Recently in Politics Category

I just returned from voting in my local Democratic Caucus. Under Iowa Democratic Party rules, candidates must have a minimum number of voters to receive a delegate. In my precinct, the number was 49. I went to the Edwards camp. I was Number 49.
Even one single vote can make a big difference. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Outrage Overload

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When a major disaster like Hurricane Katrina strikes, my inclination is to immerse myself in news media. But the sheer incompetence of the Bush administration's response, combined with the unrelenting awfulness of live news coming from New Orleans makes it impossible to comprehend the overwhelming scope of the disaster.
And then one Associated Press stringer, Mary Foster, writes a couple of sentences that bring the whole thing into focus, putting a human face on these people who have had everything they own stripped away. As refugees boarded buses to evacuate them from the Superdome, Foster observed:
Pets were not allowed on the bus, and when a police officer confiscated a little boy's dog, the child cried until he vomited. "Snowball, snowball," he cried.

The Bush Administration is clearly demonstrating its leadership in the face of disaster.

Fiddling While Rome Burns, Part 2

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On April 14, as a wave of violent terrorist explosions swept through Iraq, killing at least 19 people and wounding 60, President George W. Bush decided to take a day off and play baseball.
I have previously written about the cowards that compose our local military reserve unit, the 109th Area Support Medical Battalion. They claimed to be on the front lines pulling wounded soldiers from foxholes, but they actually sat around well-fortified base camps like cowards, while other medics risked their lives on the front lines. But today I was astonished at the front page story in my local newspaper; I had no idea they were war criminals, they were deployed at the notorious torture chambers of Abu Ghraib prison. Of course they claim they are completely innocent. Here is the full article from today's newspaper.

The Commander of the 109th ASMB, Lt. Col. Steven Wieneke, claimed the tortured prisoners of Abu Ghraib and the soldiers under his command had a "pretty good relationship and pretty good rapport." Surely some of those prisoners developed that rapport while being treated for injuries inflicted during torture. It was the duty of the soldiers of the 109th to blow the whistle on those injuries, it is still their duty to come forward and tell everything they know about the torturers of Abu Ghraib. But the Commander has interviewed his soldiers, determined that they have nothing to say about the matter, and that they saw no evil, heard no evil, so they will speak of no evil.
This is a dereliction of duty on a monstrous scale. The very medics who were responsible for the health and safety of imprisoned Iraqis sat idle and said nothing as those prisoners were tortured and injured. They are cowards, they continue to cover up for the torturers so they are accomplices after-the-fact to war crimes. They can only do one thing to atone for their war crimes: come forward, tell everything they know, and take their punishment like a soldier.

Fiddling While Rome Burns

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April 5 2004

On April 5, 2004, as more than a dozen Americans died in the bloody uprising in Iraq, George W. Bush decided to play baseball. Today as I prepared this photograph, CNN announced that Bush arrived in Crawford, Texas for his Easter Vacation.
Excuse me, Mr. President, Easter is 4 days away, shouldn't you be in the White House Situation Room? Don't you care that your war plan is falling apart?

Kucinich's Backroom Political Deal

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In a previous report, I described how I observed Kucinich delegates trying (and failing) to screw Dean out of delegates in the Iowa Caucus. Now that report has made it to the national Democratic Debate that is taking place this very moment on Fox. I have transcribed the question, and Kucinich's non-response:
Q: Congressman Kucinich, I have a question from Cheryl Zettner, she's in New Hampshire, this is what she says. She says, "why did you cut a deal to send voters to the Edwards camp if you didn't meet the 15% threshold in Iowa?" She's angry, she says Edwards supported the war and the Patriot act.

Kucinich: [unintelligible]

Q: Before you continue, is your party divided over the war?

Kucinich: Of course it is, course it is. I mean, I took the position of organizing a hundred and twenty six Democrats who voted against the Iraq War resolution, and I happen to think it was the right position. Today, we're faced with over five hundred casualties, a cost of over two hundred billion dollars and it could rise, the casualties could go into the thousands and the cost could go over a half trillion if we stay there for years as a number of people on this stage intend to see happen. Well let me tell you something. Uh, we, there is a difference of opinion in our party, and I stand uh strong and proud in saying it's time that we get the uh, UN, uh peacekeepers in and bring our troops home. And I've offered a plan to do that and I mentioned earlier.
Now with respect to what uh happened in Iowa, uh let me state this. That if I was looking for someone to pair up with under the Iowa Caucus system based on who I agreed with, I wouldn't have had anyone to agree with because, er, because the fact of the matter is I had a really diff- a great difference of opinion, having been the only one on this stage who voted against the war and the patriot act, but I, I, John Edwards and I are friends, and one, one thing we agreed on in Iowa is that we both wanted more delegates. That's what we agreed on.

Q: I, I have no followup, for your honesty, thank you.
I talked to Edwards caucusgoers after he was declared unviable, and asked them to come to my table. They all flatly refused, some even flatly refused to acknowledge my request. So now everyone knows it was a backroom deal arranged before the Caucus, and Kucinich doesn't have the guts to admit it. Even worse, Kucinich's weaseling out of a direct answer is considered honesty by the press.

I have said nothing on my blog about the Iowa Democratic Caucus until now, since talk is cheap and cheap talk doesn't affect the results. But now I have returned from casting my vote and there is nothing left to do tell the story. And oh boy is it a good one.
I attended my local precinct which had 9 delegates to apportion. The caucus was held at a local church, which I objected to, I don't think it's appropriate to hold elections in a religious institution. The room was filled to double the expected capacity, there was an astonishing number of new caucusgoers, more than the registrars could handle, the caucus began quite late in order to process the surprisingly large crowd. The local Republican Caucus was held at the local high school, which makes no sense. I don't see how the Democrats have to work out of a cramped church when the Republicans get a huge high school so they can all vote unanimously for Bush.
But anyway, the really interesting part was the vote. After an initial vote, any candidate polling less than 15% is declared unviable, and those persons must realign to a candidate or declare they are undecided. The only viable candidates were Dean, Kerry, and Edwards. Then everyone is given an opportunity to talk to other caucusgoers, to try to get them to come to their group. And here's where it got really interesting.
The Kerry group had enough votes to get 4 delegates, but the Dean/Edwards vote was tied, the remaining delegates would have to be decided by coin toss. So the Kerry people decided to screw Dean by shifting 3 surplus voters to Edwards, to make the apportion 4-3-2. When the final vote was called, the Kerry faction discovered that they had miscalculated, they should have only shifted 2 voters, and they lost their 4th delegate. The final split of delegates was 3-3-3. Suddenly the Kerry faction wanted a third vote. They were overruled by the caucus supervisor, but only after much shouting and bickering, and a call to the Democratic Party HQ for a decision on rules. The Kerry people outsmarted themselves, and screwed themselves out of a delegate instead of screwing Dean out of a delegate.
At this moment, I'm watching Kerry make a "victory speech," but he's wrong. Kerry did not win Iowa. Kerry won delegates, just like Dean and Edwards. No single person wins the Iowa Caucus, it is not a winner-takes-all election. You cannot win the Iowa Caucus, you can only lose it. Gephardt, Kucinich, Lieberman, Clark and Sharpton lost, everyone else was a winner.
I won't declare which candidate I voted for, but it should be obvious that one single vote changed the results of this caucus. Don't ever think that your one vote doesn't make a difference.

We Got Him!

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George W. Hussein

The Day I Have Been Waiting For

This is the day that George W. Bush became "the unpopular President George W. Bush." See for yourself. Actually, I mostly put this post up because skippy the bush kangaroo accidentally linked to me instead of the Pollkatz page. So go to Professor Pollkatz's Site and see it for yourself.
A conservative blogger recently challenged liberals by saying that if they couldn't even think of one positive thing George W. Bush has done, they were completely blinded by ideology. I thought about it and I finally found just one good thing GWB has done. He has revolutionized and reinvigorated the Playing Card Industry. This is an actual image from a real anti-liberal card deck.


I just received the most disgusting political mailing I have ever seen, courtesy of Tom Delay. It is a blatant attempt by this ultra-rightwing Texan to influence the upcoming Iowa Presidential caucuses. I have scanned the 21 page document and produced a downloadable 1.4Mb PDF so you can see it for yourself.


This 20 page bulletin from Rev. Lou Sheldon of the "Traditional Values Coalition" came under a cover letter from Tom DeLay. There ought to be a law against Members of the House meddling in politics outside their district. Maybe there is a law, I don't know, but if there isn't, there ought to be. DeLay won't be satisfied until the entire country is reshaped into a conservative rule under a christian god. And there's where I really got irritated.
The Sheldon letter opens by addressing me as "Dear Christian Friend." How do I get on these mailing lists? I am neither a christian, nor a friend of conservatives. From there, the letter is 100% lies. I spent a few moments analyzing some of the lies, and when I got to their assertion that the 9th Federal District Court ruled "the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because it contains the phrase 'one nation under god'..." my head just about exploded. No, the Pledge is not unconstitutional, it can be recited in the schools as long as it omits "under god." Unfortunately, most Iowans are unsophisticated enough to be duped by these lies.
This nasty propaganda piece lays the blame for all evil at the feet of Tom Daschle, it claims he blocked Bush's radical conservative judge activists from confirmation, preventing the Religious Right from assuming their god-given place as rulers of the USA. It spends much time slandering the ACLU for their defense of Bill of Rights and the Separation of Church and State. I guess religious activists have no use for the US Constitution.
There is so much offensive garbage in this mailing, I cannot even begin to describe it. I encourage you to read it for yourself, and fight back against this attempt to manipulate voters with lies.

Exercise Your Patritotism

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I saw something appalling on TV yesterday, I would have captured it for BlogTV but I decided I didn't want to give this more publicity than it deserved. Here is the idea. Some exercise trainer advised continuously repeating the Pledge of Alliegance while jogging. The theory was that you should be able to speak out loud while jogging, if you couldn't speak clearly due to shortness of breath, you were overworking yourself. The hyperpatriot lunatic trainer somehow seized upon the current frenzy, and declared the Pledge as the perfect speech for joggers. Perhaps there is something to this idea of using the Pledge as a motivational device for exercise. If I see some sweaty guy jogging down the street chanting the Pledge over and over, I'm running the other way as fast as I can.

Presidential Breakfast

Whenever I'm bored and feel like I have nothing to say, I go through my old files and pull some old images. Here's a strange piece of politicial artwork I made back in the days of the first Gulf War.

Presidential Breakfast

When I made this image, nobody understood it. I guess you had to know the backstory. I hate explaining my work, but I guess I have to. George H.W. Bush was infamous for a saying he hated broccoli. In one amusing incident, Bush spoke at a college commencement and the students all wore corsages of broccoli. About that same time, Iraq took some British hostages, and released a video with Saddam Hussein showing how he made sure they had humane treatment. A young boy is shown sitting at a breakfast table with a big box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, and Saddam asks if he's getting enough milk with his corn flakes. Apparently Saddam thought it would be great propaganda if he showed the British hostage kid eating something that was rare and extremely expensive in Iraq, imported corn flakes with real milk.

Nelson Rockefeller and Bob Dole

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Nelson Rockefeller

I was going through some files and found this newspaper clipping from about 1970. I thought I'd post it just for no reason at all. The caption reads
That venerable institution, Nelson Rockefeller, with sidekick Bob Dole looking on, vents his political philosophy on a group of student demonstrators who had previously vented theirs. The action occurred in Binghamton, N.Y., on Thursday. Need we ask why Rocky was fingered for the job?

Scary FBI Web Searches

I frequently review my referrers log, to see who is sending hits to my page. Occasionally I see something exceptionally strange. Currently my top referrer for April is, which makes no sense because there are no links to any site on their page. I've seen this sort of thing before and I always assumed it was a DNS glitch misrouting links to my page.
Today, I just saw the most chilling entry in my referrer log. I tried to check the site but it is obviously firewalled from the regular internet. Here is the URL, read it and be afraid, be very afraid:
Think about that for a second. If the FBI is using sequential record numbers, they have computerized files on over 750,000 people, and it appears they're monitoring me. Also consider, we have no idea how high the record numbers go, there could be millions of "suspects."
Update: In the comments, it was suggested that the URL came from a web browser that fakes the referrer. I never heard of such a thing, but I figured it was likely to be a dumb prank like this.

CNN Covers Iowa City Protest

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CNN published a photograph of the protest I just attended.

Iowa City Protest

At the end of this rally, the organizers announced there were over 300 people at this rally, I figure it was closer to 500. But you would never know from this photo, it looks like this guy was the only one there. As usual, the media deliberately distorted the truth.
Ironically, this is a guy I came up to and offered my Biggie 50 marker so he could blacken in his lettering, this picture was taken before we fixed the sign. They picked this guy because he had the scruffiest sign, torn from a cardboard box with the label still attached. CNN is doing everything it can to disparage the protesters and give them a bad image, and make them look like solitary losers.

I Protest

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For the first time in my life, I attended an antiwar protest. I was sitting at home watching CNN, CBS, MSNBC, etc. pumping out war porn, when suddenly a short local news segment came on showing a protest forming in my town. The newscaster scoffed at the protesters, claiming there were only a dozen or so, and that the protest would be unlikely to grow since this is a college town and everyone is on spring break. I immediately decided to join the protest they needed support from everyone they could reach. I quickly took a large sheet of poster board, wrote NO WAR in sumi ink with a large brush, and then splattered it with droplets of red paint that looked like blood. I had to dry the paint with a hair dryer so I could get downtown in a hurry.
I arrived at the protest just as they started to march. As usual, the media lied, there were hundreds of people marching. We marched down the city's main street, forming a line several blocks long. As we marched past the Fire House, I noticed firemen taking photos, so I shouted out "money for firefighters, not war!" and a rousing yell of agreement came from the crowd. The media was in attendance, and many cameras focused on my sign, one of the most graphic in the protest. We reached the main plaza and as we listened to some bad speeches, a crazy veteran in a tattered military jacket assaulted one of the protesters. He was arrested. The military teaches people that every problem has a violent solution. We must stop the military juggernaut, if only for that reason; it teaches people violence and then discharges them back into the populace.
I returned home, and turned on CNN. They were showing helicopter video of protests on Market Street in San Francisco. Aaron Brown was denouncing the protesters for violence, as he replayed the video repeat over and over. But the video clearly showed something else was happening, it was like Brown didn't even look at the video. Protesters were standing in the intersection, shutting down the street. A car forced its way into the crowd, the protesters surrounded it and sat down in front of it. Suddenly, a redneck with a mullet haircut jumped out of the car and started beating on the protesters, they jumped back as he ran after them. Another protester jumped into the car and swiped the guy's car keys. Other protesters did exactly what they are supposed to do, they tried to defuse the situation, they grabbed the protester and took the keys away and gave them back to the angry, violent guy. Then mullet-head started hitting the protesters again. It was sickening, but not as sickening as hearing Aaron Brown describing the protesters as violent. It was the bystanders that were violent, just like the protest I attended.
I read a few Direct Action manuals from militant SF protest groups, and I can immediately see what went wrong. Human bodies alone cannot shut down a major road if you've got nutcases prepared to drive right over the crowd, you need more. What they should have done is drive a car into the middle of the intersection, start a left turn across all lanes, then stop and turn off the key, get out, and raise the hood and fiddle with the engine like you're having car trouble. A few stalled cars separated by a block each, and the whole city is gridlocked.
I could also give a few tips to our local protesters. First, dogs and dense crowds do not mix, leave your dog at home. I heard numerous yipes and yips from dogs as their paws were stepped on by marchers. Second, if you use a bullhorn or amplifier, you must keep the microphone well behind the speaker or you get feedback. Thirdly, nobody can read signs written in 1/4 inch magic markers, get some poster paint and a 2 inch brush, or a Biggie 50. And last of all, if it's cold and damp, give the crowd some rousing speeches with opportunities to yell and clap and stomp, if for no other reason than to keep their bodies moving and warm. Otherwise, they'll drift away.
I stayed to the end of the final speech, and then asked one of the protesters who was attacked what happened and if the guy was arrested. He said, "I hope not, he was just upset." Hell, we're all upset, I would not have been so magnanimous. But I was refilled with pride at the behavior of the peace activists, they were attacked in a most cowardly fashion, attacked from behind when they could not see the approaching blow nor defend against it, and they refused to retaliate. The violent ones are the true cowards.


As a registered Independent voter, I often receive mistargeted political mail. The worst I've received recently was an 8x10 color photo of Bush, with a printed message thanking me for supporting the Republican administration. Aside from my annoyance at the mistargeting, I looked at the photo and it exemplifies everything I detest about Bush and his performance at the podium.


The printing of this photograph is so cheap, it's an offense to anyone who ever touched a printing press, I won't even get started. The persona Bush presents is his downhome Crawford Texas image, with his typical smirk. He's wearing a canvas coat with the words "George W. Bush President" embroidered on the chest. He's using the little podium with the little seal on it, Bush likes to use the baby podium because he thinks it looks informal, but it's obvious he uses it because the big podium with the Great Seal of the President makes him look short, he has to stand on a box. Bush is leaning his elbows on the podium. That's his most annoying mannerism. Bush always leans his elbows on the podium when he's making speeches. First he leans on one side, then the other. He slouches all over the podium like he's a drunk on a barstool. Didn't yore momma never tole you to keep yore elbows offa the table?
I examined the photo with increasing irritation, then I noticed something that made me burst out into laughter. The little podium has a ring of duct tape holding up the locking ring on the bottom. The President's podium is being held up with duct tape.

Censored Again

I was censored again today. On a moderated newsgroup, someone wrote a derisive message, claiming there were only 10 protesters in San Francisco. I posted a link to photos of the Freeper pro-war protest with only 10 people. Here is what he wrote, interleaved with my response in italics:
I think what is funny is the notion that people in the military really give a crap about what home bound pimple poppers think.
FYI: The military is commanded by one civillian: the Commander-in-Chief, who is allegedly a representative of the citizens of the US. He BETTER pay attention to the citizens, or he'll be another 1-term president, just like his daddy.
It has been doctrine since VietNam that the US cannot fight a war that is opposed by a substantial proportion of US Citizens. This is why the US is spending so much time and effort with the UN, i.e. Colin Powell's speech that was not targeted at convincing other countries, instead it was targeted at convincing americans.
There will always be people who carry the weight, and others who sit on their asses reaping the benefit.
There will always be lower and middle class taxpayers who slave at substandard jobs, struggling just to pay their taxes, and sending their sons and daughters into combat, just as there will always rich white fratboys getting deferments and avoiding military service.
There is a name for protests conducted under the protection of the police, local government and the news media - a relaxing day off.
I've been looking for an old book I have, it's called "Resistance" and is a manual for the Swiss Army on how to fight an invasion of Russians. The most interesting part is the section on Soviet doctrine against mass demonstrations. The Sovs channel the demonstrations into "approved" paths, block the alternate routes into and out of the demonstration, and once everyone has arrived at the site, they contain everyone for easy elimination with tanks and machine guns. Except for the firing of weapons, the NYC demo was almost exactly carried out according to Soviet doctrine.
I'd suggest spreading land mines on the streets and firing on the crowds with automatic weapons to assist them in gaining a better sense of reality and balance to the debate, you know, level the playing field.
I haven't heard anything as offensive as that statement except from Ann Coulter. [name removed], you are better than that. This country was founded in dissent, and our form of government is intended to form a consensus out of dissenting factions. What ever happened to "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"...?!?!?
In response, I received this email message informing me that my post had been censored:
At a time like this we have a loyalty and an obligation to support Americans that are preparing to risk their lives for the sake of this country. With that in mind, posts with anti-American commentary are not welcome in the newsgroup. Thanks.
Now I ask you, who is more anti-American, someone who advocates machine-gunning peace protesters, or me?

Dr. Strangelove Says NO to War

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The New York Times just published this astonishing article about a large group of Nobel Prize winners who have signed a petition against the war against Iraq. The list of petitioners includes a significant group of Dr. Strangeloves, the very men who built America's most devastating nuclear weapons. If the President won't listen to Dr. Strangelove, who will he listen too?
Nobel Laureates Sign Against a War Without International Support
Forty-one American Nobel laureates in science and economics issued a declaration yesterday opposing a preventive war against Iraq without wide international support. The statement, four sentences long, argues that an American attack would ultimately hurt the security and standing of the United States, even if it succeeds.
The signers, all men, include a number who at one time or another have advised the federal government or played important roles in national security. Among them are Hans A. Bethe, an architect of the atom bomb; Walter Kohn, a former adviser to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon; Norman F. Ramsey, a Manhattan Project scientist who readied the Hiroshima bomb and later advised NATO; and Charles H. Townes, former research director of the Institute for Defense Analyses at the Pentagon and chairman of a federal panel that studied how to base the MX missile and its nuclear warheads."

Dentists Go To War

A local National Guard unit, the 109th Medical Battalion, has been activated and sent to war. The unit's website proudly proclaims it provides "eschelon [sic] I and II medical support," and makes it seem like these guys are pulling dying soldiers from foxholes on the front lines. But as usual with military people, it's all a big self-aggrandizing lie.
The US Military Field Manual clearly states that Area Support Medical Battalions only provide Echelon II support. This means that in the midst of battle, they sit around the well-fortified base waiting for casualties to arrive. While these units take care of critical casualties, the major ongoing duty of any ASMB is minor medical and dental care for the troops. The 109th is largely composed of dentists, since the local Dental College is considered the best in the world. Napoleon said that an army travels on its stomach, but apparently modern armies travel on their toothbrushes. I appreciate the urgent need for medical care for the soldiers, but somehow I doubt any soldier is going to be struck down in the midst of battle by tooth decay.
Across the USA, whole battalions of dentists, doctors, and nurses are being uprooted from their local jobs and being sent to Iraq. The local hospitals report losing a substantial number of people to military duty, and some vital medical services are now curtailed, particularly at Veterans Administration hospitals. This is essentially a tax on local communities. As more reserve troops are deployed, cities are discovering their citizens are disappearing, no longer producing goods or services, or spending their income, or generating tax revenue.
The irony of this is that the 109th has historically been full of Conscientious Objectors and draft dodgers. During the Vietnam War, many local residents signed up as National Guard reservists with the 109th, in an attempt to avoid the callup. COs were typically assigned to non-battlefield medical units. Even if the 109th had been sent to VietNam (it was not), it was an "HHD," a Headquarters Detatched unit, it would not go into the field. And certainly you wouldn't want COs and draft dodgers in frontline units, you'd want them close to HQ where you can keep an eye on these misfits and malcontents.

Freedom to Fly the Flag

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America's flag has always been freedom's banner, but lately I feel the Stars and Bars does not represent the America of my ideals, or of the Founding Fathers. That flag is the banner of a government that no longer represents its people.
I was particularly struck by a story on showing the Abolitionist Flag of 1859. 20 stars represent the States of the Union, with 4 red and white bars removed for the seceding states from the original 13 colonies.

Abolitionist Flag

This flag represents 20 states standing united against the evils of slavery, in the face of a terrible and heinous war. This banner of freedom from slavery should be the memorial symbol of the Civil War, not the Confederate Flag.
I noticed the 20 stars happened to equal the 20 Blue States in the presidential election of 2000, so I was inspired to create a "Blue Flag" representing the majority of voters that are not represented in the current government. It will now be my site's banner, in the upper right corner of this page.
While researching the flag design, I discovered some very interesting demographic maps from the 2000 election. It is particularly worth noting the Blue States population density concentrated in the northeast US, and the Red States strong in the southern US. It is as if the country is still divided between the industrial North vs the slave-economy South. Did we fight the Civil War for nothing?

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and fiends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or , failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation
God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory--
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside--which the startled minister did--and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts- -fervently prayed silently. And ignorantlyy and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Yankee Go Home!

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I demand an immediate end to the US Military occupation of my TV set. They've garrisoned my TV set for over 10 years, and it is time for them to go home.
Every December, the media is swamped with insipid video clips of military personnel abroad sending greetings to their families in the US. I sincerely doubt their families ever see these clips, they'd have to phone home and tell their families when they will be on TV. That sort of defeats the whole point of these messages. Why don't they just phone, or write a letter, or send a photo or videotape, instead of wasting the public airwaves? With all the news in this world worth covering, they waste time with this? There is nothing particularly newsworthy about the simple fact that American soldiers are posted overseas during the holidays. Yes, it's sad to be away from your loved ones at the holidays, but it is hardly newsworthy. They knew this would happen when they enlisted.
These clips seem to have appeared during the first Gulf War, I don't recall ever seeing them before that time. I suppose the media thought they were helping the morale of the troops, but the clips continued after the war was over, and by now, they've become just another part of the droning militaristic propaganda machine.
It is now January 3rd and the local TV stations are still showing these clips. None of these clips come from soldiers in Afghanistan or the Gulf area, they're all from soldiers in cushy luxury postings like Japan or England. And most of them aren't messages to their family, the soldier usually appears on camera with his family, giving greetings to hometown friends.
Even worse are the obligatory Thanksgiving and Christmas news stories about the troops eating turkey and cranberries inside a tent in a battle zone. I want to see Thanksgiving stories about soldiers eating MREs in a foxhole because they were too busy in a firefight to make it back to camp for a turkey dinner. And I assure you, there are plenty of those stories, but nobody will ever hear them, they're too busy pumping out propaganda about happy little soldiers full of turkey.
Am I the only person on earth who watched Apocalypse Now, and remembers that Kurtz said the US could never win the Vietnam War, they were too soft because they were used to luxuries like beer and steak barbecues, even in a battle zone?

The End of Democracy

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Republicans have stolen control of the Executive Branch, and now they have bullied, lied, and cheated their way into control of the House, the Senate, and the Judicial Branch. There is nothing to stop Republicans from destroying what is left of America.
The Democratic Party leadership is solely to blame for this fiasco. Daschle and Gephardt must GO, they must be removed from any leadership role. DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe should resign and hand the reins of the party to someone who can stand up to Republicans.
Due to the lack of effective Democratic opposition, there is nothing to stop Bush from stacking the Judicial Branch, including the Supreme Court, with right-wing judicial activists. With a majority in both branches of Congress, the Republicans will begin systematically dismantling America, and selling it to Big Money special interests. The Rich will get richer, and the Poor will die.
This is a sad day for America, it marks the beginning of America's slide into tyranny, the beginning of America's destruction. Today, I am ashamed to be an American.

War is Over: Bush Surrenders

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Executive Order Termination of Emergency
"I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that the situation that gave rise to the declaration of a national emergency in Executive Order 13129 of July 4, 1999, with respect to the Taliban, in allowing territory under its control in Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven and base of operations for Usama bin Ladin and the Al-Qaida organization, has been significantly altered given the success of the military campaign in Afghanistan, and hereby revoke that order and terminate the national emergency declared in that order with respect to the Taliban."
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

President-For-Life George W. Bush

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Nixon crony John Dean is writing an amazing series of articles on the constitutional abuses of the Bush administration. His recent article on the possibility of George Bush imposing a Constitutional Dictatorship is positively chilling.

Armageddon Forecasting

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An engineering firm is producing live updated fallout distribution maps. You can see the prevailing wind patterns above potential Pakistani and Indian targets, and where the wind will carry the fallout over 72 hours. Whenever the bombs fall, you can check the live update and see where most of the radioactivity will go. But some of it will end up in your body, even if you live in Antarctica.

Fake Economics

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Ever since that day, I've been reading a continual stream of fake economics statistics like this NYPost story that claims New York City will lose $83 Billion due to the 9/11 disaster. This is a blatant lie. Let me explain a few basic economic facts.
Imagine we own a corner lemonade stand. Our booth is a table and some glassware we bought for $1 at a garage sale. We sell $2 of lemonade a day, and it costs us $1 in materials, so our profit is $1 per day. If the neighbor kid comes over and smashes our stand to bits, our total economic loss is $1. If he comes over and steals our sugar and lemons for that day, our loss is $1. But under no stretch of the imagination is it legitimate to say that since you are out of business, you've just lost $365 for the next year's lost lemonade sales. Nobody ever guaranteed you an income.
The world has surely gone mad when I find myself agreeing with conservative nutcases like Pat Buchanan. He argues that the terrorists will win, and that the US should give them what they want: an end to US support for the corrupt Saudi dictators.

Bob Hope: Robber Baron

Media outlets are gushing about Bob Hope's 99th birthday, they describe him as the goofy comedian we know from his media image, but I know who he really is: a greedy land speculator who raped and pillaged Los Angeles. It is not widely known that Bob Hope is one of the largest single land owners in Los Angeles County and several surrounding counties. Bob Hope has a long history of using his Hollywood profits for land speculation and profiteering, and it made him wealthy beyond your wildest dreams of avarice. And therein hangs a tale, a complex chain of events that destroyed Los Angeles' urban architecture.
California has long been a leader in the world environmental movement. Environmental regulations cover everything from urban planning to gasoline sales. One of the seemingly innocent laws enacted in the mid 1980s mandated a change in the gasoline pump nozzle. In order to cut down on spilled fuel, restrictor nozzles with backflow preventers were required on every gas pump in California. This new nozzle was only able to pump gas about 75% as fast as the old style of nozzle. The gas sales environment changed overnight, smaller stations with 4 or 6 pumps could not pump gas fast enough to remain profitable. Larger gas stations with 8 to 12 pumps were still profitable, and some gas chains decided to retrofit old stations with more pumps in the same space. However, one of the largest chains, Standard Oil, decided to sell the vast majority of their stations in Los Angeles. Standard stations were everywhere, in many ways they are a symbol of California. For example, Ed Ruscha's Standard prints are an icon of California art.


Robert Venturi wrote an influential essay about urban planning called Learning from Las Vegas. Venturi wanted to examine the urban landscape from the viewpoint of the car. He asserted that Los Angeles had a unique form of urban architecture of widely separated locations spanned by surface roads, with a few tall buildings as landmarks to navigate by. He described driving in Los Angeles as analogous to airplane races in the Nevada desert, where old surplus WWII fighter aircraft would race along the ground, making required turns at tall pylons that marked the path. Los Angeles was full of these architectural "pylons" and navigating LA in a car was largely a point-to-point driving experience, like the air races. And along the route were scattered minor landmarks, the gleaming Standard Oil stations to give rest and refueling to the traveller.
But no more. The new nozzles made the stations unprofitable, and Standard sold them in one huge block, one of the largest auctions of urban properties in modern LA history. And Bob Hope bought them. His company, La Mancha Development, immediately set to developing these properties, which were mostly corner gas stations, many in residential neighborhoods.
I remember when the gas stations closed. I lived in Studio City, and stations at both ends of my street were closed. Large signs for La Mancha Development announced that construction would begin soon. All across LA these signs appeared, followed by buildings that were the start of a new wave of architecture that would totally change the LA urban environment: Mini Malls.
In the space of a few short months, gas stations disappeared and mini malls appeared all across LA. Everywhere you went, wherever there used to be a gas station, now there was a mini mall with a convenience store, maybe a tanning salon and a donut store, and a few miscellaneous businesses. The traffic the malls attracted was intense, the old gas stations never had this level of traffic. Mini malls became the places to stop on cross-town drives, displacing traffic patterns into commercial zones adjacent to quiet neighborhoods. Once the mini mall became an established feature of Los Angeles architecture, the city would never be the same.
I won't even go into the further horrors committed by Bob Hope and his company La Mancha Development. Turning LA into a city full of mini malls is horrible enough. But I could easily go on and on, like for example his notorious fight with the LA Nature Conservancy. So I'll just conclude with the reminder that Bob Hope is just another greedy money-grubbing Hollywood scumbag.

Terror Fear

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A couple of days ago I heard something on TV and it's been bothering me ever since. A stock market reporter said, "Stocks dropped today on terror fears." What a strange phrase. Apparently stock buyers were in fear of terror. Or perhaps they were in terror of fear.

Another Fine War

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The hell with Afghanistan, we're at war with Mexico.

George W. Bush is visiting our area today. In a few hours he will be here. But nobody knows quite when. Or if they do know, they're not telling. Security is tight. But not because of the War on Terrorism. It's to keep the protesters away. If nobody knows where he's going to be, there's no way to show up and yell right to his face. Ever since Bush stole the election, the Secret Service is keeping protesters far away where the President can never see them, in violation of their rights to Free Speech. But the protests continue, they will not stop until His Imperial Majesty George II hears the angry voices of The People.

The People have a right to petition their Goverment for redress, even by means of mass protest. If they do not, that government is not for the people nor of the people, and the people must overturn it. We won't forget what you did, George W. Bush, when we vote next election.

MIT Economics Lectures Online


I am particularly impressed by an online Lecture at the MIT Economics Department. Lester Thurow is lecturing on Globalization and the Economic Downturn. Presented in RealVideo (alas, RealPlayer works poorly in MacOSX under Classic).
Thurow is a much more compelling speaker than your usual economics pundit, he's lecturing to MIT Economics students with an attitude of "if you don't know this stuff, people will eat your lunch, and there are people running things right now that don't know this stuff and someone is eating our lunch." Thurow makes some interesting analyses about previous "bubble" cycles, like Tulip Mania or the Gold Rush, and compares it to the dot-com bubble and the state of telecommunications business today. He condemns certain businesses that are marginally profitable during periods of high growth but are massively unprofitable in times of low growth. This is something I used to lecture my bosses about endlessly. They'd proclaim a 20% increase in sales, but when pressed, would admit it only netted a 5% increase in profit. Then sales would dip 5% one month and they'd go deep into the red.
Thurow also has a few harsh comments about the Japanese economic problem. He asserts that the Japanese economy is rotten to the core because it has one legal principle that the USA does not, 2nd-generation mortgages, parents can assume debts that their children must repay. Thurow denounces these loans as indentured servitude, and would be outlawed in the USA as slavery. He asserts Japanese families are burdened with huge debts on homes and real estate, loans taken out when real estate prices were at their peak, and now are devalued to half of the loan's worth. Thurow suggests the only way to solve the economic problems is for the Japanese government to give tax credits to the banks if they'd write down the value of home mortgages and real estate loans by 40%.