Saturday, February 25, 2006

Any Port in a Storm

Sooo, DUIbya (tm) wants to sell operations of six of our largest ports to a company owned by people in the United Arab Emirates (motto: "We only support terrorism when it doesn't interfere with our business interests.").

While I am by no means the first to weigh in on this, nor do I expect to be the last, let me suggest a few things he might also consider:

* Putting Jeffrey Dahmer in charge of the USDA (yes, I know he's dead! It's a metaphor!)

* Appointing Ken Lay to be head of the Federal Reserve (Maybe I shouldn't be giving him any ideas...)

* Putting Arther Andersen in charge of the National Archives

* Appointing Lynndie England as head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

That's the best I could come up with on short notice--Letterman, Leno, and the other late-nighters have already come up with the good ones.


* The U.A.E. was one of only three nations in the world that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan

* Two of the September 11th hijackers were from the U.A.E.

* The U.A.E. assisted in transferring funds for the 9/11 hijackers

* The U.A.E. has been instrumental in smuggling nuclear components to Iran and North Korea

I realize that I'm not the first to bring up these points. I simply want to add Voice in the Crowd to the growing chorus of complaints about this planned action.

The White House, meanwhile, is doing its usual furious spin about the whole deal. Over the course of the past few days, DUIbya and/or his surrogates have:

* claimed they knew nothing about the deal until a few days ago

* claimed that there are, in fact, some Arabs who are allies, not terrorists

* told the country that it shouldn't worry about security

* accused critics of the deal of being racists, or of racial profiling

* Threatened to veto any legislation from Congress that blocks the deal

That last item REALLY sticks in my craw. I mean, this is a President who has never used the veto once in his now more than 5 years in office, and now to threaten to veto legislation that could prevent a serious threat to National Security? And this, from the same President who has shredded the Constitution in the very name of National Security? Just when I thought he had reached the highest possible point of hypocrisy, someone handed him some more rope and he climbed even higher.

At any rate, the whole "Arabs = Terrorists" meme that the White House has been beating us over the head with for four-and-a-half years now has finally come back to bite them on the ass. Ever since 9/11, the administration has been stoking the country's fear of Mid-East terrorism, and now they act surprised when a large portion of the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, feel that it is a seriously bad idea to allow an Mid-East country to gain control over the operation of six of the largest seaports in the country.

As for my personal opinion, I feel that allowing this sale would be a serious mistake. While Dubai Ports World, Inc., may very well be (and probably is) a perfectly legitimate corporation, with no motives more sinister that accumulating a large quantity of wealth (although that in itself is ofter quite a sinister motive), consider the following scenario:

A few years from today, a Dubai Ports World middle manager somewhere hires someone without performing a thorough background check. He (or she) does this as a favor for a brother or a cousin. Or does it as the result of a small, untraceable cash payment.

Said person, once placed in a position where he (or she) is able to, causes an already inspected shipping container to be switched with another. That uninspected shipping container is loaded onto a truck and driven away. Two weeks later the contents of that container, be they nuclear bombs, "dirty" bombs, or chemical or biological weapons, are realeased upon six of the largest American cities. Tens of thousands of people are killed, with thousands more suffering

The employee who made the switch disappears. The middle manager, realizing he may have made a dreadful mistake in hiring this employee, destroys any and all record that this employee was ever hired. The United States has been hit with a devastating weapon within its own borders, and it has no way of tracing how that weapon made it inside those borders in the first place.

Osama Bin Laden, or his representative, issues a statement claiming credit for the attack, and promising more. Overnight, thousands of persons of Arab descent in the country suffer some form of abuse, ranging from verbal assaults to outright murder. The country descends further into chaos.

And, of course, the President suspends the Constitution and imposes martial law--as Congress, through inaction in the previous administration, has led him to believe his is allowed to do. People willingly surrender their freedoms in order to believe they are safe. They willingly accept any action the President orders, including the nuclear bombing of every city in the Middle East. What is left of the U.S. becomes a pariah nation in the eyes of the rest of the world. Other countries suspend all trade with the U.S. In the course of two or three days, the United States has gone from being an all-powerful superpower and a shining beacon of democracy to a dangerous rogue state. And all because an administration that will go down in history as the worst presidency ever decided, as it always did, to put the interests of business ahead of the interests of the American people.

I realize that what I have just described is the worst possible worst-case scenario, but those of you who have read Tom Clancy know that he foresaw someone using a jumbo jet as a terror weapon years before that frightening scenario became reality. And while I am by no stretch of the imagination on the same level as Tom Clancy, just remember if something similar to the scenario I described above happens, you read about it here first!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Mystery of the "Value Voter"

Consider this headline from USA Today today (I just love saying that!):

Drives to Ban Gay Adoption Heat Up in 16 States

And this headline from the Washington Post:

In N.C., GOP Requests Church Directories

Y'see, it seems that in many of the states that are considered big battleground states in the upcoming mid-term elections this year, there is a big push on to take even more rights from gays. And it seems that they are again going after church members, counting on their votes as loyal Republicans.

Excuse my language, but I can't believe they're pulling this shit yet again.

Back in '04, my state, Ohio, was one of the several states that had a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban gay marriage. Of course it passed, as it did in every other state that had the same issue. This amendment, and the others like it in other states, were probably the biggest reason DUIbya (tm) won re-election.

These issues brought out the so-called "Values Voters", the ones who traditionally vote Republican--for what reason, I have no idea. I mean, all the Republicans have been doing for the last 5+ years they've been running things is work against families!


-New medicare drug plan, written by the drug companies, that increases the cost of medications for seniors (including my dad)

-Changing bankruptcy laws to make it harder for debt-ridden families to use bankruptcy to get out from under crushing debt loads

-Cutting medicare, medicaid, and other programs for the poor

-Passing the "No Child Left Behind" act, then failing to provide adequate funding for it.

-Allowing Oil companies to make obscene profits while Americans pay as much as $3 a gallon at the pump.

-Failure to increase the minimum wage for nearly ten years, despite the fact that its purchasing power is less that half of what it used to be.

And those are just a few of the ways the Republican-controlled government has worked to hurt families, not help them. And yet they continue to get the knee-jerk votes of these so-called "value voters" on a regular basis. And it continues to mystify me.

Al Franken repeatedly talks about how if you cut everything from the New testament that talks about how Jesus taught his followers to be kind to the poor and less fortunate among us, you'd have the perfect container for smuggling Rush Limbaugh's drugs in. It is one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity (and most of the other religions of the world) that you should be kind to the poor and less fortunate. And yet, supposedly religious people continue to vote for the politicians who have been continuously working to hurt those of us who are less forunate.

It is a contradiction that mystifies me to this day.

I guess the GOP figures that if gay-bashing and religious recruitment worked two years ago, it will work again. In fact, one of the Republican candidates for Governor of Ohio has been working certain church leaders religiously (no pun intended) for their support since the start of his campaign. And they have returned the favor, in spades, asking for volunteers from their congregations, openly campaigning for him from the pulpit, and other questionable acts. It has even gotten so bad a group of church leaders from other churches have requested that the I.R.S. pull the tax-exempt status from some of the more egregious offenders.

Don't hold your breath.

However, this year Ohio has joined fifteen other states and Washington D.C. to raise the state minimum wage. The proposed legislation will affect 446,000 Ohio workers. THAT is a very large block of voters that could easily tip the scales away from Republicans in the election.

In addition, Republicans in this state are suffering serious blowback from the Tom Noe scandal (just google "Tom Noe Scandal"--I got 133,000 hits). Governor Bob Taft is currently sitting on an approval rating close to single digits, and he is dragging his party down with him.

So I remain hopeful that maybe, just maybe, the GOP dirty tricks machine will run out of gas this November.

Because if the American people are seriously dumb enough to return the GOP to power for another three years, then there is truly no hope for this country.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gem of the Day

Received via E-mail:

It seems that Groundhog day and the State of the Union address fell on the same day this year.

Isn't that ironic: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Another Take on Boom-Boom Cheney

So it seems that Harry Whittington, Cheney's victim, is now back in the hospital with a heart attack, caused when a piece of birdshot became lodged in his heart.

Let's step back and consider this for a moment, shall we?

--A typical Birdshot shell consists of several dozen pellets, each about the size of a bee-bee. In other words, it is very small. It's also very hard to kill anybody with it--it simply does not have the necessary penetrating power--unless it is fired from a shotgun at close range.

--In the news stories, administration officials always claim that Cheney was at least twenty feet away from Whittington at the time of the accident.

--Whittington was wearing a bright orange hunting jacket, and, presumably, at least one or more other layers of clothing.

Given all these conjectures, one is called upon to wonder just how a birdshot pellet managed to penetrate all the way through clothing, flesh, and even possibly bone, to lodge in Whittington's heart? Could it possibly have been that Whittington was much closer to Cheney than originally reported, and that the shooting was the result of a drunken accident and not, as has been stated, by Cheney being startled into thinking Whittington was a bird?

And given that the incident took 24 hours to come to light, couldn't one reasonably suspect that during that delay, the administration's war council was circling its wagons and making sure everyone had their stories straight before going to the media?

I realize that speculation like this pushes me, in the minds of some, even farther into the realm of the tinfoil hat club. But I don't give a shit. Wild speculation has become the basis for any number of outrageous facts coming to light. And I'm sure there are many others thinking along these lines. So I want to put it in writing, so people will know, should this scenario be determined to be the truth, that I was one of the first ones to bring it up.

Maybe then, my genius will be recognized for what it is.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Another Little Gem

While wandering the internet today, I came across this:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

This quote has been checked and re-checked, and has been verified as authentic. Go here if you don't believe me.

This country seems to creep towards becoming a fascist state a little bit more every day. Anyone who criticizes the current administration is denounced as a "liberal" and someone who "hates America". Well, let me tell you this: Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anyone who has ever lived with an alcoholic or drug addict will tell you that the worst thing you can do is pretend there's nothing wrong. If you love someone, then you have the obligation to tell them if they are headed down a destructive path. And I can't help but think that this country is headed down a path that will lead to its destruction. And so, since I love my country, I, along with many others, believe that it is our duty to tell my fellow citizens that I think we are headed down a destructive path. This is not being un-patriotic. On the contrary--this is the truest form of patriotism--realizing that there is a problem with the direction the country is headed in and trying to do something to stop it.

I realize that I'm tilting at windmills here. But just because it's a lost cause doesn't mean the cause is not just. So I will continue to speak truth to power. And while it's highly likely that no one but me will ever read these words, I consign them to that modern marvel that is the internet, knowing full well that once something gets onto it, it is never lost.

Doubt me? Just ask yourself how many times you've gotten that "Bill Gates is sharing his fortune with you" e-mail...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why I am a "Good" American

A while back, there was a reactionary rant circulating around the internet that was titled “I am a Bad American”. It recently landed in my inbox for the umpteenth time. Its authorship has been attributed to such notables as George Carlin, Paul Harvey, Ted Nugent, Dennis Miller, Andy Rooney, and many others. Obviously, none of these reasonably intelligent people would write such a piece of claptrap. But it got me thinking about what it means to be a “good” American.

And so, keeping the original “bad American” piece in mind, let me share with you why I believe I am a “good” American:


I believe that having a big house, a big boat, or a big car does not make you a bad American. The size of your house, car, boat, or anything else you own has nothing to do with what kind of American you are.

I believe the money I make is mine to keep only after the government takes what it needs to pay for the upkeep of the roads we drive on, the police and fire departments that protect us, the schools that educate our children, or any of hundreds of other government-provided services we take for granted every day.

I believe playing with toy guns doesn’t make you a killer. I played with toy guns. I also believe shooting someone with a REAL gun makes you a killer.

I believe girls have a right to join the Boy Scouts if they want to. I also think it’s silly for a GIRL to want to join the BOY Scouts. And don’t talk to me about “gender roles”. With a very few exceptions, we were all locked into a specific “gender role” from the moment we were conceived.

I believe it’s a crime and a moral failing for one of the richest industrialized nations on earth to allow any of its citizens to live on the street, or to allow one-fifth of its population to go without access to adequate health care.

I believe in the sad truth that being born a minority in this country means the odds are against you from day one. We’re never going to get rid of racial inequality in this country until we’re willing to admit as a society that it exists in the first place.

I believe people have a right to be weird, different, or just plain make us angry. I just wish so many people wouldn’t exercise that right! I also believe I have the right to ignore such people.

I believe, contrary to popular belief, that guns do kill people--that’s what they’re specifically designed for. And yes, baseball bats and cars can also kill people, but, unlike guns, that not what they are specifically designed to do, nor is it what they do if used properly.

I believe that if someone is selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, or a hotel room, I should be grateful that there is someone in this country willing to do those unglamorous jobs, regardless of whether or not they speak English well. It’s probably the best job they can get at the moment. A lot of our fathers and grandfathers couldn’t speak English very well when they first got here. Most of them did okay.

I believe our police are doing an admirable job of holding back the tide of crime and chaos that threatens to overwhelm our society. I believe they should be admired for this. I also believe that being a police officer does not make someone above the law. Police officers are in a position of great authority, and must therefore act with even greater responsibility. If they injure or kill someone without cause, they deserve to be punished for doing so.

I believe that what happens behind closed doors, between consenting adults, is none of my business--nor is it the business of politicians, clergy, police, or anyone else.

I know how to count votes, too. And I believe that I can trust an electronic voting machine about as far as I can throw it. I also think that if you received the most votes, you won the election. Period.

I know what the definition of lying is, too. I also know that it happens way too often

I thought the Taco Bell dog was silly. I also know how to read above a third-grade level.

I believe “safe and sane” fireworks means a professional fireworks show. It does NOT mean the free use of fireworks that can remove fingers, arms, or any other body parts. There’s a good reason most of these items are illegal.

I believe blaming Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, or Ice-T for anti-social behavior in children is a lot like blaming the mailman for your high credit card bill. If your kids are screwed up, odds are it’s your fault.

I believe that it’s a bad sign that too many college-age kids are being forced to go to work at Jack-in-the-Box or Blockbuster instead of going to college where they belong.

I believe Americans need to eat less, period. It is a sad fact that heart disease is the number one killer in this country.

I believe the Constitution is a fine document, but one that was also written over two-hundred years ago. And it’s one that has been amended 27 times. If we held on to the belief that the Constitution should never be changed, blacks would still be slaves and women would still be unable to vote. I'm quite certain neither of those ideas would be very popular today.

I only hate the rich when they complain about their high taxes. If someone has more money than me, they should pay more taxes than me. That’s not class warfare. That’s just fair.

I only pity the poor when I see them used as stepping-stones to help the rich get richer.

I believe that while wrestling may be fake, the injuries and deaths incurred by children imitating the wrestling moves they see on T.V. are real. I also have no sympathy for adults who are injured in the same way. They should know better.

I believe handguns and machine guns have only one purpose: Killing people. For that reason, they represent a greater threat to our national security than all the terrorists in the world. And until we realize this as a society, that threat will continue to exist.

I believe that while I never owned a slave, nor did most of our ancestors, the fact is that this country was built on the back of slave labor. And we owe them a debt we can never repay.

I believe that spanking your children is not a crime. Beating them is. If you can’t tell the difference, you shouldn’t have children.

I believe that not everyone worships God the same way that I do. That is their right. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t mind. Neither should anyone else. I also believe that going to church doesn’t make you a good Christian any more that going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

Finally, I believe an idiot with an e-mail account and a cause is more dangerous than a terrorist at the controls of a jumbo jet.

I, too, will not be frowned upon or be looked down upon or be made to keep silent because I have these beliefs and opinions. Because I believe that they make me a good citizen--which I believe is the only way to truly be a “good American”.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Politicizing a Death? I'm Shocked! Shocked!

The hypocrisy of the wright never ceases to amaze me.

I mean, it seems conservatives all over the place are up in arms that several people, including two former U.S. presidents, chose to make some remarks of a political nature at the funeral service for Coretta Scott King.

For these hypocritical dickwads, I have two words for you: Terri. Schiavo.

Seriously. These people had ZERO problem making political hay out of the tragic case of a family torn apart over the fate of a loved one. But if someone on the other side uses the funeral service of a woman who fought against racial inequality her entire adult life to bring to light the fact that that inequality still exists today, in spades, then we are treated to outrage from the wright.

So, shut the hell up, you fatuous windbags. If you're gonna dish it out, you'd better learn to take it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

I came across this little tidbit a few days ago. Though I'd share it with you:

The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine's policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

(NOTE: As you read these, consider how many of them are currently in place in America, and to what degree)

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Now by no means do I wish to imply that we currently live in a fascist state. But the fact that our country currently, in varying degrees, has some form of each and every one of those characteristics, should frighten you just a little. No, it should frighten you a LOT! In this day and age, when our president claims to have virtually unlimited powers, how long will it be before the government does away with the pretense altogether?

So, make your voice heard. Shout from the rooftops, if you have to. Speak out against the tyrannical oppressor that our government threatens to become. Demand accountability for the illegal actions undertaken in the name of "National Security". We cannot let those in power turn this country into another Nazi Germany. More than 60 years ago, our fathers and grandfathers fought and died to keep the Nazi scourge from devouring the world. Now, 60 years later, we are in danger of becoming the very thing they fought so hard to destroy. And it is happening with little or no effort to stop it.

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. This famous (or infamous, if you will) quote has been (most likely erroneously) attributed to Edmund Burke, but, regardless of whether he actually said it, there have never been, in my opinion, truer words spoken.

I delude myself if I believe that anyone besides me reads the words I write on this blog, but I want my opinions and beliefs to be recorded, so that somewhere, somehow, when someone stumbles across these words, they will know that I was a voice of dissent against the government that managed to do what no enemy had done for over two-and-a-half centuries: Topple the greatest country on Earth.

A little over the top? Maybe. But we'll see what happens in twenty years.