Thursday, January 27, 2005

‘Time Bomb’



The biggest travesty in President Bush’s “war on terror” (besides his infatuation with Iraq) is that the true terrorists — not just the ones who are terrorists naturally but those who actually attacked or helped attack our country — are getting away with it.

In the “war on terror” just how high up on the priority list was Saddam Hussein and Iraq? Did anyone read a history book on the region? Did anyone care?

Are we truly fighting a “war on terror”?

North Korea, for instance (part of the “Axis of Evil”), which went nuclear on President Bush’s watch, continues making nuke bombs without much more than lip service from the administration. There is much speculation — justifiably — that the lunatic who runs the country might sell some of these nukes to terror organizations.

Most of the 911 hijackers were Saudi Arabian and that “kingdom” continues its support and financing for terror while, every now and again, shooting or “catching” some of its own citizens to appease Bush. We call Saudi Arabia an “ally.” But by its actions, rhetoric and deeds… whose “ally” are they?

And… let’s not forget Osama, the head guy responsible for the 911 attacks. Everyone knows he is in western Pakistan but the Pakistani government (a military dictatorship and “close friend” of the United States) continues to play hide-and-seek on capturing him every time we declare “we are on the hunt.”

The nation terror-state of Iran, next to Saudi Arabia’s funding, is the worst of the terror lot. Iran is not only connected to many prolific terror organizations but actually supplies many foot soldiers and “martyrs” for the cause, as they are now able to do in Iraq.

Upon US investigation it was Iran that turned out to be the terror state that facilitated much of the 911 plotting. It is Iran that has declared the “destruction of Israel” to be one of its prime objectives. It is Iran that continues to aid the insurgents in Iraq to undermine our efforts there.

And… it is Iran that now has a nuclear program, with which it hopes to further destabilize the region by producing nuclear weapons to put on top of all those long-range missiles they’ve tested over the years.

In comparison to Iran… Saddam Hussein and Iraq were minor players in the terrorism game, as many knew beforehand and many have learned since (although Bush hasn’t). Now we have to accomplish two goals where one might have sufficed before.

But, it really isn’t that simple. We are now involved in a high-wire act without much of a net on which to land if we fall. We have uncorked the genie from the bottle, so to speak.

Iraq also has a history and volatility that only those ignorant of history could dismiss. Cobbled together by the British after WWI Iraq has only remained a “country” by tight-fisted control. This is because the three cultures that inhabit this “country” are all religiously and diametrically opposed to each other. There is no worse place on Earth to attempt to build a “democracy.”

But nobody in America has been told this information.

President Bush has actually convinced many Americans that there is an “Iraqi people.” There isn’t. What is really true is that there is an Arab and Sunni Muslim population that hates the ethnically Persian and Shia population and that BOTH of these populations hate the Kurdish population. All three of these populations are heavily armed.

Add to this mess both Turkey and Iran who not only are against any sort of autonomy for the Kurds (because both countries have a chunk of what used to be “Kurdistan”) and that both Turkey and Iran are wary of each other… and you’ve not got a “democracy” but the beginnings of a region-wide conflict that can only be resolved by much bloodshed, and which likely will not be resolved in a good way.

We are not actually helping the “Iraqi people” build a “democracy.” What we are really doing is trying to create an “Iraqi people.”

Suffice to say that President Bush has not fought a “war on terror” in Iraq but has poured gasoline (pun intended) onto a fragile storehouse of fireworks and then… given matches to all involved.

And… how’s that “war on terror” going anyway?

Since before and after President Bush’s inaugural address many have noted the change in rhetoric from the administration. The words “terror” and “terrorists” have been toned down and words like “tyranny” and “freedom” have been substituted… especially in the inaugural speech.

Since Iran is inching closer to actually producing the nuclear weapons it desires to have many have concluded that the change in rhetoric from the White House is designed with Iran in mind.

In fact, Dick Cheney mentioned this past week that, perhaps, Israel might take matters into its own hands concerning Iran… much the way it did when Iraq built (with the help of the French) its own nuclear power plant with weapons-grade plutonium being the goal.

What cannot be denied by anyone is that someone will have to deal with the terror-state of Iran sooner rather than later, ‘lest they produce their first nuclear bomb.

The Israelis may need to do so themselves (the only nation that has ever truly fought a “war on terror”), although this effort will, no doubt, be trickier than the Iraq nuke plant because the Iranians have built much of the project underground, near residential areas and also scattered it over a wide area.

Perhaps the Israelis can take out Iran’s nuke project with the aid of the United States but there is a drawback there; a joint US-Israeli effort would draw the condemnation and ire of the entire world and possibly set off a wider conflict.

None of this, however, would be the problem it is if we weren’t in Iraq, an effort which, if anything, has actually done more to set back the goals established in our “war on terror” and bog down our resources in order to “locate weapons of mass destruction,” “fight terrorism,” “free the Iraqi people,” or “establish a democracy in the Middle East,” take your pick.

We could continue to thump our chests, sacrifice our troops and believe, as the administration wants us to believe, that our efforts in Iraq are “fighting terrorism” or “putting the terrorists on the run” but this is ridiculous. What we are actually doing is setting the stage for the Full Monty in a region-wide conflict and enabling the terrorists.

Meanwhile…

Iran, Saudi Arabia — and every terror organization they support — North Korea, Syria (also meddling in Iraq) and Osama’s Al Qaeda continue their efforts collectively and separately while we attempt (lately) to “establish a democracy” with the separate, tribal and historically violent theocracies in Iraq.

As many say, “taking out Saddam was good.” This is true, although it should have been done much earlier, separate from the “war on terror” and with the regional consequences in mind.

It’s a real shame that the American people are susceptible to and influenced by simplistic themes and sell-lines. It’s a crime that the Bush Administration has fed that bad habit with deception and an ignorance of the facts to further whatever its motives are in the “nation” of Iraq.

Actually, we haven’t “taken out” the real terrorists at all. In fact, we are “allied” with a couple of them and have not confronted others. Where we have done some good is in Afghanistan. But even that country’s progress is on the backburner as the Iraq quagmire escalates and threatens to grow larger.

The reasons the administration gave and is giving for invading Iraq have changed so many times we are now several spaces removed from anything resembling a “war on terror.”

Where our national security was concerned — and should have been our ONLY and selfish concern after 911 — we are now allowing the true and most dangerous of the terrorists and terror-supporting countries to continue plotting against us while we are off-track nation-building in Iraq.

Bush said of all nations, concerning the neglected “war on terror,” “You are either with us or against us.” But what has actually been his practice is that countries can choose to be BOTH.

After the coming multi-nation conflict and the inevitable failure of “democracy” in Iraq the main players in terrorism will have advanced their capabilities (unless Israel helps against Iran) and we will have sacrificed much treasure in a horrid and nasty place that should have been the least of priorities in our “war on terror.”

This effort in Iraq — whatever the real reason or goal — may ultimately prove itself to be one of the biggest and most dangerous blunders in American history.

Call it whatever you want to… a “war on terror,” “freedom for the Iraqi people,” a “democracy.” Call the Iraq experiment whatever you desire in the face of those who call it what it actually is: A “quagmire.”

As Dick Cheney enjoys saying…

“You can put lipstick on a pig… but it’s still a pig.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

‘Dirty Money’



Well… it’s official. I now have 2nd thoughts about slamming Bush so much in my writing.

If only I were syndicated… I might have been able to secure some funding from the Bush Administration for writing things in support of its policies. Imagine if I were syndicated AND actually supported any of the administration’s policies.

I could make a killing.

If I also did not have a face for radio I could go on television and sway my dedicated readership toward the president’s point of view on an issue and claim thousands in federal tax dollars from the Bush team.

But, then, while I DO have opinions, I don’t have the best head on money matters. I’d also probably do something stupid and let my principles get in the way of supporting the president’s policy. So… I wouldn’t ever get to be on the secret payroll in the first place.

You may remember that, a few weeks back, it was discovered that syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to promote the president’s No Child Left Behind law by the Department of Education. Mr. Williams wrote in support of the law and went on television to pontificate in support of the law.

Unbeknownst to any of his dedicated readers (and most everyone else) Mr. Williams was being paid directly by the Department of Education for doing so — with your tax dollars — and in addition to his salary from the syndication and papers he writes for.

Mr. Williams subsequently apologized and said he “regrets” the decision. He kept the money but not his newspaper column.

For some reason what Williams did is considered “unethical” by those in his trade but, at the same time, nothing he did or anything the administration did is considered to be “illegal.”

The whole story seemed to die down a bit after a week or so. But, now… it’s happened again.

Now it’s been discovered, uncovered… revealed… that syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, who repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families, was paid $21,500 in a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal.

This is an unseemly practice by the administration (one of many). Not even taking into account the sleazeball columnists who take money behind the backs of their readers to promote items on the president’s agenda, while feigning an educated objectivity.

Let’s forget about them for a moment.

These are YOUR tax dollars going toward this underhanded effort by the administration… which can’t seem to accomplish anything at all unless it is based on a lie, a deception, or a stacked deck of some kind.

One wonders if the scandal goes even deeper; have newspapers been paid directly by the administration to write slanted stories aimed at enhancing the Bush team’s prospects on other issues?

How many other columnists, journalists, editorial desks and television anchor chairs have been paid off with your tax dollars to influence the masses toward favoring other Bush initiatives?

Will we find out next that Shepard Smith or John Gibson have favored the president’s proposals in stories they cover because they are being paid secretly by one of the departments in Bush’s cabinet?

Further: Will this “unethical” practice, concerning columnists who shilled for the Bush Administration, be covered up by others in the media and also on the president’s secret payroll?

One certainly gets the feeling that there is more to this one. One columnist taking secret payments may be an “oops,” two columnists taking payoffs from two seperate departments in Bush's cabinet is “intriguing,” but if one more two-faced liar falls out of the woodwork, taking under-the-table payments from a department in the federal government… although the situation is wrong, crooked and unethical, if not illegal… that’s a pattern and a scandal.

The attitude of this administration is just disgusting; something can be wrong but as long as they cannot be pinned on a legality… it's A-OK. They can also stand by while their shills are appropriately excoriated by the people and press and do nothing to those who instigated the scandal and helped commit the wrong.

So far nobody in the administration responsible for this outrage has been reprimanded or fired. If that continues we could also make the leap that this is policy inside the Bush Administration and not just “rogue” fanatics in the various departments. We would also, then, be correct in suspecting there are many other columnists out there doing the same things right now.

Keep a wary eye on your favorite right-wing columnist, reporter or editor.

That enthusiasm, in support of the president’s policies, may be for reasons other than just mere agreement.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

‘Money Train’



President Bush continues to be touted as a “conservative” president. Yet he continues to spend more taxpayer money than all liberal and conservative presidents combined.

President Bush has never met a spending bill he did not like. He has passed every Republican and Democrat bill ever presented to him. He has not used his veto pen one single time since becoming president.

The president continues to operate the budget, year after year, at a deficit and has presented no plan to reduce the budget deficit.

And it isn’t as if he is signing one liberal Democrat spending bill after the other, although he is signing those too, he is signing one liberal REPUBLICAN bill after the other.

We’ve heard a myriad of excuses about the spending; “it’s war time,” etc. The “war time” excuse would make some sense if the money was being spent on the right things. But, it isn’t.

For instance: President Bush made a big to-do over the $87 Billion for the Emergency Iraq Appropriations Bill the year before last. While campaigning against Senator John Kerry (and the Senator’s vote against the bill) Bush and his minions mentioned numerous times that Kerry had voted against supplies for our troops.

“John Kerry voted against body armor for US troops in Iraq.”

“John Kerry voted against armor for military vehicles in Iraq.”

Just in case nobody remembers this: THE BILL PASSED ANYWAY.

Are our troops supplied with body armor in Iraq? No… families and support groups are still gathering money, buying the body armor and sending it to loved ones in Iraq.

Do the military vehicles our troops use have the necessary armor to guard against roadside bombs? No. Donald Rumsfeld told everyone that the Pentagon was “doing everything possible” to catch up on armoring the vehicles… although the Pentagon really wasn’t. Only when the press heat got to be too much did the Pentagon actually step up the process.

Roadside bombs against our troops continues to claim the highest number of casualties.

But President Bush’s spending habits are certainly not limited to the boondoggle in Iraq. The president will sign any bill that crosses his desk, regardless of price and ignorant of affect and deficits.

Pork has always been a problem in spending bills. But this president is especially reckless when it comes to these kind of expenditures… and the word is out in the House and the Senate that THIS president is an especially easy mark.

Despite soaring deficits, lawmakers from both parties who approved a $388 billion spending package late last year set plenty of money aside for “pork for voters” initiatives including things like doling out $4 million for an Alabama fertilizer development center, $1 million each for a Norwegian American Foundation in Seattle and a "Wild American Shrimp Initiative," which has been dubbed “the no shrimp left behind act.”

Actually, all of this would be humorous if it wasn’t so damaging, offensive and irresponsible.

Other pork projects include…

$335,000 to protect North Dakota's sunflowers from blackbirds.

$2.3 million for an animal waste management research lab in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

$50,000 to control wild hogs in Missouri.

$443,000 to develop salmon-fortified baby food.

These are but a few items that are referred to as “pork.” Actually, every bill that’s ever passed has some of these items tacked on in the process before it is signed by the pen-happy Bush.

The list is endless.

And, so, here we go again. The president now wants another $80 Billion for the Iraq boondoggle and on-going disaster. Congress will rush something through their processes, tack on any number of pork items to the bill, send it up to Bush and… he will sign it sight unseen with his dripping pen.

Will our soldiers in combat see the results of any of this additional spending? I doubt it.

But, somebody at Halliburton sure will.

And — almost certainly — a “rat conservatory” somewhere will grab $6 million or so for the study of the affects of rodent excrement on the disposition of the Mynah bird.

Monday, January 24, 2005

‘Talk Radio’



Shameless plug time!

If you visit regularly you’ll notice the associate links have changed somewhat in the profile area. The new addition is a link to a new page being put together by Hal from OEJrants.

Hal and I go way back. We’ve never met in person but we have been involved in several Internet projects over the years and have become good friends, while railing against the hypocrisies of our times.

The new link, “Kerry Fox Live,” and associated audio “show” has several purposes; firstly… to provide entertainment and also allow for some fun.

Another purpose would be to highlight the issues in the news each day and take a humorous swipe at them, while, hopefully, getting people to think a bit more about these very important issues.

To this end, at the Kerry Fox Live site, Hal has also set up a Message Board. We invite those of all political persuasions to stop by, register and leave their pontifications, opinions, diatribes, rants, railings and articles at the board. And, yes, you can also shamelessly promote your own blog, conservative, liberal, moderate or monarchy-oriented.

If any of this is for anything at all… it is to inspire, encourage, aid and abet and also provoke discussion.

This is what we are aiming for.

The only caveat to any of this — as is my plea always — is that everyone participate politely. Everyone of every political stripe, in this country, is entitled to their opinion. When this is gone there is no country, no Americans and no patriots any longer… only those in power and those who can out-holler the other point of view.

It’s approaching 10 years since I left my radio career behind. I don’t miss the business at all; it was rare indeed that it was ever any fun. This was due to the fact that the industry had more than its share of con artists, salesmen and game players. I love politics but I was never any good at playing politics in radio.

Sadly, from my perspective, the industry rarely focused on what it was supposed to provide: Entertainment. Since someone can only provide entertainment when they are having fun this aspect of the industry was always tough to handle when the politics were flying.

I finally got the hint that I had stayed too long in the business after I was canned from my last job… my third 104.1FM Oldies job in a row (I could not have accomplished this if I had tried to).

In fact, by that time, I was actually grateful to the ones who canned me. I remember thanking them profusely while they stood there with blank stares on their faces.

So here I am essentially doing a radio show now on the Internet… and having a bit of fun for the first time in a very long time. I hope you give us a listen and provide your feedback and maybe even participate in the show and message board.

This whole endeavor, by the way, is due to one person and one person only, Hal from OEJrants. It is Hal who has secured the web space, created the new page and provided all of the tools.

As we get the ball rolling, so to speak, we will be adding many more features. We hope to have the phone hook-up soon and also provide other ways of getting more participants involved.

None of what we are attempting to do is really new to the Internet, in my opinion, nor are we breaking new ground in technology. But, if everything works the way we hope, perhaps the tone of dialogue might change just a little bit and…

We just might have some fun in the process.

Friday, January 21, 2005

‘Oh, God!’



The more news I read the more I become convinced of why it is President Bush gets away with the things that he does.

For four years now George W. Bush has been able to frustrate the Democrats who oppose him and those of us in the third parties who recognize the problems, both Constitutional and fiscal, inherent in all of the Bush Administration’s activities.

I knew that there HAD to be some reason that Bush would say one thing then do another, while his legions of adoring fans cheered the entire way.

Now I think I know why all of this happens: Because God is on his side.

This has always been one of the possibilities. The Republicans — especially the “Christian” Republicans — have been telling us this for years. Bush himself has even said he prays to God before making decisions. Heck, Bush even dissed his own father’s advice on Iraq and said he listens to a “higher father” when making these very important decisions.

Now, the Reverend Billy Graham says he believes God had a hand in Bush's re-election.

Has to be, right?

“Their next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from you,” said the 86-year-old evangelist to the president. “You know the challenges and opportunities they will face. Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and your presence always.”

I don’t know about you but this sure sounds to me like something God would have said to Moses (I DO know that in the film “The Ten Commandments” Charlton Heston played the part of Moses AND doubled as the voice of God. Maybe there is a hint buried in there somewhere).

So… it turns out that the real reason we have had to endure and will have to endure President Bush IS because God has endorsed his presidency and all of his actions.

This can no longer be denied.

I guess I'm just a tad shocked that God turned out to be so freaking mean-spirited. But, again, I suppose this feeling is just my bitterness at discovering that God and the bible are the exclusive property of those who support Bush. It's only natural I'd lash out this way after being disowned by God like this.

I thought God might have been more compassionate toward people. But, it turns out that God is a Republican.

I kind of pictured God as someone who cared about people needing medical supplies or care. I thought that, perhaps, God would have desired people to be free and supported the principles in something like our Constitution but it turns out that God is for the Patriot Act. I would never have thought that God would allow the doctrines of independent churches to be under the influence of the federal government. But, He actually supports this.

I’ve been operating under the assumption for years that God wanted His followers to be free of government influence over their lives but I was simply wrong about that.

Who would have thought that God would be against the 40-hour workweek or overtime?

Who knew that God wanted increased deficit spending? I’m sure I read it somewhere in the bible that God wanted people to pay their debts and remain solvent. But, I must be wrong about that too.

I’m sure I also read somewhere to be wary of false prophets and those proclaiming divine connections to God himself but, you see, I must have been mistaken about that as well.

Since I’m now convinced that God is on the side of the Republicans it is also now evident to me what it is God values most of all: Money. More specifically: Money for corporations. I would not have known this by simply reading the bible. I was wrong about God on that one too.

Lately, I’m even more surprised about God. Who would have thought that God would want His people to be at the mercy of corporations selling dangerous products and would be supportive of doctors committing malpractice and getting away with it?

What worries and confuses me most of all is, since I’m not a Republican, does this mean that I can’t go to Heaven either?

If I try to get through the Pearly Gates in the afterlife will they tell me that, because I care about people and civil rights and don’t support pre-emptive foreign military adventures, I can’t pass through?

I’ve read my bible over the years. I’ve read and re-read the New Testament. How could I have gotten things so wrong? I missed the passage where it says, “Thou art damned if thou doth not support self-righteous demigods with pretensions of conservatism.”

I can’t believe I would have missed a passage like that.

Who would have thought that me and God would be so opposed on the issues?

God… why hath thou forsaken me?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

‘America, America’



During the campaign for president I took my kids to the John Kerry rally here in Pueblo, as he was the only one who stopped here. The kids had a great time and have since begun an interest in the election process.

I consider it my responsibility to instill this in them. Too many adults these days — much less children — have little or no interest in this vital function and, therefore, no stake in the outcome because of it.

They get what they get. And, most of the time, what they get isn’t good.

But, I’m glad my children are interested and I’m thrilled that they are now asking questions about it all.

This week the History Channel has been running a special on all of the presidents. I’ve forced my children to watch that as well. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised that they seem interested in this.

The children know that I am not a Bush supporter. So they also asked me if I would be watching today’s Inaugural ceremonies. They were surprised to learn that not only would I be watching… but that they would be watching as well.

Their interest in the election process may not have transferred over to a love of history just yet. But I’ve explained to them that they should watch because they are also a part of this history. It affects them.

At any rate, as I’ve explained to the children, acrimony will return soon enough to politics but today is a special day… even if your candidate is not the one taking the oath of office on the north lawn.

Today is a day we celebrate being Americans… and there are no politics on this day. Granted, it’s only one day but it’s a special one. There aren’t many countries where the election process occurs and there sure aren’t many countries where an event like this is held every fours years whether we inaugurate a new president or the same one for another term.

In fact… in most places an event like this is held at the point of a gun and under the cover of darkness.

In America we hold this event in the daylight, FOR and WITH the people. It’s beautiful no matter who is taking the oath.

Take heart America. Some traditions are still in place. There is always time for politics.

But… not today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

‘True Grit’

In the November elections Colorado voters passed a new tax on cigarettes (60¢ per pack), making my habit of smoking cigarettes completely unaffordable.

I’ve spent the past two days attempting to quit smoking, eating everything in the house and trying not to murder my children. So I have not been able to stay on top of blog things for the last day or so.

If you’ve ever quit you know the only way to do it is to go “cold turkey.” This is what I am trying to do. While quitting cold turkey, there isn’t much a person is good for to other people except to stay away from. So my posts may be even less coherent than normal.

I’ve had a lifelong battle with cigarettes. I’ve quit smoking before. The first time I quit I managed to stay off of them for five years, the 2nd time two years.

My reasons for quitting the first two times had nothing to do with money and everything to do with health. This time is different. I don’t want the state of Colorado to get one more penny from me than they would have coming otherwise.

Although, at first, many would say they wanted this new tax to try and keep people from smoking — and my quitting would demonstrate this to be working — this is a lie. They simply want to gouge people who are addicted to cigarettes.

I hope to prove the old conservative adage that if you tax something you get less of it and if you don’t tax something you get more of it. I also hope to get healthier in the process.

The state of Colorado can simply go to hell. The bastards.

So, bear with me the next couple of days and, please, wish me well in this attempt.

I pity the poor SOB who annoys me the next couple of days. I feel like I could rip the heart out of a rhinoceros.

Monday, January 17, 2005

‘From the Earth to the Moon’



I don’t usually write about matters of science (not one of my better subjects). But, what I and countless thousands of others are witnessing — beginning late yesterday — is exciting even for me and just may be rather significant.

Photos from the 705-pound probe “Huygens,” now on the surface of the Saturn moon Titan, show a pale orange surface covered by a thin haze of methane and what appears to be a methane sea complete with islands and a mist-shrouded coastline.

The $3.3 billion Cassini-Huygens mission — a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian space agency — was launched on Oct. 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to study Saturn, its spectacular rings and many moons.

What the photos that the Huygens probe showed in its descent onto Titan is that, unlike Mars, which we learned is mostly rust and rock, the Titan moon has liquid flowing on its surface… which space officials say is either “liquid methane, or hydrocarbons that settled out of the haze” that envelops Titan.

The photos actually look strikingly similar to coastlines here on Earth (above photo looks like the California coastline), featuring what even looks like a river delta and rounded rocks in a seabed that bear a resemblance to any area along the Colorado River here on this planet. In fact, in one close-up shot of the rocks in the bed there even appears to be free-flowing liquid (below).



Also in the top photo, there is what looks like a canal leading down to the seabed and the distinguished coastline (no 7-11 spotted, however).

The photos are that stunning.

Don’t pack your bags for the Titan colony just yet… scientists say these photos only show something that is “similar to a young Earth” and that by studying Titan it could give us clues as to how life arose here.

But, the significant part of this discovery is that Titan is now the only other planet/moon known to have free-flowing liquid.

One shot taken from an altitude of 10 miles showed dark lines that suggested stream beds carved by liquid flowing into a dark area suspected to be a sea of liquid methane — with light areas in the dark that could be islands.

Over the next couple of days the pictures will be more plentiful and better refined. The ones so far have been breathtaking.

I suppose the photos could be more interesting…

Especially if there is something staring back at us in one of them.

Friday, January 14, 2005

‘School for Seduction’



Where will you be on “We Are Family Day,” this March 11th?

Will you be with your family? Will you spend the day with your children? Will you invite family and friends over to the house for barbequed chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers? Will the Mrs. make her famous pizza-flavored potato salad?

Or… will you be indifferent to “We Are Family Day” while your children are in one of 61,000 lucky schools nationwide, private and public, celebrating this glorious day without your concern?

Wouldn’t it just be terrible if you missed out on “We Are Family Day”?

I mean… it’s all about “families,” right?

Well, not exactly.

“What is ‘We Are Family Day’?”

On March 11th grammar schools across the nation will stop teaching reading, writing and arithmetic (if they are actually doing this in the first place) and will hold a program teaching “gay tolerance.”

The program includes a video on “gay acceptance,” featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and Barney the dinosaur. Materials provided by the “We Are Family Foundation” include comprehensive lesson plans for teachers.

Discussion on homosexuality will be encouraged for all students and children will be asked to visit the foundation’s website to take a “tolerance pledge,” which includes sexual orientation.

The distribution of the video is being sponsored by FedEx and will coincide with the video's broadcast March 11 on Nickelodeon, PBS, and the Disney Channel in celebration of the proposed “National We Are Family Day.”

No children’s TV character will be left behind in the effort. Characters appearing in the video are from award-winning shows including “Arthur,” “Barney,” “Bear in the Big Blue House,” “Between the Lions,” “Blue's Clues, Bob the Builder,” “The Book of Pooh,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Jimmy Neutron,” “JoJo's Circus,” “Kim Possible,” “Lilo & Stitch: The Series,” “Little Mermaid,” “Madeline,” “The Magic School Bus,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Proud Family,” “Rugrats,” “Sesame Street,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and “Zoom.”

The video also features cameo appearances by entertainers Bill Cosby, Diana Ross and Whoopi Goldberg.

How come we can’t get this sort of comprehensive effort in schools for reading, writing and arithmetic?

Now, here we go again. The word “tolerance” pops up like a stubborn weed in the middle of the lawn. Not only is the weed there, obstructing an otherwise well-kept yard, but the PC police will not allow you to mow it down.

How can anybody be against “tolerance,” unless they are… (gasp), “intolerant,” right? If you are against this program in public and private schools you must be a… (gasp), “homophobe,” right?

For me the issue is one of common sense and has nothing to do with “intolerance.”

Our schools are churning out students who cannot read, write or add and subtract. But these same yahoos that can’t teach Johnny (or Juan, depending upon your city's demographics) anything useful in life are going to teach “tolerance” to grammar school kids in furtherance of Gay Awareness.

I’m all for “tolerance” regarding anyone except criminals but schools should not be the place where sexual orientation is preached or discussed. Shouldn’t all of this be between parents and their children and, if need be, a decent therapist?

Shouldn’t teachers be teaching other things?

What about the kids themselves? Is there a desperate need for this info in Kindergarten-sixth grade? Is the idea of “intolerance” foremost in their minds?

I don’t know about you but when I was in these grades my biggest problem was which side would want me at recess for “tackle the man with the ball.” I was also fond of sweet-tarts and was always concerned about whether I’d have enough change for a steady supply.

I didn’t have a clue what “sexual orientation” was so I wasn’t “intolerant” about it. I was VERY intolerant of my 5th-grade English teacher, Mrs. McMickle, who forced me to write hundreds of lines at a time for challenging her instruction about sentence elements (who cares about “dangling participles”?).

Maybe times have changed since I was in school. Maybe there ARE tens of thousands of gay students being intolerated and homophobied… I don’t know.

Maybe there are thousands of children in our schools who are gay and don’t know it yet and they need the teachers to show them how to be gay the right way. Maybe teachers who can’t teach children anything else CAN properly instruct them on “sexual orientation.”

But, I kind of doubt that.

I’m fairly sure Mrs. McMickle wouldn’t have handled it well.

So, what will you do on “We Are Family Day,” on March 11th?

Well, I’d suggest you keep the kids home, play hooky from work and have a nice barbeque.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

‘Something to Talk About’



Perhaps you remember the language. I’ll be darned if I can find anyone supporting the Iraq War who remembers it. But, then, maybe they don’t want to remember it.

The language went like this: “Weapons of mass destruction,” “vital national security interests,” “gathering threat.”

In heavy rotation, especially, was the phrase “weapons of mass destruction.”

I mean… it wasn’t like we heard this for a couple of months until we got sick of it.

No.

We heard this crappola for well over a year until we heard it in our sleep and every time we turned on the news channel or when we tried to watch local newscasts for the weather report.

“Slight chance of snow showers over the weekend with an increasing chance of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.”

On and on it went, day after day, week after week, month after month, from one administration official to the other, from one news show and from one pundit to the next, through public debate, through the House of Representatives, to the Senate, then through the UN.

Leading the way in this “Mass Destruction of the English Language” was the “president of mass destruction”… George W. Bush. He said “weapons of mass destruction” so much it almost detracted from his other favorite utterance, “Iraq.”

But then Dubya did something brilliant… he put “weapons of mass destruction” and “Iraq” together. He started doing this with such regularity that, at times, it seemed more like a contest…

“Gee, how many times can I say each of these in every speech I make?”

After a few months of repeatedly hearing the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” everywhere I turned I mentioned to my wife that no matter how he played at posturing — or even whether any of his demands would be met or not — it seemed to me that Bush had made his mind up to invade Iraq. What I saw him doing then was attempting to persuade the rest of us (or lull us to sleep).

“weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction weaponsofmassdestruction”

Bush kept at it. On and on he went with “weapons of mass destruction” day after endless day until, ultimately, Congress, the pundits and a majority of those polled in the United States said, “Okay, okay, Dubya… you win! Invade the sucker!”

So… he did.

After the looting… um, er… “liberation” of Baghdad, mysteriously, we started to hear less about “weapons of mass destruction.” Everyone was so tired of hearing it being said (and thoroughly convinced Saddam was the one who attacked us on 911) nobody really noticed the gradual retirement of the phrase.

For the most part the public was already convinced (i.e. “brainwashed”) that the weapons were there. Even upon our troops’ approach to Baghdad Dick Cheney had said, “It’s only a matter of time. We know where they are.”

But the big moment never came. We started to hear a new phrase from the administration, “freedom for the Iraqi people.” Only that phrase didn’t really catch on with the same effect as “weapons of mass destruction.” It didn't even catch on with the Iraqi people themselves.

As the months passed and we began losing troops every day — and as the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons went undiscovered — it was almost like the administration had run out of steam in its rhetoric. They needed something fresh. Since no such weapons were being found they then needed people to forget about “weapons of mass destruction.”

Eureka!

Some genius in the administration (possibly Bush himself) came up with, “democracy in Iraq.”

That did the trick!

So, as the months have passed and two years have turned, while the daily death toll has mounted, with triple the number in injuries, the administration has been saying this new phrase over and over and… over again.

The new phrase and focus has worked so effectively that hardly anyone noticed when the administration officially concluded (unsuccessfully) its search for “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

My theory is that — even though it was Bush’s reason for invading Iraq — people don’t care because they are simply sick of the phrase “weapons of mass destruction.” Either that or Bush said the phrase so many times together with the word “Iraq” that they are now synonymous in the public’s mind and, therefore, it is conclusive.

The Bush team has been using the newer phrase “democracy in Iraq” for about a year now. We’ve lost many troops in the interim. An “insurgency” has grown. Both the installed Prime Minister and President of Iraq have expressed fears and doubts publicly about the upcoming elections. Bush himself has declared that “14 out of 18 provinces are safe” (Weeeee!)

My guess is that if things continue to go badly in Iraq the Bush Administration might need a new phrase soon.

I wonder what the life of a high-profile political phrase really is… one, maybe two years? Maybe it depends on how well the action the phrase is associated with is going.

“Paging the president’s catch-phrase meister!”

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

‘See My Lawyer’



Couldn’t help noticing this story this morning: Apparently, two older men waiting in line to get into court were arrested for exchanging lawyer jokes.

Men Arrested for Telling Lawyer Jokes While Waiting at Court.

Seems there was a lawyer in the line as well and he overheard the two men and had them arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

There’s an old saying that “everybody hates lawyers… until they need one.”

The saying, of course, was made up by lawyers themselves and contains an element of truth… as do most utterances by lawyers.

My family has always been chock-full of lawyers, going back for over a century on my Mom’s side. They can be a pain in the ass and they can also come in quite handy.

Although I was encouraged to become a lawyer myself I never really wanted to. At this stage of my life, I’m not certain if that instinct made me noble or is the reason for my poverty.

Oh well… too late now.

Being related to lawyers and being around them a lot, I’ve been exposed to many lawyer jokes — many from lawyers themselves. At the risk of being arrested, here are some good ones…

"How do you tell if a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving."

“What is a criminal lawyer? Redundant.”

“Why don't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.”

“Mommy, do they bury two people in the same grave?"
“No dear, why do you ask?”
“Because this tombstone says, 'Here lies a good man and a lawyer.’”

“Client: "How much do you charge to answer three questions?
Attorney: $500.
Client: Whoa! That's a bit high, isn't it?
Attorney: No. What's your third question?"

“What's brown and black and looks good on an attorney? A doberman.”

“What’s the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum-sucking bottom-dweller and the other one is a fish.”

“What happens if you give a lawyer Viagra? He gets taller.”

“What’s the difference between a tragedy and a damn shame? A tragedy is when a busload of lawyers goes over a cliff, and a damn shame is if a couple seats are empty.”

“Why do lawyers wear neckties? To keep their foreskins from flying up over their heads.”

“Why did New York end up with all the lawyers, and New Jersey with all the toxic waste dumps? New Jersey got first pick.”

“What do you call a lawyer who finishes last in his class? Your Honor.”

“What's the difference between a female lawyer and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

“Why are lawyers buried in graves that are twelve feet deep? Because deep down, they're really not all that bad.”

“What do you call 20 lawyers skydiving? SKEET.”

“How is a lawyer like a Slinky? Neither one is good for much, but it's still fun to watch one tumble down the stairs.”

“What do you call a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets? Unemployed.”

“What's the difference between a snake and a lawyer laying in the road run over? Skid marks leading up to the snake.”

I don’t know how much trouble those two guys will be in for telling one or two lawyer jokes but if any lawyers read this post…

… I may need an attorney.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

‘Ham & Cheese’



The sports pundits are calling what Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss did in Green Bay last weekend a “simulated mooning.” But what Moss actually did was “simulate” defecating on the Packers fans in the end zone after scoring a touchdown and then “simulate” wiping his butt on the goal post.

When Moss wasn’t “simulating” he could be seen on the Vikings’ sideline standing on top of the players’ bench holding his helmet, steam coming out of his nostrils, his four-and-a-half foot tall fro waving in the breeze, hollering at Packers fans to “look at the mother-f***ing scoreboard.”

He looked like Buckwheat’s bad uncle whacked out on cocaine.

Times sure have changed.

Perhaps I should apologize to you young people right away; I’m one of those old fuddy-duddies who remembers the way things used to be and mourns the demise of these things.

I actually remember a time when there was no celebrating or dances in the end zone. I remember the first time I saw anything like that: It was in 1974 when Billy “White Shoes” Johnson (one of the good guys), as a rookie, did something called “The Funky Chicken” in the end zone after scoring a touchdown for the Houston Oilers.

It was innocent enough and everyone thought it was funny. Johnson sparked a generation of imitators, all of whom had their own touchdown celebration dances.

While the celebratory dances of Johnson’s generation were something new to football fans nobody ever suggested that Johnson and the others were not team players otherwise.

This cannot be said of some players today. Players like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens not only taunt opposing fans and players with their celebrations but also speak out against their own coaching staffs and criticize anything that does not give them the opportunity to do more taunting dances in the end zone.

For instance, before the Vikings-Packers game Moss actually was on television talking about his coach negatively. A week earlier, in an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins, Moss left the field early and headed to the locker room.

The most enduring image for me this past season was Terrell Owens following his quarterback Donovan McNabb up and down the sidelines, during a game, hollering at him for not throwing more passes in his direction.

Owens himself has been in trouble for taunting after scoring a touchdown and being openly critical of his coaches and teammates… especially while he was playing in San Francisco.

Owens is a talented receiver to be sure, as is Moss, but the 49ers — learning that no one is so talented as to be above the team — finally got enough of Owens’ antics and traded his problematic butt to a more appropriate venue in Philly.

Now, this weekend, the Minnesota Vikings will play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoff game. The shame for me is that both teams can’t lose. I suppose I can hope and pray that they go into triple-overtime and clobber the living hell out of each other but that might be too much to hope for.

If Randy Moss is healthy (he has a problem with his foot, as well as with his attitude, ego and hair) there is a good chance there may be a riot if he does something stupid in front of the Philly fans, as they are as disgusting a lot as there is in the NFL.

The last I heard was that Terrell Owens was not completely healthy either, so I haven’t heard if he will play or not (I think not). If both play in this game we could witness the nastiest display in football history (actually, Moss is capable of pulling this off alone).

I’m not sure when things changed. And, no, I don’t blame Billy “White Shoes” Johnson for starting it all. The celebratory dance may have been his invention but he didn’t start this young punk syndrome prevalent in sports today.

Mr. Johnson was a clean, fun and good-natured team player. He still stays in great shape and works with younger players, teaching them sportsmanship.

Another one of the good guys, from that same era, was a player named Rick Upchurch. He did celebratory dances too, while playing for the Denver Broncos. He lives here in Pueblo now and runs a Christian football camp for young people called “Rare Breed” (which my kids attend). I’ve never met Mr. Upchurch but I’m suspecting he is appalled by the antics on the field today.

Yes. Times have changed.

Where we once had the “Funky Chicken” we now have the “Simulated Butt-Wipe.”

Yeah… I miss Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and the times of teams and players and the absence of oversized egos.

So… call me an old fuddy-duddy.

I know times have changed, from team sports to individual selfishness, but it isn’t a good change. I’m also not sure when and how things changed. I suspect that neither Mr. Johnson or Mr. Upchurch know the answer either.

I know that many excuse this imbecilic and juvenile behavior that is practiced on the television and seen by young people everywhere. But I long for the time when players were more responsible toward their youngest fans and displayed true sportsmanship in front of large crowds.

“Mr. Johnson… Mr. Upchurch… please pick up the white courtesy phone. We need you.”

Monday, January 10, 2005

‘Dear Mexico’



The government of Mexico has issued a new brochure, aimed at helping its citizens survive illegal entry into the United States and showing them how to live in our country as “undocumented immigrants” (illegal aliens).

The color primer, published by Mexico's foreign ministry, gives would-be migrants tips including how to swim across the Rio Grande and avoid detection in the United States. It also sets out their legal rights on detention.

The government of Mexico denies that the booklet is a “how-to” manual for one-million or more Mexicans who attempt the illegal crossing each year.

I have obtained this booklet and have posted it below (with text and translation) for your inspection.

You be the judge…



Ponga en la espera para la cubierta de la oscuridad. Las patrullas de Gringo son pocas y lejos en medio. ¿Pero por qué ocasiones de la toma, huh? El objeto de este manual es conseguir a todos los campesinos de México del país con seguridad. Lea y aprenda.

(Lay in wait for the cover of darkness. Gringo patrols are few and far between. But why take chances, huh? The object of this manual is to get all of Mexico’s peasants out of the country safely. Read and learn.)



Según lo aconsejado para sus millones de campesinos sin valor, el gobierno oficial de México le aconseja hacer furtivamente en los Estados Unidos bajo cubierta de la oscuridad… véase la foto. Las mujeres deben seguir a los hombres en cuanto a observan su zona. ¡Ahora, prisa, prisa!

(As advised for its millions of worthless peasants, the official Government of Mexico advises you sneak into the United States under the cover of darkness… see photo. The women should follow the men as to observe their tract. Now, hurry, hurry!)



Haga que sus mujeres hacen todo el trabajo. Ordénelos diluir cualquier mercancía que usted esté llevando en los jarros del agua para evitar la detección. Fuércelos llevar sus fuentes. No permita que se quejen. Caminata rápidamente en los Estados Unidos y hacia donde viven sus parientes desapercibido. Póngase en cuclillas en el desierto siempre que se observen los vehículos del gringo.

(Make your women do all the work. Order them to dilute any merchandise you are carrying into the water jugs to avoid detection. Force them to carry your supplies. Do not allow them to complain. Walk quickly into the United States and toward where your relatives live undetected. Squat in the desert whenever Gringo vehicles are observed.)



Si usted está utilizando NAFTA para entrar en el país, para pagar apagado su guía inmediatamente y para seguir las reglas indicaron arriba. Deje el más débil entre usted al dado en el desierto. Excepto sus fuentes para las que esta' lo más mejor posible capaces de terminar el viaje. ¡Prisa, prisa!

(If you are using NAFTA to enter the country, pay off your guide immediately and follow the rules stated above. Leave the weakest among you to die in the desert. Save your supplies for the ones best able to complete the journey. Hurry, hurry!)



Una vez con seguridad en el hogar de sus primos del y los amigos en los Estados Unidos, es importante entender varias cosas sobre el Gringos. Aman oírse que hablarlos y creer están actuando benevolently cuando ayudan a nuestra gente. Déjelos ramble sobre las reglas cuando usted coloca a sus niños en escuela. Cabecee siempre como si usted los entienda. Pero, no es importante que usted entiende realmente. Usted puede volver a enviar siempre e incluso desdeñar el Gringos. Esto se permite y es una práctica aceptada. Sea seguro insistir que todas sus instrucciones a usted estén traducidas. Es asombroso pero harán realmente esto para usted. Gringos no es muy brillante. Recuerde, nosotros tienen el forro siempre del presidente de Gringo, George W. Bush.

(Once safely in the home of your cousins and friends in the United States, it is important to understand several things about the Gringos. They love to hear themselves talk and believe they are acting benevolently when they aid our people. Let them ramble about the rules when you place your children in school. Always nod as if you understand them. But, it is not important that you actually understand. You can always resent and even despise the Gringos. This is allowed and is an accepted practice. Be sure to insist that all of their instructions to you be translated. It’s amazing but they will actually do this for you. Gringos are not very bright. Remember, we have the backing always of the Gringo president, George W. Bush.)



De vez en cuando, usted puede ser acercado por los funcionarios de la inmigración de Estados Unidos. Esto no es una preocupación importante, pues los sobornan fácilmente. Las familias deben poder reunir sus recursos para esta actividad. Esta es la razón por la cual el gobierno oficial de México aconseja que sea el mejor vivir comunal.

(Occasionally, you may be approached by United States immigration officials. This is not a major concern, as they are easily bribed. Families must be able to pool their resources for this activity. This is why the Official Government of Mexico advises that it is best to live communally.)



Establecido una vez en los Estados Unidos es importante que usted ayuda en la inmigración de otros campesinos sin valor tales como se. Se cerciora de esta gente seguir las mismas reglas que usted lo hizo.

(Once established in the United States it is important that you aid in the immigration of other worthless peasants such as yourself. Make sure these people follow the same rules as you did.)



Mucho trabajo en los primeros días dentro de los Estados Unidos incluirá la acopio de la documentación falsa necesaria para probarle que sea elegible para el trabajo. Para esto hay una red ancha de los campesinos del compañero listos ayudarle para un honorario nominal.

(Much work in the first days inside the United States will include gathering the necessary false documentation to prove you are eligible for work. For this there is a wide network of fellow peasants ready to help you for a nominal fee.)



Mucho del esfuerzo detrás de la tentativa de los campesinos de establecer Azltan es ofensivo en naturaleza. Sea bandera de cierto usted México de la exhibición, eso que usted parquea irregularmente y que juega su música nativa en alta voz, pues pone el Gringos en la defensiva. Mientras que el Gringos asqueroso se preocupa de todo el esto, tenga su toma de los niños algo que pertenece a ellos.

(Much of the effort behind the peasants’ attempt to establish Aztlan is offensive in nature. Be certain you display Mexico’s flag, that you park erratically and play your native music loudly, as it puts the Gringos on the defensive. While the filthy Gringos are worried about all of this, have your children take something that belongs to them.)



Hay ciertas situaciones que usted puede encontrar; cuando es parado por el policía de Gringo y sin la identificación y el seguro apropiados... ¡cFuncionamiento! También, cuando es enfrentado por un Gringo sea seguro tener muchos otros campesinos con usted.

(There are certain situations you may encounter; when stopped by Gringo police and without proper identification and insurance… RUN! Also, when confronted by a Gringo be sure to have many other peasants with you.)



Muchas cosas son consideradas aceptables por el Gringos en su vida en haber conquistado con todo pronto ser regiones liberadas. También, hay muchas opciones; si usted teme usted está a punto de ser deportado, pulsa a su mujer en la presencia de otras. Esto asegurará que usted es incarcerated dentro de los Estados Unidos. Esto es preferible pues el gobierno oficial de México no repatriará a campesinos encarcelados y no quisiera que se volvieran. Asimismo, el Gringos dar a su familia muchas ventajas y continuará seguramente permitiendo que vivan en el país. Si, sin embargo, viene ese día triste cuando las autoridades de la inmigración le enfrentan en su hogar, no se desespere. Repita simplemente las instrucciones en este manual.

(Many things are considered acceptable by the Gringos in your life in the conquered yet soon to be liberated regions. As well, there are many options; if you fear you are about to be deported, strike your woman in the presence of others. This will insure that you are incarcerated inside the United States. This is preferable as the Official Government of Mexico will not repatriate imprisoned peasants and does not want them to come back. Likewise, the Gringos will be certain to give your family many benefits and continue to allow them to live in the country. If, however, that sad day comes when immigration authorities confront you at your home, do not despair. Simply repeat the instructions in this manual.)

EL EXTREMO

(THE END)

Friday, January 07, 2005

‘Break the News’



Someone high up in the food chain must be getting nervous about our operation in Iraq.

President Bush is “sending retired four-star Army General Gary E. Luck to Iraq next week to conduct an unusual ‘open-ended’ review of the military's entire Iraq policy, including troop levels, training programs for Iraqi security forces and the strategy for fighting the insurgency,” according to this story.

The move is seen — justifiably — as a sign the war is not going well and also seen as a move that is way too little and far too late.

The news came after another “bad day” (as Donald Rumsfeld describes them). Nine US troops were lost on Thursday… seven in one incident alone.

In still more bad news yesterday it was also learned that the Pentagon is planning an even greater extension on tours of duty for National Guard and reserve troops. So the ones who are there will stay longer and the ones about to go will have to plan on their lives being disrupted for an even greater length of time… with as many 2-year stretches as is deemed necessary by the gurus running the debacle.

Not that anyone in the National Guard should be worried about their job back at home… Bush will be shipping in lots of illegal aliens to take their place.

I’m constantly told of all the “good news” that is being lost in the media shuffle about Iraq, without many examples being supplied. Also, there is the mantra by many that the increasing deaths of our troops are “miniscule” compared to, say, traffic fatalities in the US or regards the murder rate in some cities.

Some who support this ridiculous war are also comparing the number of deaths and injuries to Vietnam, as if this is supposed to make the war more reasonable, as if we are talking about numbers and not people.

These arguments can only serve to remind us that we are dealing with a reverse “mini-Vietnam” in Iraq. In Vietnam the decision had been made that there would be no plan to win the war (which was “winnable”). In Iraq… there was no plan to win the peace, aside from all the Iraqis throwing flowers at our soldiers’ feet (we hadn’t expected a war beyond the first month). There is yet to be seen any evidence that the war in Iraq is “winnable.”

After Iraqis “stepping forward” did not happen (except to loot everything not nailed down in Baghdad) we began to hear about ambitious plans, by the administration, to help the Iraqis “establish a democracy” in the Middle East.

Now this is not going very well, as our troops continue to be blown to smithereens and the Iraqis who are “stepping forward” are being gunned down, blown up and found dead in Iraqi fields. The surrounding countries continue to finance the insurgency and continue to supply the insurgency with fresh martyrs (Saudi Arabia gets a pass because of its oil).

Now, instead of a “democracy” we are only buying time as we are caught in the middle of an escalating insurgency, with the popular support of the people, and are only a half-step ahead of the coming civil war… which anybody with a knowledge of the history of the region knew would come after Saddam’s removal.

With the arrival of this former-general, to “assess” the situation once again, it is clear that, with respect to the strategy, in an operation that Bush keeps glowing positively about… the administration is really winging things.

Anyone who does not buy the “democracy” angle or the “freedom for the Iraqi people” angle — or who recognizes that the on-going insurgency has the popular support of the people — is pooh-poohed as “negative” or “pessimistic” and told once again that our troops are sacrificing themselves to keep the homeland safe (which is preposterous considering we aren’t doing what we should to guard things here at home).

Again, this morning, the president was on the tube expressing his delusion that everything is going just swell in Iraq. He talked of establishing a “democracy” again. He mentioned that “14 out of 18 provinces are secure.”

This is an interesting statement. Three out of the four are in the Baghdad area and include nearly half of the Iraqi population, as well our tactical command and control.

Nobody supporting the war likely remembers this (nor wants to) but about 8 months ago Bush was talking about 15 out of 18 provinces” being “secure.”

This is progress?

And… the hits just keep on coming.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

‘Touch of Evil’



Stunning news out of Texas…

The conviction of Andrea Yates, the woman who drowned all five of her children in the bath tub, has been overturned because — and you may not actually believe this — “psychiatrist Park Dietz was wrong when he said he consulted on an episode of the TV show ‘Law and Order’ involving a woman found innocent by reason of insanity for drowning her children.”

In other words… the conviction has been overturned because Yates DID NOT watch a TV episode that DID NOT exist.

I’m having a hard time understanding how this is even a factor; the woman confessed to drowning her children. She was happy about it! All the evidence also points to the fact that she did it. But, because she didn’t watch a TV program…

Okay, okay. The news is rather fresh. Perhaps we don’t know all the details about this decision yet. What we do know is terrifying…

Andrea Yates, who called herself “Fertile Myrtle,” after she bore five children over eight years, began to suffer from what was diagnosed as a “major depressive disorder” for which she was prescribed antidepressants.

Under pressure to have more children from her idiot husband Rusty, after a couple of suicide attempts and after coming under the influence of a traveling preacher named Michael Woroniecki, who told her "the role of women is derived from the sin of Eve and that bad mothers who are going to hell create bad children who will go to hell," Yates decided she would “save” her children from Hell by… killing them all.

This is according to Yates herself…

Andrea filled the tub with water and systematically drowned the three youngest boys, then placed them on her bed and covered them. Her youngest, Mary, was left floating in the tub.

The last child alive was the first born, seven-year-old Noah. He asked his mother what was wrong with Mary, then turned and ran away. Andrea caught up with him and as he screamed, she dragged him and forced him into the tub next to Mary's floating body. He fought desperately, coming up for air twice, but Andrea held him down until he was dead. Leaving Noah in the tub, she brought Mary to the bed and laid her in the arms of her brothers.

During Andrea's confession she explained her actions by saying that she wasn't a good mother and that the children were "not developing correctly" and she needed to be punished.

Now we get to the part of American jurisprudence where, when someone murders another, we determine if they did so because they are “insane” or not. You see, if someone murders because they are “insane” they can get out of most of the punishment. If they are not “insane” then they must pay the price.

The general philosophy behind this determination is whether or nor the perpetrator knew what he or she was doing and whether or not that person meant to kill someone. With Yates, there was no doubt about this; she confessed and told authorities she knew what she was doing and meant to kill her children.

But, as we see with the Yates case, a murderer can still get out of a fix even when they are determined to not be insane. The reason can even be something as lame as they did not watch a television show that never aired.

There is always the basic question of what good it ever does to determine if someone is insane or not, if they have killed and may kill again. Can a woman who killed her five children, insane or not, be “rehabilitated” and contribute to society?

During her trial and conviction Yates garnered support from every women’s group in the country. Most wanted her committed for a few years with a chance for release. Some wanted her to be let go outright.

As it stands now the Texas authorities can retry her for the original three murders (they did not go forward on two in case of something like this). Andrea Yates will likely not ever be free. But the possibility exists.

Did she kill all of her children? Yes. Is she or was she insane? Not according to her original conviction. Does it matter? Should she be released?

As a devoted fan of ‘Law & Order,’ I don’t have to wonder what Lenny Brisco would say.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

‘Out of Control’



Early on in George W. Bush’s presidency I found several of his positions odd for a “conservative” president.

First… “conservatism” should be put into its proper context… isn’t “conservatism” supposed to be the idea that “people are responsible for their own lives” and that the government “shouldn’t be the nanny”? Hasn’t the idea of “conservatism” been to slow down or even decrease federal expansion? Under the “conservative” banner isn’t the federal government supposed to have LESS control over peoples’ lives?

What about the basic ingredients of the “Christian-conservative” philosophy? Aren’t they supposed to be FOR people and AGAINST government and special interests? Aren’t they supposed to be obvious and common sense positions?

Well, these were the assumptions I was operating on, thinking what I had always understood “conservatism” to be.

I had had my doubts about Bush all along. For instance, it had been discouraging to see the “Christian” and “conservative” Bush people attack, smear and discredit John McCain in the primaries… in the name of “Christianity” and “conservatism.”

Even though I have always believed that an un-Christian act should not be committed in furtherance of “Christian” beliefs I was assured by several Christian Bushbots after he was barely elected that Bush was actually a “Christian conservative.”

What’s the saying… “believe me and not your lying eyes”?

But, for my lying eyes, with Bush, strange things kept happening. After a while a pattern emerged.

The pattern is this: “Control” then “Profit for Corporations.” Everything the Bush Administration does fits one or both of these profiles.

On the “control” side Bush put forth his “religious initiative.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that many religions could be influenced by government funds much the way the individual states have been corrupted.

With Bush’s “religious initiative” — in the name of “charity” — churches can now be coaxed into changing their doctrines regarding a variety of social issues in order to qualify for government funds. Even if “conservatives” trust Bush with this program — and I don’t believe they should — they certainly will not be able to trust others who might be president someday.

In any event this program does not allow churches and charities to rely on themselves but puts government directly into the mix and, therefore, in control. The program is also an expansion of the federal government and NOT “conservative.”

Another issue that encompassed both “control” and “profit” was the one regarding medicines from Canada. Desperate seniors who needed to pay for medical supplies AND pay for living expenses were getting their drugs from Canada, which bought them directly from American companies and then subsidized the drugs through their government.

In other words… the drugs were the same ones they would be buying in America but the cost was infinitely less than people would pay here. There wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that unless somebody wanted to control it for their own selfish reasons.

And… someone did.

Bush put a stop to this in a variety of ways; he criminalized those who were selling the Canadian (American) drugs to seniors in this country, he further beefed up the security on the Canadian border (while lessening this on the southern border), and got laws passed regarding the sale of Canadian drugs to Americans.

He also began a campaign of fear aimed at seniors, through the Department of Health and Human Services, with scary phrases like “unsafe drugs” and “contamination” — concerning drugs made by American companies and also available in America but for higher prices.

The only outcome, of course, was that seniors were forced to buy the same drugs for higher prices made by Bush’s donors at American companies…

… “control” then “profit for corporations.”

The on-going illegal alien/national security/lower wages issue is one that is nakedly increasing profits for corporations. Bush continues to say the illegals are here to “do the jobs Americans will not do.” But, they are flooding the American job market and causing decreased wages and benefits for American workers and increased profits for corporations.

Bush not only wants to legalize this practice but also enhance it.

Bush’s new “amnesty” initiative, which he calls a “guest worker” initiative but which allows illegals to come here and stay indefinitely, would allow corporations to actually advertise outside of the country for workers.

The new saying should be “they are here to do the jobs Americans aren’t allowed to do.”

The middle class, a living wage and national security aside, it isn’t hard to imagine what this treasonous plan will do: It will further erode the standard of living for American workers, put control and the law on the side of corporations and encourage even more illegal aliens to come into the country.

Again… “Control” then “Profit for Corporations.”

There are many other issues Bush has decided the past few years besides these, all of them fitting one or both of the profiles; tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs, the dissolution of the 40-hour workweek … which also follow the pattern of benefiting corporations to the detriment of American citizens.

But, let’s digest his future plans…

Now that we are stuck with Bush for another four years we are already hearing his new ideas for us. The latest one in the news this week is… “frivolous lawsuits.”

In his rhetoric, Bush is tying “frivolous lawsuits” directly into the healthcare industry, with which millions of Americans are desperately searching for answers. But what his plan actually entails is a limitation upon American citizens and their rights to sue (guess what?)… any corporation for whatever reason.

To be sure… there ARE “frivolous lawsuits.” But what about people who have actually been injured by a company’s negligence, defective products and quacky doctors? It won’t matter if Bush gets his way. Again, there will be one entity benefiting from Bush’s plan… his buds in corporations.

Companies and corporations should not be penalized or inhibited by the federal government. But it’s not the president’s job to enrich them by penalizing and inhibiting American citizens. In fact, the president isn’t supposed to do anything BUT look out for American citizens.

“Control” then “Profit for Corporations.”

Sadly, this is what motivates President Bush in ALL situations and on ALL issues.

Check for yourself and see if this pattern is not applied to absolutely any action by this administration.

It isn’t “Christian,” it isn’t “conservative” and … it ain’t pretty.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

‘A Moment of Clarity’



Yesterday I had one of those “moments of clarity” you’ve heard about (when something is realized in its full context). I’ve had these moments before, as I’m sure you have. At these moments we pause and stare into space… the full impact of the moment no longer too abstract to comprehend as we face the affect, overwhelmed.

I remember once standing in the grammar school cafeteria, in the evening, as coaches were choosing kids for the Bantam League Football teams. I had a moment of clarity then too when I realized I was to be the last kid chosen.

Another time was when my oldest son was born and all of a sudden I realized that my life would be completely changed (how this didn’t occur to me beforehand… I have no idea).

So… what was the big moment yesterday?

Yesterday, while I was doing html for the wife’s web site (a brain drain), the kids were goofing in the kitchen. Over the holidays, my wife had procured — in one of her many coupons deals — a giant sausage.

Now, the children have been attacking this sausage over the past week or so, with my youngest, Matthew (a sausage freak), getting by far the most of it. But, yesterday, the sausage was no longer “giant,” and had been reduced to one large hub.

Naturally, this caused dissention.

My older two, LA and Sheyanne, had been experimenting with the remaining sausage in the microwave. They especially liked that the sausage sizzled afterward (a non-child will likely clean the inside of the micro-wave). The experiment also produced grease on the plate, which they immediately gave to the dog, which caused the dog to start barfing… necessitating her expulsion to the backyard.

Matthew had been sneaking into the kitchen and swiping slices of sausage, which, of course, caused the others to complain. This all went on for a while. In between html fields with my wife’s coupon entries, when I could no longer take the commotion, I hollered…

“LEAVE THE SAUSAGE ALONE!”

That’s when I started staring into space in my “moment of clarity.”

Why is this a big deal?

When was the last time you had to stop working at something to holler out “LEAVE THE SAUSAGE ALONE!”? When did you ever have to utter this sentence at all?

Unless you have children and giant sausages you’ve NEVER had to say something so damned stupid.

What’s more… the children did not leave the sausage alone. When they noticed me simply sitting at the desk staring into space they went back to slicing, micro-waving and bickering.

While I had my “moment of clarity,” I could only think of all the idiotic phrases I’ve uttered, over the years, since the children came (and you thought I was new to this only in articles).

For instance, I’ve probably said “stop it” several-hundred-thousand times in 14 years.

“Stop it” is probably the most common parental utterance. We say it a lot. We say it in movie theatres. We say it at the grocery store. We say it in crowds and when everyone is looking. Say “stop it” to the children and it rarely has an effect. Say it in a crowd of people and heads turn. I have to say “stop it” many times each day. I’ve said it already today and the kids aren’t even up yet.

Even though it doesn’t do much good to say “stop it” to children parents say it anyway. It’s like an automatic reflex or something.

The only thing that ever changes with “stop it” is the inflection; “stop it”… “Stop it!”… “STOP IT!” Sometimes parents say it rapid fire like, “stop it, stop it, stop it!” and it takes a few moments to be alright again.

I said “stop it” once in my sleep and, for several weeks, Michelle and I slept left-to-right.

I was in a department store with the children once, shopping for clothes (for myself that time). I was the only one who could be seen above the racks by half a dozen other shoppers. I knew what I was doing. I was trying to get my kids’ hands off all the clothes and had to say “stop it” repeatedly, while wrestling with their hands. What everyone else saw was this grown man saying “stop it” to himself and doing something with his hands below his waist.

Another idiotic phrase in the parental vernacular — and I’m sure parents of more than one child can back me up on this — is “quit fighting.” Not that I am a Henry Kissinger or anything but I say “quit fighting” every day or so. I’ve said “quit fighting” so many times it does not have the desired effect. So I guess I’m as useful toward stopping a fight as Henry was.

There are many common and idiotic things I’ve had to say over the “years of children” but the most ridiculous lines are the ones regarding special circumstances.

For instance — thank God only once — I had to say, “Put the shit back in the toilet!”

“Dammit! Get your sister’s Barbie out of the tree!”

“You cannot go outside without pants!” (actually, I've said this one more than a few times).

“Leave the sausage alone!” Astounding that anybody has to say such a thing. Yes. Believe it or not this was a defining moment.

Other people are promoted to company president for their “moments,” others win gold medals or rescue hundreds from a fire… they are elected to political office, they are retired to the Hall of Fame or they save B-Company in a firefight.

My life is clarified when I say, “Leave the sausage alone!”

So, I’ve reflected on all the nitwit things I’ve had to say to the children.

These things are not always declarations. Many idiotic utterances from all parents are phrased like questions…

“Why did you cut the eyebrows off ALL the stuffed animals?”

“Didn’t you realize that you cannot cook Play-Do?”

“Didn’t Mom teach you to put the butter on AFTER the bread is toasted?”

I should mention that the only response you hear to any question you might ask your child is “I don’t know.”

But… that’s a whole other article.

Monday, January 03, 2005

‘The Politics of Persuasion’



Perhaps the biggest problem facing our Republic (I use this word intentionally), besides an ignorance of history and a lack of interest in between elections, is the way competing political philosophies are described.

We hear the same things at every election. Most people become interested only when the media and those who run in the elections start pontificating on the issues; “left vs. right,” “liberal vs. conservative,” “Democrat vs. Republican.” Our choices are limited from the very outset. And what these choices claim to be aren’t necessarily true.

This is all part of what we are told is the “democratic process.”

But this process is in place to limit competition and keep the issues contained in simple terms, which can always be divided in the middle by anybody who happens to get elected, “liberal” or “conservative.”

The issues and stands are reduced to the lowest common denominator in every election we hold. Anybody who is not for the Democrat is a “right-wing nutcake” and anybody who does not support the Republican is a “liberal wacko.”

Politicians are never forced to hold onto an ideal or political principle and actually practice it, and voters aren’t challenged to examine the issues in that context. I contend that this is exactly the way those in power want things to be.

Whoever wins… wins, and most everybody ignores the one who wins until the next election. Likewise, the one who wins usually ignores the ones who elected him or her until the next election, unless forced by exposure to equivocate a pressing issue in the middle somewhere in an attempt to pacify those on both sides. The higher the office, the higher the tightrope can be… and the farther the fall.

This sort of thing can be exciting and mindless entertainment at the circus but it can also be poison for a free nation, which requires a bit more thought to be maintained as “free.”

The politicians who manage to play this game well are known as “Moderates,” but are, in fact, people who take no stand at all. As for the voters… they seem to put a higher value on “winning” than they do on the ideals they support when they elect either a Republican or a Democrat, a “liberal” or a “conservative.”

To be sure… most voters know exactly what they are. Ask anyone and they will tell you “I’m a liberal,” or “I’m a conservative” (a growing number claim, “I am a moderate”) Everyone knows whether they are a “Democrat” or a “Republican.” Ask almost any voter to name a “liberal” or “conservative” issue that their candidate has acted decisively on — out of principle — while in office… well, that’s a whole different story.

The chances are very good that if you visit here often, or visit other political blogs and web sites, you are already infinitely better informed than most of your fellow citizens. But, there is simply more to issues of left vs. right than we or most of our fellow citizens are willing to digest. It’s too easy to settle for the black and white.

For me the issues have always emanated from the history I’ve read. Not satisfied with the small amounts of history taught in school, as a child and young adult, I camped out at the library most of the time (yes, a nerd). I read one American History book and one biography after the other, learning everything I could about the Founding Fathers and the circumstances surrounding the beginning of our nation. I read whatever I could that the Founding Fathers wrote themselves. I simply could not get enough of it.

Our Founding Fathers were an amazing group of individuals. In fact, it can certainly be said that there has never been, before or since, a more brilliant collection of people. Although, collectively, they agreed on many basics they didn’t always agree with each other… which makes it more remarkable that our country ever came to be. It’s even more astounding when you consider that they created what they did without the aid of modern communication or any convenient device since invented.

They wrote one quotable and eloquent line after the other with quills when the politicians we have today can’t do so with the aid of a word processor or without marketing gurus. The Founding Fathers took stands, popular or not, and held to them. Politicians today equivocate and “misspeak.” We “parse” what they say.

These days the Founding Fathers are looked upon as childlike people who just wouldn’t understand the way things work in our times. They are denigrated as “slave owners” and simpletons who did not know as much as we do in the age of computers.

But I contend that it is we who have lost our way, our vision… and not the Founding Fathers who had a lack of foresight.

The Revolutionary War and Declaration of Independence are only part of what these incredible people began. Their main achievement came in deciding what form of government to establish afterward. To this end they intentionally decided against a “democracy.” The issue was debated heatedly. To them (and to me) “democracy” was simply the “tyranny of the majority.”

Because most of them believed that the influence of a national government should be limited to only the bare essentials (protection of individual rights and defense), ‘lest it gain further control over the people, or be manipulated by despots (sound familiar?), they created something brand new: A Federal Republic.

You don’t hear about this much anymore… and for good reason: A Federal Republic, if actually practiced, would severely curtail our government’s influence over us, as promoted by the Founding Fathers, and the one thing that both “liberal” and “conservative” candidates for public office absolutely agree on these days is that our government should grow, not be decreased. They believe in control and not “liberty,” whatever their rhetoric on the subject.

Modern-day politicians — even while pontificating about the Founding Fathers — tacitly or outright promote the belief that our Constitution declares we have a “democracy” and that we are much more knowledgeable about solutions regarding government now than the Founding Fathers could possibly have been back in the old days.

Ben Franklin even said, “Now you have your Republic… if you can keep it.” How astute was that line?

These days politicians rely on the art of complicating the obvious and trivializing the momentous. It’s very much the art of “baffling them with bullshit.” But how can a politician present himself as the solution to problems unless he complicates the issues?

The safeguard the Founding Fathers put into place was the Constitution. They intended to keep government small because they knew that once expanded beyond the boundaries they established there would be no holding government back. They may not have known about future mass media but even then they believed that people could be manipulated out of freedoms and liberties with labels like “liberal” and “conservative.”

In illustration, the moment of truth for me came when I first came of voting age. There was a great man who said, “Government IS the problem”… and he was right. He campaigned against a growing government that believed it should be in charge of peoples’ lives, and he preached against the myriad of socialist experiments that had failed the people and grown beyond control. This man gave people like me hope for what our Founding Fathers wanted for this nation.

You may have heard of this man. His name was Ronald Reagan.

I voted for Reagan and promoted his stands so much that people I knew took to calling me “Reagan breath.”

I still believe that Ronald Reagan was a great man, but even the election of this “arch-conservative” politician could not curtail our government, which continued to spiral out of control. Reagan learned that the growth of government for its own sake was a philosophy entrenched in both major political parties. Where he believed that the federal government should be restricted he found that there were many — Republicans and Democrats alike — who believed it should not. Even after Reagan our government was larger by one-third and every un-Constitutional device was still in place.

After Reagan, the issue for me was no longer the one the politicians wanted me to think it was… “left vs. right,” or “Democrat vs. Republican,” or “liberal vs. conservative.” My beliefs came to be defined in several other ways, “Republic vs. Democracy,” “history vs. ignorance,” “common sense vs. obedience,” “liberty vs. control.”

I have no illusions about whether Franklin was right or wrong… we have not been able to keep our Republic. I also doubt our chances at getting our Republic back. It slips away from us a little more each day.

But most voters don’t even know that we ever had a Republic (which can probably best be defined as “competition in government” and no single person having more rights than any group of people… and vice-versa). The difference isn’t taught in our schools and the media ignores the issue.

The two major political parties do nothing but enhance the deception. They count on the ignorance of at least 50.1 percent of the people or the apathy of 49.9 percent… “the tyranny of the majority.”

And… this formula works toward gaining and maintaining control. Although it must be said that it would NOT work were it not for the fact that both major political parties practice it.

There was a time when what is called “liberal” and what is called “conservative” meant the opposite of what they are supposed to mean these days. I believe that now, however, they mean exactly the same thing: Total government control. This new form of government in this country — with those of either purported political persuasion — doesn’t help anyone, doesn't provide additional freedoms, so people can help themselves, or base its practices in the Constitution. It’s main mission is to gain more control over its citizens and further entrench its power.

For instance, when something is described as “bi-partisan”… rest assured it is bad for the people of this country, both liberal and conservative, and good for those in power.

I appeal to those of you who hold the same love of our country and the same appreciation of history as me to study the issue and be even more aware of the ones who call themselves “leaders” today, whether they claim they are “liberal” or “conservative.” A simple reading of quotes from many of the Founding Fathers would do much to open the eyes of those who believe what they hear on television.

It’s always a challenge to ask the right questions of our political leaders in a Constitutional context. They avoid it but it must be addressed. Ultimately, it is OUR responsibility to make them address it… even in between elections.

The “lesser of two evils” philosophy is a cancer on our nation. It is correctly pointed out by many that, with the “lesser of two evils,” we still end up with “evil.”

There may be some difference in the stated positions of each major political party but I don’t usually see them in many of their practices. I see the major power-drunk parties as two giant sledgehammers chipping away at the foundations of our nation’s liberties.

I believe that the only way to gain any control back from government is with competition from other political parties. There just isn’t any other way to force the majors to conform. The two majors are so entrenched in power that they can never be changed for the better from the inside. Liberals have no more chance of changing the Democratic Party for the better than conservatives have of changing the GOP.

But I suggest, to both liberals and conservatives, that the life of our nation is at risk if they do not recognize the problem and work toward arresting its growth.

A good analogy would be the four gas stations at the intersection; if they are all independently owned you will always find more affordable prices at this intersection. But if the same company owns them all (as they do right now)… expect to pay a very high price indeed.

The cloak that covers all issues, ‘“liberal’ vs. ‘conservative,’” is an opiate for the voters, as our nation has slipped from being a “Republic” to a “Democracy” and, after our interlude with “Socialism,” will arrive at “Totalitarianism.”

So who is to blame for the way things are? Is it the leadership in the political parties, the media that deceives the voters or the voters who ignore history and fall for the ruse?

The answer is “YES.”

It is the theory of competition in government that both liberals and conservatives need to explore and talk to others about. Believe in the principles of one philosophy or the other but do not look for them to be practiced in either major party to your satisfaction or with anything resembling conviction.

It isn’t in our Constitution, it was never in our Founding Fathers’ statements and it isn’t in our history that we should be limited to a two-party system. It is this idea that both major political parties fear most of all.

Many are turning to newer parties against the two majors. Liberals are exploring the Green Party, some conservatives are looking into the Constitution Party, and strict Constitutionalists continue to support Libertarian ideals. It is not one viable third-party we need but… several.

There are other political parties as well…

America First Party

Independant American Party

The American Party

Liberals and conservatives, naturally, do not trust each other. But, the biggest mistake that those of either persuasion can make is to believe that there are no patriots on the other side and to allow the political parties to define us instead of their own principles.

I challenge you to affirm your political beliefs by deciding if either major party actually practices what it preaches to you and then look at the platforms of these other parties and decide if their beliefs are closer or not to your own.

What is it that you “win” if neither major party, once elected, practices the philosophies or ideals you voted for them to implement?

It can either be an informed electorate that will decide our future or an ill-informed one. The time to think about this is now and not just before the next election.

We are paying a high price for simple nuances between BOTH major parties and it continues to exact a toll on our foundations.

Do any of these nuances make us “conservative” or “liberal”?

I don’t believe so. Regarding the two majors these terms no longer mean anything at all.

The truth is that if you support either major political party… you are both.