Friday, June 29, 2007

A Report From the Afterlife?

I think I may have had a vision of Hell last evening. This remarkable event took place during the brief time I was home between my return from the day job and my departure for Vacation Bible School (where one of my fellow congregants mentioned to me that her husband often refers to the week of VBS as "hell week"). I won't try to deny that I effectively invited this terrifying vision. As I was sorting out my gym bag, depositing some fragrant socks and shorts and towel and so on in the dirty-clothes basket and replacing them with the corresponding clean items for this morning's use, I turned on the television set -- or, as my friend Ron likes to call it, the magic-talkin'-Satan-box -- and, on MSNBC, I caught some of "Hardball." Now, that's as bad as my vision of Hell gets, but it's quite bad enough. I mean: just imagine being condemned to spend eternity watching a discussion between Christopher Hitchens and the Reverend Al Sharpton, "moderated" by the amazingly-rabid Chris Matthews, all held outdoors in what appeared to be some wilting heat, before a crowd of howling youthful persons. I suppose that in real Hell, the viewer would be strapped to a chair with his head clamped facing the screen and his eyelids clipped open, a la Little Alex in A Clockwork Orange. But a vision isn't quite the full, real thing.

I wanted to link to a transcript, but there doesn't seem to be one available yet. When it is (Saturday, 6/30, maybe?), you can find it here.

But there they were: Mr. Sharpton in all his ebony incoherence and idiot's perfect confidence; Mr. Hitchens looking every bit the debauched Britisher enduring a death-dealing hangover in the dreary Colonies, sweating out partially-processed Beefeater's Gin and squinting out the broiling sun; and Mr. Matthews, looking as if he were pining away for just one more snootful of Fred Thompson's delicious cigars-and-Aqua-Velva Daddy-smell, keeping things stupid as he does so well.

Maybe what I saw wasn't Hell; maybe it's the future. In that case:

"I have seen the future, and it don't work."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Scriptoid Time

I see that my heroine and role model Grace Nearing's been on fire this week. Let's see: we've got a brilliant excerpt from Matt Taibbi; we've got some vintage Freeptardia; we've got (M)Ann Coulter; we've got Da Prez; and we've got Da Vice-Prez, better known to his not-shot-in-the-face-yet friends as "Dick."

With all of that going for you, why are you still here? Go read Grace.

Libertarian Megatent Teratent

In a comment on the previous post, Jeff Pruitt alerted me to one of the Historic Slate of Historic Libertarian Party Candidates for Fort Wayne City Council, historically selected at the historic county convention of the Libertarian Party of Historic Allen County. The history-making details can be read at this historic post.

Jeff referred me to this post at Fort Wayne Left. There you'll find a link to this post by one of the historic Ell Pee candidates, one Gloria Diaz. I sniffed around the rest of her blog a little, to see if the linked post is generally representative of her work, or if she merely had a sudden bout of Tourette's one day. While I can't say I exactly scoured her archives, my impression is that it's mostly the same. Amazing, indeed.

So, here's a friendly and sincere question for those associated with the Allen County LP. I'm really curious -- really! -- and I'd be interested in your responses. What would it take to disqualify a prospective big-L Libertarian candidate here in Allen County? Is there any stench that the clothespin on your nose won't take care of? Or is your tent SO big that it just basically isn't there at all?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Should I Be the Only Queasy One?

I generally try to avert my eyes from the sorry state of "official" libertarianism (i.e., Republicans in drag) these days. Sometimes the local train wreck gets pretty spectacular, though. Check this out, and this, too.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Osama's Indispensable Ally: Dubya

Why assume our government is incompetent? Who knows -- maybe they're actually trying to nurture the emerging crop of terrorists? Check it out:
The civilian death toll in Iraq is, by all accounts, frightful. Car bombs enact a terrible toll, and this is widely covered by the press almost every day. But civilians who die at the hands of American troops get much less attention. There are many reasons for this. The incidents are widely scattered and usually do not involve large numbers at one time. The U.S. military rarely admits wrongdoing -- in some cases, it may not even know that anyone has died. The media, amid horrible violence, has trouble investigating.

But a recent episode involving a single casualty has drawn unusual attention – only because the youth happened to be the son of a Los Angeles Times employee in Baghdad.

Tina Susman told the story last Tuesday in the L.A. Times. The boy was 17, but she did not name him, nor identify the father.

Susman, the paper’s Baghdad bureau chief, wrote, “U.S. military officials say troops are trained to avoid civilian casualties and do not fire wildly. Iraqis, however, say the shootings happen frequently and that even if troops are firing at suspected attackers, they often do so on city streets where bystanders are likely to be hit. Rarely is it possible to confirm such incidents. In this case, the boy was the son of a Los Angeles Times employee, which provided reporters knowledge of the incident in time to examine it. Witness and military accounts of the shooting offered a rare look into how such killings can occur.”

She revealed that since February, stringers for the newspaper across Iraq have reported at least 18 incidents of American troops firing wildly with at least 22 noncombatants killed. Surely this only scratches the surface, as Walter Pincus observed yesterday in a Washington Post article on the “solatia” or condolence payments that I have often written about. Thousands of such payments have been made by the U.S.

Susman noted that in most cases the wild firing occurs after an IED or car bomb goes off (as happened most tragically in Haditha).

She graphically recounted the testimony of a man named Abu Mohammed who owned a shop where the youth ran for help after getting shot. "I was hesitant to open the door because I was afraid that the American soldiers would shoot me dead," he said, recalling when the boy began beating on his door. Even as he let the boy in and helped him to the floor, he said, troops kept firing.

"They were confused and angry and suspecting anyone around," Mohammed said. "If a bird had passed by, they would have shot it."

The U.S. military said troops fired in self-defense.
If the War Party were trying to recruit for Al-Qaeda, could they possibly do a better job than they're already doing? If so, how?

On second thought, I shouldn't suggest that Dubya is indispensable in his capacity as Mr. bin Laden's ally and recruiting agent. After the Crawford Caligula is long gone, I'm sure that whichever of the famous senatorial duo -- Obama or Clinton -- succeeds him will continue the project in a fine and workmanlike manner.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I will cheerfully admit that I don't get exercised about the appropriate things. The things that get normal people excited aren't the things that do it for me. Normal people, I know from my online reading, experience despair and the urge to give up on their fellow man when they hear about fundamentalists and upland Tennessee aborigines -- Hoosiers, even! -- who fail to accept Holy Evolution. Doesn't bother me a bit; in fact, if by "accepting it" one means thinking that life on the planet is the result of a random incidence of abiogenesis a zillion or so years ago, well, I don't believe that stuff either.

But I have my own odd science buttons, always there and waiting to be pushed. The local Professional Journalist Frank Gray pushed one today:
A few days ago an obscure item showed up in the news.

A company in India was going to start mass producing an air-powered car made of lightweight fiberglass. It would top out at 68 mph and travel up to 125 miles on one pump-up.

Bob Manor of Salamonia in Jay County must feel at least a little bit vindicated on hearing that. The car, if it does go into production next year, would prove that the idea Manor first came up with 39 years ago and has been struggling to perfect since then wasn’t a crackpot notion.

We first wrote about Manor almost seven years ago. He had a working model – a very ugly working model – of an air-powered car that was fueled by big torpedo-like tanks that held air compressed to about 45 pounds per square inch.

Manor had converted an old gasoline engine to run on compressed air, and had even tinkered with attaching compressors to the wheels so that as the car ran, it would refill the compressed air tanks.

The problem was money and expertise.
Well, no, the problem isn't money, nor is it expertise. The problem is freakin' thermodynamics, boys! But, by all means, let us continue:
In the past few days, Manor has been testing the rebuilt air car, running it through drills while it sits stationary in his garage. He’d like to take it out on the road eventually and give it a test run. But he’s nervous about doing that.

“If the government and oil companies find out you have a new form of energy, watch out,” Manor says. “You know what happened in South Carolina.”

In Charlotte, N.C., a man who converted his diesel car to run on vegetable oil reclaimed from restaurants was fined $1,000 by the state for not paying fuel taxes. Manor is afraid he’ll get slammed similar penalties if he hits the road with a car that runs on air.

Manor hasn’t received much encouragement. He did find two engineers willing to look at what he’d created, one from Ball State and one from the University of Dayton.

One estimated the truck could travel three-quarters of a mile. The other said he thought it would be able to travel 50 feet on a charge of air.

At 82, why listen to them? One of these days Manor will take his air-powered truck out and see for himself.

And that will probably be the end of it.

“I’m ready to hang it up,” he said. “Money controls everything.”
Ah, yes, money. I know just what he means. Why, a few years ago, I was all set to become the dominant center in the NBA, totally embarrassing all those millionaires with my stumpy, five-foot-eight bod. But I knew it was too dangerous to do it ... that players' association would disappear me in a heartbeat. Money controls everything.

"Liberal education" sounds like a great idea. We should try it sometime. If education were a bit more liberal, which is to say a bit more comprehensive, it might be that a lot less foolishness would ever see print. But meanwhile ...
One of these days, as we said, he’ll take his truck on a test run and see what happens. He’s promised to call when he’s done.
Don't hold your breath while you wait, Frank.

Sharing With You

Why should I be the only one feeling rage tonight? Rage isn't pleasant. I want to share with you. Just follow this link and read it all. I won't excerpt it here ... just another workaday police "tasing" of a non-criminal citizen who seemingly said a word too many when it was heel-clickin' time.

Don't neglect to look at the comments left on the guy's post by some cop-ass-kissin' sheeple. If some of that doesn't get you hot, check and make sure you've still got a pulse.

Yes, yes, I'm sure there's some decent cops left. A few, anyway. But -- like soldiers, sailors, and airmen -- they'd best get the hell out and find a decent way to make a living. They are employed by criminal organizations, and that's all there is to it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wicked Ingratitude

These primitive people ... so irrational, so ungrateful, so recalcitrant. Didn't Our Genius Chickenhawk Weasel President already explain to them that their highest aspiration is duh-mocracy? Didn't he make it clear, 'way back in late '01, that current Western political fashions -- including, most definitely, Respect for the Rights of Wimmyn -- are fully mandatory everywhere in the world? You would think, then, that those Afghani wimmyn would be properly on board with the GWOT. But noooooooooo:
Each time the old woman breathed out you could hear a small groan of pain as she sat, her head in one hand, her other shoulder shattered by shrapnel and fixed in a coarse plaster.

Her son Mohammad and his wife Khwara sat next to her - they were mourning the death of their 18-year-old son and her brother.

Both were among 57 killed - almost half of them women and children - when American forces bombed their village in Shindand, western Afghanistan, and destroyed 100 homes.

"The bombardments were going on day and night," said Mohammad Zarif Achakzai, who had to flee their mud house in the Zerkoh Valley.

"Those who tried to get out somewhere safe were being bombed. They didn't care if it was women, children or old men."

Khwara explained how it started: "Americans came to the village without consulting any elders," she said.

"They just came into to the women's part of the house, so we women went to the elders, and we told them if you don't stop this, we women will stand against them."

Remembering what happened she began to get angry: "Death to America," she shouted. "Death to the America that killed my son."
I'm sure that when these tribal primitives again raise the hand of ingratitude and terror against us -- their benefactors! -- we'll spend a few minutes being all hurt 'n' confused about why they hate us. Then, no doubt, we'll remember that they hate us because we're so good and free and all.

And start filing our bloody claws again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Inspiration Leads to Imitation

I was inspired by looking in at Reverent and Free and playing the Bob Marley video, "Heathen," that Craig has posted there. Check it out. And then, if you enjoyed Bob Marley, have a listen to Joseph "Culture" Hill with a live performance of "Wings of a Dove." Very mellow ...

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's Never Our Bad

I don't mean to pick on Senator Levin in particular -- fun though it is. He isn't the only one saying stuff like this:
Democrats, including panel chairman Sen. Carl Levin, say U.S. troops should begin to pull out of Iraq to put pressure on the Iraqis to take more responsibility and make political agreements that could help calm sectarian violence. Republicans have opposed a firm withdrawal deadline, although several say their patience is wearing thin.

Last month, Bush signed war spending legislation that — for the first time in the four-year war — conditioned U.S. aid for the Iraqis on Baghdad's ability to meet certain milestones.

When pressed by Levin on whether the U.S. should do more to pressure the Iraqis, Lute said Baghdad is already keenly aware that they have a "golden opportunity" afforded to them and that time is running out. But with the Iraqi government up and running for only about a year, Lute said there are limits to what it can do.

"I think that this isn't solely a question of leverage," said Lute.

Committee members signaled their support for Lute's nomination, but questioned his assessment that applying more leverage might not work. They also questioned whether the new job would make a difference in Iraq.

"How much more time should we give after four years in Iraq?" asked Levin, D-Mich.

"Baghdad is burning while the Iraqi politicians avoid accepting responsibility for their country's future," he added. "I believe the only chance to get Iraqi politicians to stand up is when they know we are going to begin to stand down."
Senator Levin is saying the same thing as virtually every prominent person who'd like to get shut of Iraq, whether of the Democratic persuasion ("what a great stinking albatross to tie around the necks of the GOP for our political gain in '08!") or the Republican ("damn, I don't want this stinking albatross tied 'round my neck for my Democratic opponent's political gain in '08!"). What the great consensus is saying, if I may summarize, is: Those (shiftless / towelheaded / childlike / recalcitrant / tribal) Iraqis aren't like us. They don't want a liberal democracy. They don't know how to log-roll and compromise. Just look at the situation: we got rid of Evil Hitler Stalin Mussolini Pol Pot Beelzebub Saddam Hussein for them, and four years later, they're still killing us and each other and our "Iraqi" collaborator, sock-puppet "government" is going on vacation when they're supposed to be meeting our demands and benchmarks and stuff. That's why we need a different policy: because their swarthy-brown butts aren't worth the pain and trouble they're causing us, and by golly, our patience is (worn thin / not unlimited / at an end).

My country will not cease to throw its weight around internationally until we Americans face a few unpleasant things. A few "inconvenient truths," so to speak. One is that "Iraq" is the fairly recent invention of the Western powers. Another is that the late Beelzebub Saddam Hussein was our employee until a relatively short time ago, and the current state of Iraq (smoking crater merged with slaughterhouse floor merged with toxic waste dump) resulted from the incredibly violent process by which we fired our minion. Iraq doesn't work because we wrecked it, and because we murdered some vague number in the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who happened to live there. Iraq, as welded together by the British, won't "work" as a country without a Saddam operating some kind of machinery of repression. Whoever gets rid of a working Saddam has to take his place, and we have done so; we certainly have a palace there, and Abu Ghraib didn't close; it continues under new management. At the same time, we aren't running the place nearly as efficiently as Saddam did; it's still a crap-hole where stuff doesn't work, and we seem to have rather tenuous control of the "Green Zone" of Baghdad and little else. To the limited extent that nations can usefully be personified, America is the rapist and Iraq is the victim. Our stay-the-course folk (that would be, I guess, Gee-Dub, "Psycho" McCain, and basically nobody else) say we need to keep rapin' that bitch until she agrees that it was good for her, too. The Conventional Consensus (represented, let's say, by Sen. Levin) says, let's set a time (not now, of course!) to quit raping this one, because she's never going to have the gratitude to say that it was good for her, too ... but as far as this other ho' over here -- Iran -- is concerned, well ... all options are on the table, heh heh.

I wish that America had the national capability to look at the situation in Iraq and say, We're leaving right away; we have wronged you very badly, and we recognize that we can't, in fact, clean up the mess we made. We see that every additional day we're here is simply one more day of death and destruction for both you and us -- mostly you, of course. We acknowledge our guilt, but the best we can do now is to go home and promise never to do this again.

I don't know how such a capability is acquired. I pessimistically suspect it involves having our own country thoroughly invaded, conquered, and devastated. I surely hope there's an easier way.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Takin' Care of Bidness

Grace has an excellent post up today, concerning the Wee Emperor and The Base:
Bush's enthusiasm for reckless privatization, ruinous tax cuts, tort reform, potentially catastrophic deregulation, fierce protection of energy interests, and dubious faith-based programs was already in evidence in Texas, as was his well intended but askew passion for education "reform." And he was always a genuine and tearful sucker for immigrant success stories, as well as an astute appreciator of the importance of cheap and unregulated immigrant labor for key business sectors.

So why the shock and wailing among conservatives in particular and Republicans in general about Bush's immigration stance, his support of the expanded Medicare prescription drug program, and his willingness to run huge deficits and debt? I guess they didn't look at his record.

Backlash conservatives and the Christian Right never looked much beyond Bush's born-againisms, his antichoice stance, and his longtime role as "a professional derider of the sixties."** Like them, he hated experts, real and imagined coastal elites, and dirty fucking hippies. Praise the Lord.

But Backlash Conservatives also fear the Vermination of America, and worse vermin than dirty fucking hippies, Michael Moore, and Cindy Sheehan are illegal aliens, especially those coming up through the Mexican border.

Well, competing political interests collided and push came to shove.

Dubya took care of bidness.

Surprise, surprise, surprise.
As I wrote before, I probably disagree with Grace about more things than not; and I'm pretty skeptical about her catalog of Bush's enthusiasms; apart from some purely throwaway talk, Gee-Dub's only demonstrated enthusiasm has been for the shedding of blood. His enthusiasm -- nay, his passion -- for running the war machine surely leaves little room for any competing interests. Grace reminds us, though, of the Decider's transcendance of ideology, as traditionally understood. He is going to amnestize (is that a word? well, it is now, as far as I'm concerned) all them Met-sicans ... and it has not a single thing to do with liberalism, or conservatism, or libertarianism, any more than it has to do with Free Silver. If you want a name-brand frame of reference in which to understand Dubya, Marxism might work better than most. It's a class thing. Dubya knows, without having to think about it -- it's bred in the bone -- that things go better when there's an ample supply of cheap labor. The cheaper, the better. An abundance of semi-underground illegals keeps wages low for the whole lower class, foreign and domestic alike. In the short term (the only term there is for most Americans), this is good for most kinds of "bidness." It's also very good for those who prefer not to overpay for nannies, maids, gardeners, and pool boys.

It doesn't make Bush a lib'rul. It doesn't make him a Democrat. It just makes him a loyal member of his class, that's all. What's the fuss about, anyway?

As for you Republicans who are now all cruelly disillusioned: you were determined to get your war on, at any cost. So just add this to the cost ... and be quiet for a little while, OK?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Uh-Oh ...

Hey, I thought the Little Emperor said we'd have to leave Iraq before the turr'sts could "follow us home." So what's going on? Have the legions been recalled, in secret?

And, now that the Great Existential Threat to the United State has been shown to emanate from the previously-unidentified Fourth Point on the Axis of Evil -- Trinidad -- does that mean that the legions will be "redeployed" southward?

Does Trinidad have oil? (I dunno, but Venezuela sure does.) Of course, these places are likely to remain uninvaded, unless the Knesset decides otherwise.