Thursday, September 29, 2005

The US as Moral Basket Case - A Study Reveals Something Most of Us Already Knew

September 27, 2005

The Times

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.
It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.
Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.
The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.
He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.
The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.
Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”
He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.
Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.
He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.
“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.
“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The news media are authorized to report:

That Dear Leader is warning us to brace for an increase in insurgent violence in Iraq.


Whillikers, I thought we had that country under control, that we had "turned the corner," and that the insurgency was in its "last throes."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Would You Believe ...?

Don Adams, war veteran (he served in WW2 and fought on Guadalcanal) and three-time Emmy winner for the TV series "Get Smart," has died today at age 82.

In homage, CIA officers around the world deactivated their shoe phones for two minutes.

Sorry about that, Chief.

Katrina Relief

To date, I've donated $250 to the relief of my fellow Americans.

1-800-HELP NOW

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Punk of the Week

Here's a special Sunday edition of the Punk of the Week Award, where we reach into the depths of word-class Punkery to show you, the non-Punk public, the Punkness in our universe.

And the Golden Buttock is rubbed with good old Mississippi mud and awarded to....

Tim Russert of NBC "News," who went after a certain Mr. Aaron Broussard today on NBC's "Beat (as in 'flog') the Press." Mr. Broussard achieved a bit of unwanted notoriety following his tearful appeal for aid in his parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now, Mr. Russert wasn't interested in finding out if the parish and its people were getting any help.

And he wasn't interested in asking whether or not the local, state or Federal governments fell down on the job.


In an astounding display of pure, unadulterated Punkery Mr. Russert attacked Mr. Broussard's account of the death of the mother of his parish's emergency management director. This kind of thing is something we see a lot from the Slave Media at the command of its corporate masters and the Imperial Government that pays them. Don't bother asking about mismanagement, malfeasance or just plain stupidity - attack the victims! Yeah, that works just fine.

To his everlasting credit, Mr. Broussard defended himself ably by not rising to the attacks, but instead attacking Russert's credibility and those of his greasy ilk who stoop so low. To see the video on this, go to, and watch closely.

This is what the Imperial Government has ordered the Corporate Masters to do, and their collared and leashed Media Minions are more than happy to sell their souls for a paycheck.

And that is why Tim Russert is, has been, and always shall be (world without end, amen) a Punk.

Uh oh

Stupid People

I'm copying this in whole cloth from another blogger, who is definitely quite articulate. He also knows how to frame an argument, so sit back and watch in awe.

Thanks, Driftglass.


Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid...”

That’s the start of a quote by Robert Heinlein that came to mind as I read this from the L.A. Times

A Mother's Denial, a Daughter's Death
By Charles Ornstein and Daniel Costello Times Staff Writers
Sat Sep 24, 7:55 AM ET

Christine Maggiore was in prime form, engaging and articulate, when she explained to a Phoenix radio host in late March why she didn't believe HIV caused AIDS. The HIV-positive mother of two laid out matter-of-factly why, even while pregnant, she hadn't taken HIV medications, and why she had never tested her children for the virus. "Our children have excellent records of health," Maggiore said on the Air America program when asked about 7-year-old Charlie and 3-year-old Eliza Jane Scovill. "They've never had respiratory problems, flus, intractable colds, ear infections, nothing. So, our choices, however radical they may seem, are extremely well-founded."
Seven weeks later, Eliza Jane was dead.
The cause, according to a Sept. 15 report by the Los Angeles County coroner, was AIDS-related pneumonia. These days, given advances in HIV care, it's highly unusual for any young child to die of AIDS. What makes Eliza Jane's death even more striking is that her mother is a high-profile, charismatic leader in a movement that challenges the basic medical understanding and treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Even now, Maggiore, a 49-year-old former clothing executive from Van Nuys, stands by the views she has espoused on "The Ricki Lake Show" and ABC's "20/20," and in Newsweek and Mothering magazines. She and her husband, Robin Scovill, said they have concerns about the coroner's findings and are sending the report to an outside reviewer.
"I have been brought to my emotional knees, but not in regard to the science of this topic," said Maggiore, author of an iconoclastic book about AIDS that has sold 50,000 copies. "I am a devastated, broken, grieving mother, but I am not second-guessing or questioning my understanding of the issue."
One doctor involved with Eliza Jane's care told The Times he has been second-guessing himself since the day he learned of the little girl's death. Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who had treated Eliza Jane since she was a year old, said he should have demanded that she be tested for human immunodeficiency virus when, 11 days before she died, Maggiore brought her in with an apparent ear infection. "It's possible that the whole situation could have been changed if one of the doctors involved — one of the three doctors involved — had intervened," said Gordon, who himself acknowledges that HIV causes AIDS. "It's hindsight, Monday-morning quarterbacking, whatever you want to call it. Do I think I'm blameless in this? No, I'm not blameless."
Mainstream AIDS organizations, medical experts and ethicists, long confounded and distressed by this small but outspoken dissident movement, say Eliza Jane's death crystallizes their fears. The dissenters' message, they say, is not just wrong, it's deadly. "This was a preventable death," said Dr. James Oleske, a New Jersey physician who never examined Eliza Jane but has treated hundreds of HIV-positive children. "I can tell you without any doubt that, at the outset of her illness, if she was appropriately evaluated, she would have been appropriately treated. She would not have died.
"You can't write a more sad and tragic story," Oleske said....
"Would I redo anything based on what happened?" she asked rhetorically during an interview this week. "I don't think I would. I think I acted with the best information and the best of intentions with all my heart."
...Word Is Getting Out
Since Eliza Jane's death, Maggiore and her husband have kept a relatively low profile, her friends said. But word is slowly reaching HIV dissidents around the country. Though shaken, most of them say they continue to support Maggiore and her contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. For her part, Maggiore said that her daughter's death has taken a toll on her health; she's had trouble eating, sleeping and, this past summer, simply breathing. She's treated her symptoms with Chinese herbs, walked five miles a day and practiced yoga, and is now feeling better, she said. She went to a sympathetic doctor, she said. "If I had gone to a regular AIDS doctor and told them I was HIV-positive, I have no doubt they would have blamed it on that." In the weeks after Eliza Jane's death, her parents created a website, , in her memory. Maggiore wrote lovingly of her daughter, wavering between despair at her loss and acceptance that Eliza Jane had simply chosen, as Maggiore put it, to "go home." She struggled most with the whys. "Why our child — so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured — and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?" she wrote. "How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?"

Why did I lead off with that Heinlein quote?
Because it ends like this.
“...But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal and execution is carried out automatically and without pity." Robert Heinlein – “Time Enough for Love"

This, in one tragic nutshell, is what is so wrong and incredibly dangerous about True Believers, and why they should never, ever be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. True Believers look like anybody. Once nice woman who was with the Heaven’s Gate cult reminded me a whole lot of my Mom. Cheery woman, very sweet, enthusiastic and jokey, giddy that she had found such a nice bunch of young people to keep company with...and looking forward to the arrival of the Mothership like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus. Just like my Mom, but with a single, blown chipset -- the one that keeps her from believe fatally crazy gibberish and stepping blissfully off into the grave -- and that woman is dead now, along with 38 others, who committed mass suicide in 1997.
Harlan Ellison, who has spend most of his life fighting this fight, wrote an essay about Heaven's Gate. About the lethal chasm between a rational approach to the Real World and the abyss of superstitious, magical thinking hysteria into which the True Believers all around us try to drag us. He writes here specifically of the distinction between “science fiction” and “sci-fi”, but lets face it, icky-dumb atavistic hate-religion allied with fake science is more on the march than ever. The news is daily filled with the spectacle of adults throwing litigious tantrums demanding that infantile crap like Creationism be taken seriously and stories of pharmacists refusing to fill the birth control prescription for consenting adults on the basis of their “faith”.
Their faith seems to consist largely in the belief that slavering, pinheads speak for God Almighty because said pinhead are holding a Bible, have excellent hair and a Confederate accent and preach a faith that insists God’s Grace requires that you be born stupid and hateful, you stay stupid and hateful and you die stupid and hateful. In such a world as this, Harlan’s essay seems more timely than ever. Here’s a snip.
...And that is the dichotomy of science fiction, as opposed to the tabloid mentality of UFO abductions, triangular-headed ETs, reinterpreted biblical apocrypha, and just plain bone stick stone gullibility. It is obscurantism and illiteracy, raised to the level of dogma. It requires that you be as ignorant today as you were yesterday, that you be no brighter than the sap who keeps playing three-card monte on a street corner with a hustler who will never cut you a break. "Sci-fi" is what the Rancho Santa Fe sleepers bought, in that flashy but adolescent shell-game called Waitin' for the UFO. They were philosophical suckers who turned away from the genuine wonders of the real world and all its solvable mysteries, to embrace the sophomore horse-puckey of astrology and government conspiracies and recastings of Jesus as a deep-space navigator. That has nothing to do with the problem-solving and curiosity of science has everything to do with the monster fear and dread produced by the dumbness of "sci-fi."

If you wonder why I have such an intractable loathing for Conservative Fundamentalists, this is what it comes down to. The simple fact that they are nothing more than Heaven’s Gate multiplied by a million, and in control of a nation armed with atomic weapons. The fact that, in addition to any number of hateful and bigoted doctrines, these people work for, pray for and deeply believe in the extinction of Life on Earth as a Good and Godly final coda to this wicked world. They want the whole of humanity dead and the planet reduced to a rubble-strewn funeral pyre because then Jebus will come and take them away to Heaven, and they are as serious as cancer about doing their level best to trigger the end of the world. And for sordid political gains, a certain political party in the country keeps giving these people -- who are adamantly pro-Armageddon -- more and more power and letting them inch closer to control over US Foreign Policy and the nuclear launch codes. When they succeed, True Believers usually end up dead and/or killing a lot of others: either way, they are Terminalists, believers in Final Answers and Last Chapters, and when the hour reaches Zero and the tumblers in their head all click into place, bad shit is about to come raining down on everyone in the blast radius.
That is the moment when, at a minimum, they’ll drag their kids out to Highway 61 for the Big Goodbye Sacrifice that the God of the True Believer always exacts in exchange for the keys to the Kingdom.
That is the moment you can be damned sure that somebody’s going to die. Sometimes whole countries or peoples.
Sometimes 913 human beings in the jungles of Guyana.
Sometimes 39, dressed in their dorky purple capes and Nikes, believing that their souls would thumb a ride to Nirvana aboard the UFO they were convinced was trailing along in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet.
Sometimes it’s just one child.
And that's when they succeed.
When they fail, they never learn. They cannot learn. Since they have abandoned the very concept of reordering their beliefs according to Reality, they have left themselves nowhere else to go but further down the rabbit hole. They have cut out any self-correcting mechanism they might've once had, because the need for correction implies fault. Which implies doubt. And since True Believers cannot abide doubt in even trace amounts, they are left with:
"I am a devastated, broken, grieving mother, but I am not second-guessing or questioning my understanding of the issue."
They fall deeper into Psychotic Narcissism – which was all their True Belief ever was -- and maunder on about:
"Why our child — so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured — and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?" she wrote. "How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?"
Listen to how utterly sick and self-absorbed this unhinged bitch has become. In her deluded theology, children die because they opt to, and children remain alive – even when faced with the unimaginable horrors of “extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables” – only because they decide to “stay”. When things don’t go according to plan – which is always -- True Believers never question themselves. They blame God or their Victim for somehow, magically, overriding their Perfect Dogma, and end up believing:
“...that Eliza Jane had simply chosen, as Maggiore put it, to "go home."
How fucking insidious.This woman has fallen so fanatically in love with her own Perfect Dogma that she has destroyed any ability to judge whether or not her Dogma might possibly be in error. And since her HIV Cult God cannot possibly be wrong...some alternative theory -- no matter how objectively monstrous and evil -- must be true. It wasn't depraved indifference. It wasn't homicidal negligence. No, her daughter just “chose” to die for mysterious, magical reasons.
To which I can only add that it would be a great good if Ms. Maggiore would seriously consider “choosing” a "trip home" herself in the very near future. Before her stupid True Belief kills anyone else.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tinfoil Hat Time

Okay, I've been accused of paranoia in the past. It's a character flaw, I know. But I comfort myself with the following slogan:

"You only have to be right once to make paranoia worthwhile."

I've noticed a couple interesting things lately. Sen. Leahy saying at first that he won't vote for John Roberts, but joining Sen. Baucus of Montana in supporting his evasive ass for Chief Justice. Sen Voinovich said he wouldn't support Judy Myers for a post in the government, but after "having talked to her" will vote in her favor.

Now, a few months ago I read an article that a certain chemical had been discovered. This chemical, when inhaled, makes the person trust the person emanating the scent.


The Stink

Yes, there it is again - the rank smell of bitter failure clinging to everything FEMA and DHS(HSA) has done since Hurricane Katrina first made Category 1. It's an odd smell, sort of a weird mixture of rank locker room towels, old sweat, sewage and fear, compounded and shot straight up your nostrils like nasal spray.

No matter what you do, you can't get the smell out of your nose - it's like the smell of burning hair.

An eight-lane highway was available to evacuate people from Galveston and Houston in advance of Hurricane Rita this week, so what did the locals do? Opened only 4 lanes and let the traffic back up until I-45 was a gigantic parking lot.

Ice sent south in the wake of Katrina was diverted, sat in the trucks for days or weeks, then sent to Maine and Massachusetts. I expect they were waiting for Ophelia up there.

Doctors were forbidden to treat patients, because of lawsuit concerns.

Firefighters were detailed to pass out leaflets.

And now we hear that Michael Brown, the dean of the horsey set at FEMA, is still getting paid by that agency, "for transitional purposes." Ho, ho. Imagine trying to get paid for "transitional purposes" at YOUR job if you have to be forced to resign from it.

Now, take all of this (recalling that we haven't yet seen FEMA's response to Rita once it makes landfall), and imagine.

Imagine a radiological bomb exploding in downtown Los Angeles on a busy Friday afternoon.

Imagine a homemade batch of Sarin being released on the DC Metro.

And now try to imagine the response of FEMA and the DHS/HSA.

You smell the stink already?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Got Porn?

Hey, guess what?


No shit. I quite literally shit you not. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation, having conquered al Qaeda and arrested Osama bin Laden, has changed its focus to the Home Front in order to destroy the next target on the Bush Administration War Plan.


And not just any pornography, either; on the orders of Attorney General Alberto "Let's Torture 'Em" Gonzales they're setting up a nationwide task force at the FBI to crack down on the 'good' pornography - the kind that features human beings over 18 Gregorian calendar years of age.

Yes, you heard me.

Not child porn.

Not bestiality porn.

Not gay porn.

Good old fashioned heterosexual consenting adults porn is the target of the dedicated agents of the FBI.

You know, I feel much safer knowing that while I may get blown to bits by a terrorist car bomb, at least I won't be exposed to pornography.

"Utter Madness"

From The Mirror:

"HUNDREDS of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned.
US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees.
Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption.
- snip -
"The worker added: "There will be a cloud of smoke above Little Rock soon - of burned food, of anger and of shame that the world's richest nation couldn't organise a p**s up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations.
"Everyone is revolted by the chaotic shambles the US is making of this crisis. Guys from Unicef are walking around spitting blood.
"This is utter madness. People have worked their socks off to get food into the region.
"It is perfectly good Nato approved food of the type British servicemen have. Yet the FDA are saying that because there is a meat content and it has come from Britain it must be destroyed.


I can only imagine that the unnamed aid worker meant a "piss up in a brewery," which I think might equate to mean "couldn't catch the clap in a brothel."

Or "couldn't get laid in a whorehouse."

Or something like that.

This is fucking stupid, and for once it can't be laid at George Bush's feet. This is a case of bureaucracy run amok, tied down by rules that have since passed their expiration date or are no longer relevant.

No wonder the British are mad at us, and we may have inadvertently alienated our staunchest ally.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Thank You, George W Bush

" ... a United Nations panel of experts issued a report Monday saying there is no shortage of recruits for terrorism worldwide and that Iraq has provided new training ground for them, replacing al Qaeda bases lost in Afghanistan.
"'Al Qaeda has managed to recover from the loss of Afghanistan as a training base for terrorism by exploiting the situation in Iraq,' the report said."
- CNN, 9/19/05

Thanks a freaking heap, George.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Back to the Future

NASA unveiled an idea that they've been kicking around to maximize crew safety while still getting The Big Jobs Done. It's not a bad idea, on its face.

1. Send the crew up separately, in an Apollo-style command module that can re-enter safely (be fair, the Apollo program never had a re-entry accident).
2. Send the cargo/station/payload/etc. up separately, in a heavy-lift booster.

Sounds neat, but NASA's planning on using old materials to do it. Digging deep into the back of that old closet or disused spare bedroom and dredging up old capsules and Saturn V F-1 engines.

When I read this, NASA immedaitely sprang up as runners-up for the Punk of the Week Award, but I backed off, realizing that they're doing the best they can with the limited funds that the Congres deigns to give them. Funds that are soon to be cut back further since Dear Leader opts to not raise taxes.

The leadership in space will go to the Chinese.

Punk of the Week Award

The Punk of the Week Award is usually reserved for the greatest Punk or Punkette of the past seven days so that their Punkery can be revealed for all the non-Punk world to gape at.

This week, the Golden Buttock is adorned with Mardi Gras beads because it's being awarded to:

His Excellency and Imposer of the Pax Americana Upon Prostrate Enemies, Anointed by the God of Death to Everyone but People Who Really Deserve It, Our Dear Leader and President, George W Bush.

Dear Leader went on national TV earlier this week to give an address he could have phoned in. It was composed largely of talking points and budget initiatives designed to make the national deficit grow out of all proportion while providing his and Dick Cheney's friends with steady, gainful employment for the rest of their squalid lives.

For the occasion, Bush spoke from Jackson Square in the heart of New Orleans, and people rejoiced when the lights came back on. That rejoicing immediately subsided into muted grumbling as Dear Leader stepped back onto Air Force One for a return to Washington. It would not be like our Potemkin President to leave any infrastructure behind, oh no - that might be something Christ would do.

In the news today Dear Leader swore that he would not raise taxes to help offset the $200 Billion cost of reconstruction. Instead, he'll cut spending on programs. Hmm. What sort of programs will he cut?

The "mini-nukes?"

The "rods from God" orbital weapons system?

His own paycheck?

Hell no. He'll cut domestic spending, including education and social welfare programs, as well as scaling back environmental regulations and other irksome (irksome to the False Republicans, that is) 'drains' on the budget.

For being the Biggest Punk of the Week, we hastily throw the Golden Buttock to George Bush.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dear Leader's Address to the Masses

I didn't get to see this when it first came on, but CNN obligingly reran it.

With the triumphant equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson looking over his shoulder, the President held forth on live TV about a number of points he wished to go over in reference to the recovery of the Gulf States. Most of it was made up of talking points that have already been covered.

However, his choice of shirt left much to be desired, as the shirt blended in with the blue cast of the statue and church behind him to make Bush look like The Floating Head of Death or the Great and Powerful Oz.

His choice of shirt also made me wonder if he dressed himself.

"We'll build higher, and better." What the hell does that mean?

More talking points. He should not be given a pass on any of this - spewing out talking points and mouthing platitudes is not leadership.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mazel tov!

Hurrah! Brittney Spears has had her baby!

Yes, we now have yet another child of an alleged celebrity who will be requiring massive psychological support and slick lawyers to get it out of various legal difficulties starting about age 15.

News Roundup

As stated previously, I went all productive and industrious over the past few days. I watched the news but really didn't feel like blogging anything. But I think it's time now, so here goes:


Well, the flood waters are starting to recede in New Orleans and slowly people are starting to find what the water left behind. Bodies, lots of them (but thankfully not the 10,000 first estimated). 34 bodies were found in a nursing home in St. Bernard's Parish, and now the owners of the nursing home are under arrest for negligent homicide. Serves them right if found guilty. I shudder thinking of how frightened those helpless people must have been as the murky water rose around them.
The hurricane claimed two more victims earlier this week: FEMA Director and Arabian Horse Show Arranger Michael Brown received the accolade of George W Bush last week, yet that did not save him. For the first time in this Administration, a member of the entourage was recalled to Washington. Brown has since resigned, but continues to blame everyone but his own incompetence.
Speaking of incompetence, the Dear Leader himself gave a limited, weak as dishwater admission that something had gone horribly wrong. Presumably Karl Rove advised him to do it after passing that last kidney stone.
Now it is the turn of Michael "Grim Reaper" Chertoff to apologize, admit failure, or step aside. Someone told me that his last name was Russian for "Of the Devil," and it must be allowed that he looks quite Satanic.


Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, praised the hurricane as Allah's vengeance on America, and said that the oppressed peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq had prayed for it.
Maybe so. It must be recalled that the Year of the Rat has never ended.
Speaking of rodents, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani actually came out and said that the US can start withdrawing 50,000 troops within about 6 months. About damn time. Of course, he was rapidly sat upon by the Junta.
Meanwhile, the terroristas have started something new and intriguingly nasty. They set up a van and canvass for day laborers, and when the crowd gathers they push the thunder button. One set off in Baghdad killed about 150 and wounded 300.

John Roberts

False Republican Senators lobbed mainly softball questions at Judge Roberts during his confirmation hearings, while all the Democrats could get from him is vague assurances that his religious or personal convictions would not be a factor. Sen. Biden (D-MBNA) said that the Senate is "rolling the dice" with him, since there's no way of telling what his actual opinions are (but he's very effective at articulating those of his former employers).
Naturally, the False Republicans will vote to confirm him en masse, and expect at least ten or fifteen Democrats to roll over like weasels and expose their softest parts.

America Supports You Freedom Walk

I haven't seen any video of this travesty.

George Bush

With his poll numbers deep in the septic tank and digging deeper, he tried to offer a limp apology on the eve of his foray into the United Nations. It's actually quite interesting to see that the UN, which was considered irrelevant by the neo-conservative Christian Fascists in the False Republican Party, is now a force to be thanked and, amazingly, reformed. The usual neocon argument is that the UN has to be destroyed, which explains the recess appointment of John "Fear My Walrus Mustache" Bolton as ambassador.
Various revelations have surfaced in the wake of Katrina that shows the inner workings of the Bush White House. Aides were terrified of telling Dear Leader any bad news (which is always a bad thing, and one of the results of surrounding yourself with sycophants).

Local Items

The county head of the False Republican Party is seeking a recall of four of the five county commissioners because they voted to increase taxes. Well, boyo, the county's growing, and the money has to come from Somewhere.

Well, that's all for now.

Productive Days

I had some days off and decided to get all industrious and productive, so I've been painting my dining room and kitchen (looks a lot better than the stark white I've been looking at for the past 5 years), and mowed my lawn. I will probably finish the kitchen this weekend.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


"Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it."
- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning, and I was at work. The air had a hint of fall in it, but was expected to just graze 90 degrees in the afternoon. I was at work, and there were things to do.
While I was working, a coworker told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. He had a smile on his face from talking with another guy, and I at first thought it was joke. But then my memory kicked in and reminded me that an Army bomber had hit the Empire State Building back in 1945, so I assumed he was telling me about a terrible accident. I wandered into another office area, and saw that it was deserted except for a group of people crowded around the TV in a conference room.
I got there in time to see a small object, like a dart, zip into view from right to left and blossom into flames against the south tower, while the top of the north tower was wreathed in heavy smoke and flickers of flames. I recall that I shrugged and said, "Well, these things will happen" before going back to my office.
- Me

So here we are, four years on, and what have we learned?

We have learned that the government we counted on to protect us has failed in that sacred duty. It cannot even help us after a natural disaster; what chance have we then against the malice of extremists?

We have learned that the government has lied, lied, and lied again, dragging us into a war from which there may be no escape.

We have learned that the government has acted to constrain our rights, to draw boundaries around the freedoms that the Founders granted us.

Now the Government has its own ideas of remembering the dead of 9/11 and the fact that we are not safe, by throwing an "America Supports You Freedom March" party on the Washington Mall. However, this will be as carefully managed and spun as a 2004 Bush campaign "town hall" meeting (you remember - all the people at the meetings were carefully screened so that Bush would never have to hear a discouraging word or ever be asked a real question).

Participants in this fascist rally - why do I call it that? Just watch - have to sign up, the march route and bandstand will be surrounded by a fence and the entire(!) Park Police force will be guarding the route. So much for inclusion, and so much for the First Amendment right of people to peaceably assemble.

So, what have we learned?

We have learned that we are not safe.

We have learned that we may not be safe from our own government.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

First Amendment vs the Imperial Presidency

While strolling about the hurricane-devastated areas of Mississippi this week, His Imperial Highness and Viceroy of Wyoming, Bringer of Red States and Anointed Vicar of Christ Richard "Dick" Cheney was deigning to answer those of the Slave Press who were graciously allowed to approach him and hear the pearls of wisdom drop from his Holy Smirk. Suddenly, a voice no one expected cut through the reverent hush.

"Mister Cheney, go fuck yourself."

Everyone turned to stand in terrified awe of the person who dared to use such language, since after all none but His Imperial Highness is allowed to use the word "fuck" in His Presence. It is even said that His Imperial Majesty George W Bush lives in fear and awe of Cheney, and watches his language.

And the person repeated it, before being pounced upon and handcuffed by the ever-vigilant members of the Imperial Guard. They had to let him go, since he was a doctor and shared a certain characteristic with Cheney.

Okay, enough of that.

This guy (Dr. Ben Marble) was hot, tired, and in a hurry to get to his home when he discovered that traffic to his house was blocked because of Cheney's visit. I should imagine that there have been no end of Self-Important Yahoos inflicting themselves upon the struggling residents of the Gulf States, and with it being so hot and all, and (in Dr Marble's case) having a wife and a new-born baby to look after, I don't blame the good doctor for opening up his mouth.

Hell, I would have done the same.

The Vice-President and the rest of this corrupt and ideologically blinkered Junta need to learn that Americans have certain rights, and they are no different than any other America. Which means that if we want to curse them out for being a bunch of total incompetents, We Will!

Of course, the Patriot Act and the recent Padilla case make it hard to express an opnion, since Dear Leader can have you locked up for opening your mouth. No wonder the Media wear collars.

Punk of the Week Award

Here we go again with the Punk of the Week Award, where we expose the biggest Punk or Punkette' Punkery for all the non-Punk world to see.

Now, gasp in awe as we unveil this week's joint winners:

Senator (p)Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA)
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL)

Why these three, you ask? These Punks couldn't muster much in the way of sympathy for the hundreds of thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Santorum, whose vendetta against the National Weather Service in favor of private weather businesses in his state, suggested that the NWS had gotten Katrina wrong. Excuse me, Oh Great Fetus-Hugger, but the NWS got it exactly right - 'twas FEMA blew it out their ass. Santorum also thinks that we should punish those who stayed behind after the evacuation orders came out. Good job there, Uber-Punk. People with nothing left and now having to work for less than minimum wage, and you, you rich spoon-fed prick want to fine them? Hastert suggested razing New Orleans and building elsewhere (maybe call it "Jazzland" and set it up as a theme park?) while Baker, who's FROM Louisiana, said "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Monumental insensitivity, and these Punks have the wrought-iron gall to tell others not to point fingers. I say you SHOULD point fingers, point them until these rubes are pockmarked with little red spots, or until they stop being Punks.

Friday, September 09, 2005

FEMA = Feeble Emergency Management Agency

If public pronouncements and media reports are any indication, the past two weeks will go down in history as the Great Credibility Catastrophe of 2005. The Bushite Junta (composed of George W Bush, his criminal family, and the assorted sycophants and bootlickers who would gladly squat, shit on their own heels and lap it up greedily for a soft patronage job) has been revealed as the cadre of lying hucksters they truly are.

Much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth has to do with the Department of Home Security (Heimatsicherheitshauptamt) under the 'leadership' of Michael "Grim Reaper" Chertoff, and FEMA, under the 'leadership' of Michael "I'm So Fucking Clueless I Don't My Ass from A Horse's" Brown. Now granted some of the blame for the debacle that started on August 29th can be laid at the feet of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana, BUT the responsibility for Getting Things Done in the disaster area is the province of FEMA, and the HSA.

Michael Brown was revealed as so totally at sea from having his nap disturbed by the screams of the dying that he admitted (on national TV, no less) that he had not a Clue about the suffering thousands in the Convention Center until Thursday. By then it was too late for some of them.

Now, it also appears that Brown padded out his resume, making him not only a lying sack of shit but a really HUGE lying sack of shit. And now (as reported by MSNBC) he's been removed from his post as Director of the hollow shell known as FEMA. Don't worry, though - no one gets fired in the Bushite Junta. A new, softer and higher-paying job awaits him, along with medals and honors (and maybe a virgin or two).

Meanwhile, FEMA lies gutted, its disaster preparedness functions atrophied.

The DHS has been the largest governmental reorganization since the invention of the Department of Defense in 1947, and unlike the DOD the DHS (HSA) has been largely a complete and utter failure.

We are not safer than we were before 9/11.

Not from terrorist acts.

Not from people sneaking over our porous borders.

Not from natural disasters.

And certainly not from the Horde of Locusts who have descended on us like some Biblical plague, courtesy of the Bushite Junta.

Chto Delyat?

That's Russian, by the way.

It's a question that translates to English as "What is to be done?" And it opens up a whole Pandora's foot locker/steamer trunk of other questions.

What is to be done about the corruption of the once-proud Republican Party into a twisted Hezbollah clone?

What is to be done about the stupidity and short-sightedness in our government that led to the appointment of Michael "Gee, I Never Rid A Horsie Before" Brown as Director of FEMA?

What is to be done about a President who is so shallow as to be all surface, and apparently has difficulty recalling one major screwup after another? (I would rather believe Nancy Pelosi than any of the lickspittle toadying Junta "spokespersons.")

What is to be done about the hell-bent rush of the Hezbollah USA Bible-spewing antiChristians to destroy science and impose their own fairy-tale view of the universe on us?

What is to be done about the supposedly "mainstream" media who no longer recognize the difference between facts and opinions?

What is to be done?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Another Hole in the Dike

One of the frequent Administration arguments you hear about the awful debacle that was FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina was that the President "implored" or "begged" or "pleaded with" Governor Blanco to activate FEMA. This brings the Stafford Act into action.

The Stafford Act works like so:
1. FEMA processes a Governor's request for Presidential disaster or emergency declarations under the direction provided in the Stafford Act.
2. Governors submit these requests to FEMA indicating the extent of damage and the types of Federal assistance required. FEMA then forwards the Governor's request to the White House, simultaneously notifying the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with a recommended course of action.
3. Concurrent with a Presidential declaration of a major disaster or emergency and official appointment of an FCO, FEMA designates the types of assistance to be made available and the counties eligible to receive assistance.
4. The Stafford Act also allows the President to provide emergency assistance without a Governor's request.
(Source: FEMA Emergency Management Institute course IS800 - National Response Plan. Copyright 2005 by FEMA)

Wait a minute - what was #4 again?

4. The Stafford Act also allows the President to provide emergency assistance without a Governor's request.

I guess that blows another hole in Dear Leader's credibility, which is already looking like a thin slice of Emmental right now. Lying sack of shit.

Speaking of disingenuous blivets, Press Secretary Scott McClellan got his pudgy, sweating, oleaginous ass cornered at the press briefing yesterday. A reporter asked him a simple yes or no question, and the stupid whore stonewalled. Look, Scotty-dog, either Bush has confidence in Brown or he doesn't. Yes, or no, you dumbass?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Potemkin President

Okay, here's a lovely article from the Salt Lake City newspaper. Read it for what it is - an indictment on the utterly stupid bastards are running this country and the recovery for the Gulf States (or, as Dear Leader calls it, "That part of the world.") Bold face type will denote where I have placed emphasis; italics are my own comments.

Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA
By Lisa Rosetta The Salt Lake Tribune

ATLANTA - Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA. On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
Federal officials are unapologetic. "I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.
Okay, remember this stupid bitch's name. Questioning a firefighter's commitment to his job is a low blow, and will not make her any friends. One wonders if she had an armed guard with her when she talked to the reporter.
The firefighters - or at least the fire chiefs who assigned them to come to Atlanta - knew what the assignment would be, Hudak said.
"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments."
One fire chief from Texas agreed that the call was clear to work as community-relations officers. But he wonders why the 1,400 firefighters FEMA attracted to Atlanta aren't being put to better use. He also questioned why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - of which FEMA is a part - has not responded better to the disaster.
Yeah, Chief - we're all wondering about that.
The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.
"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."
The firefighter, who has encouraged his superiors back home not to send any more volunteers for now, declined to give his name because FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters.
Gee, I wonder why? Afraid to make the Federal Government look even more like the Keystone Kops?
On Monday, two firefighters from South Jordan and two from Layton headed for San Antonio to help hurricane evacuees there. Four firefighters from Roy awaited their marching orders, crossing their fingers that they would get to do rescue and recovery work, rather than paperwork.
"A lot of people are bickering because there are rumors they'll just be handing out fliers," said Roy firefighter Logan Layne, adding that his squad hopes to be in the thick of the action. "But we'll do anything. We'll do whatever they need us to do."
While FEMA's community-relations job may be an important one - displaced hurricane victims need basic services and a variety of resources - it may be a job best suited for someone else, say firefighters assembled at the Sheraton.
"It's a misallocation of resources. Completely," said the Texas firefighter.
"It's just an under-utilization of very talented people," said South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote, who sent a team of firefighters to Atlanta. "I was hoping once they saw the level of people . . . they would shift gears a little bit."
Foote said his crews would be better used doing the jobs they are trained to do.
But Louis H. Botta, a coordinating officer for FEMA, said sending out firefighters on community relations makes sense. They already have had background checks and meet the qualifications to be sworn as a federal employee. They have medical training that will prove invaluable as they come across hurricane victims in the field.
It may make sense in Louis Botta's arcane world of weirdness, but not in the real world. Hey, Botta! Why don't YOU hand out the fucking fliers, and let the firefighters do the jobs they're trained to do?
A firefighter from California said he feels ill prepared to even carry out the job FEMA has assigned him. In the field, Hurricane Katrina victims will approach him with questions about everything from insurance claims to financial assistance.
"My only answer to them is, '1-800-621-FEMA,' " he said. "I'm not used to not being in the know."
Roy Fire Chief Jon Ritchie said his crews would be a "little frustrated" if they were assigned to hand out phone numbers at an evacuee center in Texas rather than find and treat victims of the disaster.
Also of concern to some of the firefighters is the cost borne by their municipalities in the wake of their absence. Cities are picking up the tab to fill the firefighters' vacancies while they work 30 days for the federal government.
"There are all of these guys with all of this training and we're sending them out to hand out a phone number," an Oregon firefighter said. "They [the hurricane victims] are screaming for help and this day [of FEMA training] was a waste."
Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.
But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
What the hell is this???


The last bit of that report got me seething. Our President is so afraid to be seen as ineffectual he has to collect stage props around him for window dressing? Naturally, he didn't have to do this on 9/11, but I guess that ever since then he's wanted to have the scene set just so, so he can look all decisive and heroic and shit. I guess it also explains his jumpsuited grandstanding on that aircraft carrier (you recall that - Mission Accomplished!) and the fact that he couldn't do a single campaign speech without having every single member of the audience screened to make absolutely certain that no one will criticize him or ask him a substantive question.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"In A Democracy....

"... People Get the Government They Deserve."

Adlai Stevenson wrote that, back in the misty depths of the 50s, and you know what? It's the sort of blindingly obvious half-bright thing that someone casually says without regard for the stultifying weight of sheer karmic baggage it carries. It's like saying that a ship's "unsinkable" when everyone knows that it you put a hole in anything floating there's at least an outside possibility that everyone's going to be singing Nearer My God to Thee sooner rather than later.

So, we're in a democracy, and now we have the government we deserve. Which, I'm sure, causes many people to wonder why.

What have we done to deserve having the once-proud Republican Party usurped by a lying pack of venial bastards who are as crooked as godsdamned screwworms?

What have we done to deserve a government who believes in shrinking itself to the point that it can no longer defend, protect, or even aid us adequately?

What have we done to deserve a braindead soulless Son of Privilege as the self-styled Leader of the Free World?

We True Republicans know. The False Republicans - a crew of unethical, unjust, lying, grasping, unChristian and anti-American Whores usurped the Party of Lincoln and have warped it into a callous shadow of its former self. Eisenhower was right - the military/industrial complex has corrupted the nation, and it was his own party that let it happen.

For shrinking our government we can thank Ronald "I Can't Recall A Fucking Thing" Reagan who repeated "Government is the problem" so many times people began to believe it. We should also thank intellectual lightweights like Grover "Bathtub" Norquist. Hey, Grover, government needs to be a certain size, or it can't function as a fucking government, you godsdamned retard! Maybe you should look up the phrase "social contract," which boils down to "you protect us, so we obey your laws."

The False Republicans love fear. Fear, after all, is one of the greatest human drives - right Up There with sex and hunger. So they used Fear, and Lies, and Doubletalk ("Clean Skies" for giving polluters a pass, "Healthy Forests" to allow the logging industry to continue their rape of the land, etc.) in order to get their very own Johnny Iselin elected and re-elected President. And this mindless drug-addled dolt who could never succeed at any business venture his smarter father ever set him up with (Arbusto Oil, anyone?) surrounds himself with drooling sycophants who fondle themselves while fantasizing about an American Empire stretching its Pax from pole to melting pole, rewriting reality and sucking Iraqi Oil as if it were mother's milk squirted from Barbara Bush's withered mammaries.

Think about it, won't you? Thank you. And while you're at it, ponder how much karma we'll have to accrue in order to efface this Embarrassment of A Presidency.

Monday, September 05, 2005

True Republicans and False Republicans

As I have stated before, I am a Republican. I am a True Republican.

Ahh, you ask, what is a True Republican, and how does one differ from the army of incompetent loons currently ruining our country?

Well, a True Republican believes in certain things: Justice, Equity and Responsibility. Let's take them one at a time, and you will see what differentiates a True Republican from the hideous, misshapen, misanthropic thing that has hijacked the Party and turned it and this country into an object of pity, contempt and derision:

Justice: A Republican believes in a just society, ruled by laws made by reasonable people for reasonable reasons. A Republican also believes that no one is above or beneath the law, that all are equal before the law, and no one who lives in this country can be denied access to the full panoply of the criminal justice system.

Equity: A Republican is a member of the "Party of Lincoln," and believes that all people are equal, and deserve equal rights and opportunities. This fairness extends to all, regardless of their skin color, their religion, their gender or their sexual orientation.

Responsibility: A Republican is a conservative, who manages money and resources frugally but never miserly. Responsibility includes accountability; if a True Republican makes a mistake, they admit it, accept any penalty for the mistake, and learn from the experience.

A False Republican believes in none of these things, make no mistake. But a False Republican believes in certain things as well:

A False Republican believes that the Party is always right.

A False Republican believes that the Leader of the Party is always right.

A False Republican believes that no one should criticise the Leader of the Party. Ever.

A False Republican believes that anything that advances the Party is right, no matter how unethical or illegal it may appear to lesser mortals

See the difference?

While We Were Busy ....

This happened.

Insurgents Seize Key Town in Iraq
Al Qaeda in Iraq's Black Banner Flying From Rooftops
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 5, 2005; 8:30 AM
BAGHDAD, Sept. 5 -- Abu Musab Zarqawi's foreign-led Al-Qaeda in Iraq took open control of a key western town at the Syrian border, deploying its guerrilla fighters in the streets and flying , witnesses, residents and others in the city and surrounding villages said.
A sign newly posted at the entrance of Qaim declared, "Welcome to the Islamic Kingdom of Qaim." A statement posted in mosques described Qaim as an "Islamic kingdom liberated from the occupation."
Zarqawi's fighters were killing officials and civilians seen as government-allied or anti-Islamic, the witnesses, residents and others said. On Sunday, the bullet-riddled body of a woman lay in a street of Qaim. A sign left on her corpse declared, "A prostitute who was punished."
There was no immediate comment from U.S. or Iraqi military officials. A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, said he was looking into the reports.
Qaim, within a few miles of the Syrian border, has been a major stronghold for insurgents ferrying fighters, weapons and money from Syria into the rest of Iraq along a network of Euphrates River towns.
Many of the towns along the river have appeared to be heavily under the insurgents' domination, despite repeated Marine offenses along the river since May. Residents and Marines have described insurgents escaping ahead of the offensives, and returning when the offensives are over.
- snip -
U.S. and Iraqi officials welcomed what they called signs that insurgents were losing support from their Sunni Arab base in the west.
By the weekend, however, Zarqawi's forces had fought back and taken control of Qaim, residents said. Accounts from the town described a rare, prolonged, overt presence of the foreign fighters.
The Albu Mahal tribe as of Sunday remained in control of its village outside the city. However, a car bomb placed by Zarqawi's fighters in front of the home of a tribal leader, Sheikh Dhyad Ahmed, killed the sheikh and his son on Sunday, resident Mijbil Saied said.
It was unclear whether any Iraqi forces were in Qaim. A Zarqawi fighter said any Marines and Iraqi forces had left Qaim, with "nothing left of their crosses."
Armed insurgent fighters loyal to the Jordanian-born Zarqawi openly traveled Qaim's streets. The fighters included both Iraqis and foreigners, including Afghans
The foreign-led fighters hung rooftops with Zarqawi's al-Qaeda banner of black backgrounds with a yellow sun. Shops selling CDs, a cinema and a women's beauty parlor were newly burned, apparently targeted by Zarqawi's group under its strict interpretation of Islamic law.
- snip -
Zarqawi's fighters had taken control of the town's hospital, one of its medical workers, Dr. Muhammed Ismail said. The hospital's director then ordered all patients to leave, fearing the presence of Zarqawi's fighters would draw air strikes on the clinic, Ismail said.
Zarqawi fighters manned checkpoints on the four entrances to the city.
- snip -


Whoop-de-shit! We certainly do have those insurgents on the run, don't we? We certainly are seeing the "last throes" of the insurgency, aren't we?

Aren't we?

Shame, Shame, Eternal Shame

Pardon is not the word for all in this sorry debacle.

There are neither words enough, tears enough nor anger enough for me to express my sorrow and my rage. We as a nation have not been well served by this present government. Its post-9/11 attitude toward disaster and emergency preparedness has been almost criminal in its studied negligence. Appointing friends to important posts is part of politics, but appointing someone whose government experience extended to Assistant City Manager (as well as business experience in arranging horse shows) smacks not just of cronyism, but rank stupidity.

We have shown ourselves that what George Bush and the False Republicans have told us is a lie. We are not safer than we were before 9/11. I'll repeat that (as if it needs repeating, after the sorry showing FEMA, DHS and the rest of the government has shown the past week).

We are not safer than we were before 9/11.

Someone made the brilliant observation that if the reaction to Katrina was any measurement of our reaction to a terrorist attack using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, we are well and truly screwed. And that's true.

We've received offers of aid from Cuba and Iran, along with nearly sixty other nations, the United Nations and NATO. Whether the Bushite Junta accepts this remains to be seen.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Punk of the Week Award - Open Thread

The Punk of the Week Award is temporarily suspended, basically because there are so many Punks and Punkettes out there in the wake of the still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf Coast that I could be writing for a week and still not exhaust the depths of my vocabulary.

So I want to hear from You.

Who do YOU think should be Punk of the Week, and why?

Magic Thinking

Well, that didn't take long:

From Agape Press, mouthpiece of the American "Family" Association, a major Christian fundamentalist group, dated 2 September:

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.
The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says.
Believers, he says, are God's "authorized representatives on the face of the Earth" and should say they "don't want unrighteous men in office," for example. In addition, he says Christians should not hesitate to voice their opinions about such things as abortion, prayer, and homosexual marriage. "We don't want a Supreme Court that is going to say it's all right to kill little boys and girls, ... it's all right to take prayer out of schools, and it's all right to legalize sodomy, opening the door for same-sex marriage and all of that.”
Shanks heeded warnings to evacuate New Orleans, and is currently staying with friends in the Jackson, Mississippi, area. (italics mine)

This is what I meant by magic thinking - the idea that good and bad things happen because the Great Inscrutable Up There has somehow waved the magic wand and caused it to happen. Of course, the Rev. Shanks probably didn't have any faith that he might be spared while his god stamped out all that nasty sin, so he hightailed it to Jackson.

Right now, there are over 94,000 people currently housed in shelters in six states, with thousands more still in the affected areas including the city of New Orleans. Were they all sinners, deserving of nothing more than the wrath of the Deity?

Rev. Shanks seems to think so.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Skippy Challenge!

My fellow blogger Skippy the Bush Kangaroo ( is challenging everyone who visits the blogosphere (yes! hctp!) to send whatever they can to charities for Hurricane Katrina relief in the areas worst affected by this catastrophe. So donate, people, then tell Skippy you did!

Thanks of a Grateful Nation

It's been reported on CNN that, as the first large-scale shipment of anything arrives in New Orleans (days and an unknown number of lives later), twenty-two nations (including South Korea, Russia, China and the UAE) have offered assistance to the United States. Further, NATO and the Organization of American States have also offered aid.

Australia's government has sent $2.6 million to the Red Cross, and even Sri Lanka, itself still shaking from last year's tsunami, scraped up and sent $25,000. In an ironic twist, El Salvador has offered troops to help police the streets of New Orleans, and even Venezuela (whose President has no cause to love us) has pledged food, fuel and water.

We thank you.

1-800-HELP NOW

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Great Gift Idea

DavidNYC at has made an excellent suggestion, in light of the hideous humanitarian effort shaping up right in our own backyards.

Instead of spending money on Christmas or birthday gifts this year, send the gift money to a worthy charity for Hurricane Katrina relief. Americans are great consumers, but this year there are neighbors who need our charity more than you or I need a video game or a sweater.

Letter and Reply

Much to my amazement, I received this letter from my Representative, Adam Putnam (R-FL):

As the nation continues to witnesses the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many Floridians have contacted me to ask how they can best help in the relief efforts. I have included helpful information on my website to assist you in helping our friends across the Gulf Coast region as they continue recovery efforts from one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit our nation. I have provided the link below which contains information on finding the status of missing relatives, organizations to contact for donations and volunteer information, as well as the latest news on the affected region.
I also want to ensure you that I am working with my colleagues here in Florida and across the nation to respond effectively to this crisis. Just as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responded to Florida during our hurricane crisis last year, FEMA has deployed unprecedented resources to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. This includes more than 50 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and 25 Urban Search and Rescue Teams to help save as many lives as possible. The United States Coast Guard continues conducting search and rescue missions in some of the most devastated areas in New Orleans, which continues to be flooded. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control are working to place victims with medical needs into operating hospitals, and providing important resources to medical personnel to help ensure the health of Hurricane Katrina’s victims. Our military, the Department of Defense, has deployed personnel and resources to provide for search and rescue missions, disaster response equipment, and a hospital ship to provide medical care. In addition, the National Guard has nearly 11,000 Guardsmen to assist with the growing need for security and other disaster response efforts.
We are also continuing efforts to ensure that adequate food, water, shelter and medical supplies are provided to survivors. The Department of Transportation has provided more than 400 trucks to bring millions of meals, gallons of waters, and ice, along with tarps, generators, disaster supplies, blankets, cots, and other important supplies, to the dislocated citizens along the Gulf Coast. We are also working to remove debris, where possible, and restore critical infrastructure that is necessary to begin the important process of recovery, including establishing power lines, communication centers, and roads. This is a devastating time for the Gulf Coast region, particularly Louisiana, and I stand committed to help serve the needs of the region and state. I hope you will join me in the important recovery efforts during the coming weeks, months, and years as the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild. Again, please visit the link below to learn more in how you can help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
May God continue to Bless America.
Adam Putnam
Member of Congress

Now, that was nice of him, wasn't it? Now here's my reply:

Mr. Putnam:

Thank you very much for your kind letter. I donated money to the American Red Cross on Tuesday morning as the scale of this disaster became apparent to me, and I plan on donating more money as soon as retail gasoline prices subside. However, I cannot help but feel that the people of these areas were not well served by the government currently in power.
Vital reinforcement to the New Orleans levees, reported three years ago, was not done. Vital time was lost before FEMA and the National Guard responded to the crisis. It may be too late to save thousands of people.
Mr. Putnam, I also thank you for the Internet link to your website, but I have enough common sense to know where to send charity, and when to send it. As I say, the events of the past few years have convinced me, a registered Republican, that the political party in power has not served this nation's best interests.
I shall continue to donate funds to the relief of those suffering the effects of Hurricane Katrina, but rest assured that neither you nor any other Republican will receive my vote in the 2006 election.
Sincerely ...

Now, is that a proper reply? Or should I try to make his aide feel even more like a fool?

Welcome to the Past

Things are getting worse in New Orleans. The evacuation of suffering people to Houston was suspended temporarily after someone fired shots at an Army Chinook helicopter. The summer heat goes on unabated, so the dead will begin rotting soon.

There are apparently a lot of them.

Watching the actions of the increasingly desperate people of New Orleans serves to remind me just how thin the veneer of civilization actually is for what Mark Twain called "the damned human race." We have, as a species, been civilized for about 5,000 years. In times of great stress, however, that veneer shows itself to be less than skin deep. It peels off astonishingly rapidly, and we start to behave as our primitive hunter-gatherer forebears did. It's a sobering sight, and not for the faint of heart.


A fundamentalist Jewish website (and no doubt a series of fundamentalist Christians as well, by now) has started saying that the devastation of the Gulf States and the disruption of oil industries in the area are "God's will" in punishment for American policy in the Middle East. Conversely, an Islamic fundamentalist site "rejoices" in God's punishment of America.

This is magic thinking in action. You don't like what someone is doing? Then laugh and say "Ha ha! God is punishing you!" when something bad happens. Bad things happen all the time, whether it's you lost your job or your sister needs an operation on her crotch or your house and all of your possessions has been obliterated. But human beings haven't yet managed to shake off the sense that everything is managed by some spooky authoritarian parental figure.

Connecting 'moral evils' (lying, cheating, sex, etc.) to 'natural evils' (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.) is an old form of magic thinking, and acts as a crutch to prevent us from facing the stark reality that the Universe, at its heart, has No Meaning.

It is horrible that people should suffer, particularly since it is becoming obvious that the degradation of the levees and loss of wetlands to construction could have prevented a lot of this. It is even more horrible that people should gloat about it, or seek to gain from it, or victimize those who are caught up in it.

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