Sunday, January 30, 2005

that is the way it is because it is that way

a little bit of democracy is better than none at all
any vote at all is a vote for us
that is the way it is because it is that way

we will determine the winner by dividing
the number of votes by the number of voters
that is the way it is because it is that way

if the result is greater than zero we win
a larger result gives us a stronger mandate
that is the way it is because it is that way

a little bit of democracy is better than none at all
any vote at all is a vote for us
that is the way it is because it is that way

we'll report the numbers and they'll be whatever we like
we're doing the counting after all
and that is the way it is because it is that way

we're winning we're winning we're winning again
and as long we run the elections we will never lose
that is the way it is because it is that way
that is the way it is because it is that way
that is the way it is because it is that way

Joanna Walton wrote this song:

I May Not Have Enough Of Me But I've Had Enough Of You

That is the way it is because it is that way
It is that way in that it is the way it is
In the way that it is that way that is the way it is
In the way that that is the way that is the way it is that is it is the way
Or that it is that way is the way it is
The way it is that is the way it is
In that it is the way it is is because it is that way
Or that it is the way that it is is the way that it is that way
That is the way that it is the way that it is is the way that it is that way

I may not have enough of me but I've had enough of you

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I've been quiet here lately, but it's a good quiet. I've been guest-blogging for Brad Friedman while he's away from his chair at the BradBlog. I invite you to stop by and check out what's been happening there, if you haven't done so already.

You could also can link directly to my recent BradBlog posts this way:

A Republican Congressman from Texas asks
What If (It Was All A Big Mistake)?

Activist Entertainment gets International Headlines
"Sundance festival screens Enron film"

Another example of cheap corruption in the media
Third Columnist Caught With Hand In Bush's Till

Commentary on a beautiful essay which explains why we have to get this war stopped:
Because There Is No Cause

More affadavits concerning strange happenings in Ohio
RECOUNT WITNESSES: Stickers Placed on OH Recount Ballots!

Tortured POWs Win Judgement Against Iraq; Justice Department Seeks To Overturn It!
Supporting Our Troops

According to John Kaminski, these are
The Best Writers On The Internet

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Supporting Our Troops: Tortured POWs Win Judgement Against Iraq; Justice Department Seeks To Overturn It!

If you needed any further proof that the American government doesn't give a damn about its soldiers, here's a story to make you cry … again! It looks like our Justice Department has fallen so deeply in love with torture, that in their view, it's not only OK for our guys to torture their guys, but it's also OK for their guys to torture our guys!

I quote the following passages from an article written by John Norton Moore, published by Slate, and headlined: Abuse of Trust: The POW scandal you haven't yet heard about.

Moore writes:
This nation has a special responsibility to prevent the torture of Americans held as prisoners of war. Our POWs have been brutally tortured at command direction in war after war, including the Korean, Vietnam, and most recently, the Gulf War; and it's clear that we need to do whatever we can to break this pattern. Yet when 17 of our tortured Gulf War POWs and 37 of their family members said "enough" and joined together to bring a historic civil action to hold their Iraqi torturers liable, they were shocked -- having won their case in federal court -- to find the Department of Justice seeking to erase their judgment and "absolve" their torturers.
Moore details the horrific treatment suffered by Americans who were held prisoner in Iraq during George Herbert Walker Bush's 'excellent Iraqi adventure', and describes their efforts to hold the Iraqi government accountable. These efforts culminated in a lawsuit against the Iraqi government, which the POWs won. But then something very strange happened…
Historically the United States has been a world leader in seeking to prevent torture. Today, along with most nations, it is bound by the Third Geneva Convention for the Protection of POWs. That convention bans all torture and inhumane treatment of POWs and, as a core enforcement mechanism, provides in Article 131 that no state may "absolve" a torturing state of "any liability" for their torture. This provision is particularly aimed at holding the state itself liable and banning any removal of that liability at the conclusion of a war.

Sadly, along came the Abu Ghraib scandal, setting aside this historic tradition and the professional judgment of our military JAG officers and State Department experts. As is now well known, one effect of the abuse scandal was to undermine deterrence against the torture of American POWs in future wars (this, along with its catastrophic political cost to the Iraq war effort and, more broadly, to our nation's reputation). But, in a perfect storm of bad news for future American POWs, while the now infamous abuse decisions were still policy, the Justice Department went into court to erase the POWs' judgment and its message of liability for torture.
This incredible situation may be reversed on appeal, if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, and if it rules in favor of the POWs. But what is the likelihood of the Supreme Court ruling against the Justice Department? And…
If the […] decision stands […], the consequences will be catastrophic. Future tyrants will hear the message, like a fire bell in the night, that the United States has little concern for its own POWs. Morale will decline in our armed forces as the reality sinks in that our government has sided with their torturers over them. A core enforcement mechanism of the POW convention, as well as our reliability as a treaty partner, will be undermined by our remarkable decision to "absolve" a torturing state in violation of the convention.
So there you have it. Our Justice Department won't even let the Geneva Convention protect our own troops! But at least they can't be accused of using double-standards! They don't want the Geneva Convention to protect anybody!!

Oh yeah! Freedom and Liberty are definitely On The March … in the Land of the Formerly Free, and the Home of the Utterly Depraved!

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Point Of No Return

All Passengers!
Please wake up immediately!
We are now approaching The Point of No Return.

There's an interesting article in Sunday's edition of the U.K.'s The Independent
Global warming has already hit the danger point that international attempts to curb it are designed to avoid, according to the world's top climate watchdog.
So what? Who is this "top climate watchdog"? And what the heck does he know?
Dr Rajendra Pachauri [photo], the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".
OK, what's the story? Is this guy a wild-eyed radical or what?
His comments rocked the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon, the major oil company most opposed to international action on global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" on the issue.
Say what? This is one of the "less aggressive" opinions?
A memorandum from Exxon to the White House in early 2001 specifically asked it to get the previous chairman, Dr Robert Watson, the chief scientist of the World Bank, "replaced at the request of the US". The Bush administration then lobbied other countries in favour of Dr Pachauri - whom the former vice-president Al Gore called the "let's drag our feet" candidate, and got him elected to replace Dr Watson, a British-born naturalised American, who had repeatedly called for urgent action.
Well, then. What do you know?
He told delegates: "Climate change is for real. We have just a small window of opportunity and it is closing rather rapidly. There is not a moment to lose."
So ... on Sunday there was not a moment to lose, and now ... it's Monday already. Apparently I got my lead paragraph wrong. I'll rephrase it:

All Passengers!
You may safely go back to sleep.
We have now passed The Point of No Return.

I don't have a song for you this time. Instead, I present my favorite bit of dialog from the TV series "Rosanne":

Dan: "Aw, Rosie, we're screwed!"

Roseanne: "Oh no, Dan, we're not screwed. We're so far beyond screwed that the light from screwed won't reach us for another ten thousand years."
Cheers, Rosie!

Friday, January 21, 2005


It was billed as a giant party. It was presented as a celebration. But in reality it was an act of war. And its centerpiece was a cold-blooded declaration.

George Bush's declaration of war wasn't phrased in conventional terms. But nobody in his administration has ever done anything in conventional terms. They have never said what they meant. We have always been required to read between the lines.

But the meaning of Bush's second inaugural address was crystal-clear, for those who can interpret the code-words. This speech featured two code-words in particular: Freedom and Democracy.

As schoolchildren we learned to revere the word Freedom. We were taught that the Pilgrims came to North America in search of Freedom, especially Freedom of Religion. We were taught that people who lived in a Free country could live their lives the way they wanted to; that they could say and write whatever they thought; that they could gather together peacefully, wherever and whenever they wished; that they could believe whatever they found most credible; that they could worship whenever, wherever and however they pleased, if they pleased. If we were lucky, we were also taught that along with Freedom came Responsibility, and that our Freedoms did not permit us to do things that were harmful to others. It all sounded so good that we found it very easy to believe the stories of those heroes who had fought and died to protect our Freedom, in one war after another after another, all of which we won, of course, because there is no force in the world that can conquer Man's innate desire for Freedom.

But they didn't bother to tell us that Freedom really has two very different definitions. There's the definition they teach children in school, and then there's the other one, the one that really matters in the world. Freedom really means this: If you have enough money you can buy anything you want, and do anything you like with it, with no concern for the effects of your actions. You can stay out of jail forever, no matter what crimes you have committed. You can avoid paying any taxes, or doing anything at all for your community or the society around you. Your industrial assets can produce no end of pollution, your products can cause any kind of harm, and in no way will you be held accountable. If you can afford enough lawyers, you can even enjoy a version of Freedom that is entirely devoid of Responsibility. You can do whatever you like, no matter what. Nobody and nothing can stop you. Now that's a whole different kind of Freedom! That's a kind of Freedom they never did teach us in school.

But just exactly what kind of Freedom is this? It's the Freedom of big dogs to eat little dogs. It's the Freedom of sharks. It is the kind of Freedom the USA is trying to bring to Iraq. I urge you to read all about it in Naomi Klein's brilliant essay, Baghdad Year Zero.

Beware the hidden meaning of Freedom, my friends. Read everything very carefully. Take nothing at face value. Always remember that the Freedom we are bringing to the rest of the world is the Freedom of the many to be eaten by the few.

This is not the same Freedom that our fallen heroes fought and died for. This is not the Freedom the Pilgrims risked their lives to obtain. Neither is it the Freedom that lies at the heart of a Democracy.

What does Bush mean when he says "Democracy"? What do we think when we hear it? Again, the answers to these two questions are very different.

As children, we were taught that Democracy was the greatest system of government ever devised, one in which all citizens were valued equally and in which everyone had the right to vote. These votes, we were taught, were the ultimate symbol of our power, and every elected official would be forced do what was right for the people he represented, because if he failed to do so, the people would use their awesome power and vote him out of office. It made us feel so good to know that we lived in a Democracy! We were comforted by the knowledge that our views counted for something, that we, the people, had the power to elect those responsible for making the laws of the land, and that once those laws were made, all people were obliged to abide by them. It made us so proud to know that we lived in a Democracy, and we innately understood that it was fitting and proper for all the fallen heroes of bygone years to have sacrificed their lives in the valiant effort to protect and preserve our Democracy, our nearly-perfect system of government. Nothing bad could ever happen in a Democracy, because as soon as politicians showed themselves to be capable of working against the best interests of the people, we would simply wait until the next election and vote them out. We were taught that no Democracy would ever wage an unjust war, for example, because the people would not support it. And by and large, in schoolrooms all over the country, we believed this and felt safe and secure because of it.

Unfortunately, it isn't true. Or maybe it is true but it just doesn't apply to us. This is becoming clearer and clearer with every passing day. The USA was not a Democracy at its beginning, because many wealthy people held slaves, who were not allowed any freedoms, much less the right to vote. And even after the slaves were freed, the USA still wasn't true a Democracy, because women were not allowed to vote. Even when women gained the right to vote, it still wasn't a true Democracy, because of all the various laws and rules and regulations and practices that effectively eliminated the voting rights of many people, most of whom just happened to be poor and black and inclined to vote against the status quo.

Forty years ago, after a long and bitter struggle, these problems were supposedly solved. But in reality they are still with us. But they are no longer alone, for we also have a whole new set of problems. For starters, we have voting machines which leave no paper trail, and which therefore have no reliability. They were manufactured by corporations whose owners have publicly stated their commitment to Bush's re-election. The software that runs these machines is declared to be "a trade secret" and therefore is immune to inspection. So in fact we have no idea whether the votes are being counted the same way as they are being cast. With a problem like this, we don't even need any others!

But, alas, there are many others. Hundreds of thousands of problems, all pointing in the same direction. All kinds of problems, glitches, irregularities, and even clearly intentional and criminal misconduct, all tending to favor the re-election of the president.

Is this a coincidence? Or was the election rigged?

Is this a question? No it is not!

I could see the phony result of this election coming, from a long way away. Anyone who was paying attention knew that it was going to be stolen, even before it happened. And anyone who was paying attention on election night knew that it was being stolen, even as it was happening. Apparently the Democratic leadership wasn't paying attention. Or else they didn't care. Or else they were complicit in the crime. Who knows? What difference does it even make? At this point all that matters is this: It is now painfully obvious that the USA is not a Democracy, and in fact it no longer even resembles one.

And instead of trying to fix the problems we have at home, we are now spending our treasure and the blood of our people, supposedly bringing Democracy to Iraq. We are supposed to be preparing Iraq for an election. And it is only fair to ask: How is everything going? Here's a partial answer, from the excellent Iraqi blog Baghdad Burning.
There are several problems. The first is the fact that, technically, we don't know the candidates. We know the principal heads of the lists but we don't know who exactly will be running. It really is confusing. They aren't making the lists public because they are afraid the candidates will be assassinated.

Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates. Sunnis are receiving their ballots although they don't intend to vote, just so that they won't be sold.

Yet another issue is the fact that on all the voting cards, the gender of the voter, regardless of sex, is labeled "male". Now, call me insane, but I found this slightly disturbing. Why was that done? Was it some sort of a mistake? Why is the sex on the card anyway? What difference does it make? There are some theories about this. Some are saying that many of the more religiously inclined families won't want their womenfolk voting so it might be permissible for the head of the family to take the women's ID and her ballot and do the voting for her. Another theory is that this 'mistake' will make things easier for people making fake IDs to vote in place of females.

All of this has given the coming elections a sort of sinister cloak. There is too much mystery involved and too little transparency. It is more than a little bit worrisome.
Our own election wore a sinister cloak too, with all kinds of mystery and no transparency at all. The process, and the result, were both more than a little bit worrisome. Because most of us knew that our so-called president, who had stolen his office four years earlier in another very worrisome election, was an imbecile who was up to no good. So we banded together and rose up as good citizens do, and we voted him out of office. Or at least we tried. We voted and voted and voted against him, and the exit polls showed us clearly that he had lost. But guess what? He's still here. He's the bad dream that would not go away. And now he has clearly announced his intentions. He is embarking on an evil crusade, a war against the rest of the world, and he has couched it in terms that no foreigner could possibly misunderstand. But Americans can, and do, misunderstand. It happens quite easily. Because we hear the magic words, Freedom and Democracy, and we turn into innocent little school-children again.

So if we are not paying close attention, if we are not deliberately trying to read between the lines, we can easily slip into the comfortable habit of believing what our president tells us. His office is so powerful, the occasion of an inauguration carries so many proud memories for each of us, that we can easily make the mistake of believing him when he says he is determined to spread Freedom and Democracy all over the world.

In reality he wants nothing of the kind. He wants Freedom, all right. But he wants it for himself. What he clearly wants is the Freedom to attack anyone, anywhere and at any time. But he knows we will not support that. So he wants us to think he has good deeds in mind. That's why he said things like:
There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
Note the choice of words: he says "human freedom" but he doesn't really mean it. He means "corporate freedom". He has never shown any interest in freedom for all humanity. He leads the least "decent and tolerant" government that has ever ruled the USA, and has fostered more "hatred and resentment" than any president we have ever had. If you know something of his history, and if you read his whole speech carefully, and if you take his words literally, you might almost start to suspect that he was planning to use force to overthrow his own government. But of course that is not what he meant at all. The irony in his speech was clearly unintentional.

And that includes this:
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
As if the United States has any interest in promoting democratic movements and institutions. The United States has a long history of intervening in democratic countries anywhere in the world, whenever they manage to elect a leader who values his own people more highly than the "rights" of the multinational corporations who control the natural and other resources his country, and of many others. From all indications, the United States is now embarked on a course of action that will do nothing to end tyranny in our world. On the contrary. If he gets his wish, George Bush will spread tyranny and chaos, will foster terrorism and oppression, everywhere in our world.

And then there's this:
America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
As if Bush placed any value on human dignity. As if free dissent were welcome in the USA. As if the governed had any chance to participate. If any of that were true, George Bush would be out pounding the corporate paving stones, looking for another job. He would not be standing there smirking at all of us while declaring total and eternal war on the rest of the world.

Then there's this:
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
As if the current "leadership" of America trusts us. As if they wish to serve us. As if the current American "leadership" is interested in justice. Ha! If there were any justice in the world, the entire "leadership" of the USA would be in prison.

But there isn't. And they aren't. And so... it's four more years. Four more evil bloody years. And George W. Bush, the twice-unelected so-called president of the United States, has clearly voiced his evil intentions. He is determined to spread Freedom and Democracy all over the world, regardless of what it might cost.

Here we go again, but this time it's "writ large".

First it was Afghanistan, and the pretext was that the Taliban had something to do with September 11th. It was a war on "terrorists and those who harbor terrorists". It was a "hunt for Osama bin Laden". We were going to "smoke him out of his cave". We were going to do the right thing for a change. Yeah, right!

Then it was Iraq, and the pretext was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Or maybe he had something to do with September 11th. Or maybe he was planning to get weapons of mass destruction. Or maybe he was planning to have something to do with September 11th. Or whatever. Whatever the American people might be willing to swallow. Yeah, right!

Now it's the rest of the world. And the pretext is going to be whatever George Bush decides it's going to be. Some "poor" country that doesn't have enough Freedom and therefore needs to be attacked. Or some "backwards" nation that doesn't have enough Democracy and therefore needs to be demolished. Just whatever. Whatever he feels like doing.

But there's a problem. The Kool-Aid-soaked American people are finally starting to wake up. They are not going to swallow this. Or at least they are not going to swallow it willingly. But then again, do they really have any choice? We shall see.

Four more years. Freedom and Democracy. Anywhere in the world. Whatever the cost. The American people still have no idea of the cost. Well ... here is a primer. Here is one slight and fleeting glimpse of the cost. This is what Freedom looks like in Fallujah. Study it closely, if you can stand it. This is what Democracy is going to look like in Iraq.

This is what Freedom and Democracy are going to look like, wherever George Bush decides to spread them, in Iran, in Syria, in North Korea, or anywhere else in the world. Wherever. Whatever. Just because. And whatever the cost.

If you think you can handle it, you can read the full text of Bush's second inaugural address here. But please be very careful. It's loaded with code words. Do not take any of them at face value.


We need another song. We really need another song tonight, don't we? Here's an old one, written thirty years ago, but it could have been written yesterday. It's by Bruce Cockburn.


look away across the bay
yankee gunboat come this way
Uncle Sam gonna save the day
come tomorrow we're all gonna pay
and it's burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?
burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?

something dead under the bed
local diplomats hang their heads
never mind what the government said
they're either lying or they've been misled
and it's burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?
burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?

Phillipines was yesterday
Santiago and Greece today
how would they ever make the late news pay
if they didn't have the CIA?
and it's burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?
burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?

here it comes, the loaded gun
"must keep the commies on the run"
you'd buy or bury everyone
for liberty and life and just plain fun
and it's burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?
burn baby burn
when am I going to get my turn?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Deep Sonar

In a recent post, I promised to update this blog with additional information if I learned more about high-powered sonar and its effects, especially the possibility that such effects could have triggered the Dec 26 tsunami.

The article which I quoted to in my earlier piece has since been republished in a couple of places, including Serendipity, which has a fine collection of links, including this article, published in 2003 by the BBC.

The page I mentioned on Serendipity also includes a very interesting passage which I will quote here:

'Why did the US State Department remain mum on the existence of an impending catastrophe?,' author Michel Chossudovsky pondered.

'Probably because fishermen in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand don't have multimillion dollar communications equipment handy,' one respondent said as readers posted angry replies."

Ah, but of course they do. Fishermen have cell phones, which gives them access to multimillion dollar communications networks. The cellphone penetration throughout the whole area of the disaster was such that if SMS messaging had been used to give a warning, tens of thousands of lives might have been spared. The U. S. had enough time to notify its naval base on Diego Garcia. Why did it not make even the slightest attempt to notify anyone else? Even a partly successful attempt would have saved many lives, particularly in coastal cities and resorts. The advantages of the tsunami to the United States:

1. it further weakens the 'Asian tigers', countries whose success was an embarrassment to the American rapacious model of world development;

2. it provides lots of opportunities for friends of the Bush Administration to enrich themselves in lucrative 'emergency' supply contracts for the rescue mission;

3. it gives American ships an excuse to be in places they would not otherwise have an excuse to be, and plenty of opportunity to unload whatever cargo they might later find useful around the Indian Ocean; and

4. it provides the chance for an ostentatious show of American goodwill which can be used in the propaganda campaign to restore the image of the United States in the world.

I still don't think the whole story has come out, but I still have my ear to the sea, so to speak. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Government We Deserve

Sometimes, when I am feeling especially optimistic, I hope that someday in the distant future we will get the government we deserve. Other times, when I am feeling a bit more realistic, I fear that we already have it. Or at least some of us do.

When the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was just beginning to break, I read that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was very upset, not because of was happening at Abu Ghraib, but because of the way in which the story had become public. I never found out whether he was ticked at the reporters who had the gall to start talking about it, or at the fact that the soldiers running the torture center in Abu Ghraib were stupid enough to take pictures of what they were doing.

More than once I found myself thinking "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Depraved". And the more I thought about the culture of violence in which we try to raise our kids these days, the more I wondered whether the people taking pictures and making videos in Abu Ghraib were simply having fun and collecting souvenirs. Whether those photos I found so revolting were, to them, just something to remember the war by.

According to this report from the BBC, I may have been right. The BBC reports that attorney Guy Womack, representing Specialist Charles Graner, told a military court:
[T]he soldiers took pictures of each other "because no one did anything they thought was wrong".
All in a day's fun, right? Just another day at the office?

Well, no. Not exactly. More like just another Saturday at the football game.
Womack [...] denied that the photos depicted real abuse.

He compared pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid to cheerleaders at US sports events, who form pyramids "all over America".

"Is that torture?" he asked [...]
What? Did I hear that right? What the heck is he expecting the jury to think?

No, Guy. It's not! It's just another fun pastime. It's exactly like what the cheerleaders do at college football games every weekend in the fall, isn't it? Well, let's not count the fact that the pom-poms and the colorful uniforms are missing, and let's forget that the guys in the pyramids are all naked except for the hoods over their heads. That's no big deal, is it? It doesn't really change anything, does it? And anyway, who cares if cheerleaders build pyramids for fun and the guys in these pictures were doing it because they were forced to? That doesn't make any difference, does it? And it doesn't matter that the post-game party isn't going to be in a bar or a frat-house, but in a cage! That doesn't matter either, right? Hell, no. It's no different! No big deal! And that game wasn't even on TV, was it? Well, no! But at least we have some pictures. So that's about the same, right?

Yeah, Guy. It's almost exactly the same! Really.

What worries me most is that
"no one did anything they thought was wrong".
In fact, according to the BBC,
The soldier's defence says the abuse was sanctioned by his superiors.

"He was doing his job. Following orders and being praised for it," Mr Womack told the court.
So ... they didn't think there was anything wrong with it at all. Just doing their job and being praised for it. How lovely.

What about the people who voted for four more years of this? They didn't think they were doing anything wrong either, did they? Just doing their civic duty and being praised for it? Well I hate to say it, but maybe they got exactly what they deserved.

I didn't get what I deserve, and neither did my friends. But then again, we never do. But that doesn't matter either, because I'm not the people, am I? I'm just one guy, one left-wing nut-case bleeding-heart liberal wacko, far out of the political mainstream, over in the back corner somewhere. Who cares what I deserve anyway?
Rah Rah. Sis Boom Bah. Four More Years. Four More Years!
Well I'm sorry I have to say this but I do: While others are waving their pom-poms and celebrating the fact that they now have the government they deserve, I am sitting here wondering: How much more of this can I stand? How much more of this can the country stand?

How do you answer a question like that? Maybe there's a hint in the same article:
In his opening statements, prosecutor Major Michael Holley graphically described some of the acts allegedly carried out by Spc Graner.

He claimed the military policeman beat an Iraqi prisoner with a baton until he begged to be killed [...]
So... How long will it be until we beg to be killed?

Don't answer that. I really don't want to know. And anyway, I have a feeling we will find out soon enough.

May I please go back to my cage now?

Mammals Ate Dinosaurs

I never thought I would see a headline like this. I always had the impression that the last dinosaurs were dead before the first mammals arrived. But apparently I was wrong again, according to this article. I'll quote just a bit of it here.
Scientists have discovered a 130-million-year-old fossil that indicates early mammals fed on young dinosaurs.

Found in Northeast China, the fossil of a mammal with a baby dinosaur in its stomach dramatically alters the accepted view of [the] relationship between dinosaurs and early mammals.

So there you have it. Apparently I was wrong twice; not only did mammals and dinosaurs exist simultaneously, but Mammals Ate Dinosaurs! That's pretty cool.

Of course, the idea that this is cool is a very liberal secular humanist idea. The idea that anything ate anything 130 million years ago is quite incompatible with the conservative fundamentalist Christian idea that the universe is only about six thousand years old. So I expect that I will soon be reading articles about conservative students refusing to listen to liberal professors who insist that Mammals Ate Dinosaurs.

So there we have it. The news of the day includes politically charged fossils! Who'd a thunk it?

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Perfect Double-Cross

During the Vietnam War
when I was younger and much better looking
I often heard people say
and sometimes I read in the papers
that the protesters who opposed the war
were actually communist agents
and that they were protesting
not because they had anything against the war
but because they were paid to do so
by our mortal enemies the Russians
who were making every possible effort
to destabilize our society

This never made any sense to me

I always thought
that if the Russians really wanted
to destabilize our society
they could surely find better ways to do it

I also thought
that there must be a lot of other people like me
who could see that the war was
not only stupid and dangerous
but also very wrong

and it seemed to me that I saw these people on TV
every once in a while
singing songs and carrying signs
and chanting slogans such as
"Hell No, We Won't Go"
or another one that started
"One Two Three Four..."

It always seemed to me
that these protesters
whom I saw on TV now and then
were seriously opposed to the war
and that they were doing whatever they could
to try to get it stopped

In fact they were the only people
appearing on TV news at the time
who didn't appear to be lying

But my father and his friends
all of whom seemed very intelligent
insisted that I was wrong about this
and that the people protesting against the war
did so only because they were paid to do so

And whenever they told me things like this
they seemed so sure of themselves
that eventually I stopped arguing with them
because I could see that it wasn't doing any good
but this did not mean
that I believed what they were saying

I wondered what the truth was
and whether I would ever find out
and why my dad and his friends
who seemed so intelligent in every other way
kept saying what they said
even though it didn't seem to make any sense

I also wondered whether they were lying to me
but I doubted that this could be the case
mostly because
my father loved me very much
and although he teased me just for fun
and made jokes all the time
I knew that he would never lie to me
about something so important

And therefore I came to accept the notion
that they really believed what they were saying

But I still didn't understand
how or why they had come to believe it
and I continued to wonder
whether it was actually true

And all these questions
which tumbled around in my mind
for many years
decades in fact
were probably the source of my life-long habit
if you can call it that
others would call it an obsession
of reading everything I could get my hands on
pertaining to Vietnam and the war
and our role in it

Eventually there came a time
when it was considered acceptable
to make documentaries about the war
and to show them on television
and so of course
I watched every documentary I could find

I did all this for my own edification
and I never made any notes
so today I don't remember where I read certain things
or which documentaries contained which interviews
or exactly who said what
which is a shame really
because I cannot point you to my sources
and therefore I am left in the unenviable position
of asking you to take my story at face value

Still I assure you
that the story I am telling you now
is the result of a lifetime of informal research
during which I have learned many very troubling things

For instance
at some point
it became clear to me
that the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963
was by no means the senseless act of a deranged man
as it was portrayed at the time
but was in fact a military coup d'etat
which eliminated the only obstacle
standing between those who wanted to wage war in Vietnam
and the realization of their ambitions

My father
and his very intelligent friends
never knew this
and to this day
many of them still do not believe it
despite all the evidence I can give them
that the official story of the assassination
could not possibly be true

Such is the power of human self-certainty

Fortunately for me
my mind was full of questions
not answers
and I kept searching for a reasonable explanation
for what had happened during those turbulent years

To me it was a giant puzzle
and I kept reading everything I could find
about the assassination of President Kennedy
and the war
and the protests
and the other political assassinations
especially that of Senator Kennedy

This puzzle was so big and so complicated
that it was very difficult to see the edges
not to mention the corners

There were also a lot of pieces missing
and some pieces that didn't seem to fit anywhere
but by the time I realized this
I had already collected so many pieces
that I could see no reasonable course
other than to continue collecting them

Thus the habit became an obsession
if that is what you want to call it

But eventually I discovered
that I had collected enough pieces
to start putting the puzzle together

and then I began to understand
that my father and his friends
and many other very intelligent people
who supported the war at the time
and who said things about it that made no sense
had been brainwashed by the new government
which had taken over in 1963
and which ever since had been spreading
all kinds of vicious propaganda
such as the stories about the demonstrators
who were supposedly Russian agents

when in fact
what had really happened
was that
most of the demonstrators
were very decent loyal Americans
who could not allow themselves
to sit back and relax
and allow what was happening to their country
and to Vietnam
to continue
without trying to stop it
although the great majority of these people
had no idea how to stop it
and many may have secretly wondered
whether it could be stopped at all

And the other demonstrators
were not actually communists
but were in fact hired to be there
by the FBI and the CIA and others

Some of these agents were instructed
to infiltrate the groups of demonstrators
so that the government would know
when and where future demonstrations
were about to be held
and the others were instructed
to impersonate communist agents
on whom the entire mess could be blamed

The impersonators were told
it would be quite all right
if every now and then
a demonstration got out of hand
provided that the infiltrators had done their job
because in that case the police would be there
and if things got ugly
the police could use force
and it would also be quite all right
if some of the demonstrators got hurt
because not only would it deter them
but it might also discourage
others from joining them
And the infiltrators were told
If you see someone
who appears to be a communist agent
inciting people to violence
pick up any weapons you can find
and lead the charge
provided you can see the police
but not otherwise
And the police were told:
If you ever see a demonstrator
who appears to be a communist agent
inciting people to violence
make sure that that he
and his immediate followers
escape unharmed
because they are on the payroll
but show no mercy
to the other demonstrators
because they are the enemy
It was a perfect double-cross

The object was to discredit the protesters
while providing a pretext for shooting at them
and for the most part
it seems to have succeeded
at least in the sense
that there are still many people
who saw the anti-war movement from the outside
and who continue to believe
that it was inspired and funded by communists

It may seem too horrible to believe
or it may smack of conspiracy theory
and yet I assure you
that I have put this puzzle together
using only those pieces
which appear to be extremely credible

For instance
I know what the police were told
because I saw an interview
with a former Chicago policeman
who explained the whole thing
from the police point of view

I have also read several interviews
with people who traveled around the country
recruiting infiltrators
and who said that most of the infiltrators
came from college campuses
especially the 'Young Republicans' clubs

It may seem strange to you
that former recruiters would speak so openly
but in their minds
they have nothing to be ashamed of
and in fact they are proud of what they did

They were supporters of Richard Nixon
and Henry Kissinger
and they truly believed what they were told
namely that the enemy
was not only in Vietnam
but also in Russia and China
and especially here at home

They considered the entire sequence of events
to be nothing more than a series of 'dirty tricks'
and in their minds
their enemies
however you define that term
were using dirty tricks against them
or if not then they could have been
and should have been
and would have been
if they were smart enough

in addition to the infiltration and impersonation
the dirty tricksters used quite a bit of disinformation
in their efforts to discredit the anti-war movement

For instance
they planted stories in the papers
saying that the protesters were responsible
for the deaths of our soldiers overseas

This was particularly galling to the protesters
whose actions of course were motivated
by the hope of getting the war stopped
and bringing our soldiers back home
where they would be safe

It was obviously untrue as well
since our fallen soldiers had all died
from wounds they had suffered
in the jungles of Vietnam
and not on the streets of America

And yet this obviously false story
is still widely believed
even though it clearly makes no sense
and even though it is contradicted by the evidence

Such is the power of propaganda

Worse still
even when they did get home
our soldiers were still not safe
because other 'Young Republicans'
had been hired to dress like hippies
to hang out in airports and bus terminals
to wait for the soldiers
who were returning from the war
and to greet them with cries of 'baby-killer'
or to throw urine or feces at them

Most of the returning soldiers
had no idea that their government was so corrupt
and never dreamed that they were being shat on
quite literally
by representatives of the very people
who had put them in harm's way in the first place

They could never have accepted the fact
that they and their friends
had risked
or ruined
or lost
their lives
fighting a war that was based on lies
on behalf of a government that was utterly corrupt
and which was led by a president
who was certifiably insane

They found it easier to believe
that the abuse they were taking
was coming from the very people
who had spent their time and energy
and in some cases risked their own lives
trying to bring our soldiers home
where they would be safe

It may seem to you
that this story represents
the very depths of human depravity

You may find it impossible to believe
that people could treat other people so cruelly

I assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg
and that what was going on in Vietnam
was infinitely worse

Some day I may decide to tell you
all about 'Operation Phoenix'
but for now I will leave you
with a song by Stephen Stills

For What It's Worth

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying "hooray for our side"
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Saturday, January 8, 2005

What's Your Price?

A flurry of news stories lately has reminded me of this old story:
George Bernard Shaw once found himself at a dinner party, seated beside an attractive woman. "Madam," he asked, "would you go to bed with me for a thousand pounds?" The woman blushed and rather indignantly shook her head.

"For ten thousand pounds?" he asked. "No. I would not." "Then how about fifty thousand pounds?" he contined.

The colossal sum gave the woman pause, and after further reflection, she coyly replied: "Perhaps." "And if I were to offer you five pounds?" Shaw asked.

"Mr. Shaw!" the woman exclaimed. "What do you take me for!" "We have already established what you are," Shaw calmly replied. "Now we are merely haggling over the price."
Apparently, every man has his price. For some, it seems, the price is obscenely low. How much would it take for you to sell your honor? Would you do it for a million dollars? How about a quarter of a million? How about even less than that?

Editor & Publisher reports the sad story of a cheap media whore who was bought off by some much more expensive whores.
Tribune Media Services (TMS) tonight terminated its contract with columnist Armstrong Williams, effective immediately. But Williams told E&P that he plans to continue his feature via self-syndication.

TMS' action came after USA Today reported this morning that Williams had accepted $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind education-reform law on his TV and radio shows. E & P subsequently reported that Williams had also written about NCLB in his newspaper column at least four times last year.
Meanwhile, CBS has been reporting on the shady dealings of a high-class whore. Well, maybe not high-class, but certainly high-priced.
Chances are you’ve never heard of Darleen Druyun, but she’s been spending a lot of your money — your tax money.

For 10 years, Druyun was the Air Force official who decided how much to pay for bombers, fighters, missiles -- you name it. She had such a reputation for toughness, she was commonly known as "The Dragon Lady." Which is why there is shock that Druyun, one of the most powerful women in Washington, is headed to prison.

In the biggest Pentagon scandal in 20 years, it appears that billions of dollars were doled out to the Boeing Company, as Druyun was accepting personal favors for her family.
Click on the links to read the full stories, if you think you can stand it.

Meanwhile, consider this: If you work for the government, the bribes you take will come from the private sector. But if you work for the private sector, the bribes will come from the government. Vicious circle. Vicious world.

I'm beginning to think that greed is the most destructive disease known to man. Once you catch it, you can never have enough money. You can never have enough of anything. Your life ceases to imitate art and begins to imitate Monopoly. From then on, you're doomed to go round and round, buying up everything you can get your hands on, and for what?

While you're enjoying that thought, here's another piece from Peter Hammill.

You've got some shares in a speculative venture
you've got some stock in a gilt-edged bond
you're stretched out tight by the terms of debenture
the game is on

You chase the bulls in eternal Corrida
the thought of loss is more than you can bear
you scan the index for a market leader
a tip and a prayer

You better see daylight
night comes on the City so soon
You say you are a Christian capitalist
but you dance to a different tune

Jobs for the boys and dole for the shop-floor
rationalize, strip the assets and run
If the contract stalls, then you've just got to cop more
ain't Monopoly fun?

You made some pretty deals along the way
Judas and Faust are in accord
When the revolution comes you may be blown away
but I bet you'll end up on the board

Only the money
Only the money

Sometime in the future you may realise
that the day you made your decision
to follow money as a goal
was your darkest dawn
and that, since then
you have venerated figures as deities
and, for you
people are just pawns

But that includes you
you're just an asset like the rest
and you, too, stripped naked, beg the Money-God
not to put you to the test
But He's got no further use for you
Now there is silence on the floor

Clever money-computers chatter privately
There's no people anymore

Only the money
No people anymore

Thursday, January 6, 2005

The Triumph of Bullshit

It's over, gang. It is officially over. Bullshit talks. Regular guys and gals walk. If you didn't believe that before today, you just got all the proof you will ever need. And if you don't believe it after what you have seen today, you are so deep in denial that you may never recognize the truth again, even if it hits you over the head. Which it probably will. Someday. Just like it did today.

Ah yes, today ... After a so-called historic debate, the United States Senate voted, by the margin of seventy-four to one, to accept a slate of illegally selected electors from the profoundly corrupt state of Ohio. Only one Senator dared to vote against this bullshit election! But before she did that, she had the audacity to stand up in Senate chambers and feed us a bucket of bullshit herself. Well, why not? Bullshit talks. And we walk.

The writing on the wall has never been clearer. It is completely over. Politics as you used to know it is a thing of the past. You wanted electoral reform? Forget it. You wanted to see some intellectual honesty from your 'elected' representatives? Forget it. You wanted to know whether or not your country was a democracy? Well, today you got the answer. And the answer is "No"! It is not now, and it never was, and the sooner you wake up and face this fact, the better it will be for all of us.

The United States of America, a so-called 'democracy', was never an actual democracy at all. At best, it was a democratic republic. But that's not what it is anymore. It's not even close. Let's take a deep breath and face the facts, folks. The United States is a bullshit country run by bullshit politicians, supported to the hilt by bullshit 'news' media.

Am I kidding? No! Am I ripping our so-called leaders unnecessarily? No! I am being kind to them. Do you want me to be completely honest? No, you don't. You may think you do, but you really don't. You don't want the truth. Nobody wants the truth. You can't handle the truth. Hell, I can't even handle the truth.

First things first: Hooray for Senator Barbara Boxer [photo], Democrat from California and the one and only Senator who had the nerve to sign the objection [of Congressman John Conyers and others] against the Ohio electors.

Next things next: Senator Barbara Boxer, in her speech today, proclaimed:
Our democracy is the centerpiece of who we are as a nation. And it is the fondest hope of all Americans that we can help bring democracy to every corner of the world.
The fondest hope of all Americans? Oh really, Senator? On what planet did you hear that? You don't talk to your constituents, do you? Or maybe you talk to them but you don't listen. You don't read the papers either, do you? Otherwise, how could you be so far removed from reality? So far removed that you don't seem to have any idea what Americans hope for.

Well, perhaps I can enlighten you. Perhaps you might accept some free advice from a Winter Patriot, a reward for standing up when all the other Senators chose to sit down, a little gift that might help you survive the remainder of your term in the highest legislative chamber in the land.

First and foremost, there is no "fondest hope" of all Americans. There is virtually nothing that all Americans can agree on. The country is deeply divided, not only geographically, but politically, spiritually, culturally, economically, and in many other ways as well.

For some Americans, their fondest hope is that their taxes will be cut yet again. These people will always support the so-called president, because he will always promise them tax cuts. Nothing else he does seems to matter to them. Their attitude seems to be "promise me tax cuts and I will follow you anywhere." Most of them will never admit this, of course, but they will follow him all the same. And there is no doubt in my mind that they will follow him straight to Hell. Which is exactly what they deserve, for they are nothing but cheap and selfish whores, happy to sell their children's future for a few lousy dollars, the value of which, by the way, is declining steadily and inexorably.

Some Americans hope that the so-called president and his neo-conservative thugs will be able to embroil the entire Middle East in such a grand conflagration that it will bring Jesus Christ himself back to Earth, triggering the 'rapture' and sending them all to Heaven. They are deluded dreamers, every one of them. But it seems that they are in control at the moment. At least it seems so to them. They claim to believe in an omnipotent God but yet they think they are in control. How completely absurd; how perfectly representative of their hypocrisy. May they burn in Hell forever.

Some Americans hope that the issue of electoral fraud will go away, so they can get on with their plan to install electronic voting machines everywhere in the country. Then they will work on eliminating the 'paper trail' that the best of these machines can produce. If they get their way, never again will there be a free and fair election in the United States. Neo-conservative Republicans will rule forever. And their supporters will dance with glee. What a pretty sight they will make, frolicking in the ashes of the democratic republic which they themselves will have destroyed. Won't they be surprised when their totalitarian leaders turn on them? It won't happen? Bullshit! It will happen. It always happens. It has happened every time totalitarians have gained power in any country. And it'll be exactly what they deserve. It's what all traitors deserve.

Some Americans hope that somehow the federal government can become the instrument by which they can eliminate all 'sin' from the entire nation. The 'sin' they seek to eliminate is 'sin' as they define it, of course. And they will define it as anything that differs from the lifestyle which they choose to lead. Down with gays, down with feminists, down with liberals, down with civil libertarians. Down with Blacks and Hispanics and Moslems and Arabs. Down with every single person or group who is in any way different than they are. Their fondest hope is to remake America in their image. And they tell us so, very clearly, every day, though often not in so many words. They are easy to recognize; their arrogance is exceeded only by their ignorance. And they claim to be people of God. Followers of Christ. What Christ is that? Surely not the Christ who lives in my Bible. Surely not the Christ who walked with prostitutes, ate with sinners, and told his disciples to love their enemies. They are followers of a different Christ, a fictional Christ, a spiteful character made up out of whole cloth by the false prophets who call themselves 'evangelical Christians'. 'Money-grubbing charlatans' is more like it.

What do these Americans have in common? They all support the so-called president. None of them care a bit about bringing "democracy to every corner of the world". They don't even care about bringing democracy to every corner of America. They would be quite happy living in a country where the only people who are allowed to vote are the people who agree with them. And in fact, they are already on their way to living in such a country. So as far as they are concerned, the system is working just fine.

Of course there are many other Americans who have very different hopes.

Some Americans hope they can find a decent job. Some Americans have given up looking for a decent job; they hope they can find any job. They hope they can somehow earn enough money to care for their children, and for their parents. And they hope that there's something left of Social Security for them, when they grow too old to work for themselves.

Some Americans hope that the rapid and increasing destruction of the natural environment can be slowed, maybe even brought to a halt, and possibly even reversed.

Some Americans hope that their kids will be able to grow up in a society where a difference of opinion is not only tolerated but respected, as it was for many of them when they were kids.

Some Americans hope that their children won't be sent off to fight illegitimate wars in countries which they have never even heard of. For other Americans, it's too late to hope for that; they hope their children who are already fighting illegitimate wars will be returned to them, healthy in body and not too badly damaged in spirit. And of course, for other Americans it is already too late even for that. They hope that their family can somehow recover from the death or serious injury suffered by their son or daughter, husband or wife or parent, whose only 'crime' was being naive enough to buy some war-mongering propaganda, who wanted to give something of themselves to defend America from foreign enemies, never realizing that the most vicious and dangerous of all enemies were here at home, playing their mad empire-games in the corridors of power.

Some Americans hope for world peace, and pray for a safe and prosperous future for their children, and their children's children, and their children's grandchildren.

Some Americans hope that their nation, once a world leader in fighting for human rights, will get over its current fascination with torture. They hope for an end to unlawful confinement, and a return of respect for the Bill Of Rights.

Some Americans simply hope that the bloody mass-murderers who now control all three branches of the federal government will eventually be removed from office.

Some hope that a reasonably balanced discourse will someday return to their national 'news' media, and that they will be able to learn the truth about their country, and the role it plays in the world, from sources within their own country.

And, of course, a great many Americans hope that somehow democracy can be brought to every corner of America. But how can that be done? Through legislation? How? We've got one senator with enough spine to vote against the outrageous theft of a presidential election, while the rest of them -- even those who supported her in open debate -- left her twisting in the wind. And even that one Senator -- the one with the spine -- seems to have no idea what's up in her own country.

Either she's been fed too much bullshit or she's deliberately feeding bullshit to us. One way or the other, it's over. The opposition in the Senate now consists of one woman with a spine and a bucket of bullshit; all the rest have buckets of bullshit of their own but no spines. So how are they going to push for electoral reform? How can they possibly push for anything, when they can't even support the one senator who dared to sign the objection?

It's over, folks. It is completely over. The Democratic party is a dinosaur. It's still walking, still breathing, but it is as dead as a pterodactyl, as extinct as a brontosaurus.

Even the most die-hard of Democrats can see that their party ran a bullshit convention in which they never even attempted to show how disastrous -- for the country and for the entire world -- another four years of this so-called presidency would be. And then they nominated a bullshit candidate, who didn't take a strong or principled stand against anything, including an illegitimate war, the widespread use of torture, the unprecedented use of unlawful confinement without charge or trial, or any of the other thoroughly evil policies of the current administration. As if this were not enough of a head-slap to the voters who supported him anyway, he then conceded while the outcome was still in doubt, taking much of the steam out of a strong and fast-growing grassroots effort to prove that the election was a sham -- and to do so in time to do something about it.

But that wasn't all. The bullshit candidate then wasted two months sitting quietly in the wings and doing nothing, while private citizens dug up all kinds of evidence showing that the election had been rigged, and that, had it been fairly conducted, he would have won.

Sitting quietly must have agreed with him, for he continued to sit while private citizens wrote letters and e-mails and blogs, desperately trying to spread the news about this fraudulent election -- news that the bullshit 'news' media refused to touch -- and looking forward to a day -- today -- when the criminals who ran this sham election could finally be challenged in public. And when the day of reckoning came, our bullshit candidate found it most expedient to be out of the country.

In my books he will be forever remembered as the big man with the little heart. The world's tallest living spineless skunk. The word on the net is that he didn't want to get involved in this fight because he wants to protect his image, since he's thinking of running for President again in 2008. What a pathetic joke! I wouldn't vote for him if he were running for dog-catcher. It takes courage to catch a dog, Johnny boy. You can't catch a dog with bullshit.

But maybe his entire bullshit performance, not only today but throughout the entire campaign, was exactly what the doctor ordered. After all, bullshit talks. And regular guys and gals walk. This campaign certainly talked. And so did this election.

And maybe a bit of bullshit is what we, the regular guys and gals, needed too. In polite society, as we all know, it's not called "bullshit". It's called "manure". And according to the gardening experts in my neighborhood, it promotes growth!


How about another song? We really need a song tonight, don't we? Well... Here's another one of my favorites. It's by Peter Hammill, in my opinion the most abundantly gifted poet who ever graced the rock 'n roll stage.
The Future Now

Here we are, static,
in the latter half
of the twentieth century
but it might as well be the Middle Ages
there'll have to be some changes
but how they'll come about, foxes me

I want the future now
I want to hold it in my hands
All men equal and unbowed
I want the Promised Land

But that doesn't seem to get any closer
and Moses has had his day
the Tablets of Law are an advertising poster
civilization, here to stay
and this is progress?
... you must be joking!
me, I'm just looking for any kind of hope

I want the future now
I want to see it on the screen
I want to break the bounds
that make our lives so mean

Oh blind blinded blinding hatred
of race, sex, religion, colour, country and creed
you scream from the pages of everything I read
You just bring me oppression and torture
apartheid corruption and plague
You just bring me the rape of the planet
and joke world rights at The Hague
Oh, some day, the Millennium
but how far is some day away?

I want the future now
I'm young and it's my right
I want a reason to be proud
I want to see the light
I want the future now
I want to see it on the screen
I want to break our bounds
and make life worth more than dreams

Tuesday, January 4, 2005


In the days after 9/11, I had no access to the internet, nor any possibility of publishing anything anywhere. But I occasionally wrote pieces about history or current events, for no reason other than to preserve my thoughts, and probably in an attempt to protect my sanity. Most of those pieces have been lost; the following piece is the only one that remains. It was written early in 2002.

For a long time I was reluctant to show it to anyone. It seemed too radical, too speculative, too paranoid. How things have changed since then. It now strikes me as rather tame. Nevertheless, since I now have a blog of my own, it makes some sense to publish it here. Make of it what you will.


A guy could get in a lot of trouble around here
if he happened to notice
and especially if he happened to mention
that America's wounds of September 11th, 2001
appear to have been self-inflicted

even if all he said was that
the conditions which allowed the attacks to succeed
were largely created and maintained by Americans
poor airport security for instance
a generous immigration policy
and open access to flight training schools
so of course I did not say that

A guy could get in even more trouble around here
if he said something else about those wounds
for example if he said that
the conditions which inspire terrorism
and terrorists
stem from the facts

that the United States has shown
very clearly
over and over
that it will happily prop up any tyrant
no matter how repressive
so long as he is willing
to sell us his country's oil
or coffee or tin or bananas
or whatever else they happen to have
at prices which we consider reasonable

and that we don't even require these tyrants
to share the resulting income with their people
and that therefore they do not do so
so that untold millions of people
become obscenely poor
while a very few people
friends and families of the tyrants, mostly
become obscenely rich

and that all of this
hideously unbalanced
distribution of wealth
is protected by American military power
and is therefore seen as America's doing
so I didn't say anything about that

But a guy could get in a lot more trouble around here
if he said something else
about America's wounds of September 11th
for instance if he said that our security services
the FBI the CIA the NSA and so on
appear to have been given many hints and warnings
not one of which they appear to have heeded
and any one of which could have served
to compromise the entire plan of attack
and if he just happened to mention
that none of these security services
have ever been disciplined in any way
and that instead their budgets have been increased
and if he also happened to mention
that he found all this quite strange
so of course I did not do so

A guy could get in even more trouble around here
if he took a different view
of the way in which
all these intelligence services
failed to prevent the attacks of September 11th
for example if
rather than finding it strange
he found it sinister

and if for instance he implied
or came right out and said
that these attacks seem to have been
an "inside job"
that those who carried them out
appear to have been assisted
and possibly even directed
by a small
and very powerful group
hidden deep within our government
whose aim was threefold

to provide a pretext
for armed intervention
in Afghanistan
and Iraq
and as many other countries
in the Middle East
or elsewhere in the world
as they happen to feel like invading

to turn the mood of the country
away from skepticism
about the way in which
the President was "elected"
toward fear and anger
and blind hatred
and blinding patriotism
all of which tend to make the public
much easier to manipulate

to focus the media
on a never-ending War on Terrorism
away from Congress
and the World Trade Organization
and other legislative bodies elsewhere
who are now very busy making new laws
taking away our freedom

A guy could get in a lot of trouble around here
if he happened to notice all these things
and even more importantly
if he happened to mention them
and if he also happened to mention
that all three of these aims
appear to have succeeded
so of course I did not do so

And a guy could get in even more trouble around here
if he happened to say
that the American government
appears to have fallen into evil hands
and that the American people
you, me, Jim over there, everybody
have the fight of our lives ahead of us
and that we need to be strong and smart
resourceful and determined
and working together
to have any chance of getting it back
so of course I did not say that

and I also didn't happen to mention
that most of the American people
have no idea they are in for a fight
that they are so fast asleep
they don't even realize there's a problem
and that it's up to the rest of us
to wake them up
before it's too late
no, I didn't mention that either

As a matter of fact
I didn't mention any of these things
nor would I
a guy could get in a lot of trouble around here

I'll leave you with a song. This is a funky, bluesy thing, written by Lowell George of Little Feat


you yelled "hey" when your car wouldn't start
then you got real nervous and started to eat your heart out
now you're so fat your shoes don't fit on your feet
you've got trouble and it's tailor-made
now mama lay your head down in the shade

'cause your eyes are tired and your feet are too
and you wish the world was as tired as you
well I'll write a letter and I'll send it away
and put all the trouble in it you had today

well your telephone rang and you went "oh no"
you forgot about this and you forgot about that
and you've got to get back to what you're doin'
goodbye click that so-and-so
you're an island and on your own

and you yelled "hey" when your stove blew up
upset? why yes
the footprints on your ceiling are almost gone
and you're wondering why

well mama lay your head down, don't you cry
'cause your eyes are tired and your feet are too
and you wish the world was as tired as you
well I'll write a letter and I'll send it away
and put all the trouble in it you had today

Sunday, January 2, 2005

It's Just A Theory

I am becoming increasingly concerned with the Christian wingnuts who want to ban so-called "liberal" teachings from schools and universities. Their level of knowledge is made laughably clear to me [and to everyone else who knows anything about science] when they start putting stickers on books saying that Evolution is "Just A Theory". They might as well put stickers on their foreheads saying "I don't know the meaning of the word theory".

If you are wondering what I mean by the word "Theory", please keep reading. There's no shame in not knowing, provided that you don't force your ignorance on others, especially through trying to control institutions of higher education.

A hypothesis is a questionable assumption that is ready and able to be tested. Real scientists learn by developing hypotheses and designing experiments to test them. The TV cartoon scientist who runs around exclaiming "I have a theory" really means "I have a hypothesis". And the people who claim that "evolution is just a theory" seem to have learned their science by watching cartoons on TV. But meanwhile ...

A theory is a connected set of insights into how the world works, insights strong enough to have considerable 'predictive value'. For example, Newton's Theory of Gravitation predicts that if you lift an object and then release it, it will fall. Have you seen examples of this Theory at work? Of course you have. Have you ever seen any exceptions? No? Good! Now you are in a position to understand why it's called a Theory, and not a Hypothesis.

Darwin's Theory of Evolution is called a Theory because it has similar predictive power. So please don't be deceived by those who say "Evolution is just a theory." If they don't know the difference between a theory and a hypothesis then they have no business dictating what gets taught in nursery schools, let alone high schools, and certainly not colleges and universities.

And yet here they are, at the gates of the Enlightment, those Christian wingnuts who want to control every aspect of our society in the name of their religion. Their position, and the danger it poses, are aptly summarized here.

Unfortunately, if I want to say this at all, I have to say it privately [anonymously] in public [on my blog]. Because I cannot say it publicly [aloud] in private [in my home].

I am the only one in my family who is entirely reality-based. Everyone else on both sides of my extended family would be perfectly happy to begin each meal with a prayer in which they say "Thank You" to God "for Faith in a world where many walk in Fear".

Not me. I can no longer even mouth the words. I prefer to give thanks "for Fear in a world where many walk in Faith".

FDR used to say "We have nothing to Fear but Fear itself." And maybe that was true in his day. But it's not true anymore.

Fear will not hurt us. Fear will keep us alert, and it may even keep us alive. But in the current political climate, all this blind Faith will surely lead us into eternal darkness.

Faith is not a Theory. It's not even a Hypothesis. It is simply a willingness to believe things for which there is no visible evidence.

I used to feel inadequate, or sorry for myself, because I could not take things on faith. Now I feel sorry for the rest of my family, even as I feel increasingly alienated from them.

I believe in freedom of choice. I do not force my beliefs on others. But I will not allow others to force their beliefs on me. In other words, they can walk in Faith all they want. But they cannot prevent me from walking in Fear.

How is that for twisted?

Speaking of twisted, I feel like quoting Alice Cooper:

Well, we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no intelligence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

Well, we can't salute ya
Can’t find a flag
If that don’t suit ya
That’s a drag

School's out for the summer

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Trusting Your Instincts

I didn't intend to talk about myself or my family on this blog. I meant to discuss mostly history and current events, using the widest lens I could find. I planned to leave myself out of the picture. And I will do that as much as possible in the future. But this entry is going to be an exception.

Like many others, I've had a difficult time finding work since the global economy started collapsing on the morning of September 11, 2001. By the end of 2003, I was fully unemployed and spending all my time and energy sending out resumes. Nobody was biting. Nobody was nibbling. Not even a sniff.

In the spring of 2004 I finally got a nibble -- from a consulting firm whose name rang no bells with me. I was contacted by their regional human-relations man, who asked if I could join him for an "informal meeting" to discuss "potential opportunities".

My wife was ecstatic. I suppose that's a normal reaction for a woman who has small kids, a big mortgage and an unemployed husband. I was not exactly ecstatic but at least I was encouraged, and I decided to learn whatever I could about this company before I made arrangements to meet anyone. I didn't want to show up at this guy's office with no knowledge of what his company did; that would appear stupid. And I didn't want to show up at his office at all unless I felt comfortable with what the company did; that would be stupid.

So I checked out their website. And it gave me the creeps. I cannot say exactly why, but the idea of me working for this company seemed ... wrong. Very wrong. So I told my wife to cool her jets, and made an excuse about being unable to meet with the guy, even though he had been the only one to react positively to my resume in months.

That was almost a year ago. In the meantime, a few small contracts have appeared, and I've been working on and off. It hasn't been a prosperous year for me, but it hasn't been a disaster either; we're still paying the mortgage. And I had almost forgotten about the whole incident. But yesterday I was reminded of it while reading this article. It's about the top ten war profiteers of the year. And there's a familiar name on the list -- near the top! Could I have been rich? No, but I could have been complicit in mass murder for profit! Somehow I had the instinct to say "No, Thank You". And here's some of what I missed out on:

According to a March 22 report by AID’s assistant inspector general Bruce Crandlemire, "[This company's] extensive involvement in the development of the Iraq economic reform program creates the appearance of unfair competitive advantage in the contract award process."

[It] spent five months helping USAID write the job specifications and even sent some employees to Iraq to begin work before the contract was awarded, while its competitors had only a week to read the specifications and submit their own bids after final revisions were made.

Apparently they are not only professional war-profiteers, but they're even on the 'inside track', so to speak.

Today I am thankful for my instinctive reaction, and for the fact that I had enough confidence to trust it. My family's financial situation is far from secure, but at least my soul is intact. I have no blood on my hands, and no war-profits in my bank account.

Some other souls are not so fortunate, although their bank accounts are much better-stocked. Consider, for example, the case of Mr. and Mrs. R. James Woolsey, whose story is documented here. It's quite a piece. This is my favorite paragraph:

James [Woolsey] should be awarded a plaque for being the #1 Iraq War Monger, and it should say: "What could be more sickening than a war-hungry non-combatant? A war-hungry non-combatant reaping profit from the blood of slaughtered women, children and men of Iraq." (Bill Berkowitz).

To paraphrase a famous line from a long-gone era:

I know not what course others may take, but as for me, I'd rather starve to death!

I'll leave you with another bit of Max Webster, brilliant stuff by Pye Dubois:

Lip Service

second hand telegram
lip service legal love
second hand out of town telegram
lip service legal love

so you're the lawyer's wife
how's life on lakeshore road?
furs and boats caviar and moats
and your fat kitten is teasing your aunt in the hall
with the liver hors d'oeuvres she gives her guests when on call

ahhhhh you should be down under
pushin' up wheat for the hungry

big revolutions in my black book
written down in our teens
i gave them to krushchev
i lent them to lennon

second hand out of town telegram
lip service legal love
lip service second hand out of town
lip service love

so you're the canker banker
hours nine to five on fantasies of gold
vets cheques cigars nassau
and your harness horse is cold cash
'cause the drugs you use work fast
burned off and out before the race track urine test

ahhhhh you should be down under
pushin' up wheat for the hungry

written down in our teens
i mailed them to kennedy
i typed them for tito

only your right hand knows you're left handed
only your right hand knows you're left handed
only your right hand knows you're left handed