Saturday, April 30, 2005

Welcome to Southern California - short story

Cloudless bright blue sky. Ocean waves gently touching sandy inlets, crashing boldly against rocky shores. Warm sunshine. A faint breeze. Palm trees and bougainvillaea. Southern California.
Alan couldn't remember where he saw the first palm tree, but as he drove south they increased in frequency and variety, along with the eucalyptus, bougainvillaea, bird of paradise, fuchsia, and other imported vegetation that transformed the landscape into something it was not. Far out on the blue green of the ocean he saw two freighters suspended silently between ocean and sky, about to disappear over the horizon. Here and there were black suited surfers bobbing patiently, each waiting for the perfect wave. Driving further, he marveled at what to him were unusually exotic names: Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, El Encanto.
"Not much like Montana," Alan thought happily to himself. He had never been away from Montana, except once when he had delivered wild horses to a ranch in Idaho. His decision to leave had come suddenly and without obvious cause. He just decided one cold winter day to move to Southern California. Now here he was with his ten year old Chevy pickup and his few meager possessions: clothes, tools, a few books and his guitar. As he drove he glanced continually from side to side, smiling, perceiving, enjoying, but quite unable to capture everything at once. The countryside was different. The houses were different. The people were different. He began to feel different. He started to sing, softly at first, but then with increasing volume and satisfaction.
As he entered the city he noticed the pier. At the very end was a bait shop which announced itself with a sign on the roof almost as large as the building itself. Men, women and children of all races and descriptions stood shoulder to shoulder at the railings, fishing. On one side of the pier, closer to the shore, was a merry-go-round, some bumper cars, booths where you threw darts at balloons, tossed rings, threw at bottles and shot at moving targets. These enterprises were separated and surrounded by an awesome variety of fast food enterprises. Two narrow lanes of traffic allowed one to drive to the end of the pier and back, slowed by the heavy pedestrian traffic and moving only as the carnival flow allowed. Below the pier the beach was crowded with boisterous children running in and out between the supporting posts, laughing and splashing noisily in the bubbling water.
As Alan reached the midpoint of the pier, past the beach area below and above deeper water, the faded old sea green Ford convertible in front of him suddenly stopped. The tall blond driver got out and moved unhurriedly to the rear where he began untying a rope that held the door of the luggage compartment down tightly over a large antique trunk. Grasping the trunk by one handle he began pulling it with difficulty from the car. Aside from his age, approaching forty, his bloodshot eyes, and an unsightly growth of stubble, he looked to Alan like the personification of a California surfer. He was barefoot and wore only a pair of faded bathing trunks. He was lean and tan and muscular, with untidy but beautiful shoulder length hair. It appeared as if he might have spent his entire life on the beach which, incidentally, he had. The long line of cars behind Alan soon began honking impatiently. Unused to traffic and foreign to the city, Alan looked around helplessly. It was impossible to pass. The honking intensified. When he saw the driver immediately behind him leaning out of his window, shaking his fist and yelling, Alan nervously got out of his car and went forward to help.
The trunk was heavy and as one handle was missing it was awkward to lift. But after considerable effort the two of them had it balanced precariously on the railing. With one final effort the surfer shoved it off and watched as it fell thirty feet into the water. Without a thank you, expressionless and silent, he drove off through the crowd. Alan, much relieved, did the same.

Alan felt he was fortunate to have found a room so easily. It was an inexpensive but clean hotel only two blocks from the main street which paralleled the beach. Far too excited to sleep, he walked the streets until after midnight. At one point in the early evening he passed a sidewalk cafe where he saw the surfer, still clad only in his bathing suit, drinking with a group of younger people, mostly women. They were all beautiful to Alan. He looked with envy at the scene, wondering how he might make friends, but too shy to approach anyone. He sat alone at a distant table slowly enjoying a beer, watching people pass. The tourists, with their pale skins, new shorts and bathing suits, cameras and accessories, were so easily identifiable they might have been a different species. He marveled at the natives, sometimes bra-less and gum chewing, and often dressed with a brevity he had only previously imagined. He watched with incredulity as older men and women followed their little dogs, scooping up their droppings and placing them in bags or pieces of newspaper. On the way to his hotel he passed a tattered looking black man speaking solemnly into the barrel of an antique cannon that faced the now empty ocean. He gave five dollars to a unkempt couple with a small child who held out their hands and said they were hungry.
Although Alan woke at daybreak, as he always did, he deliberately stayed in bed, enjoying a luxury he knew would soon pass. "I'll look for a job tomorrow," he thought. It was almost noon before he returned to the cafe of the night before, intending to have breakfast. The surfer was still there, still talking, but with what was now an audience of only two. Alan wondered if they had spent the night there.
"Coffee?" the waiter asked, pouring it without waiting for an answer.
"Oh, fine," said Alan, who didn't drink coffee. "I'd like some ham and eggs with the eggs over easy, some hash browns and toast. Wheat toast. And, oh, yeah, some jam or jelly. And I guess I'll have some orange juice. Okay?"
As Alan waited he looked around, satisfied with what he saw. The sun shone brightly through the palms that lined the street. Girls in bikinis paraded shamelessly back and forth provoking stares of appreciation. Children, and even a few adults, including one very old woman, skateboarded noisily, oblivious to the inconvenience they caused others. Cars of all descriptions cruised by endlessly searching for girls to pick up or places to park. A distinguished looking middle-aged man in a business suit unexpectedly sniped a butt from the sidewalk and hurried on.
As the waiter placed his breakfast on the table Alan sat up expectantly. Just as he was about to sample his breakfast he noticed the waiter staring in surprise as two police cars pulled up to the curb. Four officers walked quickly towards the surfer who looked up too late to bolt or offer any resistance. Forcing his hands roughly behind his back, they handcuffed him and led him quickly away before most of the patrons were aware anything had happened. One of the officers spoke briefly to the concerned cafe owner who had hurried out immediately. Pushing the surfer roughly into the back seat of one of the cars, they quickly sped off. It all happened so quickly Alan couldn't quite believe it. He looked around only to notice that everyone else had either continued or resumed eating.
"What happened?" Alan inquired, when his waiter finally returned. "Why did they take that guy away? What did he do?"
"Well," the waiter said, "first of all, he's been hangin' around here for the last three or four days, drinkin' and making a nuisance of himself. A real jerk... But that's not his real problem. His real problem is that yesterday he dumped a trunk off the pier. Just dumped it off in broad daylight right there in front of everyone... You wanna guess what was in it?"
"No," Alan replied, "I don't want to guess. What was it?"
"His mother! He cut up his mother and put her in the trunk! Then he dumped it off the pier... Can you believe it?"

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Great Social Security Scam

I have long been suspicious of Bush's concern with Social Security. Now I am absolutely convinced that Bush/Cheney/Rove have no real interest in Social Security (aside, perhaps, from some dim idea that in the future they would like to screw over Roosevelt).Think about it. Why would they send the mental midget out for 60 days and 60 nights in 60 cities to babble on about a problem that doesn't even exist for another 30 or 40 years? And one that his own remarks indicate clearly he doesn't even understand what he is talking about? The obvious explanation is that they want to keep our minds off the real problems that need critical attention now: health care, medicare and medicaid, the economy, the dismal failure in Iraq, the out of control national debt, their destruction of the environment, the collapsing dollar, war profiteering, and perhaps most of all, their obvious war crimes.

It just doesn't make sense that they would have decided to focus on Social Security when there are so many other much more serious and immediate problems. They picked Social Security not because it is a priority but because it is the simplest thing they could distract us with. They obviously don't want to deal with the more serious and complicated problems. The American public, being the suckers they have proven to be, go along with this shameless scam. The Democrats, in a rare display of both intelligence and backbone have refused so far to fall into the trap. The longer they hold to their position - they won't even discuss it until privatization is off the agenda - the more the Republicans will have to squirm.

Bush and the Republican party are crashing in the polls. While this is well deserved and a positive development it also may be dangerous. Watch out for another terrorist attack or some other development that might dramatically change the situation. Bush (Cheney, I should say) has decided to try to force Bolton on the United Nations. If he loses on this one it would be a great help to the forces of light and right. Similarly, if DeLay goes down, it would be even greater justice. But the bugman may actually survive which only goes to prove that crime pays.

Condi Rice is chasing around the world telling everyone else how to behave and what they must do. This is what passes for diplomacy these days. Bolton will no doubt be a great help. God help us all!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rumsfeld the Weird

Next to George W. Bush, Rumsfeld has to be the most verbally handicapped of all the neocons. Trying to make sense out of most of what he says is like trying to understand absolute gibberish. How he has managed to stay in his job after his abject failure at almost every turn is one of the great current mysteries. Well, maybe not, after all, look at his boss.

Now Rumsfeld is once again trying to control the media, insisting that reporters
have to sign a statement promising not to interview soldiers about an ongoing case. No one seems to have heard of such a precedent but I guess Rumsfeld, like the rest of the hole-in-the-head gang, thinks he is godlike.

But the best news I have heard in a long time also came out of the mouth of Rumsfeld. He apparently said that the new weapons the military needs (or probably more accurately, wants) are so expensive they can't afford them. Wouldn't that be the happiest day on earth? What would happen to war if the armies involved couldn't afford their weapons? I love it! Let's fervently hope it will come true - sooner rather than later. Rumsfeld apparently worries that not only can we not afford these high tech weapons but our allies who are supposed to buy them as well almost certainly can't afford them. HAPPY DAYS!

Given the fact that our expenditures on arms and the military dwarfs that of all the rest of the countries on earth combined one might think a few cutbacks might be welcome. But no, we need even more. Not only that, we are importing some of them from China! Talk about a world so screwed up no one seems to know or care what is going on and you have ours. Do you suppose it is even possible that somewhere in the vast reaches of space there might be a planet with even an iota of common sense? Probably not if there are human beings involved.

"Huaman's skepticism was substantial. He knew that men are a joke of the gods, sent to mortify the animals."
Abel Posse
The Dogs of Paradise

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Are the Chinese crazy, or what?

I see lately in the news, or at least what passes for news these days, that China will soon be producing more automobiles than any other country on earth. Are they absolutely mad? Are they unaware that (1) peak oil has occurred and there will be less and less available? (2) Have they not seen the utter absurdity of the American love affair with the automobile (and the internal combustion engine)? Why on earth would any intelligent group of people want to emulate the disaster that is the American dream (of two cars in every garage?). Good grief, spend your money on some new rapid transit system, or even on individual helicopters powered by cleverly reprocessed rice hulls, or the energy generated by ocean waves, or gifts from the sun, or the wind, or even from the energy generated by those who would stand to gain from this ridiculous program. If there is anything the earth doesn't need it has to be more automobiles. I cannot believe the Chinese are as stupid as Americans, especially after years of watching us waste and waste and pollute and pollute, and turn our clear skies into smog choking health problems. Granted that China may have problems of its own it certainly shouldn't need stupid unnecessary problems of ours.

Oh yeah, it appears that terrorist attacks last year were two or even three times worse than the year before, maybe even worse than that. That would seem to indicate that the Bush/Cheney "war or terror" has been a dismal failure. But no, Condi to the rescue, she simply abandoned the annual report on such things. It is comforting to know that we are in such good and competent hands.

It is even more comforting to know that Condi is going around the world telling all other countries and governments how they ought to behave. After all, why should the United States not have the right to tell everyone else how to behave? How she could not believe that she and the United States are simply regarded as laughable is quite beyond my comprehension. And, of course, by now we are simply that, laughable.

We are not only laughable, we are criminal. But I guess no one cares. It's like the woman in Texas the other day who shouted out, "Tom, we love you," to the most devious, unethical, even criminal Representative in history. I guess in Texas criminaltiy passes for leadership.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


It seems that the Gannon/Guckertgate scandal has resurfaced. The Secret Service has revealed that on many occasions Gannon was in the White House when he had no obvious reason to be there. That is, there was no Press Conference scheduled. It is also the case that the records of his comings and goings are not at all complete. He apparently didn't always sign in or out as he should have been required to do. So naturally the question arises as to just what he was doing there. So far no one has found out what he was doing when apparently wandering around the White House at his leisure. There is a slight hint of perhaps homosexual trysts in the White House. This, of course, would make Monicagate look like a picnic. But of course this couldn't be true as Republicans think all homosexuals should be executed as soon as possible. There is also no explanation as to who might have enabled him to enter and leave as he obviously did. But someone with a massive amount of clout must have made this possible. As his only claim to expertise seems to involve homosexual prostitution one does have to wonder. Please don't tell me he was a reporter.

How low could we have sunk in international relations when the Council of Europe with a vote of 83 in favor and five abstentions sent a message to the United States that we should follow the law and do something about our outrageous Guantanamo Bay situation. They suggested, and rightly so, we should release those for whom there are no charges and try those immediately where there are charges. How dare they suggest that we are flagrantly violating not only international law but our own Constitution? Well, to hell with them. How many nuclear bombs and combat divisions do they have? Just wait until Bolton get to the U.N. He'll set them straight about a few things.

To cap off an otherwise interesting day I just learned (although I guess I should have known this for a long time) that the Israelis for years have been poisoning Palestinian livestock, the very creatures they need to make a living. Those Israelis, they are so creative when it comes to stealing land and near genocide. Somehow this bothers me as much as the rest of the dismal history of Israel and its blatant land grab. I guess sheep and goats have no right of return either.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Government waste - essay

Much has been said in recent years about waste in government. Indeed, this theme is one that both major political parties as well as most of the lesser known ones have been carping about for quite some time (without, of course, doing much of anything about it). In recent years we've heard and read about six hundred dollar toilet seats, two hundred dollar hammers, grossly overpriced aircraft, and myriad other horrible examples of bureacratic and government spending run wild.
There is one form of obvious waste, however, that somehow goes totally unmentioned. Presidential pens. Yes, fountain pens. At least I think they are fountain pens. Perhaps they are ballpoints. Whatever. In any case, you must have noticed by now that whenever the President signs something he never ever does it with merely one pen. He always uses many pens. How many I don't precisely kmow, nor do I know what the upper limit on this may be. But there are always many pens. Why, you may ask, does the President do this? I don't rightly know. I suspect, however, it must be that everyone of any importance whatsoever who had anything at all to do with that particular legislation simply has to have a souvenir pen.
But what on earth does one do with a pen that is only one of several that were used to sign something-or-other? It would not be quite truthful to claim that this was the pen that signed that particular document. So what does one say: "This is the pen that dotted the first 'i' when the President signed the such-and-such legislation?" Or perhaps, "This is the pen that made the downstroke on the letter 'n'." And how is it determined how many pens are to be used? How big a "shot" do you have to be to share in this largesse. It seems to me that the use of some if not all of these pens is so minimal, and the custom so absurd, as to make them totally worthless. But apparently not. People must actually desire these souvenirs, no matter how miniscule their function or exaggerated their importance. Then the question arises, what do they do with them? Mount them? Frame them? Put them on a pedestal? Bronze or Gold plate them (if, indeed, they are not already gold plated)? Surely they do not take such a precious gift home and merely continue to use it? And it seems most unlikely they just take them home and throw them in a drawer along with other pens -- unless, perhaps, those other pens were acquired in the same manner. Do you suppose our senators and representatives engage in contests to see who can garner the most of these pens? Are there bragging rights? Do people collect them? Are they worth money? Does the President himself keep a copy of each pen he uses? What, really, is the point of all this?
I have no idea what type of pen is used. But knowing the proclivities of governmental officials you can bet they are expensive (what President would hand out cheap pens?). Has anyone ever toted up the cost of pens for the President for one full year? Four years? Eight years? The cost of pens over the space of several years must be absolutely astronomical. Not only that, I bet these pens are not even made in American. Is it any wonder we have an out of control national debt?
Sadly, even disgustedly, there is nothing partisan about this bizzare practice. It is not a Democratic custom as opposed to a Republican one. All Presidents do it, and apparently have done it for a long time. It would be interesting to know just which of our honored ancestors started this appallingly wasteful, unnecessary, even downright silly thing to do (actually, I don't really want to know). But the next time you hear someone complain about waste in government, speak up loud and clear: STOP WASTE! ONE PEN ONLY! BUY AMERICAN!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Life after death?

I have just seen the most extrordinary program on television I have ever seen. I never watch Larry King as I believe him to be the most obsequious parasite on the rich, famous, or supposedly important people ever. But I confess I could not resist his program in which six supposedly expert representatives of their faiths (or lack of them) held forth about something they could not possibly know anything about - namely, what happens to people after death. There was a fundamentalist bible believer, a Rabbi, a Muslim, a Catholic priest, a sort of love is the thing type, and the president of the Atheist society. It was a hoot! How on earth these presumably adult humans could blather on about life after death was amazing. Obviously none of them could have known anything whatsoever about life after death. But that didn't keep them from telling us all about it. True, no one carried on about going to the "Happy Hunting Ground," or living up on the clouds with the angels playing harps, or just going on to another world where things would continue as life on earth, only better. But at least one (guess who) did claim than anyone who did not accept Jesus would be doomed. He was not directly challenged but it was obvious that all of them, except the Atheist, believed there would be some kind of existence after death. There were even people calling in to discuss these weighty matters, as if, somehow these were questions that could actually be answered. It was absolutely amazing. Makes you wonder what they will ponder next week - how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Anyway, I already know what happens to you when you die. Nothing. That's what happens. You know why? Because you're dead, that's why. If God gave us one gift at all it is the ability to die and therefore to escape completely this vale of tears, greed, murder, rape, deceit, corruption, worry, war, genocide, torture, ill health, and the all around unpleastantness of being. Indeed, the blessedness and euphoria of death is that nothing further CAN happen to you. You can depart in peace, eternal peace. That is the gift of God, if indeed, there is a God which seems highly unlikely, and if there was one the fact that he would give you a gift is even more unlikely. Just look around, do you believe that an omnipotent, omnipresent superior being would allow what is now going on in the world?

As our leader in he Senate is about to start a new religious war I guess we will have to fight the battle of "The War of Religion and Science in Christendom" all over again. Happy days! Let's turn the clock back a few centuries. Maybe we can have a modern day inquisition. Won't that be fun?

Bolton, I think, is going down. Let's hope for the bug killer also.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cheney not interested in democracy

Well, Dick the Slimy has come right out and said it: if the Senate is tied over eliminating the filibuster I will vote to eliminate it. Clearly he is not interested in checks and balances or democracy. Just anything to give Republicans more and more power - absolute power they hope. How Americans have been able to stomach this absolutely evil man all this time is beyond my comprehension. Everyone with a brain larger than a pea knows he is the Rasputin behind the mentally challenged Bush. He conveniently stays under his rock unless speaking to an already sympathetic audience (just like Bush). Indeed, to do otherwise would risk disaster. What if anyone had the temerity to ask him a real question?

What on earth do they teach people at the Harvard Medical School? I don't know if Frist is a good surgeon or not but he certainly is one stupid jerk. Having had many years of experience working in Medical Schools with M.D.'s and hard science Ph.D.'s I know from first hand that outside of their narrow specialties they are among the most uneducated people on earth. I have actually been asked if there are people with no language! Their ignorance in anything outside of their own profession is so profound as to be virtually unbelievable. I guess if you go through four years of Pre-Med, then four years of Medical School, then an internship you probably don't have much time for anything else, including just plain common sense. Frist would seem to be a poster boy. I guess DeLay may know something about bugs. How do you become an exterminator in the first place? I think it is clearly a royal road to Congress. You got a problem? Just step on it.

Can things really get any worse? Just watch.

Winter has been long and cold.
Now Spring will come late,
just as you came late to me,
bringing unbridled
happiness, everlasting.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Where are we?

Let's see, how are things going?

The national debt is at an all time high.

The Stock Market is not doing well.

The violence in Iraq is apparently increasing.

The Bolton nomination is in trouble (and rightly so as it has to be about the dumbest thing ever - thank Dick the Slimy for that).

DeLay is in big trouble and may very well be on his way out (thank God).

The Republicans are going to attempt to seize absolute power by eliminating the filibuster (and thereby probably shutting down the government for all intents and purposes).

Frist is going to address a meeting in which they are going to accuse Democrats of being anti religious (this is a real beauty).

Bush's Social Decurity babble is getting nowhere (probably isn't intended to do anything other than take our minds off the real problems).

The cost of the Iraqi "war" has now reached 300 billion dollars (a "war" that was supposed to be paid for by their oil).

Almost 1600 American troops dead, thousands maimed, probably a hundred thousand innocent Iraqis killed (we are very concerned about their well being, that's why we illegally invaded their country and killed them).

The price of gasoline is going up and up and Bush says he is helpless to do anything about it (whatever happened to his buddies in Saudi Arabia?).

Bush's poll numbers show him at less than 50% and falling. Congress doesn't even do that well.

Condi Rice is travelling around the world telling everyone how to behave (don't do as we do, do as I tell you to do - I'm sure this is greatly appreciated).

President Cheney briefly surfaced the other day to announce that he would be happy to break the tie of the filibuster disaster if need be (this is a person with absolutely no shame whatsoever).

The dollar continues to fall, adding to the cost of gasoline and everything else (Bush can't do anything about that either).

The new Pope thinks he has the right to meddle in our elections. If you don't vote his way, excommunication. As his way tends to be he way of our Churches of the Altogether Bonkers this does not bode well for the future. What is wrong with sexism, homophobia, and absolute medievalism?

Other than that I guess everything in the U.S. is just hunky dory.

I don't know who said it, but I thought it was most apt for the moment: "Too many Christians, not enough lions."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Waiting, but not very patienly

I am waiting, but not very patiently, for the next shoe to drop in the Bolton case. I am also waiting to see if that absolute slimebag DeLay somehow wiggles out of his rightful comeuppance. Is there any justice at all in this current totally corrupt Administration? So far it does not appear so. Here is another short story while we wait.

Quentin III

Quentin, age thirty-two, knew he should not still be living with his mother. He also knew, although he seldom thought about it, that he should stop calling her "mummy." Nevertheless, he kept living with her and calling her mummy just as he kept going to work at the accounting office every working day and going with mummy on weekends to the park or a concert or a tea. They never went to the zoo even though Quentin would very much have liked to.
Quentin was not unusually handsome but he was pleasant looking and, of course, immaculately groomed. Mummy saw to that. His suits were tailored, his shirts and ties and stockings and shoes always matched, and he was never without the proper handkerchief tucked carefully into his jacket pocket. On rainy days he carried an umbrella and in winter never went without his galoshes. On this particular day he certainly did not need them. It was a glorious Spring day. Sunlight filtered through the emerging leaves. Birds engaged themselves noisily in their annual rituals of courtship. The air was crisp and clean. The wind coming across Lake Michigan was gentle.
Quentin, enchanted, walked briskly, looking both to the right and left so as not to miss anything. He tipped his hat symbolically to the elegantly attired ladies he passed and
continued his businesslike walk to the station, arriving punctually as always. The only available seat was toward the rear of the car. Quentin crossed his legs and leaned against the window. Directly across from him sat a dumpy looking woman whose eyes were crossed. Quentin believed she was staring at him but could not be certain. Seated next to him was an enormously fat man wearing two coats and holding a heavy shopping bag. Between his legs were two similar bags. Through the window, past the cross-eyed lady, Quentin could see a shabbily dressed old woman kicking a pebble in front of her and mumbling to no one in particular as she ambled slowly along to no apparent destination.
When the car stopped at the next station Quentin rose to offer his seat to a woman carrying a baby. She smiled in gratitude and he moved as far back as possible in the now overcrowded car and stood with his back to the wall. Even more passengers were crowded into the car at the next station and the one after that. The passengers became so crowded that Quentin found himself standing belly to belly with an unusually attractive young woman. Embarrassed, he pretended not to notice; but he surreptitiously studied her. A lovely face with unusually clear skin and the most beautiful large brown eyes Quentin had ever seen. Her auburn hair shone beautifully even in the dim light of the car as it passed momentarily through a tunnel. She wore an attractive gray suit jacket highlighted with a light red
kerchief and an oh-so-subtle but sensuous perfume. As the top of her head came only to Quentin's chin the rest of her was quite invisible to him. They stood forced together by the mass of humanity for several minutes as the train shook and jostled along the track, Quentin becoming more embarrassed by the moment. Suddenly the woman looked up and smiled at him, saying in a lovely musical voice, "Perhaps we ought to get married." Totally flustered Quentin blushed and pretended to laugh, then averted his eyes. "I didn't mean to embarrass you," she apologized, continuing to smile.
"It's quite alright," he answered as casually as he could.
"Bye," she said, "Here's my stop." As she made her way out Quentin could see she had a figure to match her face: long slender legs, a woman's hips, and breasts that filled out her jacket to perfection. He wondered who she was and craned to see which direction she went. It was no use. The train carried him away before he could locate her on the crowded street.
Quentin entered his office with an uncharacteristic grin, still thinking of the strange encounter. He forgot about it for a time when his work absorbed him but then, during his lonely lunch, he thought of her again, wondering if she took the same train every day. He remembered where she had departed. He tried to remember exactly where she had boarded. He knew he would look for her again and again.
"Quentin," his mother said at dinner that evening. "You've scarcely touched your dinner. And you haven't said a word about your day. Is something the matter? Do you feel well?"
Quentin looked at his mother with her beautifully done hair and tasteful gown, her strands of pearls and diamond rings, the jade brooch on her ample bosom, her carefully manicured nails and the look of concern in her eyes. He glanced around the apartment with its Chinese rugs, his long departed father's netsukes lined on the mantlepiece, the Japanese prints on the walls, the celadon vase on its pedestal, the luxuriousness of his mother's home.
"Sorry, mother," he mumbled, looking down at his poached salmon , "I was thinking of getting married."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Where do people get their ridiculous ideas? For example, Chafee's excuse for voting for Bolton (unless he changes his mind) is that the President is entitled to name anyone he wants for various positions. If that is so, why is the Senate involved at all? Why can't the President just announce who he wants and that is that? Because that would give him dictatorial powers. What if he decided he wanted Falwell or Robertson to take over civil rights? Or Attila the Hun to be Secretary of State? Clearly the idea that the President ought to be able to have whoever he wants is utter nonsense. Chafee is just a wimp. But as of today Condi Rice is reported to have used the same argument. How pathetic. Bolton is an absolutely stupid unreasonable appointment and should by all means be resisted. Of course Bolton is Cheney's choice, and as Cheney is really the President what can poor old Dubya do?

Republicans are worried about a delay on Bolton. It is crucial that we have someone at the U.N. immediately, otherwise we are at a disadvantage. Bullshit! They don't want a delay because they are afraid more bad news about Bolton will turn up. Previous appointments to the U.N. have taken months to process. This one, however, has to be done immediately without further checks on the candidate. Republicans are truly hypocritical and disgusting.

It looks increasingly like DeLay may be going down. I don't want to yell hoorah just yet but I am very hopeful. It will be like surviving cancer, only better. He is truly one genuinely hateful, dishonest, slimy, nasty, power-mad, corrupt jerk. Wouldn't it be nice if just once a couple of nasty bullies like DeLay and Bolton got their commeuppance? It's things like this that tempt me to actually pray.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Bolton confirmation

I almost never try to watch the Senate in (in)action. It is so boring and so slow. I don't understand why anyone would try to make a living like that. But they do, and I guess they think it is important. They just stand around for hours. Today, however, I happened to turn it on because of the Bolton hearing. Luckily I happened to tune in at just the right time. So I actually watched for a while. I thought that Biden and Shays were wonderful, passionate, well-informed, determined to challenge Lugar and his Republican committee that obviously wanted to railroad the confirmation through without any further delay. Kerry was good also. Boxer got in her two cents as well. The one who I think saved the day, however, was Republican Voinovich. After listening to Biden, Shays, and others he announced that he was not prepared to vote on Bolton without further information. Hegel then indicated he, too, was not very satisfied. So without any vote Lugar was forced to put off the hearing for at least a couple of weeks so that further information could be forthcoming. A small victory for Democrats, but a victory nonetheless. I have no idea if Bolton will ultimately be confirmed - but I know he shouldn't be. It was interesting to note that it took almost two hours to get them to vote on a two hour delay. Our government inaction (ha ha).

I note with no satisfaction that Dick Cheney still exists. He apparently came out from under his rock to give a speech for the ten year anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing. Bush was apparently too tied up with his futile lies about Social Security. It must be hard for them, this constant competition over who can lie the most, the fastest, the most frequently, etc. Cheney wins hands down when it comes to the most outrageous lies. Bush probably wins the the dumbest.

The slimy bug eliminator still manages to escape his comeuppance. I'm still betting he eventually goes down. But I am an incurable optimist (not). This current Republican bunch is certainly a fine group of utterly unprincipled dishonest characters who have vowed party over principle, party over people, party above all. With such feeble Democratic opposition they just keep on getting away with one outrage after another. Look for the "nuclear option" to come next.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Elections, Wars, and Apathy

By now it should be clear to even the most mentally challenged that the 2004 election was stolen through a combination of dirty tricks, faulty machines, dishonest election officials, and what have you. But where is the outrage? As the major media, both print and television seem to be uninterested I guess the public is likewise uninterested. President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker are apparently forming a bipartisan non-governmental commission to look into the electoral system. James Baker? They must be kidding. When John Bolton and the rest of the Republican brown shirts physically intervened in the vote counting in 2000 this fascist attempt to take over our government should have been exposed and they should have gone to jail. Nothing happened. They were allowed to get away with this absolutely unAmerican episode. Nothing will come of this Commission either. Ho-hum, just politics as usual.

The same thing is true of the absolutely illegal and unconstitutional "war" Bush/Cheney started in Iraq. This was and is a war crime of monumental proportions - but who cares? No one it seems. Bush/Cheney just persist in their lies and continue their crimes and no one seems to care. I guess it is indeed, "the miracle of apathy."

I cannot wait until tomorrow for the vote on the confirmation of Bolton. If he gets confirmed that will tell us just how vile the Republicans have become. There seem to be no honest or decent Republicans anywhere these days. Just party loyalty and screw the public. Democrats, with their hands in the same tills, of course do nothing.

The dark forest beckons me
to a mystery,
but I am fearful to go,
as residents there
may resent my intrusion.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Disgusting Republicans

Actually, I discovered long ago that all Republicans are disgusting. But some are more disgusting that others. Consider the case of John Bolton. He has now been exposed by more than one person (his own Republicans, by the way) as an absolutely disgusting bully who seemingly will stop at nothing to get his way. The worst kind of bully who picks on those so far beneath his status they have no chance of defending themselves other than by complaining (which up until now seems to have not helped them much). In fact he appears to be a genuine example of a rotten son-of-a-bitch. So it will be interesting to see this week what the Republicans will do. Do you think they are going to say, "we know he's a rotten son-of-a-bitch, but he's our rotten son-of-a-bitch? Probably.

Then we have the case of the ethically handicapped Tom DeLay who insists his only problem is that the Democrats are picking on him. Poor boy. Just because the House changed the rules on the Ethics Committee for no other reason than to protect him is no reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. Just because he was admonished three times for violations is no reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. Just because he may be indicted in Texas, etc., etc. Let's face it, this is another absolutely rotten son-of-a-bitch who probably makes Bolton look like a saint.

We also have Frist and Lott who seem to think that the filibuster is basically an attack on God. Where do the Republicans even find these guys? I guess when Republicans use the filibuster it is not an attack on God? These guys are so unbelievably hypocritical it leaves one speechless. But there you have it - Republican role models. With guys like Bolton, DeLay, Frist, Lott (and many others just as bad) Republicans are leading us on to even more glory than up to now.

Democrats are not without their own rotten bastards. At least 18 of them, and one Independent voted for the debtslavery bill. Let's remember it in 2006 and beyond.

I guess you are all aware that the United States is 49th in the world for literacy. We are 28th our of 40 countries in mathematical literacy. Twenty percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth. U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, second to last among developed nations, only Mexico scores lower. We are 41st in the world in infant mortality. I could go on, but what's the point? We all know this is the greatest country in the world and that we are not only noble but always right. It is our God-given mandate to spread this righteousness around the world - by force if necessary.

Be of good cheer.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Are things at last falling apart?

The stock market has suffered triple digit losses three days in a row. Does that tell us anything about confidence in the economy? While the price of oil came down somewhat in the last couple of days does anyone believe we will ever have cheap gasoline again? Indeed, there are people who are arguing that the best thing that could happen to the U.S. is if gasoline would rise to $4.00 per gallon. This is actually a cogent argument as the Automobile industry would be forced to build more fuel efficient vehicles, the environment would benefit, the U.S. would be seen as actually trying to do something about global warming instead of simply denying that it exists, and so on. I'm all for it.

Where do Republicans like Bill Frist and Newt Gingrich get the idea that they should or could run for President? Talk about a couple of conservative nincompoops! I guess they believe that the wacko right would be enough to elect them. I don't think so. In fact, I believe that by the time the 2008 election rolls around the superstitious movement will have been seen for the utter nonsense it is. As always I could be wrong. But I cannot bring myself to believe that a majority of U.S. citizens really believe science is unimportant, the rapture is coming, the bible is literally true, etc., etc. Nor do I believe a majority of U.S. citizens will get behind either a draft or another war. Indeed, I believe any attempt to institue a draft to go to war against Iran will probably bring about an anti-war effort so immense it will make Vietnam look like a picnic. Bush's popularity index is at an all time low at the moment. Do you believe trying to force people to send their sons and daughters into the valley of death for more oil is going to fly? To anyone with the mind of anyone past the age of five the obvious solution to the energy problem is not to try to find and/or steal more oil - it is to find viable substitutes for that commodity. But don't expect the Bush/Cheney (you do remember Cheney don't you?) people to give up on oil. After all, that's where they make their obscene amounts of money.

Let's face facts. Our grand and beautiful country is going down the tube. We no longer excell at anything. Soon we will be begging the world to forgive us and keep on giving us the handouts that keep us going at all. "Can't work for food. We forgot how."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Frozen potatoes? - essay

Watch n' Wait: Yes, of course you are right. Hilary probably wouldn't have a chance. But I hope she doesn't get the nomination in the first place. I don't think we need a member of the Board of Directors of WalMart as President. Just another Corporate hack.

Frankly, I can't stand any more politics for the moment. Things are so bad and so little is being either said or done about it that I now regard the situation as hopeless. We are seriously thinking of moving either to Europe or Canada, possibly New Zealand. The U.S. under this Administration is sinking into oblivion. We have become a culture of trivia and utter nonsense. Pass the suntan lotion, might as well look healthy as we slowly fade away into history.

Do we really need frozen potatoes? I was amazed to learn there even were frozen potatoes. You see, our fairly new supermarket is more or less divided into three large sections. On the right, as you enter, is what I regard as real food. That is, fresh vegetables, fruits, fresh meat and fish, and even a modest delicatessen where you can get sandwiches, cold cuts, fried and baked chicken, stuff like that. Real food. There is also a bakery that makes fresh baked goods every day. The middle of the store is taken up by canned foods, diapers, lipsticks, deodorants, toothpaste, shampoo, feminine products, and other stuff like that. Canned goods take up a great deal of the space.
The third section is for frozen foods. As I rarely, if ever, use frozen foods, I do not typically wander in this section. Not long ago, however, someone asked me to buy some ice cream. While peering into the rows of freezers looking for what I thought was an odd brand of ice cream I discovered frozen potatoes. I was shocked! Shocked! Not only are there frozen potatoes, there are frozen potatoes galore. As I gazed in wonder at these rows of potatoes I learned there are many different versions of frozen potatoes. For example, there are frozen shoestring potatoes, shredded, hash browned, hash browned southern style, O’Briens, simply shreds, fajita fries, french fries, golden crinkled, zesties, steak fries, steak cut, tater tots, crinkle cuts, crispy crowns, taters, tater bake, and seasoned french fries. There are probably a few more that I didn’t actually observe. And, as some of these are made by more than one company, the choice for those who indulge in frozen potatoes is monumental indeed. Frozen potatoes occupy a freezer bin at least 20 feet long and somewhat more than three feet across, a very significant amount of space in our state of the art market.
Learning this, I was led to ask myself, do we really need frozen potatoes? Potatoes are cheap. Very cheap compared to most foods. Usually you can buy a 15 pound bag for well under five dollars. Indeed, potatoes here where I live sometimes can be purchased for as little as eight or nine cents a pound. Five pounds of tater tots will cost you $4.99. That is cheap as frozen potatoes go because 2 pounds of seasoned french fries are $1.98. Crispy crowns are even more expensive, as are most of the others.
But not only are potatoes cheap, they are also delicious and easy to prepare. They don’t even need to be peeled and for the most part they don’t take very long to cook. There are hundreds, if not thousands of delicious recipes for potatoes. Granted you might have to go to the trouble of washing them and cutting them up, but is that really so great a price in labor that you should turn to frozen, already prepared ones that cost three, four, or five times as much? I mean, really, how lazy can we get? And what about the satisfaction that comes from cooking a really savory dish of potatoes? Having never cooked frozen potatoes I guess they must be mostly microwaved. This does, of course, save time, time that can be devoted to other more passionate pursuits such as soap operas, hockey games, game shows, reality tv, and other such important endeavors. I wonder, do they get a lot of satisfaction out of dumping their frozen potatoes into the microwave?
Oh, I know, I know, time is money. We’re busy people. We don’t have time to cook. Have to get the kids to school, get to work on time, eat on the run: McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Roy Rogers, Arby’s, Jack in the Box, etc., etc. But remember, we’re talking potatoes here, not truite au bleu, beef wellington, confit d’oie, ballottine de caneton, or pickled pigs feet. As I’m sure you can surmise by now, I’m not into Fast Food. Actually, I’m a real aficionado of Slow Food, especially when it comes to potatoes.
Horror of horrors! I have just learned you can even buy canned potatoes! If frozen and canned potatoes are the measure of civilization, give me the simple more primitive life. I’m signing up with the slow food people today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No surprises these days

Surprise! Karzai, the U.S. appointed leader of Afghanistan, is asking the U.S. to maintain permanent bases in that fractured, troubled country. Have to have some way to protect those oil pipelines. It is as if we didn't know from the beginning it was all about oil and control of the Middle East supplies. Precisely the same thing will happen in Iraq. Nothing new about any of this. Force a regime change, install a puppet government, agree to support and protect them as long as they promise the oil (or whatever else the precious resource is). Hey, it's the American way.

In another developing story it appears that Newt Gringrich (remember him?) is going to try to run for President. Talk about fantasyland! He was (and is) so odious he was forced out of the speakership, is almost universally despised by probably a majority of Americans, but somehow thinks he can be a candidate for President? Maybe he thinks that next to Tom DeLay he looks good. Actually, if that is the comparison he probably does look good. There are still some who seem to think DeLay will survive. I don't think so. But I am often wrong. God, how I hope I am not wrong this time.

Hilary is coming on strong. I believe running her for President would be another Democratic mistake as I think she is basically another Republican lite. But if she were to be nominated how could any Democrat not support her? We need a new face entirely, not just business as usual. There must be someone who is not on the Corporate take. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is already too late. There's a depressing thought for the evening. Here is another.

Gone are the mighty forests.
Muddy rivers run,
where once the mighty salmon
swam in multitudes,
and now smother in the mud.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

What to make of it all?

I cannot understand what is going on in the world and especially in the United States. It appears that in the Bush/Cheney Administration the bigger the failure the bigger the promotion. Wolfowitz has already made it to head the World Bank. It appears that Bolton will probably be confirmed. Tenet and others have already had their rewards. There were television shots of Bush today speaking to the troops somewhere or other, a short helicopter ride from his hideout in Crawford, in which he spoke of our great victory in Iraq. Our great victory in Iraq? Clearly he is not of this planet. It was interesting to note that all of the hundreds of assembled troops had brought with them their little paper American flags which they waved with great enthusiasm. I guess they were enthusiastic because they are all going back to Iraq. I wonder if Bush made them pay for the flags?

Bush continues to ride nobly forward on his dead horse towards Social Security destruction. Happily, the more he pursues his agenda the worse it appears. I gather the seniors have announced that Social Security will never be privatized. Doesn't really matter to Bush because he doesn't care about anything but distracting us from the much greater problems of his Administrtion: war crimes, national debt, environmental destruction, potential economic collapse, the destruction of the dollar, etc, etc.

In the meantime his base is occupying itself with impeaching judges who don't think juveniles should receive the death penalty, try to follow the Constitution rather than the dictates of the far right, think gays should probably be executed, along with doctors who perform abortions, and other "Christian" ideas like that. They are all "pro-life" except when it comes to "towel heads," "gooks," "spiks," or other non-lunatic religious bigots. What to make of it all? Beats me.

Monday, April 11, 2005


There was a time when only landowners could vote. Then there was a time when only adult white males could vote. Eventually women were allowed to vote, and finally African Americans were allowed to vote, although many phony rules and regulations inhibited the latter, and still do. I have no problem with the idea that non-landowners, women and black people should have the right to vote. But sometimes I think we have gone too far with the notion of universal voting rights. I have touched on this previously but the question haunts me still.

You have to have a driver’s license to drive. In order to get it you must pass a test. In all states you have to have a license to hunt although you do not in all cases have to pass a test. My point is simply that even to engage in these relatively simple tasks you have to prove yourself competent. Not so when it comes to voting. In order to vote in the United States you only have to be above the age of 18 and a United States citizen. That is, you can potentially be insane, even criminally insane, alcoholic, a drug addict, a criminal, pedophile, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Mormon, Zoroastrian, or any one of the hundreds of so-called religious orders that are permitted in the United States, even illiterate, and you are still allowed to vote. There are no tests, no other qualifications, nothing. Doesn’t this strike you as somewhat absurd? After all, what is more important than voting for the people and principles that are going to lead your country?

Really, don’t you think there ought to be at least some minimal qualifications for voting? Perhaps a nonpartisan course in American history, the Constitution, the separation of church and state, the current issues that are facing the country, or at least some kind of assurance that voters have at least some semblance of an idea of what is involved? I know, I know, we are supposed to get such information from the media – but nowadays we certainly don’t. And presumably our educational institutions should enlighten us about civics and civil rights and such things – but they clearly fail. In other words our official are elected by a majority of know-nothings who, if they vote at all, just go through the motions. Personally, I find this frightening.

It would perhaps not be quite so frightening if we were not at the moment at the mercy of a bunch of absolute know-nothings. In my opinion anyone who professes to believe in the literal truth of the bible, or any of the strange derivative ideas such as the arrival of the Rapture, should not be allowed to vote. Such people are divorced from reality and the potential implications of this are too serious to be tolerated. If people believe it is not important to look after the environment because the Rapture is coming I don’t want them voting. If they cannot distinguish between science and irrational belief I don’t want them voting. If they believe the President of the United States communicates directly with God, I don’t want them voting. The stakes are far too high to allow such absurd ideas to have equal weight in world affairs. If people want to believe in such utter nonsense I suppose it is their right – but they do not have the right to impose such nonsense on the rest of us. The best scientific knowledge available to us cannot simply be ignored because of religious babble or arbitrary beliefs about what is or is not moral or acceptable.

Unfortunately under the present Administration this is happening. There is no doubt that Bush/Cheney and company are ignoring scientific advice in favor of fundamentalistic claims about global warming, scientific research, and whatever. They have an agenda and they are not going to allow reality to impose upon it. Apparently they are going to take the money and run and to hell with the future. They must be stopped before they can do totally irreparable damage.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Will DeLay survive?

Having been an atheist for as long as I can remember I am beginning to reconsider. If there is no God how can one explain Tiger Woods uncanny ability to hit just the miraculous shot that he needs just when he needs it? Surely someone on high looks after him.

On a more serious note, is it possible that Tom DeLay might actually survive his current investigations? There seems little doubt that he is guilty of serious ethical lapses, to put it mildly. If the Republicans cannot purge themselves of this blatantly ethically handicapped slimeball it means we are in even bigger trouble than we think. What truly amazes me is that he has supporters. I guess there are many in the Republican party who think this kind of behavior is perfectly okay. Actually, I guess this is what the Republican party has come to - cheat in every way possible, at all opportunities, trample on the Constitution if necessary, lie constantly, stonewall, defend war criminals and torturers, even commit treason if it suits you. The Grand Old Party indeed! Greedy old pirates would be more like it.

It does appear that the Administration might be starting to unravel. They are not doing well on Social Security, and doing even worse on the right to life. The Schiavo episode was a disaster for them. The economy continues to tank. They are not doing well in Iraq or Afghanistan. Their environmental record is beginning to catch up with them. The price of gasoline, while doubtless putting more and more money into their pockets, is becoming a burden on the populace. Social services and education are becoming only memories. They are, in short, an absolute disaster. But again, don't forget the miracle of apathy. The American public probably does deserve what it is getting.

Bush on his knees praying for the Pope. Carrying hypocrisy to ever higher standards.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Loonies attempt to take over

Can you believe it? The Loonies recently held a meeting in which they discussed, seriously, how to take over the judiciary. Some suggested simply minor remedies for uncooperate judges, such as impeachments, even mass impeachments. Others seemed to suggest more drastic measures, such as killing them. Why are they so upset? Because some of the judges simply won't unconstitutionally rule in their favor. Curiously enough, most of the judges at issue were actually appointed by either Ronald Reagon or George Bush the First. Where are Genghis Khan and Joseph Stalin when we need them? Some say the Republicans, at least the Republicans in charge, may have overstepped their bounds his time, and perhaps they will have to pay the consequences for their extremism. There is no doubt they have overstepped their bounds. There is no reason to believe they will have to pay for it. Democrats don't seem to care. The public doesn't seem to care. No on seems to care. Hey, it's just politics as usual.

In our local paper the other day there was a cartoon that I think may sum up the problem. Two men in a bar having a beer. One of them says, "I used to get upset about politics, but then I discovered the miracle of apathy." The American public has adopted the miracle of apathy. No doubt about it. How else can you explain that a small band of war criminals has managed to lie us into an unnecessary "war," destroyed the budgetary surplus we had, destroyed the value of the dollar, increased uemployment, forced more and more Americans into poverty, systematically attacked the environment, illegally hold prisoners around the world, torture them, and claim they are above the law, refuse to do anything about our disastrous medical care system, spend outrageous sums of money on defense systems that don't work, violate the constitutional separation of church and state, relegate our educational institutions to nothing more than busy work, refuse to acknowledge science as opposed to superstition, destroy whatever international reputation we may have ever had, and god knows what all else.

Let's face it, the fascists are now in almost complete control of our nation. And some say here is nothing we can do about it. There may be something we can do before it is absolutely too late - but everyone has to WAKE UP!!! This is the most dishonest, greedy, short-sighted, secretive, evil administration in the history of our nation. We are being led by a small group of lying, evil, disgusting war criminals. Pretending to pray for the Pope doesn't cut it. Pretending to promote a "culture of life" on the part of this administration is carrying hypocrisy to entirely unprecedented levels. For the first time in my life I believe in the admonishion, "stop the world, I want to get off."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Carol - poem

Wonderful woman,
brimming with love and laughter,
you had no dark side,
and wore a feather boa,
an affectation,
which made me love you more.

I cannot forget
a friendship forged so long ago
and so enduring,
a gauche girl when first we met
and now sophisticated,
a woman,
brave and unafraid
of the approaching darkness.

My admiration is infinite,
my affection boundless,
as I watch you struggle
against the black clouds of sorrow,
the ravages of pain and evil.

When finally you must go
I'll cry and tear my hair
and put ashes on my head
and curse the melancholy emptiness,
the darkness, and the void.

Whatever happens I know
you will be part of me forever
as remembrances of you
have become part of myself
and must remain so
until I, too,
engage the Great Mystery
and find everlasting peace.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

More flotsam

Henry Cisneros. Remember him? He was Housing Secretary during the Clinton Administration. An Independent Counsel was appointed to investigate his wrongdoing. His crime - he lied to the FBI about how much he paid his mistress. He didn't lie about paying her. He lied only about how much he paid her. For that he was fined five years ago and the case was presumably settled. But no, not so fast. David M. Barrett, the Independent Counsel, is still pursuing the case, although it is not at all clear why. He has spent 21 million on this dastardly crime in the past 10 years and still has not given his report on the case. In effect, he created a law firm with only one client, the U.S. government, with taxpayer's dollars. Clever, no? Ah, these Republicans. They are so clever.

I have to admit I am not at all pleased with Bill Clinton's palling around with the Bushes. It only goes to prove that Clinton has all along been not much more than Republican lite. He was in many respects a good President. At least he more than balanced the budget, put people to work, at least tried to do some medical reform and so on. But, of course, he did it by adopting Republican issues. And he was clever enough to do this all the while maintaining he was a Democrat. But there is no excuse for his slavish clinging to the Bushes who did everything in their power to impeach him and destroy his Presidency. It only proves that he has no genuine commitment to anything other than his own interests. It is like James Carville being married to Mary Matalin. No real commitment to their politics, just opportunism and career choices.

Maybe, just maybe, after the Pope is finally buried on friday, we might actually get some other news. Don't bet on it as they still have to choose a new Pope. I have never regarded myself as anti-Catholic as such, but I confess to believing the now deceased Pope was a full-blown sexist and homophobe, leading an institution that was absolutely Medieval, in which grown men dressed up in fancy expensive robes and presided over an empire which aided and abetted pedophiles. Why is it that in every poor town in Catholic countries the largest, most expensive, elaborate, ostentatious building is an enormous Catholic church? Couldn't all that money have been put to a better purpose? I also confess to finding it absolutely hilarious that after The DaVinci Code sold 25 million copies the church suggested that people not read it. Such is life. Sigh!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


When it comes to the subject of evolution why should we have to respond to the unbelievably stupid claims of the Churches of the Altogether Demented? What do you mean you don't believe in evolution? The question should be, how on earth can you not believe in evolution? The answer, I guess, is that somehow the world is too complicated or beautiful or whatever to have been created without some kind of "Intelligent Design."

But if that is their claim they should be able to demonstrate some evidence of intelligent design. So, let's see: human beings are regarded by these people as the absolute apex of creation, they are modeled on the image of God, they are so wonderful as to have dominion over the beasts and the earth and blah, blah, blah. So why do they insists on killing each other almost as fast as they can? Why do they seem to be intent on fouling their nests as fast as possible? Why are they so short sighted and greedy? Why can they absolutely fail to get along with each other no matter what? What is intelligent about child abuse? Crime in general? Poverty? What is intelligent about a few having so much and the vast majority having so little? Why should people have to die long painful lingering deaths with their organs slowly rotting away? Why should there be diseases of any kind in the first place? How is it that they can torture each other in the most painful excruciating means possible? What is it that makes them believe they are intelligent at all when all the evidence indicates they are probably the most unintelligent creatures on earth? There is no other species of any kind with the track record of killing, maiming, torturing, destructivism, pillaging, raping, and what have you of the human species. Let's face it, in the ultimate scheme of things we are the most pathetic, unintelligent, rapacious, destructive, vile, stupid creatures that ever existed on the planet. But not to mind, the Rapture is coming soon.

I want these people who do not believe in evolution to tell me why not. But no bullshit about intelligent design. Don't tell me the bible says...Don't confess your ultimate idiocy. Just tell me why you don't believe in evolution. Expain to me how it is that the earth was created in only 6000 years, dinosaurs did not really exist, ancient human fossils have just been faked, geologist, paleontologists, and others who have spent their lives researching such things are just plain wrong, we are the culmination of intelligent design, the apex of civilization, the top of the great chain of being, the god-like creatures who hold the future of the planet in our hands, and totally lack the intelligence and the will to do anything in the least bit responsible.

George W. Bush says the answer about evolution is still in doubt. I guess that is what they teach you at Yale.

Monday, April 04, 2005

On the Konigstrasse - short story

The Konigstrasse is the heart of downtown Stuttgard. Pedestrians walk its wide cobblestoned corridor, browsing in the many fine shops and stores, sitting with their refreshments at outdoor cafes, arguing politics, joking and laughing, watching the human scene. Only a few blocks in length, the street ends towards the northeast at the Hauptbahnhof. Approximately midway there is a slightly larger than life-size bas-relief of a nude female with one prominent and generous breast. Although you rarely if ever actually see anyone touch this lovely breast, it has been worn smooth by thousands of caressing hand, and I strongly suspect it is often lovingly and surreptitously kissed as well.
Entering the Konigstrasse from the southwest, moving along leisurely, you may encounter an organ grinder with his monkey, a magician, sidewalk artists, a quartet of colorful Peruvian flautists and drummers offering their distinctive music, a war veteran with no legs at all, beggars, peddlers hawking miscellaneous wares, and an altogether unbelievable variety of people, sometimes exotic, sometimes not. As you near the Hauptbahnhof, on your right is the Oberer Schlossgarten, a cheerful small garden with many colorful flowers, and sturdy benches on which lovers and others sit to enjoy them. There is also a gazebo where sometimes there are concerts. It is easy to spend an entire afternoon on the Konigstrasse, and difficult to imagine a more bustling, pleasant, or inviting place. But there is danger there as well, and hate.

We saw the "punk" approaching: mohawk haircut dyed bright red, dangling earring, baggy clothes, cigarette, probably eighteen to twenty years of age. Suddenly, with a look of terror in his eyes he began to run, followed by seven or eight tough looking youths of about the same age but dressed in more ordinary working men’s attire. He ran faster. They continued the chase although not as fast, apparently confident they would eventually catch him. Attempting to elude his pursuers the frightened boy turned into a side street, but as if on cue another party of similar toughs blocked his path. I do not know if this was by design or was merely a coincidence. But caught now between the two attacking groups there was no escape. One of his pursuers punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. They all joined in, kicking him viciously, taking turns it appeared, to see who could damage him the most. Although he rolled into a fetal position they repeatedly kicked him with their heavy shoes: his ribs, his stomach, his head and groin. Apparently satisfied, the fifteen or so cowardly bullies formed themselves into a ring and shouted together: sieg heil! sieg heil! sieg heil! Bystanders paused to watch as the brutes swaggered obscenely and unopposed towards the Bahnhof, presumably to drink beer and boast of their exploits. An old man knelt by the bloodied unconscious victim who was bleeding from his mouth and ears. The Konigstrasse fell quiet. But just for a moment.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Constitution Restoration Act

If you have not heard of The Constitution Restoration Act you have better "listen up." (Wherever did such a disgusting phrase originate?). In brief, this bill will replace the idea of "we the people" as the source of law and justice with a Christian deity as the "sovereign source" of all our laws. This is not a joke. On March 3rd this was filed as Senate bill S. 520. The House version is H.R. 1070. The primary sponsor is Senator Richard Selby (Alabama, wouldn't you know), who claims to have 28 sponsors and "enough votes for passage." The implications of this are so frightening it is difficult to believe it could happen. See Znet of this day for more.

There was a large scale attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in which some 50 or more American troops were wounded (we don't know if any were actually killed). This after we are being reassured that attacks are diminishing and things are beginning to go much better. If you were to go by what we are told by our media you might think nothing happened at all in either Afghanistan or Iraq - simply non events. And we are also being told that our troops will come home as soon as the Iraqis can control their own country. Why, then, you might ask, are we building some 14 permanent bases in that unhappy country? Well, some say they are not permanent, some say they are. As the cost of these "temporary" bases is now exceeding 3 or 4 billion dollars what do you think? I think we are doing exactly what we set out to do: take over the country, establish a puppet government that will do what we want, leave enough troops there to make sure it will work, control the oil, and thumb our nose at the rest of the world. Ah, democracy at work. All that seems to have happened is that we have moved our bases from Saudi Arabia and installed them in Iraq. This may work for the short run but in the long run probably not. But when did the U.S. ever worry about the long run?

It is income tax time. Can there be anything more absurd that our current tax laws? I am convinced that no one understands them, not even the people who make their living preparing them. Frankly, I doubt there is any connection whatsoever between what people report and what they actually may or may not owe. I don't really object to paying taxes. I like roads and health care and police and fire protection and stuff like that. What I don't like is more bombs, tanks, guns, supersonic killing machines, and etc. Think what a marvelous place the earth might be if all that money was spent on protecting the environment, getting along with others, international cooperation, eliminating poverty, overcoming diseases, sharing, and so on. But I fear that as long as human beings exist none of this will ever happen. Is this all truly just the result of original sin? I don't think so. People are greedy and short sighted - that is our curse.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Back from Europe

Well, Morialekafa is back. I will not bore you with details of our trip but merely observe that when it comes to food and transportation the Europeans have it all over the U.S. No comparison. We did learn that we would like very much to return to Prague when we could stay longer. But you have to like cobblestones.

I had hoped that in our absence something good might have happened. I should have known that no good will ever come from this Bush/Cheney Administration. I guess George W., Jeb, the ethically handicapped DeLay, and the Dr. who can diagnose from videotapes all made complete fools of themselves. Of course they scored some points with the various Churches for the Altogether Deranged. I was a bit surprised when Jesse Jackson showed up but then I remembered that he always shows up when there is a chance for publicity. All in all it seems a complete waste of time although it did demonstrate once again that Republicans will not hesitate to stomp on the Constitution whenever they wish. Thank heaven that Terri Schiavo was finally allowed to die in a peaceful and dignified manner. Her husband and some of the judges may not be so lucky with all the threats going around.

Interestingly enough we did not see much news about Bush. The Europeans seem to be trying to ignore him, recognizing that he is of extremely limited abilities, and apparently waiting somewhat impatiently for it all to pass. We did not experience any form of anti-Americanism but several people remarked that Bush was not very popular. No one seemed particularly rabid about it, just resigned.

I guess the Social Security fiasco is about over, at least for a while. A much deserved defeat for Bush. But it doubless served its purpose - keeping our attention away from the real problems he has created. Simple problems like Medicare, Health Insurance, the obscene national debt, the failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, torture, war profiteering and other war crimes. Remember, no matter what the outcome may be Iraq, it is still an illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and unnecessary "war" and Bush/Cheney and their gang are all war criminals. What with the media attention to the Terri Schiavo case and the obsession with Michael Jackson you might conclude that nothing is really going on in either Iraq or Afghanistan and no war crimes ever occurred in either place. The major American media are an absolute disgrace.

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