Lenny Bruce who died in 1960 of a drug overdose, was hounded to death for telling dirty jokes and creating biting social satire. His history of arrests for indecency is voluminous. Of course his humor is far less "dirty" than one hears on TV today and nobody was ever harmed by hearing "dirty words."

Some would like to believe that the rampant prudery of the 1950's, a time when one couldn't say "pregnant" or "hell" on TV and married couples like Ozzie and Harriet Nelson had to be shown sleeping in separate beds, is no longer with us in our era of rampant vulgarity, but of course the Values Vermin are as durable as cockroaches and still have plenty to say about wardrobe malfunctions, academic discussions of sexuality and about who may do what and with whom.

The arguments against prostitution are far too many to list or to argue against here. Suffice it to say that in America one can ask for a diamond ring, a steak dinner or a night at the opera in return for amorous favors, but not 20 bucks, not 4000 bucks, not a dollar. I won't even try to explain. I won't try to explain why someone like Deborah Jeane Palfrey could be sentenced to 55 years in jail for putting couples together to pursue their own further interests, sexual or otherwise, while Neil Clark Warren is above reproach for doing the very same thing. The answer would lead us directly into the foetid swamp of Christian morality where the light of reason, decency and respect for humanity never shines.

Palfrey has been, since April 15th, awaiting sentence for various crimes stemming from the illegality of putting together consenting adults who might be expected to have a mutual interest in exchanging money for sex. The maximum sentence of 55 years is, for someone of 52 years, a life sentence and the life expectancy of a convict is less than that of a free person. Need I mention the quality of life in prison? It's no surprise that she seems to have killed herself; another sacrifice to the ravenous God we created; another victim of Christian love of punishment and contempt for freedom.

Meanwhile people who rob and defraud others of billions, serve far lighter sentences. People caught frequenting prostitutes face disgrace - sometimes. Sometimes they lose their jobs; sometimes their job of preaching morality is only enhanced. People who murder innocent people in their beds get to make a fortune, get to write and enforce laws that make us the largest jail keepers in the world, get to be President.