Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Depends on What the Meaning of "Is" Is... 

Y'know, the more I hear these rich, old, male, white assholes try to spin the DeLay indictment, the more I'm going to enjoy throwing Republican bullshit c. the Clinton Impeachment right back in their faces. As in, "You wouldn't let Clinton pull this excuse back in the day, you can't try it now..."

Ted Koppel just did a very nice and subtle raking over the coals of DeLay's lawyer on Nightline, as the lying sack of shit (the lawyer, not Koppel) tried to claim that the charges upon which DeLay has been indicted don't really mean what they say they do and that the crime in question wasn't really committed. Koppel very simply and brilliantly kept saying, "Obviously, you're more up on the details of the case then I am, but the indictment says there was money laundering..." To which the Attorney would try to dance and sing around the fine points of the issue, claiming that no money donated by corporations in Texas went back to candidates in Texas, it went to candidates in other states, blah blah fucking blah. And despite the fact that there's a big fat honkin' check, the smoking gun, the evidence that the Attorney's claim is pure horseshit.

And then, Nightline follows up with Howard Dean reeling off the crimes and misdemeanors of the current Administration and their Party, with the challenge that "We need a president to stand up for ethics in government, and we don't have that president now."

My god, the media is actually doing its job. But, after being hosed by the Administration into reporting the "Black people are running amock in New Orleans" lies post-Katrina, they're probably feeling a bit used, too. And there's nothing more vengeful than a betrayed mistress.

The Republican Party has been abusing, betraying, cheating on and pimp-smacking its mistress for the last five years. But -- the biatch has finally wised up, and she's holding all the cards. Which means that her abusive master is going to wind up holding his balls in a sock, begging for mercy while pounding on the ER door.

Heh heh. I like that image, and that metaphor. DeLay's will be the first set to fall to the floor, but expect more to follow.

" Yes, depart a lot at this time and cut the approaching any more, or we fire arrows at the tops of your heads and make castanets out of your testicles already!"

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How's It Feel to Get Hammered? 

Watching Tom Delay's sputtering, flatulent response to his indictment has been both infuriating and amusing. I can't tell whether he's being ironic when he claims that it's all partisan politics, 'cause I can't help but think of a certain time about, oh, eight years ago when all kinds of charges were being thrown at a certain Chief Executive because he had a "D" after his name -- and all the "R's" insisted that there was nothing partisan about it.

How's it feel, Tommy-boy? Oh, but of course you're probably far more nervous because a) there's real evidence of your wrong-doing and b) you committed an actual crime that didn't involve a blowjob. And if you really, sincerely think that it's because you're a Republican -- we'll, you're just as deluded as Michael Brown, the entire Cabinet and the Drunk in the White House.

Sorry, kids, but it looks like it's game over for DeLay's political career, and, in the words of Shakespeare, he's been hoist by his own petar. (And or petard, depending on which edition you've read.) Even funnier was all the quick scrambling today, as the Republicans quickly announced one appointment for Majority leader, then realized, "Oops. He's a homo..." and announced another. They didn't comment on the reasons for the switch, but everyone else did.

And it's becoming more and more obvious that the Republican Party truly has fallen apart from the inside out, devolving from media and PR masters to a gang of keystone cops who can't make a move without running into each other. Their showcase governor, The Gropenator, has fallen so far in the polls that he'd probably lose an election to Gray Davis tomorrow; W's poll figures have followed; DeLay is indicted -- Frist and Rove may soon follow; Michael Brown amply demonstrates his total incompetence before Congress; a couple of hurricanes prove that all this wailing over Homeland Security has been utter bullshit...

Prediction: it will only get worse for the GOP, and we'll see a few sacrifical lambs ejected before December. But, because of the infighting and finger-pointing, they're going to lose control of the narrative and the election, and 2006 will bring a housecleaning the likes of which we haven't seen since the midterms of 1994.

That's one of the disadvantages of holding all three branches of government, you see. When that government fucks up, big time, over and over, there's only one party to blame. And there's no way in hell the Republicans can point and say, "This is the Democrats' fault." That dog don't hunt. Just like DeLay's protests that his indictment is a partisan witchhunt. Dude, bullshit. You're screwed, blued and tattooed on a paper-trail, and I hope you get the full two years in Federal prison with a very big, very horny, very psychopathic cellmate who has a thing for unattractive, weasly executive types.

That's what happens when you try to screw the People, bubbie. Eventually, they figure it out and you get screwed back. Just ask Oliver Cromwell about that one...

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Over at Eschaton, they're celebrating mightily over Tom DeLay's indictment -- and so am I. But here's another big reason to be happy. Look at the CNN Poll results for the question, "Should Tom DeLay resign from congress?"

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Boo-yah, indeed...

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Flashing Red Lights... 

Whew. I thought I was the only one. When I see the flashing red lights and hear the siren, I pull my ass over to the right instantly. Why? 'Cause it means that someone is rushing to an emergency that may save a life. And, like the author at Atheist Revolution,, I've been totally appalled by the utter dickwits who seem to think that there's no reason to interrupt their busy day and pull the fuck over.

Why do I pull over when I see the lights and sirens? Real simple -- because the lights and sirens mean that someone is rushing off to save someone else's life. Meaning that my making that next green light or getting home two minutes earlier doesn't mean jack shit. When an ambulance or fire engine or police car goes into flashy siren mode behind me, it's game over. I pull to the right, get the hell out of the way and wait...

And, like the correspondent at Atheist Revolution, gawk at the selfish fucking asshats (usually in SUVs) who keep on driving, and then stop in the middle of traffic lanes, all the while chatting on their goddamn cell phones. Yes, I've seen these pricks make left turns in front of oncoming Firetrucks; stop in the left traffic lane and act pissed off while blocking access to an ambulance; the same people who piss and moan when it costs fifty bucks to fill up their ten mile per gallon ego-mobiles...

Y'know what? Fuck y'all. Personally, I think that all Emergency vehicles should be equipped with cameras, and as they rush off to save lives, they get to take pix of the assholes who block their way. And, from those pix, they get to issue tickets of the five hundred dollar or more variety. As in -- five hundred bucks the first time we spot your license plate blocking us; a thousand the second time; ninety days in jail the third time. Your defense? Nada... Okay, your only possible defense is that you couldn't get all the way over because someone else was already there -- unless you could have pulled forward one space and parked there.

It's the culture of selfishness, a Conservative Republican birthright, if you'd believe them. And, like Atheist Revolution, I have this simple question: How is it that I, an atheist, have a higher morality and will pull over at the first hint of sirens, while all of you asshats with "Support Our Troops" stickers and American Flags out the wazzoo (and chatting on your cell phones) will bumble blithely along your way, keeping our emergency workers from doing their work?

The traffic rules are simple, folks. Red lights and siren -- pull the fuck over. Even if it means you'll be two minutes late picking up Brittany from Soccer Practice. Get over yourselves, pull your heads out of your asses, and don't be part of the problem. Fire, ambulance and police have right of way. Always. Sure, you splooged all over Firemen on 9/12. Don't shit on them four years later. Or, don't bitch about them being late when your fat McDonaldsed lard ass is having a heart-attack.

You can't have it both ways. So pay attention, and pull over when those red lights flash. Otherwise, you're just a dickhead.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Intelligent Stupidity 

How simply can I put this argument?

Scientific evidence in favor of evolution: buttloads, over the last several hundred years. And even when science seems to question evolution, that's part of the theory -- because a theory, in science, is just a set of working rules developed after much observation of the real world.

Let me put it this way -- do you want your kids taught an alternative to the Theory of Gravity? Right now, gravity is just a theory. We don't quite know how it works, but we do know this: jump off a tall building on Earth, you'll land on your face and probably break a few bones. Repeat that test a few hundred times, and in every case -- the jumper will land on the ground, sometimes on their face, often on their ass, but regardless of how they land, they will land after they fall. But, you fundies might say, "Gravity is just a theory. It hasn't been proven." Okay, fine. Keep tossing your kids off of tall buildings and see what happens.

Scientific evidence in favor of creationism, aka "intelligent design": nada, bupkis, nothing, nil, zero. There isn't a single artifact, fossil, thing, whatnot, widget, googaw, doodad, doohickie that in anyway proves or hints at or even indicates that creationism or "intelligent design" happened. Nothing. Nothing. Not a fucking thing. Creationism and intelligent design are not theories in the scientific sense. They are, at best, hypotheses. Hypothesis: a conjecture based on observed evidence, but not backed up by it.

Let me put it this way: Hypotheis: Unicorns exist, based on references to them in literature of the 13th Century. It's a valid hypothesis, but it ain't science. In order to make it science, I'd have to find hard evidence that unicorns did exist -- fossil records, eyewitness accounts, DNA evidence that existing species evolved from them...

In order for something to go from hypothesis to theory, it needs a buttload of evidence behind it. Darwin hypothesized that current species evolved from earlier species -- but then he found a buttload of evidence to turn that hypothesis into a theory, a theory that has not failed in the several hundred years since the Beagle set sail. True, the mechanisms via which evolution occurs have been questioned and debated. But, then again, the mechanisms via which an apple falls to earth have been questioned and debated as well.

No one questions that the apple will fall to earth when it pops off the tree. Some people may think that particles called gravitons cause it; others may think that fields as of yet unnamed may cause it; others may think that it's merely a remnant of Quantum theory. Those whys don't matter, because the underlying fact is true. On Earth (or any sufficiently massive thing) objects dropped toward the surface will fall to the surface.

And that's the theory of gravity in a nutshell: if you drop it, it will fall. Anyone can demonstrate this: drop something, it will fall. And if you want to say, "It falls because God says it should," fine. That is an hypothesis. Do your research and your study, and when you can show empirical proof that God causes things to fall, then you can add to the theory. Until then -- shut the fuck up.

The theory of Evolution in a nutshell: species evolve via natural selection, with those individuals that manage to optimize their reproduction being the most successful at survival. Given statistics and time, the individuals most successful at reproduction will predominate and survive, and the successful mutations of their genepool will survive; advantageous mutations survive while detrimental mutations do not. Over time, certain mutations will create species incapable of breeding with their parent species; ergo, new species.

How it happened...? Well, a lot of science and study has filled in a lot of the blanks. But if you want to try to fill in the blanks with, "Because God said so," fine. As long as you come up with the empirical evidence to prove it.

(I'll wait...)

Okay, I waited. What's that? No empirical evidence, beyond a few stories in the Bible? Guess what, kids -- the Bible is what's called "anecdotal evidence." That is, pure bullshit, and not acceptable. I won't even get into the raging impossibilities surrounding that whole Noah's Ark thing. Getting back to gravity, here's an anecdotal argument: "Apples fall to earth because the ether is thick, and it drags objects downward." Yeah, sure. A valid hypothesis -- until it's tested by science, which finds no evidence whatsoever for the existence of an ether -- which science hasn't found.

Science has tested Darwin's Theory over and over, and it tends to hold true. There's not one thing in the Bible that can stand up to the scrutiny of true science.

And so, "intelligent design" is a raving oxymoron. If you want to believe that some supernatural being nudged the Big Bang into action, fine. That's about as far as you can go. But from about 1x10-27 seconds after that Big Bang, real science has a pretty good idea what happened -- right down through the beginning of life on Earth, and its history up until now.

But don't hold your breath on what happened before 1x10-27 seconds after the Big Bang. 'Cause science is working on that, and the solution requires no Big Daddy in the sky, no ultimate creator. No nothing, beyond infinite time and infinite space.

Ask any statistician about that one. 'Cause, given infinte time and infinite space, you get one certainty: anything can happen, including a universe in which human beings exist. Or a universe in which unicorns exist. Or a universe in which monocellular organisms evolve to super-intelligence within the methane seas of the moon of a gaseous planet orbiting a red-dwarf star. Or a universe in which religiously-trapped idiots try to ascribe supernatural causes to events which can be explained entirely through science.

Ooops... think we found that universe. Unfortunately. Kids -- Galileo proved that religious thought about science was a load of shit 400 years ago. Accept it now. Noah, dinosaurs, Eden, whatever -- dump the fucking fairy tales. Darwin was right, is right and will continue to be right.

After all, what Darwin said can be tested and proven right. Give me any single assertion in the Bible and two scientists; chances are, it'll be proven to be pure bullshit almost immediately.

So, this modest proposal. "Intelligent Design" can only continue to be proposed to pissy-pants school districts if they consider it under its one true title: "Intelligent Stupidity."

Almost makes Flying Spaghetti-Monsterism look sane, doesn't it?

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I Von't Be Baaaack 

How clueless is Ahnold, really? Does he not get that appearing in his own commercials for the special election upcoming is a really bad idea? Does he not understand that anything he says is going to be taken in extreme opposite by the electorate? Or is he just suffering Republican Disease? That is, the belief that everything is wonderful, W is god, and I cannot lose?

'Cause here's the perspective from the streets for him. The people of California have wised up to their mass fuck-up of electing Mr. Empty Suit in the first place, and anything he touches is poison. If he says vote Yes, we'll vote No. If he endorses a candidate, that candidate's career is over. And what does he do? Goes on-air with a commercial blaming teachers, unions and "Sakreeeeminto" for all our problems. Know what, Ahnold? That's a just about total guarantee that the teachers, unions and non-executive elected officials are going to win big, and you're going to get your balls handed to you.

Jeeeeebus. Can't he afford better advice? Or doesn't he listen? Because, given the Governator's recent polls, he could endorse a ballot measure that would ban all discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality, and it would fail, in this bluest of blue states, only because he put his stinky imprimatur on it.

Two words, AhNOld. "It's over." Your little game of playing governor has gone bad, like many of your films. You're not going to pull it out of your ass in Act III. Or haven't you paid attention? 'Cause that's the reel where the bad guys bite it, and in this rendition, you've been cast in the role of "Evil, Stupid Bureaucrat." You may think you're in a Frank Capra film. Fine. But you're no Jimmy Stewart. You're Lionel Barrymore or Claude Rains. Except without the acting talent. And you're about to have reality shoved right up your overly made-up face, your ass handed to you, your agenda shot down. The movie you're cast in is not "The Terminator." It's "Clueless," and you're the star.

So, word to the wise -- or the stupid, as the case may be. Stop endorsing anything, because all you can give now is the kiss of death.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Could We Start Again, Please...? 

Is there a reset button? A do-over? Can we quit this level and go back to the previous one and play it again right? Did the earth fall into some Y2K glitch that no one expected, and everything has been a nightmare from the evening of December 31st 1999 onward? (Yes, I'm a purist who knows the big M didn't begin until 2001, but everything went to shit in a shoebox during 2000, so the error must have happened before then).

Just look at what's going on, and marvel at the mess we've fallen into...

Because of lies that led to a war in the Middle East (and ripped resources from a perhaps valid war in Afghanistan, so that that former struggle has lost both limelight and reason), we were not able to help the people of Louisiana and Mississippi during the worst natural disaster of the last hundred years. Aid from the federal government is not forthcoming, although they can drop the president into a photo-op in a completely evacuated city...

We were able to evacuate several million (white) people (sort of) in advance of another hurricane, but oops, it turned out to be not so bad. Until the media finally took a look at it again and, oops, it was that bad, but not until several news cycles later. Meanwhile, the president tries to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and pulls in a whopping... six hundred dollars.

And two hurricanes out of a season that's already made it through seventeen storms with over two months left have shown the world something I'm sure our administration would love to hide -- we are woefully, terribly, totally unprepared for any sort of large-scale terrorist attack. We can't even evacuate out cities with warning, nor save them after.

Why? Because the money is elsewhere, the resources are elsewhere, the National Guard is elsewhere. And the president is always elsewhere, fundraising in San Diego or vacationing in Crawford; the vice president is god-knows-where, but probably always within phone's reach of Halliburton.

So... all those airport screeners, FBI snooping at bookstores, intrusive searches and rules and paranoia and bullshit, amount to nothing. You are not safer today than you were on September 10th, 2001. You are not safer today than you were after March 20th, 2003. You are not safe at all because the assholes in power have failed at every single turn. Every single turn. They have wasted our resources and our military on nothing, and mother nature has shown them to be the fools that they are.

Natural disasters are random, unpredictable and unpreventable. All we can do is batton down the hatches or clean up the mess. Terrorist attacks are non-random, predictable and preventable. In fact, as more evidence comes to light, it seems that 9/11 was quite preventable, if only something had been done about the information gleaned beforehand. It was almost as if someone wanted it to happen...

Is there a reset button? A do-over? Can we quit this level and go back to the previous one and play it again right?

Can we do what must be done now, get rid of the pack of jokers in power, clean house, start again? Can we convince our Senate and Congress to do their damn jobs, grow some balls, and kick out the branch of government that has failed us so miserably?

Can we do it before the People decide to do it themselves, and give Dubya and company the George III/Louis XVI treatment? I hope it doesn't go that far, because things got pretty ugly when the people were running things after the French Revolution. Sure, they went pretty right after the American Revolution -- but we don't have the advantage of a Jefferson, Washington and Franklin around now.

Is there a reset button? A do-over? Can we awake from this long national nightmare and become the greatest country on earth again, or have we been dragged the way of Rome in the early 1st Century, courtesy of Caligula and pals?

Can we quit this level and go back to the previous one and play it again right?

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Plus ca change II... 

Just a touch of historical perspective -- democracy was almost destroyed by Persia about 2500 years ago, stopped only by the Battle of Salamis. The Greeks of Athens (well, they weren't really Greeks yet, they were Athenians), had invented the idea of Democracy after a revolution that kicked the elites out of power. And things were good and happy, until the Persians sailed west, determined to kick butt on the Bosphorus. It was really a culture clash. In Persia (modern-day Iran), obedience to authority was everything. In Athens at the time, democracy was everything.

Thanks to the brilliant military planning of Themistocles, who had persuaded his fellow Athenians to spend a winfall silver-lode discovery on a fleet of Triremes instead of on themselves, the possibly two million strong Persian army got their asses handed to them, and the idea of Democracy survived.

Why do I bring this up? Just as a curiosity, perhaps. I watched a documentary on the history of the Greeks, and this particular battle was a turning point, after which the city-state of Athens grew to be the Empire of Greece; but what struck me about it was this: the current war is just an extension of this 2500 year-old conflict, between the forces of Democracy and the forces of Meritocracy. But, in the way that history has of turning things from black and white to gray, we have the alleged forces of Democracy (The US) declaring war on the mid-east for all the wrong reasons. And doing all the wrong things to their own people in order to feed and fuel that war.

In ancient Greece, they developed a rather interesting system. Once a year, the citizens would vote by tossing potshards engraved with a name into the voting box. The potshards, ostria, were used to determine who got banished. Whoever had the most votes on that day would be exiled from Athens -- ostracized. And one of the first biggies ostracized was the aforementioned Themistocles, the man who had saved Athen's butt previously. Why? Because he had become too arrogant in the wake of his win.

Perhaps we need that idea now. Once a year, all citizens get to vote by writing in a name on a ballot; any elected official they want, and the one with the most votes is removed from office and shipped off to, say, Guam.

But, back to my original point, and the one that caused my existential "Huh?" in the first place... the current beacon of Democracy, the US, has declared unilateral war on the mideast, Iraq first, possibly Iran next -- and those countries are (geographically) parts of the empire that, historically, tried to destroy Democracy in its cradle.

It's easy to look at the Battle of Salamis and yell, "Go Greeks!" After all, if they had lost, the world would look very different now. So then, why is it not at all easy to look at Iraq and yell, "Go US!"? Perhaps because our leaders lied us into it? Perhaps because the battle in Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11? Perhaps because, were I to ask W, "What about the battle of Salamis?" he'd make some joke about a Deli sandwich and then say, "Now watch this drive..."

Then again, W is probably drinking again, so who needs him? Ostracize, ostracize, ostracize. Now.

Particularly because he has proven himself to be a military genius along the lines of General George McClellan, who almost single-handedly lost the Civil War for the North...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Credit Card Fraud 

Bet you didn't know this one... use a credit card to pay for gas, and the credit card company gets a big chunk per gallon. Not a percentage of the sale, like they do in every other retail segment, but per gallon. Effectively, then, it's a private gas tax, and it's a lot more than you'd think, according to this article:
(Service-station owner Paul O'Connell) said credit-card companies have increased fees for gas stations that allow customers to use credit cards to pay for gasoline.

O'Connell said when gasoline cost $1.50, credit-card companies charged roughly 45 cents per gallon. But companies have pushed that fee up to 9 cents for every gallon sold.
So, tell me -- how is this legal? Forty-five cents on a buck fifty is thirty percent. True, at three bucks a gallon, the percentage is less usurious; "only" eighteen percent. But it's still theft, and I don't know where the credit card companies get off with this kind of armed robbery.

Oh wait. Yes I do. It's because your Congresspeople regularly bend over and take it up the ass from these robber barons. If they had any balls, they'd change the law regarding what credit card companies can charge -- say three percent over prime rate, no exceptions. But, as I've ranted before here, I don't see how any company charging a thirty percent interest rate on anything isn't brought to charges for usuary -- defined as charging excessive rates of interest on money.

So, next time you're filling up at the pump, don't bitch at the station owner. They have no control over their prices. But remember that you're paying about thirty-some odd cents per gallon in taxes, plus sales tax, plus half a buck to your credit card company, should you choose to buy your gas that way.

Meaning, in reality, that if you're buying your $3 a gallon gas in California, you should really only be paying $1.90 or so. And, at fifty bucks a barrel, the gas company only paid 70 cents a gallon.

Hm. Somebody is getting reamed with a gas pump here. The consumers and the franchisees who own the stations...

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An Immodest Proposal 

Eschaton has the link to this New York Times piece -- Republicans want to save their precious little tax cuts and rebuild in the wake of Katrina. Cake + Eat, apparently.

Some of the things they want to cut:
...delaying the start of the new Medicare prescription drug coverage for one year to save $31 billion and eliminating $25 billion in projects from the newly enacted transportation measure.

The list also proposed eliminating the Moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced on Monday, for $44 billion in savings; ending support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion; cutting taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million; and charging federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.
Hm. I wonder if Congresscritters consider themselves federal employees? I'll betchya not.

Well, here's an idea on how to raise the money without cutting those programs or raising taxes.
  1. Eliminate Congressional salaries through the the end of 2008, c. $255 million.
  2. Eliminate salaries for the President, Vice President and cabinet through the end of 2008, $10.3 million.
  3. Get the hell out of Iraq now, and divert those funds to rebuilding, billions.
  4. Force Halliburton to do their rebuilding pro bono, to make up for the missing billions in Iraq, priceless.
Hey, it's only fair. These are the bozos who contributed the most to the screw-ups that led to New Orleans being ruined, so let them pay for the clean-up. If they don't want to raise funds by imposing a teeny-tiny increase on the top tax bracket for the richest Americans, well... fuck 'em.

Perspective? To raise a five hundred billion dollars to pay for Katrina would cost ever American man, woman and child approximately... two thousand dollars.

The cost of Republican greed, however, is and will continue to be much, much greater.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hope and Fear 

The Liberal Avenger makes a really good point about conservatism and fear -- Michelle Malkin and company are booga-boogaing an unfounded rumor about a missile being fired at an American commercial airliner. Trouble is, t'weren't no missile, t'weren't no attack.

But -- this little anecdote points up the difference between conservatives and liberals, big time. It's this simple: conservative politics are based in fear; liberal politics in hope. Conservative thinkers are deathly afraid that someone is going to come along sometime and take away all their stuff. Liberal thinkers hope that someone is going to come along sometime and figure out how to make sure everyone has enough stuff.

Conservatives always have to have a human enemy: Free-Thinkers, Anarchists, suffragettes, Communists, Negroes, Mexicans, A-rabs, homosexuals, terrorists, liberals. Liberals have enemies too, but they're abstract concepts: poverty, hunger, war, hatred, prejudice, fear, conservatism.

I don't know what leads a person to choose one side or the other. Maybe it's nature. Maybe it's nurture. All I know is that, among people I grew up with, in the same area with similar backgrounds, we have conservative adults and we have liberal adults. And yet, I'd have to say that my parents' politics were very conservative. When I was growing up as a kid, in the wake of the end of the debacle that was Viet Nam, they were always saying things like, "McCarthy was right. We should have shot all the Communists." (That's pretty much a direct quote.) And, sadly, until the day he died, my father never really trusted "Mexicans" -- which tended to include Columbians, Guatemalans, Fillipinos and anyone who was brown but not obviously Asian. Although, hangover from WWII, he didn't trust the Japanese either. Despite having a Japanese gardener, a Mexican maid and being surrounded my Fillipino nurses in his dying days.

So, if it were genetic, I should be as conservative as hell. Now, both my parents grew up relatively poor and reached the middle class. I grew up in either the top end of the middle class or the very low end of the upper-middle class. But so did a lot of people with whom I went to college, and I knew a lot of Young Republican types back then.

Anyway, I don't know what leads to the difference, but I know which philosophy is the healthier outlook on life. I don't sit around in abject fear that some minority is going to take my job or terrorists are going to blow up my neighborhood or the government is going to tax me to death or a black man will marry my daughter. (Well, okay, I don't have a daughter, but if I did, I wouldn't care what race her husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend was.)

I do hope that science will prevail over superstition and that research and stem cells and cloning will help eradicate many of the things that kill us. I do hope that we can create an educational system that will actually educate children, in the sciences and art and history and matters biological. I hope that the Constitution will prevail, that the First Amendment will someday actually be enforced when it comes to religion and government. I hope that we make it into space in a big way, and soon, and do for our solar system and galaxy what Europe did for the New World, except without killing or converting any lifeforms we find along the way. I hope that, some day, we eliminate the need for war, imperialism and terrorism.

I would also hope that all conservatives wake up one day with a simple thought in their simple heads, FDR's heretical statement "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." There is no monster in the closet, no terrorist under the bed. Things are going to be fine. Now loosen up, stop being such a greedy, fearful, hateful bastard. Enjoy life, and let others enjoy theirs. We're all in it together. Stop acting like you're only in it for yourself, and then burn your copy of Atlas Shrugged.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Heartless, Soulless Bastards 

Yes, the Republicans will never let a chance slip by to use a great tregedy to further their political ends -- q.v. 9/11.

This latest bit of heinousness is courtesy Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, as reported at The Stakeholder:
"[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."
Or, in other words, find me a corpse we can parade around so we can save the uber-rich even more money.

Sick motherfuckers, aren't they? Every last one of them.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Shorter Bush Speech 

Same bullshit, different day. Phrases like "bold action", when undefined, mean nothing. Promising cheap housing to returning refugees is empty when the rebuilding contracts have gone, no-bid, to Halliburton subsidiaries. And giving a speech in an empty field in a deserted city to an audience of no one but a camera and TelePrompTer is the act of a raving coward.

I think they may have shot some Botox™ into his mouth, too. The smirk is almost -- almost but not quite -- not there.

But... more than anything, tonight's speech just shows how damn far out of his depth Bush is. If he had any balls or leadership ability, this would have been a press conference, not a photo op with a pretty (apparently undamaged) building in the background. If he weren't still kissing the asses of the American Taliban Religious Right, he wouldn't have even thought of having donations via a government agency go to faith-based organizations (read: fundie Christian churches). If he really meant what he said about fixing the racial inequalities of New Orleans, he wouldn't have waited until all the scary black people were out of town.

Or, in other words, same bullshit. Different day.

Can't wait to see the poll responses to this exercise in crap. God, what a dick...

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Fucked Up. Big Time 

So, apparently, they had some sort of plan to deal with natural disasters, post 9/11. Trouble was, nobody followed the script. Or maybe they did, and what our government never told us was that they wouldn't help non-white people.

Bastards. Apparently, the rich folks are going home even as the poor are still being treated like criminals, and kept from crossing the bridge to safety.

Remember this: the immediate victims of 9/11 were mostly upper-class white collar workers.

Remember this: the immediate victims of the hurricanes that hit Florida were rich old farts, mostly white or Jewish.

Remember this: the immediate victims of Katrina were mostly poor black folk, or the old, or handicaped.

Now, among those above groups, who got screwed, big time? Who were ignored? Not the victims of 9/11. Not the victims of the Florida hurricanes.

Nope. The victims of Katrina.

In the Gulf States, the rich bastards are already getting an escort back home. The rest... nothing.


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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Let the Flag-Waving Bullshit Begin (Again) 

Sigh. It's 9/11 again, and time for all the flag-waving and gnashing of teeth. But, by now, this should not be just a day of mourning for the victims. It should be a day of mourning for what BushCo has done to America since that fateful day four years ago.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Amendment XXVIII 

Because I used to be a law-geek in another life... let's try this one on for size:

The 28th Amendment to the Consitution
1) As of noon, January 20th, in the first calendar year following the first full November to elapse after passage of this amendment, the terms of all current members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the United States Government shall end, including but not limited to the President, Vice President, all Cabinet Members, the Supreme Court, Senate and House of Representatives, and their specific and particular staffs and employees. All such persons whose terms have been ended by this amendment shall be ineligible for life from holding any office in any of the three branches of government noted above.
2) On the first Tuesday following the first Monday of the first November immediately prior to the January noted in section 1 above, selection of all members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch of the government shall be held by lottery, comprised of the following citizens:
a) All native born or naturalized citizens over the age of 18 years old who are registered to vote;
b) And who have never been convicted of any felony in any of the United States;
c) Nor have been convicted of any Federal crime;
d) Nor have ever held any office in the Executive, Judicial or Legislative branch at any time prior to the passage of the amendment.
e) Nor can concurrently hold, nor has been selected previously for, a superior office in any of the three branches of government, as outlined in section 3, below.

3) An impartial, public body appointed by the last sitting Congress under this amendment shall hold a public lottery on the date above noted. Officers from the Senate shall be appointed to select members of the Supreme Court; officers from the Supreme Court shall be appointed to select members of the Executive; and Governors of the particular individual states involved shall be appointed to select members of the Senate and House of Representatives; they shall select all members of the three branches of government at random in the following order:
a) President of the United States.
b) Vice President of the United States.
c) Cabinet members, in the following order: Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Homeland Security.
d) Any Cabinet-level positions created after enactment of this amendment, in order of creation.
e) Speaker of the House of Representatives.
f) President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
g) Nine Members of the Supreme Court, selected as follows:

i) The first person selected for this office from all eligible people selected above shall be designated Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
ii) The subsequent eight persons selected for the Supreme Court from all eligible people selected above shall be designated as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

h) Members of the Senate, according to the following criteria:
Lottery choices for Senate members shall be conducted on a state-by-state basis by each governor of said state, drawn in order of admission to the Union, with two members selected from each state, except that the home state of the selected President Pro Tempore shall only receive one additional member; for a total of two senators selected from each state.
i) Members of the House of Representatives, according to the following criteria:
Lottery choices for House members shall be conducted on a state-by-state basis by each governor of said state, drawn in order of admission to the Union, with that number of members selected from each state apportioned by existing rules and census figures, except that the home state of the selected Speaker of the House shall receive one fewer member.

4) All necessary staff, assistants and other employees shall be hired at the sole discretion of each individual so selected in section 3, above, without approval or oversight of any other body or individual.
5) All members selected for office per the criteria in section 3, above, shall be sworn into office at noon on the January 20th following, and their term shall expire on the January 20th six years after that date.
6) Salaries paid for each office shall be according to current Federal law, and subject to subsequent increases or decreases as determined by subsequent acts of Congress.
7) Any individual so selected for office by the above procedures may refuse to serve, provided that they serve jury duty in their local community and at current jury pay rates for that community, exclusively, for the six year term they otherwise would have served by this amendment.
8) All existing laws regarding impeachment, removal from office and succession are unchanged by this amendment, and stand as they were prior to its enactment.
9) The overturning of this amendment requires a 2/3rds vote of the Citizens of the United States; it cannot be overturned by a vote of the States or of Congress; and, in the case of the overturning of this amendment by vote of the Citizens, it shall not expire until the November preceding the expiration of the terms of office of the sitting officials last elected under its auspices, at which time such replacement rules as enacted shall take full effect.

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I live in Los Angeles. In the 20th Century, this city was hit with three major Earthquakes, and was on the receiving end of major shakes from several more that managed to happen too far away to cause real damage. (My father was around for the 7 point something that hit Tehachapi in the 50s, and while it didn't do major carnage in LA, it certainly made people wet themselves.)

I've been to San Francisco, a city that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906, and majorly messed up by one eighty years later.

I live in a state where seismic activity is a fact of life, possible at any moment, and totally unpredictable. LA or San Francisco could be hit with a magnitude 8 tomorrow -- or both cities could be spared for another ten or twenty or thirty years.

And... both cities pop up frequently in terrorist scenarios. "Bomb Plot at LAX". "Destroy the Golden Gate Bridge." "Major Ports in Danger."

Y'know what? If the "evil doers" dropped a nuke at the Port of Long Beach, or even downtown, or blew up the Golden Gate Bridge, or exploded the east bay, the longterm effect on the lives of millions of Angelenos or San Franciscans would be... a bit, but not much. Because, ultimately, huge numbers of people would live. Not without fear and inconvenience, but without having their homes fall apart over their heads.

On the other hand... unleash a c. Alaska 1964 Earthquake near either place, and the mess would be... well, can you say Katrina squared? And, like a terrorist attack, it would happen without warning, possibly in the middle of the night... or the middle of the day... but once it started, every single person in range would only have luck and good construction in their favor.

Personally, I'd much prefer that our government be planning for the seismic act, and not the human act. Why? Because, honestly, no number of crazed jihadists, no matter how well armed, can do all that much damage to human life or infrastructre. Horrific as it was, 9/11 only killed 3,000 people, and only destroyed three or four bulldings. Admittedly, no west coast quake has killed that many, but only because our building standards are so high. (A year to the day after the Northridge quake, a tremblor of comparable size in Kobe Japan caused far more damage and killed far more people, because they didn't have quite the same standards -- oddly enough, considering that Japan has at least three perceptible earthquakes a day.) Then again, last time we had a big quake out here, it was under Bill Clinton's FEMA, and his people knew what the hell they were doing. We had aid rolling into town literally before the dust clouds had settled, back in '94.

Now, note several things I've mentioned above -- strong federal aid, and strict building codes. Both are things that our current government would much rather do without because, well, they just cost rich people money. If they had their druthers, I have no doubt that BushCo would gladly roll LA building codes back to pre-1933 standards, SF building codes back to pre-1906. Why? Because it would cost their rich friends in the development biz a lot less to build.

And cost countless tens of thousands of people their lives in the next major quake. But, hey, they were probably poor anyway, and couldn't afford to get out ahead of time. So fuck 'em.

Fuck 'em? Nah. Our rulers can all go fuck themselves. I've had enough of them. Not a one of them deserves to serve in office a single day more -- not the president, vice president, cabinet; not Congress and not the Senate. They have failed their employers -- we, the people. All of them, every last one of them.

The First Amendment gives us the right to petition our government for redress of grievances. And since our lame Senate and Congress don't have the cojones to start impeaching the bastards in charge, I say it's time that We, the People, start to do it ourselves. All it takes is enough signatures, enough outrage. We don't have to wait until January 2009, or even November 2006, to get rid of them. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, as long as we follow the rules and take action.

Time to clean the slate, dump everyone in power, and start over. We need an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in politics; we need a seismic event to rid Washington of the useless, kiss-assing, PAC-owned milquetoasts who pretend to represent us. We need a change to save ourselves. We need to take action, before nature does it for us again. We need to make sure that Katrina will never, can never happen again in this country.

We need a purge. There are 290 million of us, and only about 560 of them. For the gambling types, that's 517,857 to 1. Pretty good odds, I'd say. Better than the chance of winning the lottery, except that the house is in our favor.

And, honestly, the best way to run this country would be this: every citizen over the age of 18 is eligible, by lottery, to be elected to the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branch for a term of six years. It's like jury duty -- you can't get out of it, but at least you get the current salary (plus cost of living increases) for the job. We pull the handle, we put the people in, and away we go. Hey... we can't possibly do worse than what we have now but, thanks to concerned people without connections to any big money folk, we would do a lot better. And it's the ultimate term-limit: once you've done a job in a particular branch of government, you're excused from that branch for the rest of your life.

That is truly representative Democracy in action. Or at least representative government. Hey, if we can try people by a jury of their "peers", we can govern them the same way. Right?

But, in order to do that, we all -- the People -- have got to change the Constitution, and add a 28th Amendment with teeth. It starts with: Impeach them all. They deserve nothing less. And we deserve everything more.

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This Is "Less Government" in Action 

To any Republican (or Libertarian, a party I used to belong to but since have abandoned as being, in reality, more selfish than logical), I ask you this question: have you learned the lesson of Katrina, which is that, sometimes, big government is a good idea? Sometimes, the federal government can do things that state and local government cannot. Sometimes, the federal government must do things, immediately, that no one else can do.

And they do that with our tax money, which is what our tax money is for -- the public good, and human welfare for all citizens.

Which is another reason Katrina is such a debacle and should be such a shame to all Republicans and Libertarians -- because our tax money, which should have been in place to save New Orleans before it was destroyed, wasn't there, because certain people spent it already for a war, based on lies, in Iraq.

Sometimes, the Federal Government must intervene in our lives, and Katrina is one of them. Day-to-day life is not. I would be the first to agree that the Federal Government has no business snooping into anyone's private affairs, ever, despite any bullshit "homeland security" excuses. But I'd also be the first to say that the Federal Government had damn well better be the first entity on the scene when a major disaster like Katrina strikes.

And, on both fronts, this current Federal Government has failed, failed, failed miserably. To all you Republicans and Libertarians out there -- acknowledge that, then help us on the left to do what is right, and get these bastards out of office. They respect the rights of no one, and so have managed to save the lives of no one, except those rich enough to get out of the way of disaster.

Scatching my head because, other than filthy rich businessmen and raving loony "I hate everyone" Christian fundies, I can't think of anyone -- anyone -- in their right mind who could think of any excuse to support these bastards in Washington. Not a one at all, at all.

The time for impeachment is now. If not today, then there will be revolution and civil war tomorrow.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Proving Who His Friends Are 

In case anyone has any question about whom Bush cares more -- his rich friends, or the victims of Katrina (and, by extension, all Americans) -- he has just signed an executive order allowing federal contractors rebuilding to pay less than the prevailing wage.

Short version: it allows the contractors (read: Halliburton) to pocket even more of the fat government checks they'll get, while passing along less to people who've just lost everything and are looking to replace lost wages as well as lost homes. Yeah, compassionate conservativism my ass. This dickwit only has compassion for billionaires.

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Ajai Rai Award Winner of the Week 

Dr. Ben Marble, the man behind the "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney" comments heard on CNN.

Marble, whose wife gave birth to their daughter just after Katrina, lost his home and everything he owned in the hurricane, and then was forced to go twenty miles out of his way to get to that ruined home because Big Time Asshole was having a photo op next to what was left of Marble's tennis court. So, Marble did what any angry American can and should do: he invoked his First Amendment rights to petition the government for the redress of grievances.

And it would certainly redress all my grievances if the VP went and fucked himself.

For his trouble, Marble was later (off-camera, natch) confronted and detained by M-16 wielding troops, who finally let him go because he hadn't broken any laws. Although, if that was the case, they should have just stayed away in the first place.

Marble is selling non-mainstream meadiavideo of the incident at eBay, and you can find out more about the hurricane damage here.

Thanks to OpEdNews for the tip.

Ajai Raj is the young man who asked Ann Coulter if, since she was against gay marriage because it wouldn't make babies, she had a problem with straight men who only fucked their wives up the ass. Coulter's head nearly exploded and the rightwing went ballistic because Ajai used a naughty word. But, ultimately, he peeled the hypocrisy of the wingnuts right off in a single sentence, and he will forever be a hero in my eyes. Hence, this award, which will be given when deserved -- those who toss the hypocrisy, lies and bullshit of the conservatives right back in their fat fucking rich white faces, preferably on some sort of live media, or at least with great ripple effect in the blogosphere. And, note to Ajai -- that offer to buy him a beer or a bong, and a stripper of his choice of gender still stands. Dude, if you're ever in LA, drop me a line and I'll show you a good time.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina, Katrina 

I've been too appalled by the disaster that is Katrina to really comment regularly, especially when so many other bloggers are doing it so regularly and so well. But the issues that have arisen because of this disaster should be the subject of national debate; first and foremost because, even if they were to set off a nuke in a major city, terrorists could not achieve one one-hundredth of the chaos and devastation that nature hath wrought. And yet, in their short-sighted focus on "homeland security," the current Administration has failed to keep the homeland secure at all. All the airport screeners, all the wiretaps, all the intrusive rapes of the Constitution, could have done nothing at all to prevent what happened.

And the degree of stupid after the fact has been stunning. Bush's "No one could have predicted the levees would break" bullshit. Brown's (or was it Chertoff's?) fantasy headlines that claimed New Orleans had dodged a bullet. The rightwing game of Blame the Victims. Barbara Bush's utterly appalling, classist comments that just prove she comes from another planet, if not another galaxy.

And now, beyond all that, New Orleans is being forcibly evacuated, which makes me wonder why. It seems the focus should be on rescuing the trapped and injured, and getting supplies to the rest. At this point, give people informed consent: "You can stay, but if you get sick, you waive all claims." The important job is repairing the city, not making sure every last building is vacant. It's particularly ridiculous to evacuate areas that were not innundated, and (oh look, a liberal is going to say this) absolutely wrong that authorities are taking firearms away from people in a time of disaster. Seems to me that that move is more aimed at protecting the civil authorities than it is at restoring order. And, trust me, if I were cut off in a post disaster LA, with the Federal government doing jackshit to help, you can be damn sure I'd have the trusty ol' 12-guage at my side 24/7.

On the bright side, someone (probably a pissed off Republican) threw Dick Cheney's words back in his face today, and it's gotten major play on the Net and in the (so-called) Mainstream Media. And, in his reponse, Cheney came across as an even bigger asshole than he has in the past. Major league asshole. Big time. But, I echo that sentiment here. Mr. Cheney, go fuck yourself. And take Halliburton with you.

Ah yes, Halliburton. They may or may not have gotten the lion's share of juicy contracts in rebuilding the area. We don't know because the relief bill rammed through Congress was proposed by Republicans, and Democrats weren't even allowed to read it. The media has tried to call it a bipartisan effort, but that's bullshit. And, as always, the Republicans cheat when they know they can get away with it, because no politician on the planet is going to vote against such a bill with the explanation that, "I wasn't allowed to see it before voting." A very valid reason not to vote but, unfortunately, an unwinnable position, since it so easily turns into Senator So-and-So refused to help Katrina victims.

But... the silver lining in the cloud seems to be that this disaster is forcing the Republicans to reveal themselves as they truly are, and people are finally seeing it. The heartless, craven, greedy, compassionless bastards behind the red ties are being exposed to the light of day, as if everyone suddenly picked up those magic sunglasses that reveal the aliens. The Mighty Wurlitzer is seeming more shrill and ridiculous in its pathetic support of BushCo -- and another hurricane is lurking in the Atlantic.

Which makes for an impending no-win situation for the Administration because, if another devastating hurricane hits the US in the near future, they're fucked. If they respond in time and properly, it makes the Katrina debacle look worse. If they don't, it makes them look even more incompetent. Which is a good trick, since they've appeared utterly incompetent so far.

And, oddly enough, through all of it, it seems like all the solutions and aid and help have come from... the American People themselves. Which is what makes this nation great. It's not the government that is the country. It's the citizens.

Time to band together and get rid of the misfit bozos in charge, upon whose hands lie the deaths of thousands in the Gulf Coast states.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Dept. of Told You So 

I remember reading this article when it came out in National Geographic and thinking, "Well, wow. Are they doing anything about this?"

Guess they didn't, and look what happened. Hate to say, "I told you so," but...

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Friday, September 02, 2005


It's official. In his little PR tour of the devastated areas, five days after the fact, W. didn't even bother to visit New Orleans. Food and water didn't even start to arrive until today.

All the news networks figured out to get there by Monday. Why couldn't our federal government?

And why can't W. wipe that smirk off his face long enough to speak about this natural disaster? He looks like he's opening a new mall or something.

Impeachment cannot come soon enough.

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Big Mistake in the Big Easy 

Troops sent to New Orleans to "shoot to kill."

And, when that first bullet flies, when the first corpse hits the ground, we'll see a revolt we haven't seen in this country since the Boston Tea Party, or the days of Bleeding Kansas. When the first American guardsman kills the first American refugee, the bloodshed in the streets of New Orleans will make any riot, any revolt, any battle fought on these shores look like nothing.

It's a matter of numbers. Still something like 30,000 homeless in the Big Easy, with nothing to lose. No food, no water, no nothing, since Sunday night or before.

When the first shot is fired, it'll be the last, mark my words. It'll make the first Battle of New Orleans look like nothing.

300 troops have arrived, apparently, back from Iraq. The governor of Louisiana trumpets those numbers, but she's mistaken. If such a paltry force tries to take action against the lost -- god help them.

Armageddon has started in the South. Friday, September 2nd, will mark the opening salvo.

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Something to Answer For 

Simply put, this administration has got an awful, awful lot of explaining to do. New Orleans is a mess. There are thousands dead, tens of thousands of refugees not yet evacuated, atrocities big and small happening as people who have had neither food nor water for five days try to evacuate.

And the president still hasn't been there, and the head of FEMA is too busy holding press conferences to actually get briefed with the truth -- all the while, playing the "blame the victims" game.

Face it, people. BushCo has utterly, totally, absolutely failed the people of America. First, by ignoring reports that a hurricane in New Orleans was one of three foreseeable disaster likely to strike America in the near future -- along with another terrorist attack on New York and an earthquake in San Francisco. What did they do to prepare for and prevent it? Nothing. Nada. Not a damn thing. What have they done in the aftermath? Barely anything. It's Friday, and maybe Bush will actually show up in New Orleans today, although nobody knows whether he'll actually get out of his damn airplane or helicopter. But, if there's any justice in the world, he'll get dragged into the mud and muck by the survivors, and told what for, and finally be forced to face the shit he's made out of America since taking power.

In short, the responsibility for New Orleans rests in one place -- George W's alcohol-addicted, shaking hands. And it's time that he take responsibility, or be faced with the consequences. It's time that his smirking, lying, mountain-biking, denying ass be hauled before Congress.

Indict. Impeach. Imprison.

We've lost an entire city, a rather famous one, because of W's inability to govern. Babies and seniors are dying in the street because of the inability of his administration to do anything competently. It is time for them to go. Period. Despite all his platitudes about homeland security, he has failed to keep us secure, when the solution was written about long ago -- and left unfunded, intentionally, by Bush.

In short, BushCo has allowed to happen an act of nature far more devastating than anything any terrorist could conceive. They have allowed this through negligence. It is time for them to pay for that inaction.

Clinton lied about a blowjob. By no stretch of anyone's imagination, not even Rush Limbaugh's, is that one ten-thousandth as bad as one tenth of the sins committed by the current administration.

And pay, they will. I have friends who have been die-hard, red state, rah-rah, "Don't question the president" Republicans -- until now. Faced with the hard, cold, wet facts of what's going on in New Orleans, they are finally waking up. They're starting to say, "Maybe we were wrong." Faced with gas way over three dollars a gallon, they're starting to say, "Maybe he's wrong."

Faced with reality -- unlike the president, who doesn't know the meaning of the word -- the Republican base is dissolving, drifting off like so many homes, so many buildings, so many pieces of the Big Easy.

Nature has done us a favor, despite the cost. She has shown us the weakness of our leaders. It's time to listen to the planet, and do what's right. It's time to clean house, before it's too late.

It is time for this entire Administration to be kicked into the dustbin of history, reduced to a sad footnote for future generations to study, and ask themselves, "How the hell could people have been so damn stupid for so damn long?"

If Clinton could be impeached for Monica, Bush should be imprisoned for Katrina...

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