Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Worst of Times

Forget that famous first line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." One can only say of 2006, It Was the Worst of Times. Did anything happen in 2006 that made you happy or joyful? Was there any moment during which you actually believed that goodness was triumphing over evil? Did you really believe at any time we were winning the "war?" Did you believe that Bush/Cheney knew what they were doing? Did Congress do anything that seemed to you to be really useful or positive? Unless you were particularly enamoured of death and dying, maiming and pain, rape and destruction, mindless killing, lies and war crimes, I think you would have to agree that 2006 was not a vintage year. Do we even dare hope that 2007 will be any better?

Somewhere today I saw an article that claimed that in a recent poll one out of four Americans believed that Jesus would return to earth in 2007. I do not believe it. I acknowledge there are a lot of fundamentalists out there, and I am willing to believe they are pretty stupid, but I do not believe that 25% of Americans believe Jesus is returning this year. Here in Bonners Ferry we have several fundamentalistic churches (indeed, an amazing number of them given the population), and I know many of the members of these congregations, but I don't know any that would argue that Jesus is about to imminently return to earth (they are willing to argue about other issues equally as far-fetched). As I said previously, there seems to be some kind of conspiracy on the part of the MSM and the polls to present Americans as far more religious than they really are (or so it seems to me). Perhaps I am so divorced from mainstream American culture that I really don't understand what is happening. In any case, I sincerely hope that 25% of my fellow citizens do not believe Jesus is about to appear this new year. I don't even believe in the "Rapture," or that the Israelis should be entitled to all of Palestine. I guess I am just not much of a "believer."

So what do I have to complain about? I have just shared a meal of tapas and a bottle of champagne with my lovely wife, the house is warm, my son is doing very well in school, we are all in reasonably good health, we look forward to another marvelous spring when everything comes mysteriously back to life, and although we are members of the rapidly disappearing middle class, things are still pretty damn good. But there is still that nagging feeling of guilt, the sense that somehow I should have been able to prevent the terrible disaster that has been wrought on the world by those who presume to represent me, the empathy for those who are suffering unbelievably and unnecessarily, the senselessness of the bloodbath that has overtaken Iraq and Afghanistan, the greed and stupidity that has led to it all, and the helplessness I feel to change things. I look forward to the coming year with the hope that perhaps justice will prevail after all, that things will get better, that good will ultimately win out over evil.

So with uncrossed fingers, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, they did it

They did it. They hung Sadam. They did it in a hurry after a trial that was little more than a farce. Sadam was convicted on what was, relatively speaking, one of his least important crimes. And then he was rushed off to the gallows as fast as possible. Why do you think this happened? It would seem to me that had he been tried fairly, and tried for gassing the Kurds, as well as for his attack on Iran, it would have exposed the complicity of the United States in these various nefarious enterprises. Who stood to gain by this rush to judgment (and hanging)? Iraq? I don't think so. Sadam's death will almost surely result in more conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. World opinion? I don't think so. Most of the world will see that it was the U.S. that wanted to bring Sadam to death as soon as possible and in a way that would reveal the least about our deadly meddling in the Middle East. And no one is going to believe that Sadam's trial was held by Iraqi courts independent of U.S. interference.

After a three hour meeting at the pig farm Bush announced that he needs more time to come up with a plan. Can you believe it? He spent a whole three hours presumably working on his Iraqi disaster. I guess in his spare time he was "clearing cedar" (I read this someplace). Would someone please explain to me why he clears brush and cedar on his pig farm when he apparently doesn't raise any crops or livestock? What is the point of all this concern over the brush and trees? Of course it does make for great photo-ops.

I have to admit to being "on pins and needles" waiting for his plan for "moving forward" in Iraq. I guess after almost four years of incessant killing and war crimes it is time for some sort of plan. I bet it's going to be a real hum-dinger. I mean, after all this consultation, thought, and hard work how could it be anything less? Will it be even remotely sane? Doubtful. Will anyone, Democrats or Republicans do anything to stop it? Doubtful. Will we ever be able to overcome the military-industrial-political system that is slowly choking us to death?

In case you haven't heard, the dollar is going the way of the dodo bird. The Euro is becoming the coin of choice. The U.S. is becoming a third world country. Why are Bush/Cheney allowed to continue in office? They are far worse than Nixon ever was. Indeed, far worse than any administration in U.S. history. So where are the "good guys?" Where is the Lone Ranger now that we need him so desperately? Tarzan? Captain Marvel? Anyone? Someone? Is reality going to finally grasp us in its talons and beat us to death? Stay tuned for the further adventures of Bush/Cheney, the most evil, disgusting, incompetent, dishonest, murderous, unconscionable, and despicable U.S. politicians of all time.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Jimmy Carter

I have never known just what to make of Jimmy Carter. I didn't think much of him when he was President. Somehow he always struck me as at best a Baptist nerd or at worst a Jesus Freak. I also think he may be living in a kind of dream world (even though he should, having been President, know better). Consider his description of American values:
"Our people have been justifiably proud to see America's power and influence used to preserve peace for ourselves and others, to promote economic and social injustice, to raise high the banner of freedom and human rights, to protect the quality of our environment, to alleviate human suffering, to enhance the rule of law, and to cooperate with peoples to reach these common goals." (Jimmy Carter, Our Endangered Values, p. 1).
I confess that my reading of American history, from our first contact with American Indians, through the Mexican war, the Philippines, our consistent interference in Central and South America, the Middle East, and elsewhere, the condition of our environment, does not indicate to me that these are values we engaged in. I think this may be a perfect example of what he claims to have been his mantra since childhood: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (p. 48).

Anyway, having followed his career, post-Presidency, and having just finished his book, Our Endangered Values, I have to admit my overwhelming admiration for this strange Georgia peanut farmer. There is no doubt that he sees and understands perfectly well the terrible things that have transpired during the Bush/Cheney Presidency. He reports in clear and concise prose just what the problems are and where they originated. Once you get through the first two or three chapters of modest bible thumping you are rewarded by a most insightful analysis of where we are going very wrong and why. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I have not as yet read his latest, Peace or Apartheid, but from what I know of it through reviews and comments, I am sure he is telling the truth about the Palestinian situation, and the truth, as you know, hurts.

Because of pressure from Bush appointees the Park Rangers at the Grand Canyon are not allowed to talk about the age of the canyon. And they are being forced to sell a book that says the canyon in a result of the flood. Can things get any more pathetic than that?

There are some now who insist that Bush/Cheney are going to bomb Iran, or allow Israel to do so (which is the same thing). With a broken military and the overwhelming sentiment of U.S. citizens and the rest of the world against such a thing will they really do it?

"But the brilliance, the versatility of madness is akin to the resourcefulness of water seeping through, over and around a dike." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, p. 215).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hang him quick!

Saddam Hussein. They say he may be hung by sunday. That's it. Hang him quick before he can spill the beans about the U.S. involvement in the Iraq/Iran war, biological weapons, and other things we don't want anyone to know about. While I have no sympathy for him, I do believe he received an entirely unfair trial, he should not be hurriedly put to death carrying vital secrets to his grave, and as the leader of a sovereign nation he should probably be entitled to at least write his memoirs (which I am certain would be of great interest). Who, besides the U.S, has anything to gain by his immediate demise?

Meanwhile, back on the pig farm, Bush is reportedly meeting with his trusted advisors to plan his course of action in Iraq. Want to bet it will be an escalation of some kind? Bet on it. Bush will never admit to defeat in Iraq no matter how obvious it is to everyone else. So look forward to a long "war," many more unnecessary deaths and casualties, and more mindless killing for a totally lost cause. No one seems either willing or capable of stopping this insane "decider." The Republican party, that he is systematically destroying, quite likely forever, and that could stop him if they wished, have apparently swallowed the kool-aid to the point where they, like the other cultists, are willing to perish in one last inglorious attempt to "move forward" (stay the course). I sincerely hope I will live long enough to see these murderous cretins held accountable for their multiple and horrendous war crimes.

I just finished reading The Making of Casablanca (special 60th anniversary edition) by Aljean Harmetz (another Christmas present). If you are interested in such things this is an exceedingly thorough, informative, well-written, and enjoyable book. It may tell you more than you truly wish to know about the making of this classic film. When I was a boy my father never received anything for Christmas other than neckties and Lucky Strike cigarettes. Now that I am old, and growing older by the day, I receive almost exclusively books. I am aware that many of these books just happen to be books that either my wife or my son would like to read. I would never complain because, in fact, both my wife and my son have an eye (or a nose) for really interesting and worthwhile books. Bring 'em on.

Stop the presses! Hold your breath! Sometime soon the decider is going to decide! The suspense is killing me. If he decides to escalate the "war" in Iraq and possibly bomb Iran I suggest you "head for the hills" as fast as possible.

Oh, by the way, Israel has announced they will build more illegal housing in the West Bank, a flagrant violation of whatever pretend agreement we supposedly have with them. Bush has told them they are naughty. %$#@^&*!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

News 24/7?

Would it not be much closer to the truth to advertise non-news, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week? Or perhaps all day and all night trivia? You might think that the world is a pretty big place, with many countries and many things happening. But our much vaunted 24/7 news stations seem to think that one or two or perhaps on a really good day, three items, constitute all the news. Not only that, those items seem to be randomly selected simply to fill up as much of the 24 hours as possible. For example, they will spend hours on a car chase. Like, so there's a car chase in Los Angeles. So what. There are many car chases in Los Angeles. I wouldn't be surprised to learn there is probably one or more per day. So why do we have to waste hours on a car chase? Who cares, except perhaps those who are chasing or being chased. Then there are murders or disappearances. If the presumed victim is a young white woman they will pursue this endlessly for days on end. As there are murders and disappearances of women everyday why does one get singled out for nonstop attention hour after hour? Is this stuff really even news? I would like to hear much more about our disaster in Iraq, or what is happening in Israel or Syria or Lebanon, or zillions of other places in the world. Apparently very little happens anywhere else in the world except in Los Angeles where there are car chases.

Then there are news stories that are worthy of attention. But how much attention are they worthy of? For example, President Ford died at 93 years of age. I confess to not being particularly surprised when someone who is reportedly in ill health and is 93 years old, dies. I like to know about it. And I don't mind hearing about his life in general - once, or maybe even twice. But I don't want to hear about it for hours or days on end. Once the announcement is made, and once the required laurels are recited, I think we should move on. I'd rather know what is going on in Russia, Japan, China, Manchuria, Indonesia, New Guinea, or wherever than more of the funeral arrangements (apparently no news is happening in any of these other places).

Some cynics argue that the reason the news people do this is because they don't really want us to know what is truly happening in places like Iraq, Palestine, Chechnia, and so on. I don't know if this is true but I confess it does seem that way. Have you noticed that Free Speech TV and Democracy Now don't do this kind of overly repetitive crap day after day? They mention something once on their news and then move on to something else. How refreshing.

Whatever happened to the fourth estate? It was sold to corporations who want you to know nothing but be entertained. The FCC and the industry needs much more than just a bit of fine tuning. Will the democrats do anything about this terrible situation - ha ha, most unlikely. I don't think Marx ever envisioned that you could buy off the poor with soaps, nascar, monster trucks, football, mud bogs, and long-legged girls in skimpy outfits. But what did Marx know?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Emerald City

I have just finished Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (a Christmas present). This is pretty much a straightforward account of Americans living in the Green Zone during the tenure of Bremer by someone who was there and who seems not to have been unduly burdened by partisanship. I have no reason to believe that it is other than truthful. It is a story of unbelievable arrogance, ignorance, incompetence, and cultural indifference. As it ends at the time of Bremer's departure it is not able to capture the worse that was to come.

Interestingly, oil is barely mentioned. There is no indication that the attack and occupation had anything much to do with oil. Indeed, the impression one gets from this book is that most of the people who were involved in rebuilding Iraq were truly interesting in doing the right thing for those unfortunate people. But however well intentioned they seem to have universally been handicapped by a lack of funds, mismanagement from afar (the White House and the Pentagon), and an unwillingness to listen to the Iraqis themselves. They wanted to create a viable Iraqi democratic government but, of course, the unspoken assumption was that it would be a pro-American government (democratic only insofar as it pleased us).

The Green Zone (that came to be known as the Emerald City) was a seven square mile area completely divorced from the rest of Iraq. With 17 foot walls capped with razor-sharp wire it was regarded as safe from attack (although this proved to be not completely true). Within this area there was everything you might want in an American city - restaurants, bars, swimming pools, air-conditioning, dry cleaners, movies, and so on. Over time it became increasingly difficult for residents of the Emerald City, be they politicians, reporters, administrators, or whatever, to travel outside for any reason. The critical decisions for the future of Iraq were made within this protected area and almost exclusively by people who knew nothing of Iraq culture or character.

Individuals who were appointed to positions of power and influence were selected most often on the grounds of whether or not they had voted for Bush and believed in his policies, rather than if they actually had expertise in what it was they were to do. Most of them seemed to be true believers. One even confessed to Chandrasekaran that "he wasn't there for the Iraqis, but for Bush." Later, at some kind of reunion of those who had served in the Green Zone at that time, one of them reported that he/she regarded "having swallowed the kool-aid" as a badge of honor. Is it any wonder that we failed so dismally in Iraq? I recommend this book to everyone. It is a no nonsense account of monumental incompetence coupled with unconscionable arrogance and abysmal ignorance.

Giving those involved the benefit of the doubt that they really wanted to do the right thing this would seem to be a perfect example of what Georgie Anne Geyer described as "The Evil Within the Innocence" ( of today):

"If that (failure) happens, ironically, it will because of that layer of the American soul that, eschewing history, human nature, common sense, the public good and natural experience, turns out to be, in its innocence, truly another form of evil."

It has now apparently been decided that we need more troops, not only for the potential "surge" that under the circumstances is patently ridiculous, but also in general (for Bush's never ending "war"). As we are having trouble recruiting enough new cannon fodder, even though the requirements have been drastically lowered and the acceptable age raised to 42, and as trying to reinstitute a draft would probably result in a revolution, the Bush/Cheney Pentagon is suggesting we recruit foreigners as mercenaries, promising them citizenship. If Bush/Cheney can sell this idea to the House and the Senate (and the American public) we will certainly be doomed (indeed, there will be no hope for us whatsoever). We need to cut our military budget by 50% and start to mind our own business (like health care, education, infrastructure, environmental health, etc., etc.). The rest of the world will survive without our paternalistic, imperialistic, holier-than-thou, unwanted and unappreciated interference.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever

Here at Sandhill we are having a white Christmas. We have real snow and supposedly it will be snowing again this evening. We have a tree decorated with lights and the usual ornaments that stay with us year after year. There are presents galore (the usual Christmas overkill), we had a few friends in for a modest party, the kittens from hell have not as yet managed to destroy the house, things in general, are good and life is pleasant (as long as you do not think about anything outside the confines of your own home or about those whose lives are utterly miserable).


Saturday, December 23, 2006

I don't believe it

A recent poll, I think taken by AP/AOL, claims that 81% of Americans believe angels are real. Sorry, but I just don't believe it. I don't know what the questions actually were, don't know who was polled, don't, in fact, know anything about it. But I absolutely do not believe that 81% of Americans believe angels are real. I have lived now for quite a long time. During that period I have known and been exposed to all kinds of Americans. I do not believe I have ever known a single person who would admit to believing angels are real. Furthermore, I do not believe Americans are anywhere near as religious as all these recent polls and articles would like us to believe. Why has church membership fallen off consistently for years? Why are some of the fundamentalists so concerned that so few young people are staying with the church? I am not usually a conspiracy buff but I am beginning to believe there may be a conspiracy to portray Americans as far more religious than they truly are (I don't know who is behind this but I suspect it is so). Maybe it is an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that some of our churches seem to have been little more than institutionalized ways to abuse children. It could be there is just a huge gap between what people say they believe and what they actually do.

Maybe I don't believe this because I am an atheist and simply cannot believe that anyone could possibly believe in such totally irrational beliefs. I am an equal rights cynic. I believe in the Great Mystery which of course I do not understand. But I do not believe I am going to understand it by going to church on sunday and studying the bible. Nor do I believe that praying on my knees five times a day is going to enlighten me. I also do not believe that speaking in tongues or embracing reptiles is going to help. Supporting a bunch of old men walking around dressed in expensive medieval robes and carrying sceptres (or whatever they are) does not give me faith. I believe that people who fight to the death over their irrational beliefs are simply insane (whether they be Christians, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, or whatever). I absolutely do not believe in prosyletizing and think it should be illegal. Whether a woman should wear a black cap or a white cap, or a burka or merely a head scarf, wear a cross or a St Christopher medal, believe someone was swallowed by a whale or built an ark, is waiting for the Rapture, or whatever, strikes me as completely trivial and not worthy of even bothering about. I do not believe angels are real nor that they dance on the heads of a pin.

On a more sober note, some of our generals have accepted the kool-aid. Whereas just the other day virtually the entire Genral Staff was opposed to the "surge," now a couple of generals on the ground in Iraq have accepted the idea. Do you know how one becomes a general? And how generals move up in grade? It is not by arguing with the commander in chief (even if he is a blithering idiot). So we will probably have a "surge" which will accomplish nothing other than more deaths and perhaps extend Bush's tenure as President long enough for him to dump the whole mess on someone else. We will not try diplomacy, we will not withdraw troops, we will not give up permanent bases, we will not do anything that reveals even a semblance of intelligent thought, we will not pass "Go" and we will drop a few more billion dollars. Those elected officials who could so something to stop this insanity seem to have abandoned their posts and stand around sucking their thumbs. Ah, democracy, American style.

The bears in northern Spain have stopped hibernating. Does that tell you anything? Polar bears are resorting to cannibalism. Does that tell you anything? Tomorrow is canceled due to lack of interest.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Worth it?

Pardon my skepticism but I don't understand the phrase "worth it" as used previously by Madeleine Albright and just yesterday by Condi Rice. When Albright was asked in 1996 if the lives of 100,000 Iraqi children was "worth it" (the it being the sanctions we were imposing on Iraq) she said that it was. I guess she must have meant that the sanctions were keeping Iraq from doing stuff they weren't supposed to be doing (like building atomic bombs and stuff). As it seems to have turned out Iraq had largely abandoned such stuff not long after the first Gulf War so they weren't doing this stuff anyway. But what the hell, 100,000 childrens' lives don't amount to a hill of beans when you're really doing "good." Besides, the Iraqis have plenty of children anyway. I don't know if Albright really believed this or was just saying what she thought needed to be said under the circumstances at that time. Maybe she did believe it. Personally, I don't believe there is any political goal worth the lives of 100,000 children. I think we might give Albright the benefit of the doubt. Either she believed it, or she felt she was doing her job.

Not so in the case of Condi. When she was asked if all the lives lost in Iraq and all the billions of dollars poured into that unfortunate country was worth it, she replied that yes, it indeed was. The problem I have with this is that there is no "it." We have accomplished nothing in Iraq. They did not have WMD's for us to destroy. They were not affiliated in any way in bin Laden, and by destroying Saddam we have made the country worse than it was under his dictatorship. We certainly are not spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. We are occupying their country against their will. We are obviously losing the "war" in spite of the lies from the White House. We have created a truly horrible civil war and are now caught up in it with no viable plan to withdraw and seemingly no viable options of any kind. And we are guilty of blatant war crimes, not the least of which was attacking Iraq in the first place. We haven't even succeeded as yet to gain control over all that oil. So just what is the "it" for which all this "worth" was expended? Condi Rice is every bit as delusional as Bush.

Our new Secretary of Defense, Gates, has just assured the Iraqi "government" that we are not going to abandon them and will be there for as long as necessary. Bush wants to increase the size of our military because it is going to be a long fight (presumably against terrorists). Cheney has said nothing will change as a result of the Democrats victories in the recent election. Bush is ignoring the Baker report (as predicted) and pretending to gather advice for "moving forward" (staying the course). This may be the only time Cheney got it right. Nothing has happened to change the neocons original goal. We are not going to bring our troops home from Iraq. Indeed, we may even send some more. We are not going to give up our goal of establishing a U.S. friendly government that will do our bidding. We are not going to give up the permanent bases we have been building or the enormous unprecedented Embassy. Even the Baker report did not recommend that we actually withdraw all of our troops. And as far as I know no one so far has ever denied the permanent bases even though there have been occasions when that was called for. The issue of the bases just seems to be ignored as if it is not important. Cheney wants that oil so badly he will be willing to sell out the Sunnis and join forces with the devil if that's the only way he can get it. The neocons will never vacate Iraq until they are forcibly thrown out just as we were in Vietnam (or perhaps until we have successfully privatized their oil industry in such a way we have control over it with the help of a puppet government - this seems increasingly unlikely). In the meanwhile pay no attention to any claims about withdrawing our troops, leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, and so on.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

When is enough, enough?

I am totally opposed to any further buildup of our military forces. We currently spend more on our military than all of the rest of the world combined. Can no one perceive when enough is not only enough but far more than enough? Who is it we are currently arming ourselves against? Do we envision an invasion from outer space with battalions of tanks and aircraft carriers and submarines, to say nothing of gigantic green monsters with weapons we have not yet even imagined? Just who is it that is going to attack us on the battlefield where we would need more tanks and cannon and what all? Oh, I bet China. I'm sure they will want to destroy their most lucrative market. And how about Russia? I bet they are just arming up now to launch an invasion on our mainland. And of course there is Iran, just trying to hold back their citizens from personally attacking us all. Cuba has always been a big threat. If you look over our nuclear subs you can probably see them from Florida. Our military/industrial/political cabal is nothing short of an absolute obscenity. Who elected us to manage the affairs of all the other countries that make up the world? Most of them would like nothing better than to get us the hell out of their politics and just leave them alone. We do not need 50 billion dollars to repair our military equipment that under our current procedures will be obsolete before it is repaired. We do need 50 billion dollars for health care, education, environment, infrastructure, and so on. What on earth is wrong with us? Who is it we fear so much? If it is terrorists we certainly do not need more tanks and planes. We might need some common sense which seems to have disappeared of late. When I contemplate our current situation I can only conclude that we are insanely paranoid and are being force-fed nothing but corporate nonsense non-stop. I'm surprised they are not encouraging a tank in every garage and a 50 caliber machine gun on every lawn (have to be prepared, you know). The longer we thoughtlessly allow this to continue the worse it becomes. Is everyone's brain so saturated with football and soaps and obsolescent materialism they just can't be bothered?

There is a real problem with our military and national defense that I am having much trouble trying to work out. For example, I am not enamoured of having an all volunteer army. I was not in favor of this for the simple reason that I suspect the loyalties of such soldiers may well be more to those who pay them than to our country itself. When you consider our apparently growing "army" of mercenaries (Blackwater, or whatever) this becomes absolutely frightening. On the other hand, I am not very keen on a draft (which in the past has operated pretty much as a lottery and also was given to abuse - think Bush and Cheney, for example).

Although my wife (and many, many others) are opposed to it I am leaning toward a mandatory period of national service (not military service per se) for everyone once they graduate from High School or become 18 years of age. This would definitely be service for their country and among other things could impress upon them the importance of being informed citizens and voting. Such service could include virtually anything: building infrastructure, medical, environmental, or agricultural work, and even military service if interested. Probably 18 months or more of such service, during which time they would be taught such things as citizenship, patriotism, ethics, and the joys and importance of community.

This experience would not be unlike the kinds of initiation ceremonies carried out in many parts of the world but without the violence often associated with such rituals. In the New Guinea Highlands where I worked, for example, youths were allowed to run pretty much wild until a certain age when they were initiated. During the initiations they were treated very roughly, made to go without food for a time, held over fires, beaten with thorns, subjected to brutal treatment of their genitals, and such things, but they were also told that now they would have to settle down, marry, garden, bear children, defend each other, and, in general, become responsible citizens. We could do this without the violence and abuse and perhaps get the same results. This would be mandatory for all children, rich or poor, black, white, or other. It could be a kind of Civilian Conservation Corps, Peace Corps, Vision Quest, Initiation all rolled into one. It might even produce some truly motivated and decent citizens who would take their government seriously. Anyway, think about it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Insanity writ large

No, no, no, no, no, a thousand times no! We do not need to send more troops to Iraq! We need to withdraw troops from Iraq. NOW! There is no way another 20 or 30 thousand troops in Bagdad is going to accomplish anything other than more and more useless deaths. If Bush goes ahead with a plan to send in more troops it will only prove that he is genuinely insane and should be removed from office, along with his Rasputin vice-president, probably the most evil man on earth. These two should have been removed from office a long time ago. As Republicans refuse to curb their dogs (do anything about these two war criminals) I can only conclude they have given up and are willing to accept the demise of their party for the foreseeable future, perhaps forever.

Even if Bush comes to his senses (highly unlikely as I think he has no senses) and does not order more troops into Iraq, he is going to use this situation to increase our military by another 70,000 or so troops. Wow! That is just what we need, an increase in the military-industrial-political system. I guess the fact that the U.S. already spends more on our military than all of the rest of the world combined isn't enough. We need to spend more. We need more useless tanks, humvees, howitzers, mortars, billion dollar submarines and planes, nuclear bombs, chemical weapons, and all the latest equipment to murder the largest number possible, even though we can't even defeat a local population armed with rifles and molotov cocktails. Does it not occur to anyone how completely insane this is? Perhaps if we didn't have troops stationed virtually all around the world trying to run everyone else's business we wouldn't need to spend quite so much. I guess it would be too much to expect that Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Haiti, Luxemburg, Lichtenstein, and Monte Carlo might spend a few bucks defending themselves (from what I am not certain), the communists gave up some time ago. Oh, yeah, I forgot, we have to watch out for Cuba, they may be massing their invasion armada at this very moment.

As much as I hate to admit it this is a problem that goes even beyond Bush and his evil mentor. We are in the grips of a military-industrial-political-corporate cabal that is running roughshod over every basic human interest. Millions without any health care, a failing educational system, a decaying infrastructure, environmental degradation, global warming, a looming recession, and what we need is a larger standing army? We need to send more troops into a lost "war" (into the jaws of death rode the 500), and increase our spending on the military? Can we not recognize insantity when it is staring us in the face?

The only hope, it seems to me, rests with the American public, if they can resist Bush's suggestion that we just go out and shop. Can we tear outselves away from football and the soaps long enough to actually pay attention to what is going on? And where is the guy on the White Stallion or the magically cape? The U.S. is in big trouble.

There is something wrong with a culture that needs so much storage.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How humiliating

You don't hear much about this but it appears that SMU does not want the Bush Presidential Library although that is supposed to be where it will be created. I don't know if it is official that they don't want it or just the case that there are many faculty and others who definitely don't want it there. It strikes me as the ultimate humiliation. Can you imagine being a President so bad that people don't even want your (presumably prestigious) library? Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

There is still insane talk of sending more troops to Iraq. And we are apparently sending more forces into the Persian Gulf. It looks ominous to me. Absolutely nothing positive can come of this. It seems to be common knowledge now that no military solution is possible in this phony "war," so what is the point of sending in more military? Bush/Cheney seem to be completely unwilling to try serious diplomacy and cling to their idiotic belief that we can somehow "win." Control of Iraqi oil is such a powerful goal Bush/Cheney are seemingly unable to give it up no matter how many lives are lost or ruined. We have already lost the "war" in Iraq. No amount of troops will make any difference. Even if we send in half a million troops and manage to control all of Iraq we will not have won. You cannot win when you are on the wrong side, and make no mistake about it, we are definitely on the wrong side. We invaded a sovereign nation that was no threat to us (or anyone else), the most basic of war crimes. We killed and tortured and lied and profited, and destroyed their country. We are the losers no matter what happens now. There are no moral grounds for what we have done - none. We have lost all credibility and respect that we might have once had. Along with Israel and to a lesser respect, England, we are now THE problem for the world. We have only our own stupidity and greed to blame for this unbelievable disaster. NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL! Bring our troops home now! And let's have some accountability for the greatest military and foreign policy blunder in our history.

Monday, December 18, 2006

No terrible idea ever left behind

Bubblehead: Thanks for your concern. Actually, we drove to Seattle on friday, through the storm. Quite an adventure in our Subaru Forester (with no chains) which performed like a champion. Coming home early sunday morning was even more fun. With less than a quarter of a tank of gasoline we discovered that all the pumps in the University District were out of gas. We decided we could probably get to Isaquah (sp.?). On the way we tried to pull off somewhere else where they advertised gas. It was completely dark (no electricity). We could not find our way back on the freeway. We found a hidden police car who agreed to lead us back onto the freeway. Arrived in Isaquah - no electricity and therefore no open gas stations. We found a grocery store with a generator. They told us to go back towards Seattle and exit at a certain place where we could finally find gas. We did, although we barely made it, and it all ended happily ever after. The storm in Seattle was bad, bad. I think they still have no electricity in Isaquah. The moral of the story: do not have a son attending the U. of W. during the winter if you live out of state and have to bring him home for the holidays.

The Bush/Cheney bunch seem to have a passion for really terrible ideas and never seem to let one pass them by. Attacking Afghanistan, where no invader has ever succeeded, was probably not a clever idea (however justified it may have been). So let that one pass. A pre-emptive attack on Iraq was a truly terrible idea. Pulling troops out of Afghanistan to do so was a terrible idea. Disbanding the Iraqi army was a terrible idea. Allowing widespread looting was a terrible idea. Having too few troops to control Iraq after the initial attack was a terrible idea. Allowing Halliburton and other war profiteers to get non-competitive contracts was a terrible idea, as was not allowing Iraqi contractors to participate in the rebuilding. Completely destroying Falluja, especially with illegal weapons, was a terrible idea. Torturing captives was a terrible idea. Illegal spying on people was a terrible idea. Spending enormous sums of money that we do not have was a terrible idea. Lying to bring about a pre-emptive war was a terrible idea. Continuing to lie about how well it is going is a terrible idea. The latest terrible idea is to send in even more troops when it is already widely agreed there is no military solution. As there can be no military solution, refusing to enter into discussions with other affected countries is also a terrible idea. Expecting some kind of minor "surge" of military activity to accomplish anything other than more American and Iraqi deaths is an idea that goes even beyond terrible. How anyone, especially someone like Harry Reid, to support this idea is simply beyond my comprehension.

Other than all that I guess things are going pretty well in Iraq and environs. Bush will soon announce his plan for Iraq (four years too late) and the Middle East. I would not get your expectations up above the level of none whatsoever. In the meanwhile, while Bush continues to diddle, more of our troops and many more Iraqis will die. Oh well, we are spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. Bush doesn't have to worry about the judgement of history because he will be dead (along with several hundreds of thousands of others who perished for no reason other than his idiocy). In the idiom of my childhood, things are just going "swell."

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Stop me if you have heard this one:

A man encounters a farmer who has a pig with a wooden leg.

He asks, "why does your pig have a wooden leg?"

The farmer says, "well, once I fell in the river and was about to drown and this pig swam out, grabbed me with his teeth, and saved my life."

Impressed, the man said, "wonderful, but why does your pig have a wooden leg?"

Once again the farmer explained, "my house was on fire and I was asleep on the second floor. This pig came up and dragged me out and once again saved my life."

"Great," the man said, "but why does your pig have a wooden leg?"

"Once I fell down on the railroad track," the farmer said, "and this pig dragged me off just in time to save me from being run over by the train."

"Wow," the man said, "it certainly seems to be a wonderful pig. But why does it have a wooden leg?"

"Well," the farmer replied, "you can't eat a great pig like this all at once."

This seem to me to be a parable for Bush/Cheney's relationship to our military.

I just finished The River at the Center of the World by Simon Winchester. Fascinating account of his trip over the length of the Yangtze and the building of the Three Gorges Dam. I think it was published in 1996 so it is a bit out of date. Even so it does give you an insight into what will probably become the single greatest human attack on the planet earth so far. I have great respect for the Chinese and I realise they had a great civilization when we were still wearing the skins of animals (or nothing at all), but I am sad they seem to be unable to learn from our mistakes. Like, building enormously destructive dams, and adding millions of more automobiles to the terrible problems those awful machines have already created on earth? Why should we not cooperate with the Chinese to solve the problem of diminishing resources instead of starting to fight over them? This is a small planet with finite resources. Competing for them is short-sighted beyond belief. Unfettered capitalism will doom us all.

Sunday. Nothing much happens on sunday. Actually, lots of stuff probably happens. It just doesn't get reported (in spite of so-called 7/24 news). All the really bad news appears late on friday afternoons (when no one is watching), and as there is no good news anymore we get larger and larger doses of Brittany, Paris, Angelina, car chases, house fires, human interest, and so on. Who pays for hours of car chases, celebrity divorces, and such things? Could it be the very people who do not want us to hear any real news? Why would they do a thing like that?

My brand new computer has a flaw. It has been returned to the manufacturer for repairs. I am now writing this on my wife's laptop and I am having trouble getting used to the keyboard. If there are lots of typos I apologize. Given my faith in such things I am assuming I will be fortunate if my computer is returned to me sometime in the coming year.

I confess that having listened to the same Christmas carols and other Christmas music for 77 consecutive years, I am sick of it. But I have no more trouble whatsoever with saying Merry Christmas than g'day or howzit goin, or goodonya. I worry not about the problem with Happy Holidays (even though this latter does strike me as perfectly suitable). So Happy Whatever.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Will He or Won't He

About 70% of Americans want our troops out of Iraq. It is widely agreed, even by members of the Bush/Cheney administration that there can be no military solution, that no victory is now possible. Some of our generals are claiming our troops are already inadequate for the job and already spread too thin. It has already been pointed out that sending more troops would be nothing more than a gamble. is being reported that Bush/Cheney are quite likely going to send in another 20,000 or more troops for one final attempt at victory. I sincerely hope this absurd plan does not materialize. Furthermore, I believe that even if they did send in more troops and were successful in eliminating the al Sadr militia (which I think is probably impossible), it would make little or no difference in the ongoing civil war. In short, in the simplest terms I can find: THIS IS AN IDEA EVERY BIT AS STUPID AND INSANE AS INVADING IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE! Can Republicans not work up the courage and good sense to march en masse on the White House and demand these fools resign? No, of course not, they are Republicans. They are not interested in how many more deaths occur, just in clinging to whatever power they might be able to salvage. And Bush is constitutionally unable to admit he did something incredibly stupid (and not for the first time) and unable to accept that Daddy's friends had to try to bail him out once again. So while he pretends to listen to others and stalls for time more and more of our troops are being sacrificed for nothing more than his ego, perhaps even his id (he obviously has no superego). What a pathetic loser he is, and what's worse, he is dragging us all down with him.

Live and Learn: There is a large and exceptionally fine Asian market in Seattle where I happen to be at the moment. They have all kinds of produce including meats of all kinds. You can find things there that you cannot ordinarily find anywhere else, like pork tongues, pork jowels, pig's ears, and such. I love the place and visit every chance I get. I recently came across milkfish. I had never heard of milkfish so I googled it up. It turns out that milkfish is a common fish in the Pacific, particularly in the Philippines, and places like that. As I have been in the Philippines, and other areas of the Pacific I guess I should have known about milkfish. But I didn't. What really surprised me even more, however, was seeing milkfish bellies for sale. Somehow this struck me as hilarious. You never hear of salmon bellies for sale, or bass bellies, or halibut bellies, or others. So why milkfish bellies? I found this hard to believe. I bet my wife that if you googled milkfish bellies you would find nothing. Is my face red! It turns out this is quite a common dish. It seems that milkfish bellies are fatty and creamy and regarded as a delicacy. I can hardly wait to try some. So, you see, even when you are old and overconfident in your ways, you can always learn something new (and perhaps even delicious).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poverty in Bonners Ferry

I saw something today that truly upset me. In the parking lot of our largest supermarket were two different individuals holding carboard signs saying simply, "hungry." One was on one side of the large parking lot and the other one was quite some distance away on the other side. This upset me because I have never seen it before here in Bonners Ferry. I could not tell if these individuals were locals or not but I suspect they were not. Did I give them money or food. Of course not. Why did I not? Because I'm not certain if they were genuinely hungry or not. These beggars have fouled their own nests as near as I can tell. I see them in Spokane and Seattle all the time. They appear on certain corners with their cardboard signs with regularity. You never see two of them on the same corner at the same time. Indeed, there is a regularity in their appearances, a regularity that can only result from some kind of organization. I suspect they are allotted certain corners at certain times. In short, it is some kind of racket. There was an article a couple of years ago in the Spokesman Review suggesting just this. So, where I used to sometimes give them money I no longer do. As the unemployment rate is relatively low, and there seem to be plenty of available jobs, why should anyone be begging? I am aware that there may be some individuals who are so crippled or mentally handicapped they may have no other choice. But none of these beggars that I see fall into that category. They appear to be perfectly healthy in every way. I suspect they make more money begging than they could make working at most minimum wage jobs. After a few hours on the street they probably go home, change clothes, and go out to enjoy dinner. I'm sorry to appear so cynical but this is what I have come to believe. Years ago there was a marvelous black man in Spokane with the most wonderful long winded story about why he needed money. I encountered him with some regularity. I finally reached an agreement with him: if you promise not to tell me your story again I will give you a dollar when I see you. This was a contract that lasted quite a long time and while it cost me a few dollars it spared me a lot of wasted time. I loved this guy. He was creative, articulate, and the twinkle in his eye gave away his wonderful sense of humor.

But on a more serious note: why, in the United States of America, should there be any beggars, no matter what their motives? Why should there be any homeless or hungry? Why should anyone have to go without any kind of health care? Why should such a tiny fraction of population control so much of the wealth? Why should a CEO make a hundred million dollars a year while others make a ridiculously low minimum wage? Why do so many millions of people go hungry and even starve while some of us sit on what is nothing short of an obscene abundance of food? An abundance so great one of our serious problems at the moment is obesity. Think about it the next time you visit the supermarket and gaze upon a sixty foot row of different frozen potatoes or row upon row of pop tarts and other junk foods. Why do little old ladies need Ford 150's or Ram 250's to do their grocery shopping? America is truly a wondrous place.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Doubling down

Doubling down. This is a gambling term which means you are willing to bet money to try to win back all the money you have already lost, sort of like double or nothing I guess. In any case the latest rumor having to do with Bush's intentions on Iraq have to do with doubling down. That is, they are going to put in another 20,000 or more troops to try to destroy one or more of the existing militias. Apparently the Pentagon is leaning in this direction. Even those who favor this maneuver admit that it is just a gamble. You got that? Just a gamble! You know, you just put in your chips and hope for the best. Except in this case we aren't talking about poker chips. THESE ROTTEN BASTARDS ARE GOING TO GAMBLE WITH THE LIVES OF OUR TROOPS, OUR CHILDREN! And they are going to do it because Bush is determined to achieve "victory" in his illegal, immoral, and unnecessary "war." Bush simply cannot admit that his "war" was a dreadful mistake or that his cause is hopeless. No amount of additional troops will make a silk purse out of this sow's ear. Even if he could destroy the militias (a completely futile task) the Iraqis would recruit new resistance fighters faster than we could kill them. And they are going to be much more highly motivated to kill us that we will be to kill them. After all, it is their country they are defending from invaders trying to steal their resources. This idea of sending in more troops to "double down" is sheer madness and will do nothing to solve the problem (of trying to save Bush's ass).

Speaking of Bush, this morning I inadvertently stumbled on to a talk (speech?) he was giving somewhere or other. Ordinarily when I have such an unpleasant accident I immediately turn off the tv. For some strange reason this morning I "girded my loins" and decided to try to actually listen to him. I quickly failed. It was so embarrassing I had to give up. He is obviously in way over his head and is simply floundering around trying to pretend he actually is thinking and doing something. I continue to believe that he is basically marginally retarded and when listening to him it seems to me perfectly obvious. It's like he is simply repeating what he has been programmed to say and is otherwise not involved in it. The look on his face and his body language tells it all - he's just not with it. For a brief moment I actually felt sorry for him, having to go out and perform for an audience that is no longer interested or invested in what he has to say. Why do we continue to put up with this? I find myself wishing someone would step on him and put him out of his misery (and ours).

For the past six years the Republicans have had almost unlimited power. They could have done great things for our country. They could have controlled Bush/Cheney and their obvious excesses. They did nothing. And they are doing nothing now. They are apparently proud of their war criminals and proud of attempting to do away with our constitution. Hopefully Big Juju will eventually give them what they deserve (if Democrats fail to do so).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Twenty one percent?

In the latest CBS poll apparently only 21% of Americans now think Bush is handling the "war" in Iraq successfully. I hesitate to even speculate on who those 21% might be (I'm sure it is better not to know). But everything is going to be okay. Bush just needs a little more time to consider all those suggestions he does not want to hear and is not going to heed. So, in January he is going to reveal his new plan for "moving forward" in Iraq (can you even imagine what such a new plan is going to consist of?). What options even exist other than either "staying the course" (now termed "moving forward") or getting out while the getting is good? I think he is either waiting for some new inspiration to penetrate his small smooth brain or divine intervention (actually it would take the latter to bring about the former). Frankly, I have no hope whatsoever that he is going to come up with any meaningful or useful plan and in the meanwhile, while he continues to stall and procrastinate, more of our troops die and/or become maimed for life. Under the present circumstances any decent person would resign. Of course that would leave us with Cheney (and you can bet your life he will never resign). Of course the Republicans could march on the White House as they did in the case of Nixon and demand that Bush/Cheney resign, but that assumes there are any honorable Republicans (and the last ten or twelve years have certainly put the lie to that assumption).

Dennis Kusinich has announced he will try again for the Presidency. Hooray! The MSM will crucify him, of course, but he will still get in some licks (and I think he is absolutely right - cut off the damn funding for any more "war" and use what they now have to bring our troops home). This will never happen because no one, Democrats or Republicans alike, are going to give up permanent bases and all that oil (until, that is, they are driven out and no longer have any choice which may not be much longer).

The Obamarama should peak soon, especially when the media turn on him, which they will, and then we can consider more sensible choices (I'm not sure that except in the case of Gore there are any sensible choices). There was a time when I was a fan of Hillary but that was before her Republican roots began to grow out. Kerry can't possibly make it. Vilsack is not well known enough, Kucinich is great but will certainly not be allowed into the inner circles, Edwards is a great candidate for vice-president, and who knows who else might turn up. Personally, I believe a Gore/Edwards ticket would win easily. But what do I know? I didn't believe that either Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush or the Gropenfuehrer could be elected.

I hope I never again hear the Republican phrase "tax and spend Democrats." It is now clear that the Republican plan is don't tax (borrow) and spend and let your grandchilden pay it off. We better hope that the Chinese will continue to be patient and humor us further in our suicidal fiscal madness. Remember the great Dirksen quote: "a billion here, a billion there, petty soon you're talking about real money." Now we're beginning to talk about trillions (whatever they are). Repeat after me, "Republicans are despicable and deserve nothing but contempt." Now sleep well because Bush/Cheney will bring you another wonderful day of blood and guts.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What if?

What if Bush/Cheney and the neocons had not lied about WMDs and a relationship between Saddam and al Quaida in order to con us into a "war" with Iraq? What if they had said something like the truth: oil is the lifeblood of our economy. We must have oil and a reliable source of it. We do not ourselves have enough oil so we have to look elsewhere for it. Iraq is sitting on an enormous pool of oil. They are at the moment basically helpless, so we propose to invade them and take control of their oil. In ordinary language, we intend to steal their oil. Bush/Cheney and the neocons apparently must have believed that had they told the truth about their intentions the American public would not have agreed. What do you think? Historically we seem not to have had any qualms about taking over Mexican lands or the lands inhabited by American Indians or the Phillipines. We seem to think it is perfectly fine for the Israelis to steal Palestinian land. It clearly has to do with the way it is presented. You can't just say you are going to steal something. You have to say those who possess what you covet are evil, or dangerous, about to attack you, or even less than human. It seems to work every time. Thus it is that those terrible, evil, less than human, Muslim savages trying to defend their natural resources, are bad, bad, while we, who want their resources are good, good, good. Can you believe it? I suggest you believe it because that is what is happening in front of your eyes. Look at the last suggestions of the Baker Commission report about Iraqi oil.

The United States has more people in prisons than any other country on earth. Somewhere I saw that one of every thirty two people in the U.S. is incarcerated. We must be very bad people indeed. The percentage of black males in prison is so great (I forget what it actually is for the moment) you can only conclude that they are really bad people. It seems we just cannot build prisons fast enough to keep up with the offenders. We apparently spend more money at the moment on prisons than we do on Universities and Colleges. This is becoming a serious financial problem. There is a very simple (but for some unfathomable reason, unthinkable) solution. Legalise drugs, especially marijuana. Our laws having to do with this plant are, plain and simply put, totally absurd. They are so absurd that even having to say they are absurd is absurd. Our prisons would be more than adequate sans marijuana offenders and the black community might even have a chance at a better life. In fact, I strongly believe we would all be much better off if all drugs were made legal (as, for example, in the Netherlands). But as we are not likely to do anything sensible I guess we need to step up prison construction.

Where did the idea of pricing things at $1.95, 5.95, 10.95 and so on ever originate. Or similarly $9.99 , etc.? Is anyone deceived by such prices? Are they truly so interested in saving one or two cents that they think these are bargain prices. It is basically just a pain in the butt for everyone concerned, especially I should think for cashiers and bookeepers. One of our two grocery stores is constantly putting wine on sale. Sometimes you can save a dollar or two, or even more on certain wines. There are little tags that say how much you can save. Sometimes they actually have tags that say your are saving one cent! Is this not some form of madness? Like, what is the point? It probably costs them more than that just to print the tags. There are features of American culture that are just simply ridiculous. But I should not get started on that as I doubt I have enough time left to even begin such an analysis. I even have a simple way to conserve a great deal of energy - turn off the lights at night (especially in skyscrapers). Oh, well, what's the use?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Captain Queeg of the Good Ship America

It appears now that George W. Bush just absolutely doesn't get it. Offered a sort of way out of the incredible mess he has made (once again by his Daddy's friends) he petulantly refuses to accept it and insists that we are going to "win" a "war" that was lost before it began. While I don't think the Baker Commission was any great shakes (see Greg Palast) at least they tried to give Georgie a chance to change direction (which he is apparently going to refuse). On the internet, if not elsewhere, there are increasing calls for Bush to "go." Some are suggesting impeachment, others that he should be forced to resign (along with Cheney). Given the personalities of Bush and Cheney (and their obvious fear of being held accountable for their war crimes) this seems highly unlikely. Besides, there are the obvious practical problems that would have to be overcome (like who would replace them). Somewhere I saw that the best strategy would be to force Cheney out first, replace him with a new Vice-Pres.ident, then force out Bush to be replaced by the new VP. This makes sense but will probably never happen. Republicans would probably insist the new VP be Tom DeLay or Newt Gingrich, or perhaps even Lieberman. If this is not going to happen what in the world is going to happen? Are we supposed to survive another two years with this apparently insane man at the helm of the Ship of State? Bush seems to be as delusional as Hitler in his final bunker, still insisting that his no longer existing army fight on to victory, the cavalry is just around the corner, the good guys always win, God is on our side, only he, his wife and dog understand the way to victory, he is right and all the rest of the world is wrong. Dealing with the delusionally insane is not easy as you no doubt all know, especially when it is being supported by the full weight of corporate power who could care less about insanity and far more about short term profits.

This impossible situation is about to come to a climax. Will democrats just ignore it and pass a new minimum wage, let bygones be bygones, and continue to support this immoral and doomed "war," or will they finally stand up for what is right and proper for our troubled country (an idea that seems to have been lost in the insatiable lust for money that now characterizes our political system). Up with their skirts and down with their pants. It's the American way.

Friday, December 08, 2006

An unbelievable mess

We seem to be caught up in a mess so unbelievable that no one, including the founding fathers, could ever have imagined it. First of all I don't they imagined that one party would manage to conrol all elements of government, Executive, Congressional, and even the Supeme Court, thus rendering the minority completely helpless. Second, I don't think they ever imagined Americans so greedy and short-sighted they would sell out their country and its future for big bucks right now. But that is what has happened in the Nightmare Years of the beginning of the 21st century. They certainly never imagined a United States intent on taking over control of the entire world. And, while they realized the potential danger of an American dictator, I'm not sure they believed that anyone elected to the highest office in the land, could possibly be evil enough to attempt such a thing (they didn't even contemplate a Dick Cheney, for example).

So here we are in this unbelievable mess, engaged in an unwinnable "war," with our country on the verge of bankruptcy, having lost every shred of decency and respect in the eyes of the rest of the world, with no end of the violence and killing in sight, and with a President so detached
from reality he continues to bray like a jackass, "we're winning and we're going to win." A mere 27% now believe he is managing this disaster successfully (I wonder how close 27% is to the functional illiteracy rate in the United States).

If this situation existed in any other country the President (and vice-president) would have resigned (if not committed suicide) by now. There is talk of impeachment but many believe it would take too long and not be worth the effort. Members of his own party could insist he resign (as they did in the case of Nixon) but given his total disconnect from reality and belief he is doing God's work, he would probably never do such a thing. But there are terrible practical problems with either impeachment or resignation. There is the Cheney situation. Cheney has poll ratings that are approaching sub-zero. If Bush were to resign Cheney would become president, a fate worse than imaginable. And now, thanks to the last elections, if both Bush and Cheney were to resign or be impeached, guess who would become president? No less than Nancy Pelosi! This would not bother me, as I believe even Pelosi's maid (if she has one) would do a better job than either Bush or Cheney. But it is pretty obvious this is not to be. So there you have it, a mess so incredible there seems to be no possible solution.

"Stay the course," has now been replaced with "moving forward." This is a case of the delusional leading the insane. Bush/Cheney can't get out of Iraq because they have to defend the oil companies who have been granted the rights to Iraqi oil. Thus if they can't successfully install a puppet government to go along with their plans the next best thing is chaos (an excuse to stay). Never mind the cost in human lives and misery, what Big Oil wants, Big Oil gets. What? You don't believe it's all about oil? I have a really fine bridge over San Francisco Bay I'll sell you cheap.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bush and peace?

Jimmy K: I guess you are right, might makes right. But why should the Palestinians not have all of Israel? After all, it is their country. They didn't agree to share it with the Israelis. Given your logic why should we just not take whatever we want? There are places in Italy and France I would love to have. And how about Venezuela with all that oil. We should take that, too. I think Brazil and Argentina would be nice, and why not British Columbia? I take it you haven't heard, colonialism is dead (except apparently in Israel). Are you sure the oil fields haven't addled your brain?

I do not usually watch or listen to George W. Bush as it makes me ill. This morning I accidentally tuned in to his "speech" or whatever it was during his meeting with Blair. For a few moments it was hypnotizying, like being hypnotized by a snake. He was babbling on and on about peace. Peace in the Middle East. And how it is that he (and Blair, I guess) are working towards bringing peace to that part of the world. When, after three or four minutes of this, nausea set in, and I managed to turn it off. But I couldn't help to keep thinking about it. Like, what has Bush done for peace in the Middle East? He lied to start a "war" with Iraq, a country that was not a threat to us, he absolutely refuses to even talk to either Iran or Syria, he expedited bombs to Israel for their attack on Lebanon, he abandoned any pretense of U.S. neutrality in the Israeli/Palestinian problem, and in general has created a situation so dire in the Middle East that the whole region may erupt in violence. This ignores the fact that the U.S. is the major provider of arms for different factions in the region, hardly a stimulus for peace. So how does he get away with claiming he is promoting peace? And why doesn't someone in the media challenge this utter bullshit?

Bush and Blair seemed to agree that we were going to more "forward" in Iraq. I interpret that to mean they are simply going to ignore the Baker report and go ahead with their insane idea that they are somehow going to "win," that "victory" is possible. Bush says we are going to stay in Iraq as long as "they" want us to. The only "they" that want us to stay is the U.S. picked puppet government in Iraq, everyone else has made it more than clear that they definitely do not want us to stay. Until the Bush/Cheney administration says clearly that we do not intend to maintain permanent bases in Iraq there is no hope for any kind of solution to the chaos we have created. The Iraqis are not stupid, they know perfectly well what we are up to - installing a puppet government, controlling their oil, and making them subservient to our will. It doesn't matter how long we stay in Iraq, it doesn't matter how many troops we keep stationed there, it doesn't matter how many permanent bases we build or how much money we spend, democracy is not going to come to Iraq or the rest of the Middle East, at least not in any of our lifetimes. Bush/Cheney will leave Iraq only when they are chased out, an inevitability as powerful as the sunrise.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Now what?

So at long last the breathlessly awaited Baker report has appeared. Some say it is a brutally frank repudiation of the Bush/Cheney approach to Iraq. Others say it is little more than an excuse for Bush/Cheney to start face-saving withdrawal from Iraq. With 79 separate suggestions it is like a smorgasbord from which Bush can just pick and choose what he wants to do. In other words, he can just ignore it if that is his desire (and quite likely what he will choose to do). Please notice that not one person of the ten member bipartisan committee was initially opposed to the immoral attack on Iraq. A White House committee basically charged with once again rescuing George W. Bush from yet another failure (although this one certainly makes all his previous failures appear amateurish). Don't worry Georgie, Daddy's friends will come and attempt to bail you out once again (if you are sensible enough to accept their recommendations). As there are at least two other committees considering the situation Bush will wait for the others and then announce what the new plan will be (it will probably the old plan just gussied up with some slight changes in language). Am I cynical and distrustful of the Bush/Cheney administration? Do bears do it in the woods?

I confess I never thought very highly of Jimmy Carter when he was President. Never thought too highly of him after his Presidency either. But he is now my hero. He alone seems to have found the courage to present the Palestinian case in all of its apartheid horror. At a time when the Israeli lobby virtually controls our foreign policy, thumbs its nose at the United Nations, continues to steal Palestianian land and water, ruthlessly seeks out and murders Palestinian leaders, and in the process kills innocent women and children repeatedly, Carter has now exposed the situation for what it truly is - a system of vicious apartheid. Of course everyone from Pelosi through the ultra-rightist fundamentalists waiting for the Rapture are outraged (nothing in American politics can occur without the blessing of the Israeli lobby) Carter has done a magnificent thing (raised an absolutely critical issue that has for too many years been ignored). For far too many years the world has stood by watching the slow Israeli genocide of the Palestinians, apparently either helpless or unwilling to impose any serious sanctions in spite of Israeli violations of one UN ruling after another (far more violations than any other country ever, including Iraq). The U.S. could have curbed the excessive Israeli colonialism a long time ago but for whatever reasons has never done so (powerful Israeli lobby). Carter, at 82, with nothing to particularly gain or lose, has finally exposed this dreadful situation. More power to him.

The legacy of British colonialism continues to haunt the world wherever the sun still sets. Israeli colonialism still continues with the blessing of the U.S. There will be no peace in the Middle East as long as this situation continues no matter what happens in Iraq or elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

We're not winning?

Gates, to be the replacement for Rumsfeld, admitted during his (already decided) confirmation hearing, that we are not winning in Iraq. Beautiful. Can't you just see Bush standing in the wings, pushing Gates onstage, saying, I can't say that, you go out there and say it. Of course Gates didn't say we were losing (no Bush supporter will ever admit to that). Even so, I believe it does signify the end of the Bush/Cheney charade and the beginning of the attempt to whitewash the dismal failure of the neocon dreams of empire. Bush will never be blamed by his supporters. It will now be the Iraqis failure to take advantage of the marvelous opportunity we gave them to become a democratic nation and inspire all the rest of the Middle East to do likewise. Never mind that we have completely destroyed their country and made it virtually impossible for them to do anything except accede to the presence of our troops probably until doomsday (or until the oil runs out). But repeat the mantra: It was not Bush's fault (truth be known, it was probably Clinton's fault). What a fine bunch of thieving thugs and war criminals.

And now the Republican cry is for bipartisanship! This from the party that wouldn't even allow the Democrats to have a decent room for a meeting? That decided important matters in private with no Democratic input? That held the voting open far beyond the usual time in order to strongarm their members into voting their way? That treated the Democratic minority with utter contempt? Now they are demanding bipartisanship? And Democrats seem to be falling for this utter bullshit? If Democrats go along with this bipartisanship crap and do not hold Bush/Cheney and the neocons responsible for their atrocious war crimes they will be admitting that war crimes of the worst kind are apparently acceptable to citizens of the United States. I'm sorry, but I do not believe this to be acceptable, and it certainly will not be regarded so by the rest of the world. Savagely attacking a sovereign nation that was no threat to you, murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people, sacrificing almost 3000 of your finest troops, maiming thousands more, torturing, using illegal weapons, rampant war profiteering, raping, burning, and more are not things that should simply be ignored. Raising the minimum wage is important, to be sure, but it is totally insignificant when seen in the context of this absolutely horrible and completely unnecessary "war of choice."

Monday, December 04, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

We finally managed to rent Al Gore's marvelous piece on global warming (things come very slowly to Bonners Ferry). I didn't think much of the cartoon characters, and I also thought his personal experiences with tobacco were more or less irrelevant, but all in all I think it was a great movie, well done, convincing, frightening, intelligent and I hope motivating. There is no doubt we have a serious problem, never mind what big oil and others want you to believe. Compare Gore's presentation of global warming with Bush's reading of My Pet Goat and you will have a good idea of what we missed when we let the Supreme Court steal the election from Gore (speaking of a day of infamy). Can you imagine how different things would be if Gore had actually been given the Presidency which he rightfully won? It makes me sick just thinking about it.

Gwyneth Paltrow (I think that is her name), a kind of silly movie star, made some rather silly statements about preferring to live in England rather than the U.S. I gather she likes the life style better and feels more comfortable there (which obviously is her opinion and her business). I guess among other things she suggested the English are more intelligent and talk about interesting things instead of just money. Person to person I doubt the English are more intelligent, but I bet they are better informed about world affairs and probably in general are much better conversationalists. What I found the most amusing about this non-tempest in a non-teapot was the response of some of the American news people. Man! You might have thought she dropped an atomic bomb on MSNBC! How dare she criticize the U.S. (where she has made so much money). They virtually accused her of treason or even worse. It was an overreaction the likes of which I have never seen before. You might have thought she was the Queen of England calling us all barbarian cowboys (which, of course, is pretty much what the English probably do think of us). How our MSM can take an absolutely petty, trivial, unimportant comment by such a really unimportant person and turn it into a media frenzy is beyond my comprehension. But it was amusing.

How is it that everyone keeps talking about troop withdrawals, training Iraqi forces, turning over responsibilities to Iraqis, getting out of Iraq either sooner or later, leaving them with a viable democracy, and blah ba blah ba blah, but no one seems to comment on the permanent bases we are building there? Somewhere I saw the other day that we currently have 55 different bases in Iraq which are to be consolidated into seven. This is in addition to the Vatican sized Embassy we are constructing at a cost of over half a billion dollars. Do we really intend to vacate these bases and allow the Iraqis to turn them into Boy Scout camps or Universities? I don't think so. As I have said repeatedly I do not believe the Bush/Cheney administration has had, or has ever had, any intention whatsoever of pulling our troops out of that unfortunate country, not as long as one drop of oil remains. Why is this never mentioned? Or if it is mentioned it is always denied? Do you really think the Democrats are going to insist that we give up our military presence in Iraq? Both Republicans and Democrats keep insisting that we will stay until Iraq can manage its own affairs which obviously is going to be never, at least never in a form that will suit our interests. As in the case of Vietnam we are going to have to be driven out, almost certainly an inevitability.

Various people keep asking, "Is George W. Bush the worst president ever?" Why do they even bother to ask?

It appears more and more likely that Hillary is going to run (as a faux Democrat). If she were to win do you think the President's husband would have any influence over the ship of state? Or would he just arrange dinners and Christmas trees and stuff? Oh, please.

Once when Winston Churchill was attending a meeting his secretary noticed his fly was open and sent him a note to that effect. Winston sent it back, saying, "not to worry, dead birds don't fall out of the nest." We are all going to be dead birds in our nests unless we come to our senses and demand our leaders do the right things by our planet, now rather than later.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why the Presidency?

Unranked UCLA beat number 2 USC in one of the greatest upset victories of all time! Hooray! And it wasn't a fluke, USC was outcoached, outplayed and legitimately put in their place (I thought they were overranked all year long and could easily have lost more games than they did).

I am wondering why anyone in their right mind would even want to be President, following the Bush/Cheney administration. Given the hopeless mess in Iraq, an already lost "war," the positively grim situation throughout the Middle East, and given the unprecedented national debt, and given the limited funds that will be available to do anything about health care, our decaying infrastructure, global warming, the Katrina debacle, the environment, lawsuits, investigations, trying to bring the troops home, rebuilding our military, trying to make up to all those we have almost fatally offended, and who knows what all else, anyone who would agree to serve as our next President will be taking on a virtually hopeless task. In order to actually accomplish anything will involve draconian measures sure to meet with considerable resistance from those who will be forced to "sacrifice." It will involve having to levy more taxes (who is going to want to pay more taxes), it will involve more rules having to do with gas guzzlers, more restrictions on ATV's and personal watercraft, perhaps breeching some dams, changes in absurd tax breaks for corporations and the already filthy rich, curbing the influence of gigantic corporations and extremist fundamentalists and other things of that nature that will clearly be more than just mildly opposed by those who presently enjoy such unfair perquisites.

As I see no superhero on the horizon to clean up this incredible mess (without destroying their own career in the process) perhaps we should insist that the next President be another Republican nitwit. Then when things cannot possibly get any worse we can beg someone to take over and give them the absolute power they will require to save us from ourselves (if it will not be too late by then).

I cannot see any of the current known candidates (or presumed candidates) that could possibly be up to the gargantuan task that lies ahead. Certainly not Hillary (female and basically just another Republican), nor McCain (a warmonger), nor Obama (black and not yet Presidential), Edwards (probably a great candidate for the Vice Presidency), Biden (an unnacceptible plan for Iraq), Jeb Bush (would anyone ever vote for another Bush), Vilsack (pretty much unknown), Guiliani (a bad joke), Gingrich (a laughable buffoon), Romney (Mormons are not yet a majority), and who knows who else at the moment (mercifully Frist, Allen, Santorum, have already been rightfully laughed out of contention).

My shrinking old brain keeps whispering Al Gore for President and Bill Clinton for Secretary of State as perhaps our only hope.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ah, uncertainty

Bubblehead: Is my face red! After I wrote my blog last night and went to bed it suddenly occurred to me that Vilsack might be a Democrat (who would have thought the governor of Iowa would be a democrat?). This morning I eliminated Vilsack from my blog, but obviously not before you caught it. I apologize for a stupid mistake. Vilsack sounds like a reasonable, intelligent, informed candidate but, of course, he will no doubt fade as time goes by as others declare their candidacy, like Hillary and who knows who all else. Name recognition counts for a great deal it appears.

So, where are we going? It seems to me the Democrats are caught in a bind: to impeach or not to impeach. On the one hand it is their constitutional duty to hold Bush/Cheney accountable, on the other they don't want to waste time on impeachment hearings in order to get things done (for a change). Impeachment or not, there is the problem of Bush/Cheney in power for another two years. Who knows what terrible things they might bring about (like a war in Iran?). Now there is talk of selling out the Sunnis in favor of the Shiites and Kurds (no one wants to go with the losers). This would be a true disaster and would doom peace prospects in Iraq for probably centuries (unless a Sunni genocide occurs - which the Saudis have said they will prevent at all costs). There is great danger of much more violence all over the Middle East thanks to Bush/Cheney and the neocons dreams of an oil empire. Remember, we could have bought the oil for a whole lot less that the cost of their unnecessary and immoral "war." Only Bush/Cheney could have brought about nostalgia for Sadam.

At first I though Bush was just kind of stupid. Then I thought he was probably borderline retarded. Now I think he may be certifiably insane (he is doubtless all three). I believe we are witnessing the Captain Queeg of the good ship America. And he still has his hand on the big trigger. Frightening? You bet. Where do you think we are going when Bush refuses to listen to anyone but his wife and his dog? And where will we be going when Cheney refuses to acknowledge a supoena? I believe we are in for some rocky times in spite of the Democrats attempts to ignore the war criminals in our midst.