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Friday, October 27, 2006

Speaking at the signing of the "Secure Fence" act on October 26 (yet another GOP oxymoron!), George W. Bush alleged, not for the first time, that illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans don't want to do. This is nonsense. Americans DO want those jobs; they just don't want to work for slave wages. Illegal immigrants, lacking the necessary documentation, almost invariably have no other choice.

The Republican Congress has demonstrated repeatedly over the last 12 years that it believes American workers can attain the American dream for $5.15 per hour. A forty-hour work week at minimum wage would pay the worker $206 — before taxes. That's probably less than a typical Republican congressman's lunch costs his lobbyist. And it's almost certainly far more than an illegal immigrant could ever hope to earn.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" . . . and I'll supply enough money to build 300 miles of a 700-mile fence to protect a 1,300-mile border against this dire threat to another tax cut for the wealthy. And I'll call myself a patriot while doing so. That's the GOP's message, less than two weeks before election day. Is anyone paying attention?

Monday, October 09, 2006

So on Saturday, Jeb Bush was in Pennsylvania to support the reelection bid of a Pennsylvania senator who resides in northern Virginia, when a group of protesters started chanting "Jeb, go home." His security detail thought it appropriate to attack the activists with stun guns while Jeb hid in a nearby supply closet.

This is so startling it bears repeating: The governor of one of the largest states in the Union, the brother of the president of the United States, hid in a supply closet from protesters of a war policy he ostensibly endorses. On a day when most Republicans were hiding from citizens who want to know why the GOP prefers protecting incumbent politicians over protecting innocent children.

Wouldn't it have been a million times better for the GOP if Gov. Bush had engaged with the activists? — had supported his brother, had endorsed his brother's "strategy" in Iraq, had stood up for what he ostensibly believes in? Jeb is, after all, considerably more popular than his brother is, especially in states that do not know him as well as they know his brother.

Jeb missed a golden opportunity to support his brother and further his brother's goals. Instead, he cravenly hid in a supply closet. I guess the nation can infer how Jeb truly feels about the disaster in Iraq....

Friday, September 22, 2006

There's a famous anecdote, variously attributed to George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill, in which the protagonist asks his dinner partner whether she will sleep with him for one million pounds. She agrees. He next asks her whether she will sleep with him for five pounds. "Certainly not!" she exclaims. "What kind of woman do you think I am?" "We've settled that," our hero replies. "Now we're just haggling over the price."

For most of September, "moderate" Republican senators stood by their principles, refusing to allow President Bush to demolish habeas corpus, to detain and torture whomever he chooses, for however long he chooses, and to junk those pesky, "outdated" Geneva Conventions affirming those high moral values. Then on Sept. 21, a "compromise" was struck. The Senate agreed to allow Mr. Bush to secretly detain and abuse (with "alternate," rose-by-any-other-name methods of torture) whomever he chooses, for however long he chooses — as long as he declares his detainees to be terrorism suspects, and as long as he eventually gets around to putting on a show trial using a kangaroo tribunal and hearsay evidence. They also agreed to immunize the Bush Administration and its designees against prosecution for war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

And of course, any language in the bill Congress finally passes that the president doesn't like will be nullified through his 800th-or-so signing statement, rendering the whole charade meaningless.

How nice for the nation. We now know exactly what kind of people "moderate" Republicans really are, and the president doesn't even have to haggle over the price!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Contraceptives work to prevent the creation of an embryo. Despite this indisputable fact, the anti-choice movement can talk only about "embryonic death" and "murder," usually "wanton."

George W. Bush insists that a blastocyst, a set of two to a few dozen cells too small to be seen without a powerful microscope, is "fully human." Well, of course it is! A human sperm meets a human ovum and becomes a human blastula, which MAY become a human embryo, which MAY become a human fetus, which (with a LOT of help from mother, family, and society) MAY become a person some day. What did he think each microscopic collection of cells was, "fully banana"?

A 2002 article by "U.S. Pharmacist," a trade publication, notes that 98 percent of sexually active women in the U.S. use some form of birth control, even if merely the rhythm method. Nevertheless, there are an estimated 3.6 million unplanned pregnancies each year in the U.S. alone, less than a fourth of them legally aborted. In addition, the National Institutes of Health tell us that "up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant."

In other words, if we do the math (and remember, sexually active women can produce several "fully human" blastocysts each year), we see that there are approximately 2.8 trillion "embryonic deaths" each year in the United States alone. Each one of these was "fully human," and therefore their mothers and their mothers' physicians must be prosecuted for "murder."

Or maybe, just maybe, the anti-choice movement could learn to accept that there is a difference between a collection of a few dozen cells and a PERSON. A blastocyst cannot laugh, love, dream, think, or vote Republican. (Of course, thinking and voting Republican is a contradiction in terms!) It is far more appropriate to think of an embryo as a uterine parasite than as having a greater "right to life" than its hostess — who, UNlike her parasite, has a brain that contains more than a few dozen neurons.

By the anti-choicers' definition, hundreds of thousands of "embryonic deaths" take place in the world every minute of every day. Perhaps the anti-choicers should think up some better pretext for demanding that they and they alone be allowed to control female sexual behavior, instead of allowing adult women the autonomy that adult men take for granted.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

These days, the Republicans with their usual hypnotized chant accuse Democrats of two grave sins: they "undermine our troops" and they encourage enemies of the United States to "believe America has no political backbone."

First: I am trying to imagine how criticism of an unjust, unwise, and unnecessary war of aggression could "undermine" the troops unfortunate enough to have been sent to Iraq to pursue neocon ideological fantasies. Are they going to curl up and suck their thumbs in the face of danger because 8,000 miles away, someone mentioned that Emperor Bush has no clothes? Will they flee the enemy if someone breaks the secret that the false connection between Saddam and al Qaeda was known to be false from the start, and the neocons knowingly lied? Will they collapse into sobbing girlie-men if someone mentions the fact that both Bush and Cheney entered office on January 20, 2001 already determined to prosecute their war of aggression against Iraq, and lacked only a semi-plausible pretext?

No! Our fighting men and women are considerably more courageous, heroic, patriotic, and intelligent than "At Least One Deferment" Rumsfeld, "Five Deferments" Cheney, and "AWOL During a Time of War (a Felony)" Bush.

As to the second charge, encouraging America's enemies to believe us to be politically spineless: Isn't deluding our enemies a good thing? An overconfident enemy is a stupid enemy. Just ask anyone who seriously believed that the Iraqis would greet American troops by throwing flowers and singing hymns of gratitude. . . .

The Republicans are trying to frame the debate on Iraq with two extremes: "cut and run" and "stay the course." The Democrats cannot accept this; the implication from zero is that all Democrats are cowards. I suggest that starting today, the Democrats adopt this third alternative: "Clean up Bush's mess."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

If the current U.S. Supreme Court thinks that abiding strictly by foundational precedents is prudent and necessary, it should take to heart "Ex Parte Milligan," a case the Supreme Court decided in 1866. A Southern-sympathizing civilian attorney named Lambdin (really!) P. Milligan was arrested by the Union army in 1864 for trying to release rebel prisoners of war; he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. The Supreme Court freed Milligan, and wrote:

"No graver question was ever considered by this court, nor one which more nearly concerns the rights of the whole people. ... By the protection of the law human rights are secured; withdraw that protection, and they are at the mercy of wicked rulers, or the clamor of an excited people. ...

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of [people], at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of [humanity] than that any of [the Constitution's] provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism....

"This nation, as experience has proved, cannot always remain at peace, and has no right to expect that it will always have wise and humane rulers, sincerely attached to the principles of the Constitution. Wicked men, ambitious of power, with hatred of liberty and contempt of law, may fill the place once occupied by Washington and Lincoln; and if [the right to suspend any part of the Constitution during a time of war] is conceded, and the calamities of war again befall us, the dangers to human liberty are frightful to contemplate. ... For this, and other equally weighty reasons, they secured the inheritance they had fought to maintain, by incorporating in a written constitution the safeguards which time had proved were essential to its preservation. Not one of these safeguards can the President, or Congress, or the Judiciary disturb....

"In every war, there are men of previously good character, wicked enough to counsel their fellow-citizens to resist the measures deemed necessary by a good government to sustain its just authority and overthrow its enemies; and their influence may lead to dangerous combinations." For example, handing over Congress's power to the President; allowing the President to annul all or parts of new laws through "signing statements" (including his announced decision to imprison and torture whomever he pleases, at any time he pleases, for whatever reason can be passed off as national security); attempting to annul the First Amendment (the Flag Desecration Act); attempting to deprive whole classes of citizens of their inalienable rights (homosexuals, would-be immigrants); and handing out tax cuts outrageously tilted in favor of the top 0.1 percent, and then claiming that anyone who notices is engaging in "class warfare."

In a different case, judge Learned Hand wrote, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." Driven by assiduously whipped up fears, have we already given up too much of our liberty to the imperial presidency?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In his remarks on May 16 about The Da Vinci Code, Howard Troxler unfairly dismisses the book as "patent nonsense," most of its allegations either sheer invention or "totally twisted" distortion. He writes good-humoredly about how all good Christians must "debunk" the upcoming movie, which his ESP tells him is going to be "half-baked."

My goodness me, how the gentleman doth protest! As a professional theologian, I found the novel far from nonsensical. I found many, many mistakes and distortions, but I found nothing "totally twisted," except perhaps the author's portrayal of his villains.

The Da Vinci Code is fiction, but one of its underlying premises is quite sound: Starting within the first decades of the Jesus Movement, the male leaders of Christianity have systematically stripped the religion of the proto-feminism of Jesus and Paul of Tarsus. For example, Mary Magdalene was falsely alleged to be a prostitute by Pope Gregory in 691 CE; non-Roman Catholic groups were consecrating female priests and even female bishops, the horror!

Human beings worshipped a female Creator for millennia; it was obvious that only a female could bring forth life and nurture it out of her own substance. Despite howls of protest from such Yahweh partisans as Jeremiah, the goddess Asherah was worshiped up until about 600 BCE, when she was transformed into Hokmah, Wisdom. Some theologians, including Marcus Borg, believe that Hokmah was transformed into Jesus of Nazareth.

But ever since the priests of Yahweh began insisting that God is exclusively male, the Sacred Feminine has been overshadowed by the sacralized masculinity of the Father and the Son. Women who want a deity with whom they can identify as men do are bleep out of luck, and feminity is relegated to second-class status, an afterthought created to serve and submit to the sacralized masculine.

The Da Vinci Code is fiction. It was published as a novel, an entertainment. Although the author claims that every fact is accurate, that claim is made in a work of fiction. He also claims that there are fewer than 70 words that can be found in the letters "PLANETS"; I found more than 300 before I stopped looking.

But even though it is full of mistakes and distortions, the book is not "patent nonsense," or it would not appeal to so many people who yearn for the Sacred Feminine — and the gentlemen who are quite happy with females as second-class citizens would not be protesting nearly so much.

Friday, April 21, 2006

On April 19, 2006, Ed Helms, Senior White House Correspondent for "The Daily Show," explained why Scott McClellan, who had just resigned his position as White House press secretary, was going to need detoxification (note: Ed did NOT use the euphemism "Bushwah." He said "Bushit," pronouncing the two Ls after the U.):

President Bush and his administration "read the poll numbers, they know most Americans think their policies are failing, and they've responded . . . by changing the person who tells us about those failures. . . . Every house-cleaning begins by changing the doormat.

"[Detoxification is] part of the standard exit protocol for any outgoing press secretary. Their job is to filter the hundreds of pounds of Bushwah produced by the Administration on a daily basis — lies, half-truths, errors of omission, commission, emission. The press secretary must transform these noxious toxins into pleasant-smelling oral excretions. Biologists know it as the Fleischer Cycle. The problem is, over time these toxins saturate the press secretary's internal organs, which clog, slow, and finally fail, allowing huge chunks of unfiltered Bushwah into the public sphere. . . . I gotta tell you, it's a tough gig. These guys have a shelf life somewhere between an orchid and unrefrigerated seafood. Thankfully, the detox cleans them up a little bit.

"But nothing can undo the irrevocable damage to their souls."

Monday, February 27, 2006

I am profoundly disappointed with the outcome of "Dancing With the Stars" last night!

It was bad enough that "Master P," a rap artist, survived to the fourth round of the competition. I would call "Master P" a clodhopper, but that would be an insult to clodhoppers everywhere. "Master P" did not respect the competition; where everyone else averaged 31 hours a week of practice time, "Master P" averaged less than five hours a week. "Master P" was churlish; his professional partner presented him with the gift of a pair of decent dancing shoes, and he spurned the gift, preferring his "lucky" sneakers, which looked to be the size and weight of ski boots. "Master P" could not, in my opinion, dance his way out of a paper bag. On a scale of one to 10, the professional judges gave him an average score of four, and I believe that to have been a "pity score"; if I had been a judge, his average score with me would have been 0.5 — out of pity. He was, after all, a last-minute replacement for a qualified participant.

Why did "Master P" survive so long in the competition, when infinitely better dancers did not? I believe it is because the producers made the mistake of giving audience votes equal weight with the scores of the professional judges. "Master P" is apparently a popular rap artist. (I wouldn't know; I prefer music.) And "Master P" is black.

Three people survived to the final night of the competition: Stacy Kiebler, Drew Lachey, and Jerry Rice. All three judges called Stacy Kiebler the best dancer they had seen in five seasons of "Dancing With the Stars." One judge said that if DWTS went on for fifty seasons, Stacy would remain the best dancer of all.

Stacy is beautiful, 5'11", and talented. Drew Lachey is almost as fine a dancer, and he is short and has no neck to speak of. I was prepared for him to win the competition, as he in fact did — everyone loves an underdog.

And then there is Jerry Rice, who apparently is some sort of former football player; I believe he was MVP at some Stupid-Bowl or other. Jerry Rice's dancing improved as the competition went along, but he ought to have lost to a better dancer at least four weeks ago. But Jerry Rice is black, and popular.

And here's what makes me so angry — Jerry Rice, whose scores averaged about 6.1, beat Stacy Kiebler, whose scores averaged about 9.5. Where is the justice in that?

If I could track down an e-mail address for Izzie Pick, supervising producer of DWTS, I would strongly suggest a change in the rules of scoring: Make the judges' votes cumulative, while the audience's remain per-show. I have not kept track of every score over the last two months, but I believe that Stacy's cumulative score would be approximately 284, Drew's would be approximately 278, and Jerry's would be approximately 224.

Another possibility would be to decrease the percentage allotted to audience voting. It is ridiculous that a churlish, superstitious oaf like "Master P" could have beaten out dancers of FAR higher caliber, merely because he is black. It is the height of injustice that the best competitor of at least 50 seasons of "DWTS" (if not of all time!) was beaten out by an over-the-hill football player, merely because he is black.

Monday, February 06, 2006

On February 6, in an op-ed article about September 11, 2001, historian Joseph J. Ellis wrote that that dreadful day "does not threaten the survival of the American republic."

Oh, really? As a result of Sept. 11, we now have a president who, a year after signing a secret executive order authorizing torture of political prisoners, signed a law forbidding such torture with the announcement that he intended to disobey that law whenever he chose "in the context of his broader powers" as commander in chief.

Mr. Bush has also felt free to ignore the law of the land in order to spy on American citizens who might be in contact with al Qaeda, or who might be protesters of his war in Iraq. His rationalization is that Congress, in giving him the power to declare war as a last resort, in the process elevated him above the law.

Mr. Bush has also announced that, as commander in chief, he has the power to arrest and imprison American citizens indefinitely, on secret charges. He has also inserted a "wedge" into the Constitution by having compliant Republicans in Congress suspend habeas corpus for non-citizens.

Umberto Eco recently compiled a set of axioms upon which all fascist states agree. Among these are:

—The truth is revealed once and only once.

—Doctrine outweighs reason, and science is always suspect.

—Dissent is treason.

—Perpetually at war, the state must govern through fear.

—Critical, analytical thought is for degenerate intellectuals, whose only wish is to subvert traditional "family values."

Less than four and a half years after Sept. 11, the United States resembles a fascist dictatorship far more than it does a republic. In the 2004 election, NO Republican incumbent was beaten in his/her quest for re-election. The Greedy Old Pigs have such a stranglehold on Congress that Democrats are frequently excluded from important meetings and votes. Hearings that are important to the nation must be held in the Capitol basement. The nation's judiciary is being well packed with ultraconservatives who are all in favor of a presidency more imperial than in Nixon's wettest dreams.

Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire executed a Jewish carpenter on the charge of sedition. That act did not "threaten the survival" of the Roman Empire — in the short term. After all, it was a non-citizen, far from the capital of the empire, who did not have the right of habeas corpus; and he got what the Bush Administration would call a fair trial before he was tortured to death as an act of State policy in the Empire's reign of terror. . . .

Monday, January 30, 2006

Following is a verbatim transcript of President Bush explaining Medicare Part D:

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I don't really understand. How is it the new plan going to fix the problem?

PRESIDENT BUSH (verbatim): Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

. . . Remember the olden days when people voted for a man whom they thought would be intelligent enough to be President of the United States? . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ellen Smith writes on today's Washington Post op-ed page, "Why not make the pre-Bush MSHA the model for freedom of information? A return to the former practice would be healthy and would keep the government in check through greater public scrutiny." She is right — and that is why the government will never return to the former practice while Mr. Bush is in office, or indeed any admiring successor. If the Bush administration were to receive greater public scrutiny, it might indeed be kept in check.

It is a matter of public record that the New York Times learned of Mr. Bush's spying on American citizens in summer 2004. It is a matter of public record that New York Times editors were summoned to a high-level White House meeting in summer 2004. It is a fact that the public did not learn about Mr. Bush's spying until after Times editors learned that the information was contained in a forthcoming book by one of their reporters. To me, it is easy to infer that during the presidential campaign of 2004, the White House had no interest in greater public scrutiny of its conduct. It might have been kept in check....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

At his first confirmation hearing, Samuel Alito included in his opening remarks the statement, “No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law.” This statement is either stupid or frightening. If everyone is on the same plane as the law, then no one is subject to the law; the law becomes irrelevant.

Presumably, Judge Alito meant to convey the idea that, despite Emperor Bush's frequent assertions to the contrary, even he does not have the right to suspend any law he chooses in the name of fighting “terrorism” — particularly when the Pentagon is redefining “terrorism” to include nonviolent protests of the war in Iraq.

But he may have meant that, since everyone is on the same plane as the law, everyone IS the law. Meaning that, just like Mr. “l'état, c'est moi” Bush, I too have the right to ignore any law I choose, so long as I claim to be fighting terrorism or evil. I too have the right to imprison anyone I choose, without habeas corpus or even access to the law. I too may torture with impunity, as long as I find a good Newspeak euphemism. After all, I am neither above nor subordinate to the law — just like Mr. Bush.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is this the season of "peace on earth, good will to all"? On December 10, a fundamentalist megachurch published a full-page advertisement in the St. Petersburg Times that began "To HELL with 'Happy Holidays,'" and went on evilly from there. They spent almost $4,500 to promise strife on earth and ill-will to all who refuse to commercialize the birth of their lord and savior. Imagine how many Christmas presents that money could have bought for the needy!

"Christian" fundamentalists are waging a campaign in which they present themselves as the victims of a liberal conspiracy against them. Poor, pitiful victims! They have only the White House, Congress, the judiciary, and virtually all state and local governments on their side. However will they manage to turn the United States into a fundamentalist theocracy with all these forces against them?

To everyone who believes that being wished peace and joy at this time of year is evidence of a terrible threat to your religion: By all means, drop desperately ill.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I had a passing thought recently: The so-called "theory" called "intelligent design" (it's actually a hypothesis, and not even a scientific one) ought to contain the seeds of its own destruction, since it EVOLVED out of creationism.

The fact of the matter is that the word "theory" has a special definition in science. In science, evolution is a theory the same way GRAVITY is a theory. Doubtless once proponents of ID have succeeded in wedging their religious dogma into the nation's science classes, they plan to introduce the "theory" of "intelligent gravitation." Not to mention introducing the "fact" that pi equals three (1 Kings 7:23) into math classes, or the "fact" that hares and rock badgers chew their cud like cows (Lev. 11:6, Deut. 14:7), despite not being ruminants, into biology classes. (See "The Errant Bible" for a partial list of the errors, inconsistencies, and contradictions in this supposedly God-written and perfect collection.)

It is true that both raisins and watermelons are fruit. But if "intelligent design" were a raisin, evolution would be a watermelon the size of Mount Everest. It is also true that three-fourths of the Bible was inscribed onto tanned animal skins during the Bronze Age, when the highest level of technological achievement was the war chariot. Proponents of ID need to stop trying to drag the United States back to the 19th century and realize that if God created the Universe (as I believe), God also created evolution.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A letter to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times claims that on the subject of torture, the United States has only one choice: We can trust President Bush's leadership and "authorize torture," OR we allow "the destruction of our nation."

Leave aside the fact that torture does not work. Any evidence extracted by torture tends to be extremely unreliable. Just ask any of the millions of women whom the Inquisition tortured into admitting that they were witches before burning them at the stake. Just ask any of the employees of the CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon whom the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal psychologically tortured into providing false "information" to justify invading Iraq.

Torture is both inhumane and immoral. The use of torture corrupts any institution that tolerates it. In a private e-mail to me, the letter-writer recommended that I be put into the sort of cage from which rats could eat my face; that way, I would grow to love Elder Brother, um, President Bush, as much as every good American ought to love him. George Orwell's 1984 appears to be required reading among neocons — not as a cautionary tale, but as an instruction manual.

Leave aside the fact that torture is deeply unethical — as unethical as many of the neocons' favorite tactics (duplicity, fear, corruption, propaganda, and government by libel are also big favorites).

Also leave aside the letter-writer's breathtaking faith in Mr. Bush's ability to avert disasters before they happen. (Doesn't anyone else remember an August 6, 2001 memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the U.S."? This was the first instance in which Mr. Bush preferred vacationing over governing the nation — alas, if only it were the last.)

The point of torture is to destroy the victim's belief that he or she has certain inalienable rights — privacy, intimacy, inviolability. The torturer invades and destroys the victim's physical and ultimately mental independence. Usually agonizing physical pain and the fear of death are accompanied by public humiliation, incessant repetition, depersonalization, and of course sadistic glee. Did it work at abu Ghraib? Has it worked for any of the minimum-of-two-dozen INNOCENT men who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay or one of our "black sites" for up to four years, with no end in sight? If you are reading this — do YOU feel any safer?

Torture is the interrogation technique of choice for totalitarian régimes, terrorist groups, and organized crime. Worse, the main point of torture is not to gain information (which is unreliable at best); the point of torture is to force acquiescence, and to spread terror among the Winston Smiths of our modern world.

The moral question is simple: Is the United States to be the only nation in the world that officially approves of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of human beings? Do we really want to be numbered among totalitarian régimes, terrorist groups, and organized crime?

Do we really want the rest of the world to see no moral difference between the United States and al Qaeda, the Mafia, or the Nazis?

Mr. Bush likes to strut around in the emperor's clothing of Christian competence, so it becomes fair to ask: Whom would Jesus degrade, abuse, and torture?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I can almost find it in me to feel sorry for President Bush. Morally required to find a nominee for the Supreme Court who is impartial, unbiassed, and unobjectionable to the rabid partisans he has created on both sides of the aisle, Mr. Bush chose his crony and "office wife" Harriet Miers. Ms. Miers has stated that she believes Mr. Bush to be "the most brilliant man [she] ever met."

Now Mr. Bush's far-right conservative base is frothing at the mouth with rage, because there is not enough of a paper trail on Ms. Miers; they cannot be absolutely certain that the future judgments of Justice Miers will be partisan, biassed, and objectionable enough to suit them. Why, she might not vote to deprive women of the right to control their own bodies! She might not vote to turn homosexuals into second-class citizens! She might not vote to enlarge the powers of the imperial presidency!

Poor Mr. Bush. His far-right supporters are gibbering with fury because they cannot be guaranteed bias on the bench. And if Mr. Bush is compelled to withdraw Ms. Miers's name in favor of the ideologue his base demands, every sane U.S. citizen will gibber with fury at the idea of a nakedly partisan ideologue on the bench.

But I don't pity Mr. Bush too much. After all, he has told the nation, "Trust me" to know Ms. Miers's heart — that she will be biassed enough in her judgments to please his far-right conservative base.

We trusted Mr. Bush when he said he was a compassionate conservative. We trusted Mr. Bush when he said that Saddam was behind 9/11. We trusted Mr. Bush when he said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. We trusted Mr. Bush when he said that Iraq was an "imminent threat." We trusted Mr. Bush when he said we had to spend the budget surplus. We trusted Mr. Bush when he said that lots and lots of tax cuts for the wealthy would lower the deficit. Since the end of 2000, Mr. Bush has added $2.3 TRILLION to our nation's deficit. In case you were wondering, 2.3 trillion seconds of time amounts to slightly less than 78,000 years.

I trust Mr. Bush, all right — to do whatever it takes to turn the United States into a neo-fascist dictatorship in which the Party controls all facets of every citizen's life. $10 a gallon for gasoline? No problem! — not in the United States of Halliburton. . . .

Monday, September 26, 2005

Annus horribilus is Latin for, you guessed it, “horrible year.” It’s a pun on annus mirabilus, or “year of wonders.” Queen Elizabeth used the term to describe 1992, the year that her sons Charles and Andrew both divorced and Windsor Castle caught fire. And Kofi Annan used the phrase on December 21, 2004, to describe last year (silly boy).

The ongoing debacle in Iraq. The Terri Schiavo political posture-athon. The bombings in London. The obscene, $286.5-billion porkfest that was July’s transportation bill. Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and Rita. The insistence of the Republicans in Congress that they can have their pork — even the $223-million bridge to nowhere in Alaska — and pay for hurricane recovery too, not to mention the in-all-but-name civil war in Iraq and still more tax cuts for wealthy Republicans. A national debt that has gone from $5.6-trillion at the end of 2000 to $7.9-trillion as of Sept. 22, and the Republicans apparently assume that we can continue to borrow money from Communist China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and similar lenders indefinitely, and no debt will ever come due. (Incidentally, 2.3 trillion seconds equals close to 73,000 years.) Gasoline prices that have pretty much doubled since 2000. As I write, the possibility of 13 named storms still to come before the end of the hurricane season.

With all due respect for her majesty, if 1992 was an annus horribilus, then I nominate 2005 as the annus horribilissimus. It’s just never going to get any worse . . . or if it is, I don’t want to be here when it does. Wake me when it’s 2006.

Friday, September 23, 2005

It is clear that the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita is going to require a new New Deal. We are going to need a Gulf Coast Regional Redevelopment Authority, similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority. We are going to need a gigantic new jobs program modeled on the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. We are going to need to revive the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

And what does George W. Bush propose? He has already awarded no-bid reconstruction contracts to such favored corporations as Halliburton, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the Shaw Group, and Bechtel. His "Gulf Opportunity Zone" deals with our national crisis by offering tax incentives for investment but not for job creation. These tax credits are being offered to businesses across the board, including the casinos. Even Harrah's is astonished, according to the Washington Post.

I recently realized the true motto of the Bush Administration: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for Halliburton."

Monday, September 05, 2005

It is horrifying to realize that the Bush administration was better prepared to deal with the aftermath of its headlong rush into a fiction-based war of choice than it has been to deal with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

On Sept. 4, several Bush defenders rushed to announce that the catastrophe would only cost $26-billion to recover from. Ha! Multiply that low-ball figure by fifty and you'll be a lot closer to reality. Meanwhile, get ready for shortages of gas, oil, coffee, tea, sugar, rice and all other grains, concrete, and especially coal. Get ready for $5- to $10-billion in U.S. agricultural exports rotting where they sit, unable to leave the country. Get ready for an era in which everyone but wealthy Bush partisans will suffer.

Get ready for Bush to give the Medal of Freedom to FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown for the "good progress" he made in preparing for and responding to this calamity.

To President Bush: We demand that you repeal every single one of your tax cuts for the wealthy, and use the money to establish a cabinet-level Department of Reconstruction. For the same purpose, repeal the obscene porkfest that Congress passed right before it joined you in "getting on with your life." Alaska does not need a superhighway from nowhere to nowhere more than the Gulf Coast needs your atonement.

And if you refuse, let's take a lesson from Great Britain and demand the resignation of your entire administration, en masse. Starting with our Vacationer/Fitness Buff in Chief.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's really beginning to grate on me when voice after voice tells me that Hurricane Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States. "One of"? "ONE OF"?? Show me one that's worse! Show me one that has elicited the second outpouring of international sympathy in four years. Heck, I'll be generous — show me one that even comes CLOSE to being as bad.

Do not belittle this tragedy by comparing it to such relatively minor disasters as the San Francisco earthquake or the Johnstown flood, or even the great fire of Chicago (not, technically, a natural disaster). Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster to befall the United States by several orders of magnitude. It's not “one of.” It's the Real McCoy.

Because New Orleans was a hotbed of democracy — both liberal and the GOP's worst pejorative, “liberal” — I live in fear that some neocon crazy like Pat Robertson is going to declare that, just like the terrorist attacks of 2001, Hurricane Katrina was the fault of women, liberals, pagans, atheists, abortionists, the ACLU, and People for the American Way: the new Sodom and Gomorrah.

To which I reply: George W. Bush was installed in office by the future Vice President's close personal friend Antonin Scalia, who persuaded the four other Republican-appointed justices to go along with him. He has turned out to be the worst president in United States history — like Katrina, worst by several orders of magnitude.

Bush in turn presided over the worst terrorist attack on the U.S. in our nation's history; the worst spending spree by any presidential administration or Congress; the worst redefinition of “democracy” to mean neo-Stalinism; the worst corruption in U.S. political history; the worst attempt to establish fundangelicalism as our national religion; and now the worst natural disaster that our nation will (I devoutly hope) ever undergo.

The fire-and-brimstone preachers may be right if and when they start in preaching about the vengeance of a wrathful God upon our nation. But I can almost guarantee you they will blame it on women, liberals, gays, and abortionists. To those fire-and-brimstone preachers (which I actually hope will exist only in my fevered imagination), I reply: George W. Bush is a worse leader than King Manasseh of Israel, who ruled in the seventh century BCE (2 Kings 21). If God is punishing our nation for anything (as the God of love so frequently does), God is punishing us for installing George W. Bush in office and keeping him there, both times unjustly.

Monday, August 15, 2005

How charming of George F. Will to spend an entire column (the one in my local newspaper was entitled "A Closer Look at the Constitution," Aug. 14, 2005) setting up a straw man, labeling it "liberal," and knocking it down for the amusement of troglodytes.

Will is right in cherishing the U.S. Constitution as a jewel. He is correct that the Constitution embodies the philosophy that individual citizens have the right to property and self-government.

And Will is one hundred percent wrong about which of today's political parties wants to rewrite the Constitution to deprive U.S. citizens of those rights. It is Republicans who recently decided that government may take citizens' property to give to more profitable businesses. It is Republicans who want to deprive women of the right to control their own bodies. It is Republicans who want to deprive citizens of the right to love and marry whomever they choose, if they disapprove of those citizens. It is a Republican president who wants his religion's dogma taught in science classes as if it were equivalent to science, and it is Republicans who want that same religious dogma displayed on stone monuments on public property.

Self-government? Don't make me laugh. What do fabulously wealthy Republican incumbents combined with gerrymandering have to do with self-government?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

So, the president thinks that religion, disguised as "intelligent design," ought to be taught in science classes. How droll.

For those of you who are just as poorly educated, let us recap: Scientists observe reality and develop theories to explain what they see. They test their theories as rigorously as they can, evolving newer theories as necessary. They are open to collegial input and review. They are impartial.

By way of contrasts, religious bigots limit their "research" to one 3,000-year-old text. They ignore, dismiss, misrepresent, or mock any fact that contradicts their prejudgment. They are not open to rational input or review. They privilege their dogma over honest, fair, and logical debate.

"Intelligent design" claims that the Universe is so complex that it must have a Designer. But good design is simple. A drinking straw is proof of intelligent design. So is a pane of glass. Because "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" (take a science class!), your DNA looks a lot more like a Rube Goldberg design than it does a drinking straw.

But of course, the ancient writers of the Bible never heard of DNA, so therefore it does not exist.

The Bible teaches us that the Earth is a flat disk that rests upon mountain pillars (e.g., Job 37-38). A metal dome, the "firmament," separates the sky from the chaos waters beyond (Gen. 1:6-7, 8:2). Holes in the dome let rain in. In other words, the sky is a giant, upside-down colander. Rabbits chew their cuds like cows (Lev. 11:6). Grasshoppers have four legs, like horses (Lev. 11:20-23). The sun revolves around the flat Earth (Eccl. 1:5-6). People think with their hearts (Gen. 6:5, Lk. 6:45) and feel emotions with their kidneys (Jer. 31:20, 2 Cor. 6:12). [All citations in this entry are representative — there are dozens of corroborations.]

Even if the Bible were inerrant (Zechariah and Jeremiah were NOT the same person, Matthew 27:9-10 to the contrary), it was never intended to be a science textbook. The Bible is THEOLOGY. To privilege one denomination's crackpot theology by teaching it as if it were a valid alternative to science is to open the door to theocracy.

Of course, George W. Bush sincerely believes that God installed him in the presidency, rather than Dick Cheney's close personal friend Antonin Scalia. What do you want to bet that science classes in Kansas are teaching that he's the Second Coming?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

If I hear much more conservative ranting about judges who legislate from the bench, I may scream. First off, the ranters don't have any problem with judges like Roy Moore legislating from the bench. Far-right legislation from the bench is no problem for them. Which means they are hypocrites, at best.

And second, the ranters also don't have the slightest problem with senators and representatives adjudicating from Congress — as long as it's far-right adjudication, as in the Terri Schiavo fiasco. Poverty, hunger, miseducation, soaring health costs, injustice, torture? The only conceivable answer is another tax cut for the already wealthy!

With two of our three branches of government safely under the thumbs of "fair and balanced" non-partisans like Karl Rove and Grover Nordquist, and with the remaining third already about halfway under the neocons' thumbs, I think we can safely say that democracy is dead in the United States. All hail Emperor Cheney!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I have a question for self-described Christians who support the war in Iraq: Where in the Bible does it say that the God of love wants you to hate your enemies? (I can name MANY places where the Bible says we are to love our enemies.) Where in the Bible does it say that the Prince of Peace is all in favor of preemptive war?

And here's a second question, for Muslims who refuse to denounce the hateful acts of some of their co-religionists: If Islam is a religion of peace, why do we never hear about Quaker suicide bombers, or Buddhist militants terrorizing Amish farmers (or vice versa)?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Today's newspapers ran a story that said, in part, that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 "was supposed to prevent secret agents from betraying one another — it was not meant to be a tool to investigate partisan vendettas." Obviously, Karl Rove's betrayal of Valerie Plame, and by the domino effect dozens of others, was indeed a partisan vendetta — a vendetta on the part of a Bush partisan against an opponent whose sole crime was being married to someone who revealed to the world one of the uncomfortable truths that the Bush League had "fixed." I greatly fear, however, that the Bush League will transform the scandal into a Democratic "partisan vendetta" against poor, innocent, cuddlesome Karl Rove. Look at the recent past: The pattern is clear: For treasonably revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent during a time of war, Karl Rove is bound to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Poor Annabel. Morning after morning she would get into the box and strain to pee, forcing me to watch her as I waited to clean the box of its overnight deposits. I thought she had cystitis, a female problem in which you “gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now,” even when there's nothing inside to go. I had cystitis when I was ten years old; it's no fun, but it goes away.

The remainder of this post has been moved to my website. If you're interested, click here to read the whole story of “How We Adopted Miranda.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The pharmacist refused to fill my prescription for contraceptives because allowing women to control their own sex lives is immoral in his religion.

After I was raped by my uncle, the pharmacist refused to fill my prescription for the morning-after drug, because making any distinction between the rights of an adult woman and the rights of a collection of living cells smaller than the point of a pin is immoral in his religion. (Then he cheerfully gave my rapist more Viagra.)

Then my gynecologist refused to perform an abortion, because making any distinction between the rights of an adult woman and the rights of a collection of living cells smaller than a grain of rice is immoral in her religion.

Then when I wanted to get baptized, the preacher refused, because being an unwed mother is immoral in his religion.

Then the cops and the military refused to protect me from criminals and terrorists, because my lewd, liberal, Jesus-hating lifestyle is immoral in their religion.

Then the ticker-taker at the multimegaplex refused to honor my ticket for "Bambi," because movies that involve the death of animals are immoral in her religion. . . .

Monday, May 30, 2005

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln wrote, "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As the result of the War, corporations have been enthroned. . . . An era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people . . . until wealth is aggregated in a few hands . . . and the Republic is destroyed." [From p. 18 of William H. Boyer, Myth America: Democracy Vs. Capitalism (Apex Press, 2003).]

Enron. World-com. Tyco. Global Crossing. And so many more. Fact: Halliburton has made more than $7-billion in profits in slightly more than two years, thanks to all its no-bid contracts with the Bush Administration. Fact: Because Dick Cheney was Halliburton's CEO before he became Vice President, Halliburton has the legal right to give Mr. Cheney up to a million dollars a year, just because they like the color of his eyes.

Fact: The U.S. Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore because five of the justices were appointed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Fact: Antonin Scalia, George W. Bush's favorite justice, is and in 2000 was a close personal friend of Dick Cheney.

Opinion: Mr. Lincoln may have been a Republican, but that was because he cared about a Republic that was free — not one that was purchased, gerrymandered, Newspeak-ed, spin-doctored, fat-catted, and Patriot Act-ed into submission.

I think today Abraham Lincoln would not be trembling for the safety of his country, but weeping.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Stalinist regime can be distingished by the following:

(a) Only one political party is allowed to exert power; if any other party is allowed to exist, it is ignored, disrespected, or abused.

(b) The ruling regime exerts an iron control over the dissemination of information. There is a Fox News-like media, but the country's rulers are so secretive they even classify their fathers' old to-do lists. When negative information MUST be disseminated, for example about the empire's philosophy on torture or the emperor's irresponsible behavior as a young adult, the rulers arrange for the blame for its misbehavior to be laid on another — for example, Newsweek or Dan Rather.

(c) The regime is dedicated to its ideology, to the point of attempting to change or obfuscate the facts that contradict its ideology. An example might be Tom Delay's characterization of flushing a few cells out of a Petri dish as "dismemberment."

(d) Rigid authoritarianism, as in the arrests last fall of a husband and wife who were wearing anti-Bush T-shirts while walking down a public street that wasn't close enough to their "free speech zone."

(e) Government ownership of all goods and of the production and distribution of those goods. Failing that, transfer of as much ownership as possible to cronies of the Stalinist ruler or to Halliburton.

Perhaps neither Guantanamo Bay nor Abu Ghraib was a true gulag in the strictest sense of the word. But I'm sure that the Bush Administration will put its first residential "free speech zone" in Georgia. It will be called the "Georgia United Liberty Appreciation Group."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

There is a large cult whose members delude themselves that they are Christians. They worship the Bible, usually the 1611 translation, as if it were as infallible as God is, including such hilarious passages as Exodus 17:8-13. They act as though God is a vending machine and prosperity equals righteousness. Their heretical and blasphemous "Rapture," in which billions who do not belong to their cult will be gruesomely murdered by Jesus, is sure proof that they are anything but Christian. Through their behavior they demonstrate their belief in the righteousness of capital punishment; preemptive warfare (just like Jesus!); harassment and murder of abortion clinic staff members; depriving homosexuals, women, and liberals of their human rights, if not their lives; and impoverishing the poor while enriching the wealthy. Their earnest desire is to do away with modern science in favor of "intelligent design" and to transform modern jurisprudence into an Inquisition-like mechanism of fascism. They are literally the Pharisees of the modern world.

These arrogant, biased heretics called themselves fundamentalists or evangelicals until those terms became synonymous with "ignorant bigots." They then called themselves born-again Christians until that term became synonymous with "ignorant bigots." Today they oxymoronically call themselves the Moral Majority, the Religious Right, and the Christian Right. They remain ignorant bigots.

Now they are busily attempting to subvert democracy in the United States by making a state religion out of their Taliban-like cult. With the ongoing, enthusiastic help of the Bush administration, they are well on their way to succeeding.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

For the last few weeks, our Republican leaders have been in a swivet. Tom Delay, that master of honor and probity, calls our courts "unaccountable" and "out of control." And now on April 24, the Family Research Council plans "Justice Sunday," which it calls "a live simulcast to engage values voters" — code for "members of the 'Christian' far right" — "in the all-important issue of reining in our out-of-control courts." The group claims that President Bush's judicial nominees "are being blocked because they are people of faith and moral conviction" and says, "We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith." What is most frightening is that Senate Majority leader Bill Frist plans to be the guest of honor at the FRC's "Justice" Sunday.

First, roughly 4 percent of Bush's judicial nominees have been and/or will be blocked (he has resubmitted the names of many of the most objectionable) because they are judicial activists — they are simply promoting the neocons' ideology and agenda. One has stated that she considers FDR a "socialist" and that Social Security is "unconstitutional." Another has been practicing law without a license for six years. Perfect Supreme Court material, right?

Second, it is slander to blame the Bush Republicans' attempted coup d'etat on demonic, evil Democrats. Many, perhaps most Democrats are people of faith and moral conviction, just like the dupes of the ultra-right. The difference is that they do not worship Mammon ("let's have more tax cuts for the wealthy!"), and their moral convictions include the odd notion that everyone deserves justice and compassion, not merely powerful and wealthy Republicans.

But neither of these facts is the point. The point is, our judiciary is SUPPOSED to be "unaccountable" and "out of control." This is called DEMOCRACY. Josef Stalin's judiciary was under state control; so was Saddam's; so is Putin's. Look at how well a judiciary that is firmly under politicians' control works out — for the politicians.

The Republican-controlled Congress itself acts as a rubber-stamp for the Republican-controlled White House, deliberately limiting anyone who dissents to the role of spectator. Now they seek to control our judiciary, too. If they are allowed to succeed, the United States will become indistinguishable from any other Stalinist regime. (We are already ruled through state-controlled media, rigid authoritarianism, and fear, just like the USSR.)

Tom Delay apologized for his remarks by calling them "inartful," as if he had merely called an earth-moving tool a spade. They were not. They were perilously close to being evidence of a treasonable conspiracy to overthrow democracy in the United States and replace it with a system in which our judges obey the orders of their Republican masters or get impeached for the crime of disobedience.

Wouldn't it be nice if the principles of liberty and democracy were valued in Washington, DC as much as they are valued in — oh, say, the Ukraine? If the Republicans adopt the "nuclear" option to end those pesky filibusters, and thereby get the court system firmly under neocon control, in 2009 schoolchildren will be chanting daily, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Republican States of America, and to the neocon ideology for which it stands: one nation, under Bush forever, with liberty and justice only for Republican true believers."

Monday, March 21, 2005

If you took an MRI of Terri Schiavo's brain today, it would reveal that all the parts that used to make her a functioning human adult have died and been replaced by water. This is a fact.

This makes the whole controversy surrounding Terri's "rights" as nonsensical as the debate over abortion. Should Terri, or a fetus, vote in the next presidential election? Drive a car? Drink alcohol? Marry? If they are "innocent" victims, does that mean that they are able to understand what wickedness is, much less to engage in wicked acts?

Those who most earnestly agitate for the "rights" of these former or imaginable adults refuse to acknowledge any distinction whatsoever between actual and potential humanity. Indeed, murders have been committed because the murderers believe that the "rights" of maybe-someday human beings outweigh the actual rights of their actual human mothers.

The fact that those who are fighting for the "rights" of Terri Schiavo and of fetuses refuse to recognize any distinction between the imaginable and the real reveals that the agitators are either disgustingly disingenuous — certain members of Congress spring irresistibly to mind — or they are almost as little able, or willing, to use their brains as those they fight for.

Jesus said, "Allow the little children [who show affection for me] to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." He did not say, allow fetuses to come to me. He did not say, do not hinder Terri Schiavo from coming to me. Terri Schiavo has been with him since 1990.

And in fact, if God's Perfect World consisted only of those who have no brains and those who refuse to use their brains — Tom Delay, for example — why on earth would you or I want to live there?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Speaking on behalf of those who believe Terri Schiavo's empty husk ought to be kept alive for the next fifty or so years, many decades after her soul was welcomed home by God, Howard Troxler wrote, "Human life is sacred, and it is not up to us to say when it should end."

I would retort to these well-meaning but deluded people, unless human beings are as divine as the Deity, ALL life is sacred — so unless they are Buddhist vegetarians, they have no right to speak on God's behalf.

If they believe that the Bible was written by God and is as perfect and inerrant as God is, I would add that by that very token they ought to reject all forms of modern technology not specifically endorsed by the Bible, including feeding tubes — not to mention electricity, capital punishment ("Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord"; "Love thy neighbor" saith another Lord), flu shots, firearms, and democracy.

(Of course, most of these people have already rejected democracy, unless democracy has magically turned into rule of the sheeplike, by the hypocritical, and for the already wealthy. . . .)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Promise: That President Bush would be a uniter, not a divider. Fact: The nation is more bitterly divided today than it has been since the Civil War.

Promise: That we would catch Osama bin Laden, "dead or alive," and bring him to justice. Fact: Osama who?

Promise: That Saddam Hussein was the real mastermind behind 9/11. Fact: He had nothing to do with it.

Promise: That it was urgent to rush off to war half-cocked because Iraq was bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Fact: Not one WMD has ever been found, not even after two years of searching.

Promise: That five massive tax cuts for the wealthy would assure abundance for all. Fact: A $5-trillion surplus has turned by magic into a $13-trillion deficit. Promise: the only thing that could possibly fix this problem is to make those tax cuts permanent and throw in a few more tax cuts for the wealthy for good measure. Fact: only insane people believe that doing the same thing over and over will lead to a different outcome next time.

Promise: That the Bush prescription drug plan would cost no more than $400-billion. Fact: The Bush administration threatened the career of the man who could have told the truth to Congress: that this plan, so wonderfully beneficial to wealthy drug manufacturers, will cost well over $550-billion. And the Bush administration knew this all along while promising otherwise.

And now comes the latest promise: That there is a terrible, terrible "crisis" in Social Security, and only dismantling the program, successful for longer than President Bush has been alive, will "save" it.

Will the American people wake up to the fact that repealing even one of Bush's five tax cuts for the wealthy would make Social Security secure forever? Or will we allow Bush and his toadies to add another $2-trillion to the national debt? Our grandchildren will live lives of grinding poverty already, Mr. Bush, merely trying to pay the interest on the debts you have run up in only four years. You don't need to turn that into debt slavery.

The U.S. is paying roughly $1-billion in interest on our national debt every single day, people! What happens if China or Saudi Arabia decides to demand immediate payment of the trillions Bush has borrowed from these wonderfully democratic partners in the war on terrorism?

Fool the American people once, shame on you. Fool us over and over again . . . how I wish the rest of that old saying were, "Fool m— uh, can't get fooled again."

But it sure looks like we are Charlie Brown, and President Bush is Lucy with her football. "You must kick this football!" he urges us. "It's a terrible crisis! Kick it, or 9/11 9/11 9/11!!" And invariably, we find ourselves lying on our backs, staring at the sky, and listening to Lucy laugh and laugh. . . 

Friday, January 14, 2005

Re: No evidence of criminal conduct in Plame case, Jan. 13

How entertaining — Republican apologists Victoria Toensing and Bruce W. Sanford can find no Republican wrongdoing in Robert D. Novak's "outing" of a CIA agent, based on information provided by someone from high in Vice President Cheney's staff. The fact that the vice president rules his office with a rod of iron, and his staff takes no step without at least his knowledge, if not his direct order, was not mentioned — in fact, the involvement of the vice president's office was not mentioned. The authors' mockery was reserved for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which wrote that the revelation of the name of the CIA agent was "perilously close to treason" — only the authors wrote that that newspaper's "allegations" were what was treasonable, rather than the crime itself.

The Republican apologists also wrote that "Congress had no intention of prosecuting a reporter who wanted to expose wrongdoing" — as though the crime in question were the CIA agent's — and that "if it were known on the Washington cocktail circuit, as has been alleged [by Republican apologists], that Wilson's wife is with the agency," there is no wrongdoing. The authors conveniently omit the fact that this allegation is false, as anyone who bothers to do some fact-checking may easily confirm. The authors are comfortably aware that few people fact-check what they read in the newspapers or hear in other media; most assume some editor (Rush Limbaugh, for example) has done that for them.

Along with the other blunders and dangerously ideological missteps of the Bush administration, this controversy will be swept under the carpet again and again until it is finally forgotten in the next scandal of incompetence and ultra-right-wing fanaticism.

And so it bears repeating that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is correct: Providing the enemy with the name(s) of CIA agents during a time of war is TREASON. Through the one name that Novak revealed, our nation's enemies were able to discover the names of literally dozens of other CIA agents — her coworkers and their associates, and their coworkers and associates, and so on, and so on.

Through the actions of (a) some anonymous individual high in Vice President Cheney's tightly-run ship and (b) Robert Novak, our nation's ability to gather intelligence has been seriously damaged. (And Republican apologists are anxious for you to believe it wasn't exactly great to begin with!)

If you want "evidence of criminal conduct," how about the fact that President Bush took at least 140 days of vacation in 2001? (The average American gets 13 days of vacation a year, and not when the employee has been on the job for only days.) How about the fact that Bush ignored numerous warnings that al Qaeda was planning something big, including the August 6 briefing entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack within the United States"? Yes, surely yet another month-long vacation was more important than that!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

In his latest defense of George W. Bush's vanity war in Iraq, Charles Krauthammer writes that the international community acted rightly in "rejecting a fraudulent election [in the Ukraine] run by a corrupt oligarchy." Why did the international community not reject our Nov. 2 election, which relied on machinery supplied by a Republican company called "despicable" by the California Supreme Court and which reinstalled a Republican oligarchy known as corrupt by everyone but itself and its dupes?

Mr. Krauthammer appears not to have seen the 102-page report by the Defense Science Board, a federal advisory committee composed of academic, think tank, and private-sector representatives who provide independent advice to the secretary of defense. Entitled "Strategic Communications," this report contains these conclusions, as reported on Dec. 5 by The Washington Post:

• "American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the U.S. to single digits in some Arab societies."

• "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states."

• Since Sept. 11, 2001, "American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. What was a marginal network," the report said, is now a community-wide "movement of fighting groups."

• "Muslims," the board says, "see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us . . . no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game." Our worst imbroglio is "a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none — the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam."

I consider it almost inexcusable that my local newspaper has not run a story about this Pentagon report, especially since The New York Times broke the story on Nov. 24. It certainly contradicts Mr. Bush's often-repeated insistence that the Muslims who oppose the Bush League do so solely because they "hate our freedom."

Mr. Krauthammer to the contrary, we are not in Iraq because we want to establish a democracy in the Middle East — if that were even possible, much less feasible. We are in Iraq because Mr. Bush entered office determined to avenge his father's honor and prove to the world that he is more manly than his father, by returning the U.S. to Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.

During the 2000 travesty, Mr. Bush insisted repeatedly that he was opposed to "nation-building." Having been unable to find weapons of mass destruction that our oligarchs insisted were there — over the objections of the CIA and other sane professionals — all of a sudden our motivation has been changed retroactively, and we are, guess what, nation-building. Because "they hate our freedom." I think it is Charles Krauthammer who is "terminally naive."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

During the four days before the election, I kept an informal log of political ads for two hours a day. Since I live in Florida, some half-hours' ads were 100 percent political. I counted 8 ads that were pro-Kerry, 9 ads that presented selected facts about George Bush (e.g., his snuggly relationships with Saudi Arabia and Big Oil), 5 ads that were pro-Bush, and 33 ads that provided proven falsehoods smearing a Democratic candidate (e.g., a Christian university president was called a burqa-wearing supporter of Hamas), 19 of which slandered Kerry.

The Republican "values" that won the day on Nov. 2 included libel, slander, self-righteousness, demonization of the enemies they are enjoined by their state religion to love, secretiveness, arrogance, greed, and anger. "Let's blow them all away in the name of the Lord!" proclaimed Jerry Falwell, while James Dobson, asked whether he should apologize to a Democrat he had slandered repeatedly, implied that his slanders were also in the name of Jesus.

I believe that the Republicans won this year for three very simple reasons. First, an incumbent president always has an advantage. An incumbent president during a time of war has an enormous advantage, unless a significant part of the electorate views it as an unjust war. Thanks to Republican gerrymandering, approximately 96 percent of all incumbents won reelection this year.

Second, Mr. Bush not only enjoys the services of Karl Rove, who is not called a genius for nothing; he controls what is variously called "the Republican attack machine," "the Republican smear machine," or what Stalin called "the media." The day after the selection of John Edwards was announced, The Daily Show ran a hilarious compilation of Republican talking heads all dutifully parroting the party line, word for word. Controlling the media, or at least the news — viz. the amazing success of the Swiftboat lies — is a huge advantage.

This has been going on day after day for four years now. Does anyone remember that between Jan. 20, 2001 and Sep. 1, 2001, Mr. Bush spent roughly 40 percent of his time on vacation? Does anyone remember Aug. 6, 2001, the day Mr. Bush ignored yet another warning that Osama was planning a major attack? Why has no one been indicted for treason in the matter of providing our enemies with the names of dozens of CIA agents? Why has Mr. Bush not been impeached for instructing Alberto Gonzales to find a way to ignore the Geneva Conventions? Why has Mr. Cheney not been impeached for inviting Enron and Halliburton to devise U.S. energy policy? Why was Mr. Rumsfeld not fired for abu Ghraib? Why was Mr. Ashcroft allowed to remain Attorney General after the first time he betrayed his oath to uphold the Constitution? The Republicans' control not just of the media but of the terms of the national debate is so iron that all bad news is sucked into a black hole and declared non-news.

Third, Mr. Bush never let an hour of his campaign go by without bringing up 9/11 — not the famous seven minutes he spent staring into space, nor even his panic flight from no enemy, but rather the upswell of patriotism that, lacking anything better, found its focus on him. For a few shining weeks, most of America approved of the image of Mr. Bush as presidential. Then, at the urging of the Republican-controlled Wall Street Journal, the Republicans began using 9/11 shamelessly to push their extremist agenda, such as huge tax cuts for the wealthy and turning as much of the prison system as possible over to fundamentalists, while the nation still saw Mr. Bush as presidential and the Democrats could be accused of "borking." The Republicans used 9/11 shamelessly in 2002 and even more shamelessly in 2004 — and now have the gall to proclaim that what they would call chicanery in a Democrat gives their "values" moral authority.

With these three huge advantages, it is no surprise that Mr. Bush won the 2004 election. What is surprising is that he did not win it by a landslide that would make Kim Jong Il blush. I do not believe that Nov. 2 was either a realignment or a tilt. I think that the demonstrated incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration came close to wiping out Mr. Bush's three huge advantages, and voter suppression, electronic election-rigging, and chicanery had to "save" the day.

I also think that within two years, there is going to be a scandal that will be, as John Dean says, worse than Watergate — a scandal so huge that no one tainted by any connection to the Bush League will ever again even be elected dogcatcher. I don't just think so — I pray so.

Realignment, tilt, usurpation — what does it matter which word is used, when the plain fact is that our nation's ruling junta claims that its use of unethical behavior endows its membership with moral authority over the nation? When depriving gay Americans of their rights as citizens or depriving female citizens of their right to control their own bodies are more important "values" than feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, protecting the helpless, nurturing our children, or providing for the future?

But, just for the record, I vote for "usurpation."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

In her Nov. 20 column, Anne Applebaum defended electronic voting machines that do not provide paper trails. Against those who believe that such machines are only as reliable as their programming, she scoffed, "Are you really sure that your bank isn't using secret software to steal $9.72 from your retirement account each week?"

For decades, yes, banks have been "stealing" money from depositors, all perfectly legally. Say that through the magic of compounded interest you are owed a deposit of $567.8901234. You receive $567.89 in your bank account, and your bank gets to keep $0.0001234. One ten-thousandth of a penny means nothing to you — but multiply that by millions of transactions every single day, and we're talking serious money.

Here are some facts: Ohio used Diebold voting machines on Nov. 2. The president of Diebold stated publicly, many times, that he would do "anything" to see George W. Bush reinstalled as president. The Diebold company, whose donations to the Republican Party amount to more than ten times its donations to any other party, was recently called "despicable" by the California Supreme Court. Diebold machines have no paper trail — that is, no way to verify the integrity of their programming.

On Nov. 2, roughly 5.5 million people voted in Ohio. According to the "final" count, which is being disputed, Ohio voted 50 percent Bush, 46 percent Kerry, and 3 percent Nader.

Because Diebold machines were used, we have no way of knowing whether there was any "secret software" to change the vote in Ohio — but think how easy it would be. All the nakedly partisan folks who work for Diebold would have had to do is change its software so that one vote for a Republican counts as 1.028, while one vote for any non-Republican counts as .972. If 2,600,840 people voted for Kerry in Ohio, 2,597,540 people voted for Bush, and the remainder for "other," and if the Diebold machines were "rigged" by this 0.028 percentage — voila, it's Kerry 46 percent, Bush 50 percent, and four percent "other."

Suppose you opened a bank account with $1,234, and your bank told you you would be earning interest on it compounded at the generous rate of 2 percent a year. (I can remember the days when a Democrat was president and my bank paid me 8 percent a year or more, but never mind.) That would come to $1,258.68 after the first year. If your bank statement said that your final balance was $1,257.99 (.028 percent less than 2 percent), would you do the math, or would you trust your bank's computers? What about if you had no way of knowing the exact percentage to be paid?

Here are two more facts to consider: In at least two races in 2002 in which Diebold machines were used, Gallup polls conducted three days before the election showed the Republican candidate behind by a margin of two percent or more — and in the actual election, each Diebold candidate won by an on-the-face-of-it plausible percentage. Fact: In one of those elections, the Republican in question had been the president of Diebold a few months before he ran for office in a Diebold election, was predicted to lose, and won. As a famous comedian used to say, what a co-inky-dink.

Anne Applebaum scoffed at those who call for at least a paper trail, calling their fear "irrational." It is not. It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with such immorality as smearing a Vietnam war hero with charges proven to be false, smearing a man who made a great achievement for children with the false charge that he is a pedophile, smearing a woman who obeyed the law with the false charge that by doing so she proved herself a burqa-wearing friend of terrorism. In Florida, it is a party that sees nothing wrong with airing commercials falsely smearing the opponent of Saint Katherine Harris not just in her own Congressional district but throughout the entire state.

It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with relaxing its rules so that if one of its leaders is indicted for several felonies, which is quite likely, he may continue in his position of power and privilege until he enters prison.

It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with treasonably supplying our nation's enemies with the names of dozens of undercover CIA agents.

It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with lobbyist-written laws and with energy policy decided upon by representatives of Big Oil, including Kenneth Lay.

It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with reducing benefits to the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, while putting the U.S. $2.4 trillion dollars in debt with enormous gifts to the wealthy, which are called "tax relief."

It is the fear of a party that sees nothing wrong with sneaking anti-abortion law into a totally irrelevant omnibus spending bill that must be passed.

The language of Congress is Newspeak, and George W. Bush, eldest of five siblings, is truly Big Brother. I must be irrational to be so afraid, mustn't I?

If it is irrational to fear the motives of people who call corruption, libel, slander, coercion, duplicity, and treason "values," then I am irrational — and I pray to God that millions of other Americans are irrational too, or we really will find ourselves living in the United States of Halliburton.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What a wonderful time for democracy we're living in!

First, President Bush announces that by "reaching out" to the almost half of the United States who voted against him, he actually meant only those who already "share our values." These values include duplicity, slander and libel, secretiveness, and the belief that George W. Bush was anointed by God to bring about Armageddon, but never mind.

Next, Mr. Bush purged his cabinet of its one remaining voice of sanity, not to mention the only cabinet-level or higher member of his Administration who has actually served in the armed forces in a time of war. (No, getting drunk in Alabama or Wyoming does not count as serving in Viet Nam.) Poor Colin Powell, alternately dissed and ignored, must be so relieved!

Next, the White House ordered the CIA to be purged of all employees who disagree with Mr. Bush's politics, whether or not they were, like Colin Powell, right all along. We can't have any more intelligent, patriotic people like "Anonymous" revealing that the Emperor's clothes are made of finest Invis-ulonTM — perish forbid!

The marching morons of fundamentalism have their shorts in an uproar because the man who ought to become head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is not slavishly obedient to the Party Line, but instead has shown evidence of the ability to think independently. Perish forbid that a judge be allowed (or, gasp!, even encouraged) to be judicious. If we can't trust our judges to decide their cases on strict adherence to the Party Line, why, the next thing you know they'll be deciding cases based on each case's merits under the law — we can't have that.

And now we hear that Congress is hell-bent (literally) on changing its own rules, so that a man who has been accused of numerous felonies can retain his position of power and privilege right up until the moment he enters prison. "We slapped his wrist! That's punishment enough!" Yes, they slapped Tom DeLay's wrist — for crimes for which they would have crucified him had he not been so loyal to his Emperor and his Party. Blackmail and coercion. Illegal collection and use of corporate donations. Gerrymandering. Instructing the FAA to break the law. Vote trading. Accepting illegal contributions. Bribery and fundraising violations.

Stalin is largely remembered now for ruling through terror ("A Democrat might get the truth out — Orange Alert!!"); for seizing imperial powers for himself and his loyal band of thugs; for getting away with crime after crime (take responsibility for abu Ghraib, anyone? how about the treasonous "outing" of several dozen CIA operatives?); for state control of opinion (most viewers of Fox and other Sinclair-controlled stations still believe in the proven-false direct link between Saddam and 9/11); and for overwhelming commitment to the Party Line, including getting rid of anyone who dares to indulge in "reality-based thinking."

Here's the reality: In a year or two, dissenters like me are going to be compelled to move to and live in "free speech zones," where our reality-based thinking can be safely ignored, while all parties laud their devotion to Big Brother and his far-right partisan ideology, as well as the God he and his Party worship: Mammon. I expect that I will end up in the Georgia United Liberty Appreciation Group, if not the one in Guantanamo Bay.

And here's a question for the Emperor and his attack dogs: Since no member of the Bush League ever utters or writes a falsehood, the stated reason for Mr. Ashcroft's resignation must be true: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." So exactly why do we need a Justice Department at all, much less to install yet another Bush lapdog as its head?

Friday, November 05, 2004

On Nov. 3, George W. Bush promised to "reach out" to the close-to-half of the population who voted against him.

On Nov. 4, he explained that this meant that he would reach out to those who "share our values." In other words, if an opponent comes crawling on hands and knees and promises to convert to Bushism, Dubya will be gracious; otherwise, go Cheney yourself.

Then, with an arrogant sneer that he made no effort to hide, Bush made it clear that with no chance for a third term, he felt no further need to be even slightly conciliatory. His agenda, he promised, includes:

— Dismantling Social Security and looting its coffers, while imposing a gigantic financial burden on future retirees.

— Protecting large corporations from being sued for damaging "the little guy."

— Packing the judiciary with extremist ideologues like himself.

— Alienating what few international friends the United States has left.

— Installing a regressive tax system, with most of the burden on the poor and middle class.

— Making all five enormous tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, while at the same time cutting the staggering deficit Bush created. This can only be done by imposing enormous new taxes on, you guessed it, the poor and middle class.

"Clean air" means polluted air. "Healthy forests" mean stumps and golf courses. "No Child Left Behind" means millions of children left behind. "Tort reform" means screwing the individual while protecting the corporation. "Tax simplification" means a regressive tax system in which the honest wealthy will pay about five percent, and the dishonest wealthy will make even more of a profit than they do today.

Bush, in other words, made it clear that he is Elder Brother and Newspeak is his language. What Bush said on Nov. 4, in plain English, is: "What I am about to do to the nation is inevitable, so relax and enjoy it."

Welcome to the United States of Halliburton — one nation under the fundies' image of God, with liberty and justice for none but the Bush League.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Once upon a time, a wolf raided a village. The wolf stole and ate a baby. The village was devastated by grief.

"I'll get that wolf, dead or alive!" declared George. Everyone in the world was on the side of the village, except for a few wolves from other forests.

But the wolf was born in the same wolf pack as George's best friend, his dog Bandar ibn Sultan (known as "Bandar Bush" in many circles). So the wolf got away. With George's help, 140 of the wolf's relatives and fellow wolf-pack members got away too, on September 13, 2001. "They were innocent," George proclaimed. Maybe they were — who can know now? Is it a coincidence that the money that bailed George out of his first three bankruptcies came via intermediaries from the wolf's brother, Salem bin Laden?

"All in all, 2001 has been a fabulous year for Laura and me," George said that December. Wouldn't it be wonderful if 2001 had been a fabulous year for the rest of the village? Especially the ones who did not get a chance to sit and pretend to listen to My Pet Goat while their world came to an end.

When he was asked about how he let the wolf escape, "I'm not all that concerned," said George. "But I am deeply concerned about Iraq. . . . all people who love freedom should be concerned about Iraq" (March 13, 2002).

"Iraq" was the name of a hive of killer bees. More than a decade earlier, the queen bee had said she wanted to sting George's father, because George's father had stopped her from stinging someone else. George's father had not attacked the killer bees because he knew they would sting and sting, and in the end no one would win the conflict except the bees. George wants everyone in the world to think that he is a manlier man than his father had been.

After the wolf escaped George — because, George said, the wolf's friends and sympathizers could catch the wolf without any help from him — George appeared to forget about the wolf altogether. All he could talk about was the killer bees. "The killer bees are evil, just like the wolves and the jackals and the snakes," George said. "The killer bees are a gathering threat. The queen bee wants to kill us. When we go to 'liberate' the hive, the other bees will be grateful. They'll throw flowers at our feet and give us all their honey in gratitude. The queen bee has been helping the wolves. All killer bees are wolves. I have proof of this, it is an absolute fact that killer bees are actually wolves! Our intelligence is good! We must capture or kill the queen bee, or the village will never be safe."

So George sent the young men (and some women) of the village to attack the killer bees, even though it is a well-proven fact the killer bees had no plan to attack the village, had never threatened to attack the village, and did not even want to attack the village. The killer bees had lots of delicious honey that George wanted to give to his wealthy friends. After he declared "Mission Accomplished," when less than 10 percent of the village's casualties (up to 10/29/04) had been incurred, George's top priority was starting to dole out the honey — especially to his chief henchman's "former" company, Halliburton, and its subsidiaries. (Aren't no-bid contracts wonderful?)

George did eventually manage to capture the queen bee. But other killer bees started to sting and sting and sting. "Freedom is on the march!" George exclaimed. "Things are going well!" George's chief henchman, Dick, still to this day says that everything is going just peachy. More than 1,112 villagers have died, and a minimum of 23,847 innocent civilians have died, there is a growing number of places where no American soldier dares to go, and attacks against the village's soldiers have been increasing each and every month — but "freedom is on the march." (It's just marching away, is the problem.)

Most of the village's military strength is tied up with fighting the killer bees, which sting and sting and cannot be subdued. Some killer bees have declared their allegiance to the wolf. The "evil" land of the jackals, called "Iran," is all in favor of George staying in power (10/20/04). The "evil" land of the snakes, called "North Korea," is all in favor of George staying in power (9/23/04). Only the village's friends, both neighboring villages and villagers who genuinely love freedom, hope that George does not stay in power.

George did not send enough soldiers to attack the killer bees. There were not enough soldiers to guard a munitions dump that contained 386 tons of high explosives used to detonate nuclear weapons. Inadequately guarded, the weapons were stolen by killer bees, jackals, or wolves. George said, "If John had been president, the queen bee would still be queen. She could have given the weapons to our enemies!" But George — there is no "could have." The weapons were given to the village's enemies — by YOU.

If John had been the president AND if the queen bee had been a threat (gathering or otherwise) AND if the queen bee could have given away her weapons without fear of U.N. weapons inspectors AND if the queen bee would have given her weapons away AND if the wolves didn't despise the queen bee as a secularist — the 386 tons of high explosives would still be less dangerous to the village than they are in today's reality.

And George imposed a pay cut on the soldiers who are fighting the killer bees (fall 2003). George has given his wealthy friends five enormous tax cuts, gifts of hundreds of thousands of dollars each — per year. Now, thanks to George, 90 percent of the wealth of the United States is controlled by the top one percent, most of them close friends of George's such as Kenneth Lay.

Tax cuts for the wealthy are much more important than supporting the men (and some women) George sent to die killing bees. What does it matter if our fighters are insufficiently armed, insufficiently armored, fighting a people and a culture whose very language they can't understand? What does it matter if many military families need welfare just to survive? George is planning lots more tax cuts for the wealthy for when he is re-selected. He has already boasted about them, often.

With all his tax cuts for the wealthy and other wild spending, George took the village from a $5 trillion projected surplus to a factual deficit today of $2.86 trillion, with another $3 trillion projected deficit for 2005-08. George does not worry about where the money will come from. George has bankrupted three businesses and one state. George's smartest business decision of all time (aside from the slasher movies he helped make from 1986 to 1993) was giving Sammy Sosa away long before he became lucrative. "My daddy's wealthy friends always come to my rescue when I go bankrupt," George says. "Especially Salem bin Laden. All I have to do is keep Poppy's and my wealthy friends happy. As for the rest of the village — let them eat Tasty-kake."

(Ever wonder what all these gigantic numbers mean? One billion seconds comes to 31.69 years. Five trillion seconds comes to 158,440.44 years — approximately as long as homo sapiens has been sapiens.)

And meanwhile, what about the wolf? George never talks about the wolf any more. But some killer bees now say they follow the wolf. Many jackals, dingoes, and coyotes have begun following the wolf. Virtually all Muslims say that they trust the wolf more than they trust George. (BBC News; Pew Research)

And, thanks solely to George, the wolf pack is ten times the size it used to be. Thanks solely to George, the wolf pack claims the allegiance of wolves in 60 nations. In the last three years, the wolf pack has trained more than 100,000 wolves to fight against George. The wolves would be glad if George stole the leadership of the village a second time — George is their best recruitment officer.

But George said, "I'm not all that concerned." George says, "Freedom is on the march! Stay the course of four more years of more tax-cutting for the wealthy, less health insurance for the poor and middle class, less security in old age, fewer and lousier jobs, more pollution, less accountability for Republican criminals, less freedom for all but the wealthy! Who needs to respect the U.S. Constitution when freedom is on the march?!"

George and Dick are afraid of John, because John earned three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star while George and Dick and most of their friends were hiding from the enemy like cowards. So they spread lies claiming that John did not deserve the honors bestowed on him by a grateful village. They spread lies claiming that draft dodgers like themselves are manlier men than war heroes like John.

"John is the most liberal man in the world!" George shouts. "He's so liberal, he can't make up his mind about anything at all, even being the most liberal man in the Universe! His mind is so open, my brain fell out!

"I, on the other hand, have never made a mistake in my entire life — not even getting rid of the counselors who said, 'You're making a mistake,' like Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, George Tenet, Richard Perle, Gen. Eric Shinseki, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Gen. Jay Garner, and many, many others. Stay the course! Freedom is on the march!"

George claims, over and over, that he has captured or killed 70 percent of the wolf pack (up from two-thirds, another invented number). Since in fact George has captured or killed exactly three out of 22 wolf leaders (13.6 percent), someone should explain to him what mathematics is and how he could benefit from it. (Maybe that's how he bankrupted Arbusto Oil, Spectrum 7, and Harken Energy — poor math skills.)

Now, thanks to George, wolves and jackals and dingoes and coyotes all hate the village and want to do it harm. Only one of the village's firm friends supports George, and that friend has apologized to his own village for having been misled into misleading them. George, who believes that God, rather than Dick's best buddy Antonin, selected him to lead the village, has frequently said that God speaks through George's mouth. Therefore God, not George, misled the village into war. What's to apologize for? Apologies are not manly.

And Dick continues to insist that the killer bees were in cahoots with the wolf all along, even though he was proven wrong many months ago. And George continues to insist that attacking the killer bees, without the help or even the approval of 99 percent of the international community, was the right thing for the village to do after it had been attacked by the wolf.

And the bees are angry, and other bees are coming to join the stingfest. . . . And the wolf pack continues to grow. . . .

And Osama still bin Forgotten. . . .

Monday, October 18, 2004

On August 6, 2001, after 197 less than grueling days on the job (54 vacation days between 1/20 and 8/1!), George W. Bush decided that having yet another vacation was more important than an urgent CIA warning entitled "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S."

On October 18, 2004, Mr. Bush accused Senator John Kerry of having "a September 10" attitude.

To me, a September 10 attitude is better than an August 6 attitude any day of the year.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What on earth has Charles Krauthammer been smoking?

In his most recent column, Krauthammer claims that of course Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda want Sen. Kerry to win, because they are, like so many millions of patriotic Americans, in favor of "Anybody But Bush." The terrorists are afraid of Mr. Bush, Krauthammer suggests, because Mr. Bush is "aggressive, preemptive, and often unilateral." A manly man, a real cowboy, the Gipper Part Deux. (Considering Mr. Bush's legendary verbal skills, let's make that Part D'oh.)

To use a word I shout often at the TV these days: Bushwah!

Because Mr. Bush entered office trying to rationalize an invasion of Iraq, he ignored dozens of warnings that bin Laden was planning to attack inside the United States — several warnings from President Clinton, dozens of warnings from Richard Clarke, many dozens of warnings from the CIA. (Source: the 9/11 Commission report.) Thanks to Mr. Bush's obsession with showing the world that he was a better president than his Poppy, al Qaeda could plan its 9/11 operation and carry it out with only perfunctory opposition from security workers at Dulles Airport. The 9/11 attackers had none of the weapons of mass destruction that Mr. Bush brandished as evidence of Saddam's iniquity; they had box cutters.

In a speech in Cincinnati in 2002 in which he stated flatly that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them against the U.S., both falsehoods, Mr. Bush said, "We will plan carefully. We will proceed cautiously. We will not make war inevitable. We will go with our allies." When he spoke these words, he had already asked Gen. Tommy Franks to begin preparing to go to war in Iraq, more than a year before he asked Congress for the power as a last resort. Once Congress voted him that power, Mr. Bush immediately used it as a carte blanche. There is no evidence that either Mr. Bush or his cabal of neocons envisioned any reaction to their invasion but grateful hosannas, the tossing of flowers, and unlimited access to Iraq's oil fields.

Colin Powell apologized to the member nations of the United Nations for misleading them when he told them what Mr. Bush ordered him to tell them. Tony Blair apologized to Great Britain for unwittingly misleading them by relying on "facts" provided by George W. Bush. When specifically asked on Oct. 8, however, Mr. Bush could thing of no mistakes he had made, except for "a few appointments" — like whistleblower Paul O'Neill, whistleblower Richard Clarke, or whistleblower Gen. John Shalikashvili, no doubt. All of whom tried in vain to warn Mr. Bush that his plans were at best misguided.

Of course Osama bin Laden wants George W. Bush to continue in office! Consider the following facts:

* At the beginning of 2001, the Bush Administration gave $43-million to the Taliban to thank them for ending the opium trade. Today Afghanistan supplies 75 percent of the world's opium — five percent more than it did in 2001. Today the Taliban is enjoying a resurgence of power and popularity, thanks to Mr. Bush's preoccupation with Iraq. Score one for Osama, since before Mr. Bush began his vanity war, only the Taliban would harbor him.

* Swift and decisive action would have resulted in Osama dead and al Qaeda no longer a threat by the end of September 2001. After that famous seven minutes of Mr. Bush staring blankly into space (the lastest claim is that he was attempting to "look presidential"), we all know that swift and decisive action comes from this Administration only when its extremist ideological agenda is on the line. Score another one for Osama.

* Al Qaeda has gone from a little-known organization with approximately 3,000 followers in 2001 to an internationally respected political movement with followers in 60 nations. Approximately 100,000 fighters have been trained by al Qaeda worldwide, which now has at least 18,000 warriors in its own army. All thanks to George W. Bush and his vanity war in Iraq. Score another one for Osama.

* In the days immediately following 9/11, most of the world was on America's side — including Muslim nations that believe that social and cultural progress did not end in the seventh century. Today much of the world may like Americans as individuals, but most of the world is angry with the arrogance, the peremptoriness, and the unilateralism of the Bush Administration — in short, its incompetence. Score another one for Osama.

* In 2000, Osama bin Laden was little respected by the Muslim world. Today hundreds of millions of people admire Osama bin Laden and detest George W. Bush. Score a really big one for Osama.

Mr. Bush accuses Sen. Kerry of being a "tax-and-spend liberal." To me, that's far, far better than being a "spend and borrow and spend even more conservative." Mr. Bush has spent close to $10-trillion dollars in the last four years. Approximately 20 percent of this amount can be attributed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Mr. Bush appears to believe that only our military and their families should have to contribute to the war effort, and certainly not anyone who is wealthy. Much or most of the remainder of Mr. Bush's profligacy can be attributed to giveaways to the top five percent wealthiest individuals and corporations in the United States. Mr. Bush justified his first tax cut by pointing to the surplus that a responsible prior administration had handed him. All subsequent tax cuts have been justified with the claim that they will lower his deficits and create jobs. Our grandchildren will live lives of squalor and desperation, but what cares Mr. Bush, if only he can stay in office? Let them eat Tastykake.

Sen. Everett Dirksen once said, "A billion here, a billion there, soon you're talking serious money." Let me clarify Mr. Bush's $10-trillion for you: If a dollar were a second, a billion dollars would amount to almost 32 years. The $10-trillion dollars that Mr. Bush has spent virtually single-handedly, never once vetoing any bill (even the egregious ones), comes to 316,881 years.

Which may be how long it will take to pay down Mr. Bush's deficits and repay the national debt.

Unable to find oil in Texas, Mr. Bush bankrupted Arbusto Oil. Next Mr. Bush bankrupted Spectrum 7, and, through insider trading (according to U.S. News and World Report), made a tidy profit out of Harken Energy just before it too went bankrupt. Next he came close to bankrupting Texas, enacting tax cuts for the wealthy and earning an F on taxes from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Now he has come close to bankrupting the United States of Halliburton, sorry, America. Score another one for Osama.

Osama bin Laden represents millions of Muslims who have legitimate grievances against the U.S. They believe that our unthinking and unilateral support for Israel, the 14 permanent bases we are building in Iraq, our support for the corrupt Saudi Arabian ruling family, and our repeated attempts to gain control of Iraq's oil are evidence that George W. Bush has declared war on Islam. Mr. Bush can only repeat the party line, that "they hate our freedom." Doubtless that's the freedom to lawfully assemble, to engage in free speech outside of special "free speech zone" holding pens, to have both a lawyer and speedy justice, or to read a library book without arousing the interest of John Ashcroft. Right, Mr. Bush?

Score: Osama bin Laden 7, United States of America -7. Why on earth would Osama not want George W. Bush to remain in power?

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