Wednesday, August 31, 2005

American Nero?

What does it say about the gestalt of America that this man could have been remotely considered a hero? By my reckoning, every GI presently in harm's way on the killing fields of Iraq has more heroism in his or her pinky than this grade Z actor who provided the first model of the perfect figurehead for the Neocon death cult. I guess it worked. Is there Soma in the water out in the heartland, or does 8 hours of TV each day do the job as efficiently?

Try a dose of reality here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

How much is enough?

I never intended this venture to be as overtly political as it has become, and I suppose I look forward to the time when I can step back from the outrage that I feel everyday when I read the newspaper (or, more accurately, when I get the latest newsletter from or Information Clearing House), and merely express myself, give vent to the day's muse, rather than post another rant (or an excerpt of some like-minded individual's). I'd like to tell you about the last great book that I read or piece of recorded music to which I listened, or the emotions that I felt when I brought my oldest kid up to college. But it seems like everything that I read these days has a single-mindedness to it that infects me with the fervor of evangelical revulsion towards what our society seems to be becoming.

And what are we becoming? In his new book "American Mania,"
Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, a psychiatrist, asserts that our mania for more and bigger toys, our incessant orgy of indulgence, stimulation and instant gratification is nothing less than a mental illness with a clinical symptomology that includes anxiety, depression and obesity. And we all know, Americans have grown increasingly anxious and conspicuously fatter.

My wife and I live a fairly standard middle class life, with some notable exceptions from the consensus we are surrounded by in our South Florida edge city neighborhood. For one, we drive our cars into the ground. Not to say that we fail to take care of them, only that we do not get new cars every 3, 5 or even 7 years. The vehicles that we purchase are compromises between our needs for interior room and our desire for economy and low environmental impact. I am appalled by the number of Hummers in my area, and only slightly less so by the number of other mammoth SUVs often seen entering and exiting the neighborhood (as often as not with a single person - the driver - inside). I admit that I am known for my almost pathological distaste for Sport Utility Vehicles. With our first child now in college, we will be able to jettison our mini-van when its useful life is up, and intend to purchase a hybrid sedan. I drive a 2-door economy car to work that gets 36 miles to the gallon.

The other day, taking a walk around the 'hood after Hurricane Katrina had danced her way across the Peninsula knocking out our power (I love the neighborliness that emerges, briefly, like a shy flower in suburban neighborhoods after a collective trauma like a hurricane), I met up with a neighborhood friend just as we neared a corner house with a real estate banner hanging in the lawn. I asked my friend if the house was for sale, and he replied that it was sold already. He then volunteered that the owners (who'd been there maybe a year or two at most) were "moving up" to a house twice this size on an acre lot on the other side of the pine oak ridge that runs through our development. Now, mind you, this is a couple in their 30's with 2 kids. Humongous Ford Explorer and sporty BMW parked in the driveway. And the question rose up on my mind yet again: "How much is enough?"

My wife and I never use our clothes dryer. Instead, we hang our wet laundry outside (in late fall through winter and early spring) and inside during the summer (taking advantage of the drying power of air conditioning). Yes, we use air conditioning, though we strive to keep it off as long into May as we can stand, and stop using it the minute the first cool front penetrates through the subtropic haze in October.

We don't have cable television. Our children used to refuse to admit this to their school friends, but now make mention of it with a certain amount of perverse pride (I think). We have infected them with a healthy skepticism about what they are told (and sold) on commercial TV. But my kids are not immune to the excesses of the quasi-affluent life: the plaint of "I'm bored" is heard far too often for my tastes, and nothing drives me further to distraction than hearing that mantra of indulgence tossed at my feet like an accusation of negligence. Yes, they are learning it goes nowhere fast.

We have very little debt: our mortgage, refinanced two years ago, and with about 8 years to go; a modest car payment, with less than one year remaining, and a total accrued interest paid of only $275. Plastic is used as a convenience and for some generous rebates on purchases and is paid off monthly. We are actually managing to save a reasonable amount for our retirement, which is at least 10 (and probably more likely 15) years away.

We are not very acquisitive. We take as much joy in finding something useful in a neighbor's bulk trash as our neighbor might in spending several thousand bucks at a box store. We wear our clothes until they dissolve. We shop with some degree of principle, in terms of choice of vendor as well as degree of expenditure. Unlike many of my neighbors, I have traveled in some of the poorer outposts of the world and have at least a novice's sense of what real poverty looks, smells, sounds, if not feels like. I do not believe that it is my God-given right to consume 75% of the world's natural resources.

We don't spray our home for insects, nor do we treat our yard for pests. Lawn is kept to a minimum, and native plants comprise 75% of the landscaping. At any one time, there are at least five species of butterfly fluttering about somewhere in our backyard, which has become something of a wooded refuge compared to the sterile and frequently empty expanses of over-nitrified St. Augustine grass that surround us.

So why I am telling you all of this? To boast? To hammer you with my self-righteousness? To hit you over the head with a sense of sanctimonious superiority? Am I some
David Brooks (gad, I hate that guy) caricature of a bourgeois bohemian (I hope not). I like to think that I am something more akin to a cultural creative, albeit a little too cynical and misanthropic to REALLY qualify. No, all I'd really like you to do is ask yourself that one simple question with which I titled this post: "How much is enough?"

"To avoid suffering a collective mental breakdown, Whybrow implores us to stop focusing on things and instead turn our attention to people -- family, friends and community. It's a familiar refrain, but one that clearly needs repeating: If we are to be happy, Americans must stop superficially striving, and learn to prioritize people over products."
-- Laura Barcella

Simple arithmatic

It's all in the numbers.

"President Bush's latest milestone in the war on terror has been predictably ignored in the mainstream media. Bush, who is now in the fifth year of his presidency, has served 1727 days in office. With the death toll in Iraq currently at 1873 servicemen, Bush can now boast that at least one American has died for every day he's been in office; a sobering tribute to a man who wants to be remembered 'a war president.'"
- Mike Whitney

More journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 than during the 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday.
Alternate link:

BRITISH Army officers in Iraq are being handed stashes of up to £100,000 in cash for "operational expenses" without formal controls on how it is spent.,,1-523-1753874-523,00.html
Alternate link:

"Terror" war is 4th most expensive U.S. war. By the end of September the military cost of the war on terror, which began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with the invasion of Afghanistan, will top $250 billion.
Alternate link:

Weapons: A Trillion-Dollar Trade. Military expenditure by the United States makes up 47% of the world total.
Alternate link:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

What would Jesus drive?

I always knew that not every evangelical Christian out there was a blistering moron or a bipedal bovine.

What Would Jesus Drive?

Progressive Christians Uniting

Progressive Christian Blogger Network

Christian Alliance for Progress

Jesus would be proud, of that I have no doubt.

Who Will Say 'No More'?

The man is making more sense to me than most of the front-running Dems out there in media land ...
"The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating 'Stay the course' even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began."
-- Gary Hart, Washington Post
Alternate link here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

And What Did They Die For Once Again?

Sometimes, someone else's words encapsulate your own feelings to a "t"...

"This may come as something of a shock to some of those yahoos down in Crawford, Texas, who are so upset with antiwar Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside the president's Godforsaken ranch, but if they were to look real close they'd discover she is committing first-degree, premeditated citizenship.

"You see, we have this nagging, irritating, troublesome document called the U.S. Constitution. It's all the rage - or at least those dead bodies in Arlington National Cemetery thought so.

"There, right at the top of the Constitution, there's this thing called the First Amendment.

"And if some of you goobers who have been shooting shotguns in the air to intimidate Sheehan and trampling white crosses in the ground honoring the dead troops who have sacrificed their lives for George W. Bush's war in Iraq could stop drooling for just a moment, here's what the First Amendment states:

``Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or of the press; or the RIGHT OF PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.'' "
-- Daniel Ruth, The Tampa Tribune

whole article:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Body armor

Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac).

You've probably seen this photo already (except in your newspaper and the evening news), but I just can't resist.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Administration announces weak new mileage standards

Amidst rising oil and gas prices, the Bush Administration yesterday announced its new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks. Environmentalists say the proposed rule changes will do nothing to help American motorists at the pump, nor will they reduce America's dependence on imported oil. The new standards appear to raise the current light truck standard of 22.2 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2007 to a fleet-wide standard of 24 mpg by model year 2011. However, the new standards actually exempt vehicles weighing from 8,500 to 10,000 pounds-- such as the Hummer H2, Ford Excursion, and some models of the Chevy Suburban-- all vehicles that achieve very poor mileage due to their size.
Full article:

Tracking the Bush Administration's Environmental Misdeeds

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Christian Minister In Televised Call For Murder Of Venezuela's President

From the bully boob tube pulpit of Rev. Pat Robertson:

"There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent. You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chicken Hawks

It says:
DON'T LOOK FOR THESE NAMES AMONG THE DEAD AND WOUNDED, and lists on Dog Tags the names of Jenna Bush, David Wolfowitz, Elizabeth Cheney, Valerie Rumsfeld, along with their religious affiliation. Below it says, "Our children have to die so Chicken Hawk children can stay home and get richer? Take back the White House for Americans who know the value of human life. Come to"

None Dare Call It Stolen

The August Harpers Magazine featuring Mark Crispin Miller's article on the 2004 Presidential election has appeared, and is already igniting a tempest in the blogosphere. Where the Conyers report made for trance-inducing reading, Miller's fine journalistic sense renders the theft of Ohio by the Republican machine in vivid prosody (and Miller, unlike Rep. Conyers, felt no need to hold himself back). Yes, you will be outraged. Yes, you will swear ¡nunca jam├ís!

And while I've got your attention, here are some other links that you may wish to follow:

Friday, August 19, 2005

Passing gas

"If energy conservation, then, is a first line of national defense, why do so many jackasses drive their SUVs around with American flags all over them? More importantly, why did the country get an energy bill that, according to the administration's own Energy Information Administration (EIA), will actually raise gas prices and increase oil demand nearly 14 percent in just the next six years?"
-- Joshuah Bearman, LA Weekly

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hypocrisy at its finest

Quotes from when Clinton committed troops to Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president." --Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years." --Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?" --Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy." --Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy." --Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy." --Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area." --Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today" --Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." --Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Nation of Fools

Does the dismal swamp of corruption surrounding Gov. Robert Taft of Ohio leave any lingering doubt about just what the Republican Party stands for in the 21st century? Cronyism, chicanery, and lies. What a perfect candidate to mastermind the theft of the 2004 presidential election for Karl Rove! And to all of you Republican apologists, O'Reilly and Rush fans, Christo-fascist zombies and members of the neocon death cult who continue to support the absolutely despicable takeover of the United States by stooges of global corporate hegemony, with minds shrunken by spin and propaganda machines, celebrity worship and reality television bread and circuses - to people like The Shadow who left me a profanity-ridden hate comment some weeks ago - I just can't hold back anymore - WHEN WILL YOU WAKE UP YOU $@^&!!&*+@!! MORONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

'There is No Enemy Greater Than Ourselves'

In this open letter to President Bush, the wife of a soldier imprisoned for objecting to the war makes the case for peace.

The flag won't protect you; it's in the wrong hands

"Across my lawn, I can see an American flag waving in my neighbor's backyard. Mr. Smith (not his name, of course) is a nice man but he's 95 years old, and I can't take issue with him. I can't tell him that the sporting of the flag, at this time, is tantamount to saying, "I am a fool. Traitors run the country in our name. They are taking our money from the treasury and spending it on a shortcut to world domination through war."
-- Luciana Bohne

Why I don't darken Wal-Mart's door

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In addition to the fact that the overall ambience is one of low rent consumerism hell, there are a number of salient reasons why I boycott this Mesphisto of retailers (and I may soon have one within jogging distance of my home - lucky me);

1) The 'everyday low prices' superchain refuses to carry books and music that dare criticize conservative values.
2) The true costs behind those “everyday low prices.”
3) Wal-Mart's environmental impact.

The good news is that there are a lot of people who are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore:
Wal-Mart Watch

Support the new movie by Robert Greenwald coming out this November (just in time for the holiday shopping rush). You can even sign up for a screening at your house!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Get Ready for World War III?

"Gentle reader, do you realize the danger of having a president so disconnected from reality that he plots to attack Iran – a country three times the size of Iraq – when he lacks sufficient forces to occupy Baghdad and to protect the road from Baghdad to the airport?

"The Bush administration is insane. If the American people do not decapitate it by demanding Bush's impeachment, the Bush administration will bring about Armageddon. This may please some Christian evangelicals conned by Rapture predictions, but World War III will please no one else. "
-- Paul Craig Roberts

"Iraq is proving an electoral liability. This is a threat to the Bush team's intention to retain power for the next decade - perhaps, as the author Bob Woodward says, with President Cheney at the helm. War with Iran next spring can enable them to win the mid-term elections and retain control of the Republican party, now in partial rebellion over Iraq."

-- Dan Plesch

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Occupied America

"I wake up in the morning, read the newspaper, and feel that we are an occupied country, that some alien group has taken over. I wake up thinking: the US is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits who care nothing about human life abroad or here, who care nothing about freedom abroad or here, who care nothing about what happens to the earth, the water or the air, or what kind of world will be inherited by our children and grandchildren."
-- Howard Zinn

complete essay:

Monday, August 08, 2005

Argument over Iraq war prompts fatal shooting

Associated Press Aug. 5, 2005 03:15 PM
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. - A disagreement between two friends over the war in Iraq ended with the fatal shooting of one of the men.Prosecutors and Kentucky State Police determined that Douglas Moore, 65, of Martin, acted in self-defense when he shot Harold W. Smith, 56, in the chest.Both men had booths at a flea market when they began arguing over the war.

"I think Doug was supporting it, and this other guy was against it," said Floyd County Coroner Roger Nelson.Police said the argument escalated into a fight, and Smith drew a small pistol from his pocket, threatening to kill Moore. Witnesses said Moore pulled a .38-caliber pistol from his pocket and shot Smith once in the chest.

And we can all look forward next to the NRA pushing to allow firearms in the workplace. To wit:

The National Rifle Association began a national campaign on Monday to boycott ConocoPhillips, in response to the energy giant's attempt to block a state law that prevents employers from firing workers who keep guns in their vehicles parked on company lots. "Across the country, we're going to make ConocoPhillips the example of what happens when a corporation takes away your Second Amendment rights," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said Monday. He was in southeastern Oklahoma for a rally to support employees fired by Weyerhaeuser Inc. for keeping guns stored in vehicles parked at work. "If you are a corporation that's anti-gun, anti-gun owner or anti-Second Amendment, we will spare no effort or expense to work against you, to protect the rights of your law-abiding employees. Their rights are worth more than your money."

What can you do about it? Start here!

Of course, SB S.397 passed (afterall, the Republican majority has its priorities in order). To quote Ted Kennedy: "An obvious answer is that gun dealers and manufacturers want to sell more guns. Our laws are designed by the NRA to increase the sales of guns by dealers and manufacturers, even if they are sold by or to criminals. The NRA is lavishly rewarded for lobbying successes, and so are the members of Congress who do their bidding. It's hard to reach any other conclusion. The unholy alliance and control of the legislative process against the safety of our citizens is immoral, and it's a disgrace."

What have we done?

"As the blood of US soldiers continues to drain into the hot sands of Iraq over the last several days with at least 27 US soldiers killed and the approval rating for his handling of the debacle in Iraq dropping to an all-time low of 38%, Mr. Bush commented from the comforts of his ranch in Crawford, Texas today, “We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq.”

Just a two hour drive away in Dallas, at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Dallas, I’m sitting with a roomful of veterans from the current quagmire..."
-- Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches, 8/5/2005

Bringing it all back home

Cindy Sheehan and Iraq veterans against the war bring it home. Down home. Crawford, Texas, that is.

World War II Veteran Archie Goodwin of Coral Gables, Florida holds up a sign at the Crawford Peace House.

Saint Cindy.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Crawford vs. Dallas is Fantasy vs. Reality

"The public will get reports from fantasy-land in Crawford, Texas this weekend, while the words of REAL soldiers, men and women who have laid their lives on the ground, are ignored by our famous "free press".

It's time to open the door, Mr. President. Our nation is knocking. If you turn Gold Star families and other REAL heroes away, what is that going to tell the "free press," and what is it going to tell all those veterans who have paid the price?"

-- Ward Reilly, Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel

Scenes from Iraq

Sometime ago, someone sent me an email with the subject line "You won't see these pictures in the mainstream media" (where righties still think there is a liberal bias). The attached photos were all poignant and charming, including happy Iraqi kids in "I love the USA" t-shirts surrounding smiling GIs; another GI hugging an Iraqi woman, and (my favorite), a prayer circle made up of a perfectly gender-race-ethnic balanced group of servicemen and women. It was that last one that made me wonder if all of the photos were staged. It just seemed too, well... perfect. In all, it was a fully sanitized collage of war. Not war as hell. Not the U.S. as foreign occupiers, taking claim of the world's 2nd largest oil reserves, but as liberators. I almost responded with a selection of photos of my own choosing, photos such as you might find here: (WARNING: many are intense). Afterall, the same subject line would suffice. You won't see these on the mainstream media either.

Superman or Green Lantern ain't got nothin' on me

I wish Hal Jordan was still the Spectre. So far, the new Green Lantern series has been just this side of lame. Where's Judd Winick when you need him?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Blood and Gravy: Cheney's boundless war profiteering

"But although Halliburton has already entered the American lexicon as a byword for rampant cronyism, the true extent of its dense and deadly web of graft is only now emerging, most recently in a remarkable public hearing that revealed some of the corporation's standard business practices in Iraq: fraud, extortion, brutality, pilferage, theft -- even serving rotten food to U.S. soldiers in the battle zone."

-- Chris Floyd, Moscow Times
Full article here:
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

A View of Iraq from a Soldier

I challenge every citizen who continues to blindly believe the lies that have been fed to us by George Bush and the neocon death cult to read this young man's heartfelt awakening while in harm's way. Let me know if you can still look me in the eye and say "Stay the course" after reading it. This was read into the Congressional Record by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (Ohio).

What does it take to wake up, America?

This week: twenty marines die in Iraq.
This week: President George W. Bush begins the longest presidential vacation in 36 years (and his 50th in 5 years).
This week: President George W. Bush voices his support for the teaching of Intelligent Design (creationism in faux scientific clothing) in public schools.

If we needed any further refutation of Intelligent Design, it is the simple fact that George W. Bush IS the President of the United States.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Unfeeling President

"But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

Novelist E. L. Doctorow on the character of G. W. Bush.

Full essay here:

Morsels of hope # 2

The narrow defeat of Paul Hackett in Ohio's 2nd congressional district (the epitome of a Republican stronghold) will hopefully augur a sound whipping for the Neocon death cult in 2006. Paul should be an inspiration to Bush oppositionists everywhere. Hackett, a major in the Marine Corps Reserve who spent seven months in Iraq as a civilian affairs officer, was trying to become the first Iraq War veteran in Congress and the first Democrat to win the district in three decades.

"This was a success. We should all be proud," Hackett told cheering supporters. "The voters of the Second District won because we gave them a choice."

(Now, if only tapes of Bill O'Reilly having phone sex with Rush Limbaugh would surface!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Separated at birth?

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John Bolton and Captain Kangaroo
(At least I LIKED the good Captain)