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Tuesday, March 22, 2005




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Monday, November 03, 2003

The gravy train rolls on


A missile attack claims the lives of 16 troops in Iraq, in the single deadliest incident (for the US) in the war, and the venal Donald Rumsfeld unctuously bleats about the need for sacrifice. Well, sure - he and his fat cat buddies aren't the ones sacrificing anything. On the contrary, the feasting by repug donors at the trough filled with taxpayer billions is getting so unseemly that even the supinely subservient "liberal media" is starting to look askance at this feeding frenzy.

On the home front of the war against rights (oops, I mean terror), similar inequities are glaringly evident. Congress has showered rural, sparesly populated states and small towns with millions to buy the latest in high-tech anti-terrorism equipment, while large cities that are far more likely to be terrorism targets go begging for funds. A table published in the print edition of USA Today showed anti-terrorism funding per capita. Blue states like California and New York are at or near the bottom of the table. The winner, getting the most funds per capita, was Wyoming, home state of Commander-in-Secret Dick Cheney. Quelle surprise!

I don't know which disgusts me more about the RRR, their mealy-mouthed sanctimonious hypocrisy or their blatant corrupt sleaziness.

Fox f*x up again...


This is priceless! Faux News obviously learned nothing from having its lawsuit against Al Franken laughed out of court. Incensed by a parody of its scrolling propaganda ticker on "The Simpsons", Fox threatened to sue... itself! (See Yahoo! News report.)

As Homer would say: D'oh!

Saturday, October 25, 2003

There is no god but Gun, and Charlton Heston is its Prophet


It recently emerged that the NRA is maintaining an enemies hit list containing thousands of names of corporations, individuals and charitable and civic groups. From Maya Angelou to Moon Unit Zappa, sports teams to phone companies, the list of thousands of names offers a chilling insight into the paranoia of this secretive, near-omnipotent and unaccountable cabal.

The NRA is the most powerful, extremist and dangerous private organization in the US. Its goal is the mindless proliferation of guns in our streets, schools and workplaces, with callous contempt for public safety. It spoon-feeds its unthinking zealot membership quasi-racist diatribes about impending social collapse, and whips them up into a frenzy of fetishistic worship of guns and foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of "gun grabbers", i.e. anyone who thinks that there should be any restrictions whatsoever on untramelled, free-for-all gun ownership.

The NRA wraps itself in the flag and trumpets itself as the ultimate defender of freedom and democracy, while cynically collecting millions in kickbacks from the gun industry, which makes windfall profits from flooding the US with many times more weapons than could ever be justified on any rational grounds. To reinvigorate a saturated market, the industry keeps churning out increasingly high-powered and concealable weapons, and pushing them on immature Rambo wannabees, with the aid of the sycophantic gun press which seems physically unable to write a negative review of even the shoddiest street sweeper (see Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America by Tom Diaz.)

In Missouri, the NRA forces a concealed-carry law onto the books, brushing aside the minor matter that concealed weapons are explicitly forbidden by the state constitution. (It was voter anger at the NRA's heavy-handed tactics - aided and abetted by John Ash-hole - which led to the latter's defeat in the 2000 elections by the dead Mel Carnahan.)

In // posted by Goddam Liberal @ 5:33 PM

Friday, October 24, 2003

He's on a mission from God...


Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rid the world of fags. As always, should you or any of your agents be caught or killed, Pat Robertson will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This bible will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Fred.

Fred Phelps represents the very ugliest face of Christianity. This hate-filled, wife-beating, child-abusing ogre and his inbred hillbilly clan have been spewing venom against gays - and pretty much everyone else - for many years now. He preaches that 9/11 and the Columbia shuttle tragedy are God's punishment on the US. His latest tactic: erecting an anti-gay monument in a city park in Casper, Wyoming, with the legend: "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22". Phelps is relying on a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that if a city displays a Ten Commandments monument on public property, it must also allow monuments expressing other religious or political points of view.

Casper has had a 10C monument on public land since 1965, and has responded with derision to appeals from secularists to remove it on constitutional grounds. Now they are faced with the can of worms they have opened by promoting their private religious beliefs with public resources. Some city fathers are considering selling the miniscule parcel of land underneath the monument to a private group, in a cowardly and dishonest tactic which has been practiced by many other cities - even ultra-liberal San Francisco - though this maneuver would never pass muster with an objective court.

It would be easy to dismiss Phelps as an aberration, a freak who in no way represents Christianity. This is the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. The fact is that Phelps is the one who is being consistent, taking the hatred and bloodthirstiness in the bible (and not just the Old Testament) to its logical conclusion. People like the Casper city councilors want to have it both ways - they want to feel smug and superior by pushing the bible on others, but they want to pick and choose from it.

The bible, let's face it, was written by a primitive, pre-scientific, ignorant, bloodthirsty and barbaric people to aggrandize themselves, excuse their genocides and other crimes, and vilify their enemies. Thomas Paine was, if anything, being restrained when he wrote: "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel." Anyone who imagines that this vicious screed of hatred and bloodshed is a textbook for science or morality should be locked up where they can't hurt anyone.

Today the bible functions mainly as a Rorschach test for believers. I have known many Christians who were decent, kind people. I suspect they would have been decent and kind people anyway; they just pick the warm and fuzzy parts of the bible to bolster their worldview. But if you are a rigid, judgmental person who delights in the suffering of others, you will find the bible chock full of ammunition, and it will only make you more rigid, judgmental and unthinking.

In the developed world, religion is seen more and more as an institution of purely historical interest, irrelevant to today's concerns. Church attendance figures are in single digits in much of Western Europe. A humanistic consensus on the inherent rights and dignity of the individual is rightfully taking the place of the sectarian and divisive creeds of the past. Unfortunately, in the third world (and in this context I include the US), fundamentalist religion is increasing in political power and becoming ever more rabid and fervent. The line between politics and religion is blurred to the point of invisibility. Religiopolitical leaders can't complete a sentence without invoking some Bronze-age deity, whether it's "death to infidels" or "God bless America".

Here in the US, RRR blowhards are openly calling for suspension of the Constitution and a "return" to a Biblical America. Which raises the question: when was the last time the bible was used as the basis of civil government?

Answer: the Dark Ages.

// posted by Goddam Liberal @ 12:01 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Play the race card, win the green card


Unless you've been living in a cave on the far side of the moon for the last twenty years, you are surely aware that US immigration policy has collapsed into a miasmic mess. Worse still, rational discussion of the issue is impossible because the race card is constantly being played. The argument seems to be coalescing around two poles. On one hand, there are those who would turn the border into one giant minefield complete with machine-gun nests every twenty feet. Then there is the "let's toss around green cards like confetti" brigade which thinks that being Hispanic gives you a basic human right to enter the US at will, without papers, without having to bother with any of the rules that apply to everyone else, and then to collect welfare, driver's licenses, free education (exclusively in Spanish), free healthcare, free everything - and anyone who says otherwise is a despicable racist.

Clearly, the current situation is unsustainable. We have admitted defeat in enforcing immigration laws, turning a blind eye to the mobs of illegal day laborers who swarm around intersections and home-improvement store parking lots. Our schools, hospitals and prison systems are being driven to bankruptcy by the crippling burden caused by illegal immigration. Illegals use emergency rooms for routine health care, knowing that by law they can't be turned away, with the result that seriously injured and ill citizens and legal residents often go without treatment - especially when the ER is forced to close for lack of funds. We have created a huge and explosively growing underclass trapped in the lowest tier of the service industries, a breeding ground for resentment and Balkanization which will inevitably spill over into violence and even terrorism in the near future.

I must say I can't blame the illegals for coming here. Their own country is a bottomless cesspit of poverty and corruption, which has utterly failed to give them any chance at making a living. And most of the illegal immigrants I've met have been hard workers, honest and respectful, glad of the opportunity to support their families.

The problems usually begin with the next generation. Trapped in the linguistic ghetto created by "bilingual" education, spoon-fed a diet of victimism and anti-gringo resentment (even while they benefit from "diversity" quotas in education), they drift into toxic, racist organizations like Mecha and think that the world owes them a living, that they can act as they please without consequences, and even that they can achieve "reconquista" of the mythical kingdom of Aztlan, forcing the US to cede a vast tract of the western states to Mexico. Already, huge swathes of Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities have for all practical purposes been annexed by Mexico, though US taxpayers still have to pick up the tab.

Many liberals claim that illegals are indispensible because they do the work that "no American will do at any price" and that the economy will collapse overnight without their labor. Ironically, people who take this position are useful idiots for cheap-labor capitalists who love being able to pay sub-minimum wages and don't care about the vastly greater downside to society as a whole. Anyway, their arguments are false. I would be perfectly happy to work as a busboy for $80 an hour. Many others would do the work for $8 an hour, some for $6 an hour and so on.

And let's be realistic, how valuable is the labor of unskilled, illiterate campesinos? Certainly not infinitely valuable. And not as valuable as the labor of highly skilled and educated H-1B visa holders, without whom Silicon Valley and other tech centers across the US most definitely would collapse overnight. Yet H-1B workers are treated much more shoddily by immigration laws. They are basically in a position of indentured servitude to the employer who sponsors them. They can stay for a maximum of three years, renewable once, with no prospect of a green card except in the rare cases where the employer agrees to undergo the Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare of sponsoring them for permanent residency. If they lose their job for any reason, they have ten days to get out of the US - regardless of how important their work is, regardless of whether they have US-born children in school, regardless of any personal circumstances whatsoever.

Obviously, eight billion people can't immigrate to the US, legally or otherwise. Many feel that the country is already overpopulated, and that endless uncontrolled immigration is having a permanently depressing effect on wages. The days when one breadwinner of average education could support a family are long gone.

It makes more sense for the US to export its ideals of democracy and prosperity to other countries. (And it wouldn't hurt if we made more of an effort to live up to those ideals here.) Mexico has no incentive to get its act together as long as it can keep dumping its surplus population on the US. In the long run, border security can only come when Mexicans can make a living in their own country. The same applies, of course, to other Latin American countries. Raising prosperity all round leads to lower birth rates and a better standard of living in the third world, and better security and stability for the US. It's an obvious win-win situation.

Ironically, the tighter we try to seal the border, the worse the problem gets. A few decades ago, when people could cross at will, a man would leave his family behind in Mexico to work north of the border. He would send them money and visit them a few times a year. Now he realizes that if he leaves his family behind, he may never see them again. So he takes them with him, and instead of one illegal immigrant we may have fifteen. And that's only the beginning of the crippling burden on our schools etc. already mentioned.

Obviously we can't sit around and wait for Mexico and other countries to get more prosperous. We need to regularize the current situation. There is a huge demand for unskilled labor and an unlimited supply. This reality must be accommodated without encouraging people to break the law.

Is this program realistic? Probably not. The restrictions on businesses that hire illegals, and safeguards for the rights of immigrant workers, will inflame the reactionaries who make out like bandits on illegal labor. The emphasis on personal responsibility for the workers will make the political-correctoids just as livid. And of course, for all its pious rhetoric, Uncle Sam doesn't want democracy in third-world countries - it wants autocratic dictators who will sell out their countries' resources to the mega-corporations, and doesn't care how much blood it sheds installing and maintaining them.

But even the most blinkered reactionary must eventually see that when we run roughshod over other countries and keep them in a state of servitude, the chickens come home to roost in the form of millions of illegal immigrants. And it's becoming alarmingly clear that unless common sense trumps both greed and the race card, the very future of this country is in danger.

// posted by Goddam Liberal @ 11:19 AM

Monday, October 20, 2003

One Nation, undereducated


Let's see, the US economy has gone to hell in a handbasket, 3.3 million jobs are down the toilet, and Iraq becomes more of a quagmire every day, even as the caviar-eating invasion monkeys seek to drag us into new quagmires in Iran, Syria and Venezuela - so what's the most pressing issue facing us today? Yep, it's the two words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance!

I previously wrote about the surreal spectacle of children chanting robotically in unison about how free they are, in a ritual more reminiscent of Nazi Germany than a free democracy. (Note that giving the Nazi-style salute to the US flag during the Pledge of Allegiance is in fact historically accurate.) Have you ever thought about what a monumental waste of time and exercise in pointlessness this bizarre rigmarole is? Since the demise of the Soviet Union, only a handful of third-world dictatorships - and the US - force their children to pledge allegiance in a daily state-sanctioned ceremony. Surely the time would be better spent doing the job schools are supposed to do: educating children.

Let's start with a little remedial civics lesson. Despite the claims of the RRR (and, frighteningly, of a certain senior Pentagon official with responsibility for US policy in Islamic regions), the US is not and has never been a "Christian Nation". Exercise for the reader: how many times do the words "Jesus", "Christ" or "Christian" occur in the Constitution? The answer should put paid to the endless lies and distortions of the religious right.

Yes, I know that, theoretically, children are not forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But anyone who pretends that a six-year-old can resist the pressure of a teacher and a whole roomful of peers to join in, is a fool and/or a liar. And let's get one thing straight: if you are pledging allegiance to "one nation under God", you are pledging allegiance to God! The nation is just a middleman. Why is the federal government in the business of forcing children to pledge allegiance to the Christian God?

And don't insult my intelligence with the weasely assertion that the pledge doesn't exclude anyone because it is directed to some kind of generic god. The RRR has made its agenda very clear - to force its narrow, rigid sect of unthinking dogmatic fundamentalism on everyone - but like Peter denying Jesus, it doesn't have the courage to stand up and be counted, instead issuing mealy-mouthed prevarications about "ceremonial deism" which is commonly used as a justification for all the other Christian trappings which are ubiquitous in public life.

Oh, and don't bother asking me if I'll give you all my money because it has "In God we trust" on it. As Michael Newdow pointed out, this is like arguing in Brown v. Board of Education  that if segregation is okay at the ballpark and the water cooler, it must be allowed in schools.

Pledge pushers should be aware that "under God" was only added to the pledge in 1954, at the height of the McCarthyist witch-hunting hysteria, following a campaign by the Knights of Columbus with the explicit goal of promoting Christianity. Dwight Eisenhower, singing the law which inserted the words into the pledge, declared: "From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty - a patriotic oath and a public prayer."

If I had my way, not only would "under God" be stricken from the pledge but the pledge itself would be abolished, and children would instead be encouraged to think about and discuss the meaning of the words they currently must chant mindlessly. But then a thinking and educated citizenry is the last thing the ruling elite wants - it's their worst nightmare.

// posted by Goddam Liberal @ 2:16 PM

Monday, October 13, 2003

Oh for recalling out loud...


Yesterday California, tomorrow Arizona?

Posted without further comment: (link)

// posted by Goddam Liberal @ 12:09 PM

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