Citing His Success in Policy, Bush Re-enters Fray

He had a policy? Imagine that!

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 30

President Bush opened a new campaign offensive on Friday by saying that he had delivered results in education, health care, the economy and national security...

And he's had results, too? I declare!

But, uhh, what results were those, other than increasing the decay rate of all those items?

He followed up on something? Actually finished a project, actually did something he said he would? Amazing. Did I miss something?

But, uhh, on the merest possibility he's lyi .. umm, misleading us, didn't someone remind us very recently that just saying something doesn't make it so?


Vatican attacks radical feminism (because they know so much about it)

In a hissy fit sparked by John Paul II showing up at an ecumenical council meeting and finding Susan Sarandon wearing the same gown as his, J-P II issued some papal bull:

The document, approved by the Pope, says feminism has "inspired ideologies" which question family and marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman.

How dare those ... those WOMEN ... have the temerity to think about whether or not the law laid down by the "no girls allowed" functionaries over the last thousand or so years might not be universally double-plus good! The nerve of those hussies!

Of course, the Men in Black can never let it go with that, they also gotta tie it to the eeeevil cause of other stuff they don't like -- or at least the stuff they don't like to admit:

... the letter says that feminism's view of equality "has in reality inspired ideologies which for example call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and to make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent".
I never knew those parish priests were feminists. How about that?


Nice fellow, that Charles Taylor, Liberia will miss him like an abscess

People may call it petty to focus on something like this, but I think it tells more about a man's character than all the speeches, testimony, character witnesses:

Ma Juah, former Liberian President Charles Taylor's abandoned pet lioness, is flying to a new home in a South African lion sanctuary.
She is expected to be flown by courier to Ghana, and then catch a connecting flight to South Africa.
The lioness' mate died after the pair were left for 24 days in their cage without food when Mr Taylor was forced into exile last August.

Nice guy, that Chuckie. Pack up the gold bars and the diamonds and hit the exile road, never a thought about who or what he left behind. Of course, he'll miss his little amusements:

On visits to the farm where the lions lived, Mr Taylor delighted in throwing a live goat into their compound and sitting back and watching the "fun", said Ms Leander.

Kind of makes George W. Bush's sadistic childhood fun, blowing up frogs with firecrackers, pale in comparison.



That's it? That's Bush's riposte?

John Kerry, following the advice given by Ed Dorn's eponymous main character in his magnum opus, Gunslinger , to whit: "...let me warn you, never be close," aimed the whole load of America's anger and put it right between George Dubya Bush's eyes.

He took one hour to tell America who he is (or at least as much as he wants America to know) and he called Bush out, in the form of the New England polite upper class.

“Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so,” said Kerry. “Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.”

Translated into street, what Kerry said was:

Hey Dubya, you know-nothing asshole, stop hiding behind Big Dick and get your ass down here -- I'm calling you out, you jive-ass signifying chickenshit mothafuckah and I'm gonna kick yore jive-ass, from one end of the red states to the other."

(Some would have Kerry calling him "bitch," but somehow, "mother fucker" seems more appropriate. )

And Bush's reply today?

My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results ... results matter.”

They sure do, but should we be hearing about results from a man who, after four years in office, has results such as nearly 1,000 dead American military plus seven thousand maimed and scarred for life, plus tens of thousands of civilians, both American and Iraqi, dead and maimed, and this after putting the budget hundreds of billions of dollars in the hole and turning Iraq into an insane landscape of armed anarchy and dead babies? This cruel wannabe excuse for a human is running on "Look at my agenda for my second term," with no mention of his own results or his record. And he's criticizing Kerry's record?

We heard a lot of clever speeches and some big promises."

In terms of being called out, this reply is what we, growing up in West Philly used to call "as weak as a popcorn fart."

If the game is and was, as so many commentators have said, to show who is strong enough to be an effective Commander-in-Chief, well, no contest.

We can only hope.


Gunslinger by Edward Dorn, introduction by Marjorie Perloff, 1995
Duke University Press, PO BOX 90660, Durham, NC 27708-0660

Edward Dorn: A World of Difference
Tom Clark, North Atlantic Books, 2002 $25.00


There'll always be an England, I think

The English - they top us in literacy, cultural study, language . and they beat the hell out of us in low humor (say what you will, Benny Hill was a genius of low comedy), racism (and you should have seen the show Norman lear adapted into All in the Family), and, other than making cars that actually run when you want them to, many other things.

So, why shouldn't they chart the daring path in totally tasteless, lowlife reality shows?

Check it out: Big Brother company's latest plan: 'sperm race'

TV By Tom Leonard, Media Editor(Filed: 23/07/2004)

Television producers were criticised yesterday over reports that they are developing a reality show in which men would compete for a chance to father a child and then take part in an on-air "sperm race".

In the show, which has been mooted by the company that makes Channel 4's Big Brother, up to 1,000 men would attempt to convince a woman to pick them as the father of her first child by impressing her with their intelligence, sex appeal and fitness.

A second sperm donor would be chosen on the basis of genetic compatibility, and the two finalists would then take part in the sperm race in which the insemination process could be filmed using new technology. "



Every vote can count? Tell me how.

I found an extraordinarily useful resource, a site called The American Voice, operated by a fellow who calls himself Dr. Dave and which -- mirable dictu! -- addresses issues of voting, government, and social import in straight informative answers. No spin I can see.

I was led to this site for this particular question:

Q. Is it possible to hold elections where every vote counts and a vote for a minority party or candidate is not wasted?

The answer he gives is thorough, extensive, and comprehensive and includes fusion, Instant Runoff, and other methods, but I'll just include this excerpt on fusion:

A. You bet. And best of all, every strategy designed to enable racial minorities, minority viewpoints and minority parties a real voice in elections has been used at one time or another here in the good old US of A. You’re looking for an election system in which, in the words of Fair Vote Minnesota, “Voters can vote their conscience without fear of not having a voice in the final outcome.”

One such process is called fusion. Under fusion, a minority party can endorse a major party candidate. Thus the candidates name appears on two lines on the ballot. The votes on each line are added together for purposes of electing the candidate. In close races the minority party can claim credit for generating the margin of victory. Which should give it some influence in policy making circles of the winning majority party.

New York is a fusion state. Neither FDR in 1940 or 1944, nor JFK in 1960 received enough votes on the Democratic Party line to carry New York. They prevailed only when Liberal party line votes were added. In 1980, Jimmy Carter received more votes as a Democrat than Ronald Reagan did as a Republican, but Reagan carried New York because of the votes he gained on the Conservative Party’s ballot line.
Great, right? Well, not so fast. States started banning the procedure in 1892, when one party found itself losing an election because of this procedure. In 1996, The New Party of Minnesota challenged the ban and an appeals court upheld their case, but:

In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Appeals Court’s decision. By 6-3 the Court ruled, “ballots are designed primarily to elect candidates, not to serve as fora for political expression.” And it added, surprisingly and ominously, “States also have a strong interest in the stability of their political systems…the states’ interest permits them to enact reasonable election regulations that may, in practice, favor the traditional two party system, and that temper the destabilizing effects of party splintering excessive factionalism.” Never before had the Court formally declared the maintenance of a “two party system” sufficient justification for discriminating against minor parties.

Today there are only ten states which still allow some form of fusion. Dr. Dave answers questions ranging from the price of gasoline to stem cell research, giving, as far as I can see, "Just the facts, ma'am." Check it out. Great ammo for election year arguments, regardless of which side you take. Other sites discussing reform and improvement of voting procedures, including fusion, Instant Runoff (IRV) and others:

Yes Magazine

Green Party

Working Families Party



The thug doesn't fall far from the tree

During the so-called debates leading up to the recent recall election here in California, I was most unimpressed by Ahnold's extraordinarily thuggish behavior. After avoiding the debates for a long time, instead going around the state explaining his policies and plans ("I will be the people's warrior,") he finally joined in and spent the entire time shouting down anyone who had anything to say that was of interest.
One thing he did promise was that the state budget, due the first of July, would not be late this year as it is nearly every year, sometimes as late as September.
This year -- well, we're down to the end of July and it's not here yet.
His response -- blame the Democrats as obstructionists and call them "girlie men."
Now let me say this -- I don't believe anyone can actually ride herd on the mini-anarchy in Sacramento we call the Legislature, a passel of state reps who act like kindergartners O.D.'d on Coco-Puffs.  We here in the Golden State understand that our government most closely resembles a bipolar playground filled with selfish, aggressive, mean kids whose emotions and acting-out behavior continually swing from wildly optimistic to depressed and vicious.
Let me also say that the budget, such as it is, has already been settled and agreed to -- the stoppage has to do with issues that are tangential at best:
The Democrats want security, in this case, they want Mommy and Daddy to guarantee there will never again be a budget shortfall and never again any local takebacks by the state.
The Republicans -- actually, Ahnold himself cracking the whip --- decided they also want security, in this case, repeal of two current laws. One law allows employees to sue their own companies if they violate labor laws -- get rid of it. The other law prohibits the farming out of school functions such as food, transportation, and maintenance to private companies. Get rid of that one, too. 
And Ahnold -- about whom some seriously disturbed senators are ballooning the idea of a constitutional amendment to allow some bully from a foreign country to run for president -- Ahnold is acting presidential in finest the Bush-Bush-Reagan tradition, i.e., blame someone else for your own failures.  (I still remember how Ronnie used to preface his nastiest proclamations with "They have forced me to..." "This is what they have done to us..." and, of course the best one, about dealing with anti-war demonstrators, "Well, if THEY want a bloodbath, let's give it to them." Oh, oops, sorry, I forgot for a moment that he'd been recently canonized.)
Is Ahnold stupid because he couldn't get the legislature to do its job? No, of course not. He's stupid because he thought he could, because he announced he could, most of all because he promised he would right out there in public. Damn -- for all its lousy box office, I always thought Last Action Hero was his best movie, the one in which the movie hero finds out he's not a superman, but just a big, strong, good-natured loudmouth who wants to do good but doesn't know his limitations (as Clint Eastwood has made clear is the most important thing to know). Hell, he didn't know he had any limitations.
Well, daddy was a policeman, a profession not overly involved in listening to contradictory opinions --  a policeman in Austria during the Third Reich, not a time when contradictory opinions were encouraged.
To be a policeman any time any place demands a certain amount of thuggishness. There is The Law, and whether or not any particular law should be a law at all is not open for discussion at the street level. When reason fails, the stick and the gun become means of persuasion. That's the job. Integrity lies in doing what you're paid to do.
People who have lived in this state long enough regard Sacramento politics as entertainment. There have been so many initiatives passed in the past twenty or so years, (each of which becomes a Constitutional Amendment) there is barely anything the legislature can legally do. So they strut and fret and do the best they can to pretend they're earning their keep.
As as source of entertainment, many if not most Californians admire a politician like Willy Brown (even if one disagrees with or despises his policies and methods). This is a man who managed to get himself re-elected Speaker of the House even after his party became the minority party. That's just flat-out amazing. This is a man who is a consummate player of the game, who can answer a question about the meaning of an obscure regulation posed by someone he meets in a chance encounter while shopping in a store, and do it clearly and concisely. And he's almost always fun to watch.
Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan -- men who managed to convince everyone they met that the people they met were smarter than he, the governor. And who doesn't love that feeling? "Hey, I'm smarter than he is, and he's the governor, so I must be pretty smart myself."
Thuggishness might work in the back rooms, and among the legislators themselves, but not from the governor, and not right out there in public.  It's just not entertaining, especially when the local people we elect and whom we hope will someday actually deliver on their promises are the ones getting clubbed.
Ahnold made his career being a congenial bully, in bodybuilding and movies, but he's not Hercules, and it's not going to work in this Augean stable of politics. Although he could possibly replace Don Rickles with his act -- being able to offend gay men, women, and macho straight men simultaneously with one comment speaks of a certain talent for insult.
Since he's been in office, people have stopped liking him so much. In a bookstore around the time of the recall, a man pointed to several prominently displayed bodybuilding books by and about Ahnold. He said, "Hell, if I worked that hard for that long to create that body, and the best I could get was Maria Schriver -- hell, not worth it."
Maybe if he'd married Maria Schneider instead. At least he'd know enough to get the butter.



Japan wants to begin commercial hunting of Minke whales

So they say, but in fact, while they'd be delighted to start, the proposal is really designed as a stratagem designed simply to discredit the International Whaling Commission, which is certain to reject the proposal.*
The IWC has banned commercial whaling since 1986, and the Minke whales killed by Japan each year come under the category of research. 
It is said that Japan has been offering economic incentives to smaller nations to vote with them against the continued ban, ultimately to either overturn the ban or create a coalition to build a new, totally permissive commission.
And just what is involved in the hunting of Minke whales?
Here are the facts as I know them:
     The Minke whale hunt is not a chase in the traditional sense of whaling. It’s not iron men in wooden boats shouting “Thar she blows!” More like drunken men in factory ships. And she doesn’t blow. Minkes begin to exhale underwater, so there’s no spray to speak of or see.

     The Minkes stay close to the shore, rarely swimming more than 50 or 60 miles out, baleen-strainers living mostly on plankton. They are physically incapable of eating the codfish the whalers claim they deplete to justify their kills.

     They’re very gregarious and very vocal – the smallest of the humpback family, and like the humpbacks, they talk all the time, have their own language, their own shorter-distance songs.

     The hunters take up a position and wait for the whales to pass by. Making their choice, they kill it with an explosive grenade-tipped harpoon. There’s little risk -- Minkes are small, no more than 30 feet long or so, so there’s no desperate Moby Dick Nantucket sleigh ride to be had.

     Blue-grey on top and creamy pale beneath with a tiny dorsal fin, they’re hard to see, coming up briefly and quietly for less than a minute and then diving for another 20 minutes. The pregnant females or the females with just-born young come up more frequently for air, and because of that, they usually make up the majority of the kills.

No searching necessary -- the little whales are attracted to ships and often approach them, making the process relatively easy.

Here’s the reality as I see it:
     Saturday mornings on South Street in Philadelphia, big outdoor market day. The Minke migration is the same thing –- the whole family turning out to go to the market, eating, moving along, enjoying the day and each other ...  the Minke hunt the same as if it were happening to the shoppers on a bright Saturday on the South Street.
... young pregnant women clumsily gravid as they near full term, walking along, the produce men delighting in them, dropping gruff demeanors to offer, “Here, a fresh strawberry, take it, for the baby, it’s a perfect one, makes the perfect baby,” asking when the baby’s due. Or maybe a blueberry. Or a grape. Or a slice of melon. Whichever, the young mother-to-be would smile because the strawberry was delicious and she didn’t have to think about her ankles or having to pee again for a moment. 

And then suddenly, there would be shouts and alarm and everyone would scatter, but the soon-to-be-moms would be too slow, and the fat old grandpa’s too, and the shots would ring out, and BAM! Maria Teresa’s head explodes, hit by a harpoon, BAM! Old Giancarlo caught through the lungs. Children and other mothers crying and screaming hysterically, hiding, ashamed but terrified.

And then Maria Teresa would be strapped quickly around the ankles, her carcass dragged by a winch out through the street lot to the reefer truck. Hanging upside-down, first she would be gutted, the prime steaks cut off along with her unborn baby -- Marcello was going to be his name.

If there isn’t enough room in the truck, the extra meat - the junk meat, including Marcello – will be thrown to the dogs in the alley. Just as the sharks gather at sea to get what isn’t wanted.
Just as the Minke whale may also have a name for her unborn.
For more other-than-blase perspective on such matters:
Sea Shepherds --
Greenpeace --
Earth First
*Japan seeks commercial whaling OK, article by Alex Kirby, BBC News, World Edition, July 19, 2004 



Brigadier General (retired) Charles Sweeney, 1919 - 2004

The man who was supposed to drop the A-Bomb on Kokura, Japan.  
That was the plan -- after Hiroshima, the second bomb was intended for Kokura, the Mordor of WWII Japan.
The huge Kokura Arsenal was the center for the manufacture of conventional munitions, as well as chemical and biological weapons, the weapons Japan used during WWII.
Oh yes.
It started before the war began, in 1937, with a biological weapons program, the center of R&D in Harbin, Manchuria. More than 10,000 prisoners were killed in experiments testing the weapons.

In 1939, the Japanese poisoned the Soviet water supply using intestinal typhoid bacteria sown from the Mongolian border.  

In 1940, they dropped rice and wheat mixed with plague-carrying fleas over China and Manchuria.

And at the end of the war, the occupation army, on its way out of China, sowed the rivers with schistosomiasis  In China, at that time, to be a farmer was to spend most of the day in water up to the waist.
The US command had good reason to believe that a resisted invasion of Japan would be met with chemical and biological last-defense use.
Kokura was as legitimate a military target as we've ever seen.
But storms separated Sweeney's B-29  from its escorts, and during the time he waited for them to catch up, clouds and smoke completely obscured Kokura, so the orders directed the pilot to turn southwest to Nagasaki, where they built ships.
I wonder what that means to the people of Nagasaki.
Irony, even bitter irony, doesn't even come close.
And the Kokura Arsenal just more or less disappeared in the city's postwar growth like some rust belt factory -- a mound of earth with some weeds growing from it in a remote portion of a new suburban industrial park. 
Ref: The Road from Trinity: Reflections on the Atom Bomb
Essays by Paul Saffo (Published in Japan by Shoga Kukan Press)



Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel

Written by Aaron McGruder and  Reginald Hudlin
Illustrated by Kyle Baker 
Crown Publishers, July 2004 
The Locale:
East Saint Louis, Illinois is a small city of about 35,000 people of whom nearly 98% are African American. Originally an island in the Mississippi River, it was a favorite site for river pirates to stash their swag as well as a choice location for gentlemen’s duels, not being under the legal authority of either Illinois or Missouri. The Army Corps of engineers dammed the east side of the island early in the 20th century, joining it to Illinois as part of a flood plain project. It is one of the most impoverished cities in America.
The Premise
So, in an imaginary presidential election in the year 2000, the votes of nearly 1000 residents of East Saint Louis are not counted, those people having been expunged from the rolls when falsely believed to be felons. In this imaginary presidential election, an imaginary Texas Governor defeats an imaginary Vice President by 157 votes.
The imaginary Supreme Court reviews the case and concludes, yes, the people of East Saint Louis were illegally disenfranchised but a re-vote might change the outcome and destabilize the electoral count and be contested in congress and blabbity-blah and so “Tough noogies, East Saint Louis.”
East Saint Louis opts to secede from the United States.
The Story
Well, then what might happen? What will the people who are involved do? The politicians, the capitalists, the thugs and gangstahs? Well, obviously, they all press for control of the tiny new country. Even the decision to secede was the product of political coercion, with a fairly honest mayor balancing his suspicions of the fast money coming in with the judgment of history.
But wait -- meanwhile, in another part of the country, the White House is in a tizzy, and wants to do something, even if they don’t know what. The new President has a couple of colored folk in his administration to counsel him, and the imaginary Dick Cheney and the imaginary Colin Powell and the imaginary Condoleeza Rice all have opinions on how to batter, punish, remove, and destroy this threat to … to what? To the legitimacy of those people even being in power.
This is the classical structure for a potentially brilliant work – take a single situation, give it a logical twist (“Won’t count our votes? Fuck you, then.”), let the tale tell itself using the knowledge and experience of the authors, and play it to the end. (If the situation is one we know from actual life, one in which none of us knew what to do about it, even better.) If the creators are up to the job, it can be a work of power and magic. They are.  
Brilliant, cogent, relevant, entertaining, and all around adjectival. You'll like it.
Aaron McGruder is the creator of the amazing daily comic strip, Boondocks, and the recent anthology of The Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks Treasury
Reginald Hudlin wrote and/or directed such movies as House Party, BoomerangBebe’s Kids, The Ladies' ManServing Sara, and the announced TV version of Boondocks.  He grew up in East Saint Louis.
Kyle Baker has done a number of graphic novels, including Why I Hate Saturn and The Cowboy Wally Show.

(As is often the case, my thanks to Jack Rems at Dark Carnival Bookstore for handing me the book and saying “You'll like this.” I do.)



Eat 'em up, yum yum

BBC News reports:

Japan plans pro-whaling alliance

Japan has drawn up plans to replace the International Whaling Commission, whose annual meeting will start on 19 July. Members of Japan's ruling party now say they are prepared to go it alone and establish a new pro-whaling alliance.

The IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling, in effect since 1986, to let the whales recover from centuries of industrial whaling which had left some species near extinction.

Japan, Norway and Iceland want the moratorium lifted, and say there are enough of some species for a small annual catch.

Japan has threatened for years to leave the IWC if it did not get its way: the politicians' proposals show it is taking the possibility more seriously than in the past.

Can you see it? The entire Japanese Parliament, looking like those racist caricatures used during WWII, but all dressed up like little Shirley Temple in Curly Top singing and dancing in the halls of government:

Animal crackers in my soup
Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop
Gosh oh gee but I have fun
Swallowing animals one by one*



What's a poor boy to do?

It's a war out there, but more so over here in the USA.

People fighting over every insignificant bit of gristle:

Bush knew it was a lie; he didn't know.

9-11 is a great movie; no it's not -- it's a piece of crap.

Gays shouldn't get married; they should if they want to.

and on and on, and the only form of debate in this country seems to be the game of opposite-shouting.

One person, identified as a something or other (liberal, conservative) yells out an amazing simplistic assertion ("All Muslims hate us!").
The other yells out that the first one is just a dupe of THEM (Liberals, Conservatives, Religious Right, America-hating Left)
One gets really serious and says, "If we know Osama and his people are hiding out in the Afghan-Pakistan border area, why aren't our troops flooding that area?"
The other one says: "You're a fool. No point in getting stuck over there -- the bombs and explosives and the people who will use them are here, maybe in Brooklyn, just storm the mosques in America and you'll find them."

And I wonder: "How does he know that? And if they know so much, how come they don't seem willing to understand that the opposite of crap is also crap."

For that matter, how does Ashcroft know that there is a possible 90% certainty of an imminent attack? Might it be 87-1/2%?
Would an Al-Qaeda operative even know those sorts of statistical projections?
Is Ashcroft an Al-Qaeda operative?

And how does this guy know what Dubya really thinks?

The head of a Washington, DC, think tank (Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation) who has access to the White House says people of faith do not need to be concerned about President Bush's public comments about Islam. The conservative activist says the president does know the "real score."

Six days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon... the president made the following statement: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace..."

Weyrich says if the president actually declared that America is in a war against Islam, there might be more Muslims taking up arms against the US -- a "real jihad," as he puts it. So Bush, according to Weyrich, is soft-peddling his rhetoric in order to "tamp down" any worldwide activity that might occur.

"I know the president has to say certain things -- and I understand that," the conservative icon says, "but I also know that he doesn't believe it."

Well, hey Big Mouth -- guess who just told THEM the secret score?

So what's a poor boy to do about it?
Write something? Comment on it day by day? Good idea, I guess, but how?

I like over-the-top play, but then I read Mark Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle and have to admit he does over-the-top better than anyone:

Are you there, God? It's me, George W. Come in, Almighty. Do you read me...

Look, I've done everything you asked. I've been good. Haven't I?

I take the message to the people, don't I? I spout that evangelical born-again crap in pisswater Podunk conservative churches across this burned-out fear-drunk nation like I was emceeing a freakin' rodeo in Crawford. And they eat it up, Lord. They eat that stuff up. Hell, I even believe a lot of that fire-breathin' Second Comin' evildoer-hatin' stuff myself.

Why would anyone want to top that?

Lighter humor, sparkly, more sharply honed?
Jon Stewart and his writing staff do it to near-perfection on The Daily Show. In a comment on Whoopi Goldberg's fundraising performance:

In an hilarious twist, it turns out President Bush's name can also mean "vagina."

Nothing to do but laugh, enjoy their repeated ability to hit the matter dead center, and be amused by the fact that Stewart's lines show up frequently in political editorial columns.

It's all topsy-turvy.

Saddam Hussein, in court -- even sitting in front of Chalabi's nephew as a judge -- looks more together and in command of himself than Dubya or Dick Cheney.

No one seems to yet know who John Kerry is, except for having picked up the GOP Hit-Squad's repetitive and meaningless "flip-flop."

In fact, most if not all of the terms being used are meaningless in and of themselves, but charged by advertising with either venom and viciousness or flags and apple pie.

We may not know who Kerry is, but we all know who and what Bush and his Henchmen are, for all they may deny it: lying, vicious, venal, vindictive, anti-American (insofar as America is its Constitution) sociopaths who pursue some sort of megalomaniacal vision without regard for killing and maiming thousands, including those Americans sincere enough (or poor enough, or dumb enough, or idealistic enough, etc) to put on a uniform and follow orders, assuming (in their best dreams) that those orders are being given by someone who actually has a clue about what he's doing.

Charles Bukowski summed it up back during the last misbegotten war, the one in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He said:

Wars, politics, causes.
For thousands of years we've ended up with a sack of shit.
It's time we learned to think.

Now there's a thought.



Bitter Prediction for the Olympics

The American team will be booed.


Bush: My Guard Dog Ate My Homework

Heeding the philosophic call of Bobbie Burns:

O would some power the giftie gie us
to see ourselves as others see us,"

I share this Euro point of view just in from an American in the Czech Republic:
Don't know if you and the Bay Area got such a big
laugh as so many of us over here did reading about Bush's
military records being destroyed.

What made us all collapse on the floor with feelings
of hysteria-laughter brought on by the fact that
they'd have the gall to think we'd believe them for a
second was the inclusion of the word "inadvertently".

They - "inadvertently" - destroyed his military
records? Oh GOSH. Wow. How did THAT happen.
Oh mercy me, gee, whiz, I'M sorry.......

Everyone here at the Karlovy Vary Filmfest was
crying and laughing at the same time.

Yeah, most of us back here in the US of A also wondered about how that works, that out of many millions of records, his were "inadvertently" destroyed. I mean, the man is the President of the United States! It must be terribly frustrating for him. With all that power, he still can't get someone to find the records which prove he's not lying.

Oh well, back to the Burns boy:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!


"Ayrabs? We don' need no stinkin' Ayrabs to destroy our country. We're by God Americans and we will do it all by ourselves."



It's OO-ee-OO scary and fun to talk about it, like a monster movie, but when you actually get to see Godzilla on the horizon, it's "Uh-oh" time

[The Homeland Security Department] last week asked the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election were an attack to take place. Justice was specifically asked to review a recent letter to Ridge from DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission...
Soaries, a Bush appointee who two years ago was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress, wants Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress empowering his agency to make such a call. Homeland officials say that as drastic as such proposals sound, they are taking them seriously—along with other possible contingency plans in the event of an election-eve or Election Day attack.

The old joke goes, "I dreamed I was eating a giant marshmallow and when I woke up, my pillow was gone." Hah. But when we actually DO wake up and find the pillow is actually gone, it's not quite so funny.

Everyone is covering the facts of this so well and their points of view range from:

"Absolutely necessary, after all, there are people out there who hate us," to
"What did I tell you, there are people in Washington, DC who hate us."

I lifted the above quote from where it was quoted on Billmon's thoughtful blog "The Whisky Bar," and suggest you, dear reader, click on the headline link and read his commentary. Amazing as it may seem, I think he examines this issue more deeply and widely than I can, so I refer you to his blog.

I can add only one scurrilous thought to the discussion: history, experience (Nixon, Roy Cohn, Iran-Contra, October Surprise), paranoia (see previous reasons), and fiction combine to make me believe this administration is planning such an attack.

And to use Dick Cheney/Karl Rove logic -- there's no evidence to support such a claim, but there's no evidence to REFUTE it.



Malayan Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus) Largest Fruit bat in the world with a 6' wingspread. Seriously threatened, it has been exhibited at only four institutions in the world -- The Lubee Foundation in the USA, the Yokohama Zoo in Japan, Zoo Nagara in Malaysia and in Singapore at the Singapore Zoo. Now you can add a 5th location -- the Oakland Zoo in Northern California.


Malayan Flying Fox -- Pteropus vampyrus


MI-6 "retracted" Iraq intelligence -- now, how about "retracting" the troops, just as we did in Vietnam, running like hell and pretending we won

I don't know if we should have gone into Iraq or if we should have sent more troops or if the net improvement (cost of lives and resources vs increased likelihood of peace and safety and stability) is positive or negative.

Given that we DO KNOW that little if any information we've received from the administration is true, and that they are willing to dig their heels in and scream like old ladies getting mugged for their welfare checks when anyone tries to get some facts, we're not likely to have any real answers to our questions any time in the near future.

But judging from what we see happening, it's not good.

We see our military being betrayed daily by the administration with needless callups and reductions in benefits. We saw the humiliating spectacle of Catspaw Bremer turning over the keys to our handpicked stooge under cover of night, afraid to do it publicly as announced because of complete lack of trust in our ability to protect the new democracy from its people. (To be more precise -- the lack of trust in our ability to protect Mr. Bremer.)

We see the administration backing out of Iraq, retracting itself while reinstalling the Baath Party it was so desperately important to overthrow, moonwalking like a cat that's just figured out how much fur it was going to lose to that feral monster whose yard it just wandered into, backing up with a "who me?" look as if it was never even THINKING about getting into a fight anyway.

The only people not able to cover their asses are the people in uniform on the ground, still willing to cleave to THEIR duty even though it's obvious to all of them that the emperor is not only naked, but seriously deranged. And no one in a position of authority seems willing to try to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and limbs among that population, not if it interferes with them trying to prevent the necessary, appropriate, and likely loss of jobs among this group of rich kids playing at governance.

They're blaming the liberals already, but it's the right-wing kids who are playing with each other in this theocratic version of Day Care who are backing away and leaving Iraq in chaos, more violent and more dangerous than before they sent in death by the carload in our name. The only liberals responsible were the ones in Congress who were too afraid of facing the hysterical fear of their contributors with a standup vote against this sociopathic foreign policy. (There were exceptions -- Congresswoman Barbara Lee alone in the first vote, and along with a few others in the next votes.) Like kids whose mothers are calling them home, but telling them to pick up their toys first, those boys are already just throwing them in the closet, piling them up, even though they'll all tumble out first time anyone opens up the door, but then they can walk away saying, "See, Mommy? The room is all clean." (Unfortunately for them, there are some members of the international press in there.)

Like Vietnam, we've put in troops where no one can prove that a threat to us existed other than in some theory. Like Vietnam, we've put troops in a place where there's no way to see the difference between those who want to kill you and those who don't -- not until it's too late; no way to help an apparently injured or sick person for fear of explosives attached. We've put troops in a shooting gallery where the only targets that stand out are the ones in uniforms. Like Vietnam, the only people being protected are the war profiteers and mercenaries. And like Vietnam, the wankers in the big chairs are going to wait until after the election to tell us the bad news.

(And I remember clearly how we all voted for LBJ and defeated Barry Goldwater because he was "going to send in the Marines, bomb Hanoi, and mine Haiphong Harbor. Which, of course, LBJ proceeded to do immediately after the election, even though he knew, as we've recently learned, he knew that we didn't have a snowball's chance in Long Binh to win the thing.)

They act as if they have really big balls, these guys up there strutting and fretting around. They just don't have the courage -- none of them -- to stand up and admit a mistake. And unless they do, there is not going to be any way to correct it.

As I said -- I don't know what was right or wrong about this entire debacle, not even if it's true, as more than a few people say, that Osama ben Ladn attacked the WTC in 1993 and the US Cole later, and finally, the WTC and the Pentagon on that fateful day called 9-11 because GHW Bush convinced the terrified Faisals to let him violate Araby's Holy Land with a military base. That when Ben Ladn, returned home to ask for support to go north and remove the vile irreligious Saddam Hussein from power and discovered American military were there, he, basically, told his dad to shove it, that now they -- the Saudi ruling class -- were ALSO his enemies for having committed this hideous sacrilege. Maybe it happened that way, maybe not.

But what we can see happening right now, even through the cloudy filter of restricted press access, is that the "Arab Assets" we relied on ate our lunch, made stuff up in a "give me some money and then let's you and him fight" deal.

A friend who spent a great deal of time in the Middle East once told me: "You think that old saw about how Jews are sharp businessmen is true? Try dealing with an Arab. You'll walk away thinking you got a good deal, even if you paid a bit more than you'd intended, and it isn't until later you realize he convinced you to also throw in your pants, your watch, and the title to your car." Apparently he was right, at least about some Arabs.

Maybe they were dumb or maybe they were patriotic, but those people were willing when asked to go over there in the line of fire because they believed their Commander-in-Chief actually knew what he was doing, that it would protect home and family and it was important. Is anyone up there at the top of this administration now man or woman enough to stand up and admit we got took, and care about how many more Americans and members of the coalition, such as it is, will be the last ones to die for a mistake? And do something about it?



"Sally Forth," he said. "Wow, a wholesome lesbian family comic strip," said I.

That's what I thought for a long, long time. I had been mildly disturbed to see someone using the name of the great sexy Wally Wood strip that ran in the early 70's. But then I thought, wow, a straight-on family strip about a lesbian family. At least it was pushing the line too.

"Damn, we've come a long way, how about that, a lesbian couple played just like a straight couple, just like actual people with the same concerns and the same goals."

It was an easy mistake -- two androgynous people with a daughter, both with the same haircut, the same profile, the same androgynous physique -- one wearing a woman's clothes, the other wearing a man's. Wholesome, interesting relationship with working mother Sally at odds with her boss, but standing up to him, working things out as best as can be done -- no Dagwood-type flake, she. And working with their teenage daughter balancing love with direction. And Ted, well Ted seems to not do much of anything at all but be her foil. (Hey, not so weird. I once had a lovely short-lived thing with a girl named Sam, and as I recall, Steve Carella, of the 82d precinct stories has a wife named Teddy who also is rarely more than a mention.)

But last week they went on vacation to the beach, and while their young daughter wore a top to her bathing suit, Ted did not. So ok, I got it

The Wally Wood strip was something else, sexy and funny, but definitely male-oriented hetero. That generally-naked curvaceous fantasy woman never quite got around to the lesbian side of erotic, although a sendup of the movie Barbarella (called Boobarella) did play into a curious relationship with an eye-patched cartoon Anita Pallenberg-like Great Tyrant, various sex machines, and whips. (No relation to the later porn movies which travel under that name -- Boobarella* or the 1998 Bangkok Boobarella)

This is not to criticize the current Sally Forth, a strip which is generally more pleasant and amusing than actually funny. I read it more or less regularly, and enjoy it.

I came to it only recently, but it's been around a while. Craig Howard created it in 1982, a few months after Wood took his own life (rather than stretch it out drip by drip with dialysis) leaving behind a huge body of wonderful work and, later, a scholarship** in his name.

But damn. I live in Oakland, Alameda county, generally held to be the lesbian capitol of Northern California. (Or so the San Francisco Chronicle says, actually printing maps of lesbian densities by neighborhood in the East Bay Hills -- no, I'm not making this up.) Gay men on the west side of the bay. Gay women on the east. And happy heterosexual me, who has little or no home repair talent, to discover how many of these nice women I see every day, with many of whom I consider myself to be a friend, are carpenters and plumbers and contractors and etceteras. Not to play into a stereotype, but many of the houses around here are fixer-uppers, and tend to attract people with home repair skills. Other than me. So while I enjoy the company of friends and neighbors, it's also nice to know I can ask a friend -- either male or female -- for advice on how to fix something or make something and if the job seems beyond me, it's a friend I can hire to do it.

I guess it's just going to take a while longer until the rest of our society notices how many people who seem rather different from the standard they were told is good and decent are actually people. Just for a while, I thought we'd all grown up a little bit, at least around here.


*Boobarella, seeks to solve the mystery of, as they describe it: "Who's boobs will fit the lost bra," a paean to mammary overkill with Lisa Lipps, Tiffany Towers, Angel Bust, Staci Vaughn, and Candy Cantaloupes, winner of AVN's 1993 Best Big Bust Specialty Award.

**Set up at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan by his brother, Glenn Wood, and J. David Spurlock, who compiled Wood's Sketchbook.



At a certain point, it goes beyond vicious, immoral, conscienceless expediency and becomes treason

We always suspected it, especially since #41 and Reagan's "October Surprise,"(see article from The Daily Mislead quoted below, or the major article in The New Republic linked to the title), but things move faster now, and the Internet -- like The Shadow -- KNOWS.

And while they've been having a dandy time pointing fingers of blame at everyone else, the career people, the media, et al, apparently none of the CRAP-heads (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell) ever heard the old adage:

"Be careful the asses you kiss on the way up.
They're the same ones you'll have to kiss on the way down."

SO pucker up, tough guys -- couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

(A note here -- I want America to succeed and fulfill its pronmise with all my heart. But I want this band of murdering, craven rogues ridden out of town on a rail, tarred, feathered, their names made into curses. And every member of every family who has had a person killed or maimed gets to line up and punch and/or kick each one of them. That would be a good start to help America regain its soul.)

Bush Coordinating War on Terror With Election

In the months after the tragic attacks of 9/11, President Bush told the American people that he had "no ambition whatsoever to use [the War on Terror] as a political issue."1 But according to a new report, the Bush Administration is now demanding that international allies coordinate the arrest of al Qaeda terrorists to coincide with key U.S. political events, so as to maximize political benefits for the President.

According to the New Republic, top Pakistani intelligence officials have confirmed that the Bush Administration is demanding the Pakistani government find as many "high value" terrorist targets specifically before Americans go to the polls in November. By contrast, no similar urgent push or "timetable" was discussed in 2002 or 2003. Even more troubling, Pakistani sources admit White House aides told the Pakistani Director of Intelligence that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any high value terrorist target] were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" - the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.2

The report calls into question whether key military decisions were affected by similar political motivations during the last three years. For instance, during 2002 and 2003 when al Qaeda was regrouping along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Bush administration refused calls to seriously increase operations there. Only in March of 2004 - once the Presidential election campaign had begun -- did the President finally announce "stepped up efforts" in Afghanistan to find bin Laden.3

1. "Republicans, Democrats seek political returns on 9/11, terror war,", 4/01/04.
2. "Pakistan for Bush. July Surprise?," New Republic, 7/07/2004.
3. "U.S. military announces new operation in Afghanistan," USA Today, 3/13/04.


Sweet KenLay's Baadasssss Song

I knew yesterday that Ken Lay had been indicted, but this morning my wife mentioned what she'd heard on the news -- that he'd turned himself in.

To be expected.

But on the other hand, wouldn't it have been nifty for him to try a getaway? On the run? Crawling through sewers and broiling in deserts? Chased down from one country to another by Interpol, Californians and the retirees whose pensions he stole? Sort of the whitebread version of Sweet Sweetback.

And the Greek Chorus of Oilmen's Club Members would ring through his ears:

"You can't get away Kenlay, the old folks know your name."

"I can run faster than they can."

"They got walkers, Kenlay."

"I can run farther than they can."

"They got Depends, Kenlay."

"If Sweetback could do it, so can I."

"Yeah, but everyone was cheering for Sweetback to make it. Everyone's cheering for you to get caught and strung up by your balls."

"I can hide."

"You bled their momma. You bled their poppa."

"Well they won't bleed me."

"You bled their sisters. You bled their brothers."

"They won't bleed me."

"You want to bet on that? Here come those old folks now, swinging their canes."


"You can't hide in California, not there. They want their money back and now you're broke. Can't hide in Houston, they know you there, too, and they want their pensions back. Bush won't answer your phone calls, Kenny Boy, he says 'Kenny who? I may have met him once, but...' Or maybe he just forgot. Either way, you're all alone. You can't get away."

"I can turn state's evidence, rat out everyone I ever knew, everyone who ever helped me, tell the feds what they got in return."

"Well, Kenlay, in the words of your pal's Mentor in the Veep's office, 'Go fuck yourself.'"

"But you're my angels. You're supposed to help me."

"You're gonna roll over on the people who got you all your goodies? Fuck you. And stop insulting rats -- you don't have half their integrity."

"But I didn't know what they were doing, didn't know how they were doing it."

"That's why you were always the perfect fall guy, 'cause you don't really know how to do anything. That's why you got that house in River Oaks."

"But it wasn't my idea to cheat like that."

"Of course not, Kenny Boy -- you didn't get that job because they thought you were smart. You weren't expected to have ideas. You were expected to stand there just as you are, holding the bag with a dumb, pissed off expression on your face."

A tip of the hat to Melvin van Peebles, who, in 1971, answered the incredibly stupid question "We already did one negro movie. How many do you people want?" by starting a revolution. And to Mario, who has been carrying it on. Here's a bit of an Ohh-mahj. Hope you enjoy it.


A Retraction

I want to retract and apologize for a comment I wrote in this site yesterday.

I referred to Vanderleun as a "GOP whore."

Totally inappropriate unkind and incorrect.

As was quoted in his very own Counter Culture magazine, The Organ, a San Francisco prostitute once said, with proud determination:

I'm not selling anything that doesn't belong to me.
And there isn't a politician or businessman
who can make that same statement.

My apology to all the hard-working 'working girls' out there.

I wish you easy nights, pleasant clients, and generous tips.



Yet another updated definition of "chutzpah"

I suppose as a writer I should appreciate the Bush-leaguers more than I do. In a few short years, they've provided more amazing definitions of "chutzpah" than were generated in the previous 100. This one's great:

They're off an running calling John Edwards "A wealthy trial lawyer."

Well, he IS wealthy, since he got very successful after his father, the factory worker, helped him through law school and he made his money representing people without any money, but who'd gotten maimed and mutilated by their employers.

And Monkey Boy is dissing him?

That little Richie Rich pissant? The schmuck who not only was born on third base, as they say, but never succeeded at anything in his life, always having his father's friends around to bail him out.

Oh, there was one thing he didn't actually run into the ground.

Daddy's pals bought him a seat on the Texas Rangers whereupon the first thing he did was trade Sammy Sosa away. Later, when he was finished jerking himself off over being a "major league owner," he sold his share for an obscene profit.

But he's failed miserably at managing pretty much everything else in his life his daddy bought for him with the kickback billions garnered from Saddam Hussein's kickbacks.

One possible success: Little Bush may go down in history as the person who brought on a case that will establish one of the greatest precedents of Constitutional Law -- whether or not an out-of-office President can be tried for crimes committed during his administration.

Unbelievable -- and he's going after Edwards as "wealthy?"

Even a GOP whore like Vanderleun couldn't find a way that's supposed to make sense. I could be wrong. Vanderleun used to be a very very smart fellow.



A Better Choice for a Better Future



To be conservative IS to be liberal

I am not talking about the right-wing sociopathic theocrats who want to rule this country with a philosophy composed of the vicious raving filth people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell try to pass off as Christianity. Those con artists get themselves a frontman who is a smiling dim bulb like George W Bush, one who actually believes the Prince of Peace preached the path of revenge, retribution, vindictiveness, death, and destruction. They don't believe it themselves. Their idea of conservatism is "Me and my friends own it all and you can go fuck yourself."

Once I realized that I was Conservative and had been for many years, I also realized, to my dismay, that for all intents and purposes, that brand had been discontinued.

To be Conservative is to have a great desire to conserve. The government is limited to things only the government can do, i.e., protect persons and natural resources from predation by profiteers -- humans, forests, minerals, wildlife, etcetera belong to the nation not to whatever particular family killed off enough of its competitors to be able to sink pipes and cut down forests.

To be Conservative is to be liberal in the most literal sense of that word, i.e., live your own life and let others live theirs.

That means the government does not interfere with people who are not harming others -- does not presume to determine what books, films, internet sites, broadcasts, etcetera, individuals may choose. The government does not intrude itself into personal lives whether that is an issue of who marries whom, who decides to reproduce, what medication a person wants to use to relieve pain, boredom, and/or disease symptoms. The government does not intrude on individuals deciding in what ways they will amuse each other and/or give pleasure to each other. (It is not the government's business whether or not an individual or an elected official gives or receives oral sex, unless, unless it is, to use a hypothetical example, Tony Scalia and Dick Cheney are doing it to each other at government expense.)

The means the government limits itself to protect the people from individuals, nations, or corporations, who would rob, poison, kill or cripple them for their own benefit. In other words, thieves, con men, hustlers, and murderers, whatever form or organizational structure they take. That means the government performs the function for which it was created -- to institute a better society than anarchy. In other words, to quote from an obscure document written early in American history (one which the current administration either never read: establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty...

And when the putative humans who occupy the positions of power are con men, hustlers, and thieves, then it is the duty of the Conservative to protest. That assumes courage and integrity. Charley Reese, among others, is such a person.

Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a frontman, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory...

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me once, but he won't fool me twice...

I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it. Go to Kerry's Web site and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You'll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe.

Besides, it would be fun to have a president who plays hockey, windsurfs, ride motorcycles, plays the guitar, writes poetry and speaks French. It would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face. Killing people has a sobering effect on a man and dispels all illusions about war.

John Kerry may not be THE man everyone was waiting for, but he has one of the essential attributes of a real man, the same as Charley Reese, the courage to stand up and admit a mistake. Dubya does not.



With the Clinton memoir now out, I recall a prediction I made

I wrote and published this in May of 2001 (yes, before the day that shall live in every Republican press release until the end of time, although it sort of escapes me why these people want to keep bragging about having been asleep at the wheel and letting a whole bunch of citizens get whacked). And I thought about it again, as crowds line up for hours to spend 30 seconds in the proximity of Bill Clinton.

Monkey Boy's election and coronation put an image in my mind back then which still flashes by intermittently:

Bill Clinton is watching an episode of "I Claudius," the same scene, over and over. The scene is the one where Tiberius, widely and publicly castigated as a sexual degenerate, is sick and about to die. He looks up from his bed at Caligula and says, "With you as emperor, they'll make me a god within a year." And Tiberius laughs. And Bill Clinton laughs. The rest of us may find it a little more difficult to laugh


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