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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Total Recall


The Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop! Ever! Until you are DEAD!

Okay, I'm not saying Ah-nold is the bad guy in the California governor recall fiasco (ha, I bet you didn't guess that's where I was going with this). The indications at this point are that Schwarzenegger won't run in the recall election. However, the previous paragraph sounds like a pretty good description of the RRR, don't you think? Look at the pattern that has emerged over the last few years.What does it all add up to? Massive contempt and disregard for the will of the voters. Though they wrap themselves in their flags and thump their bibles, it's clear that the RRR is the most un-American, anti-democratic and authoritarian movement the US has ever seen.

The sad thing is that RRR strategists like Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay made it very clear what their agenda is - in their own word, "Revolution". Their "contract with America" was a contract on America!

The 2004 election may be our last chance to take this country back - if there is  a 2004 election. Or will there be some conveniently-timed terrorist attack which whips up the population into a frenzy of blind, unreasoning xenophobia, and provides a rationale for suspending the elections and invading some other oil-rich Middle East nation? Stay tuned!



Monday, July 28, 2003

Lies, Damned Lies... Part II


"Those stupid liberals are getting their knickers in a knot over a piddly 16 words in the State of the Union address." That's the repug spin on Junior's crumbling credibility. What they conveniently overlook is the current administration's long track record of lying to and misleading the US public about Iraq. Click here for a good exposition of the lies of Junior and his henchmen. But then, what can you expect from someone whose entire presidency - no, entire political career - is a lie. He wasn't a "compassionate conservative" (an oxymoron if ever there was one), he wasn't elected by the voters - he makes Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf look like a boy scout.

Bill Clinton was impeached over a "DNA stain" on a blue cocktail dress. Junior's lies get hundreds of US troops and tens of thousands of civilians killed in an unprovoked war against a sovereign nation that poses no threat to US security. So who is more deserving of impeachment? You decide!


Friday, July 18, 2003

In other news...


I heard there was a big security scare during Junior's African tour. Apparently some guy manged to get past security and onto Air Force One despite having no credentials whatsoever. I believe his name was George Bush Junior.

What is liberalism?


Okay, let's get serious for a moment. What is liberalism? Is it all about hugging trees, eating granola and calling blind people "visually differently abled?" What's the difference between liberalism and libertarianism? Allow me to present my thoughts.

When you look at human history as a whole, a clear thread is discernible. In early societies, all power and wealth was concentrated in a tiny group of elites – kings, holy men etc. – and the only way to join the elite was to be born into it. Everyone else was just a beast of burden. As time went on, power and wealth gradually diffused down to local lords and squires. Today, in principle, everyone has some political power (in the form of the vote) and some shot at wealth. This seems to be an irreversible trend because not only is it better for the "common man" but because many of the powerful and wealthy recognize that the old system was terribly wasteful of human talent. Give everyone at least some chance at achieving his/her potential and there will be more innovation, more creativity, more wealth for all – a win-win situation.

It seems to me that liberalism is simply the recognition that:
  1. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of skin color, accident of birth etc.
  2. Human rights must be protected against privileged elites.
  3. What we do affects others, and cognizance of this reality must temper our actions.
As I see it, "libertarianism" means the law of the jungle – the powerful prey on the weaker, and grow richer at their expense, and we revert to the feudalism of former times. Look at how CEO's build $10 million mansions (with other people's money) as shrines to themselves while casually destroying thousands of livelihoods with layoffs for the sake of layoffs. At least in feudal times, serfs had some job security.

Totally untrammeled freedom is a pipe dream – it doesn't work in practice any better than totalitarianism. It's not a question of evil liberals wanting to destroy other people's freedom – it's about facing reality. Your rights are constrained by other people's rights. If we want to live in a civilized society rather than a jungle, we must accept some reasonable limitations on our actions. The result is a society that offers greater choices and opportunities to all, and everyone benefits.

Of course some liberals push things too far with political correctness, pandering to victimism and gender/ethnic identity politics. But there is a whole spectrum of beliefs among liberals. We are not all mindless, faceless zombies, contrary to the rantings of Rush Limbaugh and his various clones. There is no ideology that has all the answers – it's all about finding a balancing point, recognizing that there are trade-offs and judging each issue on its merits. Anyone who says that the answers are to be found at one extreme or the other is a naïve and dangerous fool. There are no easy answers! All we can do is try to deal intelligently and humanely with problems as they arise.

Can liberalism make a comeback in US politics? I believe we can, but only if we get back to basics and reclaim the proud word "liberal" from the ignorant strawman attacks of the extreme right.


Lies, Damn Lies, and State of the Union Addresses


Pinhead "president" George Bush Junior, forgetting that "the buck stops here", is eager to pin the blame for his lies about Iraq on his CIA chief, and even more treacherously, on his poodle, Tony Blair. "The data was cooked by the intelligence community." BS! It was cooked by the stupidity  community.

I must say, though, I had a good laugh when Junior said his intelligence was "darn good". I laughed almost as hard as when he said "The terrorists hate us for our democracy, our freedom to choose our leaders."

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Fanning the Flames


It's interesting to watch the process by which the RRR creates "facts" with which to beat liberals over the head. Last summer, Arizona was suffering a bad fire season (the Rodeo-Chediski fire was the worst to date, covering an area larger than metro Phoenix). Arizona senator Jon Kyl, eager to display leadership in a time of crisis, gave a press conference at which he denounced environmentalists for causing the fires. He asserted fatuously that the National Forest Service spent 40% of its budget defending itself against lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club. Even the Forest Service pointed out politely that Kyl was full of it, and Kyl was unable to cite a single lawsuit filed in Arizona by environmentalists that had held up a prescribed burn, but it didn't matter. The next day, Arizona governess Jane "Pumpkinhead" Hull repeated the claim. By now it had already become gospel truth in the tiny minds of the conservative sheeple. It made no difference that the Rodeo-Chediski fire was on Indian land that had already been heavily logged. It made no difference that the state government had leaned on the Forest Service just a few months earlier, to stop a prescribed burn in an area adjacent to the fire. The torches were lit, the peasants were on the move and the cry went up: "String up those goddam eco-nazis!"

Let's pause here to inject a little reality. Reactionaries often claim that environmentalists are to blame for the National Forests being overgrown and choked with highly flammable brush. It's true that for almost a century the Forest Service pursued a policy of suppressing any and all fires, but conservation was never the reason. The Forest Service was and is primarily a corporate welfare scheme for the giant lumber corporations, with other extractive industries and agri-business also feasting at the trough. The Forest Service spends over 75% of its budget carving roads into remote forest areas so that the lumber corporations can get in and clear-cut old-growth stands of trees. The corporations get this lumber for pennies on the dollar and don't have to pay for the roads or other "improvements", or for the pollution and erosion they cause. All told, billions of taxpayer dollars are funneled into the coffers of the mega-corporations every year.

The irony is that clear-cutting actually increases the risk of fire. It removes mature, fire-resistant trees and leaves the forest floor cluttered with slash which acts as fuel. Logging activities cause pollution of streams and soil erosion, and when the trees are gone, further erosion takes place and floods are more frequent and severe because the forest is no longer there to act as a natural sponge, soaking up rainwater and releasing it gradually.

Of course, the RRR never lets awkward facts get in the way of its rabble-rousing. Following Kyl and Hull's attacks, it was open season on greens in Arizona. The "Arizona Repulsive" jumped on the bandwagon and wrote sanctimonious editorials condemning the Sierra Club. The letters-to-the-editor brigade were not so restrained. One moron wrote (I'm paraphrasing from memory): "The liberals in Tucson and Tempe are walking around with smirks on their faces. They look forward to the day when they can have the forests all to themselves. I look forward to it too, so I can get my rifle and go hunting them." And the Repulsive printed it! What can I say - against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

So know another fire season has rolled around, and greens are once again fair game. How convenient to have a scapegoat - it spares you the trouble of actually doing something to mitigate fire risk. Like clearing out brush and small-diameter trees next to inhabited areas - something both the Sierra Club and local forest managers are in agreement on the need to do. But instead, under the rubric of Dumbya's "Healthy Forests Initiative", funds are being drained from such urgently needed projects and diverted to clear-cutting feeding frenzies in remote areas like Tongass National Forest in Alaska. I guess Junior thinks "the only healthy forest is a clear-cut forest" or perhaps "we had to destroy the forest in order to save it."

So why does the RRR hate environmentalists so much? There are several reasons. As I said before, reactionary movements always need an enemy. And of course the RRR would love to abolish those who challenge the rights of the mega-corporations to feed at the public trough. But the religious angle is also very strong. Click here and scroll down to "A Higher Power". "Many fundamentalists see dying coral reefs, melting ice caps and other environmental destruction not as an urgent call to action, but as God's will. In the religious right worldview, the wreck of the Earth can be seen as Good News!"

Good news because it means that the second orgasm (or the second coming, or whatever those fundies call it) is imminent, just like it's been for 2,000 years. Of course the fundies won't be inconvenienced by global devastation and environmental collapse, because JESUS! is going to rapture their asses outa here, leaving the unsaved to suffer. But that's all right, because we're going to be screaming forever in infinite agony in the lake of fire in any case! You have to hand it to those fundies - they're just bursting with love and compassion.

Unfortunately, many of these whack-jobs are in positions of power in Junior's administration. From seeing environmental devastation as good news, it's a short step to taking active measures to bring it about. Think about Junior's "Healthy Forests Initiative" (repealing the Wilderness Act), "Clear Skies Initiative" (rolling back the Clean Air Act), increasing arsenic levels in water (sabotaging the Clean Water Act), and so on. Could it be that in waging all-out war against the environment, Junior is hoping to get brownie points not only from the mega-corporate polluters who bankroll him, but also from God?

Shame? What's that?


Joe McCarthy destroyed thousands lives and careers with his insane witch-hunt, but failed to unmask a single Soviet agent. Finally, the famous "have you no shame" speech put an end to his career. Today a certain shrill, shrieking harridan, RRR bimbo Ann Coulter, is trying to canonize McCarthy. That's the difference between him and today's RRR: they have no shame.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Who's in charge here?


Just say the word "Clinton" and watch a reactionary's face turn purple. It's almost comical to see the blind, visceral, foaming-at-the-mouth hatred that consumes the RRR. Yes, Clinton was a sleazeball in his personal life, but he was one of the most effective presidents we ever had. How does George Bush Junior stack up against him? I think the kindest thing one can say is that he's been the least prepared, the least qualified and the most spectacularly incompetent head of state ever.

Ignoring for the time being the very dubious circumstances that installed Junior in the White House, we note that he inherited a record surplus and within a matter of months had turned it into a record deficit - and that was before 9/11. Just about every action he's taken has been all about payback to the privileged elites who bankrolled him, and has put the lie to his claim to be a "compassionate conservative". Under his watch, 2.3 million jobs have been destroyed (vs. 25 million created under Clinton), and his knee-jerk response to every economic development is yet another tax handout to the rich. (Anyone remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result...)

Recently, Junior the Cowboy from Connecticut was egging on Iraqi resisters to try to kill US troops - his exact words were "bring them on". How can anyone be so reckless, so callous about the safety of those under his command? Even someone with no experience of military service should know better. And Junior's military record certainly doesn't stand up to the light of day.

Junior applied to the Air National Guard in 1968 to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Despite failing the entrance exam, he somehow vaulted over the 18-month waiting list and was assigned to a unit in Texas with no aircraft and minimal duties. In 1972 he applied for a transfer to a unit in Alabama. He was instead ordered to report to a different unit where he might actually have had to learn to fly, and pass drug tests. He simply never showed up! For over 18 months there is no record of his whereabouts. He finally reappeared in Texas in 1973 and was granted an honorable discharge from his old unit, 8 months before his 6-year commitment to the National Guard was due to end. I guess it didn't hurt that his daddy was a congressman at the time.

This was typical of the course of Bush's life, whether getting into Yale, getting into the oil business, getting into sports (and screwing the taxpayers of Arlington, TX out of $135 million) and all the way to the White House. George Bush Junior would today be bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly if it wasn't for his rich daddy and friends pulling strings for him, bailing him out when he screwed up, and generally handing him everything in life on a silver platter. He is a barely functioning moron, a sleazeball and a coward. The fact that he is the most powerful man on earth makes me sick, as does the fact that the RRR would rather have us ruled by the most incompetent buffoon than a Democrat.

How did this bozo get elected anyway? Oh yeah... never mind.

Dump the chimp! Re-elect a Democrat in '04!
Related links:


Monday, July 07, 2003

Welcome to the Twilight Zone


There's a Twilight Zone episode where a spoiled brat rules over a house full of adults who treat him as royalty and rush to fulfill his every whim. They live in terror that he will punish them if they displease him. You see, the child has supernatural powers which he uses to torture sadistically anyone he doesn't like. Sometimes he tortures people just to amuse himself, or simply because he can.

Today the US is that spoiled child. As the only superpower, it can crush any other country like a fly. Like a spoiled brat, it constantly demands instant gratification and throws tantrums until it gets its way. Its idea of diplomacy is to call its oldest ally "cheese-eating surrender monkeys". It has no thought for the future and no concept of the consequences of its actions.

Who cares about global warming, environmental devastation or geopolitical turmoil as long as slobus vulgaris americanus  can keep driving his monster pickup truck to the mall? Who cares how many innocent civilians must die (and not just in Iraq) so that Commander-in-Thief George Bush Junior can get revenge for his daddy, act out his apocalyptic fantasies, and pay back his big oil puppetmasters?

We are all living in the Twilight Zone...

The Clone Rangers


One thing about the RRR - they're totally predictable. When someone describes himself as a "conservative", you know immediately that he's:You also know that he sees himself as a rugged individualist, courageously standing alone against the faceless liberal horde! RRR's have an infinite capacity for self-delusion.

This is especially evident when dealing with the various hate-radio motormouths who infest the airwaves and every other branch of the so-called liberal media: Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and their many, many clones. They are all spouting exactly the same mindless rubbish, vying with each other only in how immature and childish they can get with their schoolyard taunts of the hated liberals. What a pathetic bunch.

Thud!


I like to think that it was the Supreme Court decision on sodomy that pushed Strom Thurmond over the edge. I just hope they remembered to hammer a stake through his heart...


How did we get in this mess?


Various writers have waxed verbose about the origin of today's religious reactionary right (RRR) movement, tracing it back to Reagan or Barry Goldwater or whomever. The fact is that throughout its history, the USA has been a religiously backward country. The Pilgrims don't come here so much to escape religious persecution as to impose their own brand. Sectarianism, religious intolerance and church-state entanglement were hallmarks of the colonies. The US Constitution kept religion at bay, but it kept on breeding in the backwaters, or should I say inbreeding, mutating into ever more weird and bizarre forms. The Age of Reason which swept over Europe, the general rapprochement between major religions and the adoption of a humanist consensus, simply never made it to the USA. Europeans shake their heads in disbelief at our snake-handlers, speakers-in-tongues, and TV preachers, who work themselves up into a frenzy while sweat pours down their flabby faces, and the millions of dollars roll in. This freak show, simultaneously fascinating and repulsive, doesn't exist elsewhere except as an isolated American import.

The problem is that religious extremism always has to have a bogeyman, an "other" who can be demonized as the enemy. One might say that if Satan didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him. In the 1920's alcohol was the USA's Great Satan. Later on it was the commies, who lurked under every bed. Then the Cold War was over and the RRR needed a new bogeyman. They chose - us, their fellow Americans! Suddenly, everyone who isn't on the extreme right-hand edge of the political spectrum is an evil, baby-eating "Liberal" - not a fellow citizen to be disagreed with but a treasonous enemy to be utterly destroyed. RRR tacticians like Tom Delay are quite open about their plans to annihilate the Democratic Party and institute one-party government in the US.

How far can the process go? The Dems imploded in the last elections, as Junior wrapped himself in the flag and milked the wartime-president advantage. The current slate of Dem challengers inspires groans of despair. Pretty soon the RRR will be looking for a new bogeyman. Already they are turning viciously on moderates like John McCain. Will we soon see mass purges of the Repug party? Don't bet against it.

Junior and his gang are trying to prolong their feeding frenzy at the trough of political power by blatantly pandering to the rich and greedy, at the cost of massive deficits for the foreseeable future. They sense that they can't stay in power forever, but they can queer the pitch for the Dems, when the bills for today's excesses come due. At some point the pendulum has to swing back, the current mass hysteria of reactionary fanaticism has to abate. The question is, how much damage will be done in the meantime?

Hey, you goddam liberal, why do you put "conservative" in quotes?


Let's start with the basics. What do the terms "liberal", "conservative" and "reactionary" mean? Here are some generally accepted definitions (see e.g. www.wikipedia.com):


Pop quiz: which definition best fits today's "conservatives"? (If you answer "Liberal", you should kill yourself now to save me the trouble.)

If you have at least one functioning neuron, you will have astutely noticed that the self-styled "conservatives" are in fact reactionaries.



I could go on and on, but instead I'll expand on some of these points in future posts.

Some miscellaneous links:

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Cancer


There is a cancer holding the USA in its grip, destroying everything that was once great about this country - civility, restraint, tolerance, respect for the constitution, respect for others. Like a tumor, it sucks the life-force of its surrounding cells and grows out of control while killing its host. But at least your regular everyday cancer is less hypocritical, smug, sanctimonious and self-satisfied than the cancer I'm talking about. It calls itself "conservatism". It trumpets itself as the repository of all that is good and wholesome, and if you don't march in lockstep with its dictates, then you are evil, Satanic, godless, communist, homosexual, effeminate, all of the above, and worst of all - *gasp* - a LIBERAL.

In this blog I plan to respond in my own small way to the torrent of hatred, bigotry and stupidity that spews in a never-ending deluge from the "conservative" movement. I will be calling them on their lies and distortions, and whenever possible, using humor to deflate their arrogance and pomposity. Though my blog will often be written in anger, it will hopefully be entertaining - unless you too have been "assimilated" by the reactionary right.

Be seeing you!

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