Archive for the 'politics' Category

ABC “hate radio” blog war

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

As someone very interested in both blogging and broadcasting, a developing story out of San Francisco has caught my attention today. ABC’s KSFO-AM 560 is one of those “conservative” talk-radio stations that have taken over the AM dial in recent years. The station features the typical right-wing rubbish of syndicated blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Dr. Laura, but the station’s own local morning team of Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan is especially offensive; in recent days they’ve made headlines not only by insulting Muslims, but have also hinted at the assassination of new liberal Democratic house speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying “we’ve got a bulls-eye painted on her big wide laughing eyes”. This is just the latest in a long spew of venom from Morgan and Rodger’s “Morning Show” which has earned the station the nickname of “Hate Radio”; among other things, the pair have advocated stomping war protesters to death, the public execution of liberals, clamping the electrodes of a Sears Diehard battery onto the testicles of a black man, and burning down the New York Times for revealing the government’s illegal domestic wiretap program. Last week, one local blogger known as “Spocko” decided he had finally heard enough of this garbage: he posted audio clips from the station on his site, and asked his readers to write the station’s advertisers to make them aware of exactly what was being said under their sponsorship. As a result, some high-profile sponsors such as Netflix and Bank of America pulled their ads from the station.

Before long the Mouse roared back: Disney Co. (parent company of ABC and the station) brought out their big legal guns, first issuing cease-and-desist orders to pull the clips from the blog, then persuading Spocko’s Internet Service Provider to kill his web site altogether. Morgan and Rodgers also attacked Spocko on their program almost daily after the incident, calling him a “coward” and claiming the station was a “victim” of an “anonymous internet smear campaign”.

The next salvo in this skirmish has been fired by bloggers, demonstrating the truth of a new adage: “Don’t Fuck With The Blogosphere”. Spocko’s Brain is back with a vengeance at a new site, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of “little blogs” like mine are spreading the word far and wide that we’re fed up with this crap polluting our airwaves. The story was also picked up by the mainstream media, including the Bay Area’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV channel 5, as well as this article in the S.F. Chronicle.

If you’re interested in helping out, visit Spocko’s Brain and leave an encouraging comment. If you really want to get involved, support organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation, who are working to protect the digital rights of “little guys” such as Spocko (as well as you and I) from censorship and legal harassment by big media conglomerates like Disney. But the most important thing you can do is to simply remain vigilant: as Spocko says on his site, “Bloggers on the left want journalists to do their jobs because it is important, on the right they want them hanged. That is a fundamental difference and one you should all notice.”

Survey results

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

For those who cast their vote in my straw poll of potential presidential candidates earlier this month, I thought you might like to see the results:

A total of 132 people voted — which I thought was a fairly respectable number. Considering that readers of this blog are likely to be, on average, a bit more liberal than the general public, the results are not unexpected: Al Gore and Barack Obama top the list by a sizeable margin. Senator Clinton’s distant third-place showing did come as somewhat of a surprise to me, however, given my poll’s largely female constituency. Hillary is currently the top-ranked democrat nationally, although you must admit that she is a very polarizing individual; you either love her or hate her with a passion.

Interestingly, Colin Powell did just as well in my survey as Senator Clinton. I think this reflects the considerable bipartisan respect for Mr. Powell among voters-at-large for being virtually the only moderate and diplomatic voice among the rabid choir of the Bush administration. However, the chances of him running are virtually nonexistent. He has stated on several occasions that he doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” for a shot at the White House, and I believe that a serious, in-depth scrutiny of every minute detail of his life which would result from his candidacy might possibly reveal things that could hurt his standing in the public eye. Let’s face it, everyone has a few skeletons in their closet.

As the poll indicates, Barack Obama has a high buzz factor right now but I don’t believe he will ultimately get the nod for the top job. He just doesn’t have the experience, especially in foreign policy, that voters will feel comfortable with during these uncertain times, although it’s worth noting that John F. Kennedy had just as little experience and was two years younger than Obama at the time of his election. Obama is intelligent, articulate, and a dynamic speaker, but my prediction is that he will become the vice-presidential nominee on the democratic ticket. Should the dems win the general election, that “on-the-job” experience will put him on a solid track to be America’s first black president in 2012 or 2016.

As for Al Gore, his passionate stance on the environment, along with a sympathy factor from the 2000 fiasco in Florida which many still feel robbed him of the presidency, make him what has been described as “a still-rumbling volcano”. In addition to winning this informal survey, he is my personal choice as well, as his stand on the issues most closely matches my own. However, I am afraid he is perceived among the general public as being “old news”, a relic of the past with little real chance to win in 2008. In a recent CNN poll of possible democratic candidates, Gore came in tied for third place with John Edwards, far behind Senators Clinton and Obama.

Thanks to everyone who voted. Somehow, I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more about this whole “election thing” in the months ahead.

Presidential Opinion Poll – Unfortunate Problem (POP-UP!)

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Since some of us are thinking a bit more about elections and the political process this month, it seemed like a good time for me to conduct a little online research. Hence, the “2008 Candidate Survey” over there to your right in my sidebar, where I invite you to register your favorite contender(s) for president in two years. It’s received a decent response, with 33 votes so far. However, one unintended consequence is that it also seems to be serving pop-up and pop-under advertising to my blog readers; I personally hate pop-ups, so I want to apologize to anyone who is getting them.

On the Internet (like everywhere else), there is no such thing as a free lunch; many services will claim to offer “free” this or that, whether it’s web hosting, music downloads, e-mail, photo albums, or a variety of other things, but nearly all of these contain some sort of advertising in exchange. Marketing professionals realize the opportunity to capitalize on the millions of people who have their own blogs and personal web pages on social networking sites like MySpace. Many of these folks are attracted to tools and widgets that can enhance their pages; in addition to interactive online polls like my presidential survey, one can find hit counters, guestbooks, videos, discussion forums, news tickers, tag boards, maps, calendars, horoscopes, and other doo-dads. The degree to which these services embed advertising into these web tools ranges on a scale from “not at all”, through “unobtrusive and tolerable” to “obnoxious”, all the way to “virus-laden spam”. It’s a vast wilderness with new services being added daily, and it can be hard for the average user who just wants to see how many people are viewing their pages to not wind up making their visitors feel like they’ve been violated.

There are a few well-known and reputable providers who keep advertising to a minimum. The top photo sharing providers, like Photobucket and Flickr, have ads on their sites but don’t force them down your throat. Their free services are very useful and functional enough for the average web page; the main focus of their ads is to get you to sign up for their paid services if you require something more robust. Others can be far less ethical. A fellow blogger friend was recently taken in by a UK-based site that offered free web-tracking statistics, even helpfully offering to automatically install the required javascript code into her blog’s template. For the next several days visitors to her site were bombarded with the most obnoxious pop-up and pop-under advertising (some of it bordering on pornographic), had their browser home pages hijacked, and suffered other virus-like behavior from the “free” tool. It was not until she was able to track down the changes the site had made to her template and remove them that viewers again felt safe to return to her site.

Bravenet, the site that has supplied my presidential poll, is somewhere in the middle. I chose them at first because they were one of the only ones I could find in the “free web poll” category that allowed multiple answers to a question, as well as offering a high degree of customization to the look and feel of the poll. When I signed up for it, I was under the impression that those who participated in the poll would only see a banner ad displayed on the results page. This seemed fair enough to me, however now that it’s been there for a while I’ve noticed that it also occasionally serves popups when my blog page is loaded. Even though the pop-up blocker feature in the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox will usually stop these, I still don’t care much for this behavior and I’ll probably take the poll down in the next few days once it appears that everyone who would like to vote has done so. In the meantime, I apologize to anyone who gets an unwanted ad.

All that aside, the poll itself has revealed some interesting results. The two top contenders are Al Gore and Colin Powell, both tied with 30% of the popular vote. John Edwards is third at 21%, and Hillary Clinton (at 6%) is much further behind the rest of the pack than I had expected my readers to put her. The most recent Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, has not received a single vote. Colin Powell’s popularity is especially interesting, and I have some analysis of why this is so … but I’ll save that for a future post later in the week. (Gotta keep NaBloPoMo going!) So in the meantime, please vote for your favorite if you haven’t done so already. The poll won’t be there much longer.

Fake News

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Rumsfeld Lets Door Hit Him In The Ass On His Way Out

Washington, D.C. – The Bush Administration’s hallmark lack of exit strategy has claimed yet another victim, this time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld himself.

Sources inside the Pentagon confirm Rumsfeld had paused to bestow one last condescending smirk as he exited the building yesterday afternoon. Witnesses say a gigantic reinforced steel door swung closed onto his buttocks, knocking him several feet into the air. He walked with a noticeable limp following the incident, and subsequent medical tests at Bethesda Naval Hospital revealed an injured coccygeal attachment.

The Secretary is said to be recuperating at home, and has received numerous cards and emails encouraging him to “break a leg,” “choke on it,” “drop dead,” and “take a flying leap on a rolling donut you smug incompetent worthless piece of crap.”

When asked for comment, President George Bush said only that he felt the former Defense Secretary had done “a heckuva job.”

Source: The Specious Report

Election results

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

No, not those elections.

Oh sure, yesterday was historic, all right — a day described by NBC’s Tim Russert as “seismic” — in which a wave of voter discontent and backlash against Republican greed and cronysim led to Democratic victories which ended twelve years of GOP domination, and made California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi the new Speaker of the house. It was nothing less than a stunning rebuke of Bush, Rove and Co., a mandate against this administration’s bungling of the Iraq conflict, and a swing of the political pendulum back to reality. Among other landmark decisions, voters in South Dakota rejected a proposed extreme ban on all abortions, which carried no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the woman. Florida voters ended the political career of Katherine Harris, the harpy ex-secretary of state whose dubious maneuvering of the Florida recount won the 2000 presidential election for George Bush.

It’s true that this morning the dawn broke on a Blue Day in America, bringing a breath of fresh air and hope for a return to political sanity.

But fuggedahbouddit! I’m talking about important stuff here: voters rejected Mr. Toast’s beard!

Yes, in a stunning rebuke of facial hair, readers of this blog cast their vote, deciding by a landslide margin of 9 to 4 that the goatee I sported earlier this summer was “not an attractive look for you”. There was some bipartisan support for “cool, dapper, and bohemian”, but overall the bearded Toast went down in crushing defeat. Therefore, I shall bow to the will of the public and never again allow 5 o’clock shadow to darken my chin.

In other blog election news, with nearly all of the precincts reporting, a similar poll of blog readers revealed that none of them own a pet python named Monty, and a full one-third of all respondents think that “Mr. Toast is an idiot”.

The people have spoken. Democracy is safe.

We the People

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Today’s the day for us to make, if not hopefully a change, at least a statement. Let me revisit something I wrote in this space two months ago:

It’s tempting for us, when we learn of some government policy that we disagree with, to throw up our hands and say “what can I do? I’m only one person, and I have no power to make any difference.” But that’s not true; our system of government gives each and every one of us a direct voice in the legislative process through our elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate … it behooves me to tell them what I think and hope that if enough other people do the same, it might have an impact. What matters most to politicians is votes, and they need to realize how many votes they will lose if they continue to support legislation that destroys our Fourth Amendment and First Amendment protections.

Today could be historic, and it’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Check the voting records of the incumbent candidates for Congress and Senate in your area, and if they supported warrantless surveillance in the form of S.2453 or H.R.5825, then vote them the hell out of office.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: send a message to your elected officials that you are not about to hand over your constitutional rights, which generations of Americans have fought and died for, out of fear.

Today is the day we begin to take back America.

The Bird and the Bush

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Inappropriate Behavior or Protected Free Speech?

True story here: It’s Friday, June 16th in Seattle, Washington. President Bush is in town visiting Republican Rep. Dave Reichert; the two men are slowly driving along in their motorcade. One of the vehicles stopped so the procession can pass is a school bus, driven by an unidentified 43-year old woman. The driver is taking a group of middle school children back to school after a zoo visit.

As the presidential motorcade passes the bus, the children wave; with the windows down in their car, Bush and Reichert wave back.

That’s when the driver flips off the president with the classic middle-finger salute.

“The congressman hadn’t seen it, but the president turned to him and said, ‘That one’s not a fan,”’ said Reichert spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena.

School officials learned about the incident after the driver boasted to colleagues about it, and the driver was promptly fired. She has since filed a union grievance in an attempt to get her job back; the case is currently pending.

School district spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said the driver has filed a wrongful termination grievance through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, claiming the firing violates her right to freedom of speech and expression. However, Niegowski said the firing was not politically motivated.

“The bus driver was not terminated for making an obscene gesture at the president. The bus driver was terminated for making an obscene gesture in view of the students,” Niegowski said. “That’s not the role model we need for our students.”

Read the full story here.

The Insubordinate Bumper Sticker

In a similar incident, a San Diego woman is suing her former employer, claiming that she was fired from her job as a sales representative for American Marketing Co. as a result of having a bumper sticker on her car for the liberal-leaning “Air America” progressive talk radio network. According to Linda Laroca, three weeks after she started working for the marketing company, her supervisor called her on a Saturday and requested they meet at a nearby grocery store parking lot so Laroca could pass on some documents her supervisor needed.

During the brief encounter, Laroca charges, the manager pointed to the bumper sticker — the only one on Laroca’s car — and remarked that it was for “that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station.”

Laroca alleges in her suit that her supervisor then said, “The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al-Qaida.” A stunned Laroca laughed nervously at the statement, the suit alleges, and then was dealt “the final blow” when she was summarily fired on the spot.

Firing a person because you don’t like his or her politics runs contrary to just about everything this country stands for, yet it happens all the time. Frequently there are underlying issues, and the company is looking for any excuse it can find to get rid of the person, even though the extracurricular activities that caused offense were entirely unrelated to the fired person’s job and were not performed, or even discussed, in the workplace.

In a classic example from 2004, an Alabama woman was fired from her job because her boss demanded that she remove a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker from her car. She said her boss told her, “I could either work for him or John Kerry.”

She refused to remove the sticker and was fired soon afterwards. However, the Democratic candidate, upon hearing of the incident and seeing an opportunity to make political hay out of it, called the woman and personally offered her a job in his campaign office. “He was telling me how proud of me he was for standing up to my boss, and how he had read what my boss had said,” the woman stated. Senator Kerry then told her, “Have him know that you’re working for me now. You’re hired.” She accepted the offer.

Next Tuesday will be interesting, but I can’t freaking wait for 2008.

Bad Toast

Monday, October 16th, 2006

I’ve actually had a couple of people call or write in the last few days to inquire if all is well with me. As in, “Uh, we noticed that you hadn’t posted to your blog in over a freaking week and we were wondering if you were, like, still alive?” I do thank you for your concern, even if it forces me to publicly admit that I have been one lazy-ass you-know-what. Yeah, I’m lazy all right. How lazy am I? I’m so lazy I think we’re a two-income family because Mrs. Toast has two jobs. I’m so lazy I hired a handyman to empty the recycle bin on my computer. I’m so lazy I actually have a remote control for my remote control. Bada BING. Thank you, thankyouverymuch.

But seriously folks, there’s been some righteously blogworthy stuff in the news lately, and I apologize for not being on it like a pit bull on a pork chop. Let’s see … there’s the continued glorious self-destruction of the Republican party, mutant human-rabbit hybrids, 14-year old girls being interrogated by the Secret Service for Bush-bashing on their MySpace pages, just to name a few hot items … but darn it, I’ve just been too busy carrying on those seedy IM chats with my good buddy, Fla. Rep. Mark Foley … er excuse me, Maf54.

Speaking of, I loved this quip from Jay Leno the other night: “ABC is reporting that Mark Foley interrupted a vote on the House floor, stopped the House floor vote, so he could have online phone sex with a 16-year-old. Say what you want about Bill Clinton — he could sit at his desk and have sex and work at the same time.”

This would be even funnier if it wasn’t true.

But I swear I will get up off my lazy ass and back into the swing of semi-regular blogging soon, honest. In the meantime, however, I would like to leave you with this thought: wouldn’t you say that I bear a rather striking and uncanny resemblance to Bill Gates? (Note: mustache added for emphasis.)(Note to Note: his, not mine.)

I think I can use this to my advantage: all I have to do is stop by the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA, walk through Bill’s office, and raid the petty cash jar on the way out. That ought to be good for a couple of million bucks.

Dead horses

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

dead_horse.jpgThe tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse.”

However, in the Bush administration, more advanced strategies (frequently also used in the corporate or academic world) are often employed:

1. Buy a stronger whip.

2. Change riders.

3. Appoint a committee to study the horse.

4. Arrange to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lower the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassify the dead horse as “living impaired”.

7. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harness several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

10. Do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declare that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than do other horses.

12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Spooks in the closet

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Today is the fifth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on United States soil, a time to remember those who perished in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Although September 11th of each year was designated “Patriot Day” by President Bush in December 2001, the name has never really caught on, and most people still refer to it simply as “9/11″.

For many reasons, there’s an air of uneasiness today. Our world changed on this day in 2001, and hasn’t been the same since. Of course, there’s the somber memory of the events themselves, as we recall the emotions we felt as they played out before our eyes on the TV news: fearfulness, and incredulity that such a thing could be happening in our own country. As a nation, we have become obsessed with the threat of another, even deadlier terrorist attack, one that might make September 11th look small by comparison. Worst of all, 9/11 has become a propaganda tool, used by a flag-waving administration to justify a preemptive war abroad and a direct attack on civil liberties at home. Regardless of how one feels about the issues, the politicization of 9/11 sullies and degrades the sacred memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.

Like any other major event in our country’s history, September 11th has its share of conspiracy theorists; indeed, a recent Zogby survey revealed that a full 42 percent of the American public think the government must be covering up something about 9/11. A smaller yet still sizeable number of people honestly believe that the U.S. in fact orchestrated the entire affair to justify the invasion of Iraq, hand-picking and training the pilots in Saudi Arabia. Others go further and claim the towers were felled in a controlled demolition by secret government agents who planted explosives in the building prior to 9/11.

As if this isn’t hard enough to swallow, there are even wilder theories. Some claim that by closely inspecting video footage of the planes colliding with the World Trade Center towers, a missile can be seen being fired from one of the jets just prior to impact. Others spot what they claim to be a U.F.O. in the video, which they conclude was somehow remotely controlling the planes. A few even go so far as to suggest that rogue elements within the U.S. government, using stealth so-called “Global Hawk” technology, were able to remotely control the aircraft and deliberately fly them into the towers, without any hijackers being involved at all.

While proponents of the above notions may be easy to dismiss as crackpots, there is one other controversial question that appears to still have a considerable amount of traction among theorists: what really happened to United Flight 93? Did the passengers storm the cockpit in an attempt to retake control from the hijackers, causing the plane to crash? Or was it actually shot down by U.S. fighter jets, as some claim? A number of web sites, including this well-researched page, have explored different theories of the crash and are quite thought-provoking.

They start with the assumption that the crash had to have been caused by one of four things:

  1. A passenger revolt, which caused the hijackers to either lose control or to deliberately put the plane into the ground short of its target;
  2. An on-board explosion, which could have occurred if the hijackers were in possession of a real bomb, not one which — it has been assumed — was fake and intended only to scare the passengers into docile compliance;
  3. A mid-air breakup of the plane caused by excessive speed and/or maneuvers by the inexperienced hijacker pilot that stressed the airframe beyond its flight performance envelope, or;
  4. The plane was shot down by Air National Guard F-16 interceptors on orders from the Pentagon.

The uplifting “common man rises up and fights back in the face of insurmountable odds” theme has resonated in popular American legend ever since the Minuteman and the Boston Tea Party, and the passengers-as-heroes theory has been warmly accepted by the public as one of the few good things that occurred on that horrible day. It has been made into a cable-TV movie (A&E’s “Flight 93“), a theatrical release (“United 93“, by acclaimed director Paul Greengrass), and the National Park Service will spend approximately $58 million dollars to build a “Flight 93 National Memorial” in the field just outside of Shanksville, PA where the plane crashed. According to the Project’s website, “The story of Flight 93 is a national treasure — a story of hope in human courage and cooperation. When confronted with the gravity of their situation, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 chose to act heroically and sacrifice their lives for their country. These 40 heroes made a democratic decision to fight back against terrorism and thereby thwarted a planned attack on our nation’s capital, saving countless numbers of lives.”

No one really wants to argue with that … but did they? There are some who aren’t so sure, and cite a number of factors which raise disturbing questions:

• There were at least two or more separate debris fields following the crash. In addition to the one main crater where the plane hit the ground nearly vertically at a speed estimated at 500 mph, there was a second site some two miles away where one of the plane’s engines, weighing over 1,000 pounds, was found nearly intact. Other debris was found up to 8 miles from the crash site. How can this be explained?

• After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush gave the military orders to intercept and shoot down any commercial airliners that refused instructions to turn away from Washington, according to Vice President Dick Cheney in a statement on NBC’s “Meet The Press”. “I wholeheartedly concurred in the decision he made, that if the plane would not divert, if they wouldn’t pay any attention to instructions to move away from the city, as a last resort our pilots were authorized to take them out,” Cheney said. This order was given at approximately 9:35 AM, more than a half-hour before Flight 93 crashed at 10:10 AM. There are those who find it hard to believe that an F-16, capable of traveling at up to three times the speed of the Boeing 757, would not have been able to intercept it and take action.

• One caller aboard Flight 93 reported that they were locked in a rest room and reported he heard the sound of an explosion, and saw white smoke entering through the door, at least 30 seconds before the crash.

• Numerous eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing a small, white, unmarked jet aircraft swoop low to tree-top level immediately after the crash, then fly away. Others heard two separate explosions; one in mid-air, and the second when the plane hit the ground.

Regardless of what actually caused the plane to crash, no one doubts that the passengers did, in fact, realize their fate and had organized themselves in an attempt to do something about it. From the mid-air phone calls made following the hijacking, there is no question that there was some attempt to storm the cockpit and take back the plane. Beyond that, no one can say anything for sure. Although the families of the victims are 100% certain that their loved ones were successful at subduing the hijackers, at no time has the FBI, FAA, NTSB, or any other government agency provided any statement or evidence that the passengers were able to penetrate the cockpit. Theoretically, the plane’s Flight Data Recorder (which monitors technical information about the flight, such as altitude, speed, engine performance, control surfaces, etc.) should provide information from which this could be determined, but investigators refuse to release any public information about it. (Note: the Flight Data Recorder should not be confused with the Cockpit Voice Recorder, which contains only sound and has been made public.)

The ultimate irony, which no one wants to think of: what if the passengers were successful in regaining control of the plane, and had dispatched the hijackers … then, moments before they could change course, were struck by an air-to-air missile? Do you honestly think the government would admit to such a tragic mistake?

However, such speculation is pointless today, perhaps even inappropriate. This should be a day of meditation and remembrance. It might even be a good day to go see Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “World Trade Center“, which features riveting performances by Nicolas Cage and others, including actual rescuers and first responders who were present at Ground Zero. According to Newsweek, “‘World Trade Center’ celebrates the ties that bind us, the bonds that keep us going, the goodness that stands as a rebuke to the horror of that day.” It’s a gritty, powerful film which “touches on a profound national faith in the courage and steadfastness of common men and women”.

We could all use a little of that, and not just today.

What you can do

Friday, September 8th, 2006

A follow-up to my previous post: it’s tempting for us, when we learn of some government policy that we disagree with, to throw up our hands and say “what can I do? I’m only one person, and I have no power to make any difference.”

But that’s not true; our system of government gives each and every one of us a direct voice in the legislative process through our elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate. It’s the duty of these lawmakers to listen to their constituents, and cast their votes accordingly. So, if you feel strongly enough about warrantless surveillance, I urge you to contact your elected representative to make your opinions known. Chances are that they may not agree with you; in my own case, Texas Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn are both staunchly conservative Republicans who are not likely to oppose the White House on this particular issue. Nevertheless, it behooves me to tell them what I think and hope that if enough other people do the same, it might have an impact. What matters most to politicians is votes, and they need to realize how many votes they will lose if they continue to support legislation that destroys our Fourth Amendment and First Amendment protections.

The most effective way to express yourself is by letter; it’s more permanent and direct, and officials tend to give written comments greater weight than they do telephone calls and e-mail. There are two specific pieces of legislation in question: In the Senate, the Cheney-Specter bill (S.2453) is officially known as the “National Security Surveillance Act of 2006″, and would legalize the president’s claim of inherent, exclusive power to wiretap Americans at will and indefinitely without any individual, independent checks. In the House, the Cheney-Wilson bill (H.R.5825) is called the “Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act“, and would allow the president to secretly search Americans’ homes and listen to their phone calls without warrants.

Both of these bills would make warrantless surveillance of Americans the rule rather than the exception. And the bills would also allow the NSA to capture and read any emails sent by Americans, as long as the government does not know if all the recipients are physically located in the U.S. — a standard which is virtually impossible to prove.

All of us realize that the threat of terrorism is very real. However, when we enact laws to expand surveillance powers to track terrorists, all residents, not just the terrorists, are affected, and the potential for abuse is massive. The main problem with these two bills is their total reliance on executive branch supervision (i.e., the sole discretion of the president) rather than any meaningful review by a neutral court or judge of the highly intrusive surveillance techniques that these laws authorize. This is simply wrong, and I urge you to send a message to your elected officials that you are not about to hand over your constitutional rights, which generations of Americans have fought and died for, out of fear.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither.”

Dick Cheney wants to read your email

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

To readers of this blog: I have received the following letter from a friend who is connected with the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that tirelessly strives to protect for all Americans the Constitutional rights on which this country was founded. Please consider the information below; it is vitally important.

Dear Friend,

It’s true. Dick Cheney is pushing Congress to allow the government to access Americans’ conversations and emails without getting an individualized warrant.

The ACLU has been fighting in the courts and on Capitol Hill to halt the Bush secret program of warrantless domestic spying. Just last month, we won a tremendous victory when the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan declared the National Security Agency program unconstitutional and called for an immediate halt to this abuse of presidential power.

Stand with us today to protect your privacy and the rule of law.

Even as this important civil liberties victory works its way through the courts, the White House is playing politics with our privacy to bolster their numbers and appear “tough on terrorism.” And now the Bush administration’s allies in Congress are scrambling to find ways to keep their illegal activities moving forward with two bills drafted under Dick Cheney’s supervision.

The bills – scheduled for debate in Congress this week – would expand the president’s power, and allow for new ways to invade your privacy. Now is the time to tell Congress to protect your privacy and the rule of law.

The Cheney legislation is characterized by some as “surveillance we can live with,” but it would vastly expand the government’s power to search and spy on Americans without any individualized judicial check. It would even set government spies loose on any email you send if the government does not know where all the recipients are physically located.

If these bills pass, our homes, cell phone records and email inboxes will be vulnerable to new kinds of government spying that are currently completely illegal. But we have a chance to stop these bills this week, before White House pressure drives them to a speedy vote.

The Cheney bills are worse than the powers ceded to the government by the Patriot Act, and would write into law what is now the administration’s belief that the president can wiretap any American he wants without any check required by the Fourth Amendment or without any meaningful check to protect individual rights. If these bills pass, nothing will prevent government agents from unilaterally targeting Americans for indefinite secret surveillance without cause. That’s not America; with your help, we will ensure these bills do not pass.

Your voice is critical right now. Please take action today.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union

P.S. Don’t be deceived by claims that these bills will protect your privacy and restore judicial review. To learn more, visit our website.

News item

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Latest Polling Shows Bush Losing Core Supporters

WASHINGTON – President Bush appears to be losing support among a key group of voters who until now have stood firmly with the president.

A new Gallup poll shows that Bush’s approval rating has fallen below 50% and now stands at just 44% among total freaking morons. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just last December when 62% of total freaking morons expressed support for the president and his policies.

The current poll, conducted by phone with 1,409 total freaking morons between June 4 and June 8, reveals that only 44% of those polled believe the president is doing a good job, while 27% believe he is doing a poor job, and 29% don’t understand the question.

Faltering approval ratings for the president among a group once thought to be a reliable source of loyal support makes Republicans nervous about the upcoming mid-term elections.

“We’ve got a big problem if we can’t depend on the support of total freaking morons,” says Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Total freaking morons are a key factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today’s Republican coalition.”

“We’ve taken the total freaking moron vote for granted,” says Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), “and now we’re paying for it.” Feeney says the poll is a dire warning for Republicans. “This should send a signal that we have to regain control of the debate if we want the support of our key constituencies in the coming election and beyond. We need to bring public discourse back into the realm of stupidity and vacuity. We should be talking about homosexual illegal immigrants burning flags. We should be talking about the power of pride. We should be talking about freedom fries. These are the issues that resonate with total freaking morons.”

But some total freaking morons say it’s too late. Bill Snarpel of Enid, Oklahoma (left) is a total freaking moron who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

But he says he won’t be voting for Bush in 2008. “I don’t like it that he was going to sell our ports to the Arabs. If the Arabs own the ports then that means they’ll let all the Arabs in and then we’ll all be riding camels and wearing towels on our heads. I don’t want my children singing the Star Spangled Banner in Muslim.”

Total freaking moron Kurt Meyer of Turlock, California also says his once solid support for Bush has collapsed. “He invaded Iraq and all those soldiers died, and for what? We destroyed all their WMDs, but now their new president is making fun of us and saying he’s going to build nuclear bombs and that we can’t stop him. Well, nuclear bombs are even worse than WMDs, so what did we accomplish?”

Laura McDonald, a total freaking moron from Chandler, Arizona, says she is disappointed that the president hasn’t been a more forceful advocate of Christian values. “This country was founded on Christian values,” she says, “but you’d never know it with all the Mexicans running around. I thought Bush was going to bring Jesus back into the government. Instead, Christians are persecuted worse than ever before in history because all these Mexicans come here and tell Christians that we have to respect their religious beliefs. So now it’s illegal for children to pray in school. Soon it will be illegal for them to speak English.”

Not all total freaking morons have turned their backs on the president. Jeb Larkin of Topeka, Kansas says he still fully supports Bush. “He is doing a great job. He is a great president. He is a great decider. I have a puppy. His tail sticks straight up and you can see his butthole.”

And not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R- TN), for one. He agrees that the Republican party should not take total freaking morons for granted, but he says they “really don’t have anywhere else to go. Just try having a conversation with one of them about global warming. They’ll say, ‘Oh, but Rush says volcanoes consume more ozone than humans do.’ I mean, they’re morons! Total freaking morons!”

“They’ve got nowhere else to go,” Alexander reaffirms with a smile, “and they always vote.”

Thanks and a tip o’ the Toast hat to DogMa at Gray Ghost!

Moving on

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Today we leave Lake Winnipesaukee behind and move on through the scenic Green Mountains of Vermont, on our way back to my sister’s place. Internet access may be spotty for the next few days, but I can report to my loyal blog readers (all three of you) that, alas, we did not meet any celebrities whatsoever today. Not even this guy.

Yes, yes, I know … we’re falling down on the job. We’ll try to do better tomorrow, honest. However, we did stop at a little gift shop just outside of Killington, VT, and picked up a couple of boxes of these for our Republican friends back home in Texas:

Just the perfect thing to get that bad political taste out of the mouth. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

Poetic Justice

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

How embarrassing is this? Conservative gas-bag Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport, after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription. The private plane carrying the 55-year-old radio talk-show host had just arrived from the Dominican Republic and was being inspected by U.S. Customs agents, who found the unlabeled bottle of Viagra in Limbaugh’s luggage.

The drugs were confiscated, and Limbaugh was released without being charged; however, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office plans to file a report with the state attorney’s office for possible indictment on a second-degree misdemeanor violation.

Limbaugh had reached a deal last month with prosecutors who had accused him of “doctor-shopping” in order to receive illegal overlapping painkiller prescriptions. The charges were to be dismissed after 18 months of good behavior, as long as Limbaugh submitted to random drug tests; however this incident is likely to wreck any such deal.

Now if someone would only please arrest Ann Coulter. Her hate-filled, bigoted, sexist, and lewd speech, if not illegal, is certainly more offensive than El Rushbo getting clipped with a bogus bottle of Poke.

Call to arms

Saturday, June 17th, 2006

“Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.”

Does this get your attention? If so, see An Inconvenient Truth, coming soon to a theatre near you. Put aside any partisan politics you may have and just consider the reality of global warming. Our future may depend on it.

Politics for the moderately confused

Friday, May 19th, 2006

The political landscape these days can be very confusing. Conflicting values and party planks are sometimes hard to figure out, and if you’re a middle-of-the-road swing voter, you may not be sure if your stand on the various issues makes you liberal, conservative, Republican, or Democrat. So with mid-term elections coming up, and jockeying for position in the 2008 presidential race already underway, the management of Wind In The Wire (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy) presents this helpful guide entitled: “You Might Be A Republican”.

If Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton, well then…you might be a Republican.

If you think Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion, then you might be a Republican.

If you agree that a president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy… then you might be a Republican.

If you think any of the following statements are true:

• Global warming and tobacco’s link to cancer are junk science, but that Creationism and Intelligent Design should be taught in schools.

• Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

• The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

• A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

• The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.

• If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.

• A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

• Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

• HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

• Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

• The public has a right to know about Hillary’s cattle trades, but George Bush’s driving record is none of our business.

• Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

• What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the ’80s is irrelevant.

…then, you very well might be a Republican.

Remember: friends don’t let friends vote Republican.

A victim of conservative nose-tweaking

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

My blood is boiling after reading another article bemoaning the so-called “Liberal Media Bias”, this time by columnist Max Boot in the L.A. Times.

And of course, this was exactly his point in writing it.

To conservatives, any claim that the mainstream media has a leftist slant is preaching to the choir; they accept it as undisputed gospel. So there’s no purpose in reiterating this drivel except to piss off progressives like me, whose noses get severely out of joint when they read bullshit like this:

It is hard to see how media apologists can deny their political bias when no fewer than four (Pulitzer) prizes were given at least in part for Bush-bashing. These included awards to Mike Luckovich, the left-wing cartoonist of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who routinely portrays President Bush as a malevolent dolt, and Robin Givhan, the catty fashion critic of the Washington Post, who devoted an entire column to ridiculing Vice President Dick Cheney’s attire at an Auschwitz ceremony.

There’s nothing wrong with caustic criticism, but two of the award winners went further, into areas that may hamper our battle against Islamist terrorism. The Washington Post’s Dana Priest won a prize for revealing the existence of secret CIA-operated prisons in Eastern Europe, and the New York Times’ James Risen and Eric Lichtblau won for revealing the existence of a secret program to intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their domestic contacts.

Oh, really. Let’s look at the charges, and the facts:

  • Routinely portraying President Bush as a “malevolent dolt”: Do we really need to go there? Many, including myself, think Shrubya is clearly the worst president in American history. I’ve seen some of Luckovich’s political cartoons: believe me, he’s being kind.
  • Cheney’s attire at Auschwitz: Last January, all the world leaders who gathered for this most solemn ceremony were dressed with dignity, in formal dark suits, dress shoes and gentlemen’s hats — except for one. Cheney stood out like a sore thumb in an olive drab ski parka with a big fuzzy collar and his name embroidered on it, a ski cap, and hiking boots. He was dressed (according to the article by Robin Givhan that Boot is so upset by) in “the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.” Any person, be they Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, deserves to be taken to task for such a display of insensitivity. Even downplaying any embarrassment to the United States or to the memory of the holocaust victims, Givhan is a fashion editor for heaven’s sake, and commentary on the attire of the participants was well within her scope. This is “liberal bias”?
  • “Bush-bashing” in general: in our society, those in power should expect to be examined closely by the media — this is the reason a free press exists, after all. Any administration or individual tends to bring criticism upon themselves by their own actions. The media are not only obliged to report this, but may also editorialize when they feel the subject deserves it. Those who think this is the exclusive territory of liberals seem to conveniently forget the relentless drubbing of Bill Clinton by the press during the Monica Lewinsky affair. It’s extremely interesting to me that public outrage with Clinton during this time belayed a long line of Presidential indiscretions, from Thomas Jefferson’s five children with Molly Hemings (whom he owned as a slave) to Dwight Eisenhower’s affair with his driver Kay Summersby, and of course JFK’s legendary and frequent White House trysts. Clinton was impeached for getting a hummer in the Oval Office, yet Bush is getting away with far more consequential offenses; so much for the power of the media.
  • Finally, the most serious charge, that the press is somehow damaging the effort in the war on terrorism: I think most Americans want to know when their country, supposedly a beacon of democracy to the world, is torturing prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and covering it up by conducting it “offshore”. Is this what we’re fighting for? And in case anyone’s forgotten already, that “secret program to intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their domestic contacts” that Boot refers to is none other than the NSA’s illegal wiretapping operation, designed to spy on ordinary Americans without the bother of obtaining a court order. Bush has used an amorphous “war on terror” as a convenient excuse for a naked executive-branch power-grab, and apparently, the only thing he regrets about violating the Constitution is the fact that ordinary people like you and I are now aware of it.

I believe that the press, by and large, bends over backwards to be fair, accurate, and objective; but none of my arguments will hold any water with Mr. Boot or other conservatives like him who honestly think the news media is controlled by a vast left-wing conspiracy. However, it’s really quite irrelevant: this particular debate has been going round in circles for many years, and Boot’s article and this blog post merely complete one more revolution. As I said at the outset, the only reason anyone trots out this tired tripe any more is to rattle some liberal’s cage. He’s done so, and I’ve growled back. End of rant.

Let’s move along now, there’s nothing more to see here.

The Karma of Sex and War

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

I’ve been doing some interesting reading today. Remember the Vietnam-era slogan “Make love, not war?” According to Osho, this is not just a cliche, but a central tenet of enlightenment.

And just who is/was Osho, you may ask? According to The Washington Post, “He was a guru unencumbered by tradition, an enlightened master who could quote Heidegger, and Sartre, and who furthermore believed in technology, capitalism and sex…” Indeed, he has been called “the sex guru”, although carnal pleasure formed only one segment of his beliefs. Born in 1931 in India and formerly known as Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, he was a philosopher and spiritual teacher in his homeland. In 1981, he moved to the United States and set up a controversial communal ranch with 3,000 of his followers near Antelope, Oregon called Rajneeshpuram. After many disputes with local residents, he moved to North Carolina in 1987 where he adopted the name “Osho”, which is derived from the ancient Japanese word for “Master”. Forced by U.S. immigration authorities to return to India, he died there of heart failure in 1990. At the height of his influence, Osho had about 200,000 members in 600 centers around the world, and he sported a fleet of 30 or more Rolls-Royce limousines.

Many have characterized his organization as a “cult”, and indeed it is true that he felt the institution of the family was out of date and should be replaced with alternative forms of community and ways of caring for children. However, he also encouraged individual disciples to make peace with their families. He taught that God was in everything and everyone. He recognized Jesus Christ as having attained enlightenment. He believed that national, religious, gender and racial divisions are inherently destructive to a harmonious global society.

Today, 16 years after his death, his followers enthusiastically continue his work, and a wealth of information on his teachings and beliefs can be found via a simple web search. And what of sex and war? Whether you dismiss him as a cult figure or not, I must say his words on these topics make considerable sense, particularly during these troubled times when war occupies much of our conscious thought. He says:

The society has created a repressive mind, a life-negative mind, an anti-joy mind. The society is very much against sex. Why is the society so much against sex? — because if you allow people sexual pleasure, you cannot transform them into slaves. It is impossible — a joyous person cannot be made a slave. That is the trick. Only sad people can be turned into slaves. A joyous person is a free person; he has a kind of independence to him.

You cannot recruit joyous people for war. Impossible. Why should they go to war? But if a person has repressed his sexuality he is ready to go to war, he is eager to go to war, because he has not been able to enjoy life. He has become incapable of enjoying, hence has become incapable of creativity. Now he can do only one thing — he can destroy. All his energies have become poison and destructive. He is ready to go to war — not only ready, he is hankering for it. He wants to kill, he wants to destroy.

In fact, while destroying human beings he will have a vicarious joy of penetrating. That penetrating could have been in love and would have been beautiful. When you penetrate a woman’s body in love, it is one thing. It is spiritual. But when things go wrong and you penetrate somebody’s body with a sword, with a spear, it is ugly, it is violent, it is destructive. But you are searching for a substitute for penetration.

If society is allowed total freedom about joy, nobody will be destructive.

People who can love beautifully are never destructive. And people who can love beautifully and have the joy of life will not be competitive either. These are the problems.

That’s why primitive people are not so competitive. They are enjoying their life. Who bothers to have a bigger house? Who bothers to have a bigger balance in the bank? For what? You are happy with your woman and with your man and you are having a dance of life. Who wants to sit in the marketplace for hours and hours and hours, day in, day out, year in, year out, hoping that in the end you will have a big bank balance and then you will retire and enjoy? That day never comes. It can’t come, because the whole life you remain an ascetic.

Remember, the business people are ascetic people. They have devoted everything to money.

Now a man who knows love and has known the thrill of love and the ecstasy of it will not be competitive.

He will be happy if he can get his daily bread. That is the meaning of Jesus’ prayer: “Give us our daily bread.” That is more than enough. Now Jesus looks foolish. He should have asked, “Give us a bigger bank balance.” He asks only for the daily bread? A joyous man never asks for more than that. The joy is so fulfilling.

It is only unfulfilled beings who are competitive, because they think life is not here, it is there. “I have to reach to Delhi and become the president,” or to the White House and become this or that. “I have to go there, joy is there” — because they know here there is no joy. So they are always on the go, go, go, go. They are always on the go, and they never reach. And the man who knows the joy, is here. Why should he be going to Delhi? For what? He is utterly happy here now. His needs are very small. He has no desires. He has needs certainly, but no desires. Needs can be fulfilled, desires never. Needs are natural, desires are perverted.

Now this whole society depends on one thing and that is sex repression. Otherwise the economy will be destroyed, sabotaged. War will disappear and with it the whole war machinery, and the politics will become meaningless and the politician will no longer be important. Money will not have value if people are allowed to love. Because they are not allowed to love, money becomes the substitute, money becomes their love. So there is a subtle strategy.

Sex has to be repressed, otherwise this whole structure of the society will fall immediately.

Only love released into the world will bring revolution. Communism has failed, fascism has failed, capitalism has failed. All ‘isms’ have failed because deep down they are all sex repressive. On that point there is no difference — no difference between Washington and Moscow, Beijing and Delhi — there is no difference at all. They all agree upon one thing — that sex has to be controlled, that people are not to be allowed to have innocent joy in sex.

Ordinary society is against sex; Tantra comes to help humanity, to give sex back to humanity. And when the sex has been given back, then arises Zen. Zen has no attitude. Zen is pure health.

I don’t necessarily agree with every single word of this, but it is food for thought.

Several recent events have caused me to ponder the topic of meditation (is that statement redundant?) which led me today to this information about Osho. A week ago, I wrote here about the search for justice — or more to the point, closure — in the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui. One of the many things that concerns me is the extreme difficulty we face in combatting, by conventional means, those Islamic radicals who not only don’t fear death, but welcome it as a glorious reward. Think of this phrase commonly heard in America: “You have so much to live for.” For the overwhelming majority of us in the USA, this is the truth; life is good. Sure, we all have something we’d like to improve on: we may not be rich, or have the best jobs, or we may have heath or family issues, but our living conditions are so much better than the rest of the world. More importantly, we nearly always have the one thing that keeps us going when all else fails — hope. No matter how bad things get, our society offers us the opportunity to make our lives better if we’re willing to make the effort. But for millions in the war-torn Middle East, hopelessness is part of the daily existence. They have nothing to look forward to but oppression, poverty, hunger, disease and death, and this breeds a desperation that few of us in the West can truly fathom.

Last night I watched the always-fascinating PBS documentary program Frontline. This particular episode, titled “The Insurgency”, took a close look at those who are fighting against U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq, and why. One military analyst commented on a fundamental difference between coalition and insurgent forces which echoes my thoughts above; the Americans, he said, for the most part don’t want to be there. They would much rather be at home, in safety and comfort with their families — and who could blame them? But of the insurgents, his simple comment “they don’t live here” was chilling. By “here”, he means “in this world”. Their minds are fixated on the glorious paradise awaiting them in the next life, and the more Infidels they can kill in the name of Allah, the greater will be their reward. How can we hope to defeat an enemy with this sort of motivation, when all we want to do — understandably so — is to get the hell out of there?

I pray that there’s a way out of this quagmire, but it isn’t immediately apparent what it may be. What particularly frustrates and angers me is that many knowledgeable people in the military, government, business and private sectors tried to impress these realities upon the Bush administration long before things ever got to this point, and they simply failed to listen or to understand. Read this article from the Washington Post for an eye-opening look at a Defense Secretary who “was contemptuous of advice from his military officers and sabotaged the Iraq mission with willful misjudgments before and after the invasion”, and is still out-of-touch even now.

It is somewhat sobering, if not outright depressing, to realize that the history of mankind is quite literally the history of warfare. Since the beginning of civilization, society has been defined by it’s conquests, and the rise and fall of nations (including our own) have been a direct result of victory or defeat on the great battlefields of time. While there have been wars of ideologies in the past, our opponents today have very little tangibility that can be effectively attacked or destroyed. They have no uniforms, territorial boundaries, or central command structure. They have no authority figure with whom to negotiate surrender. This is a war unlike any in previous history, and recent sabre-rattling concerning possible nuclear confrontation with Iran (whose current leadership shares the no-compromise goal of many Jihadists to “wipe Israel off the map”) has me feeling even more uneasy about the future.

There is a growing number of people — sadly, counted in the millions as I write this — who earnestly believe that current world conditions point to an imminent cataclysmic clash between good and evil, i.e. The Armageddon. Fortunately for my own personal mental health, I am not that pessimistic. However, while in the past this belief was held primarily by fundamentalist zealots, I do find it disturbing that the concept has become increasingly “mainstream” in recent years. In December 2004, respected National Public Radio journalist Bill Moyers was honored with the Global Environment Citizen Award (presented by Meryl Streep) by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. In his acceptance speech, he spoke of “Armageddon Politics“:

“It may come as a surprise to some people that God’s plan involves the full-scale destruction of the planet we inhabit. In some bizarre manner, He, the Creator God and Father of Jesus, wants to destroy the world in order to save humanity — or a select portion of it, anyway. But then it makes sense that the Supreme Being who created this world has the right to annihilate it, doesn’t it? It does to some people. And not just a few, either. The promise of a planetary holocaust is actually cherished by millions of God-fearing Christians around the world, and strategically anticipated by the politicians who lead them.”

If those “politicians” include George W. Bush (and some think this is so), then my friends, we all may be in deep shit. Hey, if you believe that the world is due to end anyway, why worry about tossing a few nukes around?

My apologies — I didn’t intend for this post to become so damn depressing when I began writing it. Anyway, to return to Osho where I started from, perhaps a possible solution in Iraq would be to flood the area with as many women as possible from all over the world who would be willing to sex up the insurgents, thereby neutralizing their will to fight. Make love, not war. Okay, I admit it’s not very realistic or practical — but does anybody have a better idea? If so, please raise your hand; I and everyone else (except maybe Donald Rumsfeld) would love to hear it.

A pimple on Goliath

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Check out this amazing video clip which purports to show hooded pranksters scaling a fence and painting graffiti on the engine cowling of Air Force One. It’s an elaborate hoax: the filmmakers rented a 747 Jumbo Jet and painted it in the colors of Bush’s plane to make the video in San Bernadino, California. But the result was so real-looking, the Air Force had to check to make sure the slogan “Still Free” hadn’t actually been plastered on the side of the “real” plane.

“I wanted to do something culturally significant, wanted to create a real pop-culture moment,” said Marc Ecko of Marc Ecko Enterprises, who staged the spoof. “It’s this completely irreverent, over-the-top thing that could really never happen: this five-dollar can of paint putting a pimple on this Goliath.”

The two-minute clip has been circulating on the Internet for several days, generating much speculation as to how the most heavily guarded aircraft in the world could have been “tagged”. It was only on Friday that the prank was revealed. While Ecko declined to state how much it cost to rent the cargo jet for the video, he did say “It’s not cheap. You have to be rich.”

In the words of Bono, “fucking brilliant.”