Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, July 31, 2005


The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been debated on various blogs and websites, and completely ignored by the media. Now that CAFTA has passed — by a margin of two votes in the House — the mainstream “media” have pulled off their blinders and earplugs and started reporting on it.

I posted on July 11th about the massive giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry that was buried in the fine print of the CAFTA agreement. The pharmaceutical companies — working hand in glove with international law and the World Trade Organization — will now be able to start banning herbal remedies and vitamin supplements. Eventually most of them will either be banned completely or be available only through a prescription.

There was never a peep out of the “media” about any of this. Apparently Katie Holmes and the missing-girl-of-the-week were too important to waste coverage on any real news that might actually affect all of us.

And now another CAFTA surprise: Harken Energy has been saying all along that if CAFTA passes, they’ll be able to sue the government of Costa Rica for $58 billion. This amount is almost twice as much as Costa Rica’s Gross National Product. This is the amount of money Harken says they’ve “lost” from not being able to drill for oil in a Costa Rican marine sanctuary.

This kind of lawsuit — corporations suing governments — will become much more common under CAFTA. What happened to all those rightwingers who are always blubbering about too many lawsuits, too much litigation? They’ve all gone strangely silent for some reason.

Like the saying goes, laws and sausages are the two things you shouldn’t watch being made, and our sleazy lowlifes in Congress have sure reinforced this. The CAFTA vote was taken in the middle of the night, and Republican “leaders” held up the vote for more than an hour. This gave them enough time for browbeating, arm-twisting and extorting the “correct” vote out of just barely enough hookers Congressmen for CAFTA to squeak by.

Interesting side note: George W. Bush was on the Board of Directors of Harken Energy during the late 1980s. He was suspected of being involved in some insider trading scandals with Harken. During the summer of 2002, reports of this scandal were starting to surface; these reports were getting lots of embarrassing press coverage. And then, with some convenient timing, Bush and Cheney started getting hysterical about Iraq‘s Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Harken fell off the front pages. Coincidence?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sleazy Bill Collectors

We all know about the bankruptcy “reform” bill that was passed several months ago by the world’s biggest whorehouse Congress. And now for its ugly step-sister: debt collection tactics that you’d associate with loan sharks, or the debtors’ prisons of another era.

These collection agencies are debt buyers; they purchase unpaid bills from credit card firms. Some of these debts are so old they’re past the statute of limitations; there’s no legal ground for collecting the money, and the unpaid debt can’t even go into the debtor’s credit report. Hence the collectors have to resort to threats and blackmail.

As consumer debt has gone way up over the past few years, these sleazoid companies have increased accordingly. In 1996 there were about a dozen of them. Today there are more than 500.

And with typical Orwellian logic, the credit industry says these debt collectors are offering a valuable service to debt-ridden consumers: These deadbeats now have a chance to pay off their debts at a discount. Ooookay. George Orwell must be turning in his grave, saying “why didn’t I think of that?!?”

These collection agencies pay an average of 5.4 cents on the dollar for the debts they’ve purchased. They’re determined to make a profit with their collections — hence their Nazi Stormtrooper tactics. The Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about debt collectors than any other industry. In the past four years the complaints have quadrupled to almost 60,000 a year.

These collection agencies don’t just go after debtors. If they can’t locate the person who actually owes the money, they’ll go after an estranged relative or even an unrelated person with the same name. One of these lowlife agencies made repeated calls and threats to a man whose daughter was in debt — she had moved out 15 years earlier. The debt collector recited the man’s Social Security number and his wife’s name, and said some of his “associates” would be paying a visit to teach them a lesson.

Another one of their greaseball tactics: they’ll persuade a debtor to make just a small payment. Then, from that payment transaction, the debt collectors can get enough personal information that they can keep withdrawing more money (illegally) from the debtor’s bank account.

One woman was hounded by collectors for a debt owed by her deceased mother. She wasn’t legally responsible for the debt, but she agreed to let them withdraw a specified amount from her bank account once a month. The collector tried to make several more withdrawals during one month; her bank charged her for bounced check fees each time this happened. Then the collector started calling her repeatedly at work, and told her he’d keep calling and calling until she lost her job.

Maybe our coin-operated Congress will crack down on these shady, slippery practices. Riiight.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Over There

Did anybody see “Over There” — the new F/X series, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.? This is one intense, powerful show.

I can’t say whether it’s authentic or not. I’ve never been to Iraq (I worked in Iran briefly in the 1970s) or any other Arab country, and I got out of the military 32 years ago (the Navy). I was on a Destroyer Escort off the coast of Viet Nam — nowhere near the danger of fighting on land.

All I can say is, "Over There" is one riveting series about the war in Iraq. It easily rivals any of the Viet Nam movies I’ve seen — Platoon, Full Metal Jacket. It sure brings home the contrast between the people who do the actual fighting and dying, and the powerbrokers who plan wars and invasions like they’re moving pieces around on a chess board.

After just one episode you don’t really know the main characters yet, but it’s gonna be really gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to get attached to people and then have them get killed or maimed in action.

So, if you saw Over There, what’d you think? Was it true to life (if you’ve been over there, or been in the military recently)? Let me know what you all think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dick Cheney: “I Like Torture. Increase the Voltage!”

Congress is considering legislation — supported by ten Republicans so far — that will prevent our famous torture festivals from recurring at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. John McCain wants to set uniform standards for interrogating all suspects detained by the Defense Department. Interrogation techniques would be limited to those listed in the Army field manual on interrogation.

McCain’s legislation would also require all foreign citizens held by the U.S. military to be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross. This would prevent the popular technique of using “ghost prisoners” — moving torture victims from prison to prison to hide them from the Red Cross and other human rights investigators.

This issue is so crucial, Dick Cheney actually emerged from his secret hiding place to have an urgent meeting with three Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He had to warn them of the dangers of coddling terrorists.

A White House official announced that this law would undermine the president’s ability “to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack.” (stops, reads it again…) OK, I guess what they mean is:

Scenario A — Al Qaeda ringleaders are arranging their next terrorist attack. But first, a quick peek at their latest intelligence from Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. “Hahahaha, those wimpy Americans don’t even know how to torture a shackled prisoner. They’re using that sissy Geneva Convention. Onward! Hit that skyscraper!”

Scenario B — Al Qaeda ringleaders are arranging their next terrorist attack. But first, a quick peek at their latest intelligence from Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. “Uh oh, inbred prison guards have got Habib tied up and he has electric wires wrapped around his genitals. He’s screaming at the top of his lungs. Cool! They’re just like us! We’re all brothers. Call off the attack!”

This was Cheney’s second meeting with wayward Republicans who keep materializing DickBush’s worst fear: a spine. More and more lawmakers are getting frustrated at Bush’s refusal to hold any high-ranking military officials accountable for the torture scandals.

In addition to McCain, Cheney also met with John Warner and Lindsay Graham. The three senators told Cheney that senior military officials are concerned that vague and conflicting orders from the White House have enabled these torture frenzies, and are making future scandals more likely.

John McCain spent part of the Viet Nam war in a Vietnamese prison camp. Presumably he’d have a more accurate perspective than Bush, Cheney and the other sheltered trust-funded chickenhawks who planned the Iraqi invasion.

How important is it for terrorist suspects (wingnuts and other slow readers: note the word suspects in this sentence) to be tortured? Bush has threatened to veto the entire $442 billion defense bill if this legislation is attached to it.

DickBush’s priority levels:

Having a clearly thought out plan for the Iraqi war: Very Low.

The ability to torture suspects, just like third world countries do: Extreme Top Priority.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Senator Evan Bayh: Come Out From Under Your Rock!!

OK, our little cowering cockroach has been identified. Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) is the recluse who has been blocking all e-mail from Downsize DC (and God knows who else). If you can spare a minute, please call him at 202-224-5623; and/or fax him at 202-228-1377. Let him know it is not acceptable to block correspondence from constituents he doesn't want to hear from.

Downsize DC is non-partisan. Most of their political activity is done through mass e-mails. Everyone regardless of political views should be outraged by this cowardly behavior by a senator. It’s hard to remember this, but these people work for us. Their 6-figure salaries come out of your tax dollars. Are you going to tolerate this kind of arrogant behavior from your employees??

Some of Downsize DC’s current projects include:

Federal legislation to fight the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. As you probably know, local governments are now able to condemn anyone's property, seize the property (via eminent domain) and sell it to a private developer. According to the Supreme Court’s “reasoning,” if a developer can make a more lucrative use of your property, the increased tax revenue counts as “public use,” same as a highway or railroad.

A law has already been introduced in Congress (S. 1313) to prevent local governments from seizing property and selling it to a private owner. However, this law is completely toothless and unenforceable. Downsize DC wants to add an enforcement tool to this law: all federal funding will be denied to any local government that uses eminent domain to seize private property and sell it to another private owner. Here is how you can help make this law enforceable.

Downsize DC has also written a bill for Congress: the Read The Bills Act. They need a Congressional Representative to introduce the bill in Congress and they need as many sponsors as possible. This bill would require lawmakers to actually read an entire bill before voting yes or no on it. Now there’s a radical concept — people actually performing the job they were hired to do?!? Earning their salaries? Riiight.

These Martini-soaked blobs are too busy fundraising, asskissing and taking bribes — read an entire bill? Here is Senator Joe Lieberman’s response to the Read The Bills Act: “It would be ideal for every Member of Congress to read every bill that he or she votes on. — Oh, a campaign contribution? For me? Gulp! How much? Drool! Slobber! Tremble! (Bends over) Ahem — Unfortunately, due to time restraints it is nearly impossible for a member to read every word of every single piece of legislation that comes up for a vote.”

His response is typical of our useless country-clubbing deadwood employees. They’d rather just keep partying (on your tax dollars) than do their jobs.

Here is how you can get your Representative to sponsor this important bill. If you want our lawmakers to start performing the job we hired them to do, this is your chance.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Patriot Act — More Bigger Better

Those Limited Government Republicans have struck again. The House has voted 257 to 171 to approve the new, extended Bigger and Better Than Ever Patriot Act. If you like having your phone tapped, your home and workplace searched without your knowledge and your library records monitored, then it’s time to start whoopin’ and hollerin’. The fun is just beginning.

If your response to the above paragraph is “what are you hiding?” or “they can tap my phone and search my records; I don’t have anything to hide”: You’re in the wrong country. Please do yourself and everyone else a favor and buy a one-way ticket to the police state of your choice.

News items during the past 3½ years have shown repeatedly that vigilance, competence and coordination between agencies are the way to fight terrorism — not stirring up fear and hatred and taking a shit on the Constitution.

Several of the 9/11 hijackers had invalid passports; they only got into the country because of incompetent Customs agents. Several days after the 9/11 attacks, one of the passenger screening stations at Boston’s airport was completely unmanned — All of the security personnel were taking their coffee breaks at the same time. Duuhhh!!! Now, how is increased wiretapping and surveillance going to counter this kind of incompetence and stupidity?

According to the Justice Department, the FBI missed at least five chances to uncover vital intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Not only did the FBI fail to get this intelligence information; it also didn’t effectively use the information it had. And the communication and cooperation between the CIA and FBI — who were supposed to be working together on some of these cases? None. Zilch. Zip point shit.

In July of 2001, the acting head of the FBI approached Attorney General John Ashcroft about terrorist threats. He had some intelligence about a possible al Qaeda attack, which he needed to share with the Justice Department. According to the FBI director: “It wasn’t something he wanted to hear more about. Ashcroft had other things on his mind.”

And as we all know, the White House received several intelligence memos during the summer of 2001, warning of al Qaeda terrorists and possible airline hijackings.

Again, the underlying problem is the incredible complacency, incompetence and the right-hand-doesn’t-know-what-the-left-hand-is-doing syndrome affecting our government “leaders.” That's the problem — not the fact that American citizens have too many civil liberties.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Meet Karl Rove

This post will not be dealing with whether Rove is technically guilty of outing Valerie Plame to the media. Right wing spinmeisters keep coming up with more technicalities to defend him. He didn’t mention her name when he outed her (after all, Joseph Wilson has so many wives, who could possibly know which wife Rove was talking about), it was raining and he wasn’t wearing a green shirt when he outed her, etc.

Instead we’ll be delving into his political career from 1970 up through the 2000 presidential election.

The information came from here and here.

He’s probably been the most powerful person in our country for the past 4½ years. If you like the direction our government has been going since January 2001, Karl Rove is your hero. He’s the Architect, aka “Boy Genius,” “Bush’s Brain.” On the other hand, if you think something mysterious and terrible happened to our country starting in early 2001, then you probably think Karl Rove is a %$#@&@#!

He almost singlehandedly transformed George W. Bush from a directionless, partying, booze-and-drug-addled playboy and presidential brat into the Leader of the Free World (by way of the Texas governorship). So, who is Karl Rove?

In 1970, a fat dorky teenager volunteered for the campaign of Alan Dixon, a Democratic candidate for State Treasurer of Illinois. (Yes, Democratic — that wasn’t a typo.) He didn’t stay long, and hardly anyone noticed him while he was there. He stayed long enough to swipe several boxes of Dixon’s campaign stationery. And soon thousands of invitations — on Dixon’s campaign letterhead — began circulating through the red-light district and various soup kitchens. The invitations read “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing” at Dixon’s headquarters.

It was a funny prank, with hundreds of heavy drinkers and homeless people pouring into Dixon’s office. It didn’t derail his campaign, though — Dixon was elected treasurer and later became a senator. But little Karl Rove was getting his feet wet.

Rove had some shitty breaks during his early life (who didn’t?), which may have deleted any remaining semblance of a conscience or moral compass. When he was 19 his father walked out on the family. Soon afterward, Karl found out (from an aunt and uncle) that this wasn’t even his real father. Twelve years later his mother committed suicide.

Like Dick Cheney and other ferocious hawks in the Bush administration, Rove went to college to avoid the Viet Nam war (he never graduated). While he was there — University of Utah — he sharpened his political hardball tactics when he decided to take control of the College Republicans. Instead of campaigning on the issues, Rove challenged the credentials of each and every one of his opponent’s delegates. It worked. 22-year-old Karl Rove was going places.

During this period Rove was working with Lee Willie Horton Atwater, who later got George H.W. Bush into the White House by smearing and destroying his opponent. Atwater’s campaign tactics — this was 1988 — were considered at the time to be the lowest, sleaziest, most execrable campaign tactics in our history.

Rove was also active — behind the scenes — in Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign, helping to paint World War II bomber pilot George McGovern as a soft wussy peacenik.

In 1973 Rove and a colleague were touring the country, giving “political combat training” lectures to young Republicans. Some of the how-to information included Rove’s earlier “prank” at Alan Dixon’s campaign headquarters, and the tactics he had used for wresting control of the College Republicans.

During this period, Rove became friends with a former Texas Congressman struggling to keep his political career going: George Herbert Walker Bush. Bush Senior hired Rove and brought him to Washington.

Shortly afterward, Rove met Boy George, and he was smitten. “Huge amounts of charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma — you know, wow," Rove recalled. In the late ’70s, Rove was sent to Texas. Officially, his assignment was to run a political action committee. Unofficially, he was sent to “handle” the president’s boozing carousing son.

During this time he set up a direct mail operation — sending fundraising or voter registration letters to targeted voters. He tailored each letter to the specific voter group he was targeting. He had an uncanny skill for knowing exactly which buttons to push for which groups. This is a much more common political skill nowadays, but back then Rove (along with rightwing direct-mail wizard Richard Viguerie) was on the cutting edge. They both seemed like human Geiger counters when it came to scoping out very specific groups of voters and knowing exactly what to say to them and how to get them to the polls.

The 1980s were a turning point in Texas politics. The Democrats had been the dominant party since the civil war era. But the Democratic party was moving further to the left, and most of the newcomers pouring into Texas’ suburban communities were Republicans. Election by election, post by post, Republicans were inching their way in and taking over the state. And Rove was playing a hand in all this.

In 1986 Rove was running the gubernatorial campaign for Republican Bill Clements. Clements was neck-and-neck with his Democratic opponent. How to break the stalemate? Rove announced that he had found a listening device in his office, and he went screaming to the media about the scandal, the shock, the disgrace. An outraged public tilted toward Clements, who ended up winning the election.

No listening device was ever found, and Rove never mentioned it again after the election. Lots of Texans thought Rove concocted the whole thing as a campaign stunt. What, he’d stoop to something like that?!?

In 1994 Anne Richards (Democrat) was finishing her first term as governor and was running for re-election. Her opponent was George W. Bush, and Rove was his campaign manager. Everyone on Anne Richards’ campaign staff thought this was hilarious: the boozing partying presidential brat was running for governor? Hahahahahaha. The laughter died down soon enough.

Richards’ campaign adviser said “We did not believe that Bush would be as disciplined as he was. He was extremely disciplined.” He also said “Karl gave him 10 index cards and said, ‘This is what you are going to say. Don't confuse yourself with the issues.’ It's the model for the presidency.”

During the campaign, voters began receiving phone calls from alleged “pollsters” asking questions like “Would you be more or less likely to vote for Governor Richards if you knew her staff is dominated by lesbians?” Richards’ campaign adviser knew who was behind these “questions” (although no Rove connection could be proven). He said “Rove has used this kind of dirty tricks in every campaign he's ever run.”

For Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, Rove dreamed up that phony “compassionate conservatism” slogan that Bush kept repeating. After drumming this new buzzword into the American psyche, the next problem was John McCain, who had the nerve to run against Bush in the Republican primary.

McCain was a decorated Viet Nam war hero who had spent several years in a Vietnamese prison camp. This made an embarrassing contrast to Baby Bush using his family connections to get into the Texas Air Guard during the Viet Nam war. (There was a 3-year waiting list to get into the Guard, and then suddenly there was an opening for little Georgie. Connect the dots.)

On top of that, McCain had a certain charisma, based on his plain-spoken straight-talking bluntness. This created a painful contrast with Bush’s memorized cue card lines and his frantic determination to stay “on message.” What to do?

Rove orchestrated a rumor campaign. Probably his dirtiest rumor was that McCain was a stoolie while he was in the Vietnamese prison camp. That’s doubtful, but in any case, let’s see how long Karl and his five chins would last in a city jail overnight, let alone a POW camp in Viet Nam.

Another Rove-generated rumor was that McCain had illegitimately fathered a black daughter. The truth turned out to be that McCain had adopted a daughter. The girl was from Bangladesh. But what the hey, they all look alike, right?

Rove also spread rumors about the “drug problems” of McCain’s wife. (Ever notice — Republicans always go after the wives. Hmmm…why is this and what does it say about them?)

Rumors spread, damage done. Mission accomplished.

McCain turned out to be little more than a speed bump on Karl and George’s road to the White House.

During the stalemate period from election day until mid-December when the Supreme Court, uh, “selected” Bush, Rove again had to reach into his little bag of sleaze. When Florida officials were recounting and evaluating the ballots, they were charged and threatened and intimidated by an angry mob of protesters. These scary, out-of-control “protesters” turned out to be a bunch of Republican operatives from Washington, D.C. They had been hired by — yup, you guessed it — Karl Rove. He hired them, put them on a bus to Florida and told them what to do when they got there.

OK, we’ve had a little glimpse into Rove’s character and the history of his political tactics. So, what do you all think? Let’s hear from you. Does Karl Rove seem like the kind of political manipulator who would leak a CIA agent’s name to the press just to get even with her husband? Think he did it?

Answers in the Comment section (sorry Gindy).

cross-posted at Bring It On!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Downsize DC — Being Silenced?

Downsize DC is a non-partisan group working to stop the expansion of the federal government. Their main tactic is to blitz Congress with e-mails, urging them to vote yes or no on certain bills.

Now, at least one senator has responded by blocking all correspondence from the ISP of Downsize DC. The group hasn’t yet named the cowering invertebrate, which is just as well (they will soon enough). Since Downsize DC is non-partisan, little Boo Radley could be a member of either party.

Next Monday the group will bombard Senator Hide-Under-A-Rock with phone calls. These phone calls will hopefully change the Senator’s mind, and the publicity should demonstrate to other would-be cowards that they can run but they can’t hide. They’re supposed to represent all of us, not just their wealthiest donors. Sometimes they need to be reminded of this.

Downsize DC has campaigned heavily against the Snitch On Your Neighbor Act, introduced by Senator James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin). If passed, this law will provide up to ten years in prison for anyone who knows about illegal drug use and fails to report it to the police.

Another one of their major projects is the Read The Bills Act, which would require lawmakers to actually read the entire bill before they vote on it (what a radical concept).

Their most recent campaign is against the authorization of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Whatever you think of free trade, this bill has a provision that will allow the pharmaceutical companies — working with the World Trade Organization — to start banning vitamin supplements. So far the bill hasn’t been brought to a vote because the “leadership” is afraid it doesn’t have enough votes.

Downsize DC was formed after the passage of Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, toward the end of his first term. The organization was inspired by the $500 billion cost of the bill, plus the sleazoid tactics used. The vote lasted more than three hours while Tom DeLay went around threatening and intimidating all the “no” voters. Finally after more than three hours the Plan had barely enough votes. And Downsize DC was created.

Check them out. You probably won’t agree with them on everything unless you’re a Libertarian, but they’re working on some very important issues. And senators — whose salaries come from your tax dollars — should not be able to shut them out.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

“You Can’t Be Against The War AND Support Our Troops”

I’ll swear I’m gonna gag the next time some dickhead uses that stupid retarded phrase. Or any of its variations: “If you’re against the war then you don’t support our troops, it‘s that simple,” etc.

This is the most moronic, illogical excuse for “reasoning,” and yet it’s everywhere. It’s the result of a brilliant team effort:

1) A cutting edge combination of neurolinguistics, group dynamics and political science; and

2) Millions of gullible citizens who will swallow anything hook line and sinker. Aluminum siding, stuffing envelopes at home in your spare time for $500,000 a week, you name it. “OK. Where do I sign?!?”

And Presto! All over the Internet: “If you don’t support our mission in Iraq then you don’t support our soldiers.” “Our troops are dying over just there so you moonbats can keep having your treasonous anti-war demonstrations.” And of course the oldest cliché of all (still alive and well for over 40 years now): that any expression of discontent against the war is “aiding and abetting the enemy.”

Anyone with either a high school education and/or an IQ higher than room temperature can see through this drivel. Unfortunately, that still leaves millions of voters going “Duuuhhhh!!!!” and then swallowing and regurgitating this shit.

Now, some perspective: let’s say a new law gets passed saying that anyone wearing a blue shirt on Wednesday gets shot on sight by the police. No trial, no questions asked, no ifs ands or buts. BANG! End of story.

Now, do you agree with this new law? If you don’t, then you don’t support your police department. You hate your local police officers and you hate America.

Now see how retarded, how imbecilic the above paragraph is? That’s the same reasoning being used in “You Can’t Be Against The War AND Support Our Troops.” See, it really is possible to be against a certain government program and, simultaneously, have sympathy and support for the government employees who are forced to carry out this government stupidity.

For most people this is all too obvious. This government-sponsored my-country-right-or-wrong propaganda has no logic or intelligence whatsoever. Unfortunately, this Big Lie technique is very effective. It was developed by Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) during the 1930s and it’s been perfected by our current “leaders.”

Basically, the Big Lie technique just means taking a certain phrase or slogan and repeating it over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Eventually, after it’s been seen and heard thousands of times, it’ll just seep into the public consciousness and become “common knowledge.”

Thanks to all the cuts in public education during the past 20 years, the Big Lie technique is more effective than ever. Hence the large number of columnists and bloggers who dutifully recite “You Can’t Be Against The War AND Support Our Troops.”

Very good, Comrades. You are toeing the line just as you were ordered. Job well done!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rove Flails, Bush Sinks

What did our wartime president reap from attending the G8 Summit and acting “presidential” right after the London bombing? According to this survey taken by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, his overall job rating has slipped. Also, the percentage of people describing him as “honest and straightforward” has reached an all-time low.

A majority thinks Bush will be taking “a wrong step” if he nominates a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, turn the clock back to the 15th century, etc.

Survey respondents disapprove of Bush’s job performance by a 49% to 46% margin. Two months ago the same survey showed a 47-47 tie over Bush’s job performance. Only 41% rated him as “honest and straightforward.” Hey, come on, he didn’t have an affair with an intern — what’s the problem?

The Leaky Karl Rove scandal hadn’t yet exploded into the mainstream media at the time of this survey, which was taken from July 8th through 11th. Hopefully a followup survey will be taken after the excrement has hit the fan.

And speaking of KKK Karl Traitor, the Rightwing Attack Machine is in full spin cycle. Their strategy is equal parts “the best defense is a good offense” and character assassination of anyone who doesn’t toe the line. They’re also hoping and praying — and handwringing and groveling and cowering and raindancing — that the upcoming Supreme Court battle(s) will siphon off some of the media coverage of TreasonGate.

“Republicans should stop holding back and go on the offense: fire enough bullets the other way until the Supreme Court overtakes” events, said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).

Attacking Joseph Wilson is also part of the wingnut strategy. Apparently it wasn’t enough to put his wife in mortal danger by revealing her as a CIA agent. They won’t feel like they’ve really gotten even with him — for discrediting Bush’s claim about Saddam Hussein trying to buy uranium from Niger — until they’ve destroyed his reputation as well.

And a majority of Americans doesn’t consider Bush “honest and straightforward?” Hmmm…a mystery.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Republican Ayatollahs

In Oregon, a 59-year-old terminal bone cancer patient is struggling with the most painful decision of his life. At the most, he has six agonizing months to live. He’s trying to decide whether to keep fighting hopelessly against the disease, or whether to take advantage of Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

Under this law, a terminally ill patient of sound mind, with the permission of two doctors, can request —in writing — a lethal dose of medication. There’s a minimum 15-day waiting period following the request. This law was passed overwhelmingly in 1997 by Oregon’s voters.

But George W. Bush has apparently forgotten his party’s own slogans about states’ rights and limited government. He wants the federal government to overturn Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

Bush has tried several times to have this law overturned. He’s issued an order for the federal prosecution of any doctor who issues a prescription under Oregon’s Death With Dignity law. He’s been overruled every time, but like a cat that keeps jumping up on the table no matter how many times you throw him off, he’s taken this all the way to the Supreme Court. A ruling is expected this Fall.

This patient is a retired Viet Nam veteran, merchant seaman and tugboat operator. He doesn’t want to subject himself — or his wife and daughter — to his loss of autonomy, self-control and dignity. He clearly doesn’t want to be the latest exhibit in the Terri Schiavo of the Month Club.

Most people can understand and empathize with his painful situation. Unfortunately the Ayatollahs who have taken over our country think they should have the final word. Don’t these assholes have enough to do?

For people who get off on the idea of the Almighty Church/Government reaching into everyone’s lives, there are several theocracies to choose from. We don’t want one here. If you want a Grand Inquisitor making every personal decision for you, please purchase a one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Buh-bye.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Alternative Medicine? Not Any More

Do you take any vitamin supplements? Ever use any kind of herbal tea or capsules? If so, your choices may soon become limited — and eventually eliminated — by the pharmaceutical industry.

This stealth legislation will be accomplished by a little-known section of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). I know, international trade and finance is boring; I’ve never paid much attention to the whole alphabet soup of NAFTA, CAFTA, IMF, WTO, yada yada yada.

But, the Senate has already approved CAFTA and the House of Representatives will be voting on it this week, possibly as early as Tuesday. If you don’t want the pharmaceutical industry taking away your right to purchase herbal/vitamin supplements, Act Now. Please send this e-mail to your Congressional representative, asking for a No vote on CAFTA (or at least to have this one section removed from the bill).

If approved, CAFTA will overturn a 1994 law that protects the personal use of vitamin and nutritional supplements. The worldwide pharmaceutical cartel would then combine their monopoly power with international law (e.g. the World Trade Organization). Eventually they plan to either eliminate most vitamin/herbal products or make them only available with a prescription.

If CAFTA passes, these changes won’t happen overnight. You won’t go to your supermarket next week and find Vitamin C and Echinacea taken off the shelves. Yet. They’ll start slowly and just eliminate the obscure herbs that nobody’s heard of. If Golden Slippery Skullwort gets banned, who’s gonna notice, right?

Each time they ban another nutritional supplement it’ll get just a little bit easier. By the time they’re ready to ban that popular supplement you take every time you feel run down or get a cold, they’ll be too entrenched and have too much momentum. (Sort of like that German quote about “when they came for the Jews I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a Jew…”)

Or, before they ban a popular supplement, a government “scientific” board that’s stacked with pharmaceutical “scientists” will “discover” that Goldenseal causes cancer; Vitamin E causes blindness. Then of course these hazardous substances will have to be banned for “health” reasons.

So again, please send this e-mail. And forward it to everyone you know.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Newcomers vs. Longtime Residents

There’s one group of Americans that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the country when it comes to stupidity, small-mindedness, self-absorption and arrogance. Did I mention stupidity?

The mystery group: people who move into a new town or area and immediately start complaining about it. You know the type — somebody moves next door to a farm and then complains about noises and smells. Or they move next door to a school and complain about all the noisy kids. Or they move to a new development on the outskirts of town and then have a hissyfit when the deer eat their gardens.

This article is about the small town of Bisbee, AZ, which is now being overrun with urban refugees who want to bring city conveniences with them. Why the F%$#&! did they move?

In one case, a person moved next door to a house where the family had 17 chickens. This new neighbor has made fifty — fifty!! — complaints about the chickens that he moved next door to. Get a life!! (Friendly advice for Douchebag: next time you go house hunting, don’t wear a blindfold.)

Another newcomer owns a large property fenced in with “an old weak fence.” Sometimes cattle from a neighboring ranch break through her fence. “Years ago, they drank out of my Jacuzzi and spit in it and did all kinds of stuff in it and broke it,” whined Betty Lindstrom. Well, Betty Lindstrom, here’s a very simple solution, but first you have to jack your IQ up into the double digits. Ready? Replace your “old, weak” fence with a new, strong fence. Duuhhh!!

Under open-range law, property owners are responsible for fencing out cattle. Ranchers are not obligated to fence in their livestock.

If you live (or have lived) in an area that’s rapidly growing, you’re probably all too familiar with these pests. The rural parts of Sonoma County, CA where I used to live, are suffering from this same infestation. Yuppies move out there and go “oh, isn’t this lovely, living out in the country eeewwww what’s that smell, I didn’t know cows made icky smells, let’s complain.”

I just can’t figure out the reasoning, the mindset of someone who would move next door to something and then complain about it. There are only two possibilities I can think of:

A) An IQ lower than the temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska in January; or

B) The most incomprehensible, unimaginable sense of self-importance; a feeling of “The world revolves around me. OK, I’m here. Listen up now, I’m dictating the following changes.”

Anybody have any other theories about what makes these people tick (and what can be done about them)?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Letter from Karl Rove

Dear Osama:

Attaboy!! I can always count on you, Osie Baby. God, and just in time. Some of these Goddamn reporters and bloggers have been poking their noses where they don’t belong. Things were getting way too close for comfort. You sure saved my ass with your little “diversion” this morning. Whew!! I owe you!

God, people sure are a bunch of sheep. Every time I think they won’t fall for another one of your little “distractions,” they fall harder than ever. Yesss!!! Those education cuts that we started in the 1980s are working better than I ever hoped. God, what a generation of dumbfucks!! It doesn’t even matter how stupid Sockpuppet George is, the American public makes him look like Einstein.

God, I’m so relieved. This time yesterday everything just sucked. Sucked!! Sockpuppet’s poll ratings were lower than ever. He wasn’t even able to hold his own at that G8 meeting — squirming and twitching every time those treehugging euroweenies starting whining about Africa and global warming. And now our London “project” has really given them something to whimper about. Awwright!! Africa, global warming? Don’t think so!

Yesterday it looked like I might be doing the perp walk for my Valerie Plame trick. They really throw the book at you for treason, don’t they? I don’t want to go to jail. I don’t wanna. I won’t. Please God, Allah, anybody — I can’t go to jail. Perp walk, hell, what kind of walk would I be doing after a short time in jail? Nooo!!! That’s for lower-class laborer types, not the upper crust like me.

I got beaten up by a girl once. I don’t know how I’d defend myself against a large sweaty tattooed convict who wanted to do wicked things to me. Ooohhh!!!

But it’s all moot now. Valerie Plame, Iraqi war deaths, Downing Street memos, our little scheme for Iran, Chicken George’s poll ratings — all relegated back to page 41 where they should’ve stayed. We’re gonna have to have a talk with some of our media puppets; give them a little “reminder” not to let these embarrassing stories leak into the headlines again.

And now we’ll be able to expand the Patriot Act beyond our wildest wetdreams. Ugghhh!!! Ugghhh!!! Yeesssss!!!!!!!

Oh God, Osama, I’m so grateful, I can’t even express it. You sure saved my ass (literally!). I hope this is all the help we’ll need for awhile, but I’m still keeping you on retainer. The 2006 midterm election campaign will be in full swing this time next year, and I’m all out of phony wedge issues; I’ve used them all up. So I may need you again.

Let’s see, New York, Madrid, London — where should our next location be? Hell, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Thanks again for all your invaluable assistance.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Something Good About Wal-Mart

Yes, I know Wal-Mart is ruining the American landscape. They’ve sucked the life out of small-town America by gobbling up all the Mom and Pop stores and siphoning most shoppers away from the town. The town I live in now has a very vibrant and lively downtown. There’s a Wal-Mart two miles away which hasn’t impacted the downtown area, and we’re all determined to keep it that way.

But, there’s one very humane thing that most Wal-Marts do. They allow vehicles to park overnight in their parking lot.

This article tells about RV campers who utilize Wal-Mart parking lots on their motor trips. (Local RV campground owners are less than thrilled about it.)

But this policy of Wal-Mart affected my family in a more personal way. We had a close relative (now deceased) who was homeless. This was in Sonoma County, California, which is gentrifying and sterilizing as fast as it can. Ten years ago Santa Rosa Avenue was full of cheap motels with weekly and monthly rates. In the past few years they’ve all been torn down or converted to upscale inns and bed & breakfasts.

Lots of people (such as our relative) get caught in the middle when a region suddenly decides it wants to be Beverly Hills. Rents skyrocket and become unaffordable to lots of residents. These displaced residents are now labeled as “undesirables” for not being upscale enough for the area’s new image. The Powers That Be want these “undesirables” to just vanish. Disappear! Go somewhere, anywhere, just leave and quit blighting our new paradise of vineyards, starter castles and luxury hotels.

(This was true of the Santa Rosa and Russian River areas; I can’t speak first-hand for anyplace else.)

Our relative had a van that he lived in; this was his absolute last choice after being unable to afford any motel or apartment in the area. It was difficult finding places where he could park and sleep without being harassed and/or arrested. Thank you Wal-Mart.

There were some commuter park & ride lots where he could sleep, but not legally. Overnight campers wouldn’t usually get hassled if they kept a low profile at the park & ride lots, but “usually” isn’t very comforting if you just want some sleep.

The Wal-Mart in Windsor, CA is where he stayed most of the time. The other Wal-Mart in the area, in Rohnert Park, didn’t allow overnight parking (I think it was because of a city ordinance).

So, for all the bad publicity that Wal-Mart gets — and most of it is probably deserved — we will always remember and appreciate their humane policy of letting people park overnight in their lot. It made a huge difference in some people’s lives. Thank you Wal-Mart.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

July Fourth

While we’re celebrating the Fourth of July this year, we all need to remember the official name of the holiday — Independence Day. (Yes, I know you know that already.) If there was a truth-in-labeling act for holidays, we’d have to call it Bow Down And Worship Our Perfect Government Day. This would reflect the attitude of too many Americans.

Remember the original meaning of the word “Patriot”? The original Patriots overthrew their colonizers. They were rebels. This word has mutated beyond any possible recognition since the founding of our country. Today’s “Patriots” (at least that’s what they call themselves) insist on unquestioning blind allegiance to the government. What happened?!?

“There should be a revolution every twenty years.” Can you name the left-wing rabble-rouser who said that? Would you believe Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson got elected president, he repealed the Alien and Sedition Act — passed by Congress two years earlier — which called for imprisonment of anyone publishing “false, scandalous or malicious writing.” The law had been passed in order to stifle dissent from the minority party — Republicans.

The popular American archetype has always been the cowboy riding off into the sunset. Americans have always been proud of their independence, self-reliance, rugged individualism. “Don’t tell me what to do.” “Don’t fence me in.”

At some point that changed to “hey, don’t question our leaders.” “Oh, OK, I’ll happily bend over and let you do what you want to me. No Sir, I’m not questioning your leadership Sir.” “Sure, you can go ahead and spy on me and monitor every move I make. I don’t have anything to hide.” What the F#%&# happened?

The War on Drugs has probably been the most disgraceful and most long-standing assault on our Constitution. This is how everyone slowly got used to having Big Brother towering over us. After several decades of draconian prison sentences for victimless crimes, Americans have gotten numbed to the feeling of an Omnipresent Orwellian government regulating everyone’s every move. This got the government’s foot in the door and laid the groundwork for the Patriot Act.

The manufactured hysteria over ***DRUGS!!*** is so prevalent that we’ve all just sat on our hands while millions of people have been incarcerated for crimes that affected nobody else. Millions of otherwise-sane people support this War on American Citizens just because, well, we just can’t allow this sort of thing, this, this permissiveness. Drugs are bad, M’Kay?

This isn’t a partisan issue. Some of the most gung ho drug warriors have been Democrats, and some conservatives have actually remembered their own slogans about individualism and limited government.

Debra Saunders, a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (yes they do exist in San Francisco), periodically writes about specific individuals who have been caught in the middle of the War on Drugs. She gives the person’s name and a brief biography, and a description of the crime and sentence: thirty years in prison, maybe even life without parole, for a woman whose boyfriend is a drug dealer, or someone who was a passenger in a car where a drug deal was being made. Putting a human face on these tragedies really brings home the total insanity and perversion of the War on Drugs.

And just to show how sick and twisted some people are, Debra Saunders gets a certain amount of hate mail after each one of these columns. People tell her the War on Drugs doesn’t go far enough, these wicked drug abusers are being coddled and should get even longer sentences, etc.

Believe it or not, there’s actually an Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees equal protection under the law. And yet our prisons are filled with non-violent drug users who are serving far longer sentences than most armed robbers and rapists. Whose definition of “equal protection under the law” is this?

Now there’s a bill working its way through the House of Representatives which would provide up to ten years in prison for anyone who knows about illegal drug use and doesn’t report it to the police. This bill, introduced by Essen Scheisse Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, has been publicized by many bloggers but there hasn’t been a peep out of the mainstream media. Is this the America we want? “Independence Day”? Independent from what?

If you think the War on Drugs is one of the most stupid and mean-spirited projects in our government’s history, please check out the Drug Policy Alliance. They’re trying to inject a little sanity into our government’s drug policies.

After four or five decades of the War on Drugs, we were numbed and sedated and stupefied enough that we were ready to bend over and spread ’em for: the Patriot Act.

If you liked the illegal searches brought on by the War on Drugs, you’ll love the Patriot Act. Now you can have your library records searched. Your home or place of business can be searched without a warrant, and they don’t even have to inform you.

If your response to the above paragraph is “so what, what are you hiding?” or “they can search me; I don’t have anything to hide” — you don’t deserve to live in a democracy. You need a one-way ticket to the police state of your choice.

Certain provisions of the Patriot Act have been deleted in the House, but they’ll probably be reinstated by the Senate. Bush has threatened to veto the bill without those provisions, and his bitches jump when he says jump.

The generalization is that liberals are against the Patriot Act and conservatives are in favor of it. But there are a lot of exceptions, and there’s a growing bipartisan concern about an out-of-control federal government. Two rightwing former Congressmen, Bob Barr and Dick Armey, have strong Libertarian beliefs and have worked extensively with the ACLU. Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has been one of the biggest critics of the Patriot Act.

Downsize DC is a very worthwhile non-partisan organization that’s working to fight the growing intrusiveness of the federal government. They’re against Big Government — Period. You won’t agree with them on everything unless you’re a Libertarian. But at a time like this, people of all political viewpoints need to band together. We all need to stand guard against Big Brother. He’s watching.

Another bipartisan grassroots issue is the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on property rights. If a developer wants to raze your house and build a hotel or office building on “your” property, this constitutes “public use,” same as a railroad or highway. Pretty sick “reasoning,” huh? If you’re pissed off at this decision (isn’t everybody?), you might want to join the Castle Coalition to prevent your property from being seized by the government.

Americans of all political viewpoints need to be aware of the dangers of giving the federal government too much power. Remember, they work for us; it’s not the other way around. Hahahahahaha. Seriously. That’s how it was originally supposed to be. Our Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they saw this lazy corrupt trust-funded group of self-serving country-clubbers trampling over the rest of us. And to top it all off, these underworked, overpaid, overfed blobs just voted themselves another pay raise. Tea party, anyone?

We need to remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We need to maintain a balance of liberty and security, and in the past few years we’ve tilted waaaay overboard on the side of security.

This year when we’re celebrating Independence Day, let’s all remember that cowboy riding off into the sunset; Clint Eastwood saying “feel lucky punk?” Think of the Patriots dumping tea into Boston Harbor. And for God’s sake break out of that hypnotized, stupefied mindset of “Great Leader has spoken. We must listen and obey.” It’s way too unbecoming, too perverted, for a country that was founded by rebels.