Monday, December 22, 2008

Voracious Appetite

"You are in heaven right now, and your only job is to play. Don't screw it up."

--- Virgil Provost

Waking up after midnight
as a child, and
piling into the impossibly large
Chevrolet Bel Air, going
I could not know
where. In those days we could still discover dirt
roads to lose our way on, places the
glare of self-obsession had not yet
destroyed, had not
polluted the perfect darkness of, roaring
white-noise hum,
electric Narcissus now
shackling us into our wholly

Past the deep glassy
mirror-skin of the frigid
Tomhannock Reservoir, piercing the
rusty sponge-needle silence of
pine-forested hills in their
grave darkness,--- thick, deafening, sound-
deadening mats --- we braked into
an open field alive with
the time-lapse symphony
of nuclear stars, and raised the
tripod of a nine-inch
reflecting telescope like
cosmic conquistadors raising a

Mount Suribachi flag,
asserting rule over
infinities that required
no passports.

Not what or who we are, but
what and who we aren't, a pure and undespoiled
otherness. The promiscuous moons of Jupiter.
Saturn’s rings so sharp they could
slice meat. The stark,
bone-white ridges of the Sea
of Tranquility, we were
jealous cosmic voyeurs in
hot pursuit of
some lunar occultation,
a little leg from Venus,
the spark-torched shower of
a self-immolating meteor;
for a child in an age almost entirely
pre-digital, nature's web extended
so far beyond everything
that was merely
world wide.

That was where we anchored
as a family, in the primal forces that hurtled on
waxed slats down snow-glazed

Berkshire ridges in
the wind-burned recesses of winter;
that hove white canvas sails on
rigid aluminum masts through
the Beaufort frills of storming
whitecaps, solar breath, and that
tattooed the night sky
with million-degree brilliance ---
Deneb, Vega, Altair, and an
avalanche of others---
my father could somehow always
navigate. Even now

when the neurological
Swiss cheese of his mind can no longer
find the way home from
around the nearest corner, even
now, sometimes
before his voracious
forgetfulness can interrupt,
"there's Jupe" will dart from his
unthinking tongue, as it did from
the man who always knew
exactly where
we were going
when I was young;
and for that split second
at least, may be,
I am, and he still

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Guns for Jesus ---- Op-ed classic

( Every year around the Christmas season, there seems to be some new, vague, terror alert. Did you hear this? That's what gave me the idea for this poem.)

Terror for Christmas

Well the terror alert had been raised to high,
so our F-15's were patrolling the sky.
Keeping us safe, keeping us free,
protecting the homeland security.
Every day of the week, every week of the year,
we're armed to the teeth so we got nothing to fear---
except maybe,
fear itself.
Except maybe,
fear itself.

The kids were asleep all snug in their beds,
while visions of Predators shot through their heads.
They were slaughtering badguys like you wouldn't believe,
with their Hellfire missiles there on Christmas Eve.
They were pint-sized heroes in an army of one,
and for Jesus's birthday all they wanted was guns;
guns for Jesus,
and fear itself.
Guns for Jesus,
and fear itself.

Well the terrorists are always around,
so you better never lower your guard.
So while we celebrate the baby Jesus,
you know they're trying extra hard.

It was just after midnight and NORAD radar
showed that something big was coming in fast.
There was no time to think, and no time to argue,
act now or it might just be your last.
And they mighta thought twice,
and they mighta thought better,
but the terror was already so high,
well that was the night that the US Air Force
blew Santa Claus outta the sky.
We blew Santa Claus outta the sky.

And it was raining bits of blown up reindeer
for hours and hours on end,
and none of our jets,
and none of our missiles
could put Santa back together again.
And though fear and hate,
may keep you safe,
from everything the enemy sends,
the problem with answering fear with guns,
is that you're gonna end up killing your friends.
The trouble with answering fear with guns,
is that you always end destroying your friends.
With nothing to fear,
and nothing to love,
except maybe
fear itself.
Except maybe,
fear itself.

Monday, December 08, 2008

By any other name

Hariri, Harare,
Takfiri, Zarqawi,
Scary as SCIRI
Corrupt as Allawi.
Paintball Timimi,
Tariq Ramadan
, Padilla,
Korematsu, Bagram.
Sistine, Sistani,
Taliban, Talabani,
Ex-con, A.Q. Khan,
Rendition, Pentagon.
Wasabi, Wahhabi,
Bandar, Chalabi,
Abu Ghraib, al-Jamadi
on ice, his body.
Blackwater, Goldwater,
Whitewater tea,
Hotwater, coldwater
Torture macht free.
Potatahs, potahtahs,
Paredes, Fadlallah,
Trireme, intifada,
al-Marashi, Muqtada.
Pat Tillman, Calipari,
Little Egg, Camp Victory,
Castro and Chavez,
Boykin, Geoffrey Miller,
Alberto (El Submarino) Gonzales.
Osama, Idema,
Jidda, Jihadi,
Sgrena, Mejia,
"Karen Ryan", al-Jaafari.
Downing Street memo,
you know the fix is in.
Our guy's Karzai
in the land of heroin.
Ayatollah, Hezbollah,
Ali Ismail Abbas.
George Tenet, Sean Baker,
a Tafari named Ras.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Compassionate Emperor's New Clothes

I was having lunch with Uncle Clarence Thomas Jefferson Davis
and Senator Strom Essie-Mae Washington Williams Thurmond,
Uncle Jim Crow Strom Booker T. Sally Hemings Washington Thurmond Williams,
and over lunch at the Woolworth's lunch counter,
over lunch as we were sipping our ever so delicious
Trent Latte's, separate but equal parts espresso and steamed milk,
we discussed Uncle Thomas's Log Cabin Republican
Jim Crow High Tech Lynch law. Uncle Clarence Thomas
High Tech saving Private Jessica Ryan Lynch counter lunch law.
And in this age, in this age of
Jefferson Davis Anita San Juan Hill Bill Lewinsky Clinton lynch law,
we were all agreed what matters most is not so much the
stringing up, or the innocense, or the guilt, but, but well
the rounding up
of the usual suspects. Rounding up the
they all look the same
when the Saudis attack it's Iraq we strike back
Because when you are
stringing people up with rough shod rough rider
San Juan Thrill Hill justice, what matters is that they all
look the part. That they all look like
Osam Saddama Domma or the Ayatollah remember the
Khomeini Hussein Reign of Terror Maine-iacs
on the Herve Villaschez 9/11
"de Plane de Plane."
God is great, god is great and we are not
Ayatollah Falwell's Wahhabi wannabes,
we are not Ayatollah Ashcroft's charter school
madrassa dropouts, we are the subjects of the compassionate conservative
empire, the compassionate neocon conservative
empire, and we have prepared a compassionate
lynching for anyone who claims
that our compassionate emperor is naked,
our compassionate emperor is naked,
our compassionate emperor is just as naked
in his hooded Vietnam,
or his Dora Farm ROCKSTARS Nick Berg decapitation strike
as eleven year old Kim Phuc,
or the human sex pyramids
of Abu Ghraib.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Change We Can Believe In: A Leaked Copy of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

(In a major coup, Chomsky in Chains (don't ask how) has acquired what follows: the full text of Senator Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address.)

My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring. A spring reborn in the world's oldest democracy, that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Our generation is redefining what it means to be an American.

On behalf of our nation, I would like to thank my predecessor, President Bush, for his service to America.

For his service to human rights. For his pursuit of the ideals of freedom. For building a strong and vibrant economy. For upholding the constitution. For cultivating a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. I would like to thank him for strengthening our nation by the prudent use of military force. For faithfully executing the laws of this great land. For protecting our air, our land, and our water from those who would despoil them. His efforts for building a cleaner environment for our children’s future. For assuring the equal protection of all; not just the haves, but also the have-nots.

I would like to thank him for all these things, but I fear I cannot, because he has done none of them.

For eight years our nation has been the nurse-maid of tyrants. We have nurtured them in their tyranny, coddled them in their despotism, and honored them in their dishonor. We have known or at least shown no shame in flattering them in their crimes as long as they have acquiesced in our own.

For eight years we have lingered in the dark shadows of the Grand Inquisitor. We have imprisoned people without trial, we have kidnapped people without warning, we have tortured people without so much as an accusation before a magistrate, or a notice to their families of their whereabouts, and we have executed people on the flimsiest of suspicions.

Our Constitution has been atomized, ignored, insulted, and disemboweled. It has been dragged into the filth of Orwellian surveillance.

For eight years, our nation has changed from a beacon of hope, to a fountain of despair. Never before have so many so distrusted our purposes with such cause. Never before have so many had more than fear itself to fear from us. Never before have so many of our own allies looked on our nation with such dismay.

For eight years we have waged war without just cause. For eight years millions have fled their homes because our firepower has so escaped and exceeded our aims, and our armies have been bereft of adult supervision in their highest command.

We have had disasters above and beneath the ground. We have been misled with a blinding lack of situational awareness, to where, for all intents and purposes, a major American city has been waterboarded into a terrified husk of its former self.

In the best of cases oversight has been absent. In the worst of cases oversight has been criminal. There has been a flagrant failure either to preserve, to protect, or to defend our constitution Organized criminals have overseen organized crimes in our mines, of our food and drugs, of our educational system, even of our system for incarcerating criminals.

For eight years our nation has been subjected to an ideology of kleptomaniacal narcissism masquerading as swashbuckling, freebooting, free-marketeering.

The final result of all this has been the impending foreclosure of the American dream.

But my campaign has very deliberately avoided wallowing in the numerous and egregious failures and mistakes of my predecessor.

My campaign has had the audacity to hope, amid the shockingly awful audacity of the Bush/Cheney regime and its crimes.

My campaign has been directed at uniting this nation, at forming a more perfect union, and not dividing us poor from rich, honest from fraudulent, compassionate from scheming. My campaign has had the audacity to hope for real change.

Change from a time where we are led by war criminals to where we hold war criminals accountable for wars based on lies and naked aggression, because the naked emperor has no clothes.

Change from a time where Wall Street Ponzi schemers are given the keys to the U.S. Treasury while, reminiscent of the Joad family farm back in the 1930s, the homes of hard-working Americans are foreclosed and boarded up.

Change from a time where innocent men, one of them so old and frail even the guards of the prison nick-named him Al-Qaeda Claus, change from innocent men being jailed in prisons that are little better than torture dungeons, or worse, black sites where the very existence of the prisoners and their jails is classified and denied.

Change from an America that believes in equal protection only for the haves and have-mores, to an America that protects equally both the haves and have-nots.

Finally, and most importantly, change from an America where the rich and powerful are above the law, to an America where everyone, starting with the rich and the powerful from the President on down, where everyone is held accountable for their crimes and misdeeds, for their failures to faithfully execute the offices of their solemn oaths.

And so, finally, to inaugurate my Presidency by being true to the audacity of hope so many of you have tenaciously demonstrated in the long march to this moment, to begin with the real change that all of you can believe in, I am ordering the immediate arrest and trial of George W. Bush for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and above all for his crime against the peace in attacking and invading the nation of Iraq.

May God bless you all, and may God bless, the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Easy if You Try

--- for Billy Collins

We do not know where
we will find the next image,
inscribed on the back of a waterfall perhaps,
the textbook of some cloud,
a fedora turned by candles into makeshift chandelier,
an allegory of mirthful bougainvillea
sprawling uninvitedly over canyons of condominiums,
the table lamps of dreams encased in the terra incognita
of a thunderstorm, an itinerary prepared
by a mapmaker who's ingested hallucinogens.
The search begins, I am almost certain,
in some prehistoric orchestra where all the players,
with the exception of a barking dog in the oboe section,
are tall and gaunt, serious with a wisdom that is dark,
and motionless. Bereft of cigarettes,
they have nothing to smoke but Volcanoes.
They have heard rumors of a jazz band
touring in heaven, and if the silken garments of their skin
can be made to slide off for an afternoon,
they may investigate, sit in for
a musical jam discarnate,
a moveable feast of improvisation
in the glass-bottomed pleasure craft rowing across the sky.
It is a difficult idiom for prehistoric classicists
and they begin to reminisce fondly of the last
Great Ice Age and the long gravel driveways
of days gone by. Soon it is full-blown nostalgia:
'no one makes catapults like they used to.'
One longs for the old unities of Aristotle,
a beginning, middle, and end that seem
planned for escape from the start
--- near death, trapped on a ledge,
the climbing party discovers
the shelter of a cave
where an animal smeared on a wall
is found in a field guide key
to hieroglyphs, and reveals
the location of a secret
crawlspace that leads to safety.
There, secure in the cabin,
squiggles of smoke rising from the chimney,
we are free
to remember and imagine.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Witnessing the same
evidence, we derive the same
conclusions, with uncanny (and unwarranted)
likeness. Quine calls it the scandal
of induction. Shackle the stars in electric chains
of imagination, name an outline
a horse with wings,
or a scorpion’s tail,
and humanity cannot
fail to fill in
the rest.

The lessons we
plagiarize from the night
sky, headlines from the scandal sheet
of record, how sure are we
their tense is not
fixed in the archive,
where here and there are
nothing but the remove
of centuries? How sure are we
that eternity can be measured
by the billions of
lightyears the present is past
or that the future, having happened
yesterday, will arrive
when it was supposed to?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Picture of the Day

At first you don’t even notice
the absence of red in the sunset
over the Gusev crater. Caused
by the absence of
air I presume; our home star,
pure white. Made so
small and so
cold by its
extraterrestrial distance. But

beneath the missing ear
of the Cape
Buffalo (it’s been gnawed off)
the ruby carnage of the split
ribcage, the small
squirt of blood drying near
the lion’s whiskers, red
abounds. And although they call the turtle

green, the thin coat of
algal slime on its
ovoid carapace as it ballet-dances
through the transparent
ballast of blue ocean resembles
the color of rust,
even as its tesselated
head and flapping
(or are they paddling)
forelegs (or are they arms) verge
to purple.

It is because of not despite
the fact there are so many
places I will never
know, that I am so
jealously grateful for these
copylefted pixelmatrices,
these photospassports to
Sochi in 1915 Abkhazia,
to the alluvial
fans of the Taklamakan as seen
from a satellite, the half-buried
dust-bowl jalopies in Dallas,
South Dakota, the
psychedelic paisley
of the mandarinfish’s garish

Beauty asking
nothing in return;
for a femtosecond, revealing
the permanence of difference
and the differences of recorded

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Burn Babies Not Flags

It's the end of the world as we know it,
it's the end of the world as we know it,
it's the end of the world as we know it,
and I feel fine.
--- REM

“No blood for oil,
no blood for oil,
no blood for oil,”
no war for oil, they say
no killing for oil, they say
this war is about oil,
they say this war is about
SUVs, they say this war is about to destroy
the country, they say
the economy will
collapse, they say it is already
collapsing, they say
the stock market hasn't gone down like this since the
Great Depression, they say the stock market is
going down farther than
Monica Lewinsky, they say
we're losing hold of our
moral compass, they say that we have to stop
behaving like international criminals,
they say think of the Iraqi babies, the Iraqi
children, the Iraqi mothers,
they say we're going to destroy … ourselves,
they say there will be nothing but
war once Saddam is
gone, Shiites versus Sunni,
Sunni versus Kurds, and
insurgents from Iran
against all three, vendettas everywhere,
grudges against Saddam and his ruling elites,
they say we can't afford this,
they say the dollar will plummet,
they say there won't be enough money for jobs,
for health care,
for AIDs research,
for schools,
they say the schools have already started
shutting down one day a week
and they've already cut
funding for universities,
they say the military is already
running out of money,
the military will need
more, they will need
more because they always want
and more
and more
and more and more, they say they will
protect us until we've got
nothing left to protect, so we can keep our free
elections even if there's no one left
to elect,
and I say, I say, I say,

Bring it on bring it on bring it on.
Because if it takes a victory in Iraq to destroy this
country, if it takes a victory in Iraq to destroy America then
let's go get Saddam. If it takes supporting
Bush to destroy this country, if it takes supporting
Bush to destroy a country that spends trillions on weapons
while billions starve, that covets millions of
megatons, so they can drive giant trucks to replace their giant
cars, if it takes an unremitting and blind patriotism
to destroy this empire that will live
in infamy, then let me salute,
call me yankee doodle dandy, and
enlist me in the infantry so we can put an oh so
patriotic end to this offensively offensive pretense of
defensive invasion and the lip service praise of the sanitized
storebought history of a nation
boxcutting the poor to taxcut the
wealthiest of the wealthy and to subsidize their trans-national-
corporations. Call me an uber-patriot,
because I want this sickness
to end.

I want us to be so poor we can't afford so much as a
butter knife for a weapon. So poor we will never again
threaten the country next door much less one ten thousand miles
away because we won't be able to afford the
bus fare, and we'll just have to forget about the
computerized, ballisticized,
mansion-priced remote control
explosive devices that smash
the orbits and globes of young children's
eyes into blood dried shreds
spattered across carbonized torsos
their mothers can't

If our schools haven't taught us by
now how to stop this slaughter let them
fail, for they have bought us nothing worth calling
an education. If our doctors have no tonics to stop this
then smile when they shut down the hospitals
for they surely possess no cure for what most truly
ails us. If this is what we've made of freedom,
that we murder and enslave for the almighty dollar
a gallon, let them jail us
for from such lips the word freedom
will most certainly corrupt not just the
ears that meet it,
but the air that carries it

It's the end of the world as we know it,
it's the end of the world as we know it,
it's the end of the world as we know it,
and I feel fine.


What follows, or through the weird timing of blog posts, what precedes, is a poem I wrote in January 2003, about two months before the invasion of Iraq.

The alarming title was inspired by the artist Barbara Kruger.

In the years since it was written, it has been very interesting to compare it to the times.

Although it is wrong in several details, the general picture presented here is alarmingly true, although events have unfolded much more slowly than they are portrayed.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Russert, Springsteen, Steinbeck, McCain, Obama all pullin’ outta’ here to win

As my mom tells the story, she was doing light chores at her mom’s house shortly before I was born.

When her sister Gayle, a registered nurse, asked how far apart her contractions were she said, “five minutes.”

Gayle, whose temperament was mercurial in the laziest of times, went apeshit. “GET, TO THE HOSPITAL, NOW ”

This was a second pregnancy, and my mom who had had a long delivery with her first didn’t realize that second pregnancies are a whole different animal. Express delivery.

But there was no car. My dad was out buying a surprise (washing machine, two in diapers.) So the only thing to do was to get a lift from the neighbor, Mr. Toohey.

By trade he was an undertaker. His car, a hearse.

I was ferried into this world in a shiny new hearse.

It was my birthday. Friday the thirteenth.

I was reminded of this juxtaposition when, on my fiftieth birthday, I heard the news that Tim Russert had died at 58. Another Friday the thirteenth.

To tell the truth, I was never much of a Russert fan: too centrist for my taste, too obsequious to power. If you want to see the world from a viewpoint of about six inches distance from a politician’s ass, he’s your political genius. But if that’s an aroma and an ambience that fail to entice you, Russert holds little charm.

Nonetheless, I think his demise pinched a nerve in the body politic, a sense of the ubiquitous proximity and unpredictability of death. How you can go out even when you’re at the top of your game.

In the final analysis, I could easily have forgotten the whole incident had I not chanced across the follow-up report on his funeral on the evening news, where John McCain and Barack Obama were forced to sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder, at his funeral. Two men vying for what soon will seem an inevitability, the title of the most powerful man on the globe, forced to submit largely in silence, by the power of the grave.

As they rolled the credits on the NBC Nightly News, they played a clip from the funeral: it was Bruce Springsteen by satellite hook-up performing “Thunder Road.” The payoff for a lifetime of political butt-aroma: Springsteen performing at your funeral, and the most powerful men in the world pretending to be friends, or at least behaving civilly.

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to Springsteen, and I got the idea of checking out “Born to Run” from the local library. But they didn’t have it when I went, and so I made due with what they did have: “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

From the first incredibly poignant wail on the harmonica, steel wool tumbleweed with spangles of silver, he had me. And the echoes of Steinbeck’s original...

“Now Tom said Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries...
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me.

... I was just enthralled. And I started wondering, why hadn’t I thought about Tom Joad in such a long time? “The Grapes of Wrath” was such a wonderful book, why has it been almost completely forgotten?

And I was reminded that despite a couple of decades of Steinbeck’s being surveilled by the FBI for possible communist sympathies, he ended his life as a prominent supporter of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the Vietnam War. He actually wrote dispatches for the Long Island newspaper Newsday from Vietnam, and provided intellectual cover for Johnson at a time when intellectual cover for the war was sorely lacking. The creator of Tom Joad as cheerleader for the napalming of millions of Vietnamese Okies.

The switchbacks of history are truly myriad.

Which brings me back to the National Cathedral with John McCain, and Barack Obama, how McCain the war hero and POW would not be who he is but for America’s invasion of Vietnam, how he was, at least to some small degree, the product of Steinbeck’s political cover.

How Obama had the foresight to try and head off another Vietnam, George Bush’s Vietnam, by opposing the invasion of Iraq.

And I ask myself, when I look in their eyes, do I see Tom Joad?

Nothing of the sort.

These ideas have been rambling around in my head for months now, but just a little short of complete, as if the jigsaw was missing just one piece. And then this past week, it hit.

After 80 years, the specter of the Great Depression has risen from the rubble-pile of history lessons and paraded onto the theater marquis of front page headlines, and evening newscasts. As the sons of Vietnam’s Steinbeck vie for the presidency in Tim Russert’s lee, Tom Joad, the son of Oklahoma’s Steinbeck, stirs from his stock-market-crash grave.

Who will foreclose on the Joad family farm? Who will bail out the billionaire bank-sters?

Of course, in the end, it wasn’t “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that Springsteen was singing, but “Thunder Road,” a different Springsteen altogether : “it’s a town full of losers, I’m pullin’ outta here to win.”

Perhaps, in a hearse.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The United States of Goldman Sachs

Reversing course yet again, Secretary of the Treasury and former head of Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson, announced today his intention to scrap his $700 billion bailout plan for the financial services industry, and instead ceded the government’s power to print money directly to his former employers. Said Paulson, “everybody knows Goldman owns the government. Who’s kidding whom? Let’s just make it official.”

Reaction has been swift. Senator Barack Obama’s top financial advisor, former Clinton Treasury Secretary and former Goldman head himself, Robert Rubin, proclaimed the proposal “full of merit,” and “a meaningful improvement over the current system.” Said Rubin, “although the credit default swap market was pretty much a license to print money, this should streamline the process, and I think markets will react positively to this innovative new approach from Treasury.”

Famed deregulator and top economic advisor to Senator John McCain (at least until the “Whiner-gate” dust-up) Phil Gramm announced from his marbled offices at Swiss Investment Bank UBS that he “believed the fundamentals of the plan are sound, but a few of the details of sharing the currency printing power among major investment banks remain to be worked out.”

Markets were up sharply, with its 11,000 point gain being both the single biggest one day percentage and point gain in the Dow’s history. Similar increases were seen on both the Nasdaq and S& P 500.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi buoyed markets with her comments that “I am so tired of writing a blank check for George Bush’s pointless wars that I am seriously entertaining the idea of at least writing a blank check for someone else, and, after all, they own our party.”

Some dark clouds did loom on the horizon. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd expressed substantial pique that none of the 4,742 text messages he had sent to Secretary Paulson in the past week had been responded to. Said Dodd, “ I know we’re an irrelevance, but couldn’t he at least have the common courtesy not to rub it in?”

Asked for comment McCain running mate Sarah Palin said she was fed up with economic distractions from the real issues of the day and challenged either Senators Joe Biden or Barack Obama to a “moose dressing competition,” saying “that’s what the American people really care about.”

Alan Greenspan, the legendary former head of the Federal Reserve was wildly enthusiastic, saying “at last we can begin to pull back on the underperforming aspects of the economy and focus on only the most productive sectors.” Said Greenspan, “by focusing on the printing of money we will be able to prune, substantially, unproductive activities, like agriculture, manufacturing, medical care, transportation, education, and construction.”

Congressman and two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich expressed outrage: “They are selling out our country. They are betraying our country. George Bush, and Henry Paulson could not have done more damage to our economy if they had handed it over to Osama bin Laden.”

Reached for comment in his remarkably palatial residence in a hidden location in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden begged to disagree. “What I did to the Twin Towers of your World Trade Center, Bush, and Paulson, and Clinton, and Rubin, and McCain and Gramm, that is what they have done to the economy of the whole planet. Even I couldn’t begin to compete with that.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"American conservatives are a bunch of liberal sissies"

So one conservative says to another conservative:

“In my country there is a wonderful new conservative candidate running for the vice presidency.”

And the second conservative responds to the first, “That is wonderful. What is his name?”

And the first conservative says, “Her name, actually. It is a woman, and her name is Sarah Palin.”

Second Conservative: “I thought you said it was a conservative candidate.”

First Conservative: “Oh, she is, she is. She has the most wonderful conservative positions on all the issues.”

Second Conservative: “In my country, a true conservative would not allow a woman to run for government office. It is a contradiction in, how you say it, oxymorons. It is a contradiction to say that a woman is a conservative candidate.”

F.C.: “Ah, well, your country is just backwards when it comes to women. In our country a woman can aspire to the highest office in the land.”

S.C.: “But this is not a conservative idea. This is some liberal heresy. Even in your own country it was illegal for women to vote not that long ago, and a true conservative would not allow his woman to vote, much less to run for office.”

F.C.: “I’m a conservative, but I’m not a Neanderthal. In our country women are entitled to all of the same rights as men.”

S.C.:”So in your country it is possible to believe in evolution and to call yourself a conservative.”

F.C.: “Say what?”

S.C.: “Neanderthal. Where does it mention Neanderthal in the holy written word of God?”

F.C.: “It’s just an expression.”

S.C.: “An expression that came into being because of evolution, because of the idea that humans are descended from apes, and that Neanderthals were a step in the evolution of modern man. In our country, God created man, and that is final. God said so in his book. Only a heretic would believe in Darwinian evolution. This is the total opposite of what it means to be a true conservative.”

F.C.: “Well of course no true conservative believes in evolution.”
S.C.:”And so no true conservative believes in letting women vote. No true conservative believes in letting women hold political office.”

F.C. “But that just seems backwards.”

S.C.: “You cannot have it both ways. You cannot call yourself conservative and say that a woman can hold political office.”

F.C.: “But what about Margaret Thatcher? Everyone called Margaret Thatcher conservative.”

S.C.:”This is merely advertizing and public relations. Mrs. Thatcher did not believe that abortion should be illegal.”

F.C.: “She what?”

S.C.: “She believed that government had no business intervening in a fundamentally personal decision like abortion. Can you believe that such a woman would be called a conservative. Would you call such a woman a conservative in your country? Would you call anyone a conservative in your country who did not believe that abortion is murder?” (

F.C.: “Well that’s one place where Sarah Palin has shining conservative credentials. She had a baby with Down’s Syndrome despite knowing the baby had Down’s Syndrome. And her 17 year old daughter is going ahead with her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and intends to marry the father.”

S.C.: “Her out-of-wedlock pregnancy?”

F.C.:”But she intends to marry the...”

S.C.: “In my country a true conservative does not have an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. In my country we do not elect such people; we stone them. We bury them alive. But we do not elect them.”

F.C.: “That’s inhuman. That’s immoral. She’s only a 17 year old girl.”

S.C.: “No, it’s conservative. That’s what it means to be a true conservative. There has been a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things for all of time. They never change. That is what a conservative believes. A true conservative.

You, with your woman’s right to vote, your woman’s right to rule a government, your woman’s right to engage in sex outside of marriage, you are nothing but, nothing but, I hate to say this, but you are nothing but a liberal.”

F.C.: “What?”

S.C.: “I am afraid so. A liberal. You may flatter yourselves that you are pit bulls with lipstick. I see the lipstick, but not the pit bull. American conservatives are a bunch of liberal sissies.

In my country an unmarried girl who is pregnant is stoned to death.

That is a pit bull. That is a person who is unafraid to execute the will of God.”

F.C.: “I’m glad we’re bombing your countries.”

S.C.: “And now your true character comes out. You are bombing us for our conservative beliefs. You are bombing us because we are conservatives. You call yourselves conservatives, and bomb the true conservatives. You call yourselves conservatives and are ruled by whatever liberal principles are convenient for your ruling classes, and you then call these conservative.

This is true hypocrisy.

But who here is true to the word of God?

Who really has the courage, to execute God’s will?”

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Someone is Stealing My Television Set

Someone is stealing my television set.

In the global scheme of things (11 million children dying each year of easily preventable illnesses for example), this is not a big affair. But still, a television is a television.

I remember after the levees failed in New Orleans, stealing a television set seemed to mean something. It seemed to count for something. It seemed to signify the demise of Civilization-as-we-know-it. It seemed to merit coverage on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News. Saturation coverage.

But then the term was “looting”, and people of the wrong complexion were observed with televisions that did not belong to them. In the aftermath of a “natural disaster” people were preying on their fellow man. Not for food. Not for survival. But for profit. It was, “horrible”.

The main problem with this picture of course is that it was not a natural disaster. The failure of the levees in New Orleans was a man-made disaster, caused by negligence, incompetence, and corruption: a failure of governance on an epic scale. It was not Katrina, but misrule that savaged the city, and subjected it to a kind of meteor-ideo-logical waterboarding. As thousands of people, (almost all black people) outside the New Orleans Convention Center chanted for “help, help, help, help,” and the man in charge of disaster relief asked “where is the convention center,” major news media found time for saturation coverage of a television being stolen.

But if the problem here was an abandonment of governmental responsibility, if the problem here is misrule, then stealing a television set is an entirely appropriate reaction (you do what you can to survive, I’ll trade you a television for a ticket out of the city). After decades of rule by an ‘every man for himself’ philosophy, it is hardly a surprise to find the occasional everyman acting for himself.

Which brings me back to my television set.

The same government that waterboarded the people of New Orleans has ordained that my television will stop working on or about February 2009. Whereas you may say this is not stealing in the technical sense, preventing the proper functioning of my television set by changing the broadcast standards amounts to theft just as much. You could say they are stealing the function of my television set, not the set itself. But I never would have bought the television in the first place if it wasn’t going to function.

Of course there are converter boxes. There are subsidies for buying converter boxes. But these are sops to try and make me less angry that my television set is being stolen.

But my real point is how amazing it is that no one calls this theft.

Not just one or two televisions are being taken in an environment of emergency, up to your ass in water-moccasins as the case may be, but millions, tens of millions of television sets being looted by the same people whose negligence caused the New Orleans flooding in the first place, and so far as I know not a single word of protest or objection is being raised anywhere.

When I was a child my parents would often tell a tale from Konrad Lorenz’s book “On Aggression.”

If a low ranking monkey was trained to operate a machine that gave out bananas, other members of the monkey tribe would go to that monkey and demand a banana from the machine. But if a high ranking monkey was trained, he would teach other monkeys to operate the machine for themselves. Which is to say that whether or not something is “theft” depends on the social rank of the people doing the stealing.

For over a decade now we as a society have been planning the development and delivery of HDTV, and the biggest of big players have been sharpening their cleavers for an appropriately-sized share of the action. When large corporations with names like Sony, and GE, and Panasonic, and Philips get together and agree on a schedule to reallocate the nation’s bandwidth resources, the result, whatever it is, is not theft.

Certainly it will not be reported as such in the news media that are owned by Sony, and GE.

And so on the third anniversary of the waterboarding of New Orleans, watching the faith-based coverage of the faith-based political conventions that amount to democratic thought in our soon to be HD world, I am not much worried about my television being stolen. It has been a long time since there was anything on worth watching. Come next year there will be nothing but noise, and static, fuzz and blur.

Over all, a big improvement.