Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The death toll of American soldiers in Iraq just surpassed the death toll of American civilians on 9/11 and to hear the right-wingers in these parts tell it, we're ruining Iraq to avenge 9/11.

Some vengeance--we've now lost more Americans in Iraq than we did on 9/11 and we've been waging what Bush called the "battle of Iraq" for longer than we were involved in WWII.

We're wasting both money and lives. And some Democrats are saying that they could be persuaded to go along with the proposed troop surge? How in God's name are we going to bring this ever-worsening nightmare to an end?

Monday, December 25, 2006


Went to my parents' house for Christmas today and one of the first things we talked about was their seemingly malfunctioning Apex DVD player. My mother said she had gotten it 3 or so months ago for $35.

I took a look at it, power cycled it, tried to get it to read DVDs, etc.--all to no avail. My father asked whether one takes something like that to get fixed or just gets another one--knowing the answer, of course, is to simply get another player. He lamented that simply throwing out a machine like that to replace it just seemed like an "ugly American" thing to do.


I mentioned something about the lasers inside the players, and my dad marvelled at the fact that the advanced technology in such a machine could be sold for such a cheap price. I suggested that such a situation was possible because of cheap overseas labor, with words to this effect: "Well, they're so cheap because they're made by Chinese workers who get 2 cents a day or something like that."

My father found that highly unlikely. He said that with all the capitalistic reforms that are being made in China, and the footage one sees in the news with Chinese cities being overrun with cars, Chinese workers are surely not being ripped off. He said that China will eventually go the way of Japan--start off making cheap crap and then become the world leader in manufactured goods at which time Chinese workers will be paid like kings.

How I handled it--not very well

I didn't vocalize my disagreement with everything he said for a couple reasons. One, I was full of food from my imperialistic, ugly American, completely commercialized and commodified holiday celebration and therefore somewhat addled and not looking for much of an intellectual give-and-take. Two, his citation of video footage of lots of cars on Chinese streets threw me off.

I mean, I know that Chinese workers work cheap. That's why everything comes from China--that's why Wal-Mart's biggest supplier is China, as it says in this article:

Nevertheless,...China is Wal-Mart's most important supplier in the world. The overseas procurement home office in Shenzhen, a city of South China's Guangdong Province, has played a key role in the firm's global purchasing business.

Wal-Mart shifted its overseas procurement centre from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in February 2002 to better serve the purchasing and exporting business.

"If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China's eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada," Xu said.

So I just kinda let it go, disappointed in myself that I didn't speak up more because of a lack of confidence in my grasp of the facts. But I came home and Googled some stuff and found stories like the following about the state of Chinese labor:

China Labor Watch said the workers are forced to labor 11 hours a day, six days a week, with "total overtime of up to 70 hours a month." Chinese "law" says employees work a 40-hour week, with overtime limited to 36 hours a month. Workers at the plant, irrespective of reality, get 574 yuan or $72 a month.

Subsistence wages have fueled a staggering increase in Chinese toy imports, along with China's continued tricks to undervalue its currency.
Buffalo News 12/18/06 by William Turner

Here's another, from the AP:

MGA Entertainment Inc.'s Bratz dolls are made at a factory in southern China where workers are obliged to toil as many as 94 hours a week, labor rights advocates alleged in a report.

The report by U.S.-based China Labor Watch and the National Labor Committee details allegations of harsh working conditions, especially during peak delivery months, and of violations of Chinese laws that give workers the right to work-injury and health insurance.

And here's more on the Bratz and profit-over-people situation:

Workers are paid the equivalent of 17 US cents for each doll, the report said, while the dolls retail for $16 apiece or more in the US.

The report contains allegations similar to those aimed at many Chinese factories producing big brand products for export. They include forcing workers to stay on the job to meet quotas, required overtime exceeding the legal maximum of 36 hours a month, and the denial of paid sick leave and other benefits...

Last year the CLW reported on conditions inside the Huangwu No 2 Toy Factory in Dongguan City. The factory makes toys for Wal-Mart and, according to the CLW, there were few safety precautions for any of the workers, who are working up to 15 hours a day in peak season.

Some passed out from exhaustion after spraying 1,115 small toys per hour. That’s one toy every 3.23 seconds.

And then, in the same article, the CEO of Timberland shoes spells out the horrible, ultimately self-defeating situation:

Recently I interviewed Jeff Swartz, chief executive of Timberland, who has done more than most to ensure his Chinese contractors do not abuse their workers. Timberland strictly monitors its factories and will not allow workers to put in more than 60 hours a week.

In an ideal world, he said, he would not manufacture in China at all, but the low prices he can get there mean he can’t afford not to. The most he could hope for at the moment was to be “the good plantation owner,” he said.

I know better than to keep my mouth shut, but it's my dad--I don't want to fight with him. But I fear that most people feel like he does--that Wal-Mart is good for Americans and that the cheap laborers abroad are happy to have the work and the pittance they earn. He even said that he and my mother are a "Wal-Mart family."

Not blameless

I guess another reason I didn't speak up is that I'm not blameless. I shop at Wal-Mart. I like to get quality products for the least money possible. I don't know the way to rectify this lopsided situation that hurts the wages of both overseas and domestic workers. There has to be some sort of either legal or moral (or both) turning away from the "profit uber alles" mentality of both the corporation and the public. But I don't know how to make that happen.

But I do know that Chinese labor is cheap and not afforded the same (eroding) protections we supposedly have here. And saying so with confidence, even to my family which I love, is one infinitesimally tiny way to start changing perceptions. I guess...

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I figured that the "London terror plot" would unravel. Frankly, I thought it would happen sooner, but you can't win 'em all.

A judge in Pakistan threw out the terrorism charges against the supposed mastermind of the "plot." Now say what you will about Pakistan and justice, but they are our allies in the war on our freedom...I mean, the war on terror. Here's what went down (yeah, I'm a week late on this story):

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 13 — A judge threw out terrorism charges on Wednesday against Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent whom prosecutors depicted as a major figure in a plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto trans-Atlantic airliners and detonate the bombs in flight.

The ruling means there are now no terrorism charges against two people once accused of being linchpins of a major Al Qaeda bombing plot. The other is Tayib Rauf, Mr. Rauf’s younger brother, who was detained in Britain last August and soon set free without charge.
The problem for this guy Rauf is that once you get accused of something, the stigma tends to stay with you even if you've been proven innocent. Everyone has the question "Yeah, but why would they even go to the trouble of accusing him if he really didn't do anything?" in the back of their minds.

Terrorism is a problem Republicans do not want to solve

And this is true even if you're a veteran of the Navy, and white, and a U.S. citizen.
Just like Donald Vance was. He was a whistleblower who was thrown in detention in Iraq for being a whistleblower. That's not what they told him, of course--they told him he was a suspect because he was working in the same place as the people on whom he was blowing the whistle.

Anyway, my point is that the "war on terror" is a farce and these two incidents are further proof of that fact. But terrorism is a problem Republicans would like to be viewed as trying to solve but which in fact they do not want to solve.

So they find somebody, anybody, they can accuse of whatever they need them to be accused of, blare it in the press, then the reality gets whispered weeks, months, or years later. But the job has already been done--the stigma remains. The patsies have been used, the public has been fooled, the politicians have covered their asses, the press got a juicy story--and our freedoms are that much more in jeopardy.

If you doubt that, and/or think such things don't affect you directly, think back to when the story of the liquid bomb plot broke. Mothers were having to pour out breast milk, boarding was delayed for hours, the entire air travel system was in complete disarray. Airlines immediately banned liquids in planes but relaxed that restriction about a month afterward. The current guidelines are still pretty ridiculous. Especially when you consider the fact that the liquid bomb plot was either manufactured from whole cloth or was purposely blown way the hell out of all proportion to its significance. And that one of the main suspects has been cleared of those charges.

Feeling safer yet? Feeling freer?

The conventional wisdom now dictates that there was a liquid bomb plot against British airliners. And pundits and reporters continue to talk of that supposed incident as if that is absolute fact, despite the news that the charges against the mastermind were dropped. And that's how this war on our freedom, I mean, terror gets perpetuated.

Be skeptical and you'll probably be right.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 TOP 10

Kinda tired...don't wanna justify or defend these picks...here they are:

1. Ben Kweller/self-titled/Red Ink
2. Comets On Fire/Avatar/Sub Pop
3. Crystal Skulls/Outgoing Behavior/Suicide Squeeze
4. Destroyer/Destroyer's Rubies/Merge
5. Ian Love/self-titled/Limekiln
6. Michael Franti & Spearhead/Yell Fire/Anti
7. Nobody & Mystic Chords Of Memory/Tree Colored See/Mush
8. Neko Case/Fox Confessor Brings The Flood/Anti
9. Will Kimbrough/Americanitis/Emergent
10. Zombi/Surface To Air/Relapse

Top Songs

"Dear Mr. President" Pink
"Your Shopping Lists Are Poetry" Mint
"G'Dang Diggy" Common Market
"Priest's Knees" Destroyer
"Hallelujah Boys" Chip Taylor
"Rock Or Pop?" Some Girls
"Velvet Underground" Television Personalities
"Hands" Raconteurs
"Hard-On For War" Mudhoney
"Try Telling That To My Baby" Heavy Blinkers
"Less Polite" Will Kimbrough
"Long Distance Call" Phoenix
"Luther Vandross" Treasure Mammal
"No Child Of Mine" Truckstop Honeymoon
"Ruling Class" Loose Fur
"Penny On A Train Track" Ben Kweller
"Silverjacket Girl" David & The Citizens
"Slash From Guns 'n' Roses" I See Hawks In L.A.
"Underground Sun" Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
"You Blanks" Portastatic
"Yell Fire" Michael Franti & Spearhead
"The Cosmic Door" Crystal Skulls
"John Saw That Number" Neko Case

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Listening to the Young Turks this morning and they had a guest from the Nation who had just written an article for the magazine supposedly debunking the 9/11 truth movement.

However, as the conversation went on, Cenk Uygur said their talk was making him more convinced of 9/11 truth rather than less convinced. They were talking about "how could our government be so evil" and so forth and then the guy from the Nation said something rather ludicrous.

He said that scientists still have yet to figure out why WTC 7 collapsed in on itself. Oh, they know exactly why WTC 1 and 2 fell in 10 seconds each. But this Nation writer expects us to buy that the jury is still out on WTC 7? So-called scientists and 9/11 truth debunkers have every aspect of 9/11 down to a "T" but they just can't quite figure out why a building that wasn't hit by a plane collapsed neatly into itself even though Larry Silverstein is on videotape saying he gave orders to bring it down (though not in so many words).

The writer from the Nation compared the jury being out to the fact that no one figured out why the Challenger blew up in 1986 until a year or two later. Well, it's more than a couple of years after 9/11, we've had an official investigative commission, and they still don't know why WTC 7 fell? That's unacceptable. They don't want to admit why it fell, so that's why they're so loathe to even talk about it.

Cenk said that when you put everything together--the Iraq war, the pipelines, petrodollar warfare, no clear video of a plane hitting the Pentagon, etc.--you can almost come to no other conclusion but that someone's not telling the truth. And I hope he lets himself go more toward that conclusion and realizes that we don't have to be able to explain every inconsistency--like we don't have to explain what happened to the people in the plane that didn't hit the Pentagon. We just don't know what happened to them.

But we know the official story is not what actually happened.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Been thinking this over for a few days since I read where Aravosis said that "Markos is right" with a link to this:

Bowers throws fuel on a fire that was simmering down and lists his argument against impeachment. I'll add further fuel with one more argument --

We have one year to make our case for 2008 to the American people. We need to show not just that we deserve to hold on the Congress, but that we should be given the White House as well.

2008 won't work, since as an election year, all meaningful legislative work will grind to a halt and the press will be focused on the horse race (as will we). So 2007 is it.

We can spend 2007 either pushing impeachment (which isn't as popular as Zogby claims, see Bowers' piece), or we can use it educating the American people about what a Democratic government would look like -- passing meaningful legislation that would improve their lives like the minimum wage, health care reform, ethics reform, stem cell research funding, policies that help families and the middle class.

Impeachment does none of that.

In a perfect world, we could do all of the above. But we don't live in a perfect world. And the second we start impeachment proceedings, the media will focus on that. Heck WE'LL focus on that, and the Democratic legislative agenda will fade into the background, ignored. A perfect opportunity to brand the Democratic Party in a positive light will be forever squandered.

So what is more important, proving that we can govern and making the case for future Democratic majorities? Or a high-profile vendetta campaign against Bush? It really is just one or the other.

It's an easy call.

Don't worry about Bush and company. Congress will pursue its oversight duties. Waxman and Slaughter and Conyers and the rest of those guys aren't about to take the next two years off. People will be held accountable. Impeachment isn't the old path to accountability.

And Bush? He's going down as the nation's Worst President Ever. We don't need "impeachment" to make that case, Bush has done a great job of it all by himself.

What the Hell?

There are so many wrongheaded ideas in this post that it's hard to know where to begin.

1) First of all, I guess, the idea 2007 could be spent "educating the public about what a Democratic government would look like" is a farce. The public already knows what a Democratic government would look like, and that's why they kicked the Republicans' ass. The only people who need to be educated are the 30% that still say that Bush is doing a good job, and they are beyond hope, so they must be written off. There is nothing we can do to change their minds--in fact, in their minds, having Democratic control of anything is anathema and tantamount to impeachment anyway, so we might as well do it.

2) Markos rightly worries about what the media will make of the situation if impeachment were to go down. He writes here that the Democratic legislative agenda will be obscured. It seems to me, though, that that's how you get things done, as the Republicans have shown us--you distract with wars on Christmas and/or actual wars (our distraction would of course be impeachment instead of war).

3) He says "impeachment isn't the old [sic--I'm sure he meant "only"] path to accountability." That may be, if by "accountability" you mean "a slap on the wrist." Markos tells us not to worry, that Bush is already going down as the worst president in history, so the next two years can only dig a deeper hole for him.

The thing is, though, is that Bush's war in Iraq and his war on our freedom have to stop--the sooner the better. If Bush is still president for the next two years, neither of those wars will stop before he leaves office and they are likely to escalate.

Bush needs to be removed from office, and Cheney along with him. I don't know why it wouldn't be possible to have the hearings and trial in January-February 2007, and Bush and Cheney are in jail by March. Then it's over with--Bush and Cheney get their just desserts, the war is over, Democrats are in power, and the electoral coup that began in 2000 is finally and thankfully over.

That scenario would also be a good way to educate the public about what a Democratic government would be like--waste our blood and treasure on an unnecessary war and you pay the price for it.

There's more

If Bush isn't impeached, I can imagine the conservative taunts after 2008: "Why would anybody vote for Democrats--they're weak and spineless! They had the pistol of impeachment against Bush's head but couldn't bring themselves to pull the trigger--even though they said he was irresponsible, dangerous, and a threat to the country and the world! How can such wimps be trusted to fight al Qaeda?"

Or look at it this way: our soldiers in Iraq don't have two years for us to wait to take them out of harm's way. This fucker Bush has got to be reined in and made an example for the future.

I would feel completely different about this if it wasn't for the wars mentioned earlier. But this guy has abused our trust and the Constitution from the day he was (s)elected.

There are some other points I wanted to make, but they kind of vanished for now...I'll have to think about them some more and then update this post or something.

Here's one final thought, though. A lot of people thought there was no way that the Democrats could take back the Congress in 2006. Very few thought there could be a complete upset like there was. My point is, a Democratic takeover (of both houses of Congress, no less) seemed to be too much to hope for on Nov. 6. On Nov. 8, it was a reality.

I think it could be the same way with impeachment. Markos and Aravosis and others are hedging their bets, and not trusting in the people by thinking that they somehow couldn't handle impeachment and would be turned off by it and the Democrats. I think that the sweep of the elections ought to embolden our side and give us confidence. Right now, it seems to some that impeachment would be too politically costly--but what if it actually turned out to be politically beneficial, which is also a likely outcome.

Let's face it, the Republicans didn't take over and get us into this situation by being timid and hoping the press would be nice to them. And we should learn from that...

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Read this story today from the AP wire:

"More American homes are getting discounted oil from Venezuela's state-owned oil company. The company's US subsidiary, Citgo, is expanding a program that's part of a promise by Venezuela's socialist leader to aid America's poor."

But the words of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy were what really brought it home for me:

"It is an unbelievable act of charity on the part of a major oil company," Kennedy said.
he told reporters he wrote to "every major American oil company and every member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and asked them, as they have had enormous price increases that have brought untold billions into their hands, to give up a little bit, just a little bit to help the poor. Every single company said no. Every single one except one, and that was Citgo.
"So it is important that when a major company reaches out and does something like this, that we should acknowledge and celebrate the kind of action they are taking."
"Exxon made $10 billion in a quarter, in three months out of the year they made $10 billion. And they say, when it comes to helping the poor, sorry, there is no money in the till."
What other oil company besides Citgo, Kennedy asked, would come to a poor neighborhood in Providence and talk about the plight of the poor? There is no other oil company in the world that I know of that talks about these issues, that cares about these issues and actually gives money to help with these issues."

Say what you want about Chavez, but he puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to helping the poor. Think of it--not a single American oil company would help its own customers. Every other OPEC nation, even the one led by Bush's boyfriends, declined to help out our citizens.

The only person willing to help was Hugo Chavez, a man who recently called our president "the devil." And yet those on the American right would demonize this man? And those on the American left try to distance themselves from him?

Is there anybody in a position of power in this country with any goddamn sense? If so, they sure aren't acting like it. Chavez deserves our admiration and our gratitude, not our scorn and derision.

Limbaugh and his cohort shouldn't be telling people to boycott Citgo, they should be boycotting Exxon and Shell...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Reading Arthur Silber's take on the Newt Gingrich free speech fiasco...

Silber points out that we've been told that "they hate us because of our freedoms." Silber correctly points out that this is utter nonsense and that "they hate us because we kill them."

I have long argued that we need to bring the frightened sheep in this country to the realization of the true cause of terrorism, which is simply other nations' or peoples' grievances against us, whether real or perceived. The cause of terrorism is not jealousy or hatred of our "freedom."

But when the popular perception is that we must give up our freedoms so that terrorism will stop, we have people like Newt Gingrich and George Bush who will gladly sacrifice those freedoms. And they have done and will do so in vain, because their terrorizing of us won't stop until we stop our terrorizing of them.

Gingrich's remarks remind us that we have to make sure our fellow citizens understand why people would want to hurt us. Instead of trying to score political points with Christofascists and their sympathizers by expressing a desire to end free speech as we know it, Gingrich should be advocating the end of imperialistic impulses and our attempts to control the rest of the world to our benefit and the world's detriment.

If You Think About It

Because if you think about it, from the very beginning, the history of the United States is the history of oppression and overthrow, naked agression and plundering. All of which is cleverly done under the guise of being dedicated to freedom and equality.

Howard Zinn does a good rundown of this history in an interview with (shudder) Dennis Prager:

HZ: Well, probably more bad than good. We’ve done some good, of course; there’s no doubt about that. But we have done too many bad things in the world. You know, if you look at the way we have used our armed force throughout our history: first destroying the Indian communities of this continent and annihilating Indian tribes, then going into the Caribbean in the Spanish-American War, going to the Philippines, taking over other countries, not establishing democracy but in many cases establishing dictatorship, holding up dictatorships in Latin America and giving them arms, and you know, Vietnam, killing several million people for no good reason at all, certainly not for democracy or liberty, and continuing down to the present day with the War in Iraq—we’re not bringing democracy to Iraq, we’re not bringing security to Iraq, and we’re responsible for the deaths of very large numbers of people, I mean, 2500 Americans, tens of thousands of Iraqis....

Just sayin'...

Sunday, November 26, 2006


And by "they" and "it" I mean, respectively, the neocon corporatists and the fact that they don't want Russia to trade oil in rubles. Just like they didn't like the fact that Iraq traded oil in euros (consequently invaded), and they don't want Iran to trade oil in euros (much talk of bombing or invasion).

This whole spy-poisoning story is debunked pretty well by Raimondo at Antiwar.com, and I want to quote him here, as he cites all the reasons (except the one above) why the "powers that be" want to mix it up with Russia:

"The attempt to portray the Russians as mad poisoners intent on assassinating their political opponents no matter where they try to find refuge is a powerful propagandistic theme that, although unsupported by any facts, winds its way through the media narrative on the wings of pure supposition. These people don't care about facts: it's all speculation, unsupported by evidence that passes the most perfunctory smell test...

Here is yet another link in the long chain of manufactured incidents meant to provoke a confrontation with Russia. An aggressive propaganda campaign aimed at the Russians has been in high gear for quite some time, and it appears to be reaching a crescendo with this Litvinenko nonsense...

U.S. intervention in Russia's internal affairs is deeply resented by most Russians, i.e., those not on the American payroll, but this matters little to the Russia-haters in our midst. Their message is not directed at the Russian people, who support Putin and his policies overwhelmingly: it is aimed at Western elites, who can be prodded into taking a harder line against those resurgent Russkies, flush with oil money and failing to toe the American line when it comes to Iran and Syria."

Achilles Heel of the U.S.

Our dependence on the dollar as the reserve currency of the world because the dollar is the international standard for oil purchases is our Achilles heel. All oil-producing countries--i.e., Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, etc.--have to do is set up their own oil bourses and exchange their precious natural resources for their own (or a non-U.S.) currency, and suddenly the U.S. is in a world of hurt--just look at the news today--"US fears spark dollar sell-off":

"The dollar suffered a steep sell-off this week amid expectations of a further slowdown in the US economy.

The greenback fell most sharply against the euro as the prospect of rising European interest rates contrasted with forecasts of easing US monetary policy...

'The current euro rally/dollar sell-off . . . is unlikely to end in the short term as the fundamentals and market flows are increasingly stacked up against the US currency,' said Ashraf Laidi, analyst at CMC Markets US."

The corporatists and the neocons would say that the answer to this problem is to "Bomb Iran" and to bring "peace and stability" (read as "death and domination") to the Middle East.

And speaking of oil and dollars, this AP story was a real shocker--"AP Analysis: Firms Crimping Oil Supplies." But the headline chosen by my local paper for the same story is, in my view, more accurate: "Study: Oil companies drive up gas prices."

And this is how they manipulate prices:

"Whatever the truth in Bakersfield, an Associated Press analysis suggests that big oil companies have been crimping supplies in subtler ways across the country for years. And tighter supplies tend to drive up prices.

The analysis, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, indicates that the industry slacked off supplying oil and gasoline during the prolonged price boom between early 1999 and last summer, when prices began to fall."

They close down refineries or don't build new ones under the pretense that "market pressures" and "business judgments" are causing them to do so. Whether or not the companies' intentions are to manipulate prices (and you'd have to be a fool to believe otherwise), the effect is, as the story says, that "tighter supplies tend to drive up prices."

Oh, and another neat by-product of closing down refineries or only using existing ones no matter the volume of demand--when the huge profits from the supply "crimp" come rolling in, they're not reduced by having to pay for facilities that might allow the supply to increase to meet the demand and thereby reduce monstrous profits.

Good night and good show, jolly good show!

Heard about the Action DVR today on XM Radio...

I used to say that people could get along so much better if everyone had cameras mounted on their heads, recording every interaction and conversation. Not for spying purposes or anything devious, but so that confusion about the intricacies of human interaction could perhaps be resolved.

For instance, I find that when I'm in an argument with someone and my heart rate is up and my adrenaline is flowing, I sometimes have a hard time keeping straight the exact words of my opponent. Then I will say something like--"well, you said x, y, and z." My opponent will protest, "I never said that; I said a, b, and c."

Now, what I said my opponent said usually gets the gist of what they said, but not the exact words, and that's what the opponent protests. I always thought that if I had been able to record my every interaction, I could simply rewind to the point where my opponent made his/her statement, and either prove them wrong, or remind myself of exactly what was said.

A life-recording camera would also be useful in those instances where one gets admonished for not doing something that a friend insists he/she told you to do. You could rewind to the earlier point (that day or even weeks ago) where the friend says you were told to do whatever it was, and either prove them (or yourself) wrong.

My point is, I always thought that recording one's interactions with even friends and family would keep everyone honest, cut way down on misunderstandings, and generally improve relationships (provided everyone agreed to use their recordings in an open and honest way).

And now that day is here...but I can't yet afford the Action DVR. I never thought that such a system would be feasible, let alone available in my lifetime.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


From Charley Reese, as good an explanation as any of why "terrorism" exists, whether the Christofascist superpatriots want to admit it or not:

"Terrorism is a product of politics and of injustice, real or perceived. Since human beings have no choice but to act on their perceptions, whether the injustice is real or perceived doesn't matter. An injustice will stick in a man's craw more painfully and longer than poverty or unemployment."

"They" don't hate us because of Islam.

"They" don't hate us because of freedom.

They hate us because we're imperialists and they're the latest people we've tried to subjugate. End of story. If we stop our imperialism and stop trying to subjugate people for the sake of exploiting their resources with little or no benefit to "them," terrorism will decline and end much sooner than later.

Just a thought...

Monday, November 20, 2006


Of the three options, I like the last one the best and always have:

"The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.

Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said."

And people are now openly saying in national newspapers that we should bomb Iran?

You should read the words "bomb Iran" as "kill innocent people." This kind of bullshit is despicable--I spit on this vile, disgusting hatemongering. Bombing doesn't stop terrorism--bombing is terrorism.

And the only thing Iran has done to provoke our corporate masters is to threaten to diversify their currency holdings (and I hate linking to WorldNet, but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do), shifting more toward the euro. Hmmm...didn't another Middle Eastern country that has "I-R-A" as the first three letters of its name do something with euros before we decided to kill their innocent people in an illegal, immoral war of aggression?

William Clark has been on this for a while now, and it wouldn't hurt to read his words again:

"In 2005-2006, The Tehran government has a developed a plan to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism. This means that without some form of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project for U.S. global domination, Tehran's objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market."

We don't hold all the cards, you see. In fact, as we spend more and more on our stupid, unnecessary, indefensible war in Iraq, we get deeper and deeper in debt and consequently more and more susceptible to the kinds of things Clark is talking about.

Way to go, neocons!

Why War Fails

Don't forget, not only is war a racket, but it doesn't even work:

"The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations. Even though the United States dropped more bombs in the Vietnam War than in all of World War II, it was still forced to withdraw. The Soviet Union, trying for a decade to conquer Afghanistan, in a war that caused a million deaths, became bogged down and also finally withdrew.

Even the supposed triumphs of great military powers turn out to be elusive. After attacking and invading Afghanistan, President Bush boasted that the Taliban were defeated. But five years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country. Last May, there were riots in Kabul, after a runaway American military truck killed five Afghans. When U.S. soldiers fired into the crowd, four more people were killed."

War is terrorism, and terrorism is big business, and big business is only concerned with profit, not people's lives.

Good night.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


“Don’t go in there! There’s monsters in there that eat babies!”

That’s what a mother said to her approximately one and a half year old son today to get him to stay in the waiting room. She clapped her hand over her mouth and looked around to see if any of the other kids heard her say it. My son seemed oblivious to it, as did the few other kids that were in there.

The kid turned around and came crying back to his mother. It occurred to me that maybe parenting like that is a big part of the reason some people are so susceptible to manipulation by fear. And not fear of something real, even. Fear of something made-up.

Using fear to produce obedience--they start 'em young down here, I guess...

...but probably won't get:

1. Impeachment-To not impeach this president and vice-president is to excuse the behavior in which they've engaged since even before 9/11. It is to excuse it for this president as well as for future presidents.

2. Withdrawal from Iraq-Should've never invaded that country in the first place.

3. Economic Populism-tax fairness, help for the poor, ending the middle class squeeze, and so forth

4. End to illegal NSA wiretapping-which may have begun before 9/11 and is too terrible a power for any one person to have

5. Repeal of anti-civil liberties legislation-specifically, the Patriot Act and especially the abhorrent Military Commissions Act.

The only way the Democrats will not succeed for the next two years is if they fail to hold the Bush administration accountable for the horrendous policies they've pursued while in power. That's the only way the Democrats can lose power--by pledging not to impeach, not getting out of Iraq, not ending the warrantless wiretapping, not reversing the tax cuts, not reining in corporate power, not creating disincentives for outsourcing, etc.

If there were ever going to be a time to do all of these things, it's now. These are not partisan proposals--they are pro-American, pro-freedom, pro-humanity policies. We must strike while the iron is hot. We can't dance around the issues and try to please a deluded minority of the country that still loves Rush Limbaugh and Bush.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


"under oath."

Get Bush and Cheney and the rest of 'em and put 'em under oath--about Iraq, 9/11, Katrina, profiteering, etc. Holy shit I can't wait...

The Democrats win the Senate! I can't believe it!

Rumsfeld's gone, the public hates the Iraq war, and the Democrats are in complete control of Congress!

Hot damn!

My only regret is that it took so long for a majority of the population to figure out what was going on. I mean, for fuck's sake, we've been barrelling down the road to fascism at breakneck speed, seemingly cheered on by a majority of the public. We've come so close to losing our democracy, even just in the last couple of months, not to mention the last five years.

But hellfire and damnation, even a late victory is still a victory!

Get rid of the Military Commissions Act! Please! Dismantle the NSA wiretapping program! Investigate 9/11!

Although with the Dems now in power, I feel slightly less apprehensive about speaking my mind on this blog and I don't think I'll worry quite as much about being carted off to a FEMA prison camp in the middle of the night just for being the left-handed leftist...

A few things leapt out at me through the day:

1) Bush told a questioner at a press conference that he’d only said Rumsfeld and Cheney would stay because he was trying to get the reporter to go on to another question


2) Novak said in an email today (hat tip AmericaBlog) that

a) “the real fault lies with the GOP's Washington establishment, which played its hand at Republican governance so disastrously that by Election Day Republicans could hardly get a cab ride anywhere in middle America;”

b) “the private reaction by Republicans was anger at President Bush and his political team”


3) Rush Limbaugh (hat tip Jim Derych at HuffPo) admits to supporting people–“carrying their water”–when he didn’t want to and didn’t believe in them

These things all reveal one of the main problems with politics today, especially as played by Republicans and conservatives. They’re only concerned with “their side” winning and will say anything, even if it’s contrary to their beliefs and feelings to see to it that power is maintained.

And that has been the problem with our country the last few years–people can’t or won’t admit they’re wrong even when it’s obvious to themselves and everyone else that they are. That’s why we’ve been in Iraq so long–Bush feels it’s weak and lowly to admit he made a mistake and that maybe he’s changed his mind, so he bears down and says “by God we’re gonna stay so I look strong” even though that really means he’ weak and he’s weakening the country, and he ended up fucking up his party’s hold on power.

And that’s what ends up happening when you won’t admit to the truth–the truth smacks you upside the head.


So we have to somehow convince people that really we’re all on the same side–the Constitution’s side,say, or the side of common decency. This my-side’s-better-than-your-side bullshit is not only juvenile, it’s deadly and dangerous. We have to be able to admit when we’re wrong and those of us who were right should not throw “told you so” like stones.

And I realize that what I’m calling “side-ism” is merely a cutesy word for “partisanism.” And that a lot of people, like LarryG in the comments, will argue that the country shouldn’t go too far left or too far right. I think that idea is a good one, especially if one thinks of the “center” as “the Constitution” and/or the founding principles of our country.

It’s like the whole thing about obedience–we shouldn’t be taught blind obedience to authority or lack of authority. The only thing we should maintain blind obedience to is morality and conscience. Similarly, in an ideal situation, Americans would only maintain blind obedience to the Constitution and our founding principles, not to the so-called left or the so-called right.

And if and when we ever get to that place, it would be nice if all Americans would display that obedience to the Constitution in public pronouncements as well as in private conversations and musings.

Even though I'm still elated about the Democratic (big and little d) victory last night, I think it needs to be said that we have to fix our voting system. The issues raised by Black Box Voting and the "Hacking Democracy" documentary still need to be addressed.

Private companies managing the most important element of our democracy--i.e., the franchise--is unacceptable. If nothing else, Diebold and the other companies must be forced to allow their proprietary software to be open to vigorous scrutiny by the people who are paying good money to use it.

Because '08 will be here before we know it, and we can't have the kinds of things that happened this time happening then--or any time. Not that I think we lucked out this time. We obviously overwhelmed any diabolical scheme about vote rigging with sheer numbers. But until we make election days national holidays, we can't always count on overwhelming numbers. But we should always be able to count on the reliability of the vote-taking and especially the vote-counting.

I should point out, though, that my voting experinece on a Diebold touch screen machine (with paper trail!) couldn't have gone more smoothly--no glitches, no flipping, no discrepancies between onscreen display and printout. But still...

Bush just said that he and Rumsfeld agreed that Rumsfeld should step down. I thought Bush said just the other day that Rumsfeld and Cheney would stay until 2009. Whoops! I guess the American people whooping your ass'll do that to ya...

And it looks like the Dems will also take the Senate, thanks to Tester being declared the winner...

Will wonders never cease? Will Cheney please retire next so that when we impeach Bush we won't have to have a Cheney presidency?

I'm so happy yet flabbergasted...

The Democrats take the House, and probably the Senate as well? This is the best news for America in some time!! Maybe we can now get to the bottom of some of the questions that Bush and company have refused to answer.

But at the same time, the Democrats in their current incarnation are not "the answer." They are still too compromised by lobbyists and still too timid about getting out of Iraq. It may be that the high hopes that those of us on the left have about impeachment and withdrawal from Iraq and investigations and convictions of high officials and what not will be dashed.

But at least with the Democrats getting an obvious mandate and a sweeping victory, we're in a much better position for that kind of thing to happen than we were at this time yesterday. And the public has obviously caught on to the Bush/Rove/Cheney ruse of the ol' smear and fear.

So I'll take a wait-and-see approach regarding the chastening of the Bushies, but at least we can be assured that Social Security will remain, well, secure and that the minimum wage will be raised and so forth. If we could get rid of the Military Commissions Act, have a real investigation of 9/11, get out of Iraq, and impeach the rat bastards--well, that'd be awesome but I don't wanna ask for too much...

Let today be a day of celebration!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Of power, that is? It's beginning to look like we may get our wish--finally, a check on the Bush adminstration.

As I was watching TV, looking at msnbc.com, etc., this thought occurred to me--before they off Saddam, could somebody let him say whether or not he had any links to al Qaida or whether he had any nuclear weapons? Wouldn't he be honest about it now that he has nothing left to lose? Just a thought...

Monday, November 06, 2006


Oh please oh please oh please oh please...the Dems have got to win!

Let us note that most polls, even those of Fox News, show that the Dems are on the upswing and expected to take back control of either (if not both) houses of Congress.

So when the elections are stolen by the black boxes, we will know that the will of the people has been subverted. Gotta vote, to be sure, but also gotta be sure that the votes are counted accurately...

There's a lot I want to get to, but my son's been sick for a few days now and everything's hectic. Since he's been sick, he's laid on the couch watching a lot of TV and we enjoy watching "Avatar: The Last Airbender." I always thought it was stupid before, but now I think it's completely awesome.

Come to think of it, if I think I'll really hate something without even giving it a fair try, that likely means that I'll actually be really into it once I give the thing in question a good try. Kind of like when people get way into gay-bashing, a la Ted Haggard--they're gay themselves.

And I just wanted to say--thank you, Mike Jones. As a friend of mine said this morning, I hope a rich celebrity with a big gay fanbase is helping you with whatever legal hassles the 'Pubes may try to throw your way (Barb? Liza? Brad Pitt?)...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Janeane Garofalo knew, and she also predicted the mess we'd make for ourselves if we invaded and told Fox News that back in February 2003:

SNOW: Do you think he is eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction?

GAROFALO: Yes, I think lots of people are eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction. But there's no evidence that he has weapons of mass destruction. There's been no evidence of him testing nuclear weapons.

We have people that are in our face with nuclear weapons. We've got Iran and North Korea. We've got a problem with Pakistan. You know, I don't know what to say about that.

There's a whole lot of people that are going nuclear. And I think that Saddam Hussein is actually, with the evidence, the least able to use nuclear weapons and the least obvious offender in that area at this moment....

SNOW: I'm happy I've been able to get you so passionate about this.

GAROFALO: You've gotten me all flumoxed.

But I also resent Rick -- you know, Senator Santorum's assertions that this won't be particularly costly or lengthy. This is going to be economically devastating for us.

And also, the assertion that inaction breeds terrorist strikes, that is ridiculous. Action in Iraq will make us decidedly less safer.

I didn't find this own my own, of course--her former radio partner Sam Seder pointed this out on his show two days ago. And he made an excellent point, i.e., how come an actress/comedienne can have this much prescience and this much knowledge about foreign affairs and the PNAC guys and the rest of the dirty neocons couldn't?

Ah, but there's the rub--of course they knew what Janeane knew. Their idea was to get in there, somehow, some way. And now they argue that we can never leave, because we have to help fix what we broke. That was their point--just get our foot in the door--that's all we need for hegemony, for profit, for power.

The neocons knew all of what Janeane knew, but they didn't care...they wanted that money. Because war is a racket!

How She Knew

Here's Janeane on how she was able to figure out that the neocons were lying (from the same link as above):

GAROFALO: What are you -- I know as much for a fact as you guys know for a fact. I know as much as anybody who has access to information on the Internet, a library, satellite dish, international news.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Tonight my wife and son and I went to the Zoo Boo, a Halloween carnival in Hattiesburg. We were riding the train that goes around the park when I felt someone touching my back. I was wearing my "Imagine" T-shirt that has John Lennon's face on the front with a peace sign for each of the lenses in his trademark round specs and a giant red peace sign on the back with "War is over if you want it" and apparently the kid behind me was attracted to the big red peace sign and was poking at it.

The kid's father said "I think he likes your peace sign," and I just kind of smiled and said "Yeah, no big deal." I thought that was that. Then, as the train pulls into the station, he says "Wish we saw more of those around."

Intrigued, I turned around and said, "Yeah, it's kinda creepy seeing that some of these kids' Halloween costumes are like soldiers in Iraq." He said "Well, I haven't seen any George W. Bush masks..." and I kind of completed his sentence--"...that'd be real scary."

Anyway, it was nice to talk to strangers in Mississippi that like the peace sign. We talked with him and his wife a little more over Sprite and a cupcake, and it turns out that he is now what he called "a sobered-up hippy." He talked about evading the Vietnam draft and finally getting out of it because a dog had bitten off part of his thumb in his childhood.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Picked up John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" from the library. It's very enlightening and somewhat frightening. The authoritarian impulse is strong in modern conservatism, and Dean refers to the groundbreaking work of Stanley Milgram and of Bob Altemeyer to shed light of how this authoritarianism threatens American democracy.

Which, by the way, Dean and other conservative thinkers he quotes admits that American democracy grew out of liberal, not conservative values.

But the main point he seems to be making so far is that obedience is not necessarily a good thing. More specifically, obedience to authority is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, I guess one could say that the only thing to which one should give unquestioning obedience is morality.

And that's why the Golden Rule is so important. If one is unfailingly obedient to the command "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (and you're not a psychopath), you can't really go wrong.

I've been reading about obedience and its relation to child-rearing over at Arthur Silber's blog "Power Of Narrative." And he has done a series of essays on the work of Alice Miller, a Swedish psychologist who teaches that corporal punishment is cruel and ultimately breeds unthinking obedience through violence. Very chilling yet accurate stuff.

And I love that Howard Zinn quote about obedience (that I first read on Antiwar.com): "Historically, the most terrible things--war, genocide and slavery--have resulted from obedience, not disobedience."

OK, I'm rambling...I was gonna quote from Dean's book, but maybe later...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


So I discovered that my Claritin had been accidentally thrown away last night. It was 12:15 a.m. when I discovered this. Rather than go without it, I ran to Walgreens to get some more.

However, when I got to the pharmacy, their registers were down. Therefore, even though they had the medicine and the front register was open, I couldn't purchase the medicine because they couldn't punch my drivers' license number in and check me against the database to make sure I'm not a meth-head. Because the law now states that you have to buy products with ephedrine in them from the pharmacy, even though just last year you could get them off the shelf yourself and walk to the counter and pay for them.

So I went back home empty-handed.

So I got to thinking--"I hope crystal meth is a giant problem that this law really solves," because supposedly crystal meth is a so pervasive that a law had to be passed requiring ephedrine products to be sold in limited qualities from behind a pharmacy counter, etc.

59 Meth Arrests

Well, come to find out, Mississippi's second most populous county only arrested 59 people for using crystal meth for the 2005-2006 period:

By the numbers

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department reports increased arrests for 12-month periods, these statistics for the period ending Sept. 18, 2005, in comparison with the period ending Sept. 18, 2006:

• Total arrests: 685 to 1,212; up 76.9 percent

• Marijuana arrests: 278 to 429; up 54.3 percent

• Cocaine arrests: 51 to 155; up 203.9 percent

• Meth arrests: 36 to 59; up 63.9 percent

Is that worth it? To inconvenience law-abiding citizens trying to purchase legal medicine to arrest 59 people? That's the big meth threat?

Monday, October 23, 2006


Don't have much to say today that I haven't already said in the forum of
the Hattiesburg American.

I am curious to see how this story of 65 active duty soldiers will play out:

"Active troops ask congress to end Iraqi occupation
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sixty five active duty service members are officially asking Congress to end the war in Iraq -- the first time active troops have done so since U.S. invasion began in 2003.

Three of the service members will hold a press conference Wednesday explaining their decision to send "Appeals for Redress" under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act to their members of Congress. Under the act, National Guard and Reservists can send communications about any subject to their member of Congress without punishment."

Also interesting in that little tidbit is that it was written by "ticker producer" Alexander Mooney. I never gave much thought to the production of the ticker or crawl at the bottom of the screen in a lot of newscasts, but there you go--the ticker has its own producer.

Here's a forum exchange I found interesting, in which a fellow poster accuses me and another poster of not having "new" views that are supported by facts. Then he doesn't give any facts, protesting that he, unlike anyone else on the forum, must work for a living.

Fleming-Lott Mock Debate

I also wrote to Erik Fleming to suggest that he film mock debates with Trent Lott (who has refused to debate Fleming) in which a Lott stand-in reads from Lott's voting record or floor statements or transcripts of his appearances on cable shows or his "Herding Cats" book, etc. Then he should put that film up on YouTube and have the Jackson Free Press and others hype it up. The effect is twofold, I guess--1) let Lott know that he will be debated, whether he's there in person or not, and 2) call attention to the fact that he's a big pussy for not debating Fleming. And then maybe Lott will actually agree to appear in person with Fleming.

And maybe a Lott stand-in wouldn't be as effective as actual video of Lott saying things on these cable shows, but I have a feeling that securing the rights to that footage and tracking it down would be time-consuming and possibly expensive. But Lott would be easy to spoof--big, sprayed hair, wire-framed glasses, and a drawl from hell...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bush claims he needs NSA wire tapping to break up terrorist networks but terrorists are not using the phone network Bush is tapping. They are using private voice over IP internet phones (VoIP) that can't be tapped. This video explains how it works.

This guy makes great points, unfortunately it goes on a little long and has zero production values. But the points are stellar and boil down to these:

1. Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping can't penetrate properly encrypted calls made to private VoIP networks, because a) the calls are encrypted and even though they could probably be decoded, it would take a while and a huge backlog would develop, and b) the calls don't go through regular telephone networks, like certain cell phones and land lines do.

2. Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping program isn't designed to catch terrorists. As this gentleman says and as I and many others have said, the NSA program is about creeping fascism. It's a way to get the weak-minded and fearful among us (i.e., a lot of people) to allow invasion of privacy as a matter of course. It's the American Big Brother in operation, right now!

Remember, terrorism is a problem Republicans do not want to solve!

In this case, the excuse of "terrorism" allows the Bushies to claim a need to spy on you and me and anyone else they feel like, not terrorists. As this guy points out, terrorists are not going to go sign up for a cell phone account with Cingular and an Internet connection with Comcast and then try to call and email each other. Terrorists are going to go with the most impenetrable, encrypted option they can get their hands on, which is something exactly like what this guy is describing--a private phone network set up with off-the-shelf components. And as he points out, if they can figure out how to detonate an IED with a cell phone, they can figure out how to set up a private network to make calls that can't be bugged.

Please--don't think that Big Brother is something that "can't happen here!" It is happening here, right this moment! Is this the kind of country we were brought up to believe we live in? One where the government can spy on you and the President or his deputy can have you carted off in the middle of the night (or whenever) at thrown in jail for the rest of your life?

This is the situation we now face! It is dire and the bad guys are hoping we don't take it seriously. They hope we watch one or all of Entertainment Weekly's "5 New Shows To Watch Now" and just forget we ever heard about the Military Commissions Act or NSA wiretapping...

Other links I didn't work in:

"Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases"

"Military Commissions Act Does Affect US Citizens"

Friday, October 20, 2006


Saw Bill Maher's show about an hour ago. Barney Frank, Jason Alexander, and Stephen Moore were on the panel. Barney Frank kicked Stephen Moore's ass. I mean, up and down the line. It was thing of beauty.

One of the best parts was when Moore suggested that a lot of gays agreed with the Republican agenda, Frank pointed out how that is a load of bullshit. The hardcore, neocon, "Christians" would make homosexuality illegal if they could and Frank reminded everyone of that fact and recounted the time when a Texas court said sodomy shouldn't be illegal and Scalia lost his mind when dissenting in the Supreme Court affirmation of the Texas decision.

David Kuo

And David Kuo, the "Tempting Faith" author, was really good in talking about real Christianity. He pointed out how simple the Christian idea is--love God, love your neighbor as yourself, i.e., do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's it! If the uber-Christians really practiced loving their neighbors as themselves, they wouldn't be trying to prevent gays from getting married, because presumably they don't want people trying to prevent them from getting married.

Kuo was agreeing with everything Maher said about Christianity and current Christian leaders, and Kuo made a good point about Christians and power. He said that power does seduce everyone, but it seemed to have a particularly perverting effect on Christians.

Kuo also copped to the fact that Republicans have sold Bush as basically an American Jesus--the Prince of War, I suppose--and that's why even now, after all that's gone on, i.e., Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Mark Foley, Military Commissions Act, etc., the Republicans still won't poor-mouth Bush. It's because they've set him up as the next best thing to having Jesus as President.

That's why they can't let go of their illusions and realize he's fucking everything up--they think Bush is like some Pope of politics, infallible and chosen by God. And if they let go of that comforting idea, then they have nothing except deficits, death, and scandal. And we all know everyone wants to have something to believe in that comforts them...

Why was Kuo a Republican in the first place?

I also liked that fact that Maher said "Jesus was a liberal" and would've been a hippie and Kuo did not disagree with him. I haven't read Kuo's book, but from all his TV appearances, he seems to indicate that he was very concerned about helping the poor and was seduced by Bush's promise to devote $8 billion/year to the faith-based thingy which Kuo thought would be a boon for the poor.

Which is great and everything, but it occurs to me now--why was Kuo a Republican to begin with? He doesn't come across this way in his TV spots, but was he just naive? To think that a post-Gingrich, post-Limbaugh conservative Republican president would actually help the poor?

Not that Democrats are a paragon of virtue by any means, but Jesus Christ, they did implement Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid over vehement conservative/Republican objections. The Democrats and Republicans are, as Maher said, two wings of the same party--the Greed Party. But if either one could be said to have historically done more for workers and the less fortunate and the poor--my God, the Democrats stand head and shoulders above the Republicans, especially pre-Clinton.

So why was Kuo a Republican? Not sure, but his Maher appearance made me want to read his book more than I already wanted to read it. Read it, as opposed to buy it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I wondered out loud on this blog a week or so ago about whatever happened to Anna Diggs Taylor's decision that the NSA wiretapping program is unconstitutional. Well, I guess if I read the Washington Post every day I would have known. The headline to its article says it all: "Court Allows Wiretapping During Appeal." And just in time for the election, don'tcha know!!

There was something I forgot to mention about the Hagee broadcast we watched this past Sunday--when they did "God Bless America," lots of people in the congregation were doing the whole Pentecostal-one-arm-lifted-in-praise gesture, as though "God Bless America" was some deep religious song. It was kind of frightening to see that--no wonder so many people buy the argument that church and state should not be separate.

My wife and I were talking about that last night and I noticed for the first time how much the "one arm in affirmation" resembles a "Sieg Heil!" Here and here are pictures of the one arm gesture.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


And by “it,” I mean our freedom–with today’s signing of the purposely blandly named “Military Commissions Act of 2006.”

No great fanfare, really–not any more so than any other bill-signing ceremony.

No long, transfixing, vigorous debate on the terms of the bill so that everyone, even those who don’t pay attention to politics know the basic idea behind it.

No recent catastrophic event that sent out a call from the American people, clamoring for legislation like this.

No, they just pretty much slipped it in right under the wire. Exactly the opposite of how most people assume the theft of our freedom would have taken place.

No Conquering Armies

There were no conquering armies parading through our streets, having taken our leaders as prisoner.

There was not another 9/11-type event.

There were no invading hordes of Muslims chanting “Death to America”–but they got it anyway, didn’t they?

Why should they bother to invade–we killed America for them today. We have done this to ourselves.

And to think, we all thought that America would always be a free country–after all, we have a Constitution, don’t we?

So we thought we didn’t have to read the newspaper anymore and we didn’t have to seriously challenge the hatemongers and we could just choose not to listen to Rush Limbaugh. Because America would always be free.

We are moved to tears when we hear Niemoller’s warning that there may be no one left to speak for us, but some of us argue that Jose Padilla must’ve done something wrong and isn’t being truly “tortured,” so we don’t have to worry about or speak up for him.

It Can’t Happen Here

I once believed that a bill such as this would have no possibility of becoming law in the United States. You probably thought the same thing. We all thought “that can’t happen here–this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The former part of that well-worn statement may no longer be true, but I hope the latter part still is. Because that’s the only option we have, is to be brave.

Brave enough to say that the Military Commissions Act is wrong.

Brave enough to protest in writing, in public, in a non-violent manner.

Brave enough to get our freedom back.

So I was staying in a hotel this weekend with the band in Tuscaloosa, AL (we played a frat gig there that night). On Sunday morning, we watched good ol’ John Hagee.

He was talking about terrorism and the correctness of the war on terror and had a giant billboard behind him that said “World War III has begun” and showed Israeli and American flags with targets over them.

He kept saying Ahmadinejad is a madman and that we can’t appease Hezbollah and that terrorists hate us because of our freedoms and what not. That last part isn’t a paraphrase, by the way–he actually said the words “they hate us because of our freedom.” It was hard to believe that he was trotting out that old canard in this day and age.

He repeatedly said that we’re at war and that the war is just and we have to fight it and so on. The congregation seemed to be very appreciative of his propaganda. The “altar call” consisted of Hagee leading the congregation in a rendition of “God Bless America.” Hagee said that the lyrics were written “as a prayer.”

The Thing Is...

As we watched this spectacle, we criticized each little Republican talking point he brought up. For example, he said that Muslims want to conquer the whole world and subjugate it under sharia law. It struck us that if that’s true (which it isn’t), we don’t really have any good options. I mean, with the signing today of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, it’s either live here under martial law without habeas corpus, or live here under sharia. Of course, that’s what we call a “false choice.”

Then our drummer had a good point–if Hagee is so concerned about the supposed threat of the “Islamists”–why doesn’t he advocate simply nuking them? Why must we fight this long and costly war when we could just take care of the “problem” right now–or as soon as Dear Leader can get “the button” under his hot little finger?

Not that I (or our drummer) am actually for that option–just the opposite is true. I’m violently opposed to nuking “the Muslims.” But the point is, if people like Hagee think that Muslims are such an existenial threat to the United States, why do they advocate fighting a more or less conventional war with them when we know we don’t have to do that?

Would the answer to that question be that if you eradicate the supposed problem with a few mushroom clouds, you suddenly lose the threat that allows a)Bush to keep taking away our liberties and/or b) people like Hagee to keep making money ($55 for a DVD set of his terror sermons)? Why yes, I think we’re on to something here.

Of course, Hagee and his ilk would say that they don't want to simply nuke our supposed antagonists because doing so would prevent the onset of the Rapture. But keep in mind, Hagee divorced his first wife and is married to a woman 12 years his junior. Don't evangelicals despise divorce, or is it just gay marriage that they don't like? Also, the Bible says that no one knows when Christ will come back and so it would seem to me to be the definiton of "a fool's errand" to try to hasten the Second Coming.

One other thing--as our drummer pointed out, there was nothing in Hagee's sermon (the part we saw, anyway) about loving God or loving your neighbor as yourself, which everyone knows is the entire point of Christianity. How 'bout them apples?

Terrorism Is A Problem Republicans Do Not Want To Solve

That is to say–terrorism is a problem Republicans do not want to solve, just like gay marriage and abortion and what they see as the general problem of “the culture.” Republicans (should I say “conservatives”?) feed off of these problems and use the promise of solving them as a way to get people like those in Hagee’s congregation to vote for them and support them. Why then would Republicans ever actually fix such problems?

It’s kind of like this crazy woman who keeps writing our local paper to say that Bush should be allowed to stay in office until the war in Iraq is over. What she doesn’t seem to understand (or thinks that other people don’t understand), is that if we tied the progress of a war to the length of time a person could stay in office, the war would never end. In other words, there’s no incentive to end wars or reduce/contain presidential power if we say to the President “You must be our leader until the war is over.” Then we’ll have a dictatorship for sure.

So this crazy lady is basically begging for a dictatorship, because she thinks Bush is such a good Christian man and by golly he’s doing the best he can to help our country. Meanwhile, Bush and company are insulting these theocons and their supporters behind theirs backs (according to “Tempting Faith”) and merely paying lip service to their causes while forging ahead with their real agenda, which is making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I was on Mike Malloy's site just now, seeing what his status is and noticed that he had "Support Judge Anna Diggs Taylor" on the top right-hand side of his page. That got me to thinking, as I have off and on over the past several weeks--has the illegal Bush wiretapping been stopped, as per Taylor's decision? I doubt it, but I haven't really seen any stories about it.

But what's to stop the NSA from just saying "Yeah, we stopped the program," and then just going right ahead with it. I mean, what's to stop them from just, you know, lying about stopping the program.

I took a cursory look over the information about the case posted at the ACLU site, but I don't see anything that leaps out and says that the program was stopped. Anybody know anything about that?

February 2001

And then there was the news that Bush may have started the NSA wiretapping program way before 9/11. From what I had read, the program may have begun as early as February 2001. I haven't heard anything about that in a while. This link is what I wrote about that news back in July.

So after writing the above, I looked around for a little more info on the case, which is: McMurray v. Verizon Communications Inc., 06cv3650. Didn't really find anything about the progress of the case, but I did find this stupid comment from one of my stupid senators, Trent Lott (referring to the supposed harmlessness of the NSA program):

"What are people worried about? What is the problem?" asked Lott, a former majority leader. "Are you doing something you're not supposed to?"

Apparently, Pat Robertson said the NSA program was a "tool of oppression." Well, I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day...oh, and I can't find anything new about the case.

Two Letters To The Editor I'm Not Sending

Because they probably won't print them anyway. They didn't print my last one that I sent them (with a week between each sending), so I figure these won't make the cut either, even though they've published my letters as recently as July of this year.

Oh well, whatever...the first one is finished and was tossed off as fast as I could do it. The second one was more carefully considered and left unfinished because I wanted to be able to say that Democrats would get us out of Iraq if they take the majority in the mid-terms. But then I looked up the official position, which is some mumbo jumbo about "success" in Iraq. So then I just got disgusted with the whole thing...


Well, hooray for our great "Christian president!"

Thanks to his illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq, he's not only succeeded in creating more terror (as per the recently declassifed National Intelligence Estimate), he's made us all complicit in the deaths of over half a million Iraqis. Are we even yet for 9/11 (which Iraq wasn't involved in)?

The British medical journal "The Lancet" recently updated its study on Iraqi deaths since the invasion and what they found does not paint a picture that Bush's favorite philosopher would be proud of--655,000 more deaths than there would have been under normal circumstances (i.e, Saddam's reign of terror) since the beginning of our illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There are fewer and fewer people who continue to support this president or his horrible, unprovoked, and outrageous invasion of a sovereign country. But if you still do support Bush, please realize that you bear responsibility for the evil, unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Don't like to hear that? Too bad--until the passage of last month's Military Commissions Act (which eradicates the writ of habeas corpus and legalizes torture), this country was a constitutional republic, which means that we choose our leaders to create the policies we want them to. It then follows that if you voted for Bush, you voted for the Iraq war and its accompanying wanton slaughter of our fellow human beings.

But we have a way out--it won't absolve us of our sins, it won't make everything all hunky-dory, but it'll be a start. And that way out is to vote the Republicans out of power this November 7. If you're truly concerned about children and freedom and democracy and "choosing life," you will help turn the Republicans out of office.


If the recent news that 655,000 Iraqis have died due to conditions created by our illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq doesn't convince you to vote for someone besides a Republican on November 7th, then nothing will.

Granted, not all of these deaths are from our bombs and guns, although many of them are. However, they are all directly attributable to Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq, a country which didn't attack us and didn't even threaten us to begin with. In other words, if we hadn't gone into Iraq, those 655,000 Iraqis would likely still be alive, as would our thousands of troops who have died.

Bush's Iraq policy has been aided and abetted by the Republican congressional majority at every turn. To be sure, far too many Democrats have also agreed to go along with Bush's Iraq disaster. But it is the Republicans who have been in control of both houses of Congress for the entire duration of this debacle and therefore, the blame for it rests squarely on their shoulders.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Why should anyone in the U.S. give a second's thought to whether or not North Korea has a--that's "a" as in "single" or "only one"--nuclear weapon?

The United States has enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world many times over and is the only country in the world to have ever used them against another country--a Southeast Asian country, at that.

Why do the media in general and even the "liberal media" consistently give this non-event so much press and label it "a threat?" How in God's name is North Korea a threat of any kind to the United States?

Why are we expected to fear this? I thought those of us in the "liberal media" were trying to keep people from living in fear.

Is this just further evidence of the pervasive, all-consuming influence of the military-industrial complex?

Pakistan is a country run by a dictator that has nuclear weapons and according to some reports, is currently providing safe haven for Osama bin Laden (speaking of which--the FBI says they don't have enough evidence of bin Laden's involvement in 9/11 to submit to a grand jury in order to obtain an indictment of him). Yet we let the leader of that country come promote a book (?) and appear on the Daily Show like it's all just peachy.

Not only are we the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons against another country, we also have recently shown ourselves willing to invade and occupy sovereign nations on pretexts supported by flimsy and/or nonexistent, make-believe "evidence." Every other country in the world has to see that as threatening, even our allies.

North Korea is not a threat to world peace and security, WE are. Don't buy into this idea that every "rogue" country is somehow a terrible, grave and gathering "threat" to the United States and that we therefore have to go to war with or at least bomb them. It's completely ludicrous. It's farcical, even--imagine how we might react to a movie or a play about a giant country that lets its imagination run wild and wastes its blood and treasure trying to put out the burning matches of smaller, less powerful countries with firehoses until the giant country is bankrupt, friendless, and a shell of its former self. We'd most likely think the giant country was overreactive, overly defensive, wasteful, and just plain stupid.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I don't think my last post adequately explained what I was trying to say, which is this: Republicans don't want to solve problems, they want to exacerbate and/or create problems that they can then complain about and pretend to try to do something about in order to fool the public into supporting them.

Thomas Frank spoke about this very thing in "What's The Matter With Kansas." He pointed out that Republicans are always complaining about the "culture" and abortion and what not. Yet they never outlaw abortion, media continue to get more sleazy, and so forth. And that situation works in their favor--it gives them issues to run on. If there were no abortion and no sleazy movies, the only thing they'd have to run on is making the rich richer, which is always their ultimate goal, and not one
that the majority of Americans would knowingly sign on to.

It's the same way with terrorism--if the Republicans ever did actually put an end to terrorism, it would be great, but then they'd have nothing to frighten the public with. The Republicans need problems (of which terrorism is only one of many) like fire needs oxygen.

Conversely, Ralph Nader made a point similar to this about the success of liberalism in the 20th century in his book "The Good Fight." He pointed out that the more liberalism succeeds, the less people appreciate it and the more they take it for granted. Labor concessions are a good example of this phenomenon--as workers have won more and more rights, people have just come to take a living wage and workplace safety for granted and their perceived need for the liberal ideology fades.

So it makes perfect, yet frightening, sense that Republicans would vow to stay in Iraq at least until Bush leaves office despite the now-undisputed fact that the Iraq war is creating more terrorists. Republicans NEED terrorists. They need them to be able to enact their agenda on all fronts--economic, cultural, social, etc.--their policies of helping the rich and increasing corporate power would never sell on their merits. People have to be frightened into supporting people who would enact such policies. And even then, people would not think of themselves as supporting those kinds of policies, they'd think of themselves as supporting leaders who pledge to ensure safety.

Issues like terrorism are not even seen as problems by Republicans--they are seen as money-making opportunities. That's why you'll never see a Republican Congress enact universal health care, despite being told this week, again, that the American people want that. Why would they ever consent to universal health care when the current system does so much to enrich their supporters--pharmaceutical and insurance companies and so forth?

The Republicans have recently refused--again--to raise the minimum wage. Why would they ever raise the minimum wage when its current level ensures that their corporate supporters can keep their labor costs as low as possible? And that the large population of desperate, cash-strapped people the current minimum wage ensures makes those people overly reliant on credit cards, payday loans and such--the issuers of which are also Republican supporters?

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals seek to solve the kind of problems that will basically put them out of business, whereas conservatives want to create and/or exacerbate problems that will keep them in business forever. Or to use an automotive analogy, liberals want to create a vehicle that will never break down so you never have to go to their shop for repairs or buy another one while conservatives want to build a car that will wear out and malfunction in every possible way so that you have no choice but to buy another one or keep bringing it to their mechanics.

So the declassification of the NIE reveals to us once again that Republicans don't fix things, they break them ON PURPOSE so they can maintain or increase their power and wealth. There's really no other reason that they would knowingly mess things up so badly. It breaks down to a simple formula: bad times for you equals high times for Republicans.

And that's what Bush and company want. Remember, they always say the opposite of what they mean. They say they are "fighting terror" and "protecting freedom," when in reality, as the newly declassifed NIE shows, they're encouraging terror so they can clamp down on our freedoms.

We are in at least the beginning stages of a police state (or perhaps way past that), reaffirmed just this past weekend when Republicans surrepitiously added language to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that would broadly define who could be declared an enemy combatant. The Center for Constitutional Rights explains it thusly:

"The current version of the Military Commissions redefines an "unlawful enemy combatant" (UEC) so broadly that it could include anyone who organizes a march against the war in Iraq. The bill defines a UEC as "a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States" or anyone who "has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense of the United States." The definition makes no reference to citizenship and therefore could be read to include any number of individuals, including:

* CCR attorneys and other habeas counsel, Federal Public Defenders and military defense counsel for detainees at Guantanamo Bay
* Any person who has given $5 to a charity working with orphans in Afghanistan that turns out to be associated in some fashion with someone who may be a member of the Taliban

The bill also currently includes provisions so sweeping that they strip U.S. courts of jurisdiction over habeas petitions by any non-citizen detained by the government anywhere. Because there is no geographic limitation in the bill's language, it would allow the President to detain any non-citizen without their ever having the chance to challenge their detention in court: "No court... shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." Examples of people who could be detained indefinitely with no access to a court include:

* A foreign tourist wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt at the Statue of Liberty
* A protester at an immigration rally who has lived in the U.S. since she was six months old and is a lawful, permanent resident"

Yet Lindsey Graham has been widely quoted as saying in this AP story that this new wording will not affect American citizens. Remember, though, that Republicans always say the opposite of what they mean.

Please always remember and never forget that "conservatives" and right-wingers can only ever rule through fear and misanthropy, so the more turmoil they can create in the world, the more power they can try to grab for themselves. And we have and are allowing them to do that. We've got to stop this...

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Watched Bill Maher with Reza Aslan, Sandy Rios, and Bradley Whitford.

Rios, a Fox News Contributor and spokesmen/head of the “Culture Campaign” wanted to play, in her own words, “semantic” games and referred to torture as “coercion.” To justify torture, she cited a story that struck me as completely false or completely misrepresented the moment she finished telling it.

For one thing, I’d never heard it, and for another, it completely justified her argument. And one more thing, there were no telling details in it other than it involved people in Germany. I’ve been trying to Google it and can’t come up with the details of the story she’s talking about.

From everything I’ve heard, there is one overarching, clear message–TORTURE DOESN’T WORK. Please say that to whoever argues that we "have to be tougher" or whatever. Three words--"torture doesn't work."

Still looking for details on Rios story...

Guantanamo Guidebook

Watched about 20 minutes of this British documentary in which a number of volunteers agreed to be “enemy combatants” detained in recreated Guantanamo Bay conditions for 48 hours. The conditions were recreated based on the recollections of released detainees, declassified documents, and former military types. They even had former U.S. military men to play the parts of, well U.S. military men.

And several things struck me as I watched this documentary, aside from the fact that what is being done to these Guantanamo detainees is outrageous, illegal, and immoral.

I want to get these thoughts out rather than construct beautiful prose, so here goes:

1. Either you respect human rights or you don’t. In America, we don’t. We say we do, but we don’t. We say we follow Jesus, but we don’t. We say we provide equal opportunity, but we don’t. Saying something doesn’t make it so.

2. Rumsfeld and company better be damn sure that the people they have in this hellhole are guilty of something. Because Rumsfeld and company are now definitely themselves guilty of inhuman treatement of human beings. But you know, scratch that–that’s playing the game on Rumsfeld’s terms. In enlightened Western tradition, there is no justification for the treatment these detainees are receiving. They should be being given trials and attorney access, not beatings and “stress positions.”

3. Back to the semantic games. Calling something a “stress position” doesn’t change the fact that it’s torture.

4. These people at Guantanamo have been there for years now. Any plot that any of them may have been privy to a few years ago is likely now inoperative. But that’s assuming that all the people (yes, human beings) at Guantanamo are actually connected to anything remotely related to a terror plot (if there really is any such thing). We cannot assume that, because we know from news reports that a lot of the detainees were turned in for a bounty.

5. Human rights are absolute. There is no black and white. Absolute respect for human rights is the moral, healthy position, and disrespect for them is the evil, depraved position.
Bush and his cult of death, i.e., the Republican party have chosen the latter path.

6. It is so utterly important to prove what happened on 9/11. I can’t remember who said it–one of the 9/11 Truth guys–but it is so important to debunk the official story of 9/11 because literally every single thing that Bush (and his enablers) does hinges upon that official story. And that doesn’t just include foreign policy endeavors–domestic, economic, cultural policies and so on all depend on the story that one man in the desert was able to convince 19 guys to fly planes into buildings and kill 3,000 people because they hate America so much.

That’s the most important part of the official story–they did it because they hate us, which means that they hate all things good and right in the world. And that idea has really poisoned the well here in our country. On the Hattiesburg American forum, there was a lot of venom and vitriol directed at Muslims–not at “terrorists,” not at “extremists”–at Muslims. Because Muslims, they say, are dedicated to a fanatical death cult and therefore must be exterminated. That’s what people were saying on this forum (now completely redesigned and ruined)–they considered themselves loyal patriots who sided with the Jews yet didn’t mind suggesting a holocaust for Muslims. They never said it in those words, of course, but neither did Hitler.

Watching the Guantanamo documentary really brought home to me the way in which allowing this type of bullshit to go on really demeans not just our country and our principles, but us, the citizens. It makes us look bad. It makes us look paranoid and fearful. In short, it makes us look WEAK. And we must be weak, if we have to haul people around in hoods, shouting and cursing at them and humiliating them and subjecting them to conditions not even Saddam Hussein has to endure.

If Americans were really strong and courageous and moral, we would insist that these detainees be given fair, speedy, jury trials for the whole world to see. If we really believed in the ideas we say we do–openness, fair trials, human rights, democracy–we wouldn’t mind if a detainee were found to be wrongfully imprisoned or if there were insufficient evidence to convict. We would want to know that. We would say “the system works!” That is our system, after all–we use hard evidence to convict, not suspicion, intolerance, fear, and weakness. At least that’s what we tell the kids. But I guess we don’t really mean it...