Tuesday, November 30, 2004

President Clueless in Canada

Bush paid a visit to Ottowa today as he was scheduled to do. He received a cool but polite reception from the Canadian powers that be. After all, what else could they do? He did not receive a polite reception from the thousands of protesters that turned out but, of course, he tried to ignore them as much as possible. True to his style of bantering humor he thanked those “who waived at him with all five fingers.” Frankly, I doubt anyone did.

It does not appear that much actually came of this trip although he did claim to be trying to work on the beef problem. And, as always, he insisted, in spite of all local and worldwide claims to the contrary, that what he did in attacking Iraq was “right.” Excuse me! Iraq is in chaos, thousands of American troops have been killed or wounded, more than 100,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed, including thousands of women and children, there is no end in sight, the resistance seems to be growing stronger day by day, there is little electricity, water, or food, health care is virtually nonexistant, the proposed election will almost surely have to be postponed, if it ever occurs at all, Sadam Hussein is in good health and has yet to be tried, Osama bin Laden is still free somewhere or other as Bush preferred to attack Iraq which had nothing whatsoever to do either with 9/11 or terrorism, and, by any reasonable assessment things in Iraq are much worse than they ever were even under Hussein. How, by any stretch of the imagination can one conclude that this was “right?” In fact, it was and is a war crime of absolutely monumental proportions. But of course Bush has to insist it was right because the alternative would be to admit that it was not only wrong, but criminal in the extreme. If he truly believes it is right he is either a religious wacko or criminally insane. If he doesn’t believe it is right and just pretends it is he is the most evil person on earth, with the exception, perhaps, of Dick Cheney.

There were thousands of protestors in Canada, thousands in Chile, and there are thousands in the Ukraine and elsewhere. So where are the protestors here? What has happened to the peace movement? Why is the American public simply accepting this absolute rape of democracy? Why are they overlooking the obviously rigged election? Why are we all just settling down to business as usual? Why is the Democratic party simply giving up? BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER! This is a country controlled by and run by gigantic Corporations, by the wealthy. It has been from the very beginning and will no doubt continue to be until the masses finally erupt in a frenzy of true democratic activity and just say NO! Only the people can correct this continuing injustice. Neither of the Republican parties are going to change a thing. As socialism has become such a dirty word in the United States it has to be completely abandoned. There has to be a new party. Perhaps “Progressive Democrats” will work. At least it will be a start in the right direction.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Let us get out

The Senate confirmation hearings for Condaleeza Rice are being postponed until January as the White House says they would be inappropriate in December. But no one has given any explanation as to why. So why? Is she somehow going to be more qualified in January? Richard Lugar, the head of the committee overseeing this confirmation, says she will have no trouble being confirmed. The fact that she has been most incompetent as National Defense Advisor, and has lied blatantly on more than one occasion, and is also well known as a complete Bush toady, apparently means nothing to the Senate.

A reporter back from two years in Iraq, interviewed by Anderson Cooper, makes it quite clear that the situation in Iraq is much worse than we are being led to believe. There are even areas of Bagdad itself that are under the control of the resistance. This apparently includes an area immediately across the river from the so-called Green Zone that allows the resistance to lob mortar shells directly into the Green Zone while the U.S. is unable to realistically stop them. And, whereas this reporter used to be able to travel almost anywhere in Iraq, he now cannot even move outside of the Green Zone for fear of kidnappers who patrol the area immediately surrounding it waiting for victims. But not to worry, elections are going to proceed on schedule, according to Alawi and the Bush Administration. They probably will because we are now so desperate to get out of this absolute disaster that has been created by the neocon nitwits that brought it about. Another spectacular defeat for the mightiest military in the world. If elections actually do take place, no matter what the outcome or how illegitimate they might be, we can declare victory and slip away with our tails between out legs just as we did in Vietnam. And I’ll bet ten to one we never rebuild Fallujah. We couldn’t even if we actually wanted to because we won’t have enough resources left to buy a free lunch. God, I love the Bush/Cheney Administration. At least they are protecting us from the incredible horrors of gay marriages.

Bush is apparently going through with his visit to Ottawa tomorrow in spite of the threats of massive demonstrations and the fact that the Canadians have been discussing charging him with war crimes. Apparently as a visiting head of state he cannot actually be charged with anything, and as the Canadians cannot realistically keep him from visiting, he will be treated with the respect due such an august visitor. He will be well advised, however, to not visit Canada once he is no longer President. And that goes for Rumsfeld and some of the other neocons as well. Just think of the possibilites (which will not occur) if he were to be charged with war crimes. The rest of the world would be on the side of the Canadians, as would half the population of the U.S., so it would come down to a case of the red states versus the blue states and the rest of the world. Alas, it will not happen.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

On white - essay

I like my mother-in-law. She's a nice lady. But she has only two interests in life: shopping, and what I guess comes under the heading "House Beautiful." Thus, on her latest visit she announced that one of our bathrooms needed painting. My wife, eagerly agreeing with this, demanded to know what color I wanted. "I don't want it painted," I replied defensively, believing if it was painted I would end up having to do it. They persisted, finally promising with uncrossed fingers to paint it themselves. But they still demanded a color preference. When I continued to demur they threatened pink. I said "no pink" (they knew I absolutely hated pink). Then they threatened yellow. "No yellow," I insisted. "Then what color do you want," they demanded. Finally, desperate to silence them, I said "white. Paint it white." I thought it was settled and they would leave me in peace with my books and the TV.
I was naive. I thought white was white. Even in my wildest dreams I did not realize there were hundreds, of colors, perhaps even more, that can be referred to or labeled "white." There are, for example, colors classed as white with names like "Light Antique," "Plum Black White," "Solo White," "Natural Echo," "White Solitude," "Sea Cloud," "Delicate Aire," "Picket White," "Camella," "Intimate White," "Respectfully White," "Serene White," "Apple Peel," "Poetic White," "Composed," and literally dozens more. And these are all from only one manufacturer! Looking at a different sampling you come across whites called, "Granitoid," and "Snowball." At least one manufacturer doesn't have a category of "white" at all. But there clearly are "whites." For example, there are "Arrogance," "Divinity," "Wisp," "Debonair," "Fancy Free," "Tiffany," and again, many, many more. Elsewhere you can find "white" under names like "Topaz Light," "Cafe Creme," "Seashell White," "Ultra Hide White," "Bright Ceiling White," "Soft White," and even, would you believe it, "White White." This by no means comes close to the total number of "whites" there are in the imaginations of paint manufacturers. A recent ad from one line of paint boasts "68 perfect shades of white." These include "Country Dairy," "Tuxedo Shirt," "Sneaker White," "Edwardian Linen," "Petticoat White," and etc.
One of the larger and better known companies, apparently aware of the absurdity of trying to find cute names for hundreds of shades of paint, doesn't use names at all, merely numbers. Under the category "Off-Whites and Pastels" they offer 132 paints (numbers 841-973). Thus, when someone compliments on your color scheme, you can say with a perfectly straight face, "Thank you, that is a combination of 856 and 921," surely no more ridiculous than having to admit to a combination of "Candelabra White" and "Polo Mallet White," or "Moonlit" and "White Solitude."
Naturally, when confronted with the enormity of the problem, I fled in terror until the deed was done (and everything was dutifully cleaned up and put away). Frankly, while I can tell the difference between some of the extremes they claim to be "whites," for the most part I honestly can't perceive much difference. Furthermore, when I can see a difference, I deny that the paints are "white." To me they are clearly tans or blues, or yellows, or whatever, but they are not white. I'm surprised anyone paints anything these days, what with having to make such momentus decisions. Anyway, after several days of difficult decision-making, mother and daughter finally agreed on "Apple Peel" and something called "Orange Tint." They did a fine job. The bathroom looks nice. It's white.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Can you believe it?

A group in Arizona called Mentorkids USA is to get a grant of $225,000 to train mentors for children from 8 to 15. They are to teach children that “the Bible is God’s authoritative and inspired word that is without error in all its teachings, including creation, history, its origins, and salvation….” They also will train children to believe that all Christians must submit to the authority of the Bible and its authority in all actions and behaviors.

This is apparently facing a lawsuit from a group in Madison, Wisconsin, THANK GOD!

Also be advised that Dennis Hastert, the former wrestling coach that now heads the House of Representatives, has ruled that no bill will be passed by that august body unless a majority of Republicans support it. That is to say, no matter how many Democrats might be in favor, and in conjunction with a sufficient number of Republicans might be able to pass it, it can’t pass. This is what is called bipartisanship nowadays.

It appears that some 15 different political groups in Iraq want to see the coming election postponed for six months. They argue that a postponement is necessary to improve security and to increase the possibility that all factions will, in fact, participate. Alawi and the current Administration (such as it is) are opposed to a delay. They argue that there is no guarantee that security will be improved in six months, nor that all factions will agree to participate at that time. This poses an interesting dilemma for the Iraqis, because if they want to get the U.S. to withdraw from its illegal occupation, this would give the U.S. an excuse to do so (being able to claim a successful democratic election which presumably was the goal in the first place, but which, of course, is utter nonsense). It is obvious that the longer an election is postponed the longer the occupation (if, indeed, the occupation doesn’t continue no matter what the Iraqis do). But if the Bush/Cheney war criminals are now realizing that their dreams of empire will not come to fruition they will be desperate for an excuse to withdraw. It does seem pretty obvious that the U.S. must withdraw or try to institute a draft which may be absolutely unnacceptable to a majority of Americans (or at least I would hope so). The way things are going it seems to me it is inevitable that the current Administration will eventually implode. Perhaps this is another of my false hopes. Perhaps not.

Friday, November 26, 2004

No war criminals here

Congress and the White House are busily engaged in trying to force other nations to grant an exemption for Americans so they cannot be tried by an International Court for war crimes. They do this by threatening to withhold financial assistance of various kinds from countries that refuse to sign on to this exemption. You have to admit that under the present circumstances this is critically important from the American point of view. After all, we wouldn’t want Bush/Cheney and the neocon mafia they run to be held responsible for their blatant war crimes, nor would it do for any of our out of control military personnel to be held responsible. What does it matter if some civilians are murdered, raped, and pillaged? It’s all in a day’s work, and all for the Lord.

Oh, and by the way, the Bush/Cheney Administration has decided to cut financial assistance to college students. The Pell Grant Program is being cut back so that an indeterminate number of students will find it more difficult to attend Colleges and Universities. This makes real sense to the powers that be because who wants an educated population who might not vote for idiocy. They are obviously aware that a democracy can only survive if it has an informed electorate, and as they are intent on destroying democracy, it is perfectly clear what needs to be done. We need more citizens who believe in creationism and the literal truth of the bible. No more science, it’s just too much of a nuisance.

There was a piece somewhere today that suggests that member of Congress do not actually read the bills they are required to vote on. Surprise! When you get a thousand plus page bill one day and are expected to vote on it hours or a day later of course you can’t read it or understand it. This is precisely how we got the Patriot Act. And precisely how they can insert innocuous little items like making everyone’s tax returns available to any Congressperson who might want to snoop, as well as little anti-abortion rules and regulations. Also, of course the billions of dollars in pork that clutter up all of these bills. It’s a great system.

Finally, for the moment, is Bush’s request for millions of dollars for abstinence education. Although studies have shown that abstinence education, where it has already been tried, doesn’t work, Bush is determined to pursue it. As it turns out he didn’t get all the millions he wanted for this, just most of them. When it was suggested that perhaps more research was necessary he replied “we don’t need no more stinking research.” Rest assured, we are in good hands.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


The piercing cry of the loons
quickens my heartbeat.
Is there a distant kinship,
an understanding,
an unspoken empathy?

Thanksgiving is a time when one should, indeed, give thanks. For me, the one thing above all else that I am thankful for is that I was born in the United States in the 20th century. How could I have been so lucky? I see no apparent reason why I should not have been born in Iraq, or the Sudan, or as an American Indian tortured and killed by the Spanish when they first arrived in America, or even as a Jew persecuted by the Nazis. But I wasn’t and I don’t know why. But I am most grateful. I count my blessings.

I am also thankful for living where I do, in Boundary County, Idaho. It is beautiful here. There are no tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, poisonous snakes, and only very rare days of below zero temperature. Winters are usually fairly mild and we mostly have long Indian summers. Spring and Fall are the best times here, but the Summers and Winters are not bad at all. It is a great place to raise children and is pretty much crime free. So, again, I am grateful and count my blessings.

I give thanks to the Great Mystery for taking care of me all these years, in spite of my foolishness and stupidity. I never thought I would live beyond, probably 37, but here I am already twice that and still going. I have a great wife and an absolutely wonderful handsome and intelligent son. I am a lucky man. Very lucky.

There is only one terrible problem with my life at the moment – the Bush/Cheney Administration, a gang of the most unprincipled war criminals the world has seen in a very long time. But in spite of their attempt to destroy our democracy and install a fascist state in its place I still have hope. After all, without hope what is there? I do not believe evil will be rewarded. If in this case it is, life is probably not worth living. Be of good cheer!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Talk about hubris!

Soon to not be Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on nation-wide television that the United States finds the results of the Ukrainian election “unacceptable.” One might well ask, since when does an election by a sovereign nation half a planet away have to be acceptable to the United States? This is imperial arrogance carried to such an extreme as to be laughable, even comical, were it not so serious. The fact that the recent U.S. election is not very acceptable to virtually the entire world apparently escapes these morons. Furthermore, the hypocrisy involved is mind boggling. It is apparently not acceptable because there were irregularities in the election process. Do I even have to continue on this theme? What makes it all the more interesting is the fact that the candidate who won was favored by the Russians, whereas the candidate who lost, but that we wanted to win, is favored by the United States. Think of what would happen if the Russians said that the results of a Canadian election were unacceptable to them. And we wonder why everyone hates us.

Then there is the question of war crimes. It seems that an American soldier was caught on film shooting a wounded unarmed Iraqi. This is something that most probably happens everyday in Iraq but rarely gets captured on film. In any case, there is now this fuss about it being a war crime and the soldier is being investigated, etc., etc. This is somewhat on a par with the Abu Ghraib scandal where a few lower echelon soldiers are being scapegoated to cover up for the crimes of their leaders, crimes that can be traced all the way to the Pentagon and the White House. I do not mean to say that war crimes of this nature should not be investigated and punished. However, it seems to overlook the fact that the whole GOD DAMN “WAR” AGAINST IRAQ IS ITSELF AN ABSOLUTELY MONUMENTAL WAR CRIME!! As horrible as Abu Ghraib and the killing of an unarmed civilian are, they pale into insignificance when seen against the backdrop of the “war” itself, a “war” I remind you that was and is illegal, unconstitional, totally immoral, and worst of all, UNNECESSARY.

Now that the hicks out there in Jesusland have been shamelessly exploited by our Corporate Masters perhaps they will come to their senses and realize that there is more to worry about in the world than gay marriage and abortion. But don’t bet on it. They really are pretty ignorant and seem to be determined to stay that way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No end in sight

Anyone want to bet on how much longer things can go on like this? The dollar is at an all time low against the Euro and the Yen (as well as the Canadian dollar and who knows what other currencies). This means that other nations are not going to be very interested in investing in dollars or the United States. Of course if all countries “called in their chips” the U. S. economy would simply collapse. But not to worry, Bush has just promised Columbia another 3 billion for the utterly failed fight against drugs, to say nothing of what else he has promised here and there around the world, with no way to finance it other than more and more debt.

Then there is the situation in Iraq that the Bush/Cheney Administration keeps insisting is going well. The fact that Bagdad itself has become a war zone and much of the rest of Iraq is no better seems not to register in the tiny minds that make up the current Administration. Indeed, not satisfied with the absolute disaster in Iraq they are now gearing up for a fight with Iran. We might be spared this for no other reason that we just simply don’t have enough troops or money to do it (at least at the moment). Maybe we could do Syria or Lebanon as they wouldn’t be such a big problem. Oh well, the neocons can always hope.

Of course there is the situation of the Israel/Palestinian question (anyone remember this?). Now that Arafat has died, Israel and the U.S. are confronted with the possibility of actually doing something about the problem. But, again, not to worry. Sharon has it all figured out, and as Bush will continue to kiss his backside, they will figure out a way to make sure the Palestinians get the shaft – big time. The Palestinians will be lucky to come out of this with the clothes on their backs. And you can be sure that the onus of responsibility for the problems will be placed on the Palestinians who, after all, are all bloodthirsty terrorists intent on destroying the state of Israel. The fact that Israel has been illegally stealing Palestinian land and water for all these years, as well as blatantly violating the United Nations rulings (far more egregiously than Iraq ever did), will be conveniently ignored. Such is “justice” in the eyes of Israel and the United States.

It is my personal belief that all of this is going to implode on the Bush/Cheney attempt to create fascist state in the U.S. But what do I know? I said Ronald Reagan could never be elected President, I said George W. Bush could never be elected (which, of course he wasn't’), and I said he could never be elected this time (which perhaps he wasn’t). Nonetheless, I believe something drastic is about to happen, either in the next few weeks, or perhaps a few months, but it is on the way. Good always triumphs over evil, or at least it always has so far.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Psychopaths and the Lord's work

Fallujah is an absolute shambles as a result of our all-out attack of recent days. But today I saw an article that spoke with pride about the fact that we have already moved in people to completely rebuild it. Does that really make sense to anyone? The argument, of course, if there truly is one, has to do with destroying the resistance base. But it is obvious that the resistance for the most part moved on to other cities even before the attack began. And, furthermore, even according to our own Generals, it is obvious that as the city is rebuilt the resistance will move back in. In a city of 300,000 people, with not enough troops to secure it, how on earth would anyone keep the resistance out? Victory here is called INSANITY. There can be no doubt that for every Iraqi killed two or three more will take their place.

According to what I have read today, some of the Generals have said they will need more troops – as many as 50,000 more. But Rumsfeld claims he has not received any requests for more troops. Someone would appear not to be telling the truth. Or else they are all telling the truth but simply not communicating with each other. I suggest a simpler explanation: Donald Rumsfeld is out of his mind, and has been from the very beginning. But not to matter, all the rest of the neocons are equally insane. Having been proven wrong on virtually everything they have claimed, having totally failed in Iraq to do what they apparently had set out to do, having produced an absolute mess that will take years to undo (if, indeed, it will ever be completely undone), they are all still in office and for the most part have been rewarded for their abject failures. The Bush/Cheney Administration is truly a wondrous thing.

When will he American people, including those religious zealots in the midwest and south, suddenly wake up to perceive the Frankenstein monster they have encouraged? Bush/Cheney no more share their “values” than they share their poverty. They have been “conned,” and shamelessly used by the Bush/Cheney Administration and their Corporate masters. Does anyone with a brain larger than a pea believe there will ever be a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage? Does anyone believe they truly care about abortion and stem cell research? These divisive and useful (to them) issues are mere diversions in their sea of immorality. Kill and keep killing, endless war, it’s good for business, torture, rape, pillage, it’s all to promote good over evil. The Lord is on our side. Praise the Lord (and pass the ammunition). This has to be the sickest bunch of psychopaths ever assembled, short of Nazi Germany.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Things I was told as a child - essay

Thinking back on it now it strikes me how difficult it was for me to grow up as a reasonably well-balanced, informed and happy person. I seem to have been raised on a pack of lies, some of which I confess didn't bother me much but others of which caused me untold grief. I confess to not being either taken in by or much concerned with the standard lies adults told everyone - Santa Claus, the Stork, the Easter Bunny, and even the Tooth Fairy. I knew that "spinach will make you strong" had its rationale in the minds of grown-ups and, although I wouldn't eat the stuff, I didn't worry about it either. I was also aware at a tender age and from much empirical evidence that my face wouldn't really "stay that way" when I screwed it up into the worst contortions of which I was capable. "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" I recognized as poetic rather than real. I also recognized walking under ladders, black cats, throwing salt over your shoulder and broken mirrors for the cheap superstitions they obviously were. Even as an adolescent I was very skeptical that masturbating would make hair grow in the palms of your hands. Not having sisters I wasn't too sure that girls wouldn't die if they went swimming when they had "the curse." And I instinctively rejected the claim that Asian women were anatomically different from Caucasians, at least in certain ways.
But there were other things I was told, and not all by my parents by any means, that really troubled me, still trouble me. Take a fairly innocuous example to start with: horsehairs, if placed in water, will turn into snakes. I don't say I necessarily believed it, but I do recall my cousin and I pulling hairs out of horse's tails and putting them in water, in the sun, and then waiting for days, even weeks, for something to happen. When it didn't we weren't particularly disappointed, just a bit more distrustful of adults from then on. How about "eating watermelon seeds will give you appendicitis." My mother told me that. She rightly, I guess, didn't want me to eat watermelon seeds. But it was also claimed true by my Italian neighbors who were of an entirely different culture. I loved watermelon. And it is hard to never eat a watermelon seed, especially when you are slurping it up out of your hand. I worried about that. I still do. I fear that it will catch up with me some day. When I was very young I worried a lot - I mean a lot - about the boogeyman. I admit it. I thought he was real. My mother told me that he "would get me if I didn't watch out." That is, if I didn't do this or that or whatever I was supposed to do. I'm serious. I really thought that someday he'd appear and I'd be in for it, although it was never at all clear to me what "it" was in that context. I eventually outgrew the boogeyman.
But then I was of an age when I was told that "too much reading will cause you to go blind." Wow! As I loved to read, and was also extremely myopic, this did little to make me relax and enjoy myself. Reading in the dark and too many movies were variants of this. As I used to try to read in bed with no light and I loved movies and went every chance I could, I'm not at all sure why I didn't develop colitis or something over this, no thanks to those who fed me this traumatic misinformation. I was also hung up for quite a time on "smoking will stunt your growth." There was something about that that seemed to have a real ring of authenticity. It didn't stop me from smoking those eleven cent a pack WINGS when I could get them, but I did worry a lot.
To go back to an even earlier age, however, when I was much more impressionable, there were other things that truly bothered me. Someone, for example, once told me that cougars would follow you in the woods for miles. They never told me why. I guess I assumed they followed you for obvious reasons, like to kill you and eat you. To this day I get nervous in the woods and I look back now and then just to make sure. "Cats will steal your breath." I used to love cats and had them as pets. I guess my parents, who for reasons I never understood didn't want me to have a dog, would not have let me have a cat if they believed that. But I believed it. It made me nervous when I went to bed. Far worse than that, however, and going back even further, I had been told that geese would peck your eyes out. I was terrified of the damn things. And to this day I don't bend down in the presence of geese. In fact, I try to avoid them entirely. Similarly, I was told by some other sadist that dragonflies would sew my mouth shut. To this day I flinch when I see one, especially one of those great big ones that seem to come and hover right in front of you. Thank god no one told me that if I masturbated I'd go insane. It must have been an oversight.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Who cares about "the people"

George W. Bush apparently has no interest in the welfare of the American people. I say this because of his recent cabinet appointments. If he is interested in the American people and their well-being, which is precisely what the President is supposed to be responsible for, why does he not try to find the best people for their jobs? With respect to his cabinet appointments he has obviously made no attempt to actually seek out and appoint the best and most qualified people that are available. Instead, he has simply appointed people who are known to be loyalists first and qualified only secondarily (if at all). It should be obvious from this that he is far more interested in maintaining his own power, and what he can do for his corporate base, than he is in the interests of “the people.” This should not come as a surprise as it has been true throughout his Presidency. I believe it would be fair to say that not only is he not interested in the people, he is actually contemptuous of them. Of course he uses them shamelessly for his political purposes as is obvious from his cynical approach to abortion and gay rights. He has to know full well there is no chance whatsoever there will be an amendment to the constitution prohibiting gay marriage. And there is some reason to believe that he himself was involved in an abortion at one time. As far as being a “compassionate conservative,” nothing could be further from the truth. What is compassionate about the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi women and children? What is compassionate about a “war” that was, and is, totally unnecessary? Virtually the entire world knows that Bush/Cheney and their ilk are war criminals. But because of the contemporary American war machine, ten times more powerful than most other nations combined, there is little they can do about it. They cannot defeat the United States militarily (at least at the moment) but they can and might very well defeat us economically, which is a real possibility that may be beginning at this very moment. So do not gloat over the recent election and our overwhelming military superiorty, things are not going to change for the better.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The nightmare continues

How much longer is this nightmare going to continue? Bush/Cheney continue to murder innocent civilians for no apparent reason other than to create even more resistance to the occupation. The national debt has reached such obscene proportions as to be virtually uncorrectable. Bush continues to appoint cabinet members on the basis of loyalty rather than qualifications. The Republican Congress changes the rules to protect felons. The environment continues its inexorable path to disaster. Our children and children’s children fall further and further into debt. Corporations acquire more and more power and control of government. Lobbyists rule. Civil rights continue to evaporate. Fascism is either already established or imminent. At least half of the American public seems to have been convinced that might makes right, or that lies are truth, black is white, and gross immorality is actually moral. But not to worry, the mainstream media will keep you informed of what is important: the Michael Jackson fiasco, the Scott Peterson trial, Janet Jackson’s titty, Desperate Housewives, the benefits of viagra, cialis, enzyte and Levitra, to say nothing of such remarkable drugs as vioxx and crestor. It is, indeed, a wonderful world we are living in these days.

I hope you all watched NOW with Bill Moyer this evening. If you had any doubts about the appointment of Condi Rice as Secretary of State I hope they were encouraged by what you saw. What an absolute travesty! The appointment of an obviously incompetent, sycophantic, demonstrably failed National Security Advisor to the position of Secretary of State. How could it be more obvious that Bush is totally unconcerned with the well-being of the United States and only concerned with his own Presidency? All of his other cabinet appointments reveal the same thing. Indeed, everything he has done, including the war on Iraq, the timing of elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, the attack on Fallujah, the postponement of the increase in the national debt limit and the coming attack on Social Security, to say nothing of a possible draft, all were clearly designed to get him elected so he could continue his remorseless attack on the middle class and the poor.

We (the United States) are in big trouble. And if something drastic doesn’t happen to turn things around in the near future we will have simply self-destructed. This will not only mark the end of the American “Empire,” it will mark the end of our current “Banana Republic.”

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Victory is ours!

On Monday Night Football, apparently just before the game, ABC featured a commercial for their program, Desperate Housewives (I think that’s what it is called). I did not see this commercial when it first showed but, of course, I saw it several times later as they showcased it to show what the fuss was about (and thereby received much more attention than they would have otherwise achieved). If you missed it, it went like this: There is a blond woman with nothing on but a towel. She apparently has just emerged from a shower. This is in the locker room of a Professional Football Team. She is imploring (seducing) a black football player to not play in the impending game but, instead, to stay with her. Finally, she drops the towel and jumps naked onto the suited football player, who presumably gives in to her wiles. Many people called in to complain about this ad. ABC apologized – for the timing! The NFL also more or less apologized. The player involved, and some others, said they didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Shades of Janet Jackson’s boob! We’ve come a long ways, baby.

But on to more important things. The University of California, Berkeley has determined that according to their analysis of Florida electronic voting, George W. Bush must have received somewhere between 130,000 and 260,000 more votes than he should have. But what do those pinko, dirty-mouthed liberal, socialistic, free-speechers know? They have apparently complained to the Florida election officials. Hey, good luck, just as in the 2000 “election.”

Bush has taken to kissing his female Cabinet Appointees. This is, no doubt, to demonstrate their independence and ability to do their jobs as they see fit, without any guidance from the White House. He has not yet kissed any of the male appointees. I guess this is because he believes having them anointed in oil is sufficient.

We have declared victory in Fallujah! We now have control of an absolutely deserted and almost completely destroyed city that used to have 250,000 inhabitants. Having killed thousands of innocent civilians, including mostly the relatives of those who are being invited back to their city, we will no doubt find them grateful and eager to cooperate. Of course most of the terrorists (anyone who opposes the occupation of their country) left before the invasion began to go to other cities to carry on the opposition. But not to worry, we are assured that things are going well and even ahead of schedule (whatever that means). Anyone who believes the Bush Administration is not stark raving mad are themselves stark, raving mad. If there is a God, he is a malevolent being who has cursed he United States of America.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Just another day at the office

Ho hum, just another day at the office. Let’s see: Republicans are about to change the rules so that Tom (the Hammer) DeLay will not have to give up his office even if he is indicted for a felony. The rule currently states that anyone indicted for a felony should resign his office. Except, of course, for Tom DeLay. You see, Tom DeLay is a Republican and the same rules don’t apply to Republicans when they control the Congress. Simple, no?

Porter Goss who swore he would be a nonpartisan Director of the CIA, if confirmed, now that he has been confirmed, is embarked on a purge of the agency, getting rid of anyone who is suspected of either leaking anything damaging to the Bush Administration, or even worse, being too liberal. If that doesn’t get the message across, he has also sent out a memo instructing the CIA personnel that their job is to support the Administration. There is nothing partisan about this, is there? And, of course, this is going to do wonders for the international war on terror.

The Department of the Interior, taking advantage I guess of the confusion surrounding the election, has given permission for ConocoPhillips and Anadarko Petroleium to drill on the Alaska north slopes. I guess they didn’t want this made too public as none of the major media seems to have reported it (as far as I know).

Oh, and by the way, the Senate approved an 800 billion dollar increase in the National Debt Limit. This will bring the debt to a tidy 8.18 TRILLION DOLLARS! Someone has said this amounts to some $124,000 dollars per American family. But that’s okay, we can just put it on our credit cards. This is, I am told, 8 times the debt limit Reagan had in 1981. Of course there has been some inflation. The Republicans, it is said, were remarkably quiet while this was being discussed in the Senate. Imagine.

Finally, the Democrats are saying they approved the appointment of Porter Goss, “but only after his having to answer some tough questions.” They have also said that Condaleeza Rice will be conformed, “but only after answering some tough questions.” Now they are saying that Alberto Gonzales will be confirmed also, “but only after answering some tough questions.” One cannot help but wonder why, if they already know they are going to confirm these people, do they bother asking them any questions at all?

I cannot wait for their memoirs. “Condaleeza Rice: How I Overcame a Poverty Background to Become One of the Leading Fascists in the World.” Alberto Gonzales: ditto.

It should be obvious that the only reason for questioning these candidates is for show. The outcome is predetermined. The Democrats, along with their Republican co-conspirators, can all maintain their respective positions in the Fascist hierarchy being created to aid the ultimate aim: Corporate control of the world.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

History and Savagery

I have been reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States 1492 – Present. Magnificent. It should be required reading for everyone in the United States. And while it is true that things nowadays are nowhere near as dismal as they were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there are some parallels that are worth thinking about. Primarily, the overwhelming corporate control of the United States, and indeed, the World. A corporate control that is interested in profit rather than people, just as it has always been. A corporate control that has no long-range interest in the environment or the well-being of the world’s citizens. The profit motive gone mad, just as it was a hundred years ago. It is strange, as some say, that however things change they stay the same. When will people realize that big is not necessarily better and that there is more to life than profit and loss. When will citizens of the United States come to the realization that they are getting the short end of things, they are working longer than most people, having shorter vacations, and being exploited shamelessly by corporate interests. There is nothing surprising about the outsourcing of American jobs – it’s called capitalism, and in the current situation we see the same battle between capital and labor that has waged endlessly since the Industrial Revolution. As Karl Polanyi told us so brilliantly, land and labor are not commodities to be traded on the marketplace like fish and potatoes, beets and lettuce. Land is just another word for the environment and labor is just another word for human behavior. They cannot be traded as commodities without disrupting the environment and human behavior. But they still are.

I have also just read Ward Churchill’s A Little Matter of Genocide. While I don’t automatically believe everything I read, I believe enough of this to be profoundly disturbed. Although I am sure that I knew pretty much how bad things were in the history of the United States, I was unprepared for how much worse it was than I had imagined. Although this book is primarily about the genocide of American Indians it is also about genocide in general. It is not a pleasant thing to read about.

As I am also attempting to write a book on Savages and Savagery, and thus reviewing the history of contact between so-called savages and those who so labeled them, I find myself in an unbelievable pit of depression. In spite of all I know about the human condition, human nature, history, and behavior, I still hope that someday, somehow, in some way, somewhere, human beings might actually come to their senses and behave like we like to think human beings ought to behave. Look around the world at the moment and don’t bank on it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Let's hear it for loyalty!

Can you believe it? Condaleeza Rice for Secretary of State? At the very best you might be generous and say she was sub-mediocre as National Security Advisor. At worst she was totally incompetent. She knew about the 9-11 threat and did nothing. She lied repeatedly about any number of things. She is not very qualified to be Secretary of State. So why is Bush nominating her? Loyalty, that’s why.

Goss to be head of the CIA? If I remember correctly Mr. Goss said himself not too long ago that he was not qualified to be head of the CIA. But he certainly didn’t turn it down. And, already displaying his purely partisan orientation, he has begun to purge the CIA of anyone who might be in any way critical of the Bush Administration. That is apparently what he was assigned to do. Why did he get the job? Loyalty, that’s why.

Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General? This is the legal counsel that decided the President was above all national and international law and could do anything he wanted without having to worry about criminality. A lawyer who announced that the Geneva Convention was “quaint” and could just be ignored, even though the United States had signed it. He also torturously tried to define torture in such a way that it really wasn’t torture at all and would be perfectly okay, as anyone accused of it could merely say they were acting under the orders of the President. There can be little doubt that this advice led eventually to Abu Ghraib. Why was he nominated? Loyalty, that’s why.

It is perfectly obvious that the appointment of Gonzales, under the circumstances, was absurd. And what is more absurd is that the Senate is probably going agree to this totally surrealistic appointment. They already agreed to the appointment of Goss even though they knew he was a partisan. And I fear they will also agree to the incompetent Rice as well. The Democrats agree to these things because, I assume, they do not want to lose their places in the new Fascist scheme of things. None of these candidates were the best choice for their respective positions. None were nominated because they were the best qualified candidates. None of them could have been nominated on the basis of their past performance. No consideration was made to what was best for the country. They were nominated for no reason other than that they are all fiercely loyal to George W. Bush. That seems to be the only criterion necessary for an appointment in the Bush/Cheney Administration. In short, don’t even bother to look for the best candidates, just look for loyalty.

Making appointments to important cabinet positions on the basis of nothing more than loyalty, over time, has to lead to eventual disaster. But not to worry, the Rapture will be upon us soon. But I don’t believe the Rapture they have in mind is what is likely to ensue from this unbelievably short-sighted and basically incestuous procedure. Oh, but I forgot, as Bush communicates directly with God, everything will surely turn out well.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

No to Fascism

How could I have been so stupid for so long? For the last three years or so I have wondered why nothing has ever been done about the blatant violations of law and human rights under the Bush Administration. For example, why has no one pushed for his impeachment? Certainly there are obvious reasons he should have been impeached, not the least of which is the fact that he lied to the Congress and the American people about why we should have gone to war with Iraq. Why has nothing ever happened about the Plame affair? Why has nothing happened about Cheney’s secret energy meetings? Why was 9-ll whitewashed by a so-called non-partisan committee? Why has no one in the Bush/Cheney administration been held responsible for any of the failures of 9-11? Why has Bush failed to exercise even one veto since being in office? Why did the Democrats go along with his illegal war? Why did they go along with his tax breaks for the wealthy? Why do they not raise hell about his gifts to the pharmaceutical industry and other corporations? Why has no one said the obvious – Bush/Cheney are war criminals?

The answer to these questions came to me this morning in the form of an epiphany (although why it should have come in that form I do not know as the answer has been obvious for a long time even though I did not understand it). The answer horrified me as it is so simple. The reason for all this inactivity is simply that the Democrats are in the same Fascist conspiracy as the Republicans! And why not? They draw their support from the same corporate masters as the Republicans. As members of the “ruling class” they have the same interest in controlling the elections as do the Republicans. It is the same age-old battle of capital versus labor. The situation is different from the problems in the early 1900’s only in that labor is not quite so downtrodden as it was. Capitalism has thrown a few more bones to the working class than before but they still control the situation. Think of it. There are more poor people now than there were even ten years ago. There are more people without health insurance. There is more unemployment. Jobs are being increasingly outsourced so the corporations can generate more profits at the expense of the workers. Voting rights are being trampled. Civil rights are being taken away by the Patriot Act. People who wish to express their displeasure with the current Administration are being arrested or otherwise removed from the meetings, even for wearing t-shirts with the wrong message. People are forced to sign loyalty oaths even to be allowed to hear Republican speeches. In at least one instance the crowd was even implored to recite a loyalty oath to the Republican party.

In spite of all these blatant violations of our democratic process, of international and national law, of common human respect and decency, the Democrats have done nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Fascist conspiracy has reached its fruition, or at least is about to do so. Do not expect any help from either Republicans or Democrats. Only the people themselves can turn this around, can stop this move to turn us once again into little more than serfs and slaves in the interest of corporate profits. Wake up America before it is too late!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

On anxiety - essay

I am still far too depressed to deal with politics. The election is still not necessarily over as votes are still being challenged and counted in Florida and Ohio. But probably nothing will come of it. Here's another essay:

The fear of losing one or more of my fingers has haunted me for more than sixty years. Castration Anxiety? You bet. And yes, I understand all that Freudian stuff about how I loved my mother and was an unequal rival to my father and therefore became afraid that he would cut "it" off and I have repressed the whole business and yet it has shaped my personality and is the unconscious origin of this anxiety I feel and all that bunk.
I can tell you exactly where my obsessive and neurotic concern over my digits began -- in the movies, a "B" western to be exact. Although it has been more than sixty years since I saw this gripping saga of the old west the opening scene still is still vivid in my mind. Some of the precise details may have slipped a bit but here it is: There is a mining claim. A father and his son. The bad guys ride in to jump the claim. A gun battle ensues. The father is killed. The boy is behind a log shooting at the bad guys with an oversize six-shooter. He runs out of bullets. They grab him. "It's just a kid," they exclaim. "Let's teach him a lesson." They cut off his trigger finger and leave him.
Years later he surfaces again as a gunfighter. But, as he has no trigger finger he has had to learn to "fan" his six gun with his left hand. That is to say, he has to hit the hammer with his left hand while holding the gun in his three fingered right hand. Of course he is a crack shot. Eventually he finds the bad guys who killed his father. They are, mysteriously, the same age they were when they did the foul deed. He avenges his father's death by shooting them in a few exciting gun battles the outcome of which is never in doubt.
I loved it! Must have, I suppose, to remember it this well after so many years. But to this day I'm nervous around knives. Saws are even more terrifying, and power saws, especially those huge whining table saws and loud chain saws are enough to make me want to run and hide. Oh, I still use one occasionally when I absolutely have to for some reason so I suppose the creater of this film could argue that I wasn't really harmed by it all. And I suppose that analysts might argue that the movie was not the "real" cause but served merely to activate the more unconscious mechanisms of my mind. Be that as it may, it is my conscious mind that has been troubling me all this time. It should go without saying that I am totally unaware of the unconscious dimensions of this affliction. Having spent the greater part of my life afraid of sharp objects, counting my fingers regularly, being inordinately careful with my hands, even dreaming about losing one of my precious digits, I am not really mollified when I am told that the movie couldn't have affected me in this way unless I was otherwise afflicted. Whatever it did, it certainly didn't help matters any. Furthermore, what about the whole generation of boys who went around trying to learn how to fan their six guns? What do you suppose happened to all of them?

Friday, November 12, 2004

No to a draft!

Can there be any further doubt that the United States is now firmly in the hands of lunatics? And I don’t mean just Republican lunatics. Only George W. Bush would have the chutzpah (or idiocy) to nominate Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. And Democrats have indicated that they will go along with this. Imagine! A legal advisor to the President of the United States decreed that the Geneva Convention need not apply to prisoners captured in Afghanistan and there were arguments that could be marshalled that would justify torturing such prisoners. This is the same legal wonk that helped write the despicable Patriot Act. One could argue, of course, that it is actually a brilliant nomination because, as a Hispanic, it will be difficult for the Democrats to deny him the position. Some of the more conservative Republicans are pleased because they seem to think this will keep him from being nominated for the Supreme Court. They would not like him there because he might not be totally in favor of doing away with Roe vs Wade. I do not see why this appointment would necessarily keep him from being nominated for the Supreme Court when a vacancy actually occurs. Some Democrats say that he isn’t too bad because he is better than John Ashcroft. But who on earth wouldn’t be better than Ashcroft? That’s like arguing that cancer is good because it’s not the Bubonic Plague. I repeat, our country is in the hands of absolute loonies. If you are not convinced by this nomination just take a look at the new Republican Senators, hyper-loonies to a man.

Someone I know is absolutely convinced there is going to be a draft and it will begin immediately after the inauguration. I say there will not be a draft. I say this not because I think they won’t try to institute a draft but because I think (at least hope) that if they try it, it may well be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” As I am often wrong, perhaps they will be able to get away with it. I hope not. I hope the American public will wake up and insist that enough is enough. We will not send more American youths to die for oil wells in Iraq. I also believe that if they do start a draft, and if the American people allow it, we are surely doomed. It will be the end of the American democracy and the end of America’s claim to world-wide hegemony.

I also believe (hope) that we will be out of Iraq before a draft is instituted. It is so obvious that the United States cannot possibly “win” in Iraq that the only way out is to hold an election, no matter how useless and illegal, declare victory, and retreat in ignominious but denied defeat. God, I hope I am right for once.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Not my "war"

When the United States wanted to go to war with Mexico to steal Texas and California a small number of Congressmen voted against it. Joshua Giddings of Ohio called it “an aggressive, unholy, and unjust war.” He went on to explain his vote against supplying men and arms: “In the murder of Mexicans upon their own soil, or in robbing them of their country, I can take no part either now or hereafter The guilt of these crimes must rest on others – I will not participate in them.”

This is precisely my attitude toward the “war’ in Iraq. While Republicans may claim piously that we are not after Iraq territory, what else are we doing by building permanent military bases? And we are certainly after Iraqi oil. This was a “war” that need not have happened and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi people have been or will be killed before it is over. This is one of the most shameful episodes in American history and we will ultimately be held accountable.

Interestingly enough, all of the ballots have still not been counted in Ohio. And I believe the Socialist candidate has demanded a complete recount which, legally, I understand, is his right. This means that technically John Kerry could still win Ohio and, if so, the election. It would certainly be an interesting situation¸trying to pry Bush/Cheney out of the White House.

Why is it so hard for Bush/Cheney to face the facts? There is no way the United States can win in Iraq. But too stupid and stubborn to admit defeat, and too dumb to pull their hands out of the cookie jar while still grasping the oil, like all he rest of the monkeys before them, they will just continue this absolutely insane behavior until disaster is inevitable.

But that’s okay, at least gays won’t be allowed to marry and thousands of unwanted children will be available to starve and abuse. What a wonderful country we have become.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Here at the crossroads of time
we mortals presume
to have the power of gods,
but challenge nature
with the mindlessness of fools.

Mindlessness is back in fashion. Now that Bush/Cheney managed to steal another election you can be sure they will try to drill in the Arctic and everywhere else, with no regard whatsoever to environmental concerns. Rape and pillage will be the order of the day. Fatten the already bloated coffers of Halliburton and others in the oil racket will be the goal. I honestly believe the Republicans have no idea what monumental disaster they have wrought. And by the time they have figured it out it will be, alas, too late. The problem is not to find more oil, the problem is to live without such a dependence on a disappearing resource. But not to worry, the Chinese, along with the United States, will deplete it soon enough. The Chinese are no smarter than we are – they will all insist on having cars and trucks just as we do. And they seem to have no more regard for the environment than we do. Let the ice caps melt and the oceans rise and the droughts intensify and the animals die and the fish disappear, we mustn’t disrupt our economies.

Oh, and by the way, we are winning the war in Fallujah. We are about to take over control of a deserted and destroyed city. Never mind that the resistance fighters have already moved on to other cities and we have killed more innocent civilians, victory is ours! And never mind that the Sunnis have now said they will boycott the elections. Everything, we are told, is going well.

This has to be the most absolutely insane Administration in U.S. history! Now we are going to have a new Attorney General who believes the President has the power to ignore the Geneva Convention, whimsically jail people forever with no right to lawyers or a trial, torture and execute whomever he wishes, and ride roughshod over any international agreement we have ever made.

Bush/Cheney did not win this election because of some brilliant strategy of Karl Rove, unless you believe that blatant cheating is a brilliant strategy. The election was rigged. Bush/Cheney knew it was fixed. The smugly predicted from the beginning they would win. Even when the exit polls indicated a Kerry victory they never wavered from their claim they would win. They knew! And now they are taking pride in what they have done. As they have managed to get control of the House, the Senate, the Executive Branch, the Supreme Court and the major news media, there is virtually nothing that can be done about this tragic event. The only possibility is if the people absolutely reject this fascist regime and turn out in such numbers as to force a major change in direction.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Wagging the dog?

Having warned Fallujah for weeks that the city was going to be attacked we now hear reports that (surprise!) most of the resistance fighters have left the city for other Iraqi locations. While there clearly is resistance it is not as great as expected and the resistance fighters, rather than fighting to the death, are fighting and falling back. In other words they are doing just as they must have planned, a rear guard attempt to slow down the attack and give everyone time to get out.

The U.S. must have known that this was happening. In a city the size of Fallujah it is inconceivable that someone would not have reported that many of the resistance fighters were leaving. So why attack the city immediately after the election? Why, indeed? Could it be to distract us from the fraudulent election? No, of course not. The Bush/Cheney Administration would never think of doing such a thing, at least not if they couldn’t think of anything else to dupe the American public.

By now it appears very obvious that the election was stolen. It follows exactly the same Rovian pattern of blaming the victim. The Republicans started even before the votes were counted blaming Democrats for dirty tricks, the same tactic they have employed forever. Bush and his cronies are wealthy so blame Kerry for being wealthy, Bush was a National Guard failure and drop out so blame Kerry for being a war hero, Bush flip-flopped on virtually every major problem that arose, so blame Kerry for being a flip-flopper. This is such an obvious strategy why do people seem to fall for it time and time again? Because, unfortunately, there are a lot of really stupid people in the United States. People who to this day seem to believe that Iraq had WMD’s and that Saddam Hussein was a pal of Osama bin Laden. People who believe that Bush speaks directly to God. They probably also believe he was born and raised in Texas and raised himself up through virtue and hard work. For them he’s the kind of guy “they would like to have a cup of coffee with.” A man who pesonifies “moral values,” in spite of the obvious fact that he has all the moral values of a mafia hit man. Not content with the estimated 100,000 innocent civilians he has already killed he has now ordered his troops into Fallujah to bomb and kill even more civilians. Bush/Cheney are war criminals. There is absolutely no doubt about it. So why is nothing being done about it? Apparently there are no honorable people at all in Congress. Bush/Cheney should have been impeached long before now, before they could continue their unbelievable savagery. They have shamed the United States in the eyes of the world and we just now failed to try to set things right. If there is any justice left in the world it will surely at some point catch up with this band of international thieves and murderers. If there is no justice then life is probably not worth living.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Advice - essay

Evidence is mounting that the Republicans have stolen another election. Ho-hum. Nothing will come of it. The Democrats have surrendered for another four years. Unless, perhaps, we could have a "Democrats refuse to be cheated and bullied day." A day in which all Democrats called in sick or otherwise simply refused to participate any longer in the impending disaster. What if all Democrats simply refused to buy anything for a day or two? What would happen? Would they bring the troops home to arrest all fifty-some million of us? Not likely. Anyway, another essay to break the monotony of failure.

Personally, I find it hard to give advice, experience having taught me that (l) those who ask for it don't really want it, (2) I don't know enought about anything to warrant giving it, and (3) in the past it has usually turned out to be harmful, wrong, bad, or even disastrous. Thus I am surprised to learn that the publishing business is "now dominated by the advice and how-to books." I don't know why how-to books are distinguished from advice books. It would seem to me that if someone tells you how to do something they must be giving you advice.
But no matter. This development has stimulated me to reflect upon the general issue of advice. Who gives it? What for? What are their qualifications? Is it any good? I suspect that if one delves carefully into these questions and others they might well find that the giving and receiving of advice has become merely a part of the growing service industry about on a par with, and as necessary as, having your nails artificially lengthened or your pubic hair trimmed into the shape of a heart. And I doubt that professional advice is much different from what might be termed "ordinary" or "lay" advice. After all, are not fortune tellers "professionals," whether they read tea leaves, palms, cards, crystal balls, chicken innards, magical bones or whatever? What qualifications do Ann Landers, Dear Abby, Joyce Brothers, and others of that ilk have that entitles them to tell others what to do or how to do it? I can assure you that in the one case with which I am personally familiar the individual in question has no qualifications whatsoever, other than perhaps knowing the owner of the newspaper. In most of these cases, however, given the nature and general level of the questions asked, it probably doesn't matter who gives the advice or what it is.
But what about advice from those who presumably ought to be qualified to give it. For example, in an interview in a writer's magazine with a successful (read published) author, it was asserted by this luminary that every writer should write l50 words a day. Every writer? Precisely 150 words a day? Why not some writers? Most writers? Beginning writers? Mystery writers? Novelists? And why not 200 words a day. Or 300? Or 500? What about Thomas Wolfe who apparently wandered around announcing that he had written 10,000 words that day? Obviously this advice conflicts with similar advice by similarly qualified authors who previously instructed us to write 300 words a day. Just which "expert" is one to believe?
And what about the duffer who is told by his or her professional to keep his or her head down and his or her eye on the ball when he or she has failed to do this 5000 times in a row? It's not that he or she doesn't understand what to do, it's just that they can't do it. His or her problem is not the lack of advice. Even good advice.
Not all advice is good advice of course. My father, for example, was fond of advising me that if I wore clean (even though patched) clothes and was always on time everything would be fine and I would become a resounding success. Some advice that proved to be! Even worse, as a young teenager just discovering girls I compained to a more precocious friend that I didn't know what to say to them. "Just tell them you love them," he instructed me. That has to be up there with the best of the worst. When I entered college, quite some time ago as will be obvious, I was advised not to major in engineering as there were too many engineers. And I don't know how many female Ph.D.'s I know who were advised by their High School counselors to forget about college and just get married.
My favorite piece of advice has to do with a man I know who was to be parachuted into a remote part of Papua New Guinea during WW II to act as a forward observer. Being naturally somewhat concerned about being dropped from the sky into villages of potential headhunters and cannibals he asked one of his instructors, an anthropologist, for advice. "Just treat them like gentlemen," he was told. Actually, that turned out to be good advice. But if you want my advice you won't give advice. And you won't accept it either.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mandate or massive fraud?

The Democrats, along with the rest of the world, are stunned by the defeat. No one anticipated that the hatred of gays and abortion was so strong as to override everything else: the illegal and immoral war, the obscene national debt, unemployment, the rape of the environment, the lies and cover-ups, the failure to accept any responsibility for the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ENORMITY of the crime that has been committed. And now we are going to have more of the same.

How could 59 million people be so stupid the Europeans ask? How, indeed? It is hard to conceive of fraud on such a massive scale but there are many that believe it was fraudulent, and perhaps it was. Certainly our election rules are so confused and absurd that virtually anything is possible. Of course the Republicans will resist making any meaningful changes as they have repeatedly benefitted from the confusion. Personally, I am weary of the election and already even more weary of the postmortems. I don’t want to hear any more of “next time.” There may not even be a next time, now that the fascists have established themselves so completely in the corridors of power.

Even so we must not give in to hopelessness, the siren song of suicide. We can always hope that perhaps some of the scandals that have been covered up for so long will finally catch up with this band of liars and criminals. Whatever happened to the Plame case? Whatever happened to the legal question of Cheney’s secret energy meetings that was supposed to go back to the courts? Whatever happened to the complete investigation of 9-11? Whatever happened to the investigation of the torture scandal?

Perhaps those Evangelical Christians who voted against gay marriage and abortion may wake up to what else they seem to have voted for – never ending war, a draft, the destruction of social security and medicare, further pillaging of the environment, more rip-offs by the pharmaceutical industry, etc., etc. Apparently, in the United States, victory goes to the simple minded, at least in the short run. But, of course we need not worry about the long run, the Rapture will be upon us soon.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Win, baby, win

Democracy in the United States does not appear to be in very good shape. The election is over and Bush/Cheney have been declared the winners. They are claimed to have won both the electoral votes and the popular vote. And perhaps they did.

But perhaps they did not. And even if they did, the manner in which they accomplished this is certainly open to question. There are reports of literally hundreds of voting irregularities in seven southern states. These all have to do with the suppression or intimidation of minority voters. In Palm Beach, Florida there is a reported 88,000 vote discrepancy. In Ohio there are reports of extra votes for Bush. In Broward Country, Florida there is a reported computer glitch favoring Bush. Greg Palast report that in Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico there is reason to believe that Bush actually won. There are questionable results in the state of Washington, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. There are many reports of malfunctions in e-voting machines. Curiously, virtually all of these questionable results have to do with minority or young voters. Is there any reason to believe that Democrats would have tried to sabotage young and minority voters? I don’t think so.

Now, even if these presumed violations of election laws did not ensure the Republican victory, they certainly indicate that Republicans were involved in every dirty trick they could conceive of. They are absolutely gloating over how they won the election, not only for the Presidency but for the Senate and House as well. But is this how we want American Democracy to work? Do we really want the party that can employ the best dirty tricks to win? While it is true that there have probably been dirty tricks in all Presidential campaigns up to a point, the Republicans have carried this “art” to abnormally high levels. Indeed, the Republican attempt to overthrow the Clinton Presidency reached such a new low as to be almost inconceivable in a presumably Democratic country. This seems to have set the standard for Republican politics – win at any cost – the end justifies the means. To hell with democratic principles, just win, baby, win. I’m sorry, but this is not my idea of democracy.

Of course part of the problem is ignorance. The absolutely fundamental requirement for a functioning democracy is an enlightened and well-informed citizenry. This assumes that you have decent public schools and citizens who have recourse to truthful information. At the moment in the United States we have neither. The public schools, which have been underfunded and denigrated for years, with facilities and teachers starved for funding, which now serve as little more than places to park young people for a few years to keep them off the labor market, are a national disgrace. The major media are worse, feeding us nothing but absolute mindless trivia day after day, making a mockery of what they should be, and dumbing us down even below the lowest common denominator. They are worse than disgraceful.

There is a terrible sickness in the United States, and it grows worse every year. It will certainly not be helped by another four years of the Bush/Cheney administration. I hesitate to say it, but we truly need our own “cultural revolution.” And if it doesn’t happen soon it may well be too late. Margaret Halsey said it quite some time ago: America is a primitive society because it is focused around a single institution, and that institution is “business.” While I am not opposed to business per se, I believe when it is the absolute dominant institution of a society, riding roughshod over art and science, truth and beauty, love and virtue, it is not a healthy thing. Karl Polanyi was right: land, labor, and money are not simply commodities to be traded on the market. They are the very essence of the human condition from which we have strayed far too far. There should be more to life than business.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Another Democrat falls on his sword

Another Democrat fell on his sword in the best interest of his country (and Democracy). I trust the irony of this will not escape everyone. When Al Gore won the election in 2000 only to have it snatched way at the last minute by an illegal and immoral Supreme Court decision he gave a magnificent concession speech in which he said he did not want the country (Democracy) tied up endlessly in confusion and legal activity. It was a noble gesture.

Now John Kerry has done much the same. In his concession speech he said he did not want the election settled in the courts but by the vote of the people (even though the votes had not all been counted, and if they had, according to Greg Palast, Kerry would have won in both Ohio and New Mexico). Another noble gesture. But what is the point of these noble gestures to preserve Democracy when the Republicans have spent the last 40 years systematically trying to undermine it? Neither Gore nor Kerry should have given up so easily. You can bet the Republicans would not have done the same. They would have fought it endlessly, ruthlessly, with no holds barred, and right down to the bitter end.

This is not the only irony to emerge in this election. Kerry/Edwards, but mostly Edwards, concentrated on his theme of two Americas, one for the wealthy and one for the “little guy” and the middle class. But they failed to factor in the religious variable. So the very people they were fighting for, the “little guy” and the middle class, are the very people who voted against them, because of “moral values.” But their conception of moral values has little or nothing to do with morality itself. It has only to do with their belief that abortion is wrong as is homosexuality. Opposition to abortion is not in and of itself a moral value. It is at best a moral opinion. One could easily argue that demanding people bring into the world hordes of unwanted children is equally as immoral as not. Similarly, being homophobic is not a moral value but merely again a moral opinion. It fails to recognize that homosexuality is something a certain percentage of the population is born with. It is not a choice, in spite of their ignorant demands to the contrary. I think George W. Bush should ask Dick Cheney’s daughter if she chose to be a lesbian. Just as he could in fact try to inform himself of the facts rather than simply wimping out with an “I don’t know.” Of course he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know virtually anything else either. “You mean there are black people in Brazil too?” He doesn’t read. He doesn’t get any information other than what his huge band of sycophants tell him. And what they tell him is what he wants to know. Dick Cheney knows. But he is not going to say because it doesn’t fit in with his political agenda. He knows his daughter was born that way. But if he has to prop up his puppet by agreeing to something he knows is wrong, so what. The end justifies the means.

Bush will now act as if he has a mandate even though 51% is not exactly that. What does he care? He operated as if he had a mandate even though he lost he first election. Don’t believe the nonsense that he is going to reach out to Democrats. He never has and never will. His arrogance and certainty know no bounds. It is going to be an exceptionally difficult four years unless something miraculous happens. Pray for miracles.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Congratulations to America's Heartland

Congratulations to the Heartland! You really did a great job on the election. Let’s see:

You elected a known war criminal to be President.
You voted for a “war” without end.
You thumbed your nose at the entire world and made us look ridiculous.
You insured that your children and children’s children will be in debt.
You endorsed a pair of known pathological liars.
You doomed the Palestinians to virtual oblivion.
You sanctioned fiscal irresponsibility.
You probably helped destroy Social Security and Medicare.
You agreed that war profiteering was okay.
You helped fulfill Osama bin Laden’s most cherished dream.

Not bad for a day’s work. And, according to the Pundits, you did it because of your overriding concern with “moral values.” Somehow you seem to have confused moral values with Christian fundamentalism. That is, the only moral values that seem to be involved have to do with abortion and homosexuality. Aside from the fact that the morality of either of these could be debated for a very long time, you seem to have little or no concern with other more obviously moral questions. For example, how moral is it to blow up frogs just for fun? Or how about mocking a woman pleading for her life? Better yet, how about causing the deaths of 100,000 civilians, including women and children, for no reason other than greed for power and oil? How about encouraging torture? Denying people basic civil rights? Outing a CIA operative? Stealing elections? Attacking decorated war veterans? Drunken comportment? Sniffing coke?

It seems to me it could easily be argued that George W. Bush may well be the least moral President we have had for a very long time. But as he presumably communicates directly with God I guess he must be pretty moral after all. You better hope the Rapture is coming soon because the alternative is not going to be pleasant.

It aint over


“there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.” I said Ronald Reagan could never be elected President. I was wrong. I doubted very much that the Gropenfuehrer could be elected Governor of California. I was wrong. I said John Kerry would win the current election by two or more percentage points. I guess I was wrong. But maybe not. It’s not over until the fat lady sings – and she hasn’t finished her song yet. What happened? Where was all the young vote? Where was the senior vote? How much hanky-panky was involved in the vote. Quite a lot it appears. What we all feared is happening – the election will end up in the courts. Of course that is the best thing the Republicans could have hoped for as there was no way they could actually win otherwise. Oh, I know, it appears that Bush/Cheney won the popular vote as well as the electorate. When all the votes are actually counted, and honestly counted, I still believe John Kerry will prevail. I still, stupidly perhaps, refuse to believe that a majority of my fellow citizens are absolute morons. How is it that a presumed majority of Americans voted to retain a war criminal as their President? A known liar, incompetent, unread, basically uninvolved character who boasts about not reading even a newspaper? What has my country come to? It looks like the election will be held up in the courts for a long time, What a shame. What an example of democracy for he rest of the world. Especially the world upon which we wish to impose by force of arms a similar political system?

I am too depressed at the moment to continue. If Bush/Cheney do prevail in this bizarre election they will simply have to be impeached (and it is long past time). Do not despair, there is still hope.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Silk purse or sow's ear?


the question of the day is: will Karl Rove’s black, black magic manage to convert a sow’s ear into a silk purse? He’s certainly done well so far, taking a several times failed businessman, ex-drunkard, coke sniffing, National Guard (AWOL) drop out, totally undistinguished Governor of Texas, lying, incompetent pretend President war criminal who should have resigned or been impeached, into a finalist for President of the United States. That is no mean accomplishment. We should have an answer to this question sometime late tomorrow night. I do not think “yes” is going to be the answer. If I’m wrong I’ll chalk it up to the same absolutely insane American public who elected Ronald Reagan. I will also promise to never again predict anything about American politics.

But let’s go back to the explosives scandal for a moment. Three hundred eighty tons (380) of explosives were known to exist but were left unguarded so they could be looted by those who do not like the American occupation of their country. First, someone in the Administration suggested they must have been removed before the “war.” Wrong. Then it was suggested the Russians must have had something to do with it, probably moving them to Syria (wrong, never mind the unbelievable damage this could have done to Russian-American relations). Then they brought out a major who claimed he had destroyed 250 tons of explosives at the site (but he had no idea if they were the explosives at issue – this has to have been one of the most awkward, embarrassing presentations ever attempted). Then it was suggested that it was the fault of the current Iraqi government. Wrong. Then Rudolf Guiliani said it must have been the fault of the troops for not looking carefully enough (anything to shift the blame from where it belongs and to gain points for what?). But the one I like the best by far: even though 380 tons of these explosives could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people, and destroy hundreds if not thousands of buildings, not to worry, THEY ONLY MADE UP ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT OF THE EXPLOSIVES THAT EXISTED!!! I was really comforted to hear that.

Anyway, tomorrow is the big day. The one we have been waiting for, for how long has it been, a century or two? Now we can decide whether he American electorate is sane or insane. Now we can truly discriminate between good and evil, between the Rapture and reality, science and fantasy, fact and fiction, truth and absolute balderdash. GET OUT AND VOTE!! And vote as if your life depends upon it, because it probably does.