Monday, June 28, 2010

The Constitution comes to Chicago

"Liberal anti-gun groups are already fuming" says Raw Story's report of the Supreme Court's decision that the Second Amendment constitutes a restraint on State and local government's ability to abridge the right to keep and bear arms.
"People will die because of this decision" says Washington, DC's Violence Policy Center, but the question is really about how many died because of the blanket ban on hand gun ownership, isn't it? Perhaps since suicide is the leading cause of handgun death, some will choose Beretta over barbiturates or the window or driving the wrong way on the expressway.
"It is a victory only for the gun lobby and America's fading firearms industry. The inevitable tide of frivolous pro-gun litigation destined to follow will force cities, counties, and states to expend scarce resources to defend longstanding, effective public safety laws. The gun lobby and gunmakers are seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of our nation’s gun laws in a cynical effort to try and stem the long-term drop in gun ownership and save the dwindling gun industry."

I don't know about the authoritarians we keep insisting on calling "liberals," but I'm starting to give off some steam here myself. If there is in fact a long term drop in gun ownership, it's a surprise to me, seeing as there are lines outside of gun shops and sales of guns and ammunition are booming. Prices of ammunition are soaring. If the domestic arms industry is suffering, the lawsuits by cities like Chicago are certainly part of it and the ability of foreign makers to sell more cheaply has hurt every American industry.

If these long standing blanket handgun bans have made the few cities that enacted them safer, it's never shown up in any statistics that I've seen. In fact as gun laws have liberalized nationwide, gun related crimes have decreased.

Yes, I've seen the posters, heard the slogans, listened to the blather: show me the numbers. I suggest that just as there was a lot of sound and fury and learned diatribes about the bloodbath that would follow the demise of the National Speed Limit, the facts contradicted that idiot's tale quickly and continue to do so. Facts however, are the enemy of zealots; whether they're anti scary-thing activists or the profiteers who perpetuate the War on Drugs that never worked and which has been responsible for the majority of violent murders.

Show me the effectiveness of the Chicago or Washington DC handgun bans. Show me that these cities have been any safer than cities without them. Tell me I'm part of a gun lobby, tell me I'm trying to dismantle gun laws -- it may convince the choir you preach to, but you certainly are stretching the truth with the intent to deceive. Nothing less than dismantling all gun laws? Hell no, I don't want minors to own guns. I don't want to remove most of the restrictions on where you can carry them, where you can display them openly how you can transport them and certainly not on where and when you can use them. Call me cynical, but in the years since you told me someone was going to "shoot the Avon Lady " if we allowed someone to shoot an armed home invader, invasions have decreased and the Avon lady is still alive and well. It's all been a pack of lies you told to generate revenue and get votes -- and sorry, if you're attacking my freedom, you're sure as hell not a Liberal and if you disagree, you don't speak English very well either. Call me cynical, but it's you willing to ignore the constitution for your own ends, not me.
" We know the facts prove the opposite and that areas of the country with the highest concentration of gun ownership also have the highest rates of gun death"
34,000 gun deaths? What about the fact that 83% of the gun deaths in households containing guns are suicides. Why aren't you mentioning that most of the 'people who will die' if Chicagoans can keep a gun at home are just as likely to have died otherwise. Why is that a danger to me or you? Perhaps the incomplete facts support the argument, but the complete facts suggest that banning rope or prescription pain killers or alcohol or windows that open or razor blades will be as stupid an exercise and of course none of those can protect your life, now can they?

Since the handgun ban never had any effect on the gangsters who use handguns in crimes, except to make burglars a bit bolder, restoration of rights to home defense just isn't going to create that bloodbath, but proof of failure has always been seen as evidence for success and a demand for continuation of policy by authoritarians.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ron Paul and my rights

Non pudet, quia pudendum est;
prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est;
certum est, quia impossibile.*

I really want to like Ron Paul. There have been times when I felt we needed Ron Paul, even if only to keep the others honest. I concur wholeheartedly with many of his ideas about leaving people alone in their homes and private lives; about transparency in financial matters. I share the loathing of surveillance, of being forced to carry papers. I agree about the wars that are useful only to increase government power over domestic affairs. I agree about the importance of the Bill of Rights that neither Party seems to care much about -- and so on, but I am constantly reminded that I really don't know how he can say what he says, nor can I understand his motivations without postulating entities sufficient to send Occam running down the street screaming.

Two years ago he told us that
"Congress refuses to allow reasonable, environmentally sensitive, offshore drilling."

They did, of course allow drilling, but they allowed unreasonable, unsafe and reckless drilling, free of unbiased oversight, which according to Libertarian doctrine should have magically resulted in safe and reasonable results: they allowed the drillers to tell us what was safe enough and what was too expensive to do. They allowed the rig operators to determine what the lives of the workers were worth relative to profits and they allowed them not to give a damn that my grandchildren may never see a clean beach in Florida or eat Gulf shrimp.

It wasn't reasonable, environmentally sensitive drilling that got us into the current mess, now was it? It could have been all that if the laws had been enforced. The blowout might have been prevented if the people in charge of oversight hadn't been on the oil train and had done their jobs; if the regulations themselves hadn't been written by oil men and largely in secret -- if government hadn't been made to look the other way because of a philosophy teaching that government should look the other way. Eleven good men, many of whom saw this coming, would still be alive had we had some very basic oversight -- if we didn't have people insisting that the people who profit write the rules and the people with everything to lose keep silent or be called Communists.

Yet Dr. Paul says it was because of too much government that BP cheated and lied and people died -- that vast tracts of land and sea were destroyed, important industries were ruined, property made worthless -- and old fashioned as it may sound, I think contradictions in logic and fact weaken an argument. Is it a contradiction that oversight in an industry that has the capability of doing unprecedented damage is "too much government" while giving tax breaks and incentives to companies making tens of billions in profits is not?

Yes, it is a contradiction! Are we really so afraid of Communism that we're willing to accept what is by definition, giving state supported irresponsibility to state supported industries while calling it "limited government?" Or is it that the rather insignificant benefit of allowing a foreign corporation to pump American oil and sell it abroad in amounts that really don't matter either in terms of conservation or the price of crude, is a consummation so devoutly to be demanded that risking the end of the world is not worth talking about?

"We still need oil, and a lot of good jobs depend on oil production,"

he advises us. But do we need that oil, from there and do we need it so much we'll gamble our country's future on it, people's lives and livelihoods on grabbing a tiny bit more of it. We should be held hostage so that foreign corporations who pay hardly any taxes yet have a bigger vote than you do can add to their already obscene profits: so that they can play while we pay -- and pay forever.

It's a bad argument, a very, very bad argument, even coming from someone not smart enough to see that -- and Paul certainly is smart enough, so why is adding an insignificant amount to the current supply of oil so desperately important? Why are oil jobs more important than the countless other jobs destroyed by oil spills? Are today's fishing jobs, logging jobs, more important than making sure that there are fish and trees next week? Libertarianism would seem to say so. Libertarianism would seem to promise that passenger pigeons will return now that they were hunted to extinction, that we'd still have the American Bison and the Bald Eagle if we'd been allowed to shoot as many as we liked, but you know -- it's not true.

Look, I don't think I'm channeling Marx when I say that we don't have crime simply because we have too many police, that Enron destroyed lives and fortunes because the Government looked at their books; that people wouldn't rob banks if banks had no guards and robbery weren't illegal. I don't think it's communism to have a government say: no dammit, you can't build a fireworks factory next to that school and if you build it anywhere, you'll install sprinklers and put up no smoking signs, but that's just what people calling themselves libertarians are saying.

I don't understand and I'm quite sure I don't understand because it's not to be understood, it's to be believed. The pieces of the puzzle don't need to fit, the ideas don't need to work. In fact they have a history which proves it so. It's the logic of emotion; the argument from anger and the special pleadings of selfish solipsism: I don't care what happens to my country if oil is a penny a barrel cheaper for two weeks. I don't care if it's a Ponzi scheme because I'm making money. I don't care if I poison the river, my property rights are my property rights. I don't care if your grandmother can't ride my bus -- it's my bus and my right. I don't know if I'm more disturbed by the fact that I don't understand or by the fear that I do understand.

*There is no shame because it is shameful;
it is wholly credible, because it is unsound;
it is certain, because impossible.

(with apologies to Turtullian)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Loonies, Moonies and Republicans - oh my!

I remember reading Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon many years ago. It's about an old Soviet apparatchik fallen from grace and thrown into one of Stalin's prisons to await some miserable and sordid fate in the Lublyanka cellars. It came to mind because there's a mention in it of group photos of the Old Guard, the early, idealistic, committed Communists out to make a better world and how one by one, the official photos on the office wall were replaced by newer ones with certain people missing, certain others added.

It was long before digital photography and before it made it so easy for unscrupulous, devious, dishonest, America hating, indecent propagandists to produce photos of John Kerry and Jane Fonda, for instance, or Barack Obama saluting improperly -- and do it far better than old Ivan in the back room could with a razor and some glue. It is far too easy for the kind of trolls who work for right wing rags owned by foreign born lunatics like the Washington Times to produce photos of Elena Kagan in a black Turban so as to insinuate perhaps, and without any sense of journalistic integrity, that she's a terrorist supporter as well as a probably homosexual cross dresser and part of an "ominous plot" to insinuate Sharia Law into this country.

It's far too easy for an American public so insanely desperate, so grossly, childishly irresponsible that they will get into bed with the Moonies just to have one more idiotic piece of dung to fling at the opposition. It's so easy for a public who never reads to miss the parallels between what they do and what the people they claim to hate did. It's so easy for an infantile America to dismiss someone for having Communist cooties because they simply haven't the brains to do much more and certainly can't be expected to discuss her actual qualifications and record.

It's so hard for a person who likes to see people get their just desserts when those people are the country he so wishes to be proud of.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Devil and the Oil Spill

Fox and Palin.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

Yes, we have people out in the street screaming about tax increases that never were and while Federal income taxes are lower than they've been in 50 years. We have Fox giving air time to the airhead who has taken time out from chanting "drill baby drill" like an over-aged cheerleader for the oil cartel to chastise President Obama for not doing what he in fact is doing and for not knowing how to do what it was BP's responsibility to know how to do and to be able to do. I wonder if she took time to take a shower and change clothes before switching from 'hands off the oil industry' to 'we need government intervention and oversight.'
"Well then what the federal government should have done was accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans that have had the solutions that they wanted presented."

Well, of course that's what the administration is doing. Looking for assistance from countries where drilling is subject to much more oversight and where Fox ranteth not. Perhaps it's time to ask that "gotcha" question once again. So what newspapers and magazines do you read Mrs. Palin? Oh, I see -- you watch Fox.

Of course there was a 4 week delay in waiving the federal Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which mandates that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be transported in U.S.-built, U.S. owned and U.S. manned ships.Of course there was a long delay during which BP didn't tell us how bad it was and that they couldn't have it stopped in short order, but face it, the Grand Old Bastards have so much fun and profit with their daily game of pin the tail on the President, they're even criticizing the pants he wears when talking about the oil spill, unlike the Commander guy with his costumes.

Does it really matter whether the president has apparently made sure that we won't have to pay for this disaster by having BP set aside 20 billion in escrow? No, even that is proof of perfidy, since it will somehow hurt the Louisiana economy and it basically is a socialist plan to redistribute wealth says the irrepressible Bachmann. Win or lose, we lose, if you ask the New Right.

But it appears that God wants no part of this sound and fury and we're going to have to fix it ourselves. If only we only had to battle the Devil and the oil spill here and not the legions of lying idiots.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Republic of Arizona

"Madness is something rare in individuals- but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule."


The people who wrote the US constitution never intended to give citizenship to "aliens" says John Kavanagh, a state representative from Arizona. Yes, of course he's a Republican. He apparently has some cryptic powers allowing him to know just what Jefferson and Madison were thinking about allowing folks to become citizens that isn't reflected in the Constitution, or perhaps it's just another line of Republican bullshit, seeing as we didn't have the kind of immigration laws in the mid 18th century we instituted in the early 20th century. The fact is that the constitution, for from being anti-alien, doesn't really mention immigration requirements or quotas at all.

I don't think Alexander Hamilton, for instance, had to get a green card to become our first Secretary of the Treasury, a bona fide Founding Father, signer of the Constitution, economist, and political philosopher; Aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and a leader of nationalist forces calling for a new Constitution. He was a Caribbean immigrant, you know and illegitimate to boot. He just came here for an education, liked the place and stayed and prospered, as so many modern illegals do.

Kavanaugh says the proposed Arizona law denying citizenship to children born here to parents with expired or non existent visas isn't unconstitutional. He's wrong, of course, but whether it is or isn't, the establishment of requirements for citizenship, or for legal presence in the US is a power not granted to Arizona, to establish or to enforce. Article 1, Section 8 reserves the power To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, to the Congress of the United States alone and that one would think, should be that.

Like many politicians, Kavanaugh is good at answering a question that wasn't asked and pretending to have won the contest. Like many self-styled Libertarians, he talks about the constitution and the rule of law a lot, but what he and his ilk seem to want is the power to do as they please to anyone they please without paying any attention to that much abused and often inconvenient document or the nation for which it stands.

Is Libertarianism one of those things, like Christianity and altruism and "pure" capitalism, that are wonderful to contemplate, but don't exist or can't exist in practice? Perhaps some day I'll find one that isn't just using the pose to advance some private motives. Perhaps not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fear and loathing in Oklahoma

The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! Some day, anyway -- it could happen, and Oklahoma isn't OK with it. I mean, we really need to trash our secular constitution and make judicial decisions rely on a few selected Jewish commandments palatable to Christian godbothers, but we are simply not going to sleep at night unless we make it illegal for Judges to be swayed by other, illegal religions like Islam; not in Oklahoma.

No, Okies need to "Save our State" and have proposed an amendment to the State constitution making it illegal for judges to reference Sharia or any other international law and as 0.8% of Oklahomans are Muslim, we can't waste any more time in saving the state from the bearded menace. What is needed is a "pre-emptive strike" says State Representative Rex Duncan (Republican of course.) "Court decisions ought to be based on federal law, or state law" says he.

Of course I agree that they should. yet Federal law just might have a problem with the legislature interfering with judicial decisions and process. Beyond that, I think Federal and State laws should be free of any dependence on Christian doctrines as well, but we're talking about Oklahoma here and we're talking about Republicans everywhere and how can we expect even a modest amount of moral or logical consistency?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spy in the sky

You expect the smaller government gospel in Texas and Texans will tell you that the damned government should stay out of private matters like dragging gay men to death behind pickup trucks, instituting safety standards for drilling rigs and demanding proper accounting practices from Bush beloved companies like Enron, but there's an alternate logic in Texas; one that has no problem with the government spying on us with unmanned drones. Following us down the road recording our movements and our speed and our destinations, peeking into our back yards. The largest of these things are as big as airliners and the smallest, I'm told, can fly right into your window. Some are remotely operated, some are almost autonomous. They can see in the dark, they know when you're sleeping; they know when you're awake -- well, maybe not, but they know if you've been good or bad.

Of course there's support for patrolling the borders with these machines, which are much cheaper to operate and aren't dangerous to the operators, but they pose a collision hazard to civil aviation and the FAA, pushed by manufacturers, fear-mongering politicians and the government, has been trying to balance the need for aviation safety with the lust for more government surveillance. Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, are so hot to employ drones on the border and who knows where else that they're trying to twist the President's arm. Cornyn, for instance is blocking a Senate confirmation vote on Michael Huerta, Obama's nominee for the No. 2 FAA job, until he gets his way.

Of course there are legitimate uses for drones, but there are legitimate dangers, not all of which concern collisions and the urge to deploy more eyes in the sky; the insistence that we can and must trust the government with another spy tool seems to make liars out of the people making careers out of telling us we can't trust anyone but them.

Below the surface

Sometimes I meet the nicest people, kind, outgoing, articulate and with many shared interests. A Saturday afternoon barbecue, a manicured garden, a convivial crowd of fellow boaters; many with experiences I can only envy, of cruising the beautiful and exotic parts of the globe.

I mention a planned sail to the Leeward Islands and a stop in beautiful Dominica with it's mountains and waterfalls and hot springs and black sand beaches like the Hawaii of long ago. "Maybe I'll never come back," I say.

"Maybe we'll all have to go elsewhere" says she, "before those Liberals ruin the country with all that debt and, you know before that Obama destroys capitalism."

There's that sick, sinking feeling again; the realization that beneath the tranquil surface, there's a dangerous reef to rip your bottom out. I should have known; but facing the isolation one feels when surrounded by people passionately inimical to your every thought and steadfastly obstinate in resisting any facts or any argument that might diminish the comfort of their cherished anger, makes one too desperate to believe someone might not have been infected with that alien zombie virus. Damn it, I let my guard down again.

"I can't watch the news any more, it's all Liberal" she says. Perhaps she doesn't, but she's listening to someone. Someone is not telling her that the debt began so soar in terrifying fashion when George entered the white house; has soared under every Republican president since Ford or reminding her that the tax cuts that were supposed to increase government revenues didn't and that were supposed to create new jobs created no private sector jobs whatever while government jobs and government coasts soared. Someone isn't telling her that our senseless military endeavor that appears now to have been embarked upon for profit has already cost more that World War II and continues to burn through billions. That kind of debt doesn't count, only debt that might help Americans who aren't already in the club. No -- best not to listen to the Liberals on the TV news.

"It's true that 24 hour coverage leads to a format that's mostly speculation and opinion and it's true that at least one network simply lies and invents and misquotes and twists facts, " I said. Her brow began to furrow. "That's why I try to read as many sources as I can. "I read three or four to a dozen newspapers most every morning," I say. " I listen to everything from Al Jazeera to Haaretz on line." I can see the suspicion growing, the bestial voice in her head growling liberal.

I'd ask her to define liberal, but I know she's define it as its opposite. I know she has no awareness of current events, history or anything outside the Yacht Club Republican cocktail-hour school of economics and social criticism. I know there's no point in flexing a consciousness that's been ossified in one position for 75 years, so I do what I always have to do and smile and say:

"Oh, don't worry, it's a strong country and I'm sure we'll survive," even though I'm far from certain.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

As goes Arizona. . .

I'd like to give notice. There must be someone, some registry I can add my name to as one who wishes to officially disassociate myself with the idiocy of America. Those who doubted that our experiment in including the rabble in government would fare any better than the French Revolution did would, if they could, be smiling to read Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's campaign rhetoric and would spit up in their coffins to read the comments on his website from people responding to his appeal to "stand with Rick Scott" in pushing for an unconstitutional immigration policy. The end should justify the means in Florida and not just in Arizona.

The United States Constitution, like the Bible and the Qur'an are mirrors in which we see our thoughts justified, venal and noble. I hear from people who insist that Arizona is doing what's necessary and if immigrants are second class citizens, required to wear yellow stars and carry papers at all times, it simply doesn't bother them. Of course if the Coast Guard hails and boards their yachts and fishing boats asking for papers; asking about weapons aboard and checking registration and proof of ownership? Why that's unconstitutional!

In fact the constitution demands that the US protect our states from "invasion" by gardeners, fruit pickers, dish washers and day laborers, says one Scott supporter. And of course, it's not racism, says another. It's simply our distaste for infractions of the law, you see. If we were being "invaded" by Canadians, we'd need to do the same thing although since nobody seems to bother tallying up the number of Canadians in the US illegally and fair skinned blue-eyed, people named McKenzie or Scott aren't being stopped in Home Depot parking lots for interrogation. I frankly don't think anyone gives a damn about immigration law or quotas or visas or green cards. I think it's about an ethnically pure America, just as it always has been.

No, I don't deny the need to control immigration. I don't deny that there is a problem with porous borders. I do deny that the problems need to be dealt with by taking away yet another bit of American freedom.

I don't notice much damn being given at all about US agents shooting a Mexican 14 year old on Mexican soil for throwing rocks either. Fox News of course assured us that it was all OK, since the kid was "known to authorities," although in Fox Fashion, no actually authorities were identified or quoted and more than likely weren't actually consulted. Why bother, why care? Something needs to be done and so anything can be done and let's just be done with it.

Will Florida join the Arizona Confederacy and force people with Spanish accents and other unspecified characteristics to stop and furnish papers or be arrested? Will we fire teachers with accents and punish schools that mention Cesar Chavez or that the Seminoles were hunted down like animals and killed and tortured or that an entire Florida town was murdered and no one was prosecuted for it or that (yes, it's true) our fair state tolerated de facto slavery until the 1940's?

If I'm looking at the future when I look at Arizona and listen to Rick Scott, if the near unanimous opinion of my peers is that we have a disaster in the Gulf because of "too much government regulation" I want no part of the insanity, the stupidity, the animal rage, the drooling masses yearning to bring back what my parents' generation and my generation fought to free us from.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Want some gay fries with that?

It's never been clear to me why people like Bill O'Reilly think about gay people so often. Perhaps he really doesn't care but he knows that those grunting knuckle dragging Budweiser drinkers and super-size fries addicts who keep him in the money do care, but be that as it may or may not be, Bill's at it again, focusing his dull perceptions and limp wit on a French McDonald's commercial. With a passionate pose he hopes will remind you of Churchill's famous "we will fight them on the beaches" speech, he assures us that such a thing will never run here. Yes, the ad features a lad whose father doesn't know he's gay. It's a bit wittier than you'll see in the US market, so perhaps he right. I just wonder why he cares so much.

"We wanted to show society the way it is today, without judging. There’s obviously no problem with homosexuality in France today”
said the brand director for McDonald's France, but there sure as hell is in the Fox Nation.
"Do they have an Al Qaeda ad?"
asked O'Reilly. Do you think he dreams about bearded gay men with AK-47's?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Premeditated violence

So whether you agree with me or not that Israel's attempt to enforce the blockade of Gaza by boarding a ship which refused normal inspection procedures and the attempt at self defense of the IDF Navy when attacked, was not the outrage it was meant to look like, do you agree that it's all Obama's fault? Sure it was says John Bomb-Bomb McCain. If Obama hadn't insisted that Israel freeze it's West Bank settlement construction, this wouldn't have happened. (insert WTF here!)

Michael Savage tells us that Obama "pressured" Israel into it without offering any of the evidence one would desire to back it up.
"As far as I know, it was Obama's administration that told them how to do this attack. It was probably one of America's peace-loving generals, who knows which one of them did it."
The use of probably by a Fox News member of course is as good as proof to the willfully Foxed, as is "as far as I know." Probably means 'definitively' to the Savage audience. Only a Liberal would question it. Only a Liberal would wonder why "peace loving" should be the equivalent of stupid, duplicitous and incompetent -- if not treasonous.

Of course knees are jerking in the Liberal camp as well, as Dennis Kucinich has written to President Obama suggesting that the country needs to "redefine its relationship with Israel" in the wake of the Gaza flotilla "raid." I'd ask him his opinion on redefining the US Coast Guard's daily practice of stopping and boarding ships with armed gunboats and armed inspectors as "raids." I'd ask him if an attack on the Coast Guard by a vessel refusing to stop and be inspected in wartime or peacetime, would be supported by him or excused by him because we're certainly doing it now in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Caribbean. I'd ask him whether our entire drug interdiction and human smuggling interdiction policies are " reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people." I'd try to do it without calling him an idiot and a hypocrite, but I doubt I could manage.

So if you still feel this was "premeditated violence" even when the violence occurred only after the "peaceful passengers" tried to kill the inspectors, ask yourself what the US should do if a flotilla from Iran attempted to enter Iraq with an unspecified, un-inspected cargo and brutally attacked our Navy when our Navy attempted to examine that cargo and passenger list.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The outrage machine

As a boater, I'm aware that the Coast Guard has the right to board and inspect my vessel at any time and that I'm required to comply. Upon probable cause and perhaps just suspicion, they have a right to impound and literally disassemble my boat looking for drugs or contraband. Sometimes, as I'm given to understand, they've been known to be rather demanding in their searches, and other completely innocent, law abiding yacht captains I know have complained of dirty footprints on the ivory carpeting or greasy hand prints on the cherry paneling and have suggested that too much protest or grouchiness can earn one an extra careful inspection of safety equipment that might entail a ticket.

Of course we have a real problem in our coastal waters and particularly on the Atlantic coast with illegal immigrants arriving rather often, and then there's always the drug smugglers, so when the Coasties hail you it's best to heave to and not make waves, so to speak. In fact the US has a policy of stopping and boarding vessels anywhere on the high seas and at any time they suspect contraband. For an honest captain or crew, the idea of going after the Coast Guard with a boat hook or marlinespike is pretty much as unthinkable as it is counterproductive.

Yesterday however, when I read about the Israeli raid on the blockade runners attempting to bring supplies to Gaza, I was truly angered at what seemed like a pointless and brutal attack on unarmed civilians, and the video then available seemed to confirm that first impression. The media were making charges of piracy and it seemed less than hyperbolic at the time. Then I saw the rest of the video.

Aside from the question of the embargo itself, it has to be mentioned that the "relief" expedition was required to pass inspection before landing in Gaza, there being good reason for Israel to make sure no weapons or explosives or ammunition were being carried, or fugitives, or any persons wanted for questioning. The word of some Turkish political group that it's a peaceful enterprise is scarcely enough, although reports so far seem to gloss over the obvious with a coat of shiny outrage. Of course the flotilla had no intention of complying or of allowing themselves to be boarded peacefully and inspected, which carries the implication that they had indeed something to hide. The Israeli Navy did what any country would have done and boarded them.

The video that was not shown, of course, was the brutal attack by the passengers, who mobbed the inspectors, threw them to the deck and began beating them with clubs and metal rods. One Israeli was thrown overboard. They were vastly outnumbered. They began to defend themselves. There were casualties. It started to look less and less like piracy or even aggression. It began to look like deliberate provocation. It began to look like assault. It began to look like a mission of strategic martyrdom designed to turn Israel's ally Turkey against them. It looks like a success so far.

As usual, those who have their reasons for hating Israel will not compare the incident to trying to run through passport control at the airport and complaining about being tackled and detained. Those who are quite sure Hamas is justified in any act whatsoever that brings about the total annihilation of all Israelis wouldn't care and might rejoice if the ships had been blown out of the water without warning.

There's not much middle ground, there's not much changing of minds and a fortune is being spent on further polarization. This, in my opinion, is just part of that enterprise. The drums of manufactured outrage will continue to boom about mistreatment of "peaceful" passengers so long as doubt remains as to whether their mission had anything do do with anything but creating provocation against "Zionist Aggression." To some, the passengers will continue to be "tourists" and the haters of Israel will use any opportunity to appear as martyrs, but try this, if you dare: load up a flotilla of ships and announce your destination as Turkey and your cargo as aid for Islamist patriots resisting secularist aggression and when it comes time for customs inspection -- refuse to stop and be boarded. Set your "tourists" on the Turkish coast guard and customs inspectors with fence posts and bits of deck railing and furniture and claim that the secular Turkish government is attacking Islam and peaceful Islamists. Go on -- I dare you.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Research this!

Sometimes it feels like trying to explain calculus to a deaf canary. The idea that permitting anything some religious group doesn't like is infringing on their self-given right to tell other people what to do or to punish them for doing or not doing it, seems impossible to counter no matter how obvious or how long you try. I've tried for a long time, but it's like the Shroud of Turin, even if you could show it's made from polyester and has a made in Taiwan tag its authenticity returns again and again.

In the interest of perpetuating the kind of de facto but illegal kind of control they have exerted over private and public affairs for so long, they have invented a mythology wherein our government really owes so much to 21st century esoteric Christianist philosophy, that it's best simply to let delusional perverts and enemies of freedom dictate to us regardless of contrary laws and public sentiment.

Take the Family Research Council whose President Tony Perkins, a man whose face seems to belie any assertions of straightness, insists that allowing such people in the military as offend his flock is -- wait for this -- infringing on the rights of those pretend Christians who also serve: the right to be a bigot that is. It would "undermine religious liberty."

Now I don't recall that the Constitution confers or protects or affirms any such rights. It only tells the government not to establish an official religion. It says nothing about protecting the prejudices of religious bullies with neurotic phobias about sex. It says nothing about creating an army that President Tony Perkins feels comfortable with at whatever the cost may be to the religious and personal freedom of others.

President Tony Perkins isn't likely to remember that when President Truman integrated the armed forces, it offended the "rights" of racists in the very same way. Anyone who simply couldn't bear the thought of being in the same barracks with one of those lesser races God wanted to keep separate from his own light skinned people, just had to leave and of course the same sort of people will be offended by sharing a foxhole with someone with different sexual preferences. You know -- that's just too damned bad, President Tony Perkins and I'm quite sure our military will cope quite nicely and for God's sake, give it up and call -- you know you want to.