Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why bother

Why bother to continue with this farce that is the "war" on Iraq? Everyone seems to know more or less what is going to happen. Petraeus will give his report that will support Bush's contention that progress is being made, the surge will continue. Bush will ask for more billions to waste on this ridiculous attempt to steal oil (how much oil might we have purchased from Iraq by now for the trillion dollars invested in this nonsense? Congress will be divided but will eventually give in to Bush's demands (after all, it's not like it's real money). Bush and Congress will continue to simply ignore the wishes of the American people who want our troops home soon. The 47 million citizens without any health insurance will continue without it because, after all, to do anything else would be immediately labeled "socialism" by Republicans (and some conservative democrats). Our infrastructure will continue to deteriorate because it's more important that billionaires and corporations get more money than to fund routine maintenance. New Orleans will continue to be neglected because, after all, it's mostly black, and condos for rich people are more important than decent housing for minorities and poor people. You think I'm being pessimistic and cynical. Wait and see.

Once when I was playing in a poker game in the back room of a bar one of the players was Joe. The female bartender who was on shift came back to report, "Joe, your wife waits without." Joe said, "without what?" She replied, "without you, you stupid son-of-a-bitch." This is precisely the way I feel at the moment about Congress. All of the problems continue to wait without. Health care, Iraq, infrastructure, the national debt, etc., etc. All these problems wait while the stupid sob's in Congress continue playing their silly political games and raising funds to keep themselves in the game. This is what our formerly great nation has become, a sleazy game played in the back rooms of our corporate masters for stakes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the public good. The public good? Hahahahahaha. The public good, that's a good one.

Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men."
Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't just stand there

There is a story that when a nervous Don Rickles was first making it in comedy by insulting people and whatever, the first time Frank Sinatra entered the room where Rickles was doing his act, Rickles supposedly said, "don't just stand there Frank, hit somebody." Sinatra apparently liked it and they became friends. I have no idea if this story is true or not. Doesn't matter. This is exactly the way I feel about the Democrats at the moment, don't just stand there, do something! The Bush/Cheney Presidency is imploding before their eyes and they are just standing there gawking like a bunch of cretins. They won't even act to impeach Cheney, the most impeachable official ever to abuse his office. Conyers, who I thought had some spine, says it would be a disaster. How could it be a disaster? It's going to be a real disaster if Cheney is allowed to con Bush into attacking Iran. The Democrats seem to believe that the Republicans in the Senate would not vote to impeach Cheney. I'm not certain I believe that is so. Cheney isn't much more popular there than he is in the country at large. Besides, no matter what the outcome, wouldn't it be real fun to watch them try to defend Cheney? What could they possibly say or do that would make Cheney anything other than a warmongering, profiteering, evil influence on our immature puppet President? Democrats seem to think they don't have to do anything, just stand around and watch the Bush/Cheney bunch self-destruct. Maybe that will work but why chance it? It would be far better if they would actually do something to help the process along, like at least threaten to impeach. What goes on in the strange minds that make up our Congress? Damned if I know. My father once told me, "if you get a big man down, don't let him up." This is no time to let up.

Larry Craig is finished. It doesn't matter if he is innocent or not, the publicity has gone too far now to ever allow him to overcome the stigma. Personally, I don't believe he is innocent and, given his record on gay rights, etc., I have no sympathy for him. If, by some strange quirk he is innocent, he still has brought it on himself and his behavior has been far from exemplary. Trying to use his Senatorial card was itself pretty despicable. Well, it certainly helped take the spotlight off Gonzales. Perhaps every cloud does have a silver lining. But I am beginning to wonder if the Republicans are trying to outdo the Catholic Church with respect to perversion and denial. Members of both institutions seem to have a lot of trouble keeping their pants on.

Too bad Mother Theresa isn't around to be nominated for Attorney General. She's about the only person I can think of at the moment who might actually get confirmed. Why don't Bush and Cheney resign? The jig is up. They are finished. Why waste time? Of course it would take at least a tiny, tiny scrap of decency and accountability, qualities certainly lacking in these two war criminals. I guess given the Democrats timidity and cowardice, plus the Republicans swallowing all the kool-aid, we'll just go on surging until doomsday, which I think is probably not that far off.

"You can't ask us to take sides against arithmatic. You cannot ask us to take sides against the obvious facts of the situation."
Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mountains to molehills

These incredible Republicans! When something has to do with Democrats they are quick to make molehills into mountains, but when it involves Republicans they are even more quick to try to turn mountains into molehills. Remember all the hubbub about Hillary's cleavage, Obama's wife's remark about keeping your house in order, and the exchange between Hillary and Obama about naivete and experience? The MSM and the Republicans tried to make these trivial incidents into something of great significance. Because they didn't succeed very well doesn't mean they didn't try.

So now, when there are mountains involved, like the resignations of Rove and Gonzales, they tell us it's no big deal. Rove left just because "it was time," and he wanted "to spend more time with his family," about as laughable an explanation as you will ever find. Now Bush insists that Gonzales was forced to resign because a partisan Congress "dragged his name through the mud." Right Bushie, he did nothing wrong. There was no criticism from any Republicans involved, he was not asked to resign by members of both parties, nor was he suspected of perjury and trying to politicize the Justice Department. And all of those lawyers who resigned because they couldn't stand it, they were just soreheads. And of course he just made a kindly social call on Ashcroft who was lying seriously ill in the hospital. None of this had anything to do with any wrongdoing or anything. Poor Alberto! How wronged! It may be one thing for Bush to claim this nonsense, we all know he is trustworthy, loyal, brave, cheerful, kind and whatever. But for other Republicans to seriously claim this nonsense makes you wonder where on earth they recruit these clowns.

Larry Craig (he of the wide stance that picks up imaginary pieces of paper in public bathrooms known as hangouts for illicit sex) finally got caught. People here in Idaho (and most probably in Washington D.C. as well) have known for years he was homosexual but his office consistently denied it and nothing much was ever made of it except in the rounds of the rumor mill. Of course he and his office are still in denial, even though he pled guilty, paid a fine, and is now on probation. What will the NRA do without him, Boise Cascade, the haters of salmon? Too bad we might not have Larry to kick around much longer (makes one almost believe in justice).

There is a rumor going around that Al Gore is losing weight. Go for it Al! Run up and down stairs, chew gum and spit, eat a raw egg with orange juice for breakfast, use the medicine ball, get down to your fighting weight. I'm still hoping to see you in the final event. In case you may have forgotten, Gore has been consistently right from the beginning and Cheney and his neocon gang have been consistently wrong. Why are they still in power? Here's one reason. This is North Idaho, home of the rugged individualists (most of whom are on the dole in one way or another). We don't want no pansy-loving, gun-hating, environmentally conscious, educated, evolution-believing, scripture-doubting, peacenik city slickers telling us how to raise our kids or make cannon balls. No sirree Bob. Bill Sali for President!!

"How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?"
Pat Sweeny

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Watching TV

I don't know what to make of the absoluely bizarre world of television. I'm not a big television watcher but of course I watch some things. During the course of a week I usually watch The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I watch Keith Olberman. During the football season I usually watch part of one game a week (usually the last quarter or so). I never watch basketball or tennis or bowling. I never watch baseball except for the annual championship Little League game (won today by some team from Georgia, beating Japan). Sometimes I watch Iron Chef, only because my wife watches it. That's it. I have followed this pattern pretty faithfully for the past two or three years. I can understand the programs themselves okay, it's the commercials I find utterly bizarre.

If you haven't noticed (but of course you have) the commercials are full of things like cookies driving a car and singing. There are talking and singing animals, like dogs and cats and even cows. There are cars with eyes and mouths that sometimes talk. Today I saw a commercial with eyeballs on someone's foot. There are people dressed up like various chemicals that discuss how they are being reformulated, to say nothing of people dressed up as carrots or pumpkins or other vegetables. In one commercial a cat is shown massaging its owner's shoulders and neck. Still others display owners talking to their dogs about their diets. A recent commercial shows a princess kissing in turn a frog, turkey, orangutan, and then refusing to kiss a centaur. Another shows some guys tormenting a creature I guess is supposed to be bigfoot. There are dancing raisins and talking bees, even dancing peanuts. Talking fish are not out of the question, nor are talking geckos, chameleons, and ducks. Are these absurd images supposed to appeal to the child in all of us? Where did the idea of using talking creatures and grotesque automobiles and such ever originate (don't tell me, I know, in the advertising industry). It is as if they have lifted these absurd ideas out of children's books to feed an adult market. I guess it must be successful because they keep on doing it and the anthropomorphic images continue to grow. Someone should do an in-depth study of this strange American phenomena (perhaps someone has but I am not familiar with it?).

If a person from another universe were to land here on earth and try to understand what was important to U.S. citizens from watching tv they would have to conclude that the most important things at the moment are: (1) losing weight, (2) having erections, (3) talking to their doctors and taking drugs, 4) apearing sexy, and (5) vicarous violence. I swear that for the last two years or so I have not seen one single movie advertisment that did not feature violence. I guess I just don't watch the right programs. Actually, there was one just the other day having something to do with a High School musical that didn't seem to feature violence. Could this be a trend? Not a chance. I have to admit that these commercials, taken in their entirety, represent to me a pretty sick society.

Other things I regard as kind of strange but are commonplace in our society have also to do with commercialism. For example, why do we have to pay for magazines that are mostly full of ads for various products. The people who run the ads have to pay, why should the viewers have to pay also? Shouldn't magazines and newspapers just be given away (in fact, in rare cases they are). And why do car manufacturers, who make their profit on every vehicle they sell, encourage us to buy them on time so they can add interest to their profits as well (and we rather eagerly allow them to do this)? I guess these are really dumb questions for someone who resides in such a capitalistic country. For me, the longer I live in this culture, the more surreal it becomes. It's like living in a culture of the absurd. I think I should have stayed in the New Guinea Highlands, closer to nature and reality. It had its problems but absurdity wasn't one of them.

"Politics is the science of how who gets what, when and why."
Sidney Hillman

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beware of Boise

Boise, as far as I ran remember, has always meddled in the affairs of North Idaho. When I was a child in Wallace, which at that time was a boom town, with mining and logging in full swing, Boise would periodically pretend to close down the gambling and prostitution that was flourishing. My father, who was a gambler, would usually spend a night in jail. One night only, and sometimes not even that long. Only long enough for the mine owners to get on the phone and tell Boise that they couldn't operate the mines and keep miners in the region if they (the bluenoses in Boise) were going to shut down the gambling, etc. It was all a complete and total farce. Boise knew it, we knew it, but it occurred periodically just the same. Later, when I was eighteen or thereabouts, I worked for a time as a bartender. Of course I wasn't old enough to legally do that, but I did it just the same. Periodically I would be warned that the "inspectors," or whatever they were, would be visiting, and I would not work for a couple of days. This meddling by Boise was just regarded as a nuisance that we in the North had to put up with.

Quite a few years ago there was an important homosexual scandal in Boise. A large number of people were involved and it kept creeping up and up the social ladder until, finally, it just seemed to disappear. Obviously it had reached too far up the ladder and was quietly squashed. Only one person went to jail, ironically a young man from Wallace. I doubt that his being from Wallace had anything to do with it, but I always thought it was interesting. This scandal was important enough that a reporter traveled to Boise and wrote a book about it. The book was entitled The Boys of Boise.

I think we have a new bunch of boys of Boise. They are not homosexuals but, rather, politicians, and just like the Boiseans of old, they seem to think they should run the state democratic party as they choose. I don't know exactly who belongs to this group but they are miffed at Larry Grant because he didn't always follow their advice and refused to pursue the out-of-state financial support they recommended or hire an out-of-state campaign person. In spite of this, Grant came very close to winning, losing to Bill Sali who had the support of Cheney and the Republican party (they were so desperate to hold on to a Republican seat they spent lots of money and put up with Sali even though he was hardly a respectable candidate). The boys of Boise now say that Grant lost because he didn't campaign hard enough or follow their advice. The argument that he didn't work hard enough is exactly what people always say when someone loses a fairly close race - if only he'd worked harder, etc. But now that Grant has demonstrated it might well be possible for a democratic to win in this reddest of red states, Rand Lewis has entered the race, but more importantly, it is common knowledge that Walt Minnick is making phone calls and is rumored to enter. Thus it is that Boise has never ceased their meddling in the affairs of the North (and East,West,and South, for that matter). I do not wish to be dictated to by Boise and I will continue to back Larry Grant who I believe is as fine a candidate as one could ever find. Certainly a breath of fresh air after the completely useless religious bigot, Bill Sali, who just votes no on everything and therefore might as well not vote at all.

"Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bush the historian?

Bush gave a speech the other day to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in which he mentioned various incidents in history. I didn't see or hear all of this speech (of course, I have to protect my health) but I saw some video shots of it. There was Bush seriously (or at least pretending to be serious) quoting history as if he knew what he was talking about. It was hard to keep from laughing out loud because you know damn well he doesn't know any more about history than he does about anything else (which is pitifully little). He desperately needs a new speechwriter. One that will not try to allow him to portray himself as knowledgeable about things he knows nothing about. I suspect the speechwriter him or herself doesn't know much about history as the comments about Japan and Iraq, for example, were simply absurd. And of course his references to Vietnam were pathetically wrong. If Bush is to have any credibility for his speechmaking they should be written more along the lines of Dick and Jane or My Pet Goat.

There's nothing like having your act together. General Petraeus says we will need to keep our troops in Iraq indefinitely. General Pace is rumored to favor withdrawing up to fifty percent of them in order to maintain our military strength. Warner says we should bring at least 5000 home by Christmas to "send a message to the Iraqis." Ron Paul thinks we should bring them all home as they shouldn't be there in the first place. On the democratic side Obama says we shouldn't ever use nukes, Hillary says he shouldn't say that. All of the democratic candidates want to maintain troops in Iraq presumably forever, except Kucinich and Richardson who want them all home now. One might think that a competent leader, claiming to be managing a "war," would somehow have consulted everyone and created a plan that most everyone would agree on. Bush, however, has no plan. Has never had a plan other than his endlessly repeated "stay the course" plan (I guess that might qualify as a plan). It is common knowledge at the moment, among sentient beings at least, that the "surge" is not working, at least not in the way it was intended to work (to give Iraqis time to get their political act together). So why shouldn't we bring our troops home? The magic word that no one seems to dare utter is OIL. We want Iraqi oil to profit the huge oil corporations and the Iraqis (stubbornly) want it for themselves. How is it that the single most important variable in this Iraqi disaster is almost never mentioned? Why does virtually everyone insist we have to leave troops in Iraq "to protect our interests" but they don't mention oil which is our interest. Aside, that is, from our heartfelt desire to bring peace and democracy to the area (at the point of a gun). Bush is apparently hoping that historians of the future will not recognize crime and incompetence when they read about it. Can he be deluded enough to believe that history will somehow exonerate him? I fear he might.

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose that is unattainable."
Howard Zinn

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rove, salivating

I believe that Karl Rove is out there actually salivating over the Democrats problem, at least what I think he may perceive to be the problem. In my amateur analysis of last night I didn't go far enough to consider all the possibilities and I dismissed Edwards far too casually. I think my basic position is quite likely correct but it needs some fine tuning. I could be totally wrong (and certainly not for the first time) but I believe Rove and the Republicans would prefer Obama as a candidate. Why? I hate to be so blunt, but because he's (horrors) black (and black enough for them). There is considerable doubt in my mind (and I know I'm not alone in this) that the U.S. is ready for a black President. I doubt that any polling will ever get a truthful answer to this question as most people won't admit to having doubts about a black President. What comes out in the voting booth might well be a very different thing. Furthermore, I have grave doubts that the U.S. is ready for a black woman as First Lady. I could be wrong about the American public in general but I'll bet the Republican "base" is not interested in either a black President or a black First Lady. And if the base comes out in droves it will spell trouble for Democrats. Somehow I just don't believe that all those southerners, NASCAR fans, and ultra-right religious nuts are ever going to accept the Obamas. It is most interesting that this point of view is apparently shared by many black people. Many of them say they can't support Obama because they just plain don't believe the U.S. will vote for a black.

This leads us to Hillary. If Rove can't have Obama to slime and slander the next best thing would be to have Hillary. Why? Because in addition to her negatives she is (gasp) a woman. If Americans aren't ready for a black President, are they ready for a woman President? I'm sure many are, but I'm equally sure many are not. And those that are not are probably pretty much the same as those who won't want a black. It is easy to forget that the question of a woman President has not been answered. It may unfortunately get answered in the voting booths. Will all those who pay lip service to a woman President put their votes where their mouths are? Alas, I think that remains to be seen. Interesting that here in Idaho there are some fine Democrats that might considering running for office but won't if Hillary is going to be the candidate. Why? They think every nutcase in the state will come out of the woods to vote Republican. They are probably right.

This leads me to John Edwards. Some in the Democratic party believe that Rove and the Republicans fear Edwards and that is why they may be trying to steer people into voting for Hillary or Obama. Why fear Edwards? Because he is a white male with what it might well take to get elected (I remind you that every American President has been a white male and people are very resistant to change). I am trying to see this from the perspective of Karl Rove and the Republicans, this does not represent my own particular views on the candidates. Frankly, I'd vote for a long-haired dachshund before I'd vote for any Republican, after their absolutely disgusting performances for the past fifteen or sixteen years. As far as I am concerned none of them have even a shred of credibility and I no longer even listen to whatever their latest bouts of insanity lead them to.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest excercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
John Kenneth Galbraith

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Much ado...

I hope all the "leaders" get back from their vacations soon. The MSM is bad enough when they're around, focusing mostly on the trivial and nonsensical, but it's even worse when they're not around. Witness the big to do about Mrs. Obama's remark about running your own house before you can run the White House. Drudge and the rest of the Republican nitwits are insisting this was a slam at Hillary. If you look at all of what she said it probably had nothing to do with Hillary. But even if did, so what? Hillary's family seems to be just fine, a long term marriage, successful daughter, successful parents, what more would anyone want. Oh, yeah, Bill's "affair" or "affairs," depending upon who is talking. So, their marriage had some bad moments, who hasn't? Republicans keep carping about Bill but you don't notice they say much about the veritable tidal wave of pedophilia that has surfaced in Republican quarters lately. They want us to believe that Bill Clinton is the only Washington big shot to have sex in his office and take advantage of a poor "innocent" little girl from Southern California (who initiated the affair and eagerly participated). Republican hypocrisy knows no bounds (think Gingrich, among others). For years they have been warning us about Hillary being ambitious and wanting to be President, and etc. Hasn't anyone ever told them that in America ambition is a good thing? I confess I'm so fed up with Republicans of all kinds that I don't even bother to listen to them anymore. The whole scene has become surreal. Bush babbles on as if anyone cares anymore what he says, and everyone pretends to listen even though they know he's the biggest liar ever to hold the office. It's like we're all marking time in some strange insane asylum, waiting for a new director who may or may not prove to be any better (whoever it is he or she can't possibly be worse).

Some are now suggesting that Rove and others are roviating Hillary because they actually fear Edwards. I don't think so. This makes little sense to me. I should think they should prefer Obama to be the Democratic candidate, given the not so subliminal racism that infects the country. All this talk about Obama not being black enough, making fun of his middle name, his early education and so on. He should be a great target for their bigotry. McCain having been falsely accused of having a black child is nothing compared to what they can do with Obama. And not only that, wait until they start in on Mrs. Obama being the first lady. Personally, I would welcome a black first lady but I wonder if the majority of the country is prepared for such an eventuality. I tend to doubt it, cynic that I am. Of course no one could accuse Republicans of being racists, think of Condi and Powell (and then count all the black votes Republicans get, think of New Orleans, think of poverty and unemployment, health care, etc.). Obama wouldn't have a chance against Rove and the Republican attack machine (aided, of course, by their lackey newspapers and tv stations). I should think it is more likely Hillary is being attacked by Rove because he really wants Obama, never mind the reverse psychology hypothesis. But, then, who knows what goes on in the minds of evil, power-mad, greedy, unscrupulous Republicans who don't even have the decency to resign when their resignations are long past due?

"The abundance, the solidarity, and the splendour of the results already achieved by science are well fitted to inspire us with a cheerful confidence in the soundness of its methods. Here at last, after grasping about in the dark for countless ages, man has hit upon a clue to the labyrinth, a golden key that opens many locks in the treasury of nature. It is probably not too much to say that the hope of progress--moral and intellectual as well as material--in the future is bound up with the fortunes of science, and that every obstacle placed in the way of scientific discovery is a wrong to humanity."
Sir James George Frazer - 1890

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Auschwitz a New History

I have just finished Auschwitz a New History by Laurence Rees, 2005, Public Affairs, New York. This is a detailed and pretty definitive account of the evolution of Auschwitz and a number of other concentration and death camps. I think most people think, as I always have, that the Nazis constructed the camps and then began killing Jews, Gypsies, and others. In fact, they started killing first and the evolution of the death camps came about by the necessity for them to find better and easier ways to do their dirty business. There were pragmatic reasons for what they did as well as ideological ones. For example, the use of poison gas to kill inmates came about because of the trauma experienced by the soldiers that were forced to kill men, women, and children by lining them up and shooting them: " all the leading Nazis focused their attention on the war against the Soviet Union, the decision to kill the women and children in the East was seen as a practical way of solving an immediate and specific problem.
Nonetheless, this particular 'solution' would, in turn create further problems and, as a result, new killing methods would be devised which would enable Jews and others to be murdered on an even greater scale."
This came about because Heinrich Himmler visited Minsk when such killings were taking place. It was obvious that the soldiers ordered to perform these cold-blooded face-to-face murders were terribly traumatized by having done such a horrible thing.
"...SS Obergruppenfuher (lieutenant-general) von dem Bach-Zalewski, who witnessed the same killings, said to Himmler, 'Reichsfuher, those were only a hundred...Look at the eyes of the men in this Kommando, how deeply shaken they are! These men are finished for the rest of their lives. What kind of followers are we training here? Either neurotics or savages!' Subsequently, Bach-Zalewski himself became psychologically ill as a result of the murders, experiencing 'visions' of the killings in which he had participated."
As a result of this experience Himmler ordered a search for a method of killing that would result in fewer psychological problems. This fairly quickly resulted in the use of poison gas that could be administered by just a few individuals dropping the Zyclon B into the death chambers that then had to be created for this purpose. Thus, as a result of mechanical problems, along with problems being created by the ebb and flow of battles, as well as the political considerations, the true death camps emerged.
This is a fine, well-researched account of what transpired, based upon interviews with both surviving victims and active participants. As many of the participants were very old by the time Rees and his aids interviewed them, they had become quite willing to admit what they had done and why. Not surprisingly they mostly acted out of hatred for the Jews they had been taught from childhood. Indeed, many thought even to the end that what they had done was right and proper because "of what the Jews had done to them" (Germany).
The accounts of the surviving victims are not for the faint-hearted, and of course it is a depressing book that makes clear what human beings are capable of given their circumstances. This is not a pleasant thing to think about, but, I suggest, a very important thing to think about.

"The savage in man is never quite eradicated."
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, August 20, 2007

Compared to whom?

Karl Rove has making the rounds of talk shows emphasizing Hillary's "flawed candidacy" because she has a 42% negative rating, the largest negative rating for a candidate ever. Some think he is doing this as an example of reverse psychology - that is, if he's attacking her the democratic base will be more likely to support her and she will become the easiest candidate for Republicans to defeat. Others seem to think Rove is just being honest with his opinion. I don't really care one way or the other (except I doubt that Rove has ever been honest about anything). In any case what does it matter at the moment what her negatives are? The only meaningful question is what will it be compared to whom. If Hillary does become the democratic candidate she will be running against someone. Who that someone is will make a lot of difference with respect to her negatives. Let's say that Giuliani manages to hang on and bullshit his way to the republican nomination. He has to be one of the shallowest candidates ever. He knows nothing about foreign policy, his claim to 9/11 fame is mostly fabricated and his lies about it are catching up with him. Then there is his spotty (to say the least) record of three marriages, the fact that even his children don't support him, and he basically doesn't know what he's talking about most of the time. He's a supporter of gay rights and abortion that will not sit well with the conservative base of the republican party. Do you believe that Hillary's negatives will not be more than balanced out against him? I don't believe it. How about Romney who has proven himself to be a lying, unthinking twit that blurts out utter nonsense like "we should double Guantanamo," and "I've been a hunter all my life." There is the mythological Fred Thompson who so far is not yet declared and has already gone through a couple of campaign committees to say nothing of having already broken the campaign laws and sports a buxom trophy wife. The conservatives are supposed to like him. Maybe so, but he's no Ronald Reagan (actually that's perhaps his best point). Of course there's Huckabee who's been coming on strong, a guitar playing singer who doesn't believe in evolution and is a conservative Christian. The base may well like him. I believe that against any of these candidates Hillary will look great and those negatives will vanish in the voting booths like the morning fog rising from the mountaintops. I am not a fan of Hillary's but if it comes down to Hillary versus whom, I know who I will have to vote for. Much as I don't like to admit it I believe Hillary so far has proven by far the best candidate. If Obama or Edwards don't do something soon it will be all over.

Why would anyone take anything Karl Rove says as true, or even useful. Rove denies he leaked Plame's name to be immediately countradicted by Matthew Cooper who insists that Rove did leak her name to him. Now Rove is claiming the divisions in the country are the fault of democrats! Is this not absolutely typical Rove, projecting your weaknesses on others and claiming their strength to be your own? He has used this technique routinely in his years of lying and cheating. He obviously knows that the public memory is not only faulty but short. When the Republicans were in charge of the House and Senate I guess it was the Democrats who were locking them out of rooms, passing bills without consulting them, extending sessions in order to browbeat their minions into voting their way, and so on. He packaged and sold a sow's ear to a gullible public as a silk purse (however fake it was) and he will do worse if we don't pay attention. Of course maybe he'll be spending so much time with his (grown) family he won't have time to con us any longer. Don't bet on it, suckers.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
Anatole France

Sunday, August 19, 2007

War crimes and such

Article 2:1 of the UN Charter: "All members shall refrain from the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of any state."

As far as I know virtually every group that wishes to bring charges of war crimes against Bush/Cheney include war profiteering as one such crime. For example, the World War Crimes Tribunal: 14 "Exploitation of federal contracts for profiteering in the course of war." The Green party as well suggests that the conspiracy between oil giants and the U.S. government to exploit Iraqi oil is an example of war profiteering and therefore a war crime. Clearly war profiteering could come under other categories such as looting or plundering and would obviously be considered a war crime.

Of course Palestinians could be just as guilty of war crimes as Israelis. Why would anyone think otherwise?

What about aggressively and premptively attacking a sovereign nation that was not a threat? Killing innocent civilians? Torture? War crimes or not?

I fully expect to eventually hear Republicans argue that there cannot have been any war crimes because, technically, war was never declared. I guess the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the untold misery wrought was merely some kind of cosmic accident that would have occurred even without Bush/Cheney or any oil?

I do not believe that Karl Rove is an evil genius. I do believe he is evil. I say this because in his position of power for six and a half years he could have done many things to better the lives of Americans. I cannot think of one single thing he did for the public good. It's true that he helped the obscenely rich get even richer. I guess the rich think that's good. But it was done at the expense of everyone else, the not rich. Rove seemed to be interested in only one goal, that of furthering the power of the Republican party and trying to insure they would remain in sole control of the U.S. forever. Of course he also promoted a wishy-washy know-nothing candidate into the Presidency, certainly not a positive development in American history. He did not resign "to spend more time with his family." So why did he resign? What can we expect as an encore?

A very welcome break in the weather. It's actually cool here at Sandhill. There was rain. Not enough to do any good but rain nonetheless. I am reading a new book on Auschwitz. Interesting but depressing, of course.

"I am sure we do not want any fingers on the trigger. Least of all do we want a fumbling finger."
Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Explain it to me

I believe it is true beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bush/Cheney administration is guilty of war crimes. Yet no one seems to want to mention this. They lied to lead us into a pre-emptive "war." This is a known and widely agreed upon war crime. They have indiscriminately killed civilians, many women and children, another war crime. They have used torture, still another war crime. They have engaged in blatant war profiteering, a war crime. They admitted to hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, a war crime. They have inappropriately used banned weapons such as cluster bombs. In Fallujah they reportedly closed down hospitals, to say nothing of almost completely obliterating the city. They have brutalized and killed unarmed civilians. There are no doubt other offenses as well that we know nothing about. No one seems willing to bring this up or discuss it, certainly not any of the candidates for President. At the same time they talk about bipartisanship, joining hands across the aisle, reaching out to the other side, etc., etc. Would someone please explain to me why this is so? Is it to just be "bygones are bygones" and these horrible crimes are going to be forgiven, just "boys will be boys?" No accountability? The whole world has been watching this for the last six and a half years. Do you think they are not aware of what has happened and who is responsible for it? Now they are threatening to attack Iran for completely trumped up reaons, still another war crime. Please, someone, anyone, demonstrate to me that I am wrong about this. Show me these things didn't really happen, that I'm just making it up. I don't want anything to do with this bunch thugs. I just want them to go away, preferably where justice might take them.

I recently acquired a rare and most interesting book. It belonged to the Theological Faculty of St. Something-or-other (I can't quite make it out). They must have had this volume in their library for quite a long time. Interesting that no one seems to have read it. Almost all the pages are uncut. Better watch out for those theologans.

Do you think anything will ever happen? Politically, that is? I mean, what with vacations and all you might well think we have no problems that need solutions. Perhaps it's better if they stay on vacation, they will do less harm that way. Do you suppose our troops are enjoying a vacation? I mean, after all, it is quite hot over there. As they have stopped eating the fish from the rivers as they feed on the dead bodies, I guess our GI's aren't swimming in them. I hope all the politicians both here and in Iraq are enjoying themselves. After all, they work hard for little pay. Tony Snow says he can't make it on $168,000 a year (plus found, no doubt). Golly that's sad. With the price of gasoline and milk these days he probably can't make it. I guess they need to raise the minimum wage for the elite (again).

"The peculiarity of prudery is to multiply sentinels, in proportion as the fortress is less threatened."
Victor Hugo

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blood on the Wattle

I have just finished Blood on the Wattle by Bruce Elder, a history of the mistreatment and slaughter of the Australian Aborigines. Of course we all know that the Aborigines met much the same fate as American Indians. But Elder's book makes it clear that it was much worse than anyone imagined. This is true because no records were kept of how many natives were slaughtered. Elder mentions several named massacres, but it is quite clear from his account that many more such massacres occurred and were never accounted for. Furthermore, when the Australian settlers weren't engaging in outright massacres they were just routinely hunting and killing Aborigines indiscriminatly. Men, women, and children were mercilessly slaughtered even when they were completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Ranchers would go out specifically to hunt and kill natives, no records were ever kept, very rarely was anyone punished for killing them. On the one occasion when a particularly brutal massacre occurred several whites were actually hanged for their participation. All this accomplished was to make it common knowledge that if you kept secret your raids and killings nothing would happen to you. Indeed, they started insisting that those who were about to participate in slaughtering natives must first take an oath of secrecy. It was understood on the outback frontier that killing natives was perfectly acceptable even though technically British law forbade such a thing. British law was regarded as a joke by those interested in usurping land and protecting their flocks and herds. Elder has done a fine job in putting together bits and pieces of this dismal period of history, a history of the non-stop slaughter of innocent men, women, and children from 1788 right on up to the 1920's and probably beyond. Although these early Australian settlers tried as hard as they could to kill all the natives, and total genocide was their stated goal, the country proved too large and the native population too resilient to be completely destroyed like the Tasmanians. Thus Australia continues to have "an Aboriginal problem."

Apparently all of the Democratic candidates (except Kucinich, who is much more intelligent than the rest) want to spend more money on the military. I regard this as either a form of collective insanity or a confession that they want to further support the military/industrial/political complex that is now in charge of our country. What else can they possibly be thinking? We already spend more money on the military than all the rest of the world combined. What is it we need so despertely that we don't have (other than some form of true leadership)? Where is the threat so great that even more of our national treasure has to be committed? Who is it that is about to attack us, other, perhaps, than a handful of terrorists who will not be deterred by more battleships, tanks, nuclear bombs, or whatever. Those things don't work too well against box cutters and individual terrorists. This military obsession we seem to have is just that, an obsession, with no basis in reality whatsoever. Kucinich says he would cut the military budget by 25%. I bet you could cut it a great deal more and do nothing to reduce our actual ability to defend our country. So do Democrats secretly believe in an American Empire such that we will pre-emptively attack anyone and everyone until we control the entire planet? Why else would we need such an enormous military machine? The fact is, we don't need it for defense, we need it for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, the Carlyle Group, and so on. I fear it's true, the Democrats are just as much involved in this obscene system as Republicans. We need to throw them all out and start over again. Fat chance!

Yes, I considered the idea that Rove is pretending to hate Hillary in order to get more liberals to vote for her and thus insure her candidacy so that Republicans could easily defeat her. After thinking about his attitude towards Democrats in general, I concluded that he probably really does hate her. Perhaps I am wrong. But I don't believe Rove is just a simple political consultant who just honestly offers his opinion. He wants to roviate her and if by doing so he helps insure her candidacy what will he have lost? Either way he wins. Besides, given the Republican record of blatantly stealing elections, if the fix is in again it won't matter who the Democratic candidate is.

"The best thing that can be done is to shoot all the blacks and manure the ground with their carcasses."
William Cox, Australian landowner, 1824 (quoted in Elder 1988:42)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Roviating Hillary

Let the roviating begin (actally, it already has). Republicans are planning an all-out campaign to demonize Hillary. But as in the past they have already accused her of everything under the sun, including murder, I don't know what new lies they will concoct. It's interesting in a way as there seems to be three (at least) different Republican attitudes towards fair Hillary; (l) there are, of course, those who hate everything about the Clintons and would never accept Hillary no matter what. Then (2) there seems to be a bunch that think Conservatives could do worse than having Hillary and might actually support her. Finally (3) there are those Republicans that want Hillary as the Democratic candidate because they think she will be the easiest to defeat. Those in the first category (which, I believe, includes Rove) will do anything and everything to try to stop her. No lie will be too filthy to be employed, no cheap shot will be left behind, no slime will be avoided. That's the very nature of roviation. Now that he will not be in the White House (but nearby with his kit of dishonest tools) there is no telling where he might go in this attempt. So far he seems content with just repeating that she is a "fatally flawed" candidate. I don't know if this merely refers to her 42% negative rating or if Rove has some other flaw he believes in that hasn't yet emerged. Of course the White House is upset because Hillary told the truth about them. That is, for them the poor, the middle class, and the troops are simply invisible. She says it is true. I believe it is true. The little blond who doubles for the unfortunate Tony Snow said Hillary's claims were outrageous, apparently because she thinks Bush made drugs more affordable (which is very questionable and irrelevant in any case). They don't appear to have any better defense. The truth hurts.

Now it turns out that the long awaited report in September from General Petraeus will actually be written by the White House. Does anyone even wonder what it is going to say? Things are working, stay the course, shift some troops around, give the Iraqis more time, etc., etc. What a complete and utter farce. Bush will demand more time. The Democrats will doubtless give it to him, gutless wonders that they are.

Now Obama is saying that Hillary is too divisive and that he can bring the country together better than she can. There is little doubt that Hillary is divisive. Whether than means Obama can do better may or may not follow from that. Obama says he wants to reach out to Republicans, to bring the country together. What I want to know is why should anyone want to reach out to a bunch of greedy, murderous war criminals? That is exactly what the Republican Party has become in the past few years and they continue to stick with this murderous bunch no matter what. Who needs them? Get rid of them. Put them on trial and in jail where disgusting war criminals belong. I for one do not want to see bipartisanship with the current Republican Party. I want them to be held accountable for their crimes. It may turn out that divisiveness is precisely what the American Public desires, no more cuddling up with Bush/Cheney's insane schemes, wiping the slate clean and beginning again with a real democratic administration. I can't see that Obama understands or wants to understand the true depths of depravity into which the Republicans have fallen. If he did he would not want to make nice with them. I am not a big fan of Hillary's but I admire her willingness to stand up and expose the Republicans for what they are: greedy, capitalistic warmongers, getting rich off the taxpayers who are constantly becoming poorer, and ignoring everyone else.

"They were nothing better than dogs, was no more harm to shoot them than it would be to shoot a dog when he barked at you."
Reverend William Yate, 1835, Australia, quoted in Blood on the Wattle by Bruce Elder (1988)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Silly Sali

Bill Sali says he believes in religious freedom - apparently only provided it is Christian freedom. He maintains that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles and therefore we should only rely on the God of the Bible. How does he reconcile this view with the fact that one of the very foundations of the nation rests upon the belief in religious freedom. A Hindu is not free to offer an opening prayer in the Senate? A Muslim is not supposed to be elected to the House of Representatives? While Sali says he respects religious freedom this is not what the founding fathers envisioned. So what does he think they envisioned when they insisted on religious freedom? That only Christians should have the right to open the Senate with a prayer? Sali wants to pretend that he's not a religious nutcase but unfortunately he is. Unhappily that will no doubt get him lots of votes here in Idaho where the God of the Bible has been protecting us and allowing us to flourish all these years. At least he would if Sali didn't vote against virtually everything proposed for the benefit of the country. Sali should simply be laughed out of the Congress, fool that he is.

I really don't want Hillary to be the Democratic candidate for President. She is much too Republican for my taste. But I have to admit she is clearly coming across as by far the strongest candidate. She is extremely knowledgeable about most of the issues, she stands her ground and is confident, and she rarely, if ever, makes a real mistake. Obama makes great speeches, sound and fury signifying not much of anything (so far). To my mind Edwards comes across as a little boy trying to argue with his mommie. After his terrible faux pas with the Gays I think Richardson is probably finished. Biden and Dodd are not serious candidates. Kucinich is the best of the lot but the powers that be have already dismissed him as irrelevant. Gravel is an interesting nuisance but nothing more. I have said from the very beginning that Hillary is the chosen one and so far I believe that is happening. Where is the White Knight?

The hot weather continues. Part of our garden has pretty much been wiped out. We are thinking of moving, perhaps to the Olympic Peninsula. The thought of moving is terrifying but perhaps...

"The uttered part of a man's life, let us always repeat, bears to the unuttered, unconscious part a small unkown proportion. He himself never knows it, much less do others."
Thomas Carlyle

Monday, August 13, 2007

Never say goodbye

The only man in the world to successfully convert a sow's ear into a silk purse (however fake), known as turd blossom or Bush's brain, has resigned from the White House as of the end of this month. Do not say goodbye. I don't believe Rove will disappear from the political underground, the "dark side," as Cheney likes to say. I don't know what Bush/Cheney/Rove are up to but you can be sure it does not bode well for the country. Perhaps he plans to join Cheney in his underground bunker beneath the secret rock to plan the further destruction of the Democrats. He certainly is not resigning "to spend more time with his family." Indeed, for him to even suggest that is insulting in the extreme, little more than thumbing his nose at us once again. He is quite likely planning how to defeat Hillary whom he thinks will be the (fatally flawed) Democratic candidate. Of course he could merely be advising Bush/Cheney on how to get more troops killed while stealing more money from the taxpayers, or taking more food from the mouths of babes, or shortchanging our returning veterans, or ridding New Orleans of more blacks, or any one of a number of Republican priorities. Wait and see, but expect the worst. I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that he may have cut a deal with the Democrats - I'll resign if you just forget about all of my transgressions. That sounds like the kind of ridiculous deal our gutless Democrats might go for. They seem to have already forgotten about impeachment so why not let Rove off the hook as well.

The MSM have written Kucinich off as a candidate. They have decided that he is a non-candidate and have "disappeared" him. They seem to agree that there is only one choice at the moment and that is Hillary. This is a win/win strategy for the corporate powers. If Hillary loses the general election they get another Republican, if she wins they get a Republican lite. Clever, no? Of course this can't work if Gore were to enter, or if Obama could somehow get the nomination. They are not about to let this latter happen. It's not clear what they will do if Gore were to enter. I think they regard his entry as improbable. I have no idea what the relationship between Hillary and Gore might be at the moment. I believe only Gore could keep us from just plain "more of the same."

"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell."
William Tecumseh Sherman

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Senator Craig's world

Our senior Idaho Senator, Larry Craig, just published an Opinion piece in our weekly paper, The Bonners Ferry Herald. The title of this somewhat questionable piece is "Where is the Fiscal Responsibility?" Seeing this headline I assumed he was going to criticize the current administration for blowing an enormous budget surplus and turning it into the greatest national debt ever. I should have known better. It is a piece critcizing Democrats (the usual Republican crap about tax and spend). It makes me wonder if he has lost his mind. He says, for example, "Republicans, myself included, define fiscal responsibility as keeping taxes low and managing the growth of government spending. Democrats define it as raising taxes to increase spending." He is apparently unaware of the national debt and the fact that government spending has increased dramatically during the Bush/Cheney administration. So where has he been for the past seven years? I guess he wants to keep taxes low to insure that fewer children will get medical treatment, returning veterans get short-changed, more bridges will fail, we will continue to have forty million plus with no medical insurance, and etc. And of course he doesn't comment on making the rich richer and the poor poorer when he speaks of his tax policies. Given the facts of the matter I find his editorial insulting. No one who supports the Bush/Cheney administration (as Craig does slavishly) has any business lecturing anyone about fiscal responsibility. This Republican administration has been the most fiscally irresponsible in all of our history. It's been just borrow and spend, borrow, borrow, borrow, and spend, spend, spend. Indeed, Cheney said early on that we have learned from Saint Ronald that deficits don't matter. I guess he won't be around to explain that to our children and grandchildren, who will have to pay for his illegal war and blatant war profiteering. Craig's views on this matter are not only insulting, they are completely absurd.

Having followed Craig's not very illustrious career in the Senate I have developed an idea of how he thinks (or, more properly, doesn't think). I once received a letter from him that, among other things, claimed that we might still find WMD's in Iraq. This was after everyone, including Bush himself, had admditted there were no WMD's! I believe that Craig has certain ideas about things that he retains and promotes in spite of the reality around him or any recent developments or conditions. He actually believes that it is as simple as Democrats tax and spend and Republicans are fiscally responsible. This of course has no connection with reality, but he continues to believe it. His voting record indicates the same shortcoming. He just automatically votes for whatever Bush/Cheney desire because, after all, they are Republicans and Republicans are good while Democrats are not good. He's exactly like my mother-in-law who doesn't follow politics, or even the news, has no idea whatsoever about what is going on, but faithfully votes Republican in every election, "because that's what she and her late husband always did." But Larry Craig is a Senator, couldn't we expect more? I believe it is time for this dinosaur of a Senator to step down and leave the job to someone who is more aware of the world around him or her.

"Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens."
Michel Montaigne

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Iraqi scam continues

As I have been saying for months, Bush/Cheney have no intention of getting out of Iraq and, I am certain, never had any such intention. Neither, apparently, do any of the Democratic candidates with the exception of Kucinich. We have just been kept in the dark about this with little steps that keep it going. Remember the surge that was going to be for three months to give the Iraqis time to get their act together. Before it even began they were already saying September would be too soon to know, they should have longer, etc. The definitive opinion is supposed to come from General Petraeus in September at which point we were going to decide what to do. Now, before September is even upon us, Petraeus has announced that we will need to be in Iraq at least for another ten years. Bush keeps insisting that things are going well, progress is being made, victory is just around the corner, stay the course, and BS piled on more BS until exhaustion sets in and you just want to tune it all out. Now the lack of progress is being blamed on the Iraqis who, simple savages that they are, just cannot get their act together. They refuse, for example, to "share the oil." We are led to believe this has to do with sharing their oil resources equally between the three Iraqi factions: Kurds, Shiities and Sunnis. This is not, however, what Bush/Cheney have in mind when they speak of sharing the oil. They mean the Iraqis should share by far the greater share with the huge Oil Corporations. The one thing that tends to unite the Iraqis is their shared resistance to doing anything so blatantly foolish. You see, they are not just stupid savages after all, but, in fact, intelligent human beings who know when they are being robbed. There was an old Jack Benny (anyone remember him) show where a robber demanded, "you're money or your life." Benny, with his marvelous timing, paused, and then said, "I'm thinking it over." This fits the Iraqi situation: "You're oil or your lives," and they continue thinking it over, much to the chagrin of Bush/Cheney and their band of thieves.

Well, the totally meaningless Iowa straw poll is over. Surprise! Mitt Romney won after spending only several million dollars in a fake contest in which the frontrunners didn't even participate. I guess this is supposed to give him momentum. Brownback and Huckabee came in after Romney. Why that should excite anyone I do not know. Tancredo, who wants to bomb Mecca, was fourth with Ron Paul fifth. Can you imagine anyone in Iowa voting for Ron Paul? The best thing one might say about this exercise in futility is that Thompson may have been cast aside along with Tancredo.

Hillary the Warlike has slowly increased her lead over the rest of the pack. A poll today showed her with 48%, far more than either Obama or Edwards. I suspect that if Gore does not enter in the next month or two it's all over. Hillary will be the Democratic candidate. Don't expect her to pick Kucinich for her running mate. The Republicans keep clinging to their belief that Hillary will be easy to beat (or at least the easiest to beat). Given the position of the Republican Party at the moment this may prove to be a complete delusion. Look for Dodd as a good possibility.

The only thing that will stop the Iraqi scam from continuing, and possibly being exported to Iran, is impeachment. Alas! This demands action from the actionless and useless who seem to be themselves part of the scam. Unfortunately, inaction is an action, and not the one we need at the moment.

"For he who sins a second time, wakes a dead soul to pain..."
Oscar Wilde

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sali strikes again

If the citizens of the State of Idaho are ignorant, narrow-minded, bigoted, racist, and religiously simple-minded, they should be very proud to have Bill Sali representing them. It seems that Mr. Sali is very upset because a Hindu was allowed to give a prayer in the Senate and, horror of horrors, there is a Muslim member of the House of Representatives. Sali believes this is not what the founding fathers envisioned (freedom of religion?) and it will lead to the destruction of our nation (through prayer?). He goes on to say that the only reason we survive is because our Christian God protects us (from Hindus and Muslims?). Remember, this is the same Bill Sali who believes abortions cause breast cancer (in spite of all evidence to the contrary). He's an Idaho Republican so what else would you expect?

If Sali's appaling ignorance and bigotry came spilling out, he was joined by Bill Richardson, candidate for President of the United States. At a discussion of gay rights, Richardson was asked if he thought homosexuality was a choice - and he answered yes! Happily no one fainted or died or a heart attack from an answer so unexpected and revealing. Richardson simply doesn't know anything about the issue of homosexuality - zilch, nada, zero. If he did he would obviously have kept this opinion to himself rather than blurting it out at a conference with homosexuals. He went on to mumble something about not being a scientist (I guess he thinks scientists know the answer but won't tell anyone). Anyway, it was a most pathetic performance by someone who wants to be President and it certainly is not going to help him with the gay vote.

A comment on last night's blog from anonymous said Morialekafa was stupid. He or she didn't offer any particulars as to why. I don't know if he was angry because I suggested Romney was stupid or whether he just has a thing about Professors, or if it is just me in particular. He clearly thinks the name Ekafa is stupid (me too). I may be stupid, but I'm not anonymously stupid.

I guess Dick the Slimy thinks he can be personally responsible for bringing on the Rapture. Why else would he be urging Bush to attack Iran? Where are the men in the white coats when we need them?

"Pray, v. To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy."
Ambrose Bierce

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is Mitt Romney stupid?

Is it just me or do other people think Romney might not have a full deck? I mean, he has said at least three things I know of that strike me as just plain stupid. First, his claim to have been a hunter all his life when it was a blatant lie. The only reason for that particular lie had to be to try to gather votes that he clearly would not have deserved. Second, he blurted out that we should double guantanamo. This was not a lie, merely a statement so stupid as to have been aborted before it was said. Again, the only motivation for such a weird statement had to be trying to gather votes from the other Republican lunatics. Third, he has just now announced that his five sons are contributing to the war effort by supporting him for President (because they think I would be a good President). Now it's bad enough that his five military age boys haven't served in the military (which, with an all volunteer military, is certainly their right), but to gratuitously claim they are contributing by campaigning for him is simply absurd (no, I mean stupid). I am ignoring the fact that he has been a genuine flip-flopper who claims that he has simply changed his mind. Of course he changed his mind - after he found out which way the wind was blowing. In short, I think he's an obvious liar and a not very bright one at that.

I am in Seattle again. I lived for several years in Seattle back in the 1950's and early 60's. I loved it then. I don't like it much now. It is far too crowded. There is too much traffic. It is expensive. The various powers that be must have met and decided to have a contest to see who could build the ugliest high-rise for the Seattle skyline. Seattlites have developed the strangest walking habits I have ever seen anywhere. There is no attempt to facilitate pedestrian traffic by walking on the right or even trying to help other pedestrians find their way. Seattlites just walk wherever they damn please. If you don't walk defensively you are fair game to be knocked down and run over. This is not helped nowadays by the fact that many of them are so intent on text-messaging or reading while walking they have no idea where they are going. I gather they have for years had a habit of spitting their gum on the sidewalks so that now there seems to be a hundred years of gum added to the concrete. I guess the things I do like are the fact that Seattle continues to be beautiful with greenery abounding everywhere and the people dress and look funny, thus giving the city the appearance of a kind of European cosmopolitanism. And of course there is great seafood and many fine restaraunts (if you can afford them). Back in "my day" Seattle still had a kind of small town flavor even though it wasn't really small and things were much more manageable (and affordable). Ah, the mythical "good old days."

"Strange object sighted in the sky. Said to be the sun."
Seattle headline when my mother attended the University of Washington (a long time ago).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What to make of Hillary

I said quite a long time ago that Hillary would be the Democratic candidate for President, that it was already a done deal as the Corporate powers have decided a Republican can't get elected in 2008 and Hillary, being Republican lite (at least) would be their best bet. It appears to me at the moment that is what is happening. Murdoch throwing fundraisers for her, Fortune magazine featuring her on the cover as the Corporate candidate, and so on. She did nothing to dispell this view of her by announcing the other day that she would continue to take money from the lobbys (even though she was roundly criticized for this by both Edwards and Obama). She defended herself by arguing that many lobbys represented real people (nurses, social workers, etc.). She also claims that if you look at her record for the last 35 years there is no indication that she bent to the influence of Drug companies, etc. I don't know how true this is but there has to be some truth to it. As we all know opinions about Hillary are very far apart. Just today I saw one Veteran praising her knowledge of the military and singing her virtues. A second one, who apparently worked for Bill Clinton for a couple of years, and who claims to know Hillary well, accuses her of being a pathological liar and a Dove in Hawk's clothing.

I don't know what to think. I was a great fan of Hillary's when Bill Clinton was President and she was trying to work on universal health care. I thought she handled his impeachment with dignity and common sense. Then when I learned she had served on the Board of WalMart I began to lose respect. Bill Clinton and his administration were certainly not very liberal in their doings and brought us NAFTA, among other things (welfare reform, etc.). So what to make of Hillary? She is currently leading the other Democratic candidates by a large margin. She has so far made no significant mistakes. She comes across as exceptionally knowledgeable, well-prepared, and does not get flustered under pressure. On the basis of her performances so far I believe she has shown she is in fact the superior candidate. I have said all along that I do not want her to be the candidate. However, the other candidates, in my judgment, don't match up. Obama comes the closest But he is really no match for Hillary's experience and knowledge of other world leaders. I keep hoping that Gore will enter later this year. If he does I believe he would win the Presidency easily (he certainly should anyway). But if Hillary continues to be so successful I doubt that Gore would enter (of course he might no enter in any case). Probably the single most important argument against Hillary is that she is a polarizing figure (no doubt about that) and that she cannot win the general election. But think about it. If faced with the choice of Hillary or Guiliani, or Hillary and Romney or McCain, or Thompson, who will you vote for. The same thing holds true for the argument that a woman can't be elected. You might argue that this will come down to a Hobson's choice. I don't think so.

"Come seven, come eleven! Baby needs a new pair of shoes."
Anonymous crapshooter

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The concept of the soul

As an avowed atheist, do I believe in the concept of the soul and an afterlife? The brief, immediate answer, is "no." Perhaps it should be, I don't think so. I guess it might depend upon how one defines a soul. I quoted this early definition previously on this blog, but let me quote it again for starters:
"It is a thin unsubstantial human image, in its nature a sort of vapour, film, or shadow; the cause of life and thought in the individual it animates, independently possessing the personal consciousness and volition of its corporeal owner; past or present; capable of leaving the body far behind, to flash swiftly from place to place; mostly impalpable and invisible, yet also manifesting physical power, and especially appearing to men waking or asleep as a phantom separate from the body of which it bears the likeness; continuing to exist and appear to men after the death of that body; able to enter into, possess, and act in the bodies of other men, of animals, and even of things." (Sir Edward Burnett Tylor 1903, quoted in Langness, The Study of Culture, 2005:27).

One is tempted to add, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. I have often wondered if Sir Edward meant this to be a definition that all people, including Western-Europeans, believed in, or if he meant that only "primitive" peoples believed this way. I suspect the latter, but I do not know what Sir Edward thought a "civilized" soul might be like. I confess I do not know either. I guess that is my problem.

If one believes in the concept of a soul, then one also has to be concerned about what happens to it upon the death of its corporeal body. That means one must have some conception of an afterlife. These two beliefs obviously go hand in hand, unless you believe the soul just disappears at death. But if you believed that, there would be little point in having a soul in the first place. Of course you could believe it moved about in dreams and affected life until people die and it then just vanishes. I don't know of any culture on earth that believes that. No, if you believe in souls you must also believe they go somewhere at death. Do I believe they go to "heaven" where they join the angels and sit around on clouds playing harps? No, I don't believe that. Do I believe that if you are bad during your lifetime your soul descends into purgatory where it is tortured to eternity? No, I don't believe that. Do I believe that if you are a martyr and go to heaven (or paradise, somewhere like that) there will be 72 virgins waiting for you? No, I don't believe that. Do I believe that when you die your soul goes to "The Happy Hunting Ground" where buffalo abound? No, I don't believe that either. Do I believe that when you die your soul goes to "Frenonua," which the New Guinea Highlanders assured me was somewhere out there beyond the horizon where you lived life much the same as while alive, raising lots of pigs, marrying, and having children? No. Finally, do I believe, as many peoples do, that the soul after death becomes a ghost and hangs around pestering the living in one way or another? Alas, I don't believe that as I simply do not believe in ghosts.

I guess my most basic problem is that I just don't believe in supernatural beings of any kind, unless, perhaps like Freud, they might be mental projections of parental figures or some such thing. You know, if your parents are nurturant and good to you, you will have beliefs in positive and helpful nurturant deities, whereas if your parents or parental surrogates are mean and punishing, your perception of the deities will be as punishing figures that have to be constantly placated with prayers or gifts or something. If I believed in this approach to the supernatural it would be a confession that supernatural beings are not real but, rather, just figments of the human psyche. Thus, as I don't know what to believe, I don't believe in any of it. The best I can do, following some American Indians, is to believe in The Great Mystery. This exceedingly general view of things supernatural seems to do me just fine. I don't exactly worship The Great Mystery, but I certainly stand in awe of it.

Lewis Henry Morgan once said of religion:

"The growth of religious ideas is environed with such intrinsic difficulties that it may never receive a perfectly satisfactory exposition. Religion deals so largely with the imaginative and emotional nature, and consequently with such uncertain elements of knowledge, that all primitive religions are grotesque and to some extent unintelligible." (Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society 1877:5).

If you strike out the adjective "primitive" this quotation pretty well expresses my view of all organized religion.

Whatever bitterness and cynicysm I might have has nothing to do with believing in souls or supernaturals. It has everything to do with observing human behavior for more than seventy years. The current world events certainly do nothing to make me believe that human nature is anything to be pleased or happy about. Abel Posse once said that humans were put on earth simply to mortify the animals. It seems to me he might well be right.

If Dennis Kucinich were not 5' 4" tall and a vegan he might well someday be President. He is far better than any other Democratic candidate and could probably be trusted to do what he says he will do, not something you can count on from the rest of the field. Go Dennis!

"You have no right at the cannon's mouth to impose on an unwilling people your Declaration of Independence and your Constitution and your notions of freedom and notions of what is good."
George Frisbie Hoar, Republican of Massachusetts, during the Philippine-American war.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Bush/Cheney and their neocon thugs have committed war crimes almost beyond belief. They pre-emptively attacked a sovereign nation that was no threat to anyone, a war crime of the first order. They have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly civilians, another war crime. They have authorized and employed torture, hidden captives from the Red Cross, shamelessly indulged in war profiteering, lied to Congress and the American people, repeatedly violated the Constitution, created a genuine humanitarian disaster in Iraq, to say nothing of a civil war, and wish to lead our nation into a permanent war to further the profits of their corporate friends. They insist on continuing this useless, illegal, immoral, and inconscionable "war," that they brought on themselves. The Democrats now say they are going to "censure" them. Geez, what do you think they might do when Bush/Cheney do something really bad? I don't think censure goes far enough. They should at least have the palms of their hands slapped with a ruler, or better yet, get a few whacks from a paddle on their bottoms. Feingold, who is apparently leading this attempt, has said it will prove that Democrats "stood up to this administration." It will do nothing of the kind. It will simply confirm that our contemporary Democrats in the House and Senate are the most gutless, cowardly, spineless, self-serving, phony, ridiculous legislators ever to hold elected office.

And by the way, they have just allowed Bush/Cheney to continue their illegal spying on whomever they choose with Alberto Gonzales being the one to decide about it. Alberto Gonzales! You know, the Attorney General that has just been widely criticized by members of both parties, has absolutely no credibility, has been repeatedly asked to resign, and so on. I guess the Democrats aren't aware of this? How on earth could they have capitulated on such a completely wrong-headed proposal? Are they all nuts? Bonkers? Or did they just want to make sure nothing interfered with their vacation? This is wrong, so wrong it is absolutely sickening. If there is ever to be a third party, count me in. I've been a Democrat all my life but this is too much even for me. A pox on both of their houses. Never mind this chicken-hearted censure, I want Bush/Cheney/Gonzales IMPEACHED! And I want it NOW!

My son is predicting that Romney will be the Republican candidate. I am beginning to believe he may be right. Not because Romney is the best candidate, or even a decent candidate, but because the others are so hopelessly wrong. Guiliani is nothing but a first-class phony who knows nothing about foreign policy and not much more about terrorism which is his only campagin theme. McCain is imploding and will soon have to give up. Thompson, the "great white hope," is imploding before he has even announced his candidacy, a couple of the others are religious types who don't believe in evolution, and the rest are not well known enough to matter. We know that Romney is a liar who will say anything to get the nomination, "we should double guantanamo," for example, or "I've been a hunter all my life." He is the personification of "None of the above." Oh yeah, he's a Mormon but he won't tell whether or not he wears that special Mormon underwear, and he hasn't yet claimed to have a direct line to the Angel Moroni. He says he's not running as a Mormon so you see he's just a Mormon running. I guess that's different. Personally, I don't care if he's a Mormon or not, he's a liar and a flip-flopper and, above all, a REPUBLICAN (I fear those things are synonymous).

"The present chaotic stage of humanity is not, as some wishfully maintain, caused by a lack of faith but by too much unreasoning faith and too many conflicting faiths within these boundaries where such faith should have no place. The chaos is one that only responsible human knowledge can reduce to order."
George Gaylord Simpson

Sunday, August 05, 2007

For the record

It has come to my attention that someone (perhaps more than one) out there labors under the misapprehension that I have something against male homosexuals. So, for the record, let me state once and for all that I have noting whatsoever against male homosexuals or female homosexuals either. Indeed, I believe they should be allowed to be married, at least in civil ceremonies, should they desire. If various churches don't want to let them marry in their churches I guess that is their business. I find most religious beliefs and practices so bizarre I assume their beliefs about homosexuals are simply a part of their totality of strange beliefs and practices.

I think the genesis of this misapprehension about my beliefs stems from the fact that I have been fascinated by the strange case of Gannon/Guckert. Recall that Gannon (Guckert) was passed off as a legitimate White House News Correspondent when he in fact had no qualifications for such a post. He was obviously acting as a shill for the Bush/Cheney administration, asking misleading questions at the right moments and so on. This pandering for the administration finally became so blatant he came under the press corps radar. This was only the beginning of this fascinating tale. It turned out that Gannon/Guckert was a known male homosexual prostitute, "a strictly on-top guy," according to his own ads, which featured nude photos of him in a gay magazine. If his presence on the press corps was not strange enough it also turned out that he was given access to the White House on many occasions when there was no ostensible reason for him to be there. He did not always sign in or out properly, he stayed for various amounts of time, and seemed to have priviledges not granted to other reporters. No one knows where he spent this time in the White House or with whom. In order for this to happen he would have to have had the support of someone very powerful or influential in the White House. We do not know to this day who was sponsoring him or why. I have always found this strange affair completely fascinating and I would certainly like to know the answers to (1)who was his sponsor, (2)where did he spend his time when in the White House, 3) who was he with, and (4) what was the purpose of his visit. I certainly do not believe that wanting some answers to this puzzling situation make me in any way anti-gay. I do not understand how the party that spent more than forty million dollars obsessing over Bill Clinton's penis could simply ignore these questions - but they have (do) since the beginning. Someone very powerful kicked this under the rug and everyone acted as though it didn't even happen. I would like to know who it was (I'm pretty sure I know the answer to why).

The grapes are not yet ripe but the turkeys are already at them. In spite of my best efforts the deer were in the garden again. It remains much hotter than normal and for a much longer period of time. The garden suffers. We suffer. Life at Sandhill is reduced to a battle between us and nature. Nature is winning.

"It is no use dealing with illusions and make-believes. We must look at the facts. The too dangerous for anyone to be able to afford to nurse illusions. We must look at realities."
Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Democrats cave again

Sixteen Senate Democrats voted with the Republicans to give Bush/Cheney even more power to spy on us, thus confirming again they are the most lily-livered, spineless, cowardly, disgusting bunch of hopeless morons that ever pretended to be Senators. One Republican Senator reported that he was really pleased because now he could go to bed and sleep without worrying about terrorists. Do you believe that any of these dismal bastards really worry at lot about being attacked by terrorists? If they worry or think about it at all, they probably worry more about being struck by lightning.

Here at home in Idaho I find myself facing a true dilemna (for me, anyway). Larry LaRocco is running for Craig's Senate seat (whether Craig decides to run again or not). I view Craig as utterly useless as a Senator (probably for anything else as well). He always votes with Bush/Cheney, or at least 99.9% of the time. He is an anti-environmentalist who believes it is more important to ship a few more potatoes than to save the salmon, thinks ranchers should be able to graze their stock any damn place they choose, regardless of the consequences, would never even consider breeching the dams no matter what, and so on. So I should be enthusiastic about LaRocco, but I'm not. I seldom worry about single issues but in LaRocco's case it has to do with something of absolutely fundamental importance - nuclear energy. He's for it. I'm positively opposed to it. I believe that anyone who promotes nuclear energy has nothing but contempt for life on our planet. Sure, the planet itself will survive, but what of all forms of life, human and otherwise? Nuclear waste has a shelf life of thousands upon thousands of years. We don't know what to do with it and so far it doesn't look like there are any viable options. Sending it to Russia, as the French are doing, is not a solution. Burying it in Nevada is not a solution. So, until someone comes up with a solution I am adamantly opposed to nuclear energy. I do not see how, in good conscience, I could vote for Larry LaRocco. But of course I could never vote for Craig. It looks like I just may not vote for either of them.

Larry Grant, on the other hand, is a fine candidate with his head screwed on properly. He's opposed to nuclear energy. Running against Bill Sali, who has proven himself even more useless than Craig (if that's possible) apparently just votes against most everything, usually along with a very small minority of cranks and nuts. He has to do the bidding of the Club for Growth which gave him most all of the money he used to get elected. The Club for Growth doesn't want any government. I guess their motto is, fix your own bridge, educate your own child (we need more cannonball makers and farriers and brain tanners), and so on. There was a letter supporting Sali in our local paper last week. The writer claimed he was an "Oklahoma." In all fairness to the writer that mistake was probably our local paper's. Their editing standards are somewhat below those of Junior High. In any case, why is someone from Oklahoma writing on behalf of Bill Sali? I haven't seen any local letters of support. Sali received very little money or support from people in Idaho. How did he get elected? Because he's a Republican, or at least pretends to be. Here in North Idaho if you're a Republican you can be otherwise completely brain dead and still get elected. Sali is a perfect case in point. Craig is not far behind. Larry Grant is as fine a candidate for Congress as you could ever expect to find. Level-headed, willing to listen, having the public interest at heart, personable, a successful lawyer, the works. Will Sali win again? Hey, this is North Idaho. Anything can happen. There are people here who (gasp) still think Bush is doing a good job.

"The Republic was not established by cowards, and cowards will not preserve it."
Elmer Davis

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hello? Where's everyone been?

In the local thing that tries to pass itself off as a newspaper it was reported that in the states of Washington and Idaho there are 2,700 bridges that are below standard or obsolete. If that is true, image how many more substandard bridges there must be in the U.S. Why is this so? Because, among other things, that Republican idol, Ronald (know-nothing) Reagan convinced them that government was "the problem." So fewer taxes, and with fewer taxes, less maintenance of our superstructure. That's pretty simple, no? Now we are beginning to pay the price for the Republican mantra of constantly reducing taxes or, conversely, using our tax money to rebuild bridges they unnecessarily bombed in other countries, most notably Iraq. Of course the bridges they are rebuilding there are almost certainly being built to substandards so as to maximize corporate profits.

There was also, in our pretend newspaper, an article about the deleterious effects of plastics. It seems that an estrogen-like chemical in plastics has been causing a number of reproductive disorders in our citizens for years. Surprise! A problem with plastics. Actually, this has been known to many people for about 30 years. My wife has studiously avoided using most plastic objects for years as she knew about this problem. So why didn't we all know about it sooner? Guess. I bet it has something to do with the interests and profits of big business and the failure of our government to act in the best interests of our citizens rather than in the interests of corporate profits.

Whatever happened to the concept of the public good? Our democracy (such as it was) did not come about as a scheme to maximize corporate profit and minimize the public good. The idea that everything should be privatized and the government should not be involved is fundamentally ridiculous if government is supposed to provide for the public well-being. But in recent years, particularly under Reagan and now the Bushes, virtually everything is being privatized. It remains true, however, that some things are far too important to be privatized. Health care is certainly one of them. So you have morons like Guiliani immediately crying socialism at the mere mention of universal health care. Water, too, is too important to be privatized, as is the air we breath and the foods we eat. There simply has to be some control over these things. Goering said once that "when I hear culture I reach for my revolver." That is precisely the way we should react when we hear privatization. Look what privatization did for energy in California. Capitalism cannot be allowed to run rampant, it has to be subject to at least some basic controls. If you want to privatize the cosmetic or fashion industry what difference does it make. But, please, not health care, energy or water and the basics of human existence.

Democratic whining continues. Yesterday I heard something to the effect that, "they won't even come and talk to us and we don't know what to do about it." They should stop the whining and actually do something about it. They could, for example, have Meirs and Bolton arrested and brought to Congress in handcuffs. They could certainly begin impeachment proceedings against Bush/Cheney. They could get rid of Gonzales. They could do any number of positive things but they apparently just prefer to stand around and whine. They, too, are not interested in the public good, just the good of their party. They are every bit as bad as Republicans - and that is REALLY BAD! And while both parties play their political games our youngest and finest die daily where they shouldn't even be, immersed in a civil war that is none of our business (except, of course, for having caused it). The deaths, destruction, misery, and horror brought about by the Bush/Cheney administration is incalculable. Are they just going to be allowed to walk away with no accountability? How is it none of the candidates ever mentions this?

Can there be anything more absurd than Bush's so-called plan to convene a meeting to solve the Israeli/Palestinian problem? He has completely neglected this problem for the past six and a half years, blatantly supported Israel at every turn, and now that he has no credibility whatsoever he thinks he can actually do something about it? And he is going to ignore Hamas and leave out the countries that do not want to recognize Israel no matter what. Bush apparently doesn't understand that he is no more than a laughingstock at this point and this feeble attempt to do something will be lucky if it even results in a meeting. Condi Rice has become a pathetic figure, something like the mouse that tries to roar but only squeaks. This administration thinks that diplomacy means do as we insist or else.

Matching the above in absurdity is Bush's request that Congress strengthen his illegal surveillance program so that the only oversight comes 120 days after they do it and Alberto Gonzales will be in charge of reviewing it. This is a request that indicates to me that Bush has long since lost whatever marbles he might have had. But don't bet the Democrats won't give in to this.

"It would have made a cat laugh."
James R. Planche

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More of the same

Surely no one can be surprised that Bush is claiming Executive Priviledge for Turd Blossom. There is no way Bush could let Rove testify under oath, Rove, of all people, who knows where all the bodies are buried, all the skeletons are hidden, all the secrets they can't allow anyone to learn about. I am constantly surprised that Congress persists in trying to pry information out of the White House. Just IMPEACH the crooks and have done with it! There isn't even any doubt that Bush/Cheney are eminently impeachable. More importantly, there isn't any doubt they are guilty of terrible war crimes. No one seems to want to even mention this. Somehow it is unmentionable, along with any criticism of Israel, both facts leading us inevitably to more and more disaster. At the moment it looks like they won't even be successful at impeaching Gonzales the Incompetent.

Today I received in the mail my third wall calendar for 2008. I will no doubt receive two or three more before the end of the year. I also now have somewhere in the vicinity of twenty thousand or so return address labels, enough to last me for several lifetimes were I to actually use them. I don't want these things. I didn't ask for them. My mistake, apparently, was donating money to various causes in the first place. What is really irritating about this is that these things are not really gifts. You are expected to make a donation. Sure, you don't have to make a donation but if you don't you of course look like an ungrateful lout. What is even more galling is when they enclose a questionnaire for you to fill out. This is to make you feel important, as if your opinion somehow really matters. The questionnaire consists of five or six questions, your answer to which are already known to them or you wouldn't be on their mailing list. I regard this as pretty sneaky. Then there is the ploy of sending you a stamped return envelope so if you don't return it (preferably with your donation) you feel guilty about wasting a stamp. They try everything. I guess you're really better off not donating money to anyone in the first place. But then you have to live with the reality of being a truly cheap shmuck. I'd like to donate money to most of these causes but as there are by now so many of them it is totally out of the question. And how do you choose? Are the whales more important than the Polar Bears? Are the salmon more important than shipping more potatoes? Are Indian schools more important than Black colleges? Are Firemen more important than Police? I could go on but you get the picture. I don't like to have to worry or feel guilty about this stuff, but I do. I wish they would stop sending me things. I'm thinking of trying to make a deal with some of them; if they promise not to send me things or put on fundraisers I'll donate money. How's that for fair?

Another thing I sometimes worry about is tipping. I suspect that most waiters and waitresses don't report all their tips on their income tax. So if I tip them am I not part of a criminal conspiracy of some kind (not to worry, I do tip, I just wonder about it).

"I believe the Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey."
Mark Twain