Thursday, July 31, 2008

The last refuge

My inbox is like a lobster trap. At night while I sleep, it's out there collecting crawly ugly things from the creepy critters that live under rocks, eat nasty stuff, pretend to be outraged at Barak Obama's obvious lack of patriotism and insist that we immediately send some infected bit of racist outrage to "everyone you know."

Today's prize winner is titled:

Obama The Patriot -
Removes American Flag From His Plane

Of course that's not quite the truth.The truth is that the airline he was using featured a flag on the tail and when his campaign leased the plane and painted his name and slogan on it, the flag was moved to the fuselage, as you can see. According to the author, this indicates gross lack of patriotism and disrespect to the flag. While it would be easy to eviscerate such an idiotic argument, perhaps I can save a thousand words with a few pictures. Look at McCain's plane. Not only no flag, it's a French airplane. That's right French! OhmyGod - ohmyGod tell everyone you know!

But wait, there's more! look at McStraightalk's tour bus. NO FLAG! Is he ashamed? Is he not a patriot? Is he a:


Send this to everyone you know before it's too late!

In a way, I should be gratified that racist right wing America can't come up with anything but this shell game, but I doubt it will backfire on them and if Obama is elected, I'm positive that his administration will face more vicious opposition from enemies domestic than any president in our history and the better he does, the worse it will get.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Operation Iraqi fiefdom

So the government of Iraq is sovereign? Well obviously not when it comes to being able to ask an occupying army to leave or to make Iraqi law apply to their actions or being able to tell foreign powers and their carpetbaggers that no, they can't just come in and take their only natural resource.

In case you haven't been reading the papers, one of the architects of our conquest of Iraq, Richard Perle, has been making oil deals which include a venture near the Kurdish city of Erbil. Needless to say Iraq, to whom this area allegedly belongs and who is trying to put together legislation affirming its ownership of its resources, is displeased. Of course he's not the first and not the only entity with close ties to President Bush to attempt to circumvent US policy and Iraqi law for private gain. The State Department is investigating, but one expects nothing to come of it as long as the carpetbagger oil men themselves run our country.

Perle, together with Turkish AG Group International, has been talking with Kurdish officials and with Kazakhstan's ruthless and corrupt dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been involved in a US oil bribery investigation about all kinds of oil deals. Mr. Perle, who began pushing an attack on Iraq nearly 10 years ago and who invented dishonest scenarios including Saddam Hussein dancing around the maypole with Osama bin Laden to justify it all, calls Nazarbayev "visionary and wise," says The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes words fail me.

Will a Department of State under another Republican president continue not to object to such imperial appropriation of another country's resources while continuing to sell that country as an independent nation struggling for freedom against foreign enemies? Who knows, but Mr. McCain has not said much other than to talk about "victory" and "surrender" nor has he any record of maintaining a consistent position for very long.

But unless you're looking for this sort of news, you won't be aware of it and you'll probably buy into the comic opera scenario they've been presenting for 7 years. You'll be made far more aware of the fist bumps and the funny sounding middle name of the other candidate. You'll wave the flag and talk about honor while your country becomes another corrupt and greedy empire pushing its will on the world through fear and force of arms.


I finished my coffee, put down the Michio Kaku book on multidimensional universes and opened my e-mail to find this.

What can you say? Whatever multidimensional universe I was born into, it must have been the wrong one.

Yes, but will it transubstantiate?

Cross posted from The Impolitic

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The golden door

If you travel internationally, you may or may not have seen the hassling of those without US passports. It has been a bit embarrassing at times to have arrived with traveling acquaintances of impressive professional and educational backgrounds and to watch them being treated as though they were being booked at the police station or entering Checkpoint Charley at the height of the cold war. The fingerprinting however is only part of what many have to go through before even getting a visa. Examination and audit of their financial records and visa fees are part of the lengthy process. It's not just the huddled masses we're rejecting these days, it's the affluent customers, yearning to boost our economy. Many Europeans and others just don't think it's worth it all, despite the lure of bargain prices for those with Euros or Sterling to spend. Who can blame them?

Of course we're number one, and we don't care what those damned foreigners think -- "let them go back to their third world hellholes," is a common sentiment among the angry, nationalistic louts who seem to comprise an alarming proportion of our population. I've heard those exact words too often. Although we need people with money to spend to come here and spend it more than ever; although tourism is a three quarter of a trillion dollar industry, it's down as much as 40% percent is some locations. Think Las Vegas, think Disney, Manhattan, the Grand Canyon; think trade shows, academic seminars.

The Christian Science Monitor describes the Chinese owner of 1200 electronics stores who would love to visit the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas - he can't get a visa and so he's not going to order any American products or spend money at hotels and casinos and restaurants and stores. He'll go to the Berlin show instead and he's unlikely to be treated as rudely as he will be here in "English only or go to hell" America. Europeans are opting for Euro Disney and gamers are choosing Macau and we're losing a whole lot of money.

But we're Americans and we own the center of the world, don't we? So what if we're the only developed country without a campaign to promote foreign tourism. Who cares?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The law is the law even when it isn't

We pretty much forgot about the Supreme Court decision that the Washington DC law forbidding people to keep a functioning handgun in their homes. I mean,when the court rules a law is invalid, they stop enforcing the law right?

Wrong. The Washington City Council passed an "emergency" law today that keeps in place almost all of the law that was ruled unconstitutional. Apparently the decision was made that ordinary autoloading pistols where the ammunition is loaded "from the bottom" are actually machine guns. and thus cannot be owned without a special license. Of course this is no more ridiculous than the former "assault rifle" ban which defined an assault rifle by the way it looked rather than by the way it operated, but I digress. The Washington DC City Council seems to have ruled that a 6 shot revolver is vastly different than a 6 shot semi automatic pistol and that's that. When Dick Heller, the man who brought the suit against the Washington Gun Ban tried to register his gun in compliance with the law, he was told by the police, who know quite well how dishonest this is, that he could not because it was -- oh yes -- a machine gun. Whether the law in our Capitol is the law depends on what the definition of is is.

OK so we have a municipal police department who simply refuses to acknowledge the ruling as long as an illegal law is on the books and is willing to effectively write it's own gun control laws. That's close enough to an act of insurrection, but as Congress has the power and responsibility to govern the District of Columbia, and whereas Nancy Pelosi being a Californian hoplophobe refuses to allow Congress to repeal a law that has been ruled unconstitutional, Congress may be considered to be aiding and abetting a rebellion as well.

Remarkable. Perhaps we can expect some sort of rebel flag to fly over the capitol in the near future. Of course a discharge petition to bring the bill to repeal the illegal law directly to the floor has been filed, but so far it doesn't have half of the required signatures. I have a better solution. If Washington won't secede, let's expel them; let's declare them to be enemy combatants, seal the border and build a wall around these folks. They won't have enough firepower to do anything about it and we're better off without the lot of them.

Quid pro quo

Well no wonder McCain decided to make such an issue out of offshore drilling. It's not because he's ignorant enough to think it's going to bring down gasoline prices -- it's because he got paid to do it. That's unless, of course, you really believe the mystical apparition of a million bucks in his campaign coffer immediately afterward was a coincidence.

Of course the winged monkeys at his campaign headquarters say that's nonsense. Right

Just how stupid do they think we are?

"Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped in it's tracks right now."

-President Jimmy Carter-

In 1979, Jimmy Carter proposed a plan: He called for consumers to conserve energy; he urged a dramatic increase in the use of solar power; he called for research into alternative fuels; he called for a cap on imported oil. Of course this idea didn't survive the Reagan Revolution. It wasn't long after the Hollywood cowboy took office that all Carters plans were stopped in their tracks and Americans decided to make up for their inferiority complexes by driving ever bigger and more faux-outdoorsy trucks and we all began to use more fuel than ever before. Dick Cheney expressed the Republican sentiment succinctly by saying conservation isn't "the American Way."

I guess honesty and taking responsibility for one's actions isn't the American way either -- not in Republican America anyway. McCain seems to be excluding himself when he tells us the escalating prices of oil are the result of congressional inaction for 30 years. He seems to be excusing Republican Presidents as well. The truth is, the Republicans have been of Cheney's persuasion since Eisenhower, at the very least and John McCain has sat in that Congress for 26 of those years. He’s consistently opposed investments in renewable energy.

The Bush administration of course refused to discuss it's energy policy and took the case for refusing to tell us who was involved in writing it all the way to the puppet Supreme Court.

Of course Gasoline averaged less than $1.50 a gallon when George the Liar and the man from Halliburton took office -- but as usual, it's Clinton's fault, it's the Liberal tree huggers, It's Barak Obama. Well it's not. It's your fault. You elected these people, you made heroes out of pirates and crooks and thugs and you fell for their promises of prosperity through borrowing and consumption and $4 a gallon is the price of your folly.

Now watch as you do it again.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mountains, molehills and big piles of crap

Investor's Business Daily gives us another lesson in making the trivial sound terrible in order to sell the truly awful. Barak Obama, you see is just another Dan Quayle and you'd know it if it weren't for those damned Democrat Liberals.

Obama with his constant linguistic blunders has them all with hands waving in the air wailing "oh my god" about how he mentioned "his" banking committee, which of course he doesn't sit on. If you Google it, you'll find more mentions of this gaffe than you can or should bother to count, but never mind, we're not talking about truth or sanity or anything like a sense of proportion here: we're talking about the Investor's Business Daily trying to sell a dull-witted man of dubious ethics and a demagnetized moral compass as being suitable material. I don't recall them dancing like vaudeville clowns at the gaffes, misstatement and bald faced lies of Reagan, Nixon or either of the Bush's, do you? I don't remember any laughter at the statements by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, or the posse of Bush advisers who insisted there would be no cost at all in pursuing this three week war and who punished everyone who questioned.

I don't know why he said it, nor do I know why John McCain makes so many gaffes. Perhaps it's a natural consequence of a brutal travel schedule. Every president and most every candidate has been guilty of it, if you want to call it guilt. IBD however, would like you to think that as they say:
" the reporters who can't get over Dan Quayle's misspelling of "potato" have little to say about their man's slip-ups."
Of course that isn't true, as a simple search of the news will show, but the purpose of this faux cynical tirade is revealed in the phrase "their man." They would like to make you believe his popularity isn't real, his education isn't real, his eloquence isn't real and his intelligence isn't real or is at best the result of bad reporting. By pretending, as they do, that the abysmal estimation of Quayle's intelligence is based on nothing but a misspelling of Potato, Obama comes out looking pretty bad or at least just as stupid. Only the slimesmiths and shitslingers of the Corporate Media who gave us the most irresponsible administration in history could make a case for Obama being stupid: "he doesn't even know what committees he's on!" and unfortunately, only the American public is stupid enough to join in a mockery that rivals medieval paintings of Jesus tormented by Conservatives in the streets of Jerusalem.

But of course it's all designed to distract from the substantive misstatements of McCain; the constant, mutually exclusive restatements of what he's been saying all along. It's not a coincidence that the deliberate lies and deceptions of "their man" are ignored. It's designed to make you think a continuation of the most disastrous policies the country has ever engaged in are a far better choice than change, that a man who never made an honest buck, who sleeps with lobbyists and got to where he is by lying, buying and peddling influence should be President.

Take John McCain's recent suggestion of higher Social Security taxes, for instance. Take his insistence that he bitterly fought the White House Iraq strategy when he praised it to high heaven in front of the world and smeared those who didn't. What about his insistence that he supported Bush's surge -- an absolute lie, and that the surge produced the "Anbar awakening" -- another absolute lie. The man spends half his time weaseling out of yesterday's lies and the rest telling the desperate remnants of our darkest hour what they want to hear. But people believe what they want to believe and obviously the Investor's Business Daily wants you to believe the man whose father got him into the academy after he was rejected, and who graduated at the bottom of his class is smarter than the Harvard Law Review editor. Frankly if there are more than ten people in the United States who buy this crap, the United States does not deserve to survive. I'm afraid there are millions.

Cast the first stone

I'm disgusted by violence. I always have been. I'm human enough, none the less, to recognize in myself the urges we inherit from the common ancestor we share with Chimpanzees and yes, I'm quite capable of committing violent acts under the right circumstances, my antipathy and morals notwithstanding. One of those circumstances would be to prevent violence being committed upon others and particularly upon women and children. I'm afraid I would become uncontrollable if forced to witness what Iran plans to do to a group of women for having sex or something close to it in violation of some religious code from the dark minds of the dark ages.

Despite a pledge to hold a moratorium on such crimes against nature, decency and humanity, Iran announced last week that it was going to stone 9 women and one man for adultery.
"The European Union calls on the Iranian government and parliament to abolish, in law and in practice, recourse to cruel and degrading punishment and, in particular the use of stoning, as a method of execution,"
reads a statement from France Thursday, which holds the current EU presidency. Fat chance.

In case the procedure is too vague to depict the horror of watching women and girls buried up to their shoulders be pelted with fist sized stones until they either bleed to death or as the skull fractures, the eyeballs hanging by threads from a pulped face, the brain damage becomes sufficient to cause them to stop breathing, here's a picture.* Here's a glimpse into the dark heart of religious madness. Here are the people who worship a merciful God and thereby demonstrate his non-existence. Here are people I would gladly kill regardless of the personal cost.

Look into her eyes and smash her in the face with a brick - go ahead, but just don't let me get my hands around your God fearing neck.

*This picture is a simulation - just to make the viewer confront the horror. The reality of course would be much uglier and of course you might have to deal with the screams.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Freedom in Tibet

People like to call the Dalai Lama a "spiritual" leader and a freedom fighter. Both of those terms are relative enough to be useless unless it's to deceive. Unless one believes in spirits, which of course, I do not, what we're talking about is a religious leader. So that no one will fail to observe my bias, I also do not believe that a religious leader has any particular right to speak for a country or a people or for anyone who doesn't give him that right. In the US, we've had a constant struggle with various "spiritual" leaders who have arrogated the right to lead on matters, moral, fiscal, military, sexual, political and racial. Other countries have taken rather a harder line. China is one of those.

Before the current incarnation of the Dalai Lama left Tibet, the poverty of that country was virtually unequalled, while the religious establisment consumed more than the lion's share of everything that could be consumed. In a way similar to medieval Europe, the monestaries and clerics owned nearly all the land and it's resources while serfs were cold and hungry - but very spiritualy assured of a better life after they succumbed to starvation and disease. China's solution to one of the most massive human rights problems was harsh and brutal. China's continued occupation continues to prevent the return of theocracy and feudalism, but of course although the standard of living and of education has grown greatly, freedom of speech is still no better than under the Lamas. How is it a restoration of freedom to return to religious feudalism?

None the less, the Bourgeois Buddhists of Hollywood have adopted the charming monk as a "spiritual leader" while of course continuing to lead their rather hedonistic lives. They seem not to know that the Tibetan religion is as far from Buddhism as Voodoo is from Roman Catholicism and they've also sold us some revisionism as rancid as the yak butter that lights the Potala on cold winter nights. Tibet has never been a Democracy nor have the people been anything we would call free. As much as two thirds of the territory the Dali Lama claims have been part of China for hundreds of years. Making Tibet an independent nation would be much like insisting we "free" the American Southwest and Puerto Rico by handing them over to the Roman Catholic Church. As much as Hollwood stars would like you to think they're agitating for freedom, they're agitating for a medieval theocracy where all power is vested in hereditary "spiritual leaders" who made a bit of a mockery of the compassion at the heart of Budhism.

Is it fair to compare John McCain to a Hollywood liberal? At least he's making a bid for the attention of the people who swoon over bits of quartz and babble about their "chi" and other trendy designer beliefs. John claims he's taking time out from the campaign by visiting the man born as Tenzin Gyatso. He's not, he's sucking up to another "spiritual leader" who would like very much to have more to say about power, a man who Thomas Jefferson would condemn as a tyrant over the mind of Man. Of course I would love to see peaceful protest allowed in China, I would love to see a free press, freedom from illegal searches and seizures and all the other things we're still fighting for here, I would like to see democratic institutions, an independent judiciary. What we are seeing though is the beginning of prosperity, the beginning of an educational system, but restoring an absolute theocracy is not the way to further those goals and kissing the skirts of theocrats is no way to influence China toward liberalization.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leave them laughing

George has a habit of making an ass of himself when he's with the power elite he was born into and thinks the cameras and microphones are off. At a June 18th fundraiser, the Real George Bush stepped up to the mike thinking it would all be off the record, but somehow missed the fact that a camera was still on.

A video of Mr. Cocky joking about the privations of living on "government pay" for 8 years and about how housing prices haven't fallen enough to please him yet, begins with comments from the Harvard MBA about how Wall Street has to stop trying to do "all these fancy financial instruments." It first appeared on You Tube but it has now disappeared -- I wonder why -- but you can still see it for the moment on Raw Story. Enjoy watching him laugh it up with his cronies while they foreclose on your house and you're reading the classifieds looking for work you can still afford to commute to.

Still looking for a President you can have a beer with? Think John McCain the millionaire is going to come over to your house to watch the game and laugh at your jokes about rich people and liberal elitists?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hummers for ever

Conservatives like to prattle about the sense of entitlement Americans have about many things, but they seem to be no different than the people they chastise when it comes to a sense of entitlement to cheap and plentiful petroleum. Rising fuel costs however, may just bring about the undoing of the Republican empire from within and without unless the public can be convinced that there really is an abundance of oil and that it can be available at your corner Mobil station just as soon as we teach those Liberal Enviros a thing or two about priorities.

Of course we've listed so far to starboard of late that George H. W. Bush would have to be thought of as a radical left wing extremist for having signed a ban on exploration in some parts of the Gulf of Mexico. George the Lesser has undone it and the patron saint of deceit, Newt Gingrich is wagging his forked tongue about a "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." program to collect a million signatures that would somehow convince congress to "act immediately to lower gasoline prices" by allowing exploration off America's coasts.

Of course reality checks would quickly flock about such words but for the screeching of the addicts wanting oil and more oil and more oil NOW. Still the reality is that we're talking about unexplored areas at a time when explored resources still aren't being used. 83% of the currently leased fields are just lying there for an assortment of reasons including there being no oil where we thought there was.

We really can't be sure how much oil would be available and at what cost, but we can be sure that by the time anything did show up at the pump, the ballooning world demand would gobble it up. What Newt is really demanding could be better described as "poke around in the gulf, maybe drill a decade or so from now and pay pretty much the same if not more." Messiahs do well in such times with their wild promises and prophecies and even when they fail, their disciples don't accept it or recognize the failure. I think we're in times like that. The public just isn't going to accept that we don't own the world, we don't own very much oil and even if we produce more, we will still have to compete to buy what the rest of the world wants. Welcome to Globalization.

It's easier to dream about the kingdom of Hummers forever that we are entitled to by voting Republican. It's easy to sell the idea that faith will bring us the lifestyle we feel entitled to no matter who we squelch to have it: Faith that we can drill our way to eternal oil and borrow our way to eternal prosperity, Faith that we haven't been using it up so fast that we can't solve it by using it up faster.

Energy independence? sounds great in campaign speeches, but it's hokum. According to government estimates, what we would see from our domestic drilling would be about 1% of the worlds demand by the time it could be pumped. It can only provide us with cheap oil if the rest of the world sinks back into poverty and that's not going to happen and we're not going to be able to make it happen.

Still it's easy to make us hysterical - we already are and we're hysterical enough to believe in magic and to stone anyone who doesn't. We may just drill away for decades hoping for the second coming of the Sacred SUV's God want's us to have as his chosen people, while the rest of the world, leaner and more efficient, outpaces us. We may just burn up an appreciating asset to finance our Hummeresque lifestyle and find that we wish to hell we had saved some for later. We might just vote Republican.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stoning Santa.

It may seem strange to be thinking about Christmas on this fiercely hot Florida Sunday, my neck red from spending yesterday on the water, my eyes stinging a bit from spending the morning in the pool, hiding in the air conditioned refuge of my office and reading blogs.

My usual reaction to the alleged Secular Liberal [ read Jewish] War on Christmas is Humbug, but my friend and colleague Abigail Esman writes at World Defense Review that things in Holland have gone a bit further than Wal-Mart greeters being asked to say Happy Holidays. The annual Christmas party held by the agency that runs Amsterdam's public transportation has been canceled because "a Christmas party is too one-sided" in a multi cultural society. It was never controversial in this famously tolerant city before the huge influx of Muslims who now seem to be agitating to legislate every thing from mandatory long sleeves and long pants for construction workers to preventing women from having to sit next to men on airplanes. Santa Claus, in his local manifestation has been literally stoned and chased out of Muslim neighborhoods in Holland.

Holland has often been a haven for those fleeing religious persecutions: Protestants, Puritans and Jews took refuge in the Netherlands. It seems more than sad that those taking refuge there today are willing to use violence and murder to end that tradition when it comes to others.

Of course the lesson I'm preaching this Sunday isn't about how awful Muslims are, but about how awful is the tyranny of religious power. Whether it's using tax money from Atheists to glorify plastic idols in the public square or building monuments to received instructions from Jewish Gods, standing up against legislating from the pulpit is standing up for freedom and indeed safety, for all.

Neither a borrower nor a Republican be

It's a characteristic of our times that it is just as effective and far cheaper to spend money on advertising an inferior or flawed product than to spend the same money on improving it. It's profitable to capitalize on our growing ignorance by using advertising and publicity to sell shoddy and second rate goods and services; to sell by associating the product with the right kind of people, making irrelevant features seem important, and serious flaws seem superficial. Of course buying an inappropriate vehicle or overpaying for a cup of coffee is reversible at far less cost than voting for the wrong presidential candidate. His wearing of a flight suit, his having been beaten by the Vietnamese for having been what they saw as a terrorist? His swaggering, "bomb the bastards" geriatric machismo? Are these really more important than superior education, leadership ability and intelligence? American fashion sense suggests yes.

There are two ways to look at the spending habits of John McCain. Perhaps spending far more on advertising than he takes in, illustrates his bid to market a cheap truck as an expensive sports car. That has certainly worked for automakers. If he fails, he has his wife's money as a safety net after all, but perhaps the personal economic policies reflect what we have to expect if deception, prejudice, anti intellectualism and class warfare combine to put him in office. The Regan era, "debt doesn't matter" attitude may well apply. One has to ask: is John unafraid of running up huge debts because he can afford the risk, or because he knows that continuing our national borrowing spree will allow him to pay it off with heavily devalued dollars if he is in office?

The interest we pay on foreign debt is our third largest expenditure. Business failures are growing, real estate is slumping, unemployment is growing, prices are rising. It's late in the game to keep blaming it on Bill Clinton. There are two choices: we keep nattering about lapel pins and the difference between proud and "really proud" and keep waiting for different results from the same actions or we take a gamble and elect someone different; someone not quite like the same old second rate showmen in threadbare "man of the people" costumes we usually elect.

I wish I had some confidence that the US can muster the guts to save oursleves.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Are we there yet?

So you don't want to call it a recession yet? You say it's too soon to tell? You haven't seen enough evidence? Well how about this: Not only will there not be a new Starbucks across the street from the Starbucks next door to the Starbucks, they're going to close a bunch of them. 12 cafes in my area alone, including one in a Palm Beach mall where there are currently 4. Who said the economic news is all bad?

I'm guessing that the Starbucks planned for a semi rural intersection across the street from a church here won't be built now which means a few more trees will survive and the traffic remain manageable. We may get a Dunkin' Donuts however; in an area that's already commercial and where there would be a waitress instead of a Barista; where you can just order a coffee and receive it without the phony pseudo Italian names or the snotty prices. They make great doughnuts too.

Long live the recession!

Tough guys don't think

I don't know who the readership of the Army Times is. I don't know if the people who post comments there are military personnel or not. I do know that if they represent any significant fraction of the Armed services, Obama isn't going to get many of their votes. Reading comments on an article introducing Barak Obama, I have to conclude that I'm looking at the least informed, most bigoted, prejudiced, stupid and absolutely rabid Americans at large in the world. Despite John McCain's disgraceful attitude toward military benefits and pay and despite his enthusiasm for continued occupation of Iraq and the opening of new fronts with the old arguments, he seems the choice of the men with shaved heads.

Obama is a communist, muslim insurgent pacifist appeaser coward, you see and he represents, amongst other things, the no longer existent USSR. Actually any accusation, any idiotic epithet seems appropriate without concern for things and events or contradictions having anything to do with the real world. His wife is a traitor, he's a terrorist and worst of all, he's never worn a uniform. McCain has, and that makes all the difference.

Am I imagining it, or has our military in effect seceeded from mainstream American culture? Radical hairstyles that once would bring severe repremand are de rigeur. Contempt for civilians seems almost worthy of third world armies and war -- any war -- is a worthy war. I hope I'm being truly misled by what I read, but even among the many retired military officers I associate with here, I'm hearing a contempt for democracy in principle and for the indecisiveness and weakness of civilians. What I'm seeing is the search for another Commander Guy who has never had a doubt about anything the US has done or a scruple about anything we might do in the future: another strutting drum major, another prancing cheerleader who knows nothing about economics, history world affairs, international politics - but looks good in a flight suit. Five years in jail trumps five years at Harvard and hot rod Johnnie doesn't have a wife who ever had a doubt about American exceptionalism whether it be about Slavery, wounded knee, Jim Crow, the trail of tears, the Chinese exclusion act, Joe McCarthy, Father Caughlin, the internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry, Kent State, the Gulf of Tonkin hoax, the WMD hoax, the Niger Uranium hoax or abu Ghraib. We're number one.

Of coure it's not hard to be paranoid these days or to feel that these are dangerous times, but I see very little danger from "terrorists" and none from invading armies. I see and smell danger from creeping nationalism, Xenophobia, militarism, Christianism and all the massive polarizations tearing us all apart. Read it yourself. See if the comments about Obama reflect anything but the howling of beasts.

I'm not sure Obama ever refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance or whether Richard Nixon wore a lapel pin to bed at night. I dont care either. I wouldn't give a flying damn if Obama were a Muslim or his grandparents were "typical white people." I'm not sure if I've been proud of a damned thing this country has done in my lifetime other than liberating Western Europe, defeating the Empire of Japan or landing on the moon and those were a long time ago. I'm not sure how many people really think like these people, but I am sure of one thing -- if it's their country come next year, it's not my country any more. They can have it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't we look foolish enough already?

I don't think I want to watch the Olympics this year. It's not that this iteration of the games will be any more or less boring or fulsomely nationalistic than the event ever has been, but I'm afraid that some self-appointed ambassadors are going to make damn fools and hypocrites of us.

My first reaction was "tell me it's a joke" when I read the Reuters item telling us that an unspecified group of "human rights activists" have asked George W. Bush to complain to the Chinese government about political prisoners while he is there, and to wear a wristband that declares: "free the North Koreans." They intend to show up under full sail in Beijing wearing their version of the trendy rubber band rhetoric. I can almost hear the jeers.

Tell me it's a joke.

According to White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, Bush will not be taking wristbands with him. I'm glad to hear it. Another thing George will not be taking with him on the trip is moral authority; or indeed anything else that gives him the right to demand that China not expel illegal aliens coming across the Korean Border looking for work, or that they release militant Islamic separatists, much less to extend them anything resembling the right to Habeas Corpus.

It's not that no criticism is due, it's that we are in no position to make it. I can well imagine my own feelings should a Chinese delegation show up here demanding that we free Puerto Rico, close Guantanamo and open the border with Mexico.

I mean, it's really a joke, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No lie too lame

Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out

All of what most of us say and do and believe has nothing to do with reason or even with facts. That anyone can, as many obviously do, blame the 2001 attack on Democrats as part of a belief system under which our country is divided by phallic metaphor between tough and wimpy, hard and soft, unbending and flaccid, is evident. The cornerstone, the unquestioned first principle is that Democrats are Liberals and liberals are defenseless and advocate defenselessness -- history and dictionary be damned.

Of course the attack was aided and the attackers abetted by the refusal of the Republican government to pay attention to warnings and the effective shutdown of anti-terrorism planning. Why it was the Democrats' fault that the airlines weren't forced to incorporate reinforced cabin doors, I don't know and why the myth persists that Democrats resisted counterattack I don't know either, other than to say this is a nation of insane people.

So why is it surprising that yet another insane billboard has cropped up in Florida, with yet another picture of those tired towers burning and the fully expected and indeed inevitable plea not to vote for Democrats. It wouldn't be surprising even had Bush admitted responsibility, admitted incompetence or even complicity. Democrats advocate defenselessness, unilateral disarmament, appeasement and general flaccidity and they would in the minds of the mindless even if they were all Goosestepping down Pennsylvania Avenue in black, shiny boots and even though the party supported Bush's programs in near unanimity. Belief is truth and truth is belief.
"Liberals get abjectly hysterical whenever the truth about them is pointed out,"
reads a comment at Republican website Hysteria of course is a familiar condition at such places; obsessively so, albeit mostly unnoticed except when projected onto others. The calm, dispassionate commentary by Republican agitators and polemicists, it's implied, should be an example to abjectly hysterical Liberal hotheads like -- well, like me. Of course the hysteria is theirs, the truth is not, and so it will remain until the inevitable collapse of the United States into an authoritarian, aggressive, nationalistic, xenophobic cauldron of irrational right wing idiot rage; flags flying, neon crosses ablaze and the twin towers forever smoking on billboards in the hot Florida night.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No lie too disgusting

My in-box is something like a Roach Motel lately. The filthy insects check in, but I don't forward them out. Even so, something this disgusting has to be shared because it's all the proof one needs to demonstrate the unworthiness of the United States of America, or at least of half its citizens.

Here's the latest: it begins with a picture of our latest Nimitz class aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan. The ship was approved by congress in 1995 and if memory serves, William J. Clinton was President at the time and we were in the middle of an unprecedented economic boom.

Next we have a picture of some kind of barge with a F-14 sitting on it. We're told it's the USS Clinton, based in Canada, basically unarmed and on a mission of appeasement toward any "enemy." The point of course is that Republican Reagan is a tough guy and Clinton is a milquetoast afraid to defend our country. If the reality don't fit, you've got to sling shit.

The last picture is of a rusty scow packed with third world looking people. We're told it's the USS Barak Obama "sailing in from Cuba." The point? The point is that Obama isn't an American in the first place.

Do we write this off to mass schizophrenia, to delusional bigotry, to massive ignorance or to the maliciousness of the criminal minds that create propaganda for John McCain's America-hating party? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. That they are not deported, imprisoned or shut off behind a guarded steel barrier is proof that this country wants to die of the cancer eating away at its heart and mind.

Of course one can remind the sender, as I did, that Reagan was the appeaser, not Clinton; that Republicans were outraged when Clinton advocated military engagement, when he put together a coalition backed by the UN, when he fired missiles at Osama bin Laden. One could also remind the sender that since he previously told me that Obama was a Muslim he was unlikely to be based in or cooperating with the government of Cuba. I may or may not be excused for having reminded him that I'm quite capable of putting a three round grouping into his forehead before he hits the ground, stone cold dead.

We need a revolution in this country; not so much a revolution against the military-industrial junta that took it over in a bloodles coup, but against the stinking, stupid psychopaths, the bigots, the morons looking for something to make them feel smart, the hate mongers, the subhuman dregs of the genetic barrel: the Republicans. Bloggers are powerless, the media don't care and truth means less than nothing. However we accomplish it, we need to flush the national toilet and we need to do it before the festering septic shitslingers put another of their brothers in scales into the presidency. So many enemies - so little time.

Friday, July 11, 2008


The latest crock of fake, puffed-up anti-Obama outrage now arriving at in-boxes all over the Internet is purportedly from a disabled Marine who allegedly spoke to the Senator from Illinois at some rally at a local college.
"Senator Obama; I work with disabled veterans throughout the VA Hospital system, what is your plan for our veterans, especially our disabled veterans who use the VA Hospitals for their care. I stated we need mandatory funding for our VA system to ensure the care is available when needed, especially in light of the current situation in Iraq and the numbers of troops who are coming home with severe disabilities."
"He told one of his aide's [sic] to get my name, blew me off, did not answer my question and I never heard from him or the aide again."
I'm shocked, SHOCKED that he or his "aide's" didn't answer every comment from every one of the thousands of people he addresses every day! After all, John McCain and George Bush and "go fuck yourself" Cheney are very responsive to every individual veteran's request, aren't they?
"Is this who we want as our "Commander in Chief"? [sic]
"He wouldn't even answer a "veterans" [sic] question, regarding other veterans. Take it for what it's worth.. just thought I'd pass on my experience with Mr. Obama."
Well Mr. Veteran, if you really exist as other than the figment of the Republican hate machine, you have a hell of an ego to go with your piss poor and very selective memory as to the Republican Party's treatment of veterans. I will take it as worth less than nothing and if this is the honesty level of McCain supporters, I would vote for anyone you oppose.

If this is the best you can do in the manufactured outrage department you might as well confess that you have some other interest in promoting the guy with a pretty lousy record of promoting better conditions and care for our military because the country's experience with the Republicans has united it as never before against these pirates -- and apparently against you.

I'm getting pretty tired of your jingo jive about "commanders in Chief" as well. The President needs to be and do vastly more than to send people to war and command a warrior nation. In fact when he does, it's usually the mark of his failure as a leader and sometimes the mark of his using the military as a pawn in some perfidious and profitable game. Yes, our administration and the Republicans for whom they stand have sold you out, and whether or not Barak Obama had time to address your far from unique concerns in person, John McCain, the man the Senate Ethics Committee found guilty of "poor judgement" will continue to sell you out and sell us all out if he's allowed to.

Perhaps you've received the same viral e-mail. Perhaps you just deleted it -- certainly you're smart enough to see it for the pathetic nonsense it is, but perhaps, like me, you told the sender to take his puerile propaganda and stick it, whether it cost you a friend or not. I care too much about America's future to keep friends like that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ugly American

The recent HBO John Adams series , showed Lawyer and Statesman Adams a bit out of his depth at the court of King Louis in Paris. Brilliant, educated but shabby and with provincial manners, he never fit in and apparently was a bit amusing to the effete Parisians. Unlike "life-of-the-party" Ben Franklin, he was unable to make his backwoods background work for him.

I can't compare George W. Bush to John Adams. Out of his depth even in shallow waters, Bush is always the life of the party if it happens to be at a fraternity house filled with spoiled and boisterous sophomores. So he seems to have come across at the G8 conference in Hokkaido -- as the back slapping and prolix uncle nobody wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving, the insurance saleman you avoid at parties: chewing with his mouth open, calling Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi "Amigo," and with mouth and microphone wide open, braying about fireworks, his bicycle, his birthday party, his mother's knees; all the things that are important to his position as the center of the universe; all the things that make him look like a damned and boorish fool abroad, and got him elected back home.

How long, how long has our self respect been gone
How long, how long, baby how long?

With apologies to Leroy Carr

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mom - he's threatening me!

Perhaps if we had not, like Dr. Pavlov's dogs, been trained to growl at the mention of Iran, we could perceive just a bit of cant in the news reports of Iranian pugnaciousness today.

Iran tests missiles, vows to hit back if attacked, shouts the Reuters report and similar headlines blare in the papers today. What would we do if we were threatened with attack? What would Canada do? Indeed what have we been doing but testing our weapons and threatening apocalyptic destruction on any who attack us?

Iran has some missiles with a 1200 mile range, but by all accounts they have only rudimentary guidance systems. The warheads of course are conventional explosives and without pinpoint accuracy, their overall effects would be far less than a Tomahawk cruise missile or two. Anyone they might be aimed at in anger has nuclear retaliatory capability and advanced multiple delivery systems. Iran would stand no chance in any conventional confrontation. Iran knows this very well.

I'm no fan of heavy-handed theocracies, but even a milquetoast with his back against the wall can be forgiven for saying "if you hit me I'll hit you back" as pathetic as it might sound. The only thing more pathetic is using that as an excuse to bully him further. Considering the anti Iran rhetoric, The West's history of meddling with their elected governments and our covert operations within their borders; considering our constant threats of annihilation, what would any country do? Indeed what can any country at odds with US desires do these days but cringingly comply with our increasingly bellicose demands to disarm and assume the position?

Whether or not Iran's current government is a substantial threat to us or to our allies, such as they are, by continuing to demonize and disrespect any country refusing to pledge fealty, we continue to cultivate our image as a brutal bully, concerned only with feeding our addictions and ego and completely confused as to why everyone hates us.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Librarians attack

It's understandable that John McCain wants to distance himself from George Bush. No one can blame him, even though he seems to be intent on carrying out Bush's agenda to a significant extent. Bush has the popularity of Leprosy at the moment and it's clear that party loyalty no longer extends to allowing comparison to the sitting president. I can however blame his campaign staff and the Denver Colorado police from denying the right of a 61 year old librarian to be on public property for a public meeting, carrying a sign proclaiming McCain=Bush.

The banshees at Fox and the snickering snots who listen to them will never let you hear the end of the Obama campaign workers who asked two women wearing Muslim head scarves not to sit where the camera could see him, but they weren't escorted out to the street by the police, weren't issued a ticket for trespassing or told they would be arrested for constitutionally protected behavior.

Of course the cable news opinion shouters who still support Bush have a chance to show that the McCain campaign has insulted them and the President and the party, but I'm willing to bet we won't hear anything but silence from them and from John McCain. Republican apologists have little to build a defense on other than the grave danger posed by nice old lady librarians with opinions, but they will probably try.

I hope I can be forgiven for suspecting that McCain will be another president who thinks the constitution is a stumbling block and try to scare us out of our desire for freedom.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Florida: no more old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.
-Stephen Foster- Old Folks at Home

Time marches on, but Florida just wanders around in the heat. Tomorrow, Tuesday marks the inauguration of some new laws and other changes that may or may not make life here different, but will reflect the push and pull of activists, lobbyists and variously impassioned people.

For one thing, Florida boosters will no longer be singing about "darkies." Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home" is no longer the State Song, Governor Christ's feeling being that the rendering of 1850's dialect is condescending at best. I have to agree about the old Minstrel show song, although as with Mark Twain's use of the N word, it reflects the way people spoke at the time, not they way certain words are taken today - both Foster and Clemens sympathized with abolition and the plight of enslaved people. "Florida Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" has been designated as the state's new official anthem.

Republican fiscal responsibility having impoverished a sizable number of Floridians to the point where a traffic fine might mean bankruptcy, one can now do community service as penance.

Despite the tragic revenue shortfall the Bush economic miracle has brought about, they're bringing physical education back to elementary and middle schools. Let's hope it's not dodge-ball. Now, if they will teach literacy and history, we might begin to break the Republican stranglehold on young minds.

In the "why the hell didn't we do this 20 years ago" department, a second conviction for molesting a child will earn the perp a life sentence without parole. Let's just hope we don't extend the definition of "lewd and lascivious molestation" as far as certain activists would like. as it stands, "mooning" can be classified as molestation if a kid sees it.

Be careful about picking on us old people too. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult will be a first-degree felony and don't forget that many of us geezers are excellent marksmen.

And Florida has finally put a price on freedom: it's $50K a year if they wrongfully imprison you -- but not if you have a prior record. That gets the Fogg Say What? award for 2008.

But all in all, things may be getting better here. Looks like there's really going to be a substantive effort to restore the Everglades and to stop supporting the sugar cartel at the expense of our formerly pristine environment. With developers going bankrupt and people fleeing to a cheaper lifestyle in the Carolinas, it's getting greener all the time.


If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, the price of free speech is eternal bullshit. Yes, this is a real billboard in Florida and for sure, some hysterical nitwit will begin to howl this at the moon.

In an ignorant and emotionally volatile population, Democracy is dangerous.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Capture the flag

Paul Slansky makes a modest proposal today in the Huffington Post. He suggests that we fight them on their own lapels so that we don't have to fight them here. Quoting the popular political philosopher, Doctor Suess, Slansky suggests that we all begin to wear lapel pins, thus castrating one of their favorite shibboleths.

"We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart.

We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!

And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

Coincidentally, that's just what I did last night at my annual yacht club barbecue; a tawdry, rhinestone studded lapel pin at that. And it worked. No one had and doubts that I would snicker right along with the Michelle slurs, the hand on heart nonsense, the Wesley Clark gambit or any of the other wilful suspensions of honesty that characterize the political commentary of the reflexive Right. I wore red, white and blue clothing and I would have run "old glory" up the mast save for the violent thunderstorm. Some were quite surprised by my replies.

It's time we took back what was once a proud symbol of secular democracy, justice and the inalienability of certain human rights - amongst other things. The flag that flies today on the Moon somehow, during the same period, became the symbol of support for our war in Viet Nam and the Nixonian contempt for law and loyal dissent. It has been a Republican symbol of militarism and right wing politics ever since.

As Slansky says, the lapel may be the only remaining venue in which they have that home field advantage, but it would be easy and cheap to take it away from them. Wear the pin.

"The right is reeling, they can't find a single thing to point to that's better than it was before Bush, so while they're busy dealing with issues of basic survival, let's just slip in there and take back the damn flag. Take it back from the war criminals and their apologists and enablers that have wrapped themselves in it even as they've been methodically destroying the republic for which it stands."

Let's run it up the flagpole. It's an idea I can salute.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jesse Helms - dead at last

It's truly unfair that we all have to die, but I don't feel that way about Jesse Helms. It was time for his ideas and his politics to go a long, long time ago. Helms, the patron saint of the Tobacco pushers, the enemy of nuclear test ban treaties, and a motive force in moving the American Center as far right as any Third World Generalissimo has ever done, has died and gone to hell.

Race baiter, bigot and blowhard: he stood against everything I have been proud of in America. We would have been better off had he never been born and I will fly the flag more proudly today because he is finally dead.

The People's flag

I haven't flown the flag since George Bush invaded Iraq and it's been my intention not to do so while he and his jackals were in Washington; but lying half awake and half asleep this morning I half decided that on this, George Bush's last Independence Day as president, I might relent. It's not because of some degenerative disease or no-bid contract persuading me to like him -- or an epiphany of any kind. I had been thinking of Ivan Denisovich. The protagonist of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's novel who having been sent to a Siberian work camp in his shirtsleeves and given the job of building a brick wall in subzero temperatures, decided to throw himself into the task as an act of patriotism, but a patriotism meant to be a slap in the government's face; a salute to the country itself rather than to it's rulers. Powerless to oppose, by treating his sentence as an opportunity to build his country, he could, at least in this mind, rise above the injustice.

Of course that's a pretty grandiose excuse for putting up a flag on the 4th of July and I risk being scolded for hypocrisy, but that's what I'm telling myself today. Why should I allow this villain to alienate me from my country? No, I'm not going to pledge, swear or solemnly affirm that the united States of America is a country under God - anybody's God -- because it isn't and I am willing to fight to keep it from being made so. The flag hanging from my mast is my flag and it stands for the country I was born in and that country isn't George's or God's or Jesus' or Zeus'. It's different from the flag that flies over Guantanamo or over the Capitol or the Pentagon. It doesn't fly to signify allegiance to Bush or to his wars or to his assault on the constitution. It flies as it so often has, in defiance of power.

If I fly it again next independence day, I hope it will be in a nation independent of Halliburton, war profiteers, corporate fascists and the radical right.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Listening to generals

La guerre! C’est une chose trop grave pour la confier à des militaires.

-Georges Clemenceau-

I beg to differ. I think it's far more likely that if our Iraq adventure had been planned by military men instead of the neocon know-it-alls, the mission would indeed have been accomplished, or very nearly so, quite some time ago, or perhaps we wouldn't have begun. Those Generals who will speak out today seem to mirror the opinions of the most severe and early critics of George's "war on the cheap." Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seems very frustrated by the inability to send more troops into Afghanistan, where corruption and violence are escalating and the Taliban is regaining lost territory. Too bad George didn't listen to the Generals right from the beginning instead of firing any who questioned his genius.

In the early days of this blog, I was resoundingly excoriated by a young sergeant about to be deployed to Iraq. I was absolutely wrong in my suggestion that the US military would be stretched too thin to be able to deal with the country that aided the people who attacked us. I was wrong to suggest that the justification for the war was based on false information, because we civilians didn't share in all the secret information the government had. There weren't gong to be enough casualties to worry about, he said condescendingly and most of all, there was no sign whatever of impending economic worries as I had suggested in my "elitist left" way. I hope he has survived to reconsider his confidence.

But yes, we need to elect a president who will listen to the military, or at least to those who have been through wars and have learned that it's not at all like High School sports. Our next commander in chief needs to listen to the Generals rather than weeding out those who question his tactical genius. Back when Dick Cheney was selected as Bush's running mate, the media made much of his assertions that civilian control of the military was essential. We didn't realize that this extended to making strategic and tactical and logistical decisions based on personal profit and political expediency. Cheney was billed as the man who would reverse the profligate military spending of Clinton, who would dress down the generals and downsize the Pentagon. Cheney has survived, but I doubt he ever reconsiders anything. Indeed, with oil at $147 for a barrel, his mission has been accomplished.

John McCain in his new role of victim is making much of his qualifications as a military man, but judging from what I've heard he seems to be listening more to The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth people (and spending their money) than to guys like Mullen. Why dropping bombs and spending years in a jail cell qualify him for expertise in world affairs, military planning, strategy and anything else I don't know, but it's plain to me that we do have to leave quite a bit more to the generals then we have been doing and we have to have a president who listens, who asks questions first and then decides whether to pull the trigger.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I've always been a fan of cartoonist Tony Auth, whose work appears regularly in the New York Times. I'm not a fan of humorous conclusions reached by treating hyperbole as objective truth. In fact I'm sick unto death of people who get either cynical or indignant about things they invent for the purpose by wildly distorting reality. Auth's cartoon today depicts the frieze over the portico of the Supreme Court filled with images of people shooting each other and the inscription "Wild West Justice Under Law."

Presumably, he refers to the SCOTUS having disallowed a total handgun ban in Washington DC. The decision has, of course, nothing to do with the long established human right to self defense. It's always been legal to shoot someone who is trying to kill you or your wife or kid, it's just that in Washington you had to choose between allowing death or grievous bodily harm and going to jail for keeping a handgun in your house. Auth infers incorrectly and in total defiance of fact that allowing the citizens of DC the same rights the citizens of Miami or Orlando or Palm Beach will result in a daily reenactment of the gunfight at the OK corral. We heard the same argument from much the same people when it was proposed to eliminate the 55 MPH National Speed Limit and when Florida chose to allow some people to have concealed weapons permits. In both cases the opposite occurred and the death rates went down.

When Florida courts decided that it's really not fair to require someone to jump out a third story window to flee a home invader and had the right to presume that the masked man with a weapon creeping into your bedroom at 3:00 AM isn't the tooth fairy, the hyperbolists immediately called it the "shoot the Avon Lady law." Of course not one Avon Lady has been shot since, but quite a few home invasions have been thwarted and lives saved. No apology has been heard from the "55 Stay Alive" limit advocates, or those so concerned about Avon ladies.

Facts are not part of these comical arguments except to be a springboard for deceptive fantasy and the scenario depicted in today's cartoon: guns blazing in the street, is not one related to the court's decision or to any other events in the real world. Humor, good humor always has an element of truth. Without it the effort becomes hard to distinguish from a lie.


Just this morning, at least two men tried to storm a residence in the Hialeah neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The resident made an argument for a well regulated militia of one by shooting them both. If this had happened in Washington DC or many other crime-ridden places in the US, the man would be considered a criminal. Where is the justice?