Thursday, August 31, 2006

Down goes Rumsfeld! Down goes Rumsfeld!

Keith Olbermann speaks truth to power, then he punches power in the belly, and while power is doubled over, he kicks power in the face. Let's blogswarm this puppy. Front page this bad boy in every corner of the blogosphere.

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Christianity Hijacked! GOP Takes Faith at Gunpoint! Adherents say Ho-Hum! Matthew Spins in His Grave!

“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me 'Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’

The above quotation from Matthew 25:34 represents a central tenet of the Christian faith. A majority of Americans profess belief in Christianity. Among the professed believers is George W. Bush, Resident of the United States of America. So I would ask my Christian friends this:

How can you see the abuse and neglect of the homeless, the naked, the hungry of the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina at the hands of this self professed "Christian" without rising up as one and saying: "This man is not one of us! His actions are not those of a Christian! We repudiate him!"

Any self-respecting, intellectually honest Christian should be demanding a schism, drawing a bold, bright line between those who walk the walk, and those who merely talk the talk. (Yeah, Chimpy, I'm lookin' at YOU!)

When the actions (and omissions) of the Bush Administration are compared to the mandate of Matthew, and denounced from every Christian pulpit between Maine and California, I'll believe that Christianity is something more than a theological karaoke bar, where folks sing the songs and make the moves and pretend to be something much, much more than they really are.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Greece. Monkey.

When I started my truck Friday afternoon, a spectacular cacophony blasted from the engine compartment. Passers-by literally stopped to stare. I knew immediately that my water pump was giving up the ghost. There had been some coolant leakage and some overheating, so I can't say I didn't get fair warning. The screeching, clattering sound was the impeller bearing expressing its reluctance to impel further.

There was a time when my risk-taking nature manifested itself in cross-country hitch-hiking, chemical ingestion and consorting with women of unknown provenance.
Now, I roll the bones by trying to nurse an ailing water pump to the weekend, and then taking my car apart in an effort to fix same without resort to an expensive technician. For some folks, working on the family heap is a hobby. For me, however, it's a scary challenge. Once you've got your engine disabled, you really have no option other than to go forward and able the damn thing. (Well, there's always the $65 dollar tow to a garage, the sheepish admission that you've screwed up your own car, the dismissive sneer of the mechanic, (aka The Guy Who Knows What He's Doing), etc. Well, my ego won't accept that manner of humiliation. I'd rather walk.

Fortunately, replacing the water pump is one of the tasks that can be done without resort to a lift, and my '91 Ford Ranger 4wd has enough ground clearance that I can get under it when necessary. It's not my intention to bore you with a play-by-play of the procedure. My point is that anyone can learn anything. And most of the time, (especially with access to the internets) you can teach yourself what you need to know. There is value in being able to do for oneself. We heat exclusively with wood from our own property. It's more work, but every log I throw into the stove is a great big "fuck you" to Exxon. We recently had the engine and transmission rebuilt in my wife's minivan; a big "fuck you" to Ford and the "buy a new car every three years" contingent. So when you see me covered with grease, or splitting a pile of firewood, don't admire my self-reliance; feel free to assume that I'm just saying "fuck you" to someone.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

No resemblance whatsoever...

I read the news today, oh boy, and I saw that there has finally been an arrest in the Jon Benet Ramsay case. The supposedly confessed killer, John Mark Kerr,(pictured at right) was arrested in Thailand, where he allegedly admitting to killing the little beauty queen, but claimed that her death was the result of an accident.

Reports indicate that Kerr once lived near the Ramsay family in Conyers, Georgia.

Georgia....hmm. That rings a bell. Who else is from Georgia?

Well, of course there's former plagiarist and Jack Abramoff intern Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, but there's no way to confuse these two individuals, who share no resemblance to each other whatsoever....

UPDATE: Another guy from Georgia who looks nothing at all like alleged Baby Beauty Queen killer John Mark Kerr:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

5ive weird things about me.

Blogroll denizen and swell lingo-slinger Blue Wren has tagged me with one of those darn meme thingies whereby you write on a subject and pass it along. The topic du jour is "Five weird things about yourself."

Given the whole objective/subjective problem, it's hard to know what other people would consider weird about oneself, since oneself is normal to oneself, y'know? There are people who are, by any objective standard, weird, in that Michael J. Pollard sort of way. And then, there are those who appear to be normal in every way, but who have a freezer full of skinned cats in the basement. Still others embrace weirdness as a pathetic way of attracting attention to themselves. See, e.g., this asshole, or Stevie Nicks.

Compared to the truly weird, I'm pretty normal; compared to the truly normal, I'm pretty weird. Here, therefore, are five things about me that are weirder than normal.

1.) I'm incredibly lucky. Always have been. I've shot a hole-in-one on a regulation golf course, I've been on Jeopardy, I had an incredibly self-indulgent career doing exactly what I wanted to do (i.e., sex, drugs and rock & roll), followed by a second career as a responsible adult citizen and Officer of the Court. I have literally spanned the gamut from jester to judge. And it's just a matter of time until I win the Powerball lottery. I know this for a fact.

2.) I don't get sick. This ties in with Number 1, because there's no reason on earth that I shouldn't be in intensive care on a regular basis. I smoke like a locomotive and my ideal meal includes bacon, eggs and cheese. Combined with a 20 year history of enthusiastic drug abuse, I should be in a box today. But I don't even get colds. I get a headache about once a year. I don't remember the last time I vomited.

3.) I don't believe in God, the devil or the Boogeyman. Another thing that seems perfectly normal to me, but which puts me on the statistical fringe of society. And which leads to.....

4.) I'm not afraid to die. Remember last night, about 10 minutes after you fell asleep? Me, neither, but it wasn't particularly scary. I have no fantasies about floating around as a spirit, wishing I was still alive or roasting in a fiery pit, wishing I had sent money to one of those TV Christopaths. It will be just like being asleep. I'll never wake up, and I'll never be aware that I haven't awakened. I will cease to be. No big deal.

5.) I was born in West Virginia, with a birthmark shaped like the state of West Virginia. I dunno, maybe this should have been #1. Some are born weird, some achieve weirdness, others have weirdness thrust upon them.

Consider yourself tagged.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sharpen ye pitchforks, light ye torches!

As always, the esteemed Driftglass serves up a tall, cool, refreshing pitcher of Shut The Fuck Up to Bobo Brooks in his latest screed. (If you're not reading Drifty every day, you're in danger of missing out on the Minimum Daily Requirement of Polemic Acid.)

And as often happens, brilliance begets brilliance. I refer to a comment by a reader named Alyssa, which I take the liberty of reproducing, in pertinent part, here:

I was thinking the other day about the 'torches and pitchforks' concept and thinking that really the blogosphere is the equivalent. People don't have pitchforks anymore, we plebes are no longer mostly farmers. We have our seemingly petty weaponry, but wielded en masse it suddenly becomes more than a little concerning for the Powers That Be. What other pitchforks do we have lying around that we haven't considered, I wonder?

Isn't this the perfect metaphor for the netroots? Arent we all wielding pitchforks made by Dell, Gateway, Apple, HP, whatever? Don't we fire up the torch of DSL or CableModem each and every day? Isn't this what the dazzling (and delightfully offensive)Bobby Lightfoot Memorial Political Activism Knowledge Repository is all about? Grabbing our microprocessor pitchforks and our broadband torches and coming together as (well, why not say it) an angry mob?

I'm beginning to embrace my anger, because all of the alternatives are unsatisfactory. Bemused intellectual detachment? What foppery! Bipartisan bridge-building? Gutless cowardice in my book. Read your history. The partisans lived in thatched cottages and listened for instructions on secret radios hidden in coffe cans and whatnot. The real partisans blew up bridges, they didn't build them. And then there's fear.....

Let's talk about fear for a moment, in the context of the War on Terror. Terrorism is not designed to gain control of territory, or to eliminate the ability of an enemy to defend or respond. Terrorism works because it so completely accomplishes what it is intended to accomplish; it creates fear.

Dead bodies and flattened buildings are not the ultimate goal of the terrorist; their ways and means cannot kill or destroy enough people and places to make a statistical difference. 2,752 people were killed in the terror attacks of 9/11/01. You are far more likely to die in a traffic accident, or as a result of severe weather, or due to bad dietary habits, than you are to die as a result of terrorism. But we do not have a color-coded scale to tell us how afraid we should be of cars, or storms, or food.

The recent "plot" to blow up planes flying between London and the US (which apparently involves explosives made from soft drinks and peroxide) is all over the news. People are required to discard their toothpaste before boarding planes.

Brothers and sisters......they've got us afraid of fucking toothpaste.

And when I say "they", of course, I'm referring to the Bush Administration. Fear is their tool, their weapon, their friend. They are using fear to cower the populace. They are engaging in terrorism against the American people. No, they aren't blowing up office buildings, but as noted above, that's not the objective of terrorism. The objective of terrorism is to create fear among the civilian populace, and that is what they have done and that is what they continue to do. When a suicide bomber blows up a candy store, he is engaging in high level terrorism from a low-level platform; when Bush, or Cheney, or Lieberman, or Hannity invoke boogeymen such as Osama bin Laden, or Ned Lamont, or Markos Moulitsas, they are engaging in low-level terrorism from a high-level platform. The only valid metric by which we can compare the two is by calculating the number of people they frighten. And many, many Americans are frightened enough to vote Republican.

Roosevelt said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." The fear-mongers in Washington and in the media are whipping up a fresh batch of fear every goddamn day. We have to take them on one frightened neighbor at a time. Make an effort to ease the fear of a Republican voter today. Tell them it's going to be OK. Remind them that America is strong. We weren't afraid of the British in 1776, we weren't afraid of the Nazis in 1944, and we have nothing to fear but the fears that are implanted in us. Some kid with a bottle of Sierra Mist is not coming to Minneapolis, or Indianapolis, or Gallapolis, or Kannapolis to kill us. Take them by the hand as you would a small child, and alleviate their fear. Tell them to suck it up and be as brave as their fathers and mothers, their grandfathers and grandmothers. Tell them to quit being such a bunch of fucking pussies. Tell them "Fuck Fear!" And remind them that millions of their fellow Americans, armed with pitchforks and torches, will protect them.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Call me a sick fuck, but this cracks me up....

Burt Bacharach Geico commercial

I was hit in the rear.......
Lizard licks his eyeball.....
I hope I'll never get hit in the reeeeeear.....again.....

Pure comedy gold. Is Burt high, or did he have a stroke, or is he just delightfully goofy?

Friday, August 04, 2006

What comes after "clusterfuck"?

Associated Press - August 4, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” marched through the streets of Baghdad’s biggest Shiite district Friday in a show of support for Hezbollah militants battling Israeli troops in Lebanon.

"Hundreds of thousands." "Death to America." Does anyone think Iran wasn't behind this demonstration? Because a "demonstration" is exactly what it is. It demonstrates that the gossamer government in Iraq can be blown to the four winds at the time of Iran's choosing. Remember, Shiites are in the majority in Iraq, and are joined at the hip with Iran. These hundreds of thousands are a small fraction of the people to whom the current Iraqi regime are accountable....and the people are getting a little testy. Any Shiite politician in Iraq who continues to bed down with the Americans is now on notice.

I'm not a sunny optimist under the best of circumstances, but this scares the shit out of me. Clear the embassy roof and gas up the Hueys. We haven't a friedman to spare. I give it another month before the whole place goes up for grabs, and while the Codpiece Administration has apparently gotten away with losing an entire American metropolis, a Katrina-style evacuation from the Green Zone will not cut the mustard.