Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eyeless in Gaza: Israel 4, Hamas 1

I am told that Gandhi's opinion of revenge boiled down to an illustration from Old Testament ideas about "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," the pre-Mosaic desert warlord code, a law that should have ended with the Crusades at the latest but seems to hang about like a bad cold. Gandhi is said to have said something along the lines of: "If every person plucks out the eye of his neighbor, soon everyone will be blind." Demonstrably true given facts on the ground throughout the Mideast, including the new, insane pitting of Hamas and Israel against each other (so what else is new -- shades of Hezbollah's launching of missile attacks against northern Israelis just eight years back).

Frontline has reported on the war between the U.S. and Kabul governments against the Taliban in the outer regions of Afghanistan, in an amazingly insightful program called The War Briefing [of Obama]. The picture looks bleak, especially given the dire economic straits at home and simultaneous rise of a plethora of international problems, each of which poses its own little potential quagmire. One of the interviewees, commenting on a previous experience in that country, said that the tribal leaders of each clan in Afghanistan live in constant dedication to slaughtering the neighboring tribal leader -- a dead giveaway that Afghanistan is roughly analogous to the Balkans during the Christian-versus-Muslim genocides of the Bosnian War of the early 90s.

A very good film was made of the hopelessness of such conflicts with a script from the playwright William Mastrosimone called The Beast. I first thought the title referred to the bestial Afghani and Soviet combatants and to their certain sly slithering and sidewinding in the nature of beasts. But with successive viewings I have decided that the "Beast" of the title is Afghanistan itself. After all, the movie's opening credit is a quotation from Rudyard Kipling:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow our your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

(The Young British Soldier). Combat in Afghanistan is for a chosen few, and the problem is, given the age-old hatreds and mistrusts, and given that the Taliban and the tribes have not changed in virtually 1,400 years, and given the terrain and distance of the tribes from the capital, no matter how many troops we throw into the conflict, it will always be a lose-lose situation.

Worse, we are now caught in a vise. When the Taliban (and al Qaeda) are defeated, they retreat to Pakistan's mountains, there to await the next opportunity to return and exact their toll on those suspected of betrayal or violations of the laws of strict shariah -- and Wahabbist shariah at that. Pakistan will not help us, because not only are there a good many jihadist sympathizers in their Army, the head of state only maintains his power by delicately balancing pro-Western and pro-Jihadist sentiments. The Pakistani Army is a joke. They make their leaders look like the ersatz Nazi prison guards in TV comedy.

On the other side of Afghanistan is Iran. It is possible that we could work a deal with them to keep out of Afghanistan and cease supporting Hezbollah and other Jihadist movements, but given the sanity of their leader, I think this unlikely. If anything, Ahmadinejad is far more insane than Kim Jung Il. At least Kim is not a religious fanatic or theocratic ideologue, and he's having so much fun going through his pornographic movie collection, he seems all but irrelevant. As long as we're negotiating with him, he poses no problem.

The problem is Ahmadinejad. To call him an ideologue would be a gross understatement, tantamount to referring to a rotweiler as a "lap dog."

Ahmadinejad derives his power from the Shia clergy. He can't go wrong so long as he keeps putting pressure on the West, which is both a shaitan and an enemy of Islam. Remember, the Frontline guest talked about age-old hatreds. With Iran, we have our own, which dates to the ouster of the Family Pahlavi a little less than thirty years ago. He was viewed as a puppet and was replaced with an aging Shia ayatollah at the top of the pecking order. A bur remained in the saddle of the Shah's Arabian horse. The Iranian people have mostly forgiven us (and begged our forgiveness for a previous generation's taking hostages at the American embassy). But the government remains an unabashed theocracy.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah take marching orders from Tehran. Althought the economy of Iran are is on the verge of starvation, tossing even massive amounts of aid wouldn't seem to matter much: as long as one is going to Paradise to cohabit with 72 virgins, one can stay hungry a long time. It's a dead-end hopeless situation and it isn't getting any better. Obama's greatest challenge next to the sorry state of our own economy might seem to be the future of the Afghan Expedition. He'd better hop to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Long Goodbye to a Real Dick

That prick, Cheney, a real Dick, has been making the rounds of the pundit programs, still completely deluded (and deluding, to some), claiming for example that history will judge the last eight years favorably to the Bushies. He justifies torture as a constitutional right and argues with critics who claim he expanded vice-presidential powers far beyond what the founders intended. Now that his "boss" (actually, his ward), George W. has remade himself by trading the Crawford digs (out in the open and easy to block air space) for a trendy Dallas exurb, thus letting down everyone who thought he was a puppet cowboy, Cheney looks for all the world like living proof of the theory that he actually ran the government, while Rove and Dubya plotted their political futures.

In fact, I should think it perfectly obvious that when Obama takes over in January, he is actually taking on powers from a vice-president (or is that President of Vice?), not a president. One thinks back to the days when hemophilic kings were put to things like clock collecting while a regent ran the country. Shrub is now being called "a cheerleader," a reference to this good ol' boy's brewsky broad-hunting days in places like Midland, Texas. Dubya was, in fact, a cheerleader.

Time will tell if Dick is ever brought to the High Court of Justice for his violations both of the Constitution and international law -- waterboarding is just the tip of the iceberg. But if I were he I would not make too many foreign trips. To easy to became the next Pinochet.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Presidential Pardon Time

Now that George W. Bush has arrived at that moment in his lameness he can pardon anyone in the country for any crime soever, convicted or not even indicted, I have a modest proposal: Why not grant a presidential pardon to former Sen. Larry ("Footloose") Craig? I mean, let's be fair. If you're going to pardon people like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, why not pardon poor old closet queen Craig?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Wouldn't Jesus Do: Dangerous Lunatics, Rap No. 665

While reading the new issue of Harper's magazine, I came upon one of those display ads for vanity published books that often appear both in that periodical and others (everything from Texas Monthly to The New Yorker). It touts a tome titled Why Jesus Christ Would Never, Ever Vote Republican, written by one Richard John Siviur. Mr. Siviur is of the opinion that the Republican Party is really "the Party of Big Business," or "POBB." Siviur says it is also the "Party of White Males" (though he doesn't acrosticize this latter slogan).

George W. he dubs the "Thief in Chief." And he says that Bush "personally purloined the 2000 election" and, with Cheney, "manufactured a [casus belli] for war with Iraq where absolutely none existed." After pointing out the statistical absence of African-Americans in GOP-held congressional seats, Mr. Siviur devotes a full paragraph of his ad to welcome "our first black President," and inserts a biographical note that he is an 85-year-old, life-long "Liberal Democrat." (I don't know what his thing is with capital letters, unless perhaps a nod to old attention-grabbing ad ploys.)

I shan't buy the book. After all, Mr. Siviur is preaching to my choir. I do wish to take the ad apart and play devil's advocate in part, exegesist for the other. For Mr. Siviur has touched upon themes I have long thought of critical importance, especially the increasingly obvious fact that where once the Republican Party was "the party of big business," it is now the party of bailed-out big businesses and un-Christian evangelical bigots who got sucked into politics by people who thought they were useful idiots (most of the Bush II administration) and who got caught short supporting McCain because they allowed their gullible acceptance of the Arizona senator. As they've sewn, so shall they reap: they got McCain because they wouldn't support a heretic in a suit.

In these pages, I keep writing about someone named Tom, a Republican "friend" with whom I have an on-off relationship based upon a college friendship. We reconciled recently at the death of a mutual friend, and I began to once again exchange emails with him. But the exchange soon degenerated into one of our usual partisan spats, this one revealing more about Tom than I cared to know. The last straw was when he began a sentence: "If Obama survives to be inaugurated...."

Uh-oh! Anyone who is even thinking about the assassination of our president-elect is by definition a racist. Yes, I know, Tom didn't write, "Your guy will never take the oath of office," much less, "We're going to get Obama. He'll never take the oath." But, you see, this was coming from someone who thinks that there was nothing wrong with torturing prisoners even if they're not terrorists. Who thinks Karl Rove is a smart forthright fellow. Who thinks most of our problems in the Mideast are caused by the Israeli Lobby.

For years, I've been telling fellow movie buffs that my favorite Bergman film is Through a Glass Darkly. It is a movie about "God" (who eventually crawls out of a crack in the plaster in his guise as a spider). But it's also a movie about so many other things, including a writer's inability to prevent his analytical study of his daughter's descent into madness. He cannot help her becasue he is so bent on watching her destroy herself. Because of this documentarianist's inclinations. I maintain friendships with people like Tom. I like to find out what makes them tick.

Until he became a lame duck, George W. could not do any harm in Tom's eyes. Only now will he admit that Bush was a lousy president -- and only because "he wasn't a conservative." This is a standard GOP talking point in Republican circles. (One of Tom's heroes is Bill Kristol.) Tom started out a "Goldwater conservative," but thee kind of conservatism he espouses today would make Goldwater cringe. Tom thinks Ronald Reagan was the best president we've had. No matter that a criminal enterprise was being run in the basement of the White House and when he gave a deposition, Reagan couldn't remember...about 25 times. (Yes, I know, given that he "came down" with Alzheimer's once he left office, it's entirely possible he really couldn't remember!) Tom bought every last U.S.P.S. commemorative postage stamp of his friend Ronnie and makes sure he puts them on mail to "liberals." He won't admit it, but I'll bet he's read Ann Coulter and agreed with about 90% of what she says.

Tom is a long-standing Unitarian. He would never see the logic of Sam Harris's claim that membership in any religion, no matter how socially liberal, is enabling (in the A.A. sense of the term: co-dependent and mutually addicted). Membership in any religion enables evangelicals; there is a commonality of purpose in accepting faith as a justification for belief in a god. As Christopher Hitchens demonstrates in God is Not Great (and you can say anything about the author you'd like, even ad hominem attacks on his alcoholism, but he's awfully brave to risk fatwas from the Wahhabists titling a book with so obvious an affront to Allah), religion poisons everything, including (if not especially) politics.

The evangelicals became the definition of GOP-ism this last election. There were no other factions to woo, as renegade Republicans deserted the party like rats from a sinking ship of state. The party came to be defined as right wing nut job, especially religious nut job, to put it country simple: dangerous lunatics. Anyone who believes in creationism is a lunatic by definition. The evangelicals firmly believe the earth was created in six days no longer than 6,000 years ago. They also insist that man walked with dinosaurs, turning a cold shoulder to exhaustive scientific evidence that the earth was born about 4.5 billion years ago and that man showed up no earlier than 400,000 years back. At one time, the D.L.'s of the world insisted that the earth was flat (literally; pace Mr. Friedman) and that the sun moved around us in an orbit.

These were some of the same folks who fought interracial marriage throughout the South (and in other parts, too; as Randy Newman observed, we should all insist on our freedom to discriminate racially). They're the PAC'S fighting gay and lesbian marriage in California. They screw in the missionary position, feel guilty about it later, and firmly believe that woman is a handmaid to her husband, separate and unequal. If you believe Tony Perkins is a Ken doll with red hair, you are onto something vitally important in the ongoing "culture war," which is nothing less than 21st century civilization coming to terms with Medieval notions of ethics, including their favorite of late, Machiavelli, for what is Karl Rove if not Niccolo reincarnated?

Actually -- and here's the point -- asking what Jesus would or would not do amounts to a capitulation to madness. No such person as Jesus Christ ever existed. The only "historical" record is found in the writings of one Yosef Ben Matityahu ("Josephus"), and even his short dictum is now disputed. The Gospels? They were written decades after the Nazz was allegedly crucified. (I say "allegedly" because some Gnostic sects, pointing out that a spirit cannot be nailed to the cross, claimed that he only appeared to die on it.)

At the time of Jesus's alleged existence, the Holy Land was overrun with prophets. We see one in action in the Book of Acts, where Simon of Gitta (a.k.a. Simon Magus) defies gravity and comes up losing. A good many of these louts were mountebanks and masters of legerdemain. Some were Jewish. I do not mind supposing that there was a prophet at this time who was regarded as a rabbi and thus was known as a "reb." Nor do I cavil with insistence that his name was Joshua (not Jesus). Reb Yeshua is OK by me.

But the Christ part is nothing but pure speculation. For one thing, "Christ" comes from Greek, Khristos, or anointed. This has a hand- or man made stamp on it. It is the nomenclature of myth, not of legend. Reb Yeshua was a legendary figure, as were the various probable models. The mythological models were profuse, from Osiris to Mithras, Asclepius, and many more. The dying and resurrected god is perhaps the single most common mythological deity and, again points to man's hand, not divinity. These super beings help explain Death and make us more comfortable with it.

The divinity of "Jesus Christ" was invented not so much by disciples but by Saul of Tarsus and the emperor Constantine, both for similar purposes. There is a superb scene in the Martin Scorsese film of Paul Schrader's script of the Kazantzakis novel, The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Saul (Paul) meets Jesus in a village (following the latter's apparent death on the cross). Jesus tells him he's spreading false reports, that his death is, as Twain put it, highly exaggerated. Saul-Paul rejects his criticism and, in effect, tells him to get lost. "Don't you see?" he asks. "You're no good to us alive!"

If we take the two hot button issues that seem to obsess evangelicals the most, abortion and gay rights, the bigotry of using scripture to defend the indefensible is most obvious. Abortion is older than Soranus, who might be called the world's first OBGY. The only thing new about abortions is that when they are done clinically today, the results are about 99% safe and effective. (When done in dark alleys using coat-hangers, as in pre-Roe v. Wade days, the statistic is somewhat lower.) The problem seems to be entirely theological. So-called "pro-lifers" believe that "human life begins at conception," and that moronic belief has infected evangelicals as well. The absurdity of this position should be obvious: at conception, the only "thing" that results is a fertilized egg. One must presuppose God in order to elevate this "thing" into a human life. Human life can only be said to begin at conception if there is a god who dictates as much.

The behavior of the True Believers, including the lunatic in Florida who shot and killed an abortionist, the loony Eric Rudolf, as well as the ongoing Vatican (and now GOP platform!) insistence that a fetus must be saved even if its birth kills its mother, is not only insane; it is most un-Christian. Jesus is said to have blessed whores. Now, you'd think that no one on earth is more likely to have ingested abortifacients or submitted to anular blades than the Magdelene. Not one red-letter word escapes the Christ's lips concerning abortion. Nor did Reb Yeshua condemn homosexuality, which might have appeared a bit unseemly, given that he partied most often with a dozen men.

George Washington is said to have believed that political parties would be the undoing of American democracy. Had he lived, St. Germain-like, to see today, he would perhaps have revised that to say, instead, "Allowing religion to become a part of political dialogue and the political process will be the undoing of American democracy." Religion poisons everything.

Tom and I poke fun at each other's White House -- and in a parallel universe, McCain won the election -- but the poking sometimes gets rough, in which cases Tom has taken to using cutesy PC lingo like "lol," only he puts it all in caps and says it thrice: LOL LOL LOL. He reminds me of a buddy I knew in film school in the 60's who was fond of saying, "I judge people as individuals, and when it comes to [epithet for African-American beggining with "N") and [epithet for Hispanic person beginning in "S"] and [epithet for Jewish person beginning in "K"], I hate every individual one." He always said it with a grin that would make a crocodile blush. We knew he meant it no matter how many teeth he exposed in contradiction.

I am too old now to tolerate such shenanigans. And much too proud. The defeat of the Republican Party on 11-04-08 was another nail in its coffin. There aren't many nails left. The job is almost done. Alas, poor Yokel, I knew you well. I can rest assured that the Good Old Posterior is irrelevant and on its way into oblivion because I read a piece in by the African-American pol, Michael Steele, who begs to differ with me. In the section titled, "Return to timeless Republican principles," he claims "Our freedom is from God, not government...

"Our prosperity comes from a free people in a free market, not overtaxing, free-spending bureaucrats. We celebrate and protect life, born and unborn...."

Whoa! Since when is murder of physicians, bombings at abortion clinics, &c. a "timeless Republican principle"? And how did "God" give us our freedom and put the bureaucrats in place to overtax and over-spend? You can't have it both ways, Michael. The Australian philosopher John Leslie Mackie took God to task when he used common logic to show that belief in God isn't much better than belief in the Tooth Fairy. If God is all knowing, all powerful and all good, why can't he prevent the murders and bombings at abortion clinics?

If God is punishing the persons involved in abortions because abortion is "wrong," why does Jesus say to turn the other cheek? Don't you say that because they are "from God" and therefore infallible, the Decalogue commands, e.g., "Thou Shalt Not Kill"? Where were you when Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush became the King of Capital Murder, executing more men (and one notable woman) than any other president in the 20th century. Did God prevent the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean? (The evangelical would quickly claim that the hundreds of thousands who were killed were not "saved," as they weren't, in the main, Christians. What a cruel, capricious, arbitrary -- evil -- God!)

It is logically impossible for evil to exist in the world overseen by an omniscient, omnipotent, all good God.

Tony Perkins has much more in common with Osama bin Laden than even some liberals would like to admit. When you stand up and oppose gay and lesbian rights and funnel so much money into a media campaign designed to pass an initiative defining marriage according to some moldy Hebraic code that your PAC almost closes due to drained funds, you are just as fanatical in your way as bin Laden in his. Worse, like bin Laden, your ideas threaten democracy, whose basic premises was written into our Declaration of Independence. It does not say, "We hold [this] truth to be self-evident: that all men -- except homosexuals -- are created equal." (Clever fellows will hasten to add, "Of course not; "homosexual," used to describe same-sex orientation, did not come into existence until the Civil War or later, but that is besides the point.)

George W. Bush and the Republican Party suffered their greatest humiliation when gasoline was up to over $4 a gallon and, hat in hand, W went to ar-Ryadh to bow and scrape and faux cheek kiss the Crown guy and see if, uh, er, please up production or lower price, crudely put, &c. &c. &c. There was poor George, caught on cam, leaving the meeting empty handed. The symbiotic relationship between buyer and seller was tempered by family ties (the long-standing, legendary Bush-Saud thing), but the lame duck left wanting. This was the Ultimate Humiliation, and it may have gone further to explain the 11/4 result than we can imagine.

For years, the Shrub Administration tried to convince us that the Saudis were among our best friends. One can imagine the Crown guy watching the press conference on TV and winking at his yes men. Only in the final days did Bush talk of buying oil from "people who dislike us." I do admire the president's understatement. The Saudis cannot like us, never will like us, especially because the House of Saud must play ball with the mullahs in order to stay in power, a delicate balance struck both for convenience and pocket-lining. At the bread and circuses shopping malls, ordinary Arabians were all eating well and had roofs over their heads, so who is to complain? Doesn't Allah the Merciful look out for his own?

Their children are schooled by clerics of the dominant sect, Wahhabism, the desert warlord equivalent of our evangelicals and the Afghani Taliban as well. These people are so insane they think killing westerners and being killed themselves will immediately send them to Paradise where they will acquire 72 virgin (grapes or ladies, take your translation). This is totally bonkers. It is so insane that a relatively sane person -- he doesn't even have to be an atheist -- wants to stand up and scream: "STOP, FOOLS!" Or, as the late Paddy Chayevsky would have it, throw open their windows and scream to the people in the streets: "I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

The Wahhabist "home schooling" consists of indoctrination into jihadism. Why did Arabic parents and friends of the 9/11 terrorists, predominantly Saudi citizens, claim that they had no idea their sons or brothers were involved in such a thing! Why were bin Laden family and friends allowed to fly out of the U.S. when all other aircraft had been grounded? Wahhabism teachest hate. Wahhabists are extreme bigots whose intolerance is an affront to democratic principles.

As spokesman for the loony religious right and the Republican Party, Tony Perkins is emblematic. His fascistic frame of mind is best illustrated by his neo-Nazi past. He supported K.K.K. candidate David Duke but, when found out, quickly did a Claude Rains Casablanca cop routine: he was shocked -- I say, shocked! to learn where his money was going. He has been known to make outrageous, totally illogical statements, such as: "The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is rooted in the order of nature itself....."

Nature? Whose nature? A nature that presents the creation of the planet in six days by Yahweh-Johovah? A nature that has mankind walking amongst tyrannasaurus rex? A nature that combated such notions as a round earth and heliocentric universe? A nature that ignores the overwhelming evidence about our species as revealed by the true prophets of our times, Darwin and Freud? (I would put the Hon. T. H. Huxley among this group, but he only agnosticized, which is "playing chicken.") I am sure that Perkins' understanding of "natural order" makes man superior to woman because "He" created him first. Not only that, but "God" took a rib from Adam to make Eve, so she's an after-thought. How delightfully the ancients disguised their innate misogyny and mistrust of women in justifiable holy writ!

But wait, Perkins gets much more absurd: "['union of one man and one woman] promotes the continuation of the human race and the cooperation of the mother and father in raising the children they produce." Mr. Perkins, let me introduce you to a divorce attorney; you may not need her now, but you can tuck her statistics in your wallet in case you might need it. Half the heterosexual marriages in America end up in divorce courts. Some of your staunchest religionists, e.g. Ted Haggard, have been exposed as homosexual and excommunicated from the High Church of Evangelical Theocracy as a result, or come back feigning overnight orientational conversion, thanking God for delivering them from the English [Italian, &c., take your pick] vice only to keep fan magazines around "for my daughters" so they can peek at them when they're on the toilet.

Or the ones who get caught cheating on their wives, having sex outside their marriages with whores (boys or girls). Or the ones who tell their ignorant, gullible flocks that a gay parade caused God to send Katrina to destroy New Orleans. Or the ones who claim that God caused Hitler's rise to power and the resulting holocaust: it was His way of driving Jews into the Holy Land so that John of Patmos' coded letter to persecuted contemporaries, with its prophecy of a second coming, could come true. I mean, a Final Conflagration between Judeo-Christianith and Islam can just go ahead and kill us all: it's God's Will!

These people are flirting with criminal insanity. Bush used the word "crusade" early in the response to 9/11, and if his war on terrorism continues unabated with a new regime, the Final Conflagration is a foregone conclusion. This will be welcomed by the bin Ladens and the Perkinses of this world. They win themselves by seeing all of us lose.

Max Blumenthal's portrait of Perkins at is devastating. Among other curious titbits, Blumenthal shows Perkins:
  • Addressing the Council of Conservative Citizens, a newly named organization born of the remnants of the old KKK bunch, the White Citizens Council, which Blumenthal characterizes as "America's premier white supremacist organization";
  • Using useful idiots from African-American and Catholic interest groups to browbeat the Bush administration to nominate only anti-Roe v. Wade candidates for Supreme Court judicial appointments in an effort to halt Democratic senators from "filibustering people of faith";
  • Being mentored by a Richard Viguerie-direct mail fund-raising strategist, Woody Jenkins, who helped found the theocratic bund known as the Council for National Policy (CNP), whose members included R. J. Rushdoony, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell; Amway founder (and convicted tax evader) Richard DeVos, conservative beer brewer Joseph Coors, &c.
  • Getting caught red-handed when he made a donation to David Duke, well known white supremacist, to obtain his mailing list, denying Federal Election Committee charges Jenkins tried to hide the Duke payment when, in fact, Perkins' name was on the $82,000 check.
  • Sponsoring a closed meeting of his Family Research Council at the Plaza Hotel in New York City where insider trading Sen. Bill Frist was given a "Thomas Jefferson Award," an irony of ironies considering Jefferson's well-known adversian to Christianity, his libertarianism, and his rejection of church-state entanglements.
Now, how can I claim can that Perkins is a "terrorist" or no better than one? For one, his campaign to make same-sex marriage illegal, one of many evangelical assaults on human rights. Such campaigns, along with such misguided, Bible-based programs for "curing gays" as Exodus (itself a form of aversion therapy) send a message to young gays and lesbians: "You are not normal. You are abnormal. You need to be treated for your condition," &c. This only makes vulnerable minds assume that what they think or do is a "sin," is "bad," is "sick." This leads to depression and often suicide.

It is a proven fact that gay and lesbian teens are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual schoolmates. These persecuted teens also become victims of homophobic violence, which activity is reinforced by the religio-hate messages of the "Family" this or "Family" that. Isn't it interesting that the same politicians pushing for laws that deprive the sexual minorities of basic human rights also vote against inclusion of "sexual orientation" in criminal code definitions of what constitutes a "hate crime." Duh! If you are dressed a bit campy and someone calling you a "f----t" blows your head off with a Saturday night special, it's kind of obvious it's a hate crime, right?

Tony Perkins, Matthew Shepard died for your sins.

Tony Perkins, you ignorant moron! You have blood on your hands. It is not the Blood of the Lamb but the Blood of your brother's gay son and your lesbian aunt. If Jebus really is coming again, He will be pissed. And Tony Perkins is the first person any truly righteous deity would condemn to the bottomless bowels of a hell not even a pervert like Perkins can imagine.

No, make no mistake, God will be revealed to be Perkins' own conscience once it shakes off the cloud of unknowing and awakens him from his deluded, anti-democratic dream. I don't mind you having your Rapture, but do it in another universe.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Paraphrase Will Rogers

We're the only nation in the world to go into bankruptcy with our BlackBerries.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bailing Out General Motors

The proposed General Motors bailout brings out both the social liberal and fiscal conservative in me; even libertarian conservatives would rather G.M. go in to bankruptcy and, possibly, falter in the end, to no profit to the American people, but my suspicions of hard-line market economics summons up visions of soup lines and Spam (the real kind, not the emails). All those American workers losing their homes and freezing for want of heating oil, which can only go up when O.P.E.C. and Big Oil find a new way to chingle us. (Yes, "chingle." Slang Spanish for "butt fuck," which is what Congress and the multinationals have done to us during the long-running -- pre-Bush II -- laxity in oversight and grossly carte blanch deregulation of the finance industry who probably made all of the last two or three presidents shill men for bullshit and thievery.

So part of me says bankruptcy (where is their stock right now, $4 or something?), and part of me says bailout. This latter is repugnant in the extreme. Each time I pass a pickup or SUV I scream, "Guuuuuuzleeeeer!" I see Arab shiekhs shrieking with laughter, lighting real Havana cigars with hundred dollar bills. So why should we trust anything Congress does. They're just whores for K-Street. When a company has been manufacturing Monster Vehicles for decades, fanning the flames of consumption by massive Madison Avenue ad campaigns, loses ground to smaller, cheaper, less gas-consuming autos and starts bleeding its reserves, why should we come to the rescue? You'd have thought they learning NOTHING by the Volkswagen craze that overtook the entire nation in the 50's. My own father, who once joked that they looked like the object of canine rutting (and had a cartoon of that simile to prove it) bought a Beetle. I got it second hand and only had a relapse once, a Firebird, one of the heaviest autos on the road. Guess what happened to Pontiac?) Who?

Nope, I come down on the bankruptcy unless Congress can aid the workers with low interest loans and extended unempoyment insurance, plus job re-training and severance benefits at some level. I know ecolibs will say, "The Chrysler deal paid us back." That's the point: Chrysler is one of the Big Three asking for bailouts. As Lincoln said (in a different context): "Too many pigs for the teets!"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Tale of Two Voters

We are all racists to one extent or another: biologists say it is "hardwired" into our genetic makeup. I hasten to say, "to one extent or another" because, although many of us grew up hearing racial epithets and, out of a sense of identity, some of us -- probably most, at least when young -- went along with the peer group. My grandmother, who died at 101 a decade ago, never made reference to African-Americans without calling them "nigras." Not "niggers," mind you, but "nigras." I think this was not because she didn't mean "niggers," but because her Texas dialect dictated a variant pronunciation. Her daughter, my mother, referred to her only sibling as her "sistah." My ancestors on that side of the family did not come from Alabama or Mississipi but from central Texas: Austin, in fact.

I was predisposed by such upbringing to mistrust and even disrespect "persons of color." My father instilled in me the notion that on some basic level the Declaration of Independence was correct in positing that "all men are created equal," not just all white people. And although I always suspected he had a racist bone or two in his body, I took his position to heart. When I was in college, I defied a city-wide ban on media coverage of a demonstration in front of downtown Fort Worth movie theatres designed to confront the owners' policy of allowing blacks to sit only in the balconies. When I was awarded journalistic society honors that year for my reporting in the college paper, my coverage of the protest was not the subject of my recognition for having penned the "Best Feature" and the "Best News Story." The same people who handed out the honors were employed by the media that agreed on the blackout.

And while I was not exposed to racial diversity in college -- I don't think our "foreign students" included anyone from African and other black-skinned nations -- I did graduate work at UCLA, as racial diverse an institution of higher learning both then and now as could be envisioned. One night I attended an off-campus party where people were smoking marijuana and I was asked if I wanted to share a joint. I said, "No thanks. My parents told me, if you smoke that stuff you'll move on to heroin sure as hell." At which point an African-American came through the kitchen door, ducking to allow his almost-seven-foot frame to miss the top of the sill.

He looked down at me and bellowed, "You talk too much!" I suddenly realized I had been put in my place by a UCLA basketball player named Lew Alcindor, who had just taken to calling himself by his Black Muslim name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Non-plussed, I could only reply: "I think you're right." I did little talking for the rest of the evening.

A year or two later, I was in the Presidential Suite of the Ambassador Hotel, thanks to the daughter of a huge supporter of the Democratic Party, having drinks with the assembly of folks supporting Robert F. Kennedy, who was giving a speech in the banquet hall downstairs. When word broke on the TV of his assassination and death, the entire room erupted with an almost orgasmic wail of sorrow and grief. I looked about. The suite was liberally populated by African-Americans. I felt what they felt, but in subsequent years I had to reckon with nagging feelings I felt as I had because of the circumstances I had found myself in, that I was grief-struck because I felt it incumbent upon me. This would not diminish the fact that when word of the shooting came, my hand involuntarily gripped my glass so hard that it broke the tumbler, cutting me.

The murder of Martin Luther King did not surprise me, but every time I hear his "I have a dream" speech, I sob. The nomination of Barrack Obama as the Democratic Party's candidate for president is the most thrilling thing that has happened in this country since the election of J.F.K. It is the fulfillment of King's Dream. It is the promise of equality brought to fruition. Obama's speeches move me almost as much as memory of M.L.K. If he actually wins, racial justice will be seen to have advanced exponentially.

Which brings me to two persons I had hoped would both vote for him. Both are friends. Both are in their 70's. One, Marian, was a Hillary supporter; the other, Georgia, an independent who usually votes for Republicans. I had dinner with them prior to the primaries and asked Marian, "If Hillary isn't nominated, will you still vote Democrat?" She said, no, that she couldn't or wouldn't vote for Obama. Georgia said she didn't trust Obama, that he was all talk and no ideas. She would probably vote Republican again, even though it could mean four more years of Bushism.

After Obama was nominated, Marian continued to say she would "just stay home." Then, Obama named Biden as his running mate. That changed Marian's mind. She now planned to vote for Obama-Biden. Georgia's mind was not made up, but she still had serious reservations about voting for Obama. She cited his lack of experience, but I'd heard her refer to African-Americans as "N---rs," so I assumed that nothing Obama could say or do would change her mind. She just doesn't feel comfortable around black people.

In a way, Georgia represents a generation that is fading fast and will be replaced by open-minded, diversity-supportive people. Obama is not only a breath of fresh air, he is a symbol of things to come. He may lose, but his being so close to the White House is itself a sign of the times and a positive promise for the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The McCain Mutiny Court Martial

Now that the GOPS are deserting the sinking ship (of state, or, rather, John McShame's run for the White House), one is reminded of the play and movie, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.. In that story, the chief antagonist ship captain, Queeg, is depicted as lording over a U.S. Navy vessel much in the way the movies have portrayed Captain William Bligh, whose mean-spirited dictates prompted the rebellion aboard the H.M.S. Bounty.

In The Caine Mutiny, Queeg is depicted as going bonkers over who swiped the last servings of fresh strawberries. We soon gather that the man is a service-scarred schizoid with paranoid delusions. When Humphrey Bogart played Queeg in the film version, he used a facial tic and a compulsive habit of squirreling a couple of ball bearings in his palm while he testified at the resulting court martial of the officers who took command of the Caine.

Earlier, I posted a comment saying that the only thing lacking in the Queeg = McShame equation was ball bearings. I now see that I am at least only part incorrect. On Meet the Press today, McShame responded to some tough questions by Tom Brokaw by rolling over and over in his fingers a pen he might have needed for a debate. But this was not a debate; hence, why the writing instrument? Clearly, the pen is McShame/Queeg's set of ball bearings.

It was simply pathetic to sit and listen to his stuttering, illogical, non-sequitrous responses. One heard a desperate man, claiming, for example, that he disagrees with the polls. Duh! What are polls but public expressions of opinion. In effect, McShame disagrees with the public. He claims that it will be a long night November 4th. I don't think so. I think it will all be over by 11 p.m. Eastern. Meanwhile, check out the Great Bogart as Queeg:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is the United States Government a Ponzi Scheme?

For years, I have dutifully paid my taxes and slaved away to save for retirement and almost a third of it has disappeared in two quarters: does that qualify for "recession"? Given that the administration hires experts to make up euphemisms and has been caught red-handed planting yes-men and congressional hearing-style talking pointsmen in White House press conferences, I don't expect anyone to use the "R" word. But if you look at the employment figures, the closures of finance banking institutuions, the once-quirky, now-berserk stock market, and a half dozen or more other indicators, a recession it is.

I am as troubled by the bailouts as much as Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby is. You've seen Shelby on the pundit programs: he's a Republican and the ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee. Shelby's as smart as a whip and knows a pig in a poke when he sees one. He says the Fed can't go on printing money indefinitely and for every destitute corporation with a hand out for a bailout. What happens is, you're borrowing money that can never really be repaid. Those who will pay are our children. Then, there's the certain inflationary spiral that will be an unavoidable consequence. I am tempted to make an allusion to the Weimar Republic. At a certain point, we won't need gasoline to go to the supermarket: we won't be able to buy food.

Now, the Dems and GOPS are dickering as to further bailouts, billions to fix the mortgage mess. Some GOPS don't want any mortgage bailouts on grounds the guilty shouldn't be rewarded at taxpayers' expense, while the Dems in the main, reminding us that the mortgage industry preyed on the weak and ignorant, believe home mortages should be included in the fix-it. The Dems are even moving for caps on CEO salaries to corporations benefitting from the regurgitation; enough of these damned golden parachutes rewarding anyone contributing to their own company's disaster.

Hey, folks, any way you cut it, this whole shit mess boils down to just this: we're indulging in plain old Biblical proportions borrowing Peter to pay Paul. What, pray tell, served as the collateral for all of those newly printed reserve notes? The collateral is a phantom! The United States of America, Inc., is one giant Ponzi scheme. By the time the little guys just entering the game finally fingure out that all of their money is going to the tip of the population triangle, the top 1% of the nation, the CEO of the USA, Inc. is on his merry way, back to Crawford, the World Capital of Bullshit.

Yes, Ponzi! Read his Wikipedia biography if nothing else. (There's also a biography in print.) Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who came, saw, and conquered. He figured out on his very own, most likely from observing Wall Street, that you could fund a pyramidic "entity" that had newcomers paying off the profits to the top co-players. The more new people with funds, the richer the top folk got. That is the way some multinationals operate today: the CEO'S are the Ponzi's. This was one reason McShame sent packing a woman who single-handedly almost demolished Hewlett-Packard and walked off with millions of dollars.

But I am divided myself about the bailouts.

You're also setting a poor example and inviting both a plethora of other importunities as well as rewarding the very twits who got the corporations into the mess we're in. Everyone is p.o.'d, and the blame game may be only in the fourth inning. One of the chief villains would seem those CEO'S with golden parachutes. But there's much too much fault to limit it to one group of people. Dems are pointing to Sen. Phil Gramm's deregulation of the finance industry, the opening of a Pandora's Box of evil demons in mortgage lending, a what's what's of horrors with not even a glance, much less oversight. But, wait! Some of the Dems voted for that bill!

So we shouldn't be too quick to blame the GOPS. Even Secretary Poulson admits that there was "scant oversight at the federal level," but de-rgulation didn't being with Bush II. But you can bet Obama will make much ado of the fact that all three sponsors of the act de-regulating the banking industry were all Republican. And the subprime recession points to that side of the aisle.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why Are the Media Attacking Poor Palin?

Yes, everyone who questions Palin on any subject, especially the Bush III platform of the GOP is a sexist. Everyone who questions vetting or the selection itself is an anti-female clod. Everyone who thinks Palin is right when she says the Surge was not an out-and-out Iraqi political failure is a male chauvinist pig. Solution: Have women do the attacks on Palin. Dee Dee Myers should be hired immediately as Biden's sensitivity advisor; I saw her on CNN this morning and although she scolded the Dems for making too big a thing of McShame = Bush III, she basically said Palin paled. Get Hillary involved: she can remind voters that Roe v. Wade will soon be toast, McShame having made promises to the religious right (even that zombie Richard Land) to put anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court in the event a perceived liberal justice dies or retires. She can say that Palin is a good mother and a lousy office-holder, illustrating with the official oppression incident involving a highway patrolman -- shades of Tricky Dick Nixon's "Enermies List"! -- indicative of a Bush-Cheney-Rovian type of reverse cronyism. Get good Dem women to speak on Obama ads talking about being pro-choice and pro-family, pro sex education to prevent teen pregnancies, and how Palin tugs that Down's syndrome baby around to compliment McShame's endless use of None-Verb-POW. Make women's rights an issue, and Palin will pale.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Things to Consider Before The Voting Booth

Here is a list of things to consider before you pull the lever or electronically record your vote when you go to the polls this November:

1. It will no longer do any good for the Dems to claim that Barack Obama will get us out of Iraq and John McCain will not. Now that the White House has done a 180 and sent Condi to formalize a withdrawal with deadlines, the next president, Obama or McCain, will be stuck with a formal agreement between the U.S. and the Maliki government. These things are not entirely set in stone, especially since the current president wants to sidestep Congress and reach an agreement with Iraq, and the once and future king may decide to shred the document on such grounds. (Treaties have to be ratified. Duh!) This might be unwise, as it could alienate Iraqis eager to see us go, prompting public demonstrations protesting the continuing presence of an imperialist invader.

2. Swiftboating will know no bounds, and most of it will come from GOP operatives. It may be that the party that airs the cleverest TV commercials during the other party's convention, will get a bump. Nobody, not even Jim Carville, can outdo Karl & Co. when it comes to dirty defamations, but rumor has it they're arranging to lure Larry Craig into the Minneapolis Airport, have him arrested in a toilet stall, and held till the convention is over.

3. Although John McShame touts his party's reputation as standing firm against governmental intrusion into our lives, the administration of George W. Bush, a Republican, invaded our privacy in unknown, unknowable, sinister ways that would make Joe McCarthy blush. Now that habeas corpus has been abolished, you can be charged in secret of being a terrorist, arrested, and kept incommunicado without resort to bail, a preliminary hearing, or anything determinative of probable cause. Perhaps Obama will fix that.

(To be continued as the contest rolls on....)


Why I Despise John McShame

Yes, McShame tries to hide behind his P.O.W. past as refuge from any criticism, as witness the silly "five years in one house" TV commercial, put out in a desperate attempt to justify John and Cindy's score or so of houses, condominiums, and other digs. But even Obama praises his "heroism" and "patriotic" service during Vietnam. What is lost upon both candidates is the fact that some of us thought Vietnam an immoral conflict America had no business getting involved in, and one that gave our generation a clear choice: to serve or not to serve. McShame chose to do so. I, and many others, chose not.

It really didn't matter that we had a draft then. Those of us who objected to the war on pacifistic and moral grounds found ways to stay home. McShame did not. Not even waiting to be drafted, McShame blindly followed his family tradition of signing up: he volunteered to fight a war that was odious to many of his generation. While some of us were participating in protests and sit-in's, Mr. Flyboy eagerly joined the fray. For all I know, he dropped napalm indiscriminately on the Vietnamese people, a latter day Arnaud-Amaury, the papal legate chosen to head the Albigensian Crusade, who, being asked how his troops would recognize a Cathar from an ordinary citizen, said: "Kill them all, the Lord will recognize his own."

Given his willing participation in an immoral war, McShame deserves no respect for his service, nor for his imprisonment. We know that many of our captured troops in that conflict were subjected to far greater deprivations and torture yet refused to cooperate with their captors. McShame was not one of them. He did a few cutesy things like telling his tormentors the names of professional football players when requested to list fellow "imperialists," but so what? He caved. Worse, he learned nothing by the experience. Not only did he support Bush's illegal, imperialist invasion of Iraq, he flip-flopped on the waterboarding issue, which made a mockery of his own captivity.

McShame is a dangerous man who wants to attack Iran, get tough with Russia (although we now know, clearly, the Georgians provoked their invasion of South Ossetia). The last person we need in the White House today is a militaristic, jingoistic, slavering warmonger like John McShame. As for all of his dwellings, I'm surprised he hasn't gone whole hog and, in response to queries some Iraqi vets are homeless, sleeping in underpasses, and going hungry, said: "Let them eat cake."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wag the Dog?

Has Hollywood repeated itself, or has history done so? It just occurred to me that perhaps when George W. said he'd looked in Putin's eyes and seen his soul, what he really meant was that he'd seen his evil twin. Psychologically, these two blowhards would seem to have been cut from the same cloth, and it may even be that they mutually agreed to be each other's film studio for their very own wag the dog.

Now that attention needs to be taken off Iraq -- although the right wingnut pundits still blab about surge success and goal-accomplishment ("we're winning the war"), there's that nagging question of political success, divvying up the oil monies among various sects and tribes, and reconciling Shia with Sunni so that there's no Balkan style genocide (what a euphemism, "ethnic cleansing"!). These matters can easily be taken off the 24/7 cycle if only....

That's it! Get Vladimir to invade Georgia. Between that spectacle and the Olympics, you outdo the Roman emperors' gifts of bread and circuses. You may think I am paranoid, but if I learned anything from the Sixties, it was the slogan, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean nobody's out to get you." Yeah, I know, lousy grammar, weak syntax, but you get the idea.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Light Sweet Crude

Nothing upsets me so much as seeing a big pickup or SUV with only the driver inside. When she or he pulls into the convenience store and fills the tank, they shell out three to four times what I do to fill mine, which allows me to think they're more responsible for the ongoing energy crisis because I was wise enough to buy a Toyota Corolla. In a post to one of the egroups I subscribe to, a member made reference to SUV's and parenthetically defined them as "Stupid Useless Vehicles." I soon enough entered my hat into the ring for Fool when I told another subscriber about the definition only to be informed that he owned two of them himself.

But, hey, let's face it: SUV's in particular look like dinosaurs, don't they? I mean, notice how many people have simply parked them in the garage, on the driveway, or (as is most often the case in South Texas) on the lawn. And check out what's going on in Detroit: billion dollar quarterly losses. And at your local dealarship. I even heard a commercial by a dealer offering fifteen thousand dollars off the price of a new SUV! And, now that crude has enjoyed a temporary slump in price (all the way down to $125 a barrel the other day), the SUV's and even the big pickups will see slowly rising sales.

It's all psychology -- and mass psychology at that. The current SUV owners are using them less because they dislike paying throught the nose. Amusingly, one wag put his frustrations on his posted price sign: "Regular Unleaded: An Arm and a Leg." I mean, you can only amputate an arm or a leg once. And when the other two have been cut off, there's nothing left but the head and the unmentionable. I am not about to contend that all of these vehicles at all times of the day, all week, all month, and all year have only one person inside and are only headed for the inflation station (read: grocery store). No, of course not. During the week, the pickup might hold the implements or inventory of the breadwinner's small business, and the SUV during the school year is put to use driving the most precious cargo of all to local schools.

But, generally, speaking, big trucks and SUV's chap my ass. Most have "BUSH-CHENEY 2004" bumper stickers. Some have N.R.A. Some have Jebus fish symbols or "In Case of Rapture, This Vehicle Will be Empty." I don't mind their naive notions about cosmogony, biology, &c., I just wish they didn't throw them in my face. (There are some aspects of Islam that I think have great value; for one, visual depictions of the founder of their religion, Mohammed, are strictly forbidden. That's why not-so-radical Islamists made such ado over the publication of cartoons showing their patriarch as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban.) Seems to me, you have a pretty weak religion if you have to run about with such proclamations of faith on your rear window or bumper. Reminds me of that old homily, "Fools' names and fools' faces always appear in public places."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

McShame, Obama, and the Real Race Card

As the presidential race moves through its pre-debate, mudslinging comic opera phase, we see McShame, lacking any innovative ideas of his own and using fear and race as his only weapon, trades barbs with Obama only to further waste time by making an issue of who used the race card first. The answer is simple: Karl Rove. Nobody could have come up with such a seemingly clever, archly ironic TV commercial as the Britney-Paris fiasco. But Barack seems loathe to explain his reasoning in pointing out the true culprit in the who-hit-first debate, perhaps because getting hung up on the race issue is perceived as crippling to his campaign.

Don't believe it? Have you heard about the GOP cash bonanza this one TV commercial brought in? Obviously, McShame's base wants more dirt. Obama probably would have only exacerbated his problem by pointing out that the juxtaposition of himself with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton -- young, svelte, attractive blonde caucasians -- would revive a stereotype that should have gone out, even in the South, with the death of Martin Luther King, the Rodney King riots, and all of the talk show ironing out of age-old recriminations in their wake. I mean, after all, has anyone seen the Gregory Peck movie, To Kill a Mockingbird?

"N-----s rape white wimin!" There, I said it. In the vernacular of the ignorant, the superstitious, the intolerant, the frightened.

When Obama accused McShame of raising the race card, both men knew what he meant (or Rove and Obama knew): all of the old (conscious and unconscious) fears of white voters all over America would be aroused, brought to bear on the current situation, and used to bolster the argument Obama is "elitist." (I actually learned from a white woman that she wouldn't be voting for Obama because "that's all we'll see in the White House is blacks.") McShame's card: fear of the unknown. It's really Bush III just as MoveOn says, only this time, not having fear of Islamists as a viable strategy, McShame is using fear of African-Americans.

The pundits asked their guests whether the race issue should be debated head-on, and since it appears to be an inevitable component of the '08 elections, how fully should it be investigated and reported? CNN has started a "Black in America" series. A few pundits have expressed views. But the bottom line nitty gritty is not being discussed. The pundits and the pols seem to be saying, "Don't go there." But maybe it's time we should.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Strange Odyssey of T. Bone Puckins

T. Bone Puckins has addressed a subcommittee headed by Joe Lieberman and advanced his precis for what he calls "the Puckins Plan." There, in his most resplendent sartorial splendor, was T. Bone telling us we should wean ourselves of foreign oil by going green: wind turbine electricity in the main, with appropriate tax credits and investment allowances for those who invest.

Lieberman sat and listened, then complimented the speaker's statement as if he were a sworn secret member of the Bush-Cheney energy cabal. To judge by the questioning and answering between GOP senators and T. Bone, the hearing smacked of nothing so much as a prearranged direct approach the better to avoid potential problems by moving obliquely via K-Street.

Wouldn't it be an amusing coincidence if T. Bone owns a lot of land in West Texas, where wind is hardly lacking and doing nothing for the time being but blowing along the tumbleweeds. Oh, wait, later TV commercials tout putting natural gas into our car tanks. Now, I'm certain T. Bone owns a lot of land in West Texas. And North Texas. And East Texas. And.....

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Huffpost's Bete Noir and the McBush-Hagee Connection

Why the hell isn't Max Blumenthal of huffpost running for office? He has pegged the McBush-Hagee connection so precisely, I got jealous reading it. I wish every American would try this one experiment. Pssssst, pass it on! It is this: (1) seat yourself close enough to the TV to take it all in but not waste much space going from face to face; (2) listen carefully to McBush in those sound bites and speech segments in which either Lieberman or Graham (as in Linsie) appears, and WATCH Leiberman's and/or Graham's demeanor, reactions, &c. carefully. You learn a couple of things right off the bat. Lieberman is there to assist McBush in delivering information as needed as well as, in all likelihood, reminders of what McBush can't remember, while Graham is there to look like the rival politician's halfwit son in the wonderful John Ford movie, "The Last Hurrah," with Spencer Tracy playing the wily, almost Machiavellian pol running for his last time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Candidate McBush and His Creepy Clerics: Worse Than Wright?

Senator John McBush (R-Arizona) has accumulated a couple of creepy Christer clerics who make Rev. Wright look like Gandhi. I speak of John Hagee and Rod Parsley, a couple of cracker evangelicals who follow in the footsteps of Pat Robberson and Jerry Falwell and spew the same hateful venom from their snake oil seller's forked tongues. And although McBush claims he doesn't subscribe to everything these two fundamentalist rubes sermonize on, he's given no specifics, so that, for all we know, he disagrees with their claim that there is "a living God." It is time the media forced McBush to reveal his true beliefs about the inane, unconstitutional, and un-American positions taken by this dynamic duo of theocrypto-fascists.

An AP article in today's paper brings news that Hagee ("Catholicism = Whore of Babylon") has apologized the U.S. Catholics and that this is fine with McBush: "[McBush] has said he does not agree with some of Hagee's past comments, but did not reject his support." OK, John,
WHICH past comments? You're beginning to sound guilty of the same transgression you blamed on Obama: pretending to have been unawares. Of course, hypocrisy is the lubricant of political intercourse. As for Hagee, may I echo the Consul in Lowry's Under the Volcano, who observed: "There are some things you can't apologize for." Hagee was quoted as saying that the Catholic Church is the Great Whore of the Book of Revelations; that the Church urges "a Godless theology of hate that no one dared stop for a thousand years...."; and that Hitler worked together with the Roman Church to "shape the policy of the Third Reich." Apparently, the Catholic Church isn't buying the apology. But Hagee's own theology of hate seems boundless. An AP story on the McBush-Hagee Connection accurately summed it up when it said Hagee has made "controversial" comments about "Islam, homosexuality, women, blacks, and hurricane Katrina."

Hagee's eagerness to judge the behavior of others amazes when you consider the following highlights of the man's own sordid career:
  • Resignation under duress from his San Antonio-based Trinity Church in 1975, explaining years of moral impropriety by stating, "My marriage had collapsed and I became immoral in my personal conduct." (Remember Jimmy Swaggart?)
  • Divorce from his wife of 15 years, the mother of his two children.
  • Re-marriage to a congregation member 12 years his junior (his paramour, perhaps?).
  • Violation of the Assemblies of God by-laws, resulting in his excommunication; to put it country simple: defrocked.
  • Politically, supports a joint U.S.-Israeli preemptive military strike on Iran. (McBush must be salivating like Pavlov's dog.)
  • A "hellfire and brimstone" preacher, he has been known to liken J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter to "contemporary witchcraft."
  • Has referred to the Koran as "a mandate to kill Christians and Jews," and likened Arabic peoples and other followers of Islam to Nazis when he said, "[They have] far more than Hitler and Japan and Italy and all of the axis powers in World War II had under arms." (Like me, you may be thinking this dangerous lunatic is a dominionist. They're the most dangerous lunatics around.)
  • Having heard about N'awlins' notorious Southern Decadence gay parade (more outre' than anything at Mardi Gras!), he used his hot line to ascertain that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on the Delta for "a level of sin that is offensive to God." The "homosexual parade" was given as one of the indicia of the offensiveness level.
Although the so-called Christ was known to have said that a rich man will no sooner enter the kingdom than a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle, Rev. Hag draws an annual salary of over ONE MILLION a year, the combined pay from donor-supported ministries including his church and TV ministries. (Like most of those being investigated by the Senate, he probably hides at least the same amount using a twin set of books.)

JOHN McBUSH! I call on you to denounce Rev. Hagee and his rantings as those of a Dangerous Lunatic!

Obama had his cross to bear (you should pardon the expression): Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But Wright wasn't completely WRONG. Hag is. Worse, it isn't enough for McBush to have one "spiritual advisor" (read: pander to evangelicals, including dominionists, who all have bumper stickers reading, "In Case of Rapture, This Car Will Be Empty"), he has to be one up on Barack: he has TWO.

The other one is Rod Parsley, and folks, he's just as much a piece of work as The Hag. A Pentecostal, he claims presidency of the Center for Moral Clarity. I'm not kidding you. That is the name of it. He has just as many subsidiaries and fingers in the evangelical pie as The Hag, and his pedigree includes a degree from Falwell University. His cable ministry is as big as Tammy Faye before the Fall. Here are a few of his biographical attainments:
  • He had his conversion/revelation/epiphany when he witnessed the signing of the Partial Birth Abortion ban.
  • He is opposed to the concept of separation of church and state and claims it cannot be found in the Constitution. (Shhhhhh!, don't wake up Thomas Jefferson!)
  • He criticized Sweden for imprisonment of a Pentecostal preacher, Ake Green, when the latter sermonized snarkily on homosexuality, which Green likened to "an abnormal, horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society," and called homosexuals "perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil used as his strongest weapon against God," finally concluding that "a person cannot be a Christian and a homosexual at the same time." (Don't tell Troy Perry and his Metropolitan Community Church congregations!) Oh, the Parsley-Green animus is exacerbated by the fact that, in Green's words, "homosexuality is chosen, not inborn," in spite of scientific evidence showing exactly the opposite.
  • He used his pulpit to help Ohioans pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and woman, and likened same-sex educational materials to racism. (Huh? That one escapes even me.)
  • He believes that Planned Parenthood commits genocide against African-Americans because it helps them arrange abortions.
  • He supported John Roberts for the Supreme Court.
  • He's said that Islam is a "false religion" and that "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing [it] destroyed." (Gee, Rod, I hope you don't tell all those Arab-speaking monarchies we've armed to the hilt!)
  • He's a card carrying member of the dominionists, who are as dangerous as jihadists in their misguided belief in a Neo-Calvinist eschatology: the Final Battle will end Planet Earth as we know it; after all, the Bubble tells us it will happen in the Holy Land and Russia will be a major player. (This perhaps explains the dominionists' slow reluctance to admit there's anything such as global warming; since everything is written and the elect have nothing to worry about, do nothing to turn the tide. This is the same dangerous propaganda Tim LeHaye and Cronies have been peddling as science fiction for Christers. One wee problem: when you treat things as foregone conclusions, you can justify anything to bring them about, including suicide bombings abroad and attacks on democratic ideals at home. It turns one fallacy these morons are famous for -- post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- on its head, inviting an effect to produce its cause.)
Parsley's tax-exempt status has been called into question, in part for crossing the line between religion and politics, which is a Constitutional concept Rev. Parsley would not understand.

Sen. Grassley, DO YOUR

JOHN McBUSH! I call on you to denounce Rev. Parsley and his rantings as those of a Dangerous Lunatic!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crooks, Liars, and Why the Dems May be in Trouble

Crooks and Liars (url: is a favorite blogging/comment site. Its liberal-leftist orientation provides me a perfect home for my thoughts. The items posted daily (and replaced by breaking eventualities) cover politics in a way Joseph Pulitzer never fantasized about. Right now, they appear to be partial to Obama. A listing in their Sunday Talking Heads schedule: "NBC’s 'Meet the Press' - Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; McAuliffe," seemed to me a bit partisan until I realized John Amato and crew had identified the chairman of the Clinton campaign in an earlier listing. I realized: these guys are on top of their game.

Ruster asked McAuliffe why Hillary was running such a negative campaign, shocking party bigwigs and GOPS alike. Why, for example, one should not conclude Hillary has lost her marbles: caught on a reporter's mic and groggy from stumping, she pronounced what the statistics and exit poll interviews were showing (and, duh!) what everyone already knew: that African-Americans are going for Obama; working class whites, for Clinton.

So why is everybody so shocked -- I say, SHOCKED! -- that Hillary was telling the truth? Some of her supporters -- I, myself, included -- think she has gone to unfortunate extremes to win and that by now she should have seen the handwriting on the wall. But I'll tell you one thing, that woman is one hell of a presidential candidate! I am as proud of her run as I am weary of her sometimes unsavory tactics. Barack isn't going to ask her to join his ticket -- he'd do well to pick a running mate from the ethnic and economic class forming Hillary's base: white, low-middle class, working men. They didn't much appreciate Obama's "bitter" remarks; they didn't like his bowling game; they don't drink Starbucks lattes, and they don't drive Volvos.

One is left with a gnawing fear one had at the beginning of the debates: do the GOPS want an African-American or a woman opposing their candidate of choice? Let me illustrate an element of the equation, first pointing out that I, the Great Jimminy, told anyone reading my Crooks and Liars comments, at least since last fall, that the GOP wants Obama on the ticket. That impression only strengthened my convictions as the Hillary-Barack slugfest really got going.

My reasoning was simple: The GOPS think that an African-American cannot be elected President. Let me offer at least anecdotal evidence as to why this is so. Remember, first, that Karl Rove is working for McBush, as an advisor. That guy might be a scum sucking pig, but he's a master player in the Machiavellian sense. He's also about as legitimate as a sociopathic lunatic bastard turning up at Mother's Day. These sleazoids will play every race card that comes their way; if it's too off the wall for the candidate, Rove McBush will see to it that it's sponsored by a rogue surrogate group over which they have no control. It's Patriotic Christians of America (PCA) vs. "the guy who listens to Rev. Wright."

My friend Rebecca is a 70-something liberal. She is a Hillary supporter. I asked her why she didn't support Obama and she used the usual anti-Barack talking points (lack of experience and lacking in substance are a couple) in taking the position that the Dems have but one candidate and she doesn't hail from Chicago. Now that the primary campaign is beginning to look like a slight Obama victory -- far short of a mandate -- I wanted to know if Becky had changed her position. That is, will she at least support Obama or would she vote for McSame?

"I'll stay home," she said.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

W. C. Fields, Where Are You Now That We Need You?

One of the more famous sayings of the late vaudeville and movie comedian W. C. Fields had it that "anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad." A concomitant, to my way of thinking, might be, "anyone who uses children or dogs in TV commercials can't be any good."

Commercials featuring children and dogs for infant formula, diapers, and dog food are OK: they don't exploit children and dogs except insofar as their use of them is to sell the very product they're hawking. This type of commercial is almost exclusively limited to a nationwide audience and pays for programming on the broadcast and cable networks. It is local advertising that exploits children and dogs to sell products having little or nothing to do with the goods or services they're selling. This is odious -- shameless exploitation.

Take our local mattress retailer, who calls his business "Chubby's Mattress Company." A chubby little man himself, the owner is shown sitting next to a bed, holding a medium-sized shaggy dog in his lap. That's Chubby. (The owner has also been shown snoozing on one of his mattresses, and the dog has, too.)

I've been tempted to drop by his store and ask if I can see Chubby. More than likely, the pet is at home where, no doubt, the owner beats him regularly, feeds him 25-cent canned dog food, and never lets him in the house. When the salespersons tells me that Chubby is not there, I will go back to my office and and prepare a petition for deceptive trade lawsuit; after all, the TV ads imply that I will get to see Chubby if I stop by the mattress store. Lest you wonder if such a suit might be "frivolous," asking, for example, "How have you been damaged?" I respond: "Like George W. Bush, are you totally ignorant about the cost of gasoline?"

The same could be said of a local automobile tire dealer, Delta. The owner himself started out appearing as a child on his dad's TV ads. Now grown up and a father himself, he regularly holds up his 3- or 4-year-old son, a cute little blond boy, to hype "lowest tire prices in town." I used to enjoy this guy's commercials, but now that he's selling his son on TV, I can't bear to watch them. And that is precisely what he's up to: selling his son. If you have a good product or services, you shouldn't have to rely on cutesy pets and offspring to sell what you're offering. It cheapens the product or services, and it prostitutes dogs and children.

I wouldn't trade with this mattress store or tire outlet if they were the last such establishment in town. I'd drive 140 miles north to the next large city where, hopefully, they eschew use of small beings to sell merchandise. Oh, by the way, there is another mattress store in town that features the son of the owner, directly competing with Chubby's dog. As ours is a South Texas city with a disproportionately Hispanic population ("Anglos" being in the minority), the commercial itself is in English; but when it ends, a small boys beams, saying, "Donde su compra con mucho gusto!" I'd rather shop elsewhere, thank you.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Face on John McCain's Door Knocker

Ronnie was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial in Simi Valley was signed by representatives, senators, and supreme court justices. McCain himself signed it: and McCain's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Ronnie was dead as a door-nail.

And so it was that McCain was greatly surprised to see the face of Ronnie on the door-knocker of his Phoenix residence one Christmas eve, coming home from a round of stumping, including ingestion of the customarily inedible stump food. He muttered "Bah! Humbug!" at seeing Ronnie's visage on the door-knocker, attributing it as he did to something he'd eaten, a bit of gristle perhaps, in stump food mystery meat.

But upon going up to bed (Cindy Lou was away), McCain was startled by the sound of clanking metal and a heavy banging at his boudoir door and more startled still when the door was opened by someone or something that looked like -- no, it couldn't be -- Ronnie! Disbelieving his eyes, McCain again protested: "Humbug I say!" and reiterated aloud his hunch that the phantasm was caused by indigestion. "You may be an undigested bit of fajita I had at Hispanics for John McCain, or a crumb of chitlin's from the rally of African-American Republicans.

At this, the ghostly specter before him expressed disagreement with this conclusion by rattling a heavy chain wrapped 'round his body, a chain with life-sized bracelet "charms" attached. These included AK-47's, large tape-wrapped packs of Colombian cocaine, and VHS cassettes of Senate testimony pertaining to the Iran-Contra affair. When McCain inquired of Ronnie why he bore such burdens even in death, Ronnie replied almost angrily: "This is the chain I forged in life...." and then, he warned: "You will be haunted by Three Spirits. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One, the second the next night at the same time, and the third the following night just past twelve," and with that, the spirit floated out the window.

McCain went to bed and, sure enough, at the stroke of one, the curtains of his bed were drawn back by a spirit. McCain squinted, thinking the figure before him bore a resemblance to someone he knew (or knew of); yes, it was the nose: long, with an odd upward curve at the end -- and the lips and chin which, despite being closely shaved, looked like they had a perpetual five o'clock shadow and glistened with tiny beads of perspiration. The spirit announced: "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."

"Long past?" McCain asked.

"No. Your past." The spirit bade McCain to touch his robe and, with that, the two of them floated away to the senator's childhood in the Panama Canal Zone (which would, years later, be bombed mercilessly by a GOP president using capture of Noriega as an excuse)...."I see a student playboy at the Naval Academy, graduating last in his class..." Fades and dissolves to other high points in McCain's life, such as dissing America on threat of torture by his Vietcong captors (and, later, relenting on demands that the U.S. cease torturing suspected terrorists at an American military installation in another Latin American country, betraying the very ideals he claimed to stand for, the better to tow the party line and, perhaps, pass muster with the party's neocons).

The spirit went on: "I see a young senator interfering with the orderly administration of justice to help out a campaign contributor and crony named Keating...." And on: "I see a tireless advocate for the tobacco industry though he knows cigarettes cause cancer and that when Americans wake up to the fact that the industry regards them as 'nicotine delivery devices,' the multinationals will start hooking Asians and Africans on them...." And on: "I see a fat-faced, double-chinned man doing a hatchet job on a Dem candidate for president and after giving lip service to the notion that it's dirty tricks, the now-older senator lets it happen for the good of the party...."

"I see a skin cancer patient enjoying the benefits of free medical treatment as a senatorial perk but doing nothing to aid millions of Americans who can't afford health insurance...." By now, McCain was feeling a bit guilty; however, hidebound hack that he was, he smirked , but it was a nervous smirk. After all, one cannot be too careful around ghosts. "Leave me!" he asked the spirit. "Take me back! Show me no more!"

The second spirit arrived on time -- at the stroke of one the following day. It was ensconced upon a sort of throne and surrounded by all manner of cakes and ale, succulent fruit and Christmas fare: a turkey and all the trimmin's as well as a huge horn of plenty with rich candies and nutmeats spilling from it. The spirit sat atop all this, a jolly giant bidding McCain: "Come in! and know me better, man!...I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon me!...Touch my robe!"

They were now transported to New Orleans, to a house in the lower Ninth Ward. A family is having a Christmas dinner of canned Perdue chicken (processed by illegal aliens), dressing made of last week's cornbread, and some hand-out peas from the Food Bank. The family, squatting, has no roof overhead as the woodframe house has been marked for demolition. The youngest male child, Li'l Tim, has a severe cough from drafts (makeshift tarps for windows, odd bits of shredded plywood for a ceiling). The father says, "A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!," to which the family echoes, and Li'l Tim, last of all, says: "God bless us every one!"

"Spirit," McCain inquires, "tell me if Li'l Tim will live."

"I see a vacant seat in the poor corner. If these shadows remain unaltered by FEMA and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the child will die."

The last of the spirits arrived exactly on time, but he was the most frightening apparition of all: a phantom in black whose cowl concealed his face. His presence filled McCain with a solemn dread. He tried to speak to the spirit, but it merely motioned him onward, ignoring his question, "Am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?" Now, they were in the U. S. Senate during a short recess. A Dem was talking to a GOP, saying, "He had a nasty temper didn't he?" To which the GOP answered: "Beastly! When that man got in your face, his facial veins bulged, he turned red as a beet, and you could almost see smoke coming out his ears and nostrils."

The phantom took McCain to the house in Phoenix where Cindy Lou was weeping in a room adjacent to the study. There, an auctioneer was selling off McCain's personal effects. The ghost then ushered McCain to the National Cemetery at Arlington, where it pointed a finger at a particular gravestone. McCain said, "Before I draw nearer to that stone, answer me one question; are these the shadows of things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?" Still, the phantom pointed to the gravestone, which read:

JOHN SIDNEY McCAIN III (August 29, 1936 - November 3, 2008)

"Spirit!" McCain said, trembling, "why show me this if I am beyond hope? No, Spirit! Oh, no, no! Spirit, hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Your nature intercedes for me and pities me. I promise to quit pandering to the fanatical religious right, currying the favor of the neocons at CPAC. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life! I will honor Christmas in my heart. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"

McCain thought he had grasped the phantom's robe, but he soon enough realized it was his bed curtains. He was awake and heard the sound of cathedral bells. He went to the window and inquired of a small boy passing in the street, "What day is this?" to which the puzzled boy answered, "Today? Why, it's Christmas day!"

After dancing and prancing about the room, giggling like a schoolgirl, he went downstairs, raised his undocumented Salvidorian domestic's salary from $1.50 an hour to $2.25, and, calling the broker of his blind trust, ordered him to sell all of his stock in Perdue Farms. And, with that, John McCain let go a self-satisfied sigh. He thought, at least it was a start.

Moments later, though, he said, again, "Bah, humbug!" for now he was certain the spirits had been nothing but a bit of gristle from stump food. He called his broker back and said to cancel the Purdue Farms sell order.