Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Transcripts are available

Today I want to write about communication, or at least its absence.

A few posts back, I wrote about Fascism. In the post, I included a link to a neat little Flash animation. My estranged wife had stopped by that day shortly after I had posted, and since we share similar political viewpoints, I showed it to her. She, in turn, sent it out to everyone in the address book.

Besides several hundred bounceback messages (OK, how many of YOU keep your address books updated?), I got one from a guy who had hired me for a production. His message:

Sorry, BP, we're Republican so please take us off your list.
Would you rather be blown up? Do we forget so easily?

To which I responded:


My wife sent this to everyone on my mailing list. Go ahead and put your head back in the sand, and keep telling yourself comfortable lies.

Well, it was on. We ping-ponged back and forth for several days. In his pentultimate email, he wrote:

"Take a look at the Iraqi people now. Were they better off under Saddam Hussein? End of that discussion..."

Quite frankly, I was nonplussed. I briefly wondered if I had fallen into some sort of bizarro parallel world. Then I turned into Derrek Lee looking at a hanging curve:

"You're right. End of that discussion, but not in the way you think. Let me ask you--HOW do YOU think it's better? In what way have we improved things? Let's do a side-by-side comparison

Tortured Enemies

Saddam: Yes US: Yes

Innocent People Killed

Saddam: Yes US: Yes (and as far as we can tell, in about the same numbers)

Lack of adequate medical care

Saddam: Yes US: Yes, and perhaps a little bit worse (even Doctors without Borders is leaving due to the high level of danger)

Lack of food

Saddam: Yes US: Yes, but a little better

Sound infrastructure (electricity, water, roads, et c)

Saddam: Yes US: No (They blowed up real good during shock and awe)

Not looking so good, is it? At least under Saddam, they could drive to work and turn their lights on at night.

Now, let's look at one other:



CONGRATULATIONS, GEORGE! You managed to make yourself a bigger monster in the area than the person you displaced!"

I won. Yee-haw.

What did I get out of it? Did I convince someone with my argument? No. Did I do anything to make this world better? No. I just argued. And most likely, lost any chance of working on that sweet gig again.

So I put it to you whose brains are bigger than mine, and whose tempers are slower to flare: How do we convince people? What do we do to get them to open their eyes? How do we heal the rift?


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I've been hacked

Somehow, someone's gotten my information and is posting in my name.

I've just found out about this, and I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.

But, bottom line-if it's just a link to something else, It's probably not me.

There are other ways of telling if it's really a post from me, or an imposter, too.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Will Durst Nails It

He nails it down. Shut it, lock it, throw some chains around it, a little superglue around the edges. This case is closed.

"Okay, get this and get this straight. Criticizing our Government is not the same as criticizing our armed forces. Okay? The same way that criticizing our Government is not the same as criticizing our postal workers. Or criticizing our zoo keepers or our ceramic mosaic tile grout installers. And let me make this clear, I am not in any way suggesting that any of these groups be criticized. Especially the postal workers.

Furthermore, telling the press that you are disgusted by reports of torture does not endanger our troops. You're all so fired up desperate to know what does endangers our troops; I'll tell you what endangers our troops: Greedy, cretinous toad leaders who send them 12,000 miles away to a desert to fight a war based on lies."

It's the ultimate "I wish I said it first" column. Read.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Carve Up Begins

Remember why there's not exit strategy in Iraq? (see previous posts) We were never meant to leave. So the quick war, quick peace thing was just part of the theater for the real agenda, staying and getting all that oil. I'm referring to Condi's "we're making a generational commitment in Iraq" comment the other day that had everyone within earshot going - "what?"


The Carve Up Begins as global oil giants meet next week to discuss slicing the pie of Iraq's oil fields between them.

Karl Rove's Sit'n'Spin

Current events have done nothing to aid my anger management.

I'm not sure which is more upsetting: the brazen bullshit, or the pacificity with which the bullshit is met.

Karl Rove spoke at the NY State Conservative party's annual dinner
and said that Democrats just don't understand the post-9/11 world.

According to the report:
"Rove also denounced Sen. Dick Durbin’s comments comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes. He said the statements have been broadcast throughout the Middle East, putting American troops in greater danger. Durbin has since apologized for the remarks."
Hmm. So it's not the illegal war, the occupation, the oasis of comfort and safety inside Baghdad known as the Green Zone.

It's not our troops' complete destruction of their infrastructure, the mishandling and open theft of funds designed for repairing the infrastructure. It's not the widespread graft and corruption engenderd by Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and its cronies.

It's not the daily attacks by terrorist agents who have come to Iraq since its 'liberation' to learn how to become more effective.

It's not the ongoing abuse and torture of detainees. It's not the deaths at the hands of Americans of people who, by the admission of many who are abusing them, are in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.

No. None of those things have put American troops in danger.

All our troubles stem from two sources. First Newsweek, and then Dick Durbin.


Umm--Karl? What part of the post 9/11 world don't I understand?


Posted by the Balloon Pirate

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why no Exit Strategy? They Never Intended to Exit

We're there for the long haul, gang. Because the Bushies want that oil. Forget early promises of an early withdrawal and a cheap war. Just getting the hell in was all it was ever about.

Condaleeza Rice's comments just the other day that we've made a "generational commitment" to Iraq should be a HUGE surprise to everyone, as they promised a quick war and a short stay. But it reveals for the first time what they've known all along.

We aint leaving.

Recent discoveries of "intelligence" about how this administration was truly motivated to enter the war in Iraq show the sure footedness of their actions, even as their policy was a smoke screen. WMD's? There were none, and arguments to the contrary were squashed. Weapons Inspectors? Useful because they actually became a tool for going to war. One could never prove the Iraqi's weren't towing the line and being honest in aiding the UN teams, and their "attempts at misleading the inspectors" were pounded in the media every day by the administration. Resolution 1441 was not being honored, Hussein was warned, but he defied the UN and he "paid the price".

Except 1441 didn't authorize war, and the weapons inspections were deemed a successful and working tool. In fact, as we now know, the inspectors report said there were no weapons of mass destruction and it is now an accepted fact.

So here we are. Stuck deep in a war against guerrila insurgents, losing honorable men and women of the services every day, unable to use the oil as the fields are damaged and unsafe, and the administration now starting a database of high school students to aid enlistment to the armed services.

And the cost of the war just passed the entire cost for the whole Korean War.

Makes you proud, doesn't it?

The thoughtful blog Hullabaloo points out the endless broadcasting of the BIG LIE (we had to go to war) - and how no one calls Mr. Bush on it. (check out the post "in our faces")

And if you haven't heard of Operation Yellow Elephant yet? You should.

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato."

"Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State"

Benito Mussolini did a nice job of condensing the essence of Fascism, didn't he?

Here's some other interesting things I've been reading. Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, studied Fascist regimes from Hitler to Suharto, and came up with the Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism:

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism employing constant use of patriotic slogans, symbols, songs, flags.
2. Disdain for the recognition of human rights because security needs outweigh human rights which can be ignored.
3. Using enemies as scapegoats for a unifying cause.
4. Supremacy of the military.
5. Rampant sexism including more rigid gender roles and anti-gay legislation.
6. Controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security driven by a politics of fear.
8. Religion and Government are intertwined especially in rhetoric employed by its leaders.
9. Corporate power is protected--industrial and business aristocracies put government leaders into power and keep them there creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor power, which represents one of the few threats to fascism, is suppressed.
11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts and hostility to higher education along with censorship of arts or refusal to support the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent Elections.

For for a really cool flash animation of these 14 characteristics, especially for those with short attention spans, go here.

And the interesting thing not mentioned is the way religion can be complicit in fascism.

From Chris Hedges, in Harper's Magazine (this article is not available online):

I Can't help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and the was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the "Christian Fascists."

He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral vales not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications...Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said would be the first "deviants" singled out by the Christian Right. We would be next.

Here's another interesting article, bringing Hollywood's Sexiest Martyr--Mel Gibson (and the less sexy Opus Dei) into the fray:

Christian Fascists and Passion
By Rev. Cr. Matthew Fox

"The piety of fascism is inevitably a piety of pain and suffering (thus the complete fascination with redemption and total refusal to entertain grace and original blessing) and it manifests itself in full bloody form in this movie. Gibson is allegedly a member of Opus Dei, a secretive Catholic sect of wealthy men whose spirituality is deeply fascistic. Its founder, a Spanish priest named Escriva, whom the Pope rushed into canonization two years ago in record time, was a card carrying fascist who actually praised Adolph Hitler and who was also deeply sexist. Two of his Opus Dei members served on Franco's cabinet. The present pope has taken this religious order under his wing (his own press secretary is a member of Opus Dei) and has appointed many Opus Dei bishops and cardinals (especially in Latin America after decimating the liberation theology and base communities there). They have constructed an $81 million edifice in Manhattan and are ensconced in the financial capitals of Europe, especially in Frankfurt, which is replacing Switzerland as the financial capital of Europe."

That's from 2004. The current Holy Father has eliminated the middleman, and is himself a fascist.

Let's see--what else?

Oh, I don't know--there's got to be some other things too.

Maybe you could tell me.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Agenda of the Roadblock

That's what fearless leader said about the 'obstructionist' Democrats who are--gasp--not letting him have his way with gutting Social Security. Gee willikers, georgie, after more than four solid years of getting your way, you're getting a little pushback. It's about freakin' time.

Cuz when you're driving a car towards a cliff, sometimes a roadblock is the best thing that can happen.

As far as Dems not offering an alternative plan--well, this is a fairly fictitional crisis. As my hero, the Cranky Yankee, so eloquently put it: "The CW has been that the SS problems are due to declining numbers of workers paying into SS in relation to the number of retirees. If it is accepted that the number of workers is declining then at some point they become retirees and that number would decline in a corresponding manner. Right? Or, if the baby boomers represent a glut of retirees in relation to the number of workers, even if the number of workers stays constant, as boomers leave the roles of the retired the problem becomes somewhat abated. Does it not?"

Now, if it had been me, I would have compared the glut of boomers to an unusually thick bowel movement squeezing through the colon of government support on its way to the toilet bowl of eternity: a bit difficult, perhaps unpleasant, but afterwards things are much easier.

So it's a good thing I'm not talking about it.


Monday, June 13, 2005

What's the Difference...

Between Michael Jackson and George Bush?

One's surrounded by powerful, intelligent advisors, who've made a mockery of the law. And yet, through careful media manipulation, he still manages to have throngs of people still crowd around him singing his praises. His handlers make sure that he doesn't hear the voices of dissent. Only those that share his particular, warped, twisted, bizzaro fantasy world are allowed near him.

The other's the King of Pop.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

We Welcome the Washington Post

"A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country."

No shit, Sherlock.

Isn't it interesting that so many things that we "Un-American" Liberals and Progressives were saying after 9/11 have turned out to be true?

It's also nice to see the information reported in a newspaper that prints on this side of the pond.

To be fair, there HAVE been a number of items reported in American newspapers that are increasingly critical of Republican claims, actions and policies.

Again from WaPo--a report about the readiness of the Iraqi Army (Hint--it isn't. S ee my post--"We're Not Leaving," in the Archives)

WaPo also looks behind the curtain on statistics used by the Administration to bolster claims that the Patriot Act has made our country safer:

Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."

Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.

But the numbers are misleading at best.

An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people — not 200, as officials have implied — were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law — and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months

The NYT does a nice series on class in America pointing out that, contrary to popular belief, it has become increasingly difficult for the poor to get richer, and the rich to get poorer. In fact, it's easier for a lower middle class person in England or France to raise their status than it is for their American counterparts.

And, wonder of wonders, actual criticizm of the situation!

The emperor is underclothed.


ps: keep those Meme ideas coming!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Smoking Canon!

Says the Cranky Yankee - I just found this link on his blog. The smoking gun gets worse and worse. Bush recently tried to explain the Downing Street Memo away as saying he was talking about a "hypothetical" invasion of Iraq. This of course makes little to no sense, but the bad excuse that crumbles again under this new info. Read it in the English paper, of course, you won't find the story in America's main stream press.

Fashionable Fascism

I guess bullying power plays are all the vogue as the GOP congressional leadership take their cues from Mr. Compromise up at the White House. The hearing today on the Patriot Act II was abruptly shut down by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. , chairman of the House Judiciary committee, by himself (illegal based on rules of the congress) and Democratic officials had their mikes turned off (childish) while continuing to merely disagree with items in the new bill. That's what seemed to create the whole problem in the first place. The minority party merely had a different opinion than the GOP leadership.

So they shut the hearing down. Without a vote.

That's the first time it's ever happened.

See a pattern here?

Hold few press conferences
Lock out the press by taking only four questions for most press related events, two for the wire services, two for foreign correspondents.
Vote down minority ammendments
Vote down minority opportunity to merely openly debate ammendments on the floor.
Shut out minority party senior representatives from any decision making opportunities on committees.

There's a new playbook, and it's called throw out the playbook. Forget the rules while we're in power, so we can hurt the other team so badly, they can't recover. And if we become the minority party? Put all the rules back.

Well, so far it's working pretty well. Skyrocketing debt, joblessness, no job security, cuts to education, cuts to support for higher education, environmental distress, cuts to Medicaire, and now just for fun, a new nuclear threat in North Korea as the diplomat in the White House has fared so well.

Remember "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country?" That used to be considered the American Way.

Now it's:"If you've retired, you don't have anything to worry about. The third time I've said that. I'll probably say it three more times, see, in my line of work you gotta keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kinda catapult the propaganda. -- Truth... Propaganda... Pretty much the same thing as far as Dubya is concerned. A surprisingly candid statement, though... Greece, New York, May 24, 2005" - From

The agenda. Take power, consolodate the wealth, control the wealth, control the power.

And you and I? The voters? We're left paying for it, for all of it, with none of the benefits left because they've cut all our benefits, because they have to control congressional spending, becuase there's a huge defecit, because there's a war.

The new American Way. Get used to it. They're going to make sure it's here for a long time.

Or email Sensenbrenner here and complain your ass off. Before they shut off internet access to the Congress for all non-Republican party members.

Friday, June 10, 2005


We've got a good start. Thanks to all who've contributed:

Name 3 moments that for you could represent the end of civilization.

Should everything there is to be had be able to be had by everyone?
(I love this question, but think it needs rewriting)

Is it possible to be a human being without consciousness? Why or why not?

Has the sexual freedom of the 20th and 21st century been a benefit or detriment to humanity?

You have just been given indisputable proof that there is NO God. How would your behavior, thoughts and politics change?

You have just been given indisputable proof that there IS a God. How would your behavior, thoughts and politics change?

If you could choose any individual--real or fictional, currently alive or from history--to be President of the United States today, who would you choose, and why?

Does your life end when your heart stops beating, or when your brain stops working?

If you could add or detract one Amendment to the Bill of Rights, what would it be? What would this change accomplish?

Some of these are redundant, I know. Tell me which ones you like, and which ones you dislike. And let me know if you have any more.

Keep them coming!


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Meme Me!

I've gotten some interesting feedback so far on my meme request. Thanks to all who've commented, and thanks to all who've thought about commenting but haven't yet.

Let's see if I can do some more 'splainin' about this idea:

What I'm not looking for is specific questions about specific issues--especially 'hot button' issues. I'm looking for questions that help distill a person's socio-political ethos down to whatever their core values are.

, for example, wrote: "What are your feelings regarding stem-cell research?"


"Should the gov't be able to make the decision to let someone starve to death, who's been in a "vegetative state" ( and I use that term loosely) for 15 years...WHEN her family is willing to pay for her care for the rest of her life....Just because her husband wants her to die?"

That's a little bit--no--WAAY into the 'hot button' area.

So let's see what we can do with about:

"When does life begin?"

"Is it possible to be a human being without consciousness?"

"Does your life end when your heart stops beating, or when your brain stops working?"

I'm not looking to start-or continue--arguments here. I'm looking to help people figure out exactly what it is that they believe.

suggested: "if you could replace George W. Bush with anyone else as President of the United States today, who would you choose, and why?"

That's more like it. Maybe, though: "If you could choose any individual--real or fictional, currently alive or from history--to be President of the United States today, who would you choose, and why?"

And Daniel chimed in with "If you were a war, what war would you be?"

Barbara Walters, Daniel!

My only problem with that question is that it's too easy: If I was a war, of course I'd choose the exact same one as everyone else: The First Taranaki War, the conflict that took place between Māori and Pākehā in New Zealand from March 1860 to March 1861. (Not to be confused with the Second Taranaki War, which wasn't even all that warlike.)

Keep 'em coming! Tell your friends! Let's make this happen!


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Modest Proposal

We've all gotten them. They spread like wildfire. You're just sitting there, and all of a sudden, you're in the middle of one. You wonder why you're doing it, but you can't help passing it on to everyone you know.

The meme.

meme (n)-A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

You know--the email with the stupid questions: "Name three things you would take with you on a trip to the beach." "What would you do for a million dollars?" "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck..."

Ok, so maybe not that last question. But these things abound on the internet, and as I pointed out in a comment on Psycho Soccer Mom's blog, there's folks that think the meme is the basic unit of cultural evolution...they help define our society.

So...why don't we help define our society? Why can't we build our own meme, and start it circulating? Ask questions that might get people thinking about the disconnect between what they believe to be right and wrong, and what the current government is doing?

I'm going to start thinking about it tomorrow--past my bedtime now here on the East Coast. If anyone can come up with some questions...any one at all--even you, Dude--post them in the comment section.

Let's see what happens.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Problematic Mendacity

Yeah, sometimes I like big words. Sometimes big words are the right words to use. The other title could have been 'Debatable Untruthfulness.' It would me more likely that more folks would know what I meant.

That's why I used 'Problematic Mendacity.'

The current government is tremendous at this. Phil sent me a link to this column by Jonathan Alter, postulating that, in the current political climate, Nixon would have gotten away with everything during Watergate.

I think he's right. I think the new right went to school on Watergate and learned the following:

1) Don't dispute the facts, dispute the fact-finder. Paint the person, group or organization as unpatriotic.

2) Keep the attention somewhere else. Anywhere else. Keep moving, keep moving. Always have another initiative to drag out for the media. Always have a baby to hold.

3) Buy the media. Or, better yet, have someone who likes you buy it for you. Get bloviating blowhards to declare themselves 'regular Joes' and 'no-spin' commentators, and have them help you with #1, above.

4) Never, ever answer questions. If you get a question you don't like rephrase the question to your liking.

Does it work? Hell yes. What does it say when most folks know the truth of a situation, and just don't care? Don't care that we torture innocents. Don't care that the reason we have thousands of our men and women in a sandy hellhole changes from day to day? Don't care that the President screams about the sanctity of life over embryonic stem-cell research, but doesn't care about the lives of Iraqis.

Problematic Mendacity.

It's the dance craze sweepin' the nation.


Oh, yeah---That Dude From Philly (a pretty cool guy, even if he is a wingnut) has honored me with an Essential 11 interview. It's up on his site now. Check it out for more information than you'll ever really need to know about me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Has Hot Tub Tom Over-Reached?

Tom DeLay, or "hot tub Tom" to those who knew him before he "found" his religion and the massive power he wields, thought that by using the massive corporate donations he raised for his own PAC, he could divvy out the bucks ($1.7 million to 22 different congressmen campaigns, nabbing 17 election victories and tilting the house irrevocably Republican). Woops - that's illegal. Thus the ethics violation. As he steamrolled forward in the power grab and pushed the Texas house to redistrict, favoring Republicans across the board, he forgot about one person.


Tom really wanted some of that space money. Part of the new NASA package he's pushed through endlessly and finally got passed. I'm all for the space program, but Tom wants all that Federal NASA money and the control of it, and the power it will give him.

One problem. To get it, and carve into the district that gave it to him, he was one of the few Republicans who had to increase his democratic base.

Hubris put him there, assured himself he'd never get caught, or voted out of power.

Well, he over-reached on the first, let's see what happens on the second.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Quote of the Day

"You know, it's one thing for Republicans to run year after year railing against government. But once you win, you got to run it, people."

--Molly Ivins on the GOP-dominated Texas State Legislature

I think it works well as a comment on the current state of Gummint as a whole under the GOP.