Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas lies.

Der christliche Entschluss, die Welt hässlich und schlecht zu finden, hat die Welt hässlich und schlecht gemacht.

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

And so it happens every year -- all year actually -- but most appallingly and undisguisedly around the time of Mithra's birthday. You know, Mithra, the son of god by a virgin mother and member of a holy trinity whose cult competed with Christianity for hundreds of years and in large part was the furnished apartment the Christians moved into when they went Roman. So who can be surprised that "Liberal" CNN would trot out another snotty attack on disbelief today, embedded in an interpretation of that mawkish box-office failure It's a Wonderful Life.

The annually erupting movie is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief, author Larry Taunton says. Those wanting to do away with the faith should be careful what they wish for. 'Doing away with the faith' of course, means dissuading the faithful from running your life; dictating according to their own set of religious laws and demanding special exemption for their actions. They're sure as hell not equating faith in Indra or Thor with their equally unsupportable beliefs.

No, faith is good when it's Christian faith even when the faithful can't agree with what that is or whether angels are part of it or whether Quakers are heretics or just who it is the god of love hates most. Any other faith is simply satanic, regardless of content, else ol' Larry here would be giving the Zoroastrians with their strict sense of morality a free pass to heaven. And he doesn't.

Of course if there is a nation absent Christian belief, or more repellent, absent that cobbled together self-contradictory chimera they like to call (the Judeo-Christian ethic) it's not the USA and the conclusion that our waning belief is deadly to morality and stability and all other political, economic and tectonic woes including that "general malaise," is part of the same belief package. It's circular. To see that decline, one has first to believe in it, which is to say, if you believe it, it's true. If you're a Christian of the correct sort, it's true; which again is to say, nothing is true but what the Church tells you is true and Après nous le déluge.

Yes, indeed, it would be a sad day for America if people stopped questioning the notion that democracy ( which used to be held as evidence for decline and condemned by nearly every church ) universal suffrage, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the end of slavery and a more modern sense of morality that includes frowning upon child abuse, torture, spousal abuse and the torture of animals -- all things fine and dandy in the heyday of ecclesiastical tyranny -- were signs of the end times that Christians have been awaiting for 2000 years and which will never come. Why, insinuates this obnoxious Nosferatu from his ancient grave -- we might become savages in the moral vacuum departing Christianity leaves behind: wild and murderous barbarians like the French, Danes, Germans, Dutch, Swedes, English . . .

Face it, without faith that everything is going to hell, Christianity would long since have died out or at most be another kind of Judaism, and people like Larry Taunton would be lying to the empty air and raving to the bats in some secluded cave far away. As Nietzsche said: "The Christian determination to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad"

What the movie is trying to say, is that faith in ourselves will save the day and that's hardly what this damnable deceiver in his contempt for sanity is selling. In fact it's the very opposite and they just can't get through a December without spitting in the face of human values, denying their own bloody history and claiming to be the only rightful leaders of the world and insist they're right because they've made everything worse.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Waiting for Gandhi

Those Polls are hardly scientific nor do they claim to be, but when I read that 76% of participants think the payroll tax cut extension should be approved, I have to wonder at the Republican pose that insists such 'socialist' things are being stuffed down our throats by tyrannical Democrats who don't represent us as well as billionaires and multinational corporations do. Other things like medicare and Social Security and health care reform have been stuffed down our throats even though three quarters of us support them. Yes, Americans can seem like geese sometimes, but it's mostly the people eating foi gras and hating Democracy who want to run the farm.

Even my most intransigently Republican friends are risking an eternity in hell by suggesting that the GOP is deliberately sabotaging the government and the economy and the well being of our citizens for political gain and Obama's approval rating is slowly climbing as the flock of candidates chortle about sin and repealing child labor laws. So perhaps the slow shift in mood has to do with the traveling freak show from whom Republicans will be forced to choose as well as the unavoidable recognition that our definition of "smaller government" smells so much of the 19th century British colonial attitude: do nothing, have nothing done and don't allow anyone to do anything. Gandhi was able to turn it back at them. It should be easier for us. We already have the vote.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All you need is love

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
-Colossians 3:18-

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
-Ephesians 5:22-

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands
-1 Peter 3:1-

women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
-1 Corinthians 14:34-

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.
-epistle of Paul to Titus-

I've lived long enough to be familiar with several reversals in the mission of liberal activists and even with the kind of reversal that coexists with its opposite. Is human behavior the result of genes or is it the result of cultural conditioning? Is it both and can we work both angles at different times to support our doctrines?

Are personality types in humans genetically determined as we see in dogs? I certainly don't know and I'm not going to pretend I do, but those who do pretend seem to have had profound influences on our culture and in ways that seem to defy or deny rigorous examination.

Are men, for instance, more prone to violence because our culture teaches that violence is manly or is it genetics driving that view of what it means to be male? Do men tend to have a certain natural role in society and women have a different one? Recent studies seem to lend weight to the idea that in primates in general, the way we organize our societies has more to do with genetics than with the exigencies of our environment; to suggest that gender roles and group behavior have a biological basis. Yes some continue to insist that more women would seek a career in boiler repair or sewer work if we insist on calling a manhole a "personnel access cover" while denouncing any serious research on the subject of gender difference as anti-Feminist.

Some feminists will be alarmed at any such studies, perceiving with some accuracy that it can be used to justify injustice by confusing it with "nature's way" just as genocide has been justified by confusing it with natural process. In neither case would nature need to have our help and of course even if nature prompts us to seek leadership from males, that's not a justification for excluding women. Nature of course doesn't demand that we wash our hands or cook our food or most of the things that have served our survival.

Dogs are going to seek a pack leader and although there is a chain of command between the females, that leader is going to be male and amongst prospective leaders there will be constant rivalry because male dogs are wired to think they can lead. Is there something similar at work in human societies? Do we see that thing working in the very movements attempting to combat it?

Domesticated dogs look to humans for their leaders, or are easily persuaded to do so in most cases, while wolves generally do not. Canids with human leaders seem to be doing better in the world than those who follow other dogs. Can we learn from this? Are we going to the dogs because of the leaders we choose and ideas we protect?

I know I'm rambling here, but I do have a point in mind. It seems that there are contrary schools, both identifying as 'Feminist' that tell us that our roles in our society are not predetermined but also that our natures are all but scripted by our genes. Males are born bad, to take one school to the extreme -- and all gender identification is entirely learned says the other extreme, so culture is the culprit. Culture, some would say is male dominated and so culture teaches male domination in a vicious circle. As with all such disputes, science is the guardian of honesty and that's why it's been so difficult to pursue or even to discuss the science of gender. Better to protect doctrine because the doctrine protects our feelings.

Of course good and bad are things we make up, or that people who would be pack leaders make up. There is no good and bad in nature, there is only that which is advantageous to the gene pool, or disadvantageous. Primate societies, suggests the study, are the result of what has worked over millions of years and in the social nature of our closest relatives. Change the circumstances and conditions, but the pattern persists.

War and violence seem to be there -- the major difference is that humans recognize wider group identifications than do the chimps. We are better able to feel compassion, allegiance and common cause with others outside our immediate tribes and nations and even species while other primates have smaller range. I think that's where our salvation resides, but more on that later.

I think humans have got by so far by being just barely smart enough to put nature in its place. We haven't all arrived at the point where we will recognize our genetic orientation for what it is and use it to the advantage of all of us -- of life in general. We tend to use it as monkeys do, for the advantage our the tribe, the family group and that's quite true of monkeys like the Vervets who seem to be quite viciously matriarchal. We haven't arrived at all although there are religions that teach universal compassion, they're too often -- most often used to form tribes and gender subgroups within tribes, allowing us to lapse into our primitive tribalist behavior. Looking for and finding enemies: it's a primate thing. Hell no, they're not us and we're not them. They're males, they're females, they're crackers, liberals, yankees, blacks, Mexicans, yuppies and the Bible tells me so and so do my genes.

So the evidence for nature playing a role in our social organization can be used to divide us into gender and lead into gender wars, race wars and nationalism or we can choose to notice that we are genetically capable of being above such things. We can recognize that being above it is in our nature which puts us far, far above the apes in our ability to recognize what's good for all. But of course, religion - the thing we look to for guidance and moral leadership often teaches that this ability was taken from God or the gods illegally and is sinful. Obedience to our pack leader is good, but not to those other heathens and satanists. Which part of our nature do we choose? Look at history, listen to the people who would lead.

Sure it's more emotionally satisfying to band together as victims and claim that since a majority of violent crime is perpetrated by young men, all men are suspect by nature, but it's not only bad logic, since most men are not violent criminals, it's a step back into our animal nature of equal size. It's an admission that we are not capable of knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly - or at least that the other group isn't.

So yes, Chimps are kinder to their own families than to their tribes, and their tribes more compassionate with each other than to others, even though those others contain their own daughters and grandchildren. We're better than that, as some religions have taught. We're better because our compassion is infinitely broad - at least it can be. Can it be that ability to be the other, feel with the other, identify with the other has been part of the obvious survival advantage our species has over other primates - almost as much as our technological prowess has been?

That's what I'm suggesting and that suggestion suggests that many of the political and social movements claiming to be a solution are part of the problem. Religion has largely failed us here as have so many social doctrines. Compassion alone of the virtues will not sponsor the burning of others, crusades, Jihads, stonings, slavery and the subjugation of women even when compassion appears on the letterhead of Allah the merciful or Jesus the God of Love. Religions become tribes and we no longer see ourselves in the members of other religions and we follow the pack leaders with their books and costumes as wolves follow wolves with good hunting instincts and big teeth. Religions become tribes and will attack other tribes whether secular or religious and the doctrines or other tribes become satanic even when they advocate compassion and mercy above all things.

I've seen it happen and so have you whether you've noticed or not. I've seen people bridle at the criticism of religion, taking generalities as a personal insult. I've seen people dismiss an entire gender, race without seeing it as a personal insult to a member of those groups. It's our animal nature to separate ourselves from identification with the other, whether we recognize it or not. Compassion, love, altruism are also in our animal nature, our genetic gift from our ancestors. So is the ability to choose what works rather than what what our inner ape likes -- for are we not human?


"He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"— in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me," — in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.
-Dhammapada Verses 3-5 -

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let it be Paul

Ron Paul seems at the moment to be the front runner in Iowa, which to me offers some hope that American Conservative dementia might not progress to the point where that miscreant Gingrich might be selected to run against Barack Obama.

And no, I haven't become a Republican, but I'd far rather see Dr. Paul, whose ideas I sometimes agree with and sometimes don't in a debate than be forced to listen to Newt advocate a nation of "believers" where no one can be trusted who doesn't follow a Gingrich approved God, or God forbid, live in a nation with a president who insists he would arrest a judge whose decisions don't fit the doctrines of Newtonian Theocracy and plutocracy. For someone who makes such a fuss about the constitution's limitations on government power, you'd think he could show us the part advocating for a priest-king or a definition of a separation of powers that is subject to suspension at the whim of the President.

Of course one has to wonder whether the inner Gingrich is connected in any way to the outer, all too visible Gingrich, with strings attached to all sorts of crepuscular but malignant entities. Perhaps his outrageous anti-Americanism is simply bait to attract the creepy-crawly political vermin squirming in the anti-American mud and perhaps he's not really an enemy of democracy, Liberty and the rule of law and the other things most of us wish were core values in civilized countries.

So I have to think that at best, he's a fraud who fully intends to betray anyone foolish enough to think he means what he says, but I have to fear, at worst, that he means it. So yes, I'll take the candidate who I think goes a bit overboard with limiting the power of the Government to the man who would be king.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The world is the Battlefield

I find it remarkable that the proposed provision of the Defense Authorization act enabling a President to detain anyone suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization indefinitely and without trial, can be presented as one of those bits of "evidence" that Barack Obama is trashing the constitution. Obama's Indefinite Detention Powers is the title of more than one article. Remarkable indeed since he's threatening to veto the abomination if it passes.

I do recognize that since the Authorization for Use of Military forces (AUMF) that Congress approved after the September 11 terrorist attacks was used to bolster somewhat unfair arguments that Bush was trashing the revered document, an equal and more ridiculous counter charge has to be leveled against his Democratic successor. That is a principle we had beat into our consciousness when Bill Clinton had to face charges, some contrived and some with marginal merit that were so like unto those Nixon was glaringly guilty of.

But I digress. I'm not surprised to hear such things slithering in the murky Senatorial cistern, but I'm surprised at the bipartisan support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) bill and the astonishing lack of debate over this shocking redaction of the Bill of Rights. I was however surprised and pleased to hear Rand Paul declare opposition is heatedly as I would do, given the chance.

I was nauseated and enraged to hear our former Presidential contender, John McCain rail about how dangerous "these people" were without regard to how we determine fairly whether or not the accusations are true. I have been raised to think that justice demanded a fair trial and no decent civilization has failed to provide a process to determine the truth of an
accusation, sometimes made under duress or torture or out of jealousy or greed or worse. A less stuffy writer might simply ask: how the hell do we know the charges are true without a trial?

Senator McCain doesn't seem to care, although with his history, he might just give the opposite position tomorrow and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seems proud of his shiny new black boots, claiming that now we can jail any American citizen because "it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland." Did he mean to say Vaterland?
"The FBI publishes characteristics of people you should report as possible terrorists. The list includes the possession of “Meals Ready to Eat,” weatherproofed ammunition, and high-capacity magazines; missing fingers; brightly colored stains on clothing; paying for products in cash; and changes in hair color. I fear that such suspicions might one day be used to imprison a U.S. citizen indefinitely without trial. Just this year, the vice president referred to the Tea Party as a bunch of terrorists. So, I think we should be cautious in granting the power to detain without trial."
writes Senator Paul in the National Review.

Yes, I think our legislators have earned their 8% approval rating and can only wonder why it isn't lower. John McCain, you're a goddamn terrorist yourself, attempting to make Americans afraid for political purposes. Rand Paul: you may be far right, but you're right none the less.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Save the Fed

Doomed to repeat history? Of course we are, but the fate I fear isn't the sort of doom that descends upon us from above unless you consider the cesspit of "Conservative" rhetoric to be a higher plane of thought. No, I'm not talking about the market bubble of the late 1920's that was brought about by slashing the top marginal tax rate or the deregulation of the markets that gave us the 1929 crash; I'm talking about where we were fourscore years ago in 1931 when the European banks began to fail and nobody was able or willing to do anything about it. Then as now, we had "Conservative" rhetoric attempting to blame the mess on the usual suspects, like lazy American workers and in Europe: the Jews. We had calls around the world for even more austerity, as if the world could save itself by saving money.

" Instead of easing monetary policy by cutting interest rates and buying bonds, the Fed tightened. The result was a catastrophic chain reaction of bank failures, which caused the money supply to contract by approximately a third, and economic output with it"

writes Niall Ferguson at the Daily Beast, lamenting the gross lack of knowledge of bankers, investors, fund managers, regulators, policymakers, and economists. Ferguson cites Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz’s Monetary History of the United States, which argues that

"the stock-market panic of 1929 turned into a depression because of avoidable errors by the Fed. Instead of easing monetary policy by cutting interest rates and buying bonds, the Fed tightened. The result was a catastrophic chain reaction of bank failures, which caused the money supply to contract by approximately a third, and economic output with it."

The Gold Standard, the massive debt from The Great War, the partisan inability to compromise brought on the disaster we know as the Great Depression and only those countries that dropped that standard and began hiring while gearing up for war, began to recover. Germany led the way and the US followed.

With some Republican spokesmen demanding the return of the gold standard, demanding an end to the Fed, demanding more austerity, demanding that more capital be tied up in the hands of a tiny minority, the money supply diminished and the demand for goods and services curtailed, the few who understand what needs to be done are being shouted down by politicians who insist that the only solution is a bigger cut in the marginal rate, and the angry mob they feed.
"We are indeed fortunate that at least the world’s leading central bankers have studied this history: not only Ben Bernanke but also the heads of the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada, and the European Central Bank. The bad news is that so few politicians and voters understand what they are trying to do, or why. The even worse news is that central bankers by themselves may not be able to stop our depression from turning great."

Worse news even than that, is the fact that people like Dr. Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard University, a senior research fellow at Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University do not inform the Cains, Bachmanns, Palins or Gingrichs or the rabble who support them, nor would the public trust any "elitist" "Libtard" "pinhead" over the kind of small minded moral abomination now stumbling toward Washington.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Show me your papers!

" People are trying to use this to make the law look bad"
said the mayor of Leeds, Alabama, responding to the arrests of a Mercedes Benz director and a Honda manager for having only international drivers licenses rather than their German or Japanese cards in their pockets.

Well people won't have to try very hard, because Alabama looks bad enough without any help. The demand that anyone looking or sounding 'foreign' carry proof of citizenship at all times looks to me too much like those "racial origin" cards the Third Reich made people carry, but even if you disagree or think I'm being hyperbolic, it still looks paranoid, it looks stupid, it stinks of a very ugly past and it surely isn't going to help the state of Alabama attract the kind of foreign investment and employment opportunities it needs.

"We are the Show Me State, not the Show Me Your Papers State," writes the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
"You've got two choices. Either ask your executives to carry their immigration papers at all times, or move to a state that understands gemütlichkeit."

" We’re going to enforce the laws of state of Alabama”
says the mayor of Leeds, like a character from a Victor Hugo novel. Well you go ahead Javert. Crops are already rotting in the fields of Alabama because if you're of a racial or ethnic minority, it just ain't worth it and the construction industry is falling apart too. Other states would be happy to have those billions of dollars and thousands of jobs pack up and move elsewhere in Free America.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's a Tax!

The War on Christmas, like the 'Black Friday' sales, began early this year. Faced with the growing difficulty of explaining how paying the Bush Administrations bills makes Obama a spendthrift and how asking for a smaller stimulus package makes him more reckless than Bush while all the time being a communist, Mau-Mau, Fascist, do-nothing tyrant, the need for ever more idiotic distraction generates the need to elevate even more mole-hills to Himalayan proportions. So this year, it's no longer about how that Muslim Obama and those damned Jews and atheists are at war with Christmas, it's about how that damned tax-tyrant Obama is making us pay more for it ( and costing us jobs. ) Welcome to the new act in the Republican circus: the Christmas Tree Tax.

The Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, which was first proposed during the administration of President George W. Bush in response to the yapping of agricultural lobbyist Christmas Tree Promotion Now, gave the President authority to add a 15 cent charge to every tree to be used to advertise and promote Christmas trees. The government will not use these funds, the Christmas tree growers will use the money collected from retailers to promote further sales with the intention, or excuse that increased sales will more than offset the cost. It's kind of a capitalist idea, Republican style -- you know, like the $80 million-a-year beef promotion order imposed during the Reagan administration, or the $8 million-a-year peanut promotion order imposed during the Bush administration. But we're not talking about St Ronald or St George, we're talking about that anti-colonial Kenyan/Indonesian killer of African Christians who hates Christmas and white people.

It's a TAX! scream the headlines and the banshee bloggers. How can we expect anyone to hear the whisper of "it's capitalism" from the rational rest of us? Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax, howls the headline at The Foundry, the blustery blog of the Heritage Foundation hammering out their daily dumps of hammered, beaten, twisted and red hot baloney. Will there be another headline informing us that the President reconsidered the Bush program and cancelled it?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

To be or not to be human.

58% of those responding to a CNN poll today answered "no" to the question of whether human life begins at conception. Of course such polls are hardly scientific and they do to some extent select for people who have strong enough feelings to bother and of course for those who can and do read.

Evidently the voters of Mississippi who bothered to vote would have answered the same way and in fact they did so by voting down a proposed constitutional amendment yesterday that would grant 'personhood' to a single celled organism and thereby outlaw not only all abortions but many forms of birth control. Do we see in this some evidence of intelligent multi-cellular life in Mississippi?

I think we do see that more women than usual went to the polls this time, but what I don't see is anyone parsing the loaded questions of what constitutes life and what constitutes the humanity thereof. Certainly both zygotes are alive and the unfertilized egg as well as a sperm cell contains all the DNA needed to produce a human being. It's that DNA that makes us human, of course, and not a monkey or a mouse or an amoeba for that matter and we lack only a bit of technology to produce an adult, or at least an embryo from that helical string of chemicals. It's already been done with simpler creatures. Will we push the "conception" notion so far that we consider a shelf with bottles of cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine a "baby?" Will extremists insist that we put excess chemicals up for "adoption" as they are suggesting be done with unwanted fertilized eggs?

Every question can harbor other questions. This one harbors a legion. Conception of course is the beginning of a natural process that usually results in a breathing infant: screaming, defecating and urinating as well, as some of us know. But we've done things in a laboratory that make me question the idea that this is the Only way to do it. So should we ask whether personhood inheres to the DNA string, to the zygotes carrying it, which are certainly alive? Is any living thing with human DNA a person and if it is, am I aborting "babies" by shaving in the morning (when I bother to?)

Or is a fertilized egg something that can under the right circumstances develop into something we call human -- develop towards it that is? Simple minds, religious minds, want there to be an instant and yet there are few significant instants in the development of life. Most take time; most evolve. Sure, there's a heartbeat within a few weeks but that applies to earthworms and guinea hens as well and it's not a heartbeat that makes us human. It's something ineffable or at least complex and subjective.

The question of just what does do that is one that's hard for religion alone to answer rationally since, after all the Bible tells us that not only life, but personhood, that word for breath: nephesh ( נָ֫פֶשׁ ) which we usually translate from the Hebrew as "soul" actually means breath, as with God's breath into Adam's lungs. Strictly, or at least Biblically speaking, what does not breathe has no breath, no soul, no personhood - that being something conveyed by God in an instant and with the filling of the lungs. Scientifically speaking, human life began quite some time ago and not in an instant. Speaking for myself, personhood is a characteristic acquired over time, just as apes at some time arrived at the point at which thy could ask such questions as we do.

Laws can't cope with such things however and since there is no point that defines a yes-no, on-off, either-or condition, we must consider the unborn as we might consider Schrödinger's cat: both human and not human until we must make a decision. And it isn't an easy decision. There is somewhere between unconscious flesh and sentience where we need to make the choice dependent on other things as well, such as the survival of the mother, the survival or survivability of the embryo that enter into the choice. It's at the most obvious ends of that evolution from egg to embryo to breathing of air that we make ourselves stupid, not at points near to that hazy zone in which many things must be considered.

I don't think a cell or a cluster of cells is a "baby" nor does the beating of a proto-heart make a citizen. I think an 8 month foetus deserves some -- much consideration if not a passport. It's in that gray zone that we need to decide and that zone is an awfully dim place for the light of reason as well as the fog of faith to penetrate. We need to have mercy on people making such decisions as well as on something that might be human to some and not quite human to others. Thanks to yesterday's vote, there may at least remain some mercy in Mississippi.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Elective Dictatorship or Leadership?

Ron Paul, I like you - I really do. I like it when you denounce our military adventurism and imperial urges. I share your distaste for prosecuting harmless, consensual acts and I don't think either of us like having a government dictate morality according to some chosen religious standards.

I couldn't agree more that we need to keep the governmental nose out of our personal choices that don't infringe on other people's rights. I think we have an inherent right to be left alone too, but when you assert that that same government can force a woman to continue a pregnancy I find it inconsistent. When you proclaim that President Obama is overstepping his presidential powers by taking action to end a dangerous drug shortage, I'm confused. I'm disappointed. Market forces alone aren't going to induce drug companies to make unprofitable products that some people need to stay alive and if they eventually do, it won't be soon enough for someone's mother or sister or child. There are times when the the noli me tangere market approach does not serve the public interest and times when human life is more important than the sanctity of inflexible doctrine.

Yes, I agree that our government was designed to move slowly, for inaction to be the default action as you said yesterday. I even agree that there is an invisible hand in the market, but I cannot understand how you can ignore the sometimes dire consequences of such slow moving or inert systems in a world that moves at a rate inconceivable in 1789.

Sure, eventually drug shortages will tend to rectify because of market forces. 'Tend to' and 'eventually' are expensive words however and the price is often paid in death and suffering. A car tends to steer itself in a straight line, but you know, sometimes someone has to grab the wheel if staying alive is a consideration.

I have to ask you how much needless death and suffering are you willing to force us all to endure to gild the vision of a withered and minimal state where things move only by themselves and the making of money is the only test of righteousness?

Dictatorship? Seriously? Isn't that a bit like calling the guy who pulls your kid out of a well a kidnapper because he didn't apply to Congress in advance through proper channels?

I believe in Democracy as much as you do and perhaps more. I mistrust radical change and I lean toward Libertarianism in many things, but unlike you, I do not belief in faith over fact. If there is a plague, if a dam breaks -- if that asteroid that passed close to us this morning had landed in Texas, I want someone to grab the steering wheel without having his hands tied by doctrines soaked in the tea of Utopian visions.

I have to ask "why now?" Were you as firm in protest of our previous president's extra-legal activities? The signing statements, the treaty breaking, the torture, the illegal search and seizure and surveillance? The wars that have killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed millions of lives and wasted trillions of dollars? Of course you didn't approve and neither did I, but there is a difference between an asteroid and a sand grain. Are we really confusing necessary course corrections with wanton disrespect for law, due process and freedom?

Why now? Or are you just jumping on the Obama Bashing Band Wagon because you're more of a loyal Republican and less interested in doing what needs to be done before too many people die than you'd like to admit?

Friday, November 04, 2011

We'll to the woods no more

"Pardon me if I disappear in Mexico, wearing a mask and strange suspenders. Puncho Villa. Wandering about, speaking my curious 'spagnol. The trees are coming down, we'll to the woods no more, mad mind and black sun. We'd better find an island quick."

-Lawrence Ferlinghetti-

Good luck finding one. If it's worth being there it's been exploited by Mickey Mammon and overrun by vacationers fleeing from their cubicles, like a yo-yo flees the controlling hand, taking pictures of each other pretending to be free at 24% compound interest. A dancing marionette, and every step the puppeteer's.

And the mad mind -- the madness creeping through the cracks in the woodwork, under window sills and door jambs like black blizzard dust bowl silt, until you choke on it. There's no where to go to.

I try to avoid their eyes, hoping I won't have to hear the mad voices, flee the demon words no one can exorcise: don't you agree, don't you agree, aren't we buddies in delusion, nodding together in unhinged harmony, yearning to breathe free? Do what thou wilt! And drink the tea.

The trees are coming down, the woods decay and fall, hosanna turns to brown and withered leaves; every crumb of satori and all our moments that glow in quiet glory. There's a string at the end of it all and its sharp tug and a strong hand to guide us to the door.

Friday, October 28, 2011

When up means down

The Mayans were far less pessimistic about 2012 than the people who fill my inbox with prophecies of economic doom every day. Actually doom is too mild a word and so is apocalypse if one is trying to set a mood so terrifyingly descriptive of what is happening now and is about to happen, thanks to that Obama. Of course these people are selling investment strategies which I'm sure include buying things they're desperate to get rid of like the gold they bought at $1900 an ounce, but any way the market wind is blowing, they make money from the seminars and newsletters and from screaming like Chicken Little. There's a lot of money in the doom business.

Most of the people I talk to seem convinced that everything is getting worse and won't get better until we "get rid of" Obama in 2012; replacing him no doubt with someone who thinks managing a worldwide economy is an easy task for someone who once managed to save a pizza business by firing everyone, and yet has the nerve to talk about being able to "create jobs." Not to change the subject, but it's truly stunning to see the seamless segue from "government can't create jobs" to "elect me and I'll create jobs, jobs, jobs."

I guess it's no less stunning than Fox News' and John McCain's embarrassing assertions that the 2008 economy was "robust" as we all marched unwittingly off the cliff like a certain cartoon coyote -- and of course, that because "Liberals" were warning us about the inevitable collapse, they "hated America." Not like those forward thinking optimists that modern conservatives are.

We can expect, now that the next presidential election is a year away, that the howling and wailing and rending of garments will grow louder and angrier and numbers will appear proving that calamity awaits us all, no matter what actually happens. It's far too soon to be sure, but this chronic pessimist and a few others with more credible credentials are noticing that our Gross Domestic Product After adjusting for inflation, climbed to $13.35 trillion last quarter, topping the $13.33 trillion peak reached in the last three months of 2007.

I hate to make too much of it, particularly with the Filibustering Vandals doing everything they can to sabotage the economy until November 8th, 2012, but the reality is not quite what the pseudo-conservative chorus is chanting. At least for the moment, things are looking less down. Unemployment is still high, of course -- just a bit above Ronald Reagan levels and we can expect the screamers to keep screaming about that while refusing to do anything about it. We can expect Tea Pissers like Tom "Looney" Rooney (R-Florida) to keep meeting with "Job Creators" and telling us that business owners will hire more employees, irrespective of demand, if we cut their marginal rates even more -- and we can expect that if things do recover steadily and noticeably, he'll find a way to take credit for it because after all, they kept that O-BAH-ma from doing anything for four years while lambasting him for doing nothing. If there is anything these Doomsters are optimistic about it's that they'll always have someone to blame.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


With the Florida Coven of the Republican Party making the Visigoths look like Cub Scouts these days; arguing that a prohibition of "Dwarf Tossing " is destroying American jobs, I think I'm more than justified in a certain lack of restraint when describing the moral character of that party as having everything to do with gaining power by any and all means, and having nothing whatever to do with making the US a real Democracy. These days it's as much about making the news a series of passion plays meant to obscure and often reverse the facts as it has been about suppressing votes and Gerrymandering.

The practice of dirty tricks has come a long way since Richard Nixon. Tricky Dick used the media to convince us that the media was lying and that the vast and silent majority was a small and unpatriotic minority. That hasn't changed. What has changed is the confidence level that allows them to strongly support something one day and denounce it in hyperbolic tirades on the next according to tactical needs.

It's possible to denounce Wall Street brokers and banks; insist that we let them die and scream about it in the streets with tea bags stapled to three-cornered hats, yet support the same corrupt and unpunished entities passionately by denouncing the same sentiments; associating them with "hippies" in fine old 1968 style two generations after the last real hippie got a haircut and went to work on Wall Street.

And yes, you're damned right that Fox News is the Joseph Goebbels of the new Right. You'll remember how ACORN was smeared and destroyed by patched together video, You'll remember fake video made to look like millions were at Republican rallies, but you're less likely to remember that fake video was used by Brit Hume to denounce Iraq war protesters in 2003 as "hippies" -- Protesting the Protesters documentary and other fake documentaries like Indoctrinate U that was intended to show how righteous "conservatives" were being censored at those hotbeds of hippieism, the Universities. You may then not be surprised that the same saboteur behind those atrocities, one Evan Coyne Maloney, has been at work on the sidewalks of New York, handing out rolling papers with pictures of Che Guevara and bongs so that the recipients can be filmed with them and another invidious documentary can be patched together so that we can be Foxed again.

Never mind that the streets are filled with veterans and economists, businessmen and others who demand respect and deserve to be heard, Fox wants them out of the way and can think of no better way than to dredge up hoary straw men in tie-died T-shirts. Look! that investment banker, that war veteran, that Nobel Prize winning economist: HIPPIES! COMMIES! DRUG FIENDS! HATERS OF OUR SACRED CAPITALIST VALUES!

Has any nation been able to stand; been able to avoid catastrophe, been able to maintain the illusion of freedom under such an internal assault?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fox fight

Perhaps you're old enough to remember Dick Tracy and Pruneface; perhaps not, but the current leader of the Pruneface lookalike race may also be the most powerful man in America. He's got superhero powers you see, and is able to create reality from scraps and leavings and imagined things. Some might prefer to call it a Frankenstein power however, but hoping the monster he's created may eventually destroy him is, more than likely, an ephemeral dream.

Still it's nice to see him stood up to. DirecTV is threatening to dump Fox programming as of November 1st because the network is demanding a 40% price hike. Fox in turn is playing the "I'm shocked -- shocked!" card because the largest Satellite provider has gone public about the dispute. Perhaps Fox has come to believe they can do whatever they please and expect no argument, but although I would miss House, I wouldn't miss the cartoon news: the polemics, the lies, distortions, polemics and fables; the temper tantrums, the self-contradictory political stances or the zealous zombies in pancake makeup.

But real life isn't Dick Tracy and the bad guys tend to win far more often. Still it would be fun to see that invisible hand of the market slap the wrinkles off that old prune, wouldn't it? It's always a good time to let Cox know how you feel anyway.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Open the pod bay doors, Siri

I'm glad to have been raised on the English language, not just because that allows me to understand what I'm thinking about, but because the English language is gender neutral, at least when it comes to nouns. We do hear people calling groups of females "you guys" but that's another thing.

Of course there are exceptions. It's traditional to speak of ships as though they were female which quite frankly baffles me and so I always use 'it' instead of 'she' when referring to them, just as though they were cars. Of course there are those oddballs who anthropomorphize their vehicles too and usually in the female sense -- but not me and that's all you need to know about that. When it comes to my car or boat or motorcycle, I'm the 'it' guy.

Same goes for those things some brilliant marketing creep has decided to make female; like cell phones and GPS units for the car. Their synthetic voices, if not tired and meaningless are none the less dispassionate and unsympathetic while telling you to make the next legal U turn. We seem to take it for granted that this sort of robot should sound aristocratically female. I mean Americans when I say we, of course. I read this morning that BMW had to recall a 'female' GPS system in their domestic versions, German males being reluctant to following orders from female cars. I admit I did contact General Motors about converting my car's female navigation voice to a German male voice as I'd be more likely to do what it said. I've been conditioned to ignoring female voices in my car for a long time -- safety reasons, of course. The voice from the passenger seat being so likely to shout things like "Right Here!" meaning "turn left here." I have to point out that the GPS and other things in the car are supposed to respond to voice commands. Mine won't listen to me -- perhaps out of reciprocal spite. Asking it to find a gas station has often given me the locations of nearby cemeteries. Perhaps I might get better results if I addressed her as 'Mistress Vette?'

Anyway digital voices, unlike ancestral voices tend to be female in the US. Does that say anything about how Americans view females? I'm sure it does, but do we prefer them because we see females as subordinate advisers or assistants, as in personal secretaries, or do we prefer female bosses? My carefully considered and scholarly opinion is "who the hell knows?"

Of course we've been listening to female machines for a couple of decades now, but it takes some Act of Apple to transmogrify the quotidian into Genius. The latest manna from the Apple Store features a voice they're calling Siri who has been deliberately 'detuned' to sound less human and more SciFi, which to the masses means "High Tech" which is what we call taking standard technology and putting it a sleek plastic box. Not to get too far off track here, but any visiting aliens will certainly be able to buy Manhattan for a box of beads and trinkets and maybe the whole East coast if the trinkets have pictures of half eaten apples on them.

But once again, this is an American phenomenon. British and French versions of the brain numbing plastic parasites called iPhones sound like men as tells us. This confirms the pathogenic nature of gadgets designed to latch on to our subliminal receptors like drugs and viruses do to our waiting and vulnerable cells. Do French and British iAddicts have different gender stereotypes, different attitudes toward women than Americans, or do their men just have more pleasant voices than their women? The answer may depend on your prejudices and the iPhone may be just another iStone to grind our axes on as we so often do when we pretend our stereotypes are better than other people's stereotypes.

Should I mention that my new Android smart-phone simply tortures me with beeps and other weird noises instead of human voices? Of course perhaps that's because I haven't yet discovered what all those odd hieroglyphs do and there's some peremptory and Teutonic male voice waiting in the software telling me to "turn left NOW -- und you will like it."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Killing him slowly

There simply aren't words adequate to describe Rush Limbaugh unless we quote his own. I'm tired anyway, to tell the truth, of trying to match polemics with him, tired of denouncing him and of course the ears of his acolytes are deaf to such things anyway.

I admit that I don't actually listen to him any more and that's been true for many, many years. I simply can't trust myself in the presence of so much evil, so much hatred of the kind of America I hope for, but at the bottom of it, I can't stand to hear some sinister thing that the law requires us to treat as a human being and citizen, so incapable of reason, so bereft of any human feelings and so unable to feel any kind of shame, so full of hate.

But as I say, his followers can listen to him demanding harsh treatment - even death - for drug users while knowing he's a long time abuser of opiates who has had his employees risk their freedom by buying drugs for him. His hangers on can quote his self contradictions without pause and will smile and nod when he wishes disaster on our country if disaster is what it takes to promote Republicans and destroy any Democratic president. Who but Rush, after all, can call Obama an ineffectual "empty suit" and a tyrannical demagogue at the same time; tell us he was born in Kenya and Indonesia simultaneously and not instantly be dismissed as casually as one flushes a toilet.

Certainly not Limbaugh's ignorant army. They surely applauded his latest verbal atrocity; telling us how that evil Obama sent troops to Africa to help kill Christians: The Lord’s Resistance Army. They certainly aren't going to notice or care or believe that the LRA are a genocidal terrorist group who has murdered, raped, kidnapped and terrorized tens of thousands over many years. They've killed some Muslims, you see and that makes them Christian Soldiers, marching as to war.

They aren't going to be shocked at the way Limbaugh assembles scraps of misunderstood or non-existent or invented stories without any concern for truth or decency or patriotism or anything but the potential to destroy Barack Obama. No, not as long as he keeps up the endless supply of nasty little lies they can tell their friends over a beer and at the barber shop where Fox plays on the TV, where the stupid go to get their wisdom confirmed and hate is in the air.
"Hey didja hear how Rush called Oh-BAH-ma an empty suit? He sure got that right!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Nine Percent Solution

A flat rate income tax, a national sales tax and a flat rate corporate income tax and all fixed at 9%. Is it the number of the Beast standing on its head?

Why not 8, why not 10? Is it because Nein, Nein, Nein sounds like standing up to something bad, or because it's easier to chant? Certainly there wasn't a lot of mathematics behind Herman Cain's arrival at this Goldilocks level and those who have done some arithmetic, like Melissa Labant, an accountant with the American Institute of CPAs, say that since Warren Buffet's income is mostly in capital gains, the billionaire investor would pay no taxes. The poor fellow trying to support a family on 25 to 30 thousand a year? That 9% means some painful choices have to be made particularly if he has to pay for medical care out of pockets with holes in them.
That national sales tax will certainly diminish already taxed disposable income and harm those of us who spend all of it just keeping the family fed and housed. Yes, this is a simple plan indeed -- simply disastrous unless you're rather well off, like Herman Cain. Sounds great on paper though, just like Communism and some other really disastrous isms.

Would there have to be exemptions for those for whom 9% of income and another 9% of necessary consumption would be ruin? Probably so, but then we're back where we started with loopholes, exemptions and deductions and with almost half the country paying nothing, a situation the simple minded tea bag wavers are making much of in a rather confused way -- as if it was a situation Barack Obama were responsible for. Still the plan offers hope to those for whom paying taxes is a serious burden even though it's false hope that promises to make us more of a country of many serfs and a few lords.

We love simple ideas because life is complex and scary and Herman Cain, although far from the first to propose such regressive tax structures is simply tapping into the power of simple mindedness; maintaining that he wouldn't, as President, sign a bill of more than three pages. It's a good thing that idea wasn't popular when the country was founded. It's hard to envision our already terse constitution being reduced to something acceptable to the minimalists and reductionists looking for a free ride and to people who think the complex global economy should be run more like Godfather's Pizza where you keep firing people and closing stores until it all looks good -- on paper.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

All the shallow things

"If this be treason, make the most of it."

What a different line that would be without "if." It would become an admission of the crowd's charge of treason rather than Patrick Henry's defiant stand for the law it was.

"Thou hast said it."

Is that an affirmation or a denial; or a refusal to answer the question?

"If I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. . ."

How would that statement differ if the 'if' disappeared? That's a question being asked today about one of the inscriptions on the new Martin Luther King memorial being dedicated in Washington, where the 'if' does not appear as it did when it was spoken at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1968:

"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all the other shallow things will not matter."

The 'if' matters. It matters a great deal because without it King is assuming a mantle and with it he is not; that it is not about him but about Justice, peace and righteousness. Is this a shallow thing or insignificant? I don't think so. I think it speaks of the way our heroes are elevated, to become, in death, a 30 foot tall man expressing stern, stony determination rather than just a man struggling with a mission, struggling with himself, struggling with a stupid, angry and vengeful world that will continue to be just that long after he is gone. The quote on the monument is not phrased as part of a question and that raises many questions.

Are we making him what he was not and apparently did not wish to be? If we make his life about him, then we can opposes him more readily than we can argue against justice and we can make the movement he participated in, a mere matter of quotes and formulae if we like him and personal failings if we do not. Perhaps some can ask his stone idol for guidance and support for their own objectives and pretend he is not gone and will magically return some day. As always happens when our heroes die, we are making his life something less than it was and something more about our lust for leaders, prophets and even gods and we do it to preachers and prophets; polemicists and presidents when we put our desires into their acts and words and thereby worship ourselves.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupational Hazard

I first heard of it a few days ago from a blogger noted for outrageous claims, but I have been late to pick up on the ploy, even though it has been used against liberals and liberal causes for some time. Similarly overbearing "conservative" commentators once assured me that of course Bill and Hillary Clinton were obvious anti-Semites and if you're old enough to read this you'll remember that Barack Obama was of the same racist, intolerant and bigoted stripe and perhaps even a Hitler Sympathizer and Muslim terrorist.

Of course there's always an anecdote, a selected collection of irrelevant or even fabricated 'facts' to prove the point -- and of course and strangely, those making the claim aren't often Jews. I've learned to discount these attacks, of course, you should pardon the metaphor, for many reasons including the observation that the accusations most often come from iron fisted defenders of a faith only they call Christian and who have only suddenly and temporarily stopped accusing Jews and other infidels of persecuting them. ( Sorry Muslims, you'll have to wait your turn for forgiveness.)

So for now, this week only and especially for you, I'm offering 99.99% off (what a deal) on the notion that the Occupy Wall Street people are really there to express their anti-Semitic notions about bankers and brokers and not their antiestablishmentarian anger at those who accepted massive and expensive rescue only to continue their shoddy practices to the detriment of the public and national survival.

That's a sentiment strangely similar to the Tea Party disdain for government bailouts, and the strange bed-fellowship implied here is difficult to sweep under the rug for those who need to look like the only ones discontent with the status quo on Wall Street. So how do you make the Tea Party look good and other people with the same idea look bad? You find something or someone atypical or irrelevant and promote it or him as the prototype.

The Jewish Journal today reminds us of the infamous "protocols of the Elders of Zion" that was used by Czarist supporters to identify the feared and hated Jews with socialism, a practice not unknown to this day and a book that was printed by "Christian" organizations around the world until recently -- if indeed they've stopped. I certainly remember the promotion of Abbie Hoffman to leadership of the many disparate and mostly respectable protesters in Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I was there and I'd never heard of him until I heard on the news that he was my leader, but of course it was enough to taint the many clergymen, Vietnam veterans and business leaders with the yellow star.

The fear of being labeled a racist of any stripe is, I think, being used quite deliberately to downplay the legitimacy of this protest. It isn't enough to play up the numbers of people who are making a mess of the city and its public and private facilities, particularly for a party trying to wear the mantle of some 18th century destructive, anti-Government protesters. It's hard to convince us that they're really secretly Mexican illegals or African Americans demonstrating their disdain for enterprise and civility, but anyone can be a Jew, or at least accused of it and so the sudden concern by the Religious right that their best friends are being offended on these holiest of holy days, by those unwashed, free loading, anti-Semitic hippies who seem to be gathering around the world calling for regulation.

And of course President Obama we already know to be a Jew hater and if he tries to impose regulations on the Jew-Dominated financial and banking interests, we have additional proof that regulation equals bigotry and not just Communism - just don't think about it too carefully and you won't notice the absurdity -- and if you do, the Tea Party will turn on you too, you bigot!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Nomad Exquisite

As the immense dew of Florida
Brings forth
The big-finned Palm
And green vine angering for life,

As the immense dew of Florida
Brings forth hymn and hymn
From the beholder,
Beholding all these green sides,

And blessed mornings,
Meet for the eye of the young alligator,
And lightening colors
So, in me, come flinging
Forms, Flames, and the flakes of flames.

-Wallace Stevens-

I spent the better part of last week washing, weeding, pruning, mulching, painting, planting; fixing the landscape lighting, scrubbing the patio pavers and the pool screen. You'd think I could take a few hours and sit in the sun and enjoy my little paradise and the two new bronzes we installed last week, but no: there will be no Sunday breakfast by the pool, no afternoon tea in the sea breeze -- that immense dew came blowing in at 40 miles per hour, dumping 13 inches of rain, littering everything with palm fronds and tree branches and leaves; flinging flakes of vegetation and patio furniture, toppling flowerpots and shaking the house so that I haven't slept in two days.

In Florida, we don't bother to give such little storms names. Those without boats to worry about, getting up before dawn to run down the road to the club and add extra spring lines and fenders, for those it's just another weekend without Golf watching football; another weekend with lightening colors like night club strobe lights and cannonades of thunder on long, sleepless nights of relentless wind where tall palms wave like sea grass in a shallow lagoon.

You can hear the surf in the interlude between the wind gusts, the angry Atlantic eating away at immense Florida, knowing it's only a matter of time, hymn and plangent hymn as it eats the land.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Amerika Über Alles

Mitt Romney is hard to figure out, partly because his most salient feature is the love of ingratiating himself dishonestly with any group he thinks is worth ingratiating himself to. So I have to wonder if he really thinks the United States is the nation chosen of God to lead the world as he told cadets at the Citadel yesterday or whether he just assumes that people embarking upon a military career are dreaming of imperial glory. I have no way of knowing whether these cadets have Napoleonic dreams or are attracted to arms because of some sense of personal weakness and humiliation, but I'd hesitate to bet that many really think that US history isn't filled with mistakes at home and abroad or that we aren't a better, more moral nation than once we were. Of course I don't mean to say we shouldn't strive to be a good influence in the world, but being a good influence doesn't mean command, doesn't mean control, doesn't mean we're the infallible and mighty hand of some invented Lord as Romney would be implying if there were any implications beyond opportunism in anything he has ever said in public.

But as I say, you never know what Romney thinks, particularly if your assessment is derived from listening to the man. You certainly can know that he's willing to put some strange interpretations on events to bolster his imperial and messianic aspirations whether or not he believes them. President Obama's "apology tour" for instance; Mitt would like to make the psychorabble feel important and loved by associating honesty with apology and apology with weakness and weakness with Jonah-like abdication of a divine mission. Of course Obama never went on an apology tour, but what black man has ever not been in danger from Godly Americans when someone accuses him of winking at a white girl. Where there's smoke, there's fire, we say, forgetting that where there's smoke there may be a smokescreen and there may be arson.

That Obama portrayed American history in a poor light by admitting that we have sometimes been guilty of arrogance and have sometimes made mistakes is a big fish to swallow, to invert the metaphor and it clashes with Romney's carefully crafted humble demeanor. There's nothing humble about him and there's something disturbing about the belief in divinely ordained male control of family life his religion seems to demand, at least to an outsider like me.

"An eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender"

said the man who is more frightening for his benign smile. To me there is no one more dangerous than a man who can call upon a sufficiently established god to justify world domination and I don't think I need to offer examples. No one more dangerous unless, of course, we add the photogenic charm and the forked tongue. What Mitt really is saying is that America is chosen to be the priest and caretaker of the planet and what he is implying is that by being its ordained leader, he's God's agent on Earth. Where and when have we heard this before? Certainly not from the founders of our Republic who took up arms against God's own chosen King.

I've often been told that Obama "went over there and apologized to them" by Fox News victims totally ignorant of where there is or who said what. It's a lie of course and a big one but it isn't going away even if Romney never says another word about it or is magically transported to another world for him to rule, as apparently he thinks he will be. Lies, like cancer cells, are all but immortal. Truth and decency and the hope for a world not run by pompous and powerful thugs in expensive suits and plastic hair are as fragile as a dream.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Zen and the art of dismissal

So I hear these two guys talking on the radio. It's a conversation on the Amateur Radio 20 meter band, so half the world could be listening if conditions are right.
"I heard one of these protesters said he was there because 'Capitalism was taking over Wall Street' -- like it hasn't been Capitalist for over two hundred years! What an idiot!"
Well I'm assuming this guy isn't an economist any more than he might be a historian, and I'm assuming he got the information about what the "typical" loony-left and ignorant protesters are from some artisanal propaganda source like Fox News.

Yes, of course, there were protesters baring their breasts and preforming other charming acts having little to do with constructive criticism of laissez-faire Capitalism. While I'm the last person to discourage such acts, I'm also the last person to believe that this kind of New Yorky opportunistic revelry has anything to do with the reasons more qualified critics like Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz would lend support by their presence: reasons having to do with Wall Street practices, their relationship to the market crash, the credit crunch and the dire state of the world economy -- subjects the people who script and sculpt the news would rather mock, would rather have you mock, than discuss intelligently.

For someone who suffered through the late 1960's as an adult, the techniques political enterprises use to dismiss well grounded movements hold no novelty. I remember quite well how anyone openly questioning the benefits and reasons for maintaining an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia was told to "get a job" and had his personal hygiene questioned as well. Easier to dismiss someone, albeit clad in Brooks Brothers attire and obviously gainfully employed, as a silly, radical and stupid "hippie" than to answer disturbing questions as why killing peasants, bombing millions and stifling free elections was preventing the 'lights of freedom from going out in America' as was wrongly claimed by the Right. Then, as now, the real struggle was to keep the lights of reason off and it was fought with the same kind of smugly simplistic and fatuous fallacies the powerful always use to crucify the good.

But the dishonest selection of unrepresentative examples and illuminating them as "typical" is ancient and not the property of right wing extremists. It's the sort of thing our foul species does to advance our cults and parties that want to keep us in squalor and ignorance and the occupation of Wall Street isn't about the irrational or Communist inspired hatred of freedom or free markets, as you know, or you wouldn't have read this far. It's about corruption and the lack of rules and oversight that promotes private exploitation of free markets to the detriment of all. The occupation of Wall Street is just another station of the cross where the sidewalks are filled with mockery and abuse.

That unwitting clowns are flopping about in over-sized shoes, honking horns and mocking, is inevitable, given the well-fed smugness of the stupid. Their invisible rulers are very good at making them eager participants in their degradation and suffering; but failure isn't inevitable. It's tempting for old-timers like me to opt out of the circus, but perhaps there's hope, unlikely as it may seem, that enough people can be made to see how they're protecting the practices of the looters, pillagers and vandals on Wall Street and in Washington to do something about it. There's hope, but I'm not yet ready to bet on it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tea and Cantaloupe

It's a perfect example of how government always interferes with the sacred market forces that keep us free, happy and doctrinally pure. That OBAHma has gone after the free and holy food producers, using that Communist agency the FDA to keep infected cantaloupes off the market -- a market that would, sayeth the Rand, regulate itself after enough people die, by scaring the survivors into staying away from fruit and eating the sanctioned BurgerfriesCoke meal like real Americans. Can you imagine? (Would you like to supersize your fries?)

I mean what greater freedom can we have than freedom from the knowledge of good and bad food and if OBAHma can tell us what to eat, he can tell us anything, that tyrant. And where does the money wasted on things like the FDA and FEMA and the FAA come from? TAXES, that's right, those fruits of our own unassisted labor of which we owe no portion to anyone much less those Commie bastards in Washington who want to give MY MONEY away to those undeserving leeches who won't work for less than minimum wage and have the effrontery to vote for Democrats.

No sir, I don't want those government schools brainwashing my kids with math and science and economics and twisted history. People are poor because they are lazy and because God put them here as an example to us, the elect and we don't need those America-hating Godless, OBAHma loving liberals telling us otherwise. No sir, my house isn't going to blow down or get washed away or burned by a brushfire and if yours does, it's not my fault or responsibility. If the roads and bridges wash out, you can fix them yourself, you lazy, tax loving bums. I mean I worked hard for everything I got and I don't owe you shit.

God Bless America.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The hollow man

Herman Cain won the Florida Republican Straw poll yesterday, not that any of my Floridian friends or neighbors seem to have taken notice. The straw poll probably means as much as any other straw-stuffed bundle such as one might find on a pole in a corn field amusing the crows. I'm not sure how many Florida Republicans would actually have chosen him out of a line-up to be the Republican champion, even a line-up as motley and miserable as we're given to choose from at the moment, but he's preferable to Perry in a state still jealous for only being able to brag about Jeb Bush instead of his idiot brother from Texas.

But really, he might just be ideal. The perfect man to deflect the charges of racism Republicans face when making racist statements about Obama would be the man who accused Jon Stewart of attacking Cain for racist reasons. Rovian tactics have rarely deviated from accusing the opponent of one's own glaring misdeeds, so who better to allow them to say: "you're against Cain because he's black" and "Liberals are racists."

He's just the sort of spontaneously and unwittingly hilarious clown Republicans love to vote for because what they say isn't what they said they said and so they've been for and against anything as suits the argument of the moment. "Reporters who quote me are stupid" and "compromise is killing this country" are the kinds of statements stupid and uncompromising people praise when sitting around the table, taking tea.

And of course he's made money in business, which leaves him immune to the jabs of Republican picadors such as Romney's assertion that Obama has never run a business and has spent his career in public service so he's not fit to serve the public which was asserted despite any clear indication that having been a businessman makes for a good president ( and much that says it isn't.)

And of course, the whole tea-brained idea of prosperity through parsimony is served well by recycling all that old McCain campaign material simply by painting over the
Mc and re-enlisting the delightful Mrs. Palin to distract from his unsuitability by flaunting hers. Think of the savings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indian River

the trade-wind jingles the rings in the nets around the racks
by the docks on Indian River.
it is the same jingle of the water among the roots under the
banks of the palmettoes,
it is the same jingle of the red-bird breasting the orange-
trees out of the cedars.
yet there is no spring in Florida, neither in boskage perdu,
nor on the nunnery beaches.

-Wallace Stevens-


Autumn is the Spring here, down at the bottom end of the Indian River, where the long lagoon becomes the Jupiter Narrows right behind my house. It used to be impassible to anything bigger than a skiff until the Government dredged it so that the steamboats could travel further south than Peck's lake where I often anchor my boat to enjoy the solitude.

The Autumn is the season of rebirth, not from the stark, cold death of bleak, white Winter, but the crawling death, the Silurian wet death and ferment of endless insect and reptile life; the rot and crawling mildew that turns my paving stones black and stains the sides of my house green and you can smell the rank mud at low tide - just there behind those white mangroves in the corner of the lot. On steaming, foetid summer nights, that still eternal boskage rings with frog voices and palm leaf clack and insect rattle and snakes and owls hunt in the night heat and the quiet bobcat's padded feet pass by unnoticed until you hear some rabbit scream.

Autumn and Spring; the only difference is the anticipation of the next phase, dreaming about cool nights and opened windows and dry ground, the two or three winter nights when you can wear that old leather jacket or the sweet, sad smell of April jasmine prophesying June's thick and breathless heat.

Autumn is for planting vegetables if you don't want them to burn and wither or rot at the roots from the rain soak and the ravage of Summer insect hunger; for watching the oranges and bananas turn color as the brief Winter approaches with it's red-burned tourists on beaches picking up shells: the seasonal retirees in white socks and sandals eating at Appleby's and driving slowly home at dusk in black sedans with license plates on front bumpers, braking for green lights. It's a renewal for those without many more cycles of renewal left in them.

Autumn, when Africa grows tired of launching storms into the Atlantic, when evening dinners on the patio need candle light in the early dark and swimming pools glow turquoise and cool. We feel born again into the outside world and the mild November air is sweet in the lungs and the night sounds change and the stars grow clearer as the great, dark numinous night embraces you to her wild bosom with her fragrant arms.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A tale told by an idiot

Has Andrew Breitbart blown a fuse? He seems to be saying just that: raving strangely about shooting people and being under attack from "liberals." Perhaps that's true since like most of that rabble without a cause calling themselves conservative these days, a liberal is anyone you disagree with and if these dull witted bastards agree with anyone, it's with other ignorant, deluded and dull witted bastards.
" There are times when I’m not thinking as clearly as I should, and in those unclear moments, I always think to myself, ‘Fire the first shot. Bring it on.’ Because I know who’s on our side"

he said to a group of people on his side of the border of sanity, or at least those capable of listening to this without calling 911.
"We outnumber them in this country and we have the guns… I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with. "

Perhaps he's not kidding, but sorry, the"we" he's talking about really don't have the numbers and although I hesitate to tell him, they aren't the only ones with guns. The rest of us just don't wave them around and threaten other people with them so that we can get our way.

So what line are you talking about Andy? what line won't I cross to defend my country, the truth, democracy and common decency? I'm afraid I know exactly what I'm dealing with and I'm not impressed.

But still, a threat of violence is a threat of violence and I think it's worth noting that when the frustration involved in transporting the United States back to it's darkest years of poverty and exploitation gets to these people, when they find themselves confident in talking to people of like mind, the true colors come out -- and so do the guns.

Andrew Breitbart isn't a conservative. Conservatives don't dream about, talk about and apparently advocate starting violent revolutions, by definition, nor do most sane people under circumstances as we have today. Andrew Breitbart doesn't believe in Democracy, because although revolution may speak from the muzzle of a gun, Democracy does not, nor does it suppress votes, buy votes and base political power on firepower, threats or buying power.

I mean what the hell is he so desperate about? He's got money, our federal taxes are the lowest in his lifetime and it certainly wasn't witches or demons or Liberals who started a war and refused to pay for it or, as Republicans nearly always do, escalated the debt beyond all reason. What content can anyone find in his barking and hissing"? What can he explain other than to drone on and on about how Liberals are that and ConSERVatives are this like a deranged dog chasing his tail. Argument by diktat, argument by amplitude, argument by lying, shifting his terms around like some street hustler with walnut shells.

Like most of these brats and hooligans and barroom bullies, all he wants is power: the kind of power that stems from divine right, hatred and the wealth of Hades. The kind he has no qualification to hold and no following to elect him to. So sure Andy, your friends have guns and that's the only way sad, depressing losers like you and them can get noticed: hate shouting, gun waving, witch hunting and all the rest of the bellicose bullshit you try to pass of as a cause. So sure, bring it on, show everyone what kind of spoiled, petulant and democracy-hating bolshevik brat you are. I'm waiting.

Come out shooting and see how far the "liberals" let you get before you and the whole camo-clad, rebel yell shouting vermin get what you deserve.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bush Pilot

"What the President meant to say. . ." How many times have we heard the foot extraction specialists begin to move the shells around the able with that phrase? Really, when George Dubya, the ex cheerleader with the parachute harness arranged to show off his gonads aboard the Abraham Lincoln to give his "mission accomplished" speech, he really didn't mean to say the whole mission was accomplished said Scott Sforza, former deputy assistant to President Bush for communications. Yeah right. Sure, perhaps the crew of the Abe Lincoln thought it pertained to the end of their mission, but you know it wasn't a private thank you to the crew, it was broadcast around the world via satellite and he sure as hell didn't say your mission is accomplished, even though Sforza would like to whitewash Bush's shameful and fraudulent exhibition and his own part in it.

It was, as the attack on Iraq was, an infantile attempt to portray significance; to be as he titled himself, a Warpresident, the Commander Guy, like a little boy wearing his father's old uniform and playing army.

Does anyone who has ever flown a fighter plane think Bush, who hadn't flown in years and years and had no specialized carrier training actually landed that plane as the newshorns blared and continue to blare? Ridiculous. Just ask any Navy pilot and yes, I have asked. Had Bush really meant what his apologists claim, would he have attempted to stop combat pay nearly a decade before combat ended - if indeed you can now say it has?

No, just as the assault on Clinton precisely mirrored the proceedings and charges against Nixon, the assault on Obama has it's roots in our 8 year national embarrassment and every valid criticism leveled against Bush: ignoring the constitution, creating massive debt and the largest administration in history amongst other things is being reflected onto the current administration and I think these little attempts to reconstruct a more forgivable past need to be countered and not just passed by and dismissed as the excuses of failed politicians.

Really, is there a better example of a pathetic attempt to pull something from the cesspool and pass it off as a hero -- at least since the attempted rehabilitation of Tricky Dick?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Privatizing disaster

I suspected there must be something afoot when talk at the Tea table began about killing FEMA. I'm more than suspicious now. It seems our former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who according to The Maritime Executive, is announcing a 'strategic partnership' with O’Brien’s Response Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings Inc. Bush's company, Old Rhodes Holdings now looks forward to
"helping a broader array of organizations and communities become more resilient through preparation, response, communication and recovery”
says Bush, whom Floridians will remember was the governor through the disastrous hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. How they will remember him is hard to tell and probably depends on whose house and car and boat and livelihood was demolished and how long it was before he got any significant help. As I recall, my neighbors and I felt pretty much on our own, despite Bush's alleged leadership, although FEMA certainly was here with food, water and some generators.

I played a small part in delivering food to those who had no means of getting to a FEMA distribution center -- and there are many such people here -- and also used my amateur radio license to good effect, facilitating communications between Red Cross shelters and government agencies until commercial communications and electric power were restored. The interface between need and help was public and public spirited. It was not corporate, it was neighbor to neighbor working through non profit organizations. It was restaurants sending food to police and firefighters, carpenters and roofers and others helping those who needed it.

The only time we heard from Governor Jeb and his brother, the Commander Guy was when they showed up at Red Cross headquarters for a photo op, disrupting operations for half a day, and when they posed for the cameras handing out a bag of ice for a few minutes before escaping into an air conditioned limo and the Presidential helicopter to fly off to a party in Miami Beach while we sweltered in the dark for weeks and weeks.
"Governor Bush has unparalleled experience in crisis management, as he helped guide Florida through some of the most significant natural disasters in its history"

said Charles Fabrikant, executive chairman of SEACOR Holdings. Unparalleled, of course isn't quite the same as unequaled.

Jeb is a Bush, however and the "strategic partnership" may be about a further strategy than to provide "emergency planning, disaster response, preparedness consulting, crisis communications and regulatory compliance services to corporations and governments" which is what O’Brien’s Response Management, the SEACOR subsidiary in question does. O'Brien's has been picking up people like former Coast Guard Captain Ed Stanton, who was the Incident Commander during hurricane Katrina and the recent BP oil spill. It's funny how oil and the Bush family float to the top. O'Brien Oil Pollution Service being part of the O'Brien family.

So do we have the same people who were so heavily criticized for mishandling that Gulf oil spill soon to be handling more disasters for profit while FEMA goes the way of Social Security and Medicare and the FAA and all those agencies being overwhelmed by the tidal wave of tea?

I don't mean to say that FEMA has always been what it should be or done as well as it should have done, but FEMA sits at the end of a chain of responsibility that leads to the
American public while SEACOR is ultimately responsible to its owners -- and like the former Blackwater owners, they're quite able to ignore questions as to what they did and how much they made by doing it by saying "sorry, we're a private corporation."

I do mean to be suspicious however and I'm aware that evidence of collusion and corruption and various acts of grift, graft and flim-flam are too easily dismissed as "conspiracy theories." Our history is basically a series of conspiracies conveniently mislabeled and when I hear the words, oil, Bush, and disaster used in close conjunction, and when I hear about efforts to privatize yet another not-for-profit health and safety organization, I'm more than suspicious.

People like me, who belong to well organized volunteer groups like ARES, American Red Cross, SATERN and many, many others are used to working with government agencies, not that there isn't some friction on occasion, but the prospect of mercenaries who take orders from corporate CEO's who profit from disaster aid and are motivated to control and monopolize the process, rationing help to maximize private gain, isn't a welcome one. In fact it's infuriating to think about being told what to say and do, where we can go and where we can't go by black uniformed privateers protecting turf and profit and it would tempt me to ignore them and work around them if possible the next time a storm rages ashore and Florida goes dark.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Government injections

There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief


So Michelle Bachmann claims some young girl suddenly got all retarded like, after her "Government injection" of Guardasil. That's not too surprising. I know someone who got loaded on Private Reserve Brandy and voted for Bush, but one thing always follows another and that's enough proof of causation for a desperate liar speaking to the profoundly ignorant and superstitious primitives who listen to people such as she; people who see the rage of gods in every storm, lightning bolt and tectonic movement, who are terrified of mysterious rays and forces and 'toxins' and couldn't pass a 5th grade science exam.

"Government Injections" eliminated smallpox, you know, and would have done the same for Polio and other diseases if we didn't have that other pandemic in America -- ignorance. Perhaps the absence of Government fluorides in our local Republican drinking water would explain all the brown and missing teeth I see at Tea Party rallies and I don't think it has anything to do with too much Lipton's.

But hey, we're a country (and I use the term loosely) not only infested with idiots and idiocy, but one where there's a good chance someone stupider and with even less integrity than Mark Bachmann's smokescreen wife may slither into high office like one of those young snakes that wriggle under my patio doors.

Speaking of things that creep and crawl, take my Congressworm, Tom 'Looneytunes' Rooney -- please. Tom who keeps showing up on my Facebook page to remind me that Government is not only impotent but incompetent and also tyrannical -- and all without explaining how those things aren't sort of mutually exclusive and more importantly, since he's part of it, why the hell he isn't as much to blame as anyone else who's part of it. Really, I'd be pleased if he'd just follow that other anti-government, moose-eating grifter and simply fly over the cuckoo's nest and drive around the country in a bus and get rich, like some inverted and less lysergic Ken Kesey.

But no, polluted air isn't bad for you, polluted water can't hurt you, unless it has government fluoride in it and besides Florida Governor Rick Scott says we can't afford it because disease and degradation are good for business and bad for 'jobs.' But condoms don't prevent disease or pregnancy, says the gospel of Tea and vaccinations are a genocidal hoax and freedom from disease and unwanted pregnancy will promote teen promiscuity and the gay agenda and we don't need no government health insurance because when we get leukemia or Alzheimers we can go to the emergency room and the taxpayers will pick up the bill and if you can't understand that you're just a libtard elitist and part of the problem.