Tuesday, May 31, 2005

May, 26, 2005

May 27, 2005

“We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves.”
Senator John McCain

Vietnam War protestors (myself included) used to say we "lived in the belly of the beast.” It was more than just lefty rhetoric. It was a visceral feeling. Especially during the early years of that mortal sin of a war, because so few objected.

Even as ten thousand miles away American napalm burned villages and people, and U.S.-made Agent Orange transformed lush jungles into barren moonscapes, life here went on as normal. The “Burgers Sold” sign at local MacDonald’s ticked away like a racecar’s odometer. The American middleclass was still flush from the go-go 50’s and 60’s. Suburbs were booming. Shopping centers were all the rage. Detroit rolled out 14 years worth of flashy new chrome-encrusted models without missing a beat, and we Americans gobbled them right up.

Only Americans can get away such a feat – to lay waste to one part of the world without paying a noticeable price at home. Military experts proudly call that “projecting power,” the ability to “fight them on their soil rather than our own.”

Now, I’m not arguing in favor of fighting them on our soil instead. My point is that, when we project our power in ways that violate the very principles America claims to stand for, we pay a price. Even though we are spared destroyed cities, dead civilians and constant explosions and gunfire, we pay a price. We paid that price during the Vietnam War, and we are paying it again now.

So, what’s this price we are paying? Money? Sure Iraq is costing us more this year than it would cost to fix Medicare, but that’s not the worst of it. Money can be printed. What we are losing – once again – is America – the original America. Not the America of the Neocon “do as we say, not as we do,” Orwellian democracy posers, but the America we know from our history books. The America described in our constitution and Bill of Rights. The America the world once considered the gold standard of honesty, integrity, due process, and personal freedom, The America that was Democracy’s Mecca.

Back in the 70’s I used to get letters from Europeans asking how the America they thought they knew could do the things it was doing in Vietnam. And why the American people did not rise up and throw the bums in charge out on their asses. They wanted me to explain how the country that established the Nuremberg rules, could so casually allow it’s own leaders and soldiers to break those very principles, and with absolute impunity. Why, they asked, were German officials held liable for the atrocities their policies unleashed on others and not American officials?

I had no good answer back then, and now that I am getting the same kind of letters from Europeans I have no good answer now. Here are just two recent letters:

Dear Editor,
I'm just one of those millions of Brits who are absolutely horrified and revolted at what the US has become. I can see no distinction whatsoever between the Bush administration and any other vicious, fascist organisation from any period in 20th century history. My heart goes out to all of you in your seemingly impossible struggle to tear your Democracy back from the bloodstained claws of the vile monsters who have calculatedly imprisoned you in your own society.

That twisted logic is worthy of Goebbels, Stalin or the Ayatollahs. The hatred and invective towards Liberals in the USA is chilling. Read your histories of the propaganda methods of the National Socialist Party in pre-war Germany to see some chilling parallels.

I'm old enough to remember watching news broadcasts of the inspirational campus demonstrations, which did so much to get you out of Vietnam. Those students had guts, courage and a single-minded conviction that puts contemporary Americans to shame. What the hell has happened to your young people? Do they believe in ANYTHING now apart from their mindless selves?

Peter Riches

And this letter for a citizen of our northern neighbor, Canada.

All my life I've been impregnated with American culture. Now at 59 I am trying to understand what's happening in this great country of yours. I tried to speak to an American friend about it but I've not been yet been satisfied with the answers I got.

So what's happened to the American intellectuals? Why are they so silent on what's been happening? All my life I've met Americans and went out of my way, to speak with them, if they were around as tourists. My European friends as well as my Canadian feel by experience that most of the people we've met from the US are, for the most part, ignorant about the world in general. Why is that? Could you help us out a little?

Thank you so much,
Cheers from St Tite Québec

Please notice, as I did, that these are not angry letters. They are sad letters. They are not demanding “death to America,” but recovery. They want the America they had always admired, back. They miss the warm, reassuring glow of that light on the distant horizon oppressed peoples once fixated upon during their darkest hours. As long as it shown, hope survived. That light has dimmed, and for many, disappeared. They want it lit again.

Instead, yesterday Amnesty Internation waded in it's report listing America as one of the world's worst violators of human rights.

"When the U.S. government calls upon foreign leaders to bring to justice those who commit or authorize human rights violations in their own countries, why should those foreign leaders listen?" Dr. Schulz said. "And if the U.S. government does not abide by the same standards of justice, what shred of moral authority will we retain to pressure other governments to diminish abuses?

"It's far past time for President Bush to prove that he is not covering up the misdeeds of senior officials and political cronies who designed and authorized these nefarious interrogation policies," he said. "So Congress must appoint a truly impartial and independent commission to investigate the masterminds of the atrocious human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers, and President Bush should use the power of his office to press Congress to do so." (Full Story)

Ah, but our foreign friends can expect little help from Americans. Here, in the belly of the beast, life once again is perking right along as normal. Iraq is far away, too far to hear the thud of bombs, the screams of the wounded or the wails of the grieving -- too far away for Americans to experience the air filled with the smell of blood drying on hot pavement. Too far away to see Iraqi mothers waiting to see if their children make it home from school alive, or wrapped in a blanket.

But never mind all that. Here, in America, life is good.

So, what will it be for lunch today? I had a steak sandwich and big-ass slice of pie yesterday. I better have a chef’s salad today. Eating like that way everyday can kill a person, you know.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 25, 2005

You Get Burned

For months I have been warning right-wing Republicans who were pandering to the fundamentalist Christian right that they were playing with fire. I reminded them that history teaches an unambiguous lesson on this to anyone willing to listen. That lesson is this: You can never satisfy religious fundamentalists. Never.

Every time one of these so-called “culture wars’ breaks out, the progression of events is exactly the same. The process, which works itself out over a matter of years, goes like this:

* The march of social reform and science inevitably offends/threatens rigid religious constituencies.
* Fundamentalists cry foul, claim they are being discriminated against and/or persecuted and start raising hell.
* They get noticed. Conservative politicians smell opportunity and reach out to cultivate these up-for-grabs voters.
* With that political support fundamentalists win a few rounds and the first rules/laws reflecting early fundamentalist demands are enacted.
* Relative moderates among the fundamentalist forces are assuaged by this and fall silent.
* That leaves the staunchest and least flexible fundamentalists in charge of the newly empowered movement.
* That first taste of blood sends them into frenzy like chicken-killing dogs. They push for more and more draconian rules.
* Eventually they even start scaring the conservative politicians who once supported them. One by one conservative politicians peel off voting against fundamentalist positions.
* Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist scorned. Now they turn their holy fury against their former supporters.

And so it has come to pass.

“This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats… We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust." (Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family)

Well, I tried to warn you Republicans. You thought it was going to be so easy, even risk free. And, I have to admit, it worked -- for while, anyway. You rallied the Christian soldiers and helped them dust of and swing the Crusader’s Sword for Christ. And you won a few battles.

Now you get to feel the backside of that sword.

You see, there is nothing simple about fundamentalist movements. They are not a single block, but complicated, layered affairs. The first layers are made up of not-entirely unreasonable people, which give the movement a degree of credibility and sympathy. These folks voice modest concerns, gripes that are usually fairly easy to address.

But the next layer is tougher, as is every layer thereafter. And, once in for dime, you're in for a dollar. Trying to get out is like trying to leave a street gang -- you are going to get one hell of a beating, at the very least. So you hang in, even as the demands got nuttier and nuttier. Layer by layer you tried to stay friends with your fundamentalist “base.” But as each of these layers was revealed, their demands became increasingly unreasonable -- until they became downright frightening.

Just as the Taliban represented the core layer of the Islamic fundamentalist movement, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Gary Baurer, et al, represent the core layers of the Christian fundamentalist movement. (Which is why I believe it is accurate to refer to them as America’s “Christian Taliban.”)

Now you conservatives have a real Frankenstein monster of your own creation on your hands, don’t you? And it bites.

After five years with George W. Bush in power, fundamentalists bagged a number of victories, particularly on family planning issues. For example, fundamentalist "faith-based charities" now get goverment money to teach high school kids condoms don’t work. Not because condoms actually don’t work; they do. And it's not condoms these folks are really against. In fact, I will put hard cash on the table to back my bet that most of these pious wing-nuts use condoms themselves…assuming they get lucky.

No, they oppose condoms because most religious fundamentalists have “issues” about all things sexual. A LOT of issues. A few years on a shrink’s couch would do them a world of good. But no, instead they want the rest of us to share in their repressed, tight-ass, Donny & Marie Osmond, homophobic, misogynistic hangups.

And the minute they don’t get their way, they melt down. Today they are ever so pissed at some of the very conservative politicians who handed them those early victories. They are mad that only three of the seven conservative judges will get approved because of the filibuster deal – nearly half a loaf, but not nearly enough for them. Because, you see, they don’t want to participate in society; they want to run it.

Yesterday the inevitable finally happened. After losing two big ones -- the filibuster compromise and fetal stem-cell research – fundamentalist leaders went ballistic and issued fatwas against the conservatives who abandoned them.

But, not all is lost yet. They still have one big fish in their net, the President. George W. tried to calm his Christian insurgent base by assuring them that he will veto the bill allowing the use of eggs from fertility clinics that would otherwise be destroyed for stem-cell research. Why would Bush do this when polls show that 60% of Americans support the measure?

Here’s why.

(From Slate Magazine)
Dobson….proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida. (Full story)

I could be wrong, but I feel we are seeing is the beginning of the end of the Christian Right as an irresistible force in DC. I think this might be the case because, as other Republicans watch Christian wing-nuts trash their colleagues who voted for compromise on the filibuster and voted to allow science to continue its march forward, they will think to themselves, “Shit, there but for the grace of James Dobson go I.”

So, for the next few months anyway, expect the Christian Right to react pretty much the same way the Catholic Church did in the 13th Century when politicians, actors and just ordinary folk refused to toe God’s line. They will circle the wagons and send out their enforcers:

In 1233, Pope Gregory IX established the papal Inquisition, dispatching Dominican friars to conduct inquests… When an inquisitor arrived, a month of grace was allowed to all who wished to confess to heresy and to recant… After the period of grace, persons accused of heresy that had not abjured were brought to trial. …The trials were conducted secretly in the presence of a representative of the bishop…Torture of the accused and his witnesses soon became customary and notorious, despite the long-standing papal condemnation of torture. Pope Innocent IV ultimately permitted torture in cases of heresy. Most trials resulted in a guilty verdict...(From Encyclopedia.com)

Flakes Honor “Snow Flakes”
Did you catch that little televised dog and pony show yesterday? Bush, Tom DeLay and others of that ilk gathered infertile couples that had children by “adopting” unused embryos from fertility clinics.

Bush dubbed such children, “Snow Flakes.”

I am sure each one of those kids is an absolute delight. But that show had no bearing whatsoever to the fetal stem cell debate. What Bush’s Orwellian PR mavens were trying to do was create the impression that unused eggs at fertility clinics are not unwanted eggs. The truth of course is very different, as it almost always is with this administration. The fact remains that, for every frozen embryo “adopted” by an infertile couple, thousands more flushed down the drain or incinerated every year. It may be millions.

But the Snow Flakes affair yesterday is more evidence of the influence of Dobson and his group, Focus on the Family. And, once those little embryos hit the ground as full term humans, Dr. Dobson has parenting advice for their parents: whomp them, early and often. In 1977 Dobson authored the parenting book, Dare to Discipline, a denunciation of permissive parenting that tried to rehabilitate the practice of spanking. So, beware precious little Snow Flakes -- Dobson’s book sold 2 million copies. (What’s in your parent’s bookshelf?)

Dobson did make an observation in one of his books that I agree with entirely. “Evil has a way of overreaching."

And so it has come to pass. Amen.

Speaking of Evil
LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) -- Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday. (Full Story)

Since the US seems incapable, and/or unwilling, to hold American officials responsible for these violations, Amnesty International is encouraging other nations to do so. It could be that someday we will see a French or German court indict Bush administration officials for torture and other violations of the Geneva accords.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May 24, 2005

Stems & Seeds

Some days I feel like I am living in the middle of the 19th century. While the human race faces daunting challenges of the present and near future, we waste time arguing matters that should by now only be discussed in history class.

Today’s back-to-the-future issue is fetal stem cell research. No one in his or her right mind would consider a zygote a human being. But then, whenever you try to mix religious beliefs with science and public policy, you end up with out-of-mind experiences. And that’s just what we have here.

The religious right – backed by the President and rightwing members of Congress – believe that using a zygote to create and then harvest fetal stem cells is tantamount to murder.

(I am purposely using the medical term “zygote” rather than “fertilized human egg” or “embryo,” not because I fear use of those terms would undercut my argument but because it is more appropriate.)

The kind of research being done now in South Korea does not use fertilized human eggs. Instead they use an egg that has had its original DNA removed and replaced with DNA harvested from a different person. That’s right, Dr. Dobson, no sperm was involved. Therefore calling the South Korean-creations “fertilized eggs” or even “embryos” is not entirely accurate. But they are, unarguably, zygotes.

Sorry for having to waste youR time with such obvious details, but whenever dealing with religious zealots you have to nail every detail down for them. It’s not that they are stupid, just confused. Terribly confused. Dangerously confused. Arrogantly confused.

Anyway, the President and his fundamentalist supporters say that using zygotes to harvest potentially life-saving fetal stem cells is wrong.

("Destroying life to save life is wrong" - President Bush says. Not to muddy the waters but, didn't he justify destroying lives in Iraq on the grounds it would save lives from WMD? Executing criminals saves lives too, according to Bush. Hmmmm... But destroying a zygote to save full-term humans is wrong. I'm confused.)

Things get even more confusing when you try to balance this anti-fetal stem cell position with the religious right's silence on fertility clinics. These self-proclaimed "prolifers" are also self-proclaimed “pro-family” folks who apparently have absolutely no problem with fertility clinics. This very strange since the stock-in-trade of fertility clinics is to create zygotes that really ARE fertilized human eggs, embryos. No doubt about it. Those little buggers are the real deal. And these clinics create them by the millions, because the failure rate of in vitro fertilization is so high they create many times more embryos than they will ever need.

So, what do these for-profit IVF clinics they do with embryos they don’t use? Well, first they thrust these "little“people” into vats of liquid nitrogen and freeze the holy bajeebers out of them. They leave them there shivering in this frozen hell, wearing nothing by their genes, until someone decides they don’t need them any longer. Then they thaw them out, and “take them for a ride,” – a one-way ride.

“The approaches of the 175 clinics that did dispose of extra embryos varied in the extreme. Some handed the tiny ball of cells over to the couple or individual to take home, whereas some incinerated them as biological waste. Of the clinics that incinerated the embryos, four required the presence of the couple while twenty-five clinics forbade it. Seven clinics even said a prayer during disposal in a quasi-funeral, according to Arthur Caplan, a co-author of the study from the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.” (More)

So, let’s review. Using fetal stem cell research from artificially created zygotes is a sin -- abortion by any other name. But destroying honest-to-god embryos for profit by fertility clinics is not an issue with the religious right.

The reason IVF is not a political issue is, of course, money. Fertility clinics are insanely profitable. Fetal stem cells may or may not become a profitable business some day, but right now no real fetal stem cell business lobby is writing check on The Hill. Fertility clinics and the companies that own them are. And we are talking big money.

"On average, a patient gets pregnant only one out of three times, so many patients try IVF repeatedly. Each attempt costs anywhere from $4,000 to $18,000 for doctors' fees, plus thousands more for drugs to stimulate the woman's ovaries to produce eggs. Because patients are willing to invest that kind of money in treatments that didn't exist a few years ago - and because about ten percent of American couples have trouble conceiving - infertility is an estimated $2 billion industry annually in the United States. Pharmaceutical companies are investing millions in fertility-related drugs. Clinic management corporations traded on Wall Street are in the business of making a profit on infertility treatment for investors. Brokers are charging fees to help couples find egg donors and surrogate mothers. And the number of U.S. clinics offering IVF has been racing upward since the mid-1980s, to about 330 today." (More)

Ah, so there you have it. The real reason fertility clinics that really DO “kill” embryos by the millions are okay, but that it’s wrong to use artificially created zygotes for fetal stem cell research.

Memo to Democrats: The next opportunity you have to attach a rider to a bill attach one that says consistency requires that if fetal stem cell research is restricted because “its wrong to destroy life,” then fertility clinics should not be allowed to create any embryos that will later be destroyed. Such a law would affectively put fertility clinics out of business, of course. But such a law would be the only logical application of fundamentalists’ own argument. Either that argument is valid in all cases, or it’s not. Which is it? Force them to confront the internal inconsistencies in their own argument. They hate that, because there are so many.

When Bush Policies Hit Home
I have a first-hand tale to tell you today that illustrates an earlier point I made: that Bush’s economic policies have been nothing more or less than a direct transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

I know a single mother, now in her early 50’s. She has a son who was born severely brain-damaged. While he is now in his early 20’s he has the mental abilities of an infant, or less. She could have institutionalized him, at great cost to Medicare and Medicaid. Instead she chose to raise and care for him at home. Medicare paid her a monthly stipend that was less than half what it would have cost the government to care for her son in a facility.

All went well form two decades. Then George W. Bush and his merry band of “let-them-eat-cakers slashed Medicaid. Last month Medicaid looped $600 a month off her son's care allowance. She had already been barely able to make ends meet, and losing that $600-a-month was the final straw. She fell behind in her bills, the phone company cut off her service and now she is being evicted from her home because she can no longer afford the Bay Area's high rents. I have no idea where this poor woman and her son will end up now.

I believe an air-tight case can be made that this woman’s $600 a month is now ending up in some wealthy person’s family trust in the form of Bush tax relief. If you want to prove me wrong, go ahead. I’d love to hear it. So would she.

Just In: Protestors Clog DC Streets for Second Week
I firmly believe that only that kind of headline can now turn the Red Tide. So, will some group that has national standing and membership (hello Moveon.org) please begin organizing that kind of protest right now. It will be the only hope the day Bush sends his Supreme Court nominees to The Hill?

Please. Please - get on with it. Once the Bushites get that ball rolling it will be too late to organize protests large enough and sustained enough to make a difference. So let's start now.

I live in California, but I will happily buy a plane ticket and join such protests, and stay for a long as it takes to put an end to this madness. And I am certain there are millions like me around the country just waiting for someone with the organization, money and skill give us a way to participate again in our democracy. (BTW - The Christian Right knows how to do this, which is why they keep winning.)

So, Moveon.org here's a clue -- cutsey TV commercials alone are not going to win this war. It’s time to hit the street again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

May 23, 2004

Is Bush The Worst President

A couple of observant readers pointed me to History News Network’s web site this weekend. They pointed out I could stop my search for someone qualified to answer the question, “Is George W. Bush the worst President of the United State, ever, because it’s been done.

HNN surveyed 415 historians and, without hanging chads or un-auditable electronic voting machines, the answer is at hand. Yes. Yes he certainly is:

Quotes from historians contributing the History News Network poll:

“Although previous presidents have led the nation into ill-advised wars, no predecessor managed to turn America into an unprovoked aggressor. No predecessor so thoroughly managed to confirm the impressions of those who already hated America. No predecessor so effectively convinced such a wide range of world opinion that America is an imperialist threat to world peace. I don 't think that you can do much worse than that.”

“Bush is horrendous; there is no comparison with previous presidents, most of whom have been bad.”

“He is blatantly a puppet for corporate interests, who care only about their own greed and have no sense of civic responsibility or community service. He lies, constantly and often, seemingly without control, and he lied about his invasion into a sovereign country, again for corporate interests; many people have died and been maimed, and that has been lied about too. He grandstands and mugs in a shameful manner, befitting a snake oil salesman, not a statesman. He does not think, process, or speak well, and is emotionally immature due to, among other things, his lack of recovery from substance abuse. The term is "dry drunk". He is an abject embarrassment/pariah overseas; the rest of the world hates him . . . . . He is, by far, the most irresponsible, unethical, inexcusable occupant of our formerly highest office in the land that there has ever been.”

“George W. Bush's presidency is the pernicious enemy of American freedom, compassion, and community; of world peace; and of life itself as it has evolved for millennia on large sections of the planet. The worst president ever? Let history judge him.”

“This president is unique in his failures.”

Then the historians were asked, if he is the worst, in what areas is he the worst since..... Open the envelope please! And the loser is....

* In terms of economic damage, Bush is the worst since Reagan.
* In terms of imperialism, the worst since T. Roosevelt.
* In terms of dishonesty in government he is the worst since Nixon.
* In terms of affable incompetence the worst since Harding.
* In terms of corruption the worst since Grant.
* In terms of general lassitude and cluelessness, the worst since Coolidge.
* In terms of personal dishonesty, the worst since Clinton.
* In terms of religious arrogance, the worst since Wilson.”

So folks, there you we are. Now we know he really IS the worst president of this country, ever. Now what do we do with that information? A good start would be for Democrats in Congress to enter the HNN poll into the Congressional Record. That way future historians will know we not only elected this guy twice, but did nothing about it after it confirming that we had turned America over to an certified incompetent. That way all three evil-doers will get the credit they deserve from history -- George W. Bush, those that elected him twice, and the rest of us, who wrung our hands about it but never get off our pompous, Levi drapped, liberal asses to fill the streets in protest.

Which brings me to this interesting quote from 1955 – exactly 50 years ago:

"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . . Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined."
---From Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

Monday, May 23, 2005

May 20-22, 2005

Is Bush The Worst President

Yesterday’s column certainly hit a nerve. (I left it on the bottom of this page if you missed it.)

Is George W. Bush the worst president in the history of the nation? After five years in the White House we now have enough information to begin exploring that question.

So, presidential historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss, Haynes Johnson, are you folks up to this challenge?

Of course by the time those guys get around to publishing anything the issue would be moot. So, maybe there is someone(s) out there ready, willing and able to decide this pressing matter before it’s too late.

After reading yesterday’s piece readers added to the list of Bush – shall we call them “shortcomings.” Ruinous tax cuts, millions more American’s without health coverage, a wanton disregard for the environment, facilitating, and even rewarding, corporate corruption on Iraq-rebuilding contracts, stifling life-saving fetal stem cell research to curry favor with the religious right, torture, kidnappings, incarceration without trial and now the new British government memo that proves Bush planned to attack Iraq soon after he was elected, WMD or no WMD.

Asked by reporters if the administration would comply with Democrat’s demand for an explanation of that memo, WH spokesman Scott McClellan, tersely responded, “we see no need to respond.” (Translation: None you their damn business. None of your business either.)

Readers who responded to yesterday’s piece clearly shared my frustrations and fear that we have allowed things to go too far, and now it is too late to stop this rightwing, fundamentalist juggernaut. Some suggested, as I did, large street demonstrations opposing the war and Bush court nominees. Maybe millions of people in the street can convince arrogant Republicans that not everyone out here is a Red voter. And, it might just stiffen the spine of congressional Democrats, assuming they still have one.

Yesterday’s piece appeared today on AlterNet where those readers added their own comments and suggestions. Some suggested circulating an Internet petition demanding a national recall election. While not a constitutional remedy such a petition could be a useful organizing tool.

But I still believe that validation by a creditable source of my premise, that George W. Bush IS the worst president, ever, would be the most useful thing we could do right now.

So, is he? If not then I will shut up about it and just go back to just opposing his policies.

But, if the answer is, as I suspect, yes, yes he is the worst president ever, then wouldn’t that be such an important revelation that we should know it as soon as possible - while it matters and while we might, just might be able to do something about it?

There's no way this Republican-controlled congress will ever impeach Bush -- even if he were caught red-handed personally torturing Saddam in the Oval Office while being serviced by Monica. But, a well-documented study proving that Bush is indeed the worst president in history would certainly clip his wings – and those right-wings that flew him this lofty perch.

So again I ask, beg, plead, implore, grovel…. is there a non-partisan historian or organization out there that can settle this matter while it still matters? Is George W. Bush the worst president ever, or not?

(BTW, Earl Killian has already done a good deal of historical legwork for those interested in taking on this challenge. http://www.killian.com/earl/presidents.html )

Here are some letters from readers on this subject. Below them is the original column.
(And still more letters on this HERE.)

Not only is he the worst president ever but he's the scariest! Damn, I thought I was scared in the 70's always wondering if nuclear bombs were going to be set off. Things are scarier than I ever remember them. Between the debt situation, religion intruding everywhere, global warming/resource depletion, no substantial independent media to speak of, insane people running the world...YIKES!

Nevertheless, I wanted to let you know that I, and some of the people I hang with, DO care and will for some time.

To end on an upbeat note - did you hear what George Galloway had to say to Norm Coleman? Wasn't that great?! More of that, more of that!

Margaret Carbone

I think you are on the right track identifying Bush
as the worst US President ever. That actually seems
a bit of a no-brainer, although I realize it takes courage to say it in print.

My concern is that he may actually be one of the worst
figures in all of Western history. Compare your list of
charges against him with Nero, the Pope of the Inquisition, Hitler, ...

In the entire record of Western "civilization" I am hard pressed to think of any regime more frightening than this unholy alliance of greed sucking business dudes -
Cheney, Lay, ... the "Religious" Right types Falwell et al, totally Machevillian political masterminds DeLay, Rove, Frist coupled with the complicity of Corporations who are allowed to do whatever they want without fear of Government sanction, and finally to the American people who are so dumbed down by 50 years of declining public education, and so spoiled by artificially cheap energy that they now believe is their God-given right - Saddam doesn't want to sell us Iraqi oil - well just invade and depose him. That's easy.

Until the American people crawl out of their Hummers,
wake up and demand to see Cheney's energy committee
meeting minutes, and really get their heads around where
these guys have put us, the rest of the world will justifiably despise us.

Bill Fellinger
Williston, Vermont

Mr. Pizzo
The Republicans have been so successful in demanding and getting what they want no matter the cost to the less-than-rich Americans? I cannot for the life of me comprehend how so many can be so ignorant of what is happening or stupid enough to let it happen if they know.

It's as if there is some sort of conservative religious revival taking place in the US that bears no resemblance to truth, fact, or reason.

Scary stuff. But why? I am convinced that it is too late to stop, undo, or reverse the terrible domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration.

Just who is in power behind this shift to an ultra-conservative government? The famous authors of the 21st Century Plan that was concocted over 12 years ago?
The only way to make sense of what is happening today is to think oil. The US knows that cheap oil is running out and wants to position itself to control the flow of the largest reserves. Why else create permanent military bases in Iraq?

Once you understand that our national security and interests are tied directly to oil, everything else that is happening begins to make sense.

Connecting the dots, it is plausible that the US will engage militarily with any other country in order to protect the supply of oil for American corporations. Oil is the life-blood of capitalism and consumerism in this and every developed country.

And the average American won't speak up against such a policy because we will have lost our rights to do so.

Rochester, MN

I think that you're absolutely right. But Bush isn't just the worst prez we've ever had. he's also the dumbest! We've hit lows before, but nothing like this clown.

You know, for so many years we've elected Presidents, and whether you thought they were good or bad, whatever, you could always just forget who was in the WH and go about your life.

But with this Bozo, you have to keep up with his shenanigans on a daily basis because you just can't believe it. It's depressing!

Paul B

Just saw your blog for first time.....We are the underground and we have to be tenacious...Your blog summed up Bush ..I, like you, sometimes get the feeling we can’t do anything about it, but we can.. We are many....We just have to figure it out and don’t stop .The alternative is unthinkable.

I am calling Code Pink’s Grace Kelland today to give her ideas...Such as, a recall petition that states that we want a recall, a vote of no confidence election on paper ballots. An honest election --or are they afraid of an honest election?

Our bill of rights states that congress works for us, and working Americans are not being heard. They cannot destroy our country, they cannot bankrupt our country...They are wasting and stealing our money, and we want a recall!

This petition could be placed on many blogs and I am sure many people would sign it. I bet we could get millions of signatures..

It just might work.....

Here in Orange County people are quiet. The flags and W stickers have finally been removed from most people's cars. No one talks readily about junior or Iraq so it is really hard to assess the attitude here.

Orange County is no longer the John Birch Society bastion of my youth due to the other two million people who have moved here in the last several decades, but it ain't no LA or San Francisco either. Clients in my industry are invariably "tax cut" conservatives who, if prodded, will mouth fealty to all the other bilge that issues forth from junior's lying pie hole. I think that privately they are probably horrified at the direction things are going, but would be committing commercial suicide if they shared their concerns with their pals at the yacht/country club. Not being a member, I am only guessing (hoping) of course. The OC (I hate that silly TV name) conservatives are state's rights types who must be nearly frantic at the continuing prospect of junior's DC black hole of political power - but they still love those tax cuts and of course those lucrative government contracts.

The local news is focused on Mr. Villaraigosa and car chases and missing brides and pop pederasts. Workers are loath to expose their true feelings at the water cooler for fear of being labeled a crank or a liberal. Who wants the boss to think you are unpatriotic or worse? My tactic is to talk to people my age raising male teenagers and to bring up the possibility of conscription. Many people seem to think I am crazy, but a few have agreed that they share similar fears. Its hell being a prophet.

The current news seems to indicate that we are at the tipping point, but as you point out it may be for naught. When a puke like Scott McClennan can blame and intimidate Newsweek for printing what should be common knowledge about US military torture and humiliation, its probably too late. Blaming the messenger, indeed.

My wish is for some progressive billionaires to fund a think tank archipelago, one of whose missions would be to research the biographies of any and all GOP leaders (it pains me to write "leaders") present and prospective and out them real good - show no mercy. And publicize their findings using the Heritage, AEI, Hoover Institute models. Ideas matter and the left better get the information/opinion infrastructure in place to compete or its over. We are stuck with junior, the worst president ever, but Jeb is being queued up and I fear that the foundation of destruction laid by his older brother will allow him flush the whole shebang right down the dumper.

From behind the Orange Curtain, I remain,

The Dems need to get angry the way George Galloway did the other day. Why are they so weak-spined and mealy mouthed? I'm nearly 70 years old, but dammit--I'll march!


I just got back from a month in South Africa. And I tell you what - I felt a lot freer and safer there than I do here. You have no idea what a bad rep this country has over there! What's interesting is that hardly anyone takes any notice of the US any more - they are more interested in what is happening in their own country and in Europe. The majority feels that the US is in deep trouble.


Bush is not just guilty of torture, but murder. Lots of murders. Not as in collateral damage from a bomb killing people. I mean people tortured to death by the U.S. Also, the obscenity of redefining "torture" as anything just short of causing "organ failure" -- with an exception that even causing organ failure and death isn't torture if we were seeking information. (A bit like the Catholic church's old view that a married woman could have sex with her husband without committing a sin as long as it was solely for the purpose of reproduction and she didn't enjoy it!)







(Yo, Dr. Bob. You need to take your keyboard in for a thorough digital exam. It appears something is stuck in there causing it to produce only CAPS.)

I loved your Daily Thinking Points where you build a case, piece-by- piece, why Bush is the worst president ever.

It should be emailed to every conservative in the country. Hell, the GOP should have to address each and every one of the indictments you laid out on primetime nationwide TV.

Keep it up!

Mr. Pizzo
Your comments about the current government and its drive for power and control has a very familiar ring. But, it isn't just this administration or even the last forty years. The thrust for power and control has been a part of the tapestry for a long time.

Perhaps an early example can be found in The Trail of Tears, when President Jackson connived at the theft of Native American lands in the Southeast. Then there was Harry Truman. Aside from the Bomb (while peace talks were in progress), and the arbitrary ceding of half of Korea to the Soviets. he also gave us Executive Order 9835.

That edict resulted in to six million investigations of government employees. There were Star Chamber sessions; no actual witnesses, no real testimony, and above all, no attorneys for the defense. During the same period, the military (the AFOSI especially) followed suit. In addition to other acts, it added illegal searches, theft of private property and mail tampering. Then there were the background interviews, in which the "C" word was always placed front and center. In the Fifties, that was one step short of the firing squad.

When it was all over, there were no actual charges against anyone. The ruined reputations were irrelevant compared to the volumes of lists, especially at promotion time. And most important, the manipulators found that following the examples of HUAC and Joe McCarthy, they could get away with it. The Constitution was shredded. The UCMJ was turned into festive confetti. The victims were left to recover what was left of their lives. It was a first rate rehearsal for those who would give us the (soon to be toughened) Patriot Act.

The most distressing fact is that despite all the commentary, blogs and testimony, the current government just smiles and plows ahead with its multitude of true believers. Eventually, they will have a new armband: A black dollar sign, rampant, over a coiled bullwhip.

The knock on the door still vibrates
George B. Morgan

The Worst President, EVER?

May 19, 2005

For the record, I don’t like George Bush. And I don’t like most of the people who work for George Bush. So diehard Republicans can just brush aside my remarks as so much partisan blather.

But by now I suppose very few diehard Republicans ever read this blog. So do me a favor – email this to the diehards in your family and circle of friends. Ask them to tell me why I am wrong about this:

George Bush is the worst president of the United States of America, ever. Hands down.

And here are just a few reasons why I believe that statement is true.

America the Disgraced
President Bush’s actions and policies have destroyed America’s image as a nation that adheres to a set of core values, such as the rule of law, humane treatment of prisoners, presumed innocence, trial by jury and respect for international laws.

How do I know this? Because, the world is telling us so, whenever we care enough to ask.

“Positive views of the U.S. in Russia have risen 11 points in the past year. But U.S. favorability ratings in France and Germany are somewhat lower than last year and there has been a larger decline in Great Britain (58% now, 70% last year). Young people in Great Britain, France, and Germany have more negative views of America than do people in other age groups. An important factor in world opinion about America is the perception that the U.S. acts internationally without taking account of the interests of other nations. Large majorities in every nation surveyed believe that America pays little or no attention to their country's interests in making its foreign policy decisions. This opinion is most prevalent in France (84%), Turkey (79%) and Jordan (77%), but even in Great Britain 61% say the U.S. pays little or no attention to British interests.” (Full study)

Nice going George. Even Richard Nixon couldn’t tarnish America’s image that much.
George’s Vietnam

Bad Listerner
Then there’s the war that is largely responsible for that drop in our international image. President Bush really screwed this one up. First, everyone not drinking the Neocon Kool-Aid tried to warn George not to pull that trigger. Then Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki, warned Bush that a war in Iraq would not be the “cake walk” his Neocon Rasputin, Paul Wolfowitz, promised. Instead, he warned, we would need a lot of troops in Iraq for long time. For that piece of advice he was first publicly embarrassed by his boss then shown the door.

“At a Pentagon news conference neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort. "The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said. (Full Story)

That was 2003. Here’s a story from today’s paper.

“BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 19 - American military commanders in Baghdad and Washington gave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in Iraq….. In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major draw-down in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years." (Full Story)

Gee. Who saw that coming?

So, thanks to George W. Bush and the handful of Neocon nuts you listen to. Now we are stuck in another Vietnam-type war thousands of miles from home. All the Vietnam trappings are here for anyone who cares to notice – indigenous insurgents, driven by a fanatical ideology, supported and supplied by “spoiler” nation-states with their own anti-US agendas, thousands of dead civilians, American soldiers dying by the gross week in and week out, with no end in sight.

Nice going George. Maybe because you skipped out on the Vietnam War you didn’t know this could happen. Or maybe you really are as dumb as common road gravel.

The Sovietization of America
One of the Republican party’s proudest boasts is that Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Evil Empire. The irony is they are now recreating pieces of that police state here at home now.

Hyperbole? You judge – while you still can.

“WASHINGTON, May 18 - The Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan that would significantly expand the F.B.I.'s power to demand business records in terror investigations without obtaining approval from a judge, officials said on Wednesday. "This is a dramatic expansion of the federal government's power," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. "It's really a power grab by the administration for the F.B.I. to secretly demand medical records, tax records, gun purchase records and all sorts of other material if they deem it relevant to an intelligence investigation." (Full Story)

Now, the Patriot Act – you know, the law that among other things allows federal agents to demand your local library tell them what books you are reading – is about to be expanded.

Little by little this administration has chipped away at state powers by transferring them to Washington. And nowhere has this process been more pronounced than in the area of law enforcement and the courts. The FBI, which once had to defer to local and state law enforcers when on their turf, can now barge right in and take charge. All they have to do is an investigation a “national security” or “homeland security” matter.

Federal courts, which have acted as a brake on law enforcement abuses, are being systemically stacked with rightwing judges less likely to side with victims of overzealous cops or invasions of personal privacy.

That’s why this is going on right now:

“WASHINGTON, May 18 - The Senate plunged into an intense partisan struggle on Wednesday over the fate of stalled federal court nominees and the governance of the institution itself as the two parties locked in a debate over the right of the minority to prevent votes on a president's judicial candidates. "If Republicans roll back our rights in this chamber, there will be no check on their power," said Senator Reid. "The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees, the president's nominees in general and legislation like Social Security privatization." (Full Story)”

The Bushites are on a Neocon roll and the federal judiciary is their final obstacle. If they can stack the appellate courts and appoint two rightwing Supreme Court justices before the end of Bush’s final term, it will be “game over” for civil libertarians – and America as we knew her.

The Peasantization of Workers
Over the past five years we have seen the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of money. The already wealthy have become mind-numbingly rich under George Bush. Where did the money come from? It came right out of the pockets of working Americans and the poor.

I heard that groan from the right. Same old liberal, bleeding-heart bullshit, right?

So, you judge.

What the right has accomplished in just five years is the creation of a low-wage economy – a management wet dream – a country filled with high-skilled workers so desperate for jobs they will work for peanuts. Once powerful labor unions have been powerless to stop the flow of once high-paying blue and gray-collar jobs to cheap overseas venues. The jobs that replaced those lost to outsourcing pay an average of ten grand a year less. (As I said above, the money came straight out of workers pockets.)

Deflating Inflation
The administration likes to boast that it has kept inflation in check. Yes they have, at least somewhat. But the reasons inflation remains low are all bad reasons that will result in very bad news down the road.

First, consumers have less money to spend, as noted above. Since consumer spending power is a prime driver of price inflation, prices on many core consumer products have remained low. And many of those now low-price products keeping inflation low are no longer made here but in cheap-labor countries like China.

But inflation has many causes, not just consumer spending. Raw materials, shipping costs, currency fluctuations. And deep inside the bowels of the economic gut, rumbling can be heard.

“WASHINGTON -- Consumer prices jumped again last month, primarily reflecting sharp increases in food and energy costs, the government reported today. But prices for items other than food and energy were flat in April, while oil and gas prices have fallen since then, the Labor Department said, boosting hopes in financial markets that the recent inflation flare-up may be fading. Food prices climbed 0.7 percent last month, largely because of the rising costs of fruits and vegetables. But the so-called core-CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, was unchanged in April and is up 2.6 percent from April of last year.” (Full Story)

Inflation is not as benign as the government figures pretend. This is because of how they calculate inflation on individual items in the CPI and can fiddle with the facts. For example, if HP replaces a printer with a new model that might include a few modest enhancements over it’s predecessor which sold for $100, but prices the new model $125, government economists can claim the price really did not go up because the new model is better than the old model.

Trouble is you can’t buy the old model any longer, but never mind that. Even though you have to pay more for basically the same printer, the price did not go up -- because “they” say so.

How much of that is going on in calculating the CPI? Plenty. And if you shop you know it. They keep saying inflation is in check, but the checks I have to write for everything from my utilities to the food keep getting larger.

The point – figures don’t lie but liars can figure – and they are.

Keeping Up Keeping Up
If things are so bad, why hasn’t the economy slipped back into recession? Because it’s been running on credit. During Bush’s first term the economy perked up because Bush pumped $1.6 trillion in tax rebates into it. That was like giving a dying patient an injection of meth and then claiming he was cured because he was up and jerking around in bed.

Once consumers consumed their paltry tax rebates and the wealthy had deposited their hefty rebates into family trust accounts, the economy would have slowed again -- had it not been for low interest rates and easy credit. Consumers turned into home-equity vampires and credit card addicts in order to maintain the middleclass lifestyle their new low-paying jobs could no longer finance.
(See inset chart from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.)

And, the government as well went on a borrowing binge running up a national credit card debt of just over $7 trillion.

All that damage in just five years! It’s almost unimaginable, but true. And the negative long-term implications stagger those who understand that there really is no such thing as a free lunch, that deficits do matter, be they government deficits or consumer's.

Christian Jihadists
I will not belabor this point, except to say that, at the very time Bush berates religious fundamentalists aborad, he has breached the wall between religion and state here at home. He has jimmied open this Pandora's Box and there will be hell to pay for it eventually -- as there has been everywhere on earth where this was done.

All the above, and more, is why I contend that George W. Bush is the worst president EVER. Hands down, no one else even comes close.

Herbert Hoover may have trigger the Great Depression, but he didn’t invade another nation on false pretenses, or authorize torture of prisoners, or try to stack the courts. Franklin Roosevelt did try to stack the courts but Congress said “no” and he said “okay,” and went on the save the world from fascism and secure the lives of America's elderly by creating Social Security - which Bush now wants to subvert.

Johnson and Nixon did fight an illegal and immoral war but Johnson lifted millions out of poverty and got the Civil Rights Act passed, much to his own party’s determent. Nixon tried to subvert the Constitution but was caught and thrown out of office before he could succeed.

But I fear it’s too late to stop George W. Bush and his band of rightwing revolutionaries. We have let them get to far along now to stop them. We have let them neutralize too many constitutional checks and balances. And, once they deep-six the filibuster it truly will be game over.

Yes, the Democrats have begun to fight, but too little and now too late. The only recourse soon will be public demonstrations of the kind and size not seen here since the 1970s.

The only question is are there still enough of us out here who give damn.

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 18, 2005

George's Dirty Tricks

Thirty-eight years ago I was a 21-year old Marine Corps reservist/antiwar activist. I and two Air Force reservists had formed the G.I. Association, an anti Vietnam War group that organized reservists around the county to oppose that mortal sin of a war.

Needless to say the Nixon administration was not amused by our organizing efforts. They had a draft back then but, so many US kids were dying every week they had to keep stoking that furance with warm bodies, and they did not want us messing with those kid's heads.

While we advocated peace rather than violence and broke no laws, national or international, we suddenly found ourselves ass-deep in FBI agents wherever we went, 24/7. When my mail arrived an FBI would rush to the box and copy down the return addresses off the envelopes before returning them to the box. If he and I reached the box at the same time I had to wait until he was done.

This was hardly a covert operation. They wanted us to know they were there, watching. They amused themselves further by loosening the lug nuts on the wheels of our cars parked on the street overnight. After two of my wheels rolled by me on Golden Gate Bridge, I started checking the wheels instead of my oil every morning.

They would also show up at any place I landed a job, ask to see the boss, flash their FBI shields and then show the boss a photo of me. “Does this person work here?” they would ask. When the boss said yes, why are you asking, they would reply, “Sorry we can’t discuss that with you,” and leave. Need I tell you what happened next?

This was the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon. It became an agency that spied on and harassed peaceful antiwar priests and nuns, spread false rumors and planted agent provocateurs within our group to create the very domestic violence we refused to ignite.

I thought those days were behind us, filed in the junk-heap of history along with Joe McCarthy’s empty bourbon bottles, Richard Nixon’s paranoia and J.Edgar Hoover’s evening gowns. But alas, that hope was premature.

WASHINGTON: New FBI documents to be released today show that anti-terrorism agents who questioned antiwar protesters last summer in Denver were conducting "pretext interviews" that did not lead to any information about criminal activity. The memos were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of ongoing litigation and provide a glimpse of the FBI's controversial efforts to interview dozens of members of leftist protest groups before the party conventions last year in Boston and New York. (Full Story)

Let’s be clear about exactly what's going on here. Just as they did nearly 40 years ago, an administration fighting an unpopular, unwinnable and illegal war is trying to use its national police force to silence protest.

It did not work on Vietnam War protestors, and it won’t work now. If we were supposed be scared off, they accomplished just the opposite. The use of the FBI to spy on and harass harmless, law-abiding Americans served only to reinforce our belief back then that the administration in power was corrupt and needed to opposed.

Back in those days, the administration used the threat of “Commies” among us to justify their police-state inclinations. Of course none of us were Commies. In fact most of those I marched with in those days went on to become successful businessmen and women. It was a pretext, just as the implied threat of “terrorists” among us is today. (If the FBI wants to do something that really might keep terrorists out of the country they could help secure our southern border instead of “interviewing” US antiwar activists.)

Because how real a threat is an openly anti-Bush-war activist? How far do you thing the 9/11 hijackers would have gotten if they had run around the US leading anti-US demonstrations? Not far. It’s just not a terrorist M.O.

Nevertheless here we are, right back to Tricky Dick’s dirty tricks, and for the same reason. This administration now has another Vietnam on its hands and they know it. Their options are to either admit they were wrong and withdraw, or to “stay the course,” which translates to “we can’t admit we were wrong because we killed over a 100,000 people already.”

Since the Bush administration will never admit it made a mistake, large or small, they are going with Option 2: Stay the course. They will try to stretch the Iraq operation out three more years and leave pain of the inevitable Option 1: Withdrawal, to the next administration.

But to have any chance of Option 2 succeeding that they need to do what they can to keep you and me quiet. They remember millions of people marching in the streets of San Francisco and New York and Washington filled opposing the Vietnam War, and they are doing what they can to make sure that does not happen on their watch.

It's hardball, pure and simple. Let me tell you, having a FBI agent ring your doorbell and flash his/her badge can be a real rush. (Hello, I am Special Agent Andrews; we’d like to have a word with you. Can we come in?”) And a visit to your workplace to flash your photo around, leaving your boss with the impression you might be Osama bin Laden’s first cousin or something, can be a real career killer.

Such tactics will scare off some.

They scare me too.

They just won’t scare me off.

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 17, 2005

What’s Wrong With Newsweek

Only reporters really understand how it feels when they discover too late that there’s a mistake in their story. I can’t tell you the number of nights over the years I awoke in a cold sweat terrified there might be an error in a story of mine running off the presses.. (Should I have triple-checked that item? Are my two, or three, or five sources spinning some kind of self-serving agenda I missed? Am I going to get sued and lose everything?)

Over nearly three decades of reporting I made a mistake or two, fortunately nothing that ever rose to the level of requiring a retraction or resulted in one of those dreaded “see you in court” moments. But that’s like saying I’ve been driving for 48 years and never had a major accident. It was a combination of careful reporting and a good helping of luck.

But let me assure non-journalists out there -- reporters hate mistakes that make it into print more than you can imagine. A big mistake in a story is to a journalist what a death on the operating table is to a surgeon.

Those who have been there know the aftermath. It consumes your nights and days for weeks, or even months. You lose your confidence. You begin to hesitate over even little matters. You start checking and rechecking the same facts over and over in a process that boarders on OCD. It can paralyze your production. When your editor asks, “Hey, when will that story be ready to go?” you can list a dozen reasons why you need more time.

Sooner or later you either have hang up the old word processor or get over it and slip back into the newsroom workflow.

Anyway, those of you who know of what I speak, know. Those of you who don’t, can’t even imagine how bad it can be.

I know what Newsweek’s Michael Isakoff is going through right now, and I extend my condolences. But there is a lot more wrong going on in this Koran-down-the-toilet flap than just a reporting error. Newsweek has taken its lumps, and will take more before this one is over. But some bigger lumps are going undelivered to other players who are far more deserving of them.

The Bush Administration
I almost choked on my lunch yesterday when I heard Rumsfeld and White House spinsters pontificating on the Newsweek piece, and how “the damage is done” and how Newsweek’s apology and admission that mistakes were made “were too little too late.”

- Of ALL people on the face of the earth the Bush administration has the least right to make such a statement. Some 15 people died in riots after Newsweek’s mistake. But thousands died from the Bush administration’s WMD intelligence “mistake,” -- for which they have not even had the decency to apologize.

- And, wasn’t this the administration that, after their WMD intelligence was proven to be not just wrong, but W-R-O-N-G, shrugged it off with a casual “oh, you know intelligence is never perfect.” Well, I have news for you guys, neither is s journalism. But journalists get it right (and tell the whole truth) a lot more often than this administration does. That’s for sure. And I challenge the administration to disprove it.

- Also, I heard no one from the Bush administration acknowledge the damage their own policies have done to the image of the US. Such as their well-documented policies and statements that the Geneva Convention’s rules for treatment of prisoners does not apply to the guys we a fighting right now. The actions that grew from that policy gave credence to the Newsweek story. For example, have US interrogators ever tortured and otherwise mistreated detainees? Yep. They sure have. We have the pictures. Have US interrogators ever targeted Muslim detainee’s religious beliefs to break them down? You betchya. We have the thousands of pages of documentation on that and now even a book written by former Gitmo interrogator that backs it up.

Nevertheless, the very administration whose own policies, lies and arrogance that took American down this ugly path now demand that Newsweek apologize and change the way it does business. What breathtaking chutzpah! Just when I think we have seen the limit of this administration’s Machiavellian/Orwellian proclivities they top them with something that leaves staring at the TV screen frozen in disbelief.

Is this a double standard? No. Double is not big enough. This one is off the mathematical chart.

Crazy Muslims
Islamic nations and their Koran thumping populations have to start taking responsibility for their own behavior and the causes for it. Even if US interrogators did flush a Koran down a toilet, rioting and killing 15 fellow Muslims in a street riot is not the US’s fault -- or Newsweek’s either. It’s the fault of the nations that allow half-educated radial Mullah’s to force-feed their flock a diet of 10th century ignorance, prejudice and intolerance from the pulpit. And more:

- These people burn American flags for sport, mindless of how Americans might be offended by it. But two lines in the Newsweek article that some infidel may have mistreated a Koran and it drives them into a self-righteous, murderous frenzy of insult – and more burning American flags.

- Every day now some self-proclaimed Islamic radical blows himself up killing scores of innocent civilians someplace in the world. And they justify this murderous behavior on “Islamic grounds.” The same folks that rioted at the thought some infidel might have mistreated paper, don’t riot over suicide bombings. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this; Muslims disapprove of Koran-abuse but approve of killing civilians -- as long as it is done under color of the Koran.

Islamic radicals like to indulge in the belief that the Judeo/Christian West is at war with the Muslim world. Well, there is a war going on, that’s for sure, but they have it backasswards. The West would be more than happy to see Muslims living quietly in their quaint 12th Century Islamic theme park nations, cutting off heads and abusing their women, if they would just knock off the terrorism.

On the otherhand, sending suicide bombers is the wrong way to convince the West to leave them alone. The Saudis and Egyptians learned a long time ago that all they had to do to be left alone was to find the right pressure points. They did and since then they have had the West dancing like a monkey at the end of their leash. Provide oil, promise to make nice to Israel, promise not to build nukes, promise not to become Commies – that's all it takes and then the checks from Uncle Sam start rolling in. (Duh!)

But as long as Islamic terrorists insist on blowing things up that don’t belong to them and killing innocent civilians, the West will continue returning the favor.

Would White House, State Department and DOD reporters do us all a favor? Ask the those spinsters (on camera please) to compare the gravity of the administration’s WMD intelligence mistakes with Newsweek’s Koran-down-the-toilet mistake. And, why Newsweek has come clean but the administration feels their mistakes require nothing more than s shrug and a “well, considering Saddam’s history of behavior, we could have been right.” That same excuse could easy serve Newsweek. After all we have learned about US interrogation methods the flushing a book down a toilet seemed the least serious thing alleged.

The administration was also bemoaning the “damage done to the image of the US” by the Newsweek piece. Jesus, this administration has made mistakes that have hurt the US in ways that border on treason. I know some will see that as hyperbole, but think about it – torture, lying to justify a military invasion of another nation, detention without trial for detainees – the very kinds of behavior the US fought. There ought to be laws. (Oh wait -- there are laws.)

As the Queen told Alice, once you say something you have to live with the consequences. Newsweek is living with the consequences of its mistake. And the rest of us will, for the rest of our lives, have to live with the consequences of what this administration has said by its policies and actions since 9/11.

Ducks & Cover Update

For those of you asking, the surviving 12 ducklings and their two mothers are doing fine. They are now in a secure, undisclosed location.

Unfortunately the mastermind of the 5/11 attacks, Osama bin Skunk, continues to elude capture.

I am happy to report that we do have five local Raccoons in custody. They are currently undergoing interrogation in my Pizgo facility. My intelligence indicates that those in custody may know the current whereabouts of OBS so they are being subjected to certain "stress positions" until they talk.

Repeated demands by PETA to see the detainees have been denied. The detainees may not be skunks but they come from the same neighborhood, wear masks and sure look suspicious.

<> By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

May 13-15, 2005

Weak-end Edition

I have to keep my contribution short today because my personal homeland security has proven to have a few holes in it. Yesterday three of my mother ducks suddenly began hatching chicks. A local terrorist skunk slipped through security. My barnyard looked like the Capitol on Wednesday, with chickens, ducks and goats screaming and running in all directions at once. There were casualties, all civilians.

So last night I put the remaining baby ducks in a box and brought them into my office for safety. This morning I discovered they had spent the night busting out. I now have a serious duckling infestation under my desk.

(Does anyone know if duck droppings are bad for a computer? I figure they can’t be good for it.)

Anyway, I have to sort this all out before I attract PETA demonstrators to the ranch.

So, I am going to take the next four days off. I have to hunt down Osama bin Skunk and then reinforce my borders.

So, instead of actually writing anything I am going to “re-purpose” (AKA, steal) a piece from a much better writer, Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle. He really nails it in the reproduced below.

Have a nice weekend. Steve

Join the Unitarian Jihad

San Francisco Chronicle

The following is the first communiqué from a group calling itself Unitarian Jihad. It was sent to me at The Chronicle via an anonymous spam remailer. I have no idea whether other news organizations have received this communiqué, and, if so, why they have not chosen to print it. Perhaps they fear starting a panic. I feel strongly that the truth, no matter how alarming, trivial or disgusting, must always be told. I am pleased to report that the words below are at least not disgusting:

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! (There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.)

Original Article HERE

From http://arniearnesen.com/

"You know I don't like the broad brush approach, but, evangelicals and fundamentalism are to Christianity what a marching band is to Mozart."


Friday, May 13, 2005

May 12, 2005

Solving “The Bolton Problem”
You have to ask yourself why, with all the trouble this administration already has on its hands, it would stand by a troublemaker like John Bolton.

I have some ideas on that.

Almost nothing in Washington happens without there being what reporters call a “back story.” That’s a euphemism for, “the real reasons as opposed to the Orwellian talking point reasons.”

In Bolton’s case the administration’s talking point reasons are that Bolton is a tough guy and a straight talker and that’s just what we need at the United Nations.

The back-story is far more interesting. You see, Bolton knows where all – and I mean ALL – the bodies are buried, creating for the Bush administration a certain “Bolton Problem.”

Let’s start before the beginning. Before George W. Bush was declared President, Bolton was already on the payroll. The first time you saw Bolton you might have had a flush of déjà vu. You knew you had seen this guy before but could not recall where. Let me help.

Remember that cross-eyed bald guy the news always shows looking for hanging chads during the Florida recount? Well, the next time you see that file footage look behind him and you will see John Bolton. (Story)

Bolton was flown to Florida by Bush Family consigliore, James Baker; to make sure things went their way. And, now that we know just how “unpleasant” Bolton can get when things don’t go his way, we should not be surprised that Florida went their way.

So it started there. So Bolton’s head is chuck full of all the who’s, what’s, where’s and how’s of the Florida recount operation. including how it was really paid for, and by whom.

Having won his chops in Florida Bolton was put at the State Department to keep a Bush-eye on Powell. Bush picked him because Powell’s popularity ratings were higher than his own and because he could claim the distinction of appointing the first black to the job. But the Bushites did not trust Powell as far as they could throw him. So they put Bolton there to spy on him and, when necessary, sabotage him.

Trusted friend Richard Armitage was Powell’s choice as his right hand man and his job soon became keeping an eye on Bolton and, when necessary, to abscess Bolton off when he started causing trouble. That turned out to be a fulltime job for Armitage. This was pure, cutthroat; take no prisoners, raw palace politics. Shakespeare could not have embellished upon it.

But it was during the run up to the war in Iraq that having Bolton at State as a Bush Neocon mole really paid off. Powell and Armitage were something less than convinced by administration evidence that Iraq posed a clear and present threat to the US. Bolton, working with VP Cheney’s office kept the pressure on Powell by leaking information that undermined his boss’s position that the matter should be left for now in the hands of the United Nations and UN weapons inspectors.

As with the Florida recount operation, Bolton was one of just a handful of Bushites on the inside of Iraq War WMD propaganda operation. He knows what they really knew at the time. He also knows how (and who) cooked that information to justify war.

One more thing, and this shows just how “good” the Bushites are at what the do.

Not only did Bolton help the administration sell the false story about Iraq’s weapons programs but, as a bonus, they got Powell to personally peddle those lies live and in living color to the entire world. What a sweet moment it must of have been for John Bolton -- to have maneuvered his prey, Powell, and his nemesis, Armitage, to commit credibility suicide on the floor of the hated United Nations. Could life get any better for a Neocon?

After Bush won reelection a disgraced Powell and Armitage slunk off in defeat. The tried and true Condi Rice was going to be Secretary of State now so hit man Bolton was no longer needed at State. In fact he was not even wanted there. Rice knew first hand how much trouble Bolton could be and she wanted him nowhere near here turf.

But that left them with a problem -- what to do with Bolton? He knew too much to just fire. The administration knew only too well what fired insiders do – they write tell-all books. And if Bolton “told all,” people could go to jail. He could spark a “gate” -- Iraggate, Boltongate, Votegate, Cheneygate. Who knew if any would stick but if one or more did, it would ruin Bush’s second term.

Images of Dick Nixon waving goodbye from the helicopter steps haunted Karl Rove’s dreams.

Then it struck them. The UN is a pain in our ass. Bolton is a pain in the ass. The UN is mired in scandal and polls show the public doesn’t think much of the organization any more. Let’s “promote” Bolton to UN Ambassador.

They must have rolled on the Oval Office floor laughing the night they came up with that idea. “I can see it now,” Rove might have said. “Here comes the Nigerian ambassador, robes flying in all directions as he runs for his life down a hallway with red-faced John screaming behind him demanding he sign a resolution.”

Putting Bolton at the UN would be like setting off a stink bomb in a school auditorium. What a hoot that would be!

The administration figured nominating Bolton for the job was a win/win solution to the “Bolton Problem.” If the Senate confirmed him he would go to the UN and make trouble-on-order for the administration there as he did at State. But, if the Senate refused to confirm him then it would be a “clean kill.” Bolton problem solved. Bush’s hands would be clean.

“Gosh John, sorry. Those damn liberal Democrats! It’s the politics of personal destruction John and you are just their latest victim. You know I think you would have made a wonderful ambassador. Well, Bye John. Stay in touch.”

Bit it did not quite turn out that clean. The confirmation process got dragged out. Some Republicans even began to waver and the administration was forced to look as though they really wanted him confirmed. If Bush let Bolton swing in the wind at the very moment he needed the kind of loyalty he had showed them then he would leave angry. Really angry. And angry ex-officials write angry books. So Bush had to spend some capital, and investment in silence.

But Bolton took a real beating. I have no idea if he is going to get confirmed or not. But if he doesn’t he will have a lot of time to think about how he got returned to the private sector. He might start to wonder if the administration he served set him up for all this misery. He might wonder if all those stories about him being a hotheaded crazy guy were planted in case he later began talking out of school. “Oh, that’s just John,” White House spin masters will whisper to reporters. “You know how John can be.” (Accompanied by crazy finger circling by side of spin master’s head.)

But who knows what an angry ex-official might say if ever put under oath. Could John Bolton could become George Bush’s very own Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.

Sammy had “anger management” problems too.

And that’s the answer to the question, “Why Bolton?” That’s the back-story.

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 11, 2005

Nuclear Option – for China
As their certifiably crazy neighbor, North Korea, moves towards their first nuclear bomb test, China continues to play inscrutably stubborn. The US and Japan want to threaten trade sanctions on N.K. as the last non-violent option to get North Korea to drop development of nuclear weapons. China, as a member of the Security Council would have to agree, and they won’t.

China could fix this little problem on its own. Because, without the charity fuel and food North Korea gets from China the Nutty Kingdom would collapse in a matter of months.

But the Chinese won’t do it because it uses North Korea like a thug uses a mean pit bull on a leash. Whenever the US pushes China to do something it does not want to do, like revalue its currency or slow imports of cheap goods, China fingers it's NK leash as though they are about to let it slip from their grasp, and the US backs down. (Story Here)

But North Korea is not China’s only leverage over the US. They know better than anyone that their North Korean gambit could blow up, literally and figuratively, at any moment. So, even as they play that card for all its worth, they have another ace in the hole. US economists live in terror that, if clamp down on the Chinese, they will start dumping US bonds and stop buying new ones. In other words, they will stop lending us the money we need to fund our twin deficits – the budget deficit caused by Bush’s tax cuts, and the trade deficit caused by – well China.

What President John F. Kennedy do if faced with this same situation? North Korea smells a lot like the Cuba JFK faced, only less immediately dangerous. Cuba had real nukes and real missiles. N.K. is on its way there, but not quite there just yet. And Cuba, like North Korea had a half-crazy leader propped up, like North Korea, by a giant communist power, the Soviets.

We know what Kennedy did during the Cuban crisis, and I suspect he would do much the same now if he were in Oval Office. He would begin by calling China’s bluff, just as he called the Soviet’s. And, at the same time start to gear up for a crediable naval blockade of North Korea.

Then he would have the Secretary of State phone the Chinese trade minster and ask how he would like to lose Wal-Mart as a customer.

Time for talk is getting short. Yesterday North Korea announced it had finished removing over 8,000 spent fuel rods from a nuclear reactor. North Korea now has enough plutonium to make up to six bombs. How much do you think oil-rich Iran would pay North Korea for one or two of those babies? Would it be worth $100 million to Iran to be able to say to Israel, “go ahead, make our day.”

China’s cooperation is not just necessary right now but something the world should demand. If they refuse to get with it, and soon, then it’s time to tighten the economic screws on China. Without US trade China’s development would grind to a crawl, and they know it.

So, Cowboy George, do you have the same size balls as that bleeding heart liberal, JFK?

We’ll see.

(Memo to the Chinese: BTW, the place the North Koreans plan to set off their first nuke, Kilju, is right over the aquifer that supplies Southern China with fresh water. Just thought that was worth a mention.)

Check Please
The war in Iraq has now cost you $300 billion. Yesterday the Senate gave final passage to an $82 billion "emergency" war-spending bill. And you’re still not done paying for this little adventure. Army officials and congressional aides say more money will be needed as early as October. (Full Story)

Remember, this was the war that the administration assured us would cost us less than $50 billion, or even nothing at all since Iraqi oil would pick up the lion’s share of the tab. Call it “trickle up” economics and it’s working just as well as Bush tax cut “trickle down,” theory.

One reason the bill keeps going up is because private contractors continue to run barefoot through our national checking account. Chief among them is Halliburton, which has a special relationship with this administration. Even though Halliburton keeps getting caught shoplifting from taxpayers, they are able to not only stay out of jail, but are rewarded.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army said on Tuesday it had awarded $72 million in bonuses to Halliburton Co. for logistics work in Iraq but had not decided whether to give the Texas company bonuses for disputed dining services to troops. KBR's logistics deal with the U.S. military. In addition, investigators are looking into whether the Texas-based firm charged too much to supply fuel to Iraqi civilians... (Full Story)

I want a contract like that. One where I can screw my customer blue and get bonuses for it.

But wait, where are all those moralizing Christian fundamentalists in the administration when this kind Thou Shalt Not Steal, larceny is going on?

Oh. On the payroll of course.

Judges Agree -- It’s None Of Your Damn Business
Unless some enterprising Washington reporter is able to dig it up we will now never learn what advice Ken Lay gave to VP Cheney that now is part of the administration’s energy policies.

WASHINGTON, May 10 - A federal appeals court said on Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney did not have to divulge details about how the White House's energy policies were shaped, ruling in a case that touched on the constitutional separation of powers. The 8-to-0 decision, handed down months after the lawsuit became an issue in the 2004 election, was a victory for the executive branch in general and the Bush administration in particular. (Full Story)

Again I ask -- where are those conservative voices of outrage that condemned the secrecy of Hillary Clinton’s healthcare commission? Where are the congressional subpoenas that wrestled a blue dress and even Presidential DNA from Clinton?

None of your business, apparently.

It may be your government, but what it does behind closed doors is now officially none of your damn business.

Pension Pains
I wonder if Bush sees any irony in the ruling yesterday by a federal bankruptcy judge allowing United Airlines to dump billions of dollars of pension obligations onto the federal government?

The ruling releases United, a unit of the United Airlines, from $3.2 billion in pension obligations over the next five years. The federal agency that guarantees pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, will assume responsibility for the plans. (Full Story)

Yes boys and girls, even as this administration touts the glories and riches to be had by privatizing Social Security, it is having to bail out a corporate pension fund. And why? Because it was mismanged - maybe even looted -- by the very company that now seeks federal bankruptcy protection from it’s own retirees.

It turns out that United Airlines’ pension fund is a little short on cash -- just under $10 billion. Apparently there was no lockbox at United.

Now that United has been allowed to dump it’s pension obligation on taxpayers, just wait and see how many other companies do the same.

And the administration wonders why voters don’t like their Social Security “reforms.”
How much would you like to bet that a decade or two after private accounts are allowed that those funds will come up short on the cash to pay their obligations and will be lining up in front of Uncle Sam’s ATM begging for taxpayer help?

You can bet on it. So, don’t bet on private accounts.

<> By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

May 10, 2005

Sounding Off
First let me say this to Internet advertisers: knock it off with surprise ad audios.

This is the latest trick to get us to pay attention to ads on the web pages selling things we have no reason to care about. Having once owned a small newspaper I understand the need to please paying advertisers. But I also understand the importance of not pissing off readers.

And – Washington Post.com you pissed me off this morning when, still sleepy-eye I was about to take my first sip of coffee when that Hyundai ad began blaring loud music through my computer speakers. Jesus H. Christ! I'm still trying to get the coffee out of my keyboard.

Thanks to that little surprise I am now against all things Hyundai. And if you keep it up I will be against all things Washington Post as well. So, knock it off. Take note of Pizzo’s Rule No. 1 of Internet Marketing: Just because you can do something on the Internet does not mean it’s a smart thing to do.

Jarring your readers with “surprise sounds” is neither smart nor endearing. So knock it off.

One more personal rant before I get down to ranting about the news.

I have said this before and will not say it again, so listen up. I am a mistake factory. Not with facts but with spelling, punctuation and syntax. I think I have a touch of dyslexia and know I have a bunch of stupid going on in this 60-year old head. Neither condition is curable.

And, I am tired of people emailing me and telling me to get an editor. Right. You pay for an editor and I will happily get one. I appreciate good editing more than most writers. I readily admit I am a carefree and careless writer. Always have been. It's amazing I got as far in this business as I did. And I credit all the editors I drove to drink over the years for all of it.

But now I have no editors so what you get is Pizzo-raw. If you are one of those anal types that just cannot get past the typos, then spare yourself the pain. Just go away. Both of us will be happier for it.

Now To The News (Sans Sound or Editing)

At Last, Free Medical Care for the Uninsured!
Yes, it’s true. And – I hope you are sitting down – it is even backed by the Bush administration. Free hospital care for the sick and injured. Nationalized medicine.

But not for you, unless of course you are an illegal immigrant (translate that to Mexican illegal immigrant.)

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration announced on Monday that it would start paying hospitals and doctors for providing emergency care to illegal immigrants…. The money, totaling $1 billion, will be available for services provided from Tuesday through September 2008. (Full Story)

Yes, while 47 million certified, taxpaying American citizens go without health insurance, Washington politicians are going to use $1 billion of YOUR tax money to purchase the hearts and votes of the growing Hispanic demographic.

The money is also being spent to help hospitals that complain that the flood of illegals using their facilities for free is a burden they can no longer carry. So you and I will pay the bill now -- even if you can't get health insurance for yourself or your family.

This whole illegal immigration thing is going to bite both parties right in the ass if they don't wise up pretty damn soon. Pandering to illegal Hispanics to curry favor with Hispanic voters is only going to end badly for both this nation and for those politicians using our money to votes. Especially so because these are the same politicians who cannot muster the courage and wisdom to figure out how to provide basic health coverage to legal citizens.

And they wonder why people are cynical about politics and fed up with both parties. I would say "a pox on both your houses," but a pox epidemic is the last then we need with so many uninsured citizens.

Add This to Evolution
Born-agains are going to have another piece of science to hate besides evolution. It seems that more proof has surfaced that gays are born that way.

“Using a brain imaging technique, Swedish researchers have shown that homosexual and heterosexual men respond differently to two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal, and that the gay men respond in the same way as women… The new research may open the way to studying human pheromones, as well as the biological basis of sexual preference. (Full Story)

Religious fundamentalists of all flavors are not going to believe a word of that research. They hate it when anyone tries to take away a sin. Sin is critical to their whole shtick. Without sins what they have left? A whole race of humans who are just fine and need no unsolicited advice. And among Christians Top Ten sins is homosexuality -- strange when you consider the guy they worship spent most of his adult years wandering the desert with twelve men in robes.

Speaking of Hypocrites
Whenever I hear a politician demagoguing any matter sexual I know in my gut that he/she has a kinky side they have not quite come to terms with. Here’s the latest proof of that concept:

“Citing what he called persecution and hysteria, Republican Mayor Jim West says he's taking a few weeks off to defend himself against allegations of child molestation and new claims that he offered city jobs to men he met online.” (Full Story)

Oh man, is that sweet, or what? I would not normally take pleasure in another person’s misfortune except that this guy made his spurs by pontificating on the evils of homosexuality and opposing gay marriage.

At the same time he was beating gay voters over their heads with righteous indignation, he was sexually harassing men on his own staff. Ryan Oelrich, an openly gay 24-year-old, says he accepted West's appointment to the city's Human Rights Commission in April 2004 after meeting the Mayor – where? At City Hall? Ah, no. He met him online at Gay.com.

Oelrich said he finally had to resign from the commission because West "hounded me for months, telling me I was cute and asking me out on dates. Oelrich told the local newspaper that he knows of "five or six other young gay men that Jim West has met online and offered City Hall jobs."

What a piece of work! But it gets worse. He is now accused of trying to solicit sex from a reporter who was masquerading on a gay web site as a 17-year old boy. And in a series it began publishing last Thursday, The Spokesman-Review reported that West had abused two boys while he was a sheriff's deputy and Boy Scout leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Just keep all this in mind the next time you hear the likes of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberson and Dr. James Dobson berating gays. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Hint: Suspect those that protest too much about personal matters that should be none of their damn business – unless of course, it is their business… if you get my drift.

Pope Putin I
By now you have heard that one of the first acts of the new Pope was to fire the editor of an influential Jesuit magazine. Ft. Thomas Reese was canned at the orders of the Vatican.

The National Catholic Reporter, the U.S. weekly reported that the Vatican had objected to articles in Reese’s magazine that openly questioned the Vatican’s ban on condom use to prevent AIDS, homosexual priests and secretive Church disciplinary measures.

The orders came from the department the Vatican renamed after the world learned about the horrors of the Inquisition. The department’s job now, as then, is to disciple Catholic theologians that stray from the party line. Cardinal Ratzinger ran this department from 1981 to 2005.

Now Pope Bene' the Ratzinger appears to be taking a page from Vladimir Putin’s playbook by slamming the lid down on the Church’s free press, particularly in America. How ironic that this guy should follow the Pope credited with ending Communist rule of Eastern Europe.

Maybe President Bush should give the new Pope his lecture on democracy and the indispensable nature of a free press.