Saturday, December 31, 2005

Close the Doors

Back in ancient Rome, there was a temple dedicated to the god Janus. Janus was a very interesting god.

For starters, he had two faces - one facing forward, the other backward. He was the god of beginnings and endings.

The other interesting thing was the door to his temple. As long as the door was open, Rome was at war. Only when it was closed could the Republic (and later the Empire) consider itself at peace.

Well, we don't have a Temple to Janus in the United States, but if we did the doors would not only be standing open, they'd be hanging off their hinges. We've been at war for quite a while now.

And I'm not talking about the so-called "War on Terror." That's a smoke screen, a happy phrase and a talking point to cast a militaristic light on what is essentially a social problem. Terrorists are like street gangs, people - petty thugs and losers, mostly.

I'm talking about the War on the Middle Class, the War on non-White People, the War on Science, the War on Common Sense, the War on Civility, the War on Freedom, the War on Liberty .... do I need to go on?

It's time to find that damned temple and close those doors. We are not helping ourselves or others.

Friday, December 30, 2005

"The Right of the People ..."

" ... to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

That, dear readers, is the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Spelled out, neatly and clearly, is the "black letter" law of the land. You and your property can NOT be searched unless the police have a warrant.

Now, the great thing about the law is its flexibility, and 200-some-odd years of court cases have given us about 28 exceptions to that law (there are known as Exigent Circumstances). For example, the police can batter down your door and enter if they think you're flushing that baggie of cocaine down the toilet.

Which brings us to the "War" on terrorism. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court allows a 72-hour window for the authorities to wiretap and eavesdrop on people BEFORE they have to to before the FISA Court with a warrant. That's three whole days, folks.

But that's not good enough, apparently.

So now we have a President whose legal witch doctor John Yoo has told that it's perfectly okay and jim-dandy for him to have the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI spy on ordinary Americans (even to dropping cookie programs on people who visit the NSA website - and who here buys that "mistake" argument?) with complete impunity. Because it's all for the good of the country.

Well, one day we might wake up to find that the Congress has been dissolved.

All for the good of the country.

We might find ourselves openly spied upon by the authorities (with no oversight and no leash).

All for the good of the country.

We might find ourselves in a police state.

And the terrorists will have won.

If the President's actions haven't already signaled that they've won already.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Onion-Crusted Chicken Recipe

This is fairly low-cal, low-carb and delicious!

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved crosswise to make 6 roughly 4-ounce pieces
1 large red onion, finely chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon Mrs Dash (tm) - Tomato, basil and oregano flavor
cooking spray
9x12 inch glass baking dish

1. Mix chopped onion, basil leaves, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl and let it sit for 1 hour.
2. Spray the cooking spray on the baking dish, sprinkle the Mrs Dash (tm) and 1/2 tablespoon of parsley on the cooking spray
3. Arrange the chicken pieces on the baking dish; sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of parsley flakes, then cover the chicken with the onion mixture.
4. BAKE in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.
5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I've Got a Great Imagination ...

... and that's true; I've written three science fiction novels (look for my third to come out later next year!), numerous short stories and other things, but the depth of imagination required for this leaves me in wonder:

Yes, this is not a joke. The National Security Agency, the most secretive espionage agency in our nation, is trying to interest kids in cryptography (with an eye to possibly recruiting them later).

I am forced to admit that I am impressed. This government is really using Orwell's 1984 as its playbook - soon we won't be able to shut off our TV sets, and children will be informing on their parents.

Holiday Review

Well, I hope that everyone had just a splendiferous Solstice on the 21st (I was going to dance ritually naked around a bonfire, but I know my neighbors would have complained), and a wonderful Christmas/Hanukah on the 25th.

I got a few books (including Eric Hoffer's True Believers, Rawls' Theory of Justice, and the last of the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice) and some videotapes. There was other stuff, but I ain't telling. So there.

I did the same traditional thing I did last year, which was to offer dinner to my family at my house. I wasn't so pressed for time as I was last year, and everything turned out perfect. We had:
Prime rib
Mashed potatoes with brown butter and green onions
Carrots spiced with cinnamon and cayenne
Green beans with bacon
Apple pie
Coconut cream pie
Walnut/cranberry upside down cake.

I fed eleven people (counting Yours Truly), and no one walked away hungry.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another Black Eye

The Bushite Junta must be feeling rather picked on today. A series of embarrassments in the Senate and the Slave Media over the past few days have given Dear Leader and his cronies a short lesson in humility. Let's see:

The sunsetting portions of the so-called "Patriot" Act were given a six-month extension, and not the "strengthening" demanded by the GOP Leadership and the White House. Why? A number of GOP Senators went apeshit when it was revealed that Bush has been approving warrantless wiretaps without any court oversight. And what of Bush's assertion that he would never accept an extension? Well, he welcomed the extension.

Got to love the consistency.

A mammoth, must-pass defense spending bill was defeated because GOP Senator Ted Stevens of the Bridge to Nowhere insisted adamantly that he wants to drill for oil in the ANWR. Well, fuck that 82-year-old fart, said a large number of Senators.

The New York Times, that bastion of Responsible Journalism, revealed that the President has been violating both Federal law and his own oath to defend the Constitution. Of course, they waited a year (at the behest of the White House) before breaking the story. Some pundits are of the opinion that this could have swayed the 2004 election, but I doubt that. I seriously doubt that a televised endorsement from God could have earned Kerry any more points.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where Is The REAL Danger?

"At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
- The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, "Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum,of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838), p. 109.

Punk of the Week


It's time for the accolade of Loud and Egregious Punkery, the Golden Buttock! And this week the pristine Golden Buttock, modeled after the fundament of a cocktail waitress in Piscataway, New Jersey, is proudly awarded to ......

The New York Times.

Yes, the Gray Lady itself, which proudly touts itself as "all the news that's fit to print," is the best and most obvious recipient for this week's award. You see, reporters for the Times found out that, three years ago, the President of the United States broke Federal law and violated his oath to "support, protect and defend" the Constitution of our nation.

So, what did these members of the Fourth Estate do? Did they announce to all the world and the citizens of the United States that this Administration had betrayed them?


They sat on the story.

For a year.

At the request - of the White House.

This criminal gang in the White House must be stopped, since the President has stated that he has authorized spying on Americans and will do it again. This is the Imperial Presidency with a vengeance, and Richard Nixon himself would stand aghast at this vast overreach of Presidential authority.

And for NOT doing its duty, the New York Times gets the Punk of the Week Award.

Friday, December 16, 2005

That Screech You Hear ...

Is the wheels coming off the Bush Administration.

Truth to tell, the wheels have been coming off for a year now, ever since the Dear Leader was re-elected by a 2% margin that he termed a "Mandate." And he was proud of that sucker, too, and he called it "Political Capital," and he was going to spend it.

That was before.

Before Terri Schiavo.

Before the Social Security Debacle, in which the Democrats showed that they were not so spineless as some believed.

Before Katrina, Rita and Wilma pointed out the fallacy of reducing government to the point that (to paraphrase the Great Right Wing Guru, Grover 'Pinhead' Norquist) "you can drown it in a bathtub."

Before the Iraq War cost us over 2,100 American lives.

And now the President can't even get his own Party to back him (as it previously did, to the hilt) on torturing people for information and spying on American citizens. Yes, it's true. The Senate built up a veto-proof wall that forced the Dear Leader (Yes, the Anointed of God and Enforcer of the Pax Americana) to accept a ban on torture. And now we hear that the Senate has failed to block a filibuster that was the only obstacle to a further assault on our freedom.

So sit back and listen to the screeching, as the last wheel tears loose from its hub and the Mighty Bush Juggernaut piles into the wall.

Nacht und Nebel

Fog's a great literary metaphor. Adding just a little fog to a scene can convey a sense of mystery and menace to a story.

The problem is, it's no longer a story.

It has been revealed that President Bush, in the fit of panic that gripped nearly everyone in the country after 9/11, relaxed some of the rules regarding domestic spying in this country. As a result, the Department of Defense has cast a wide net to gather information on a large number of subversive and possibly treasonous organizations.

Like the Quakers. Yeah, those guys are awful, aren't they? Refusing to swear, always talking about peace and love. Damned traitors.

Let's make the fog a bit thicker now. The updated 'Patriot' Act (turning out to be the worst assault on our civil liberties since Nixon and J. Edgar Transvestite) has a provision written into it that could make even the act of holding up a protest sign a felony. Yes, you heard me right - you can go to prison for the simple act of protesting something you feel isn't right.

And again, thanks to the 'Patriot' Act and our Dear Leader's enlightened rule, if you get caught doing or saying something that the Government doesn't like, you can get branded an "enemy combatant" and spirited away to Goddess knows where. To get tortured? Maybe.

Hell, people, the President had to be browbeaten into accepting a ban on torture, and without the CIA exemption that the President of Vice wanted.

I chose the German phrase in the title of this post for a reason. The government of the German Reich in the 30s and 40s came out with the Nacht und Nebel Erlass - the Night and Fog Decree. People who were rounded up, questioned, interrogated, tortured, imprisoned or killed under this law were said to have vanished into "night and fog."

All of the parts of the Night and Fog Decree are now present in our country.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In Memoriam

Four soldiers died in separate incidents in Iraq today. The soldiers were important, not only to their families and their friends, and not only to the country they have served. They were important because of the limitless potential that each one represented, and the hope that a better way might be found to end competitive homicide.

Eugene McCarthy, former Democratic Senator from Minnesota, died today. Few people who grew up in the 1960s could ever forget him. He was an antiwar Senator during Vietnam, and his campaign helped unseat Lyndon Johnson. Clean for Gene, baby.

Richard Pryor died today. He was a breakthrough black comedian, funny, acerbic and disturbing. He co-wrote the movie Blazing Saddles with Mel Brooks, and the movie is a personal favorite (I've seen it so many times I can quote large parts of it by heart).

Six deaths.

Two were famous, four were famous in their communities.

All will be missed.

Quotable Quote

Season's Greetings!

The current "Distract the Public Away From The Complete And Utter Fuckup George Bush And His Criminal Gang Have Made Of The Country" issue espoused by the right-wing Christian Fascists has been the War on Christmas (patent pending).

In this, the shrill bleating of the attack sheep have announced that there is a liberal conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas.

As if Sears, Macy's, Wal-mart and a thousand other retailers hadn't already done so.

Even forty years ago, The Immortal Charles Schultz talked about the commercialization of the holiday (and yes, Bill O'Fucking'Reilly, 'holiday' means 'holy day,' which can mean Christmas - you dumb fuck).

If there can be a way to commercialize a solemn ceremony or occasion, rest assured that some way will be found. Otherwise we wouldn't have Veteran's Day sales. Or Fourth of July sales. Or Thanksgiving day sales.

I'm waiting for Patriot Day sales, offering big big bargains on brand name merchandise to honor all of those people who died on 9/11.

Think it's not coming? I'll put money down on it (and I don't gamble).

So, for Hannity, Colmes, O'Reilly and Coulter:
Season's Greetings!
Happy Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Happy Hanukah (which starts on December 25th this year)!
Blessed Solstice!
Happy Kwanzaa!

Now shut the hell up - I'm trying to spike my egg nog.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harold Pinter's Diatribe

Harold Pinter gave a recorded acceptance speech to the Royal Academy of Sweden yesterday, on the occasion of his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He spoke eloquently, as befits a great playwright, and it was interesting to see him set his teeth straight to the bone.

The subject of his disquisition was the United States, at whose door he laid a rather searing indictment.

It was witty.

It was trenchant.

It had the benefit of being true.

Those people who do not believe that we torture do not have any sense of our own history. During the Philippine Insurrection of 1900 we routinely used torture in order to extract information, and destroyed entire villages in exchange for the death of one American officer. Of course, we had an excuse of sorts - we had just taken over the islands from Spain, and what the Filipinos wanted (independence, freedom and self-determination) ran counter to what we decided that they wanted. So we took up the White Man's Burden.

We have fired on civilians, and visited an early version of "shock and awe" on civilian populations (Dresden, anyone? Anyone recall that?) while protesting our moral superiority. Allegations surfaced a while back that we killed civilians in Korea, and I should not have to remind people of My Lai.

Pinter also accused the US of supporting most, if not all, of the right-wing thugs that have terrorized parts of the planet since the 1950s. Again, history is instructive if you take the time to look:

Guatemala's military junta
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
Omar Trujillo
Augusto Pinochet
Manuel Noriega
Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti
Jonas Savimbi

... and so on.

Pinter also castigated PM Tony Blair of the UK. There is an impeachment movement underway in the UK already. It'll be interesting to see how Teflon Tony gets through this.

Bush, on the other hand, has 100 years for fine American tradition backing him up.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sick and Tired

Okay. Enough is, as they say, enough.

I am sick and tired of hearing about "staying the course" in Iraq, and the branding of anyone who even breathes a word of disagreement over the Iraq policy as a "traitor."

I am sick and tired of the Party that gave us Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, and now stands for raping Nature, rolling back civil rights, and selling the country to the Military-Industrial Complex.

I am sick and tired of a Party that controls the executive and legislative branches of the government and can't seen to fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

I am sick and tired of having to defend myself when I disclose my Party affiliation.

I am sick and tired of being Republican.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Punch Drunk

The Bush Junta must be getting punch drunk. Look at the number of blows to the head they've had to endure:

No WMDs in Iraq
Iraq War bogging down
FEMA's hurricane debacle
Losing Osama
DeLay Indictment
Frist Investigation
Libby Indictment
Padilla Indictment (and not what they wanted to try him for, either)
The Murtha Speech

And now, the acquittal of Sami al-Arian and three co-defendants on charges of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Add to that 2130 dead Americans in Iraq.

If this were a prize fight, Bush's handlers would have thrown in the towel a while ago.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Poop from the Pope

His Holiness and Wearer of the Pointy Red Pradas Benedict XVI has spoken, and the witch-smeller pursuivants are unleashed. So, who are they after? What hideous hucksters of heresy are the targets for today?

Gay priests.

Yes, you heard right.

Admittedly, this is somewhat old news, but I've been rather insanely busy of late, and have been depressed owing to the constant state of outrage at the accumulating atrocities perpetrated by Dear Leader and his cronies.


Now, the Vatican has failed to do anything really substantial against rooting out pedophile priests, but they're going the extra mile to scare off homosexuals from the seminaries.

I can only guess that the Pope has either had a bad man-on-man experience at some point in his life (which explains his somewhat goofy smile) or hasn't read the studies that show that most pedophiles are heterosexuals.

We Are Not Safe

We are not safe from terrorists, according to a recent critique of our progress since 9/11. That comes as no surprise - if we can't help our own people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and the other states affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, how in the name of Bleeding Jesus can we expect the government to protect us from terrorists?

And, dear readers, we are not safe from our government. Allow me to list the particulars:

1. If anyone in the CIA, the FBI, or any other part of the Federal Government thinks that you pose a threat, you can disappear. Don't laugh and say it can't happen to you - the laws forced down our throats since Black Tuesday allow them to do this. And since "we don't torture," as President Bush has said, you can be bundled onto a plane and whisked away to an exotic foreign clime - where they DO torture. No charges, no lawyer, no trial, no judicial oversight.
Our Secretary of State has reminded the European nations that they are complicit in this, since they've supported us in the past and have allowed the planes to take off and land from their countries. No wonder we're starting to have the reputation and same general social cachet as a pile of moldering dog shit.

2. The party currently in power in two branches of the government (and seeking to impose its ideology on the third and most sacred branch) wants to turn the clock back to when you weren't guaranteed a minimum wage, health care, Social Security or a pension after you retire, or even (if you're a woman) the right to decide whether or not you want a child.

3. Our government is run by a self-aggrandizing bunch of liars, thieves and caterpillars upon the body of our great nation - and I'm being generous here. "Duke" Cunningham in California is just a minor example; he was just raping his own little corner of his state - there are people in Washington out to rape the entire country, from its environmental laws to its social welfare network.

Do I need to go on?