Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jesus talks to George W. Bush at his ranch

One day, George W. Bush was walking through woods at his ranch in Texas, and the Lord Jesus met him and walked with him, as Bush said he often did.

“Mr. President,” Jesus began respectfully, “I am deeply troubled.”

“What’s eating ya, beard boy?” Bush said to his Lord and Savior.

“I am deeply troubled because I have seen a country that does not know me. Their people do not follow my ways, and their leaders do not fear God and glorify themselves instead of him. They ignore the cries of their people and add to their affiliction. What would you do to make such a country come to know my love, Mr. President?”

George W. Bush did not think at all, for he was a decisive man who knew what he knew and needed no thought or evidence to tell others what to do. “This leader’s a bad man?”

“Yes,” Jesus said.

“We got to take him out. We’ll give some money to his enemies or even his bodyguards, so maybe one of ‘em’ll air condition his head and take his place.”

“What if no one can do this?”

“Then we gotta invade. We’ll bomb every place that leader ever takes a dump, and tuh make sure they can’t fight back, we’ll blow out the phones, electricity, water, and even sewers.”

“Won’t your bombs hurt mothers and children and even men that hate the leader more than they were hurt by the leader? Won’t the parent who sees his child whose head is reduced to empty flaps of skin by your bombs or the child whose parents and brothers and sisters are killed and whose arms armed burned from his body, hate you and your lord with an undying hatred if you do this, and fight you even more than the evil leader?”

“Jesus, I got that covered. See, we’re going to privatize everything. Everything they ever made, all the minerals and whatnot below the ground, and every plant, drop of water and breath of air above and sell it to my friends. Then they gonna sell—“

“How would that help—“

“Don’t interrupt me, I’m working toward a point, Jesus H. Christ!”

And Jesus was silent.

“After we finish the privatizing, if anyone don’t like it we’ll throw them in prison, strip them naked, and make them bark like dogs. Then we’ll take pictures and threaten to show ‘em to their wives and friends if they don’t do just like they’re told when we turn ‘em loose. If that don’t break ‘em, we’ll rape their wives and children in front of them, so that they know who’s boss.”

“How will that make them love me?”

“We’ll do some religious stuff too. We’ll make them cuss out their false god and say that you’re the Lord, and if they don’t, we’ll throw their holy book on the ground and piss on it. Hell, we’ll make them piss on it. You can bet they won’t be denying you after this.”

“I see. And what would you do with the leader of this country?”

“Well, if we didn’t kill him outright, we got to humiliate him in public. Kill his children and pull their bones out to identify them. Then when we catch him, we’ll parade him around in his underpants, and have a local on our payroll pretend to give him a trial. It’s better not to kill ‘em outright now that I think about it. My pappy says can’t go back to beat a dead dog a second time, so It’s better to let him live.”

“George,” Jesus said, “your plan is more terrible than the wrath my father rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of that country will repent of their sins, and their leader will be brought low.”

“That’s great cuz I’m a war president. I always got war on my mind. When do we get started? Who is this leader?”

“You are that leader, George. And what you have done unto the least of my children will be done unto you.”

And George W. Bush had no idea what the hell Jesus was talking about.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Iraqi lawmakers demand US withdraw troops

Democracy Now is the best hour of news on the radio, hands down. These are their Iraq headlines yesterday. The most dramatic is the call by Iraqi lawmakers for the US to pull out our troops.

Polls of Iraqis, including one done by the Bush appointed Coalition Provisional Authority show that the overwhelming majority in Iraq view us as occupiers not liberators and want us to leave.

If we are trying to teach them democracy, we should respect their position.

New Poll: Americans Against Iraq War

Meanwhile, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism. The poll was released yesterday and shows that support for the war has fallen significantly since March and is hovering at about 40 percent.

Hagel Blasts Bush on Iraq

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has amplified his criticism of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. In this week's U.S. News & World Report, the Nebraska Senator said "The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." Continuing, he said "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse," adding: "The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along." Hagel has criticized the administraton's handling of the war before, but his talk of "losing in Iraq" represents his harshest assessment yet. His comments come after Vice President Dick Cheney declared that the world is seeing the "last throes" of the resistance in Iraq.

'Out of Iraq Caucus' Formed in Congress

Meanwhile, a group of 50 progressive Congressmembers has formed a new group called The Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus. They say its mission is to try to increase pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to end the Iraq conflict and bring US forces home.

82 Iraqi Lawmakers Call for US to Leave Iraq

This comes as eighty-two members of the Iraqi parliament have sent a letter to the speaker of the house demanding that the United States withdraw its troops from Iraq. Some of the leaders of this movement come from the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of religious Shiite parties that has a majority of the 275 seats.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Letter to Mississippi on Civil Rights Trial

I saw this AP story today of the upcoming trial of one of the killers of the three Civil Rights workers in Mississippi in 1964:

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. Jun 11, 2005 — Hicks. Rednecks. Racists. People who live in this town of 7,300 have heard the epithets slung their way for decades. And many black and white cringe as they anticipate how the world will view their town when reputed Ku Klux Klansman and part-time preacher Edgar Ray Killen goes on trial Monday in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers.
(the rest of the story)
It struck me as ironic that they thought people would think ill of them for doing the right thing, so I dashed off this quick letter to the local paper there:

To: The Neshoba Democrat
Philadelphia, Mississippi

I just read the Associated Press piece on the upcoming trial of Edgar Ray Killen which said some residents were concerned it would reinforce stereotypes of the South as racist. It does not. The effect is the exact opposite.

I have lived my entire life in Oregon and California, so my direct knowledge of the South is limited to the occasional segregated prom or confederate flag story in the news, which naturally makes me and many others suspect that white Southerners at best barely tolerate their black neighbors being treated like human beings.

These murder cases from the Civil Rights era reinforce that impression only to the extent that they go unpunished. The trial of Killen and previous trial of the killer of Medgar Evers is a sign that the majority in the South want the wrongs of Jim Crow to be a part of our history not an open wound easily rubbed raw when someone accidentally brushes against it.

What you are doing is something all Americans should be proud of. It's more honorable to see a problem and fix it than to pretend that things are perfect--and always have been. You are setting an example I hope the rest of us follow.

Professor Smartass

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Attacks of Dean show pivotal choice for democrats: citizens or corporations?

If you are reading this, you already know that American democracy is in trouble, not just because the GOP controls all three branches of government and is systematically choking off all avenues of dissent, but because democratic elected officials are providing no effective opposition, and on some issues like Iraq, no opposition at all.

Unfortunately, the reason for this is simple: democrats seek donations from the same corporations and financial institutions the GOP does. They are silent because big business likes Bush.

A recent case in point was the bankruptcy bill that Democrats like Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman voted for because they get big bucks from the credit card companies in their states. They are not going to criticize something they are paid to vote for.

This is related to the recent criticism of Howard Dean. Party leaders aren't mad because he has shown symptoms of having a spine, but because he won't kiss the ass of the traditional democratic business fat cat donors.

Even more aggravating is that Howard Dean is raking in more contributions than his predecessor. Dean could make the party something that truly looks out for regular people instead of our current choice of two business parties, one with religious nuts and one without, because it won't have to kiss the ring of big business.

The Chamber of Commerce wing of the Democratic Party is frantic about this. Taking care of business is more important to them than even winning. Those of you that teach college know what this kind of party is like at a local level, one more concerned about kicking construction contracts to friends than giving faculty healthcare or having a school paper.

Consider the words of FDR on corporate power and ask yourself how many Democrats would say this today:
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing." - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Talk radio host Thom Hartmann nails it in this brief article. If you want the democratic party to represent you, take a minute to give a few bucks to the DNC, and say that you are only giving the money because of Howard Dean. Even if it's just a symbolic $2 or $5, it will send a message.



"He doesn't speak for me," they say, apparently longing for the days when their spokesman was taking big checks from multinational corporations, signing corporate-friendly trade deals, and defending sex scandals.

The simple truth is that corporate interests have hijacked our nation, theocrats want to take us back to the days of the Salem Witch Trials (with gays playing the part of witches), and the "stars" in the corporate "mainstream" media have been so terrified by Bush administration threats of loss of access (which could then lead to the loss of their own 6- and 7-figure income jobs) that they perpetuate administration lies and tremble at the thought of actually asking a tough follow-up question when Bush prevaricates.

Howard Dean points out these uncomfortable truths. And, like the little boy who said that the Emperor had no clothes, those entrenched in the status quo are trying to hush him up.

But the status quo is bankrupting our families, gutting the middle class, putting a bulls-eye on American soldiers and tourists around the world, devastating our environment and our children's future.'s critical that progressives infiltrate and take over the Democratic Party. After all, it was started by radical progressives like Thomas Jefferson, and reached its greatest electoral victories in the 20th Century when Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted an unabashedly progressive agenda.

...I realized that if I really wanted the DNC to pay attention to my comments I should make a tangible gesture. I pulled out my Visa card and made a small donation. It was only ten dollars, but if a million of us did the same, it would make people stand up and take notice.


Published on Friday, June 10, 2005 by
Dean Just Told Them The Truth and They Thought It Was Hell
by Thom Hartmann

An Important Message from Howard Dean's Critics

to conservatives waiting for "substantive debate"

(posted on Ann Coulter discussion board)

"Until there is real open mindedness and real substantive debate, we are doomed to be a divided country."

When you;re ready for suhc a thing, let us fascists know. -We're- waiting.

posted here

Professor Smartass response:

Your statement is ironic given that President Bush and Dick Cheney only speak to hand picked audiences with a tightly controlled script.

Republicans set up a whole cable network where name-calling and personal attacks take the place of substantive debate, as is the case on most of commercial talk radio where conservative voices have the microphone and rather than have a substantive debate, they simply repeat Grover Norquist's and the White House's talking points, and mock or call a traitor anyone who disagrees with them. They go so far as to have a weekly meeting to coordinate their talking points:

Fox went so far in this direction that they wanted their own reporters to change the findings of a report on growth hormones in milk and got a court ruling in their favor saying news organizations have no obligation to tell the truth.

These sources have so little regard for substance, that a study of Fox viewers compared to other commercial networks found that far more of them held false beliefs about the war in Iraq like that Saddam really had the dreaded WMD, had something to do with 9/11 (which Bush himself was forced to admit publicly including in the presidential debates), and that most of world supported our war in Iraq when the overwhelming majority didn't including opinion polls in most of our allies who sent troops.
You can see the study here: q/Media_10_02_03_Report.pdf+fox+iraq+misperceptions&hl=en

Or read a brief article on it here:

In the same study, the audiences of NPR/PBS had the most accurate perceptions of the war and world opinion probably because they focus on facts and when they have people on they let them finish their thought, and ask logical, polite follow up questions, and let them answer those too.

Conservatives hate Bill Moyers, but if you watch his show or read his transcripts, he has had top GOP strategists on like Richard Viguerie and Grover Norquist, asks them fair question and listens to their answers. I know more about what these top GOP strategists believe from that show that talk radio fans who often don't even know their names or role in the party.

Here's the transcript of one Norquist appearance on that show:

Here's Viguerie:

Moyers primary sin seems to be that he contacted these guys to get the big picture of what conservatives are doing, rather than talk to the designated spokesmen about the talking points of the day.

Now conservative politicians want to change PBS and make it more like Fox--the professional wrestling of TV News.

Yesterday, the chairman of the judiciary shut down a hearing called by democrats on abuses under the Patriot Act before most of the witnesses could be called, rather than hear then dispute their testimony.

The current leadership of the GOP doesn't want open and honest debate because that could lead to people to more than one conclusion. You can convince me war is needed sometimes, that a certain tax might need to be repealed, or that a government function is better left to the private sector, but if we have a real debate, some small percentage of the time conservatives might come to non-conservative conclusions (maybe it's good to have public fireman, policemen, and schools). That's why debate has been replaced by infomercials, literally like those video press releases, and less obviously by having a tightly controlled message insulated from real debate.

Terms like fascist and nazi got thrown around too much for decades, but they are technically correct in the case of the Bush administration and his lockstep allies in Congress. Do some research on the definition of fascism, including their relationship to business and religion, and decide for yourself.

Part I of Yahoo post
Part II of Yahoo post

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Is America a Family or Plantation?

One of our political parties has claimed to have family values that the other party lacks, and pundits on the left and right have embraced the similar idea that the right is a “stern father” and the left a “nurturing mother.” The real struggle in America though is between visions of America as family or a plantation, which is clear when you look at how each institution deals with various issues.

For example, the purpose of a family is to look after the welfare of all its members, however imperfectly it does that in reality. The purpose of a plantation is to use most of its members to support the welfare of the very few up in the big house.

Though the family does have a hierarchy of rank from child to parent to elder, it is assumed that as the child matures, he will share in the family decision-making process. On the plantation, though the older slave may become a field boss or even overseer, all real power stays with the plantation owner. Period.

The family wants to see its children grow in independence and autonomy. The plantation wants to see its children grow in blind obedience and respect for authority.

The family sees religion as a way for children to grow and understand the world around them. The plantation only allows and encourages religion to the degree that it teaches obedience and hierarchy.

It is the same with education. In a family, education is meant to build independence of thought and self-reliance. The plantation only wants you to know what makes you an effective worker, and all other knowledge is cut off and feared.

The family sees it’s members as individuals. If the parents harbor dreams of their children becoming doctors or lawyers but they instead decide to become mimes or fashion designers, well the parents get used to it because having the relationship with the child is the most important thing. If a child of the plantation doesn’t want to pick cotton and the master doesn’t see how his alternative occupation immediately profits him, that child will be beaten senseless until he sees the wisdom of picking cotton.

If someone falls sick in a family, the family does whatever it takes to make them well, staying home from work to make chicken noodle soup, driving the patient to the doctor, and re-arranging finances to pay the medical bills. If someone on a plantation falls ill, a cost benefit analysis is done. If the future work of the slave is worth more than the cost of treating him, he lives. If the master can’t profit by restoring him to health though, he will be left to die. If it is a sharecropper plantation instead of a slave one, the sharecropper would be over-charged for some medical attention that his family will still be paying for well after his death.

This would be the same if someone became a thief, addict, or worse. The family would fret and try various combinations of tough love and treatment, all aimed at preventing the person from harming themself or others. The plantation owner sees this in purely economic terms. If it profitable to repair the slave, he will do so. If the addiction improves his work output and prevents rebellion and resentment, it is not a problem. If there is money to be made off of feeding the addiction of his slave and those on neighboring plantations, say by selling drugs or building prisons for addicted slaves, he will do so. If there is no way to profit from this defect, the slave will be killed.

Ironically, the plantation spends more time talking about being a family, especially when the slaves are getting disgruntled, and need to be reminded how lucky they are to get their half cup of gruel a day as they serve the master. A real family doesn’t have to say how great the family is—its members see it in action and feel it everyday.

In a family, people have intrinsic value in and of themselves, no matter what they do. On a plantation, people have value as things, a money making piece of equipment in the account books. When they no longer make money, they are removed from the books, and never thought of again.

The saddest thing about this analogy is that for the most vocal advocates of the plantation model, it isn’t an analogy at all. They worked their fields with people they bought and sold for hundreds of years, and for another hundred years they charged the field workers for the privilege of being treated little better. This is the model of human society not just in the American South but throughout the world for most of human history—most work for the good of the few, and the middle class lifestyle many of us enjoyed in America has been a brief, happy exception. Now all of America is being sold down the river to the plantation, and like the sharecropper, we can never quite come out ahead as our debts mount but the master always has money to build another wing on the big house and spends the day drinking mint juleps on the porch while he tells us how lucky we are to have a master who tolerates our lazy and shiftless ways.

And just as that master in the South didn’t willingly let the slave have a place at the table as an equal, we cannot today expect the same corporations that send our jobs overseas, make education harder to get by demanding tax cuts then avoiding paying them anyway, charge us 30% on credit card debt, deny us health benefits, and try to deny us healthcare even when we pay for our policies, will voluntarily start treating us like members of the family. We need to act as we would if our brother or child has been kidnapped and forced to work on a plantation, and no one in authority will lift a finger to rescue them. Because our family, our country, has been kidnapped, and those we elected because we thought they saw us as family are quietly sitting on the porch, drinking mint juleps with the master.

MAINE EDITORIAL: Bush war lies impeachable

The newspaper in Bangor, Maine states the painfully obvious in this editorial.

The Downing Street Memo that says the Bush administration KNEW Saddam was NOT a threat and that the Bushies were "fixing the facts around the policy," means the Bush administration betrayed the public trust in ways that make the offenses that lead to the resignation of Nixon and impeachment of Clinton seem embarrassingly trivial by comparison.

If this were Bush's only sin, and he was otherwise only as bad as his dad, an average president at worst, it would still be impeachable. But Bush has not only lied about Iraq, but has systematically lied and withheld information on just about every issue imaginable from the cost of his Medicare prescription drug reform, when he threatened to fire the actuary who figured out the true cost if he revealed it, to 9/11 when the entire administration lied about the number and specificity of the warnings they had and even withheld key documents from the joint congressional inquiry that they eventually deigned to release to the 9/11 Commission, and of course they barred the joint inquiry from release the portion of their report that dealt with Saudi financing of the 9/11 hijackers, which independent reporters like Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker found amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. If the public knew that, they might have demanded a different focus for the "War on Terror" that didn't fit the Bush agenda.

Perhaps more disturbing than anything the Bush administration itself has done is the complicity and silence of the mainstream press and the rest of Washington. Something is profoundly wrong when a president is allowed to ignore and break law after law, and tell lie after lie, and even attack the Constitutional framework of our government without public comment or censure equal in magnitude to the offense.

If you have not yet signed John Conyers petition demanding the Bush administration answer the questions raised by the Downing Street Memo, you should do so now.

John Conyer's Bush War Lies Petition


Richard Nixon was [about to be] impeached for a cover-up of a two-bit break-in.

Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex with an intern.

Now we have the irrefutable evidence that George W. Bush lied about the reasons for taking the United States to war.

The intelligence wasn't flawed.

The weapons weren't hidden.

Our elected leaders were LYING.

So, what does it mean? It means that our president and all of his administration are war criminals. It's as simple as that. They lied to the American people, have killed and injured and traumatized thousands of American men and women doing their patriotic duty, killed at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians, destroyed Iraq's infrastructure and poisoned its environment, squandered billions and billions of our tax dollars, made a mockery of American integrity in the world, changed the course of history, tortured Iraqi prisoners, and bound us intractably to an insane situation that they have no idea how to fix because they had no plan, but greed and empire, in the first place.


Administration's offenses impeachable

Thursday, June 02, 2005 - Bangor Daily News

Let's consider an item from the news of about two weeks ago:

A British citizen leaked a memo to London's Sunday Times. The memo was of the written account of a meeting that a man named Richard Dearlove had with the Bush administration in July 2002. Dearlove was the head of the England's MI-6, the equivalent of the CIA. On July 23, 2002, Dearlove briefed Tony Blair about the meeting. He said that Bush was determined to attack Iraq. He said that Bush knew that U.S. intelligence had no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no links to foreign terrorists, that there was no imminent danger to the U.S. from Iraq. But, since Bush was determined to go to war, "Intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy." "Fixed" means faked, manufactured, conjured, hyped - the product of whole cloth fabrication.

So we got aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds imported from Niger, biological weapons labs in weather trucks, fear and trembling, the phony ultimatums to Saddam Hussein to turn over the weapons he didn't have and thus couldn't. We got the call to arms, the stifling of dissent, the parade of retired generals strategizing on the "news" shows, with us or against us, flags in the lapel, a craven media afraid to look for a truth that might disturb their corporate owners who would profit from the war. Shock and Awe. Fallujah. Abu Ghraib...

read the rest of the article here...