Wednesday, February 22, 2006


In my recent research into the 9/11 Truth movement, I stopped and asked myself a question–do I buy into this simply because I want to believe bad things about Bush and Republicans? Will I believe anything about them as long as it casts them in a negative light? Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and their hordes of adherents constantly suggest as much. In online forums and letters to the editor, “left-wing wackos” are accused of simply “hating Bush” and being “blind” to the truth.

My own father suggests that by reading liberal blogs and anti-Bush books and shunning their opposites, I am therefore unable to get at the truth because I’m only listening to one side of the story.

And I answered that question to myself with another question–will Bush supporters believe anything about Bush and Republicans as long as it casts them in a positive light?

After all, in the same online forums and letters to the editor, Bush supporters say they support him “100 percent” and that Bush is a good Christian man and we should follow him merely because he says he prays every day.

But no, I bought the official story about 9/11 until I saw “Loose Change.” The facts make me believe bad things about Bush and Republicans, not my ideology.

If anything, a liberal/progressive ideology would tend to make one more forgiving and more understanding and tolerant of Bush and Republicans. And I adhere to a liberal and progressive way of thinking, but the facts lead me negative conclusions about Bush and Republicans.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

THE MOST IMPORTANT AND SUCCESSFUL BUSH POLICY... unmitigated chutzpah. Check out Bush’s defense today of the Dubai Ports World deal:

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a great British company," Bush said.
"I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world 'we'll treat you fairly.'"
WTF? Is that what we’re saying to Iran? To Venezuela? Would anyone say that’s what we’ve said to Iraq? Although Bush is saying that “we’ll treat you fairly” is what he’s saying “now” as opposed to just before he said it. And that “now” is now over, so I guess that justifies the way we’ll continue to treat other countries.

Such is the logic here in Bushland...We know that Bush and Co. frequently and purposely misuse the meaning of words. So is the “now” qualifier in his statement the operative word or is he trying to do to the word “fairly” what he’s done to the word “reform?”

A reader writes in to Altercation and has this to say:

Rove wants to frame Bush's warrantless wire-tapping as though the issue were whether or not the U.S. government can spy on terrorists. This is ridiculous. Of course we can and should spy on terrorists. Who in their right mind would oppose that? The real issue is a much bigger one: Do we want a president or do we want a king? If we want a president, then he must be subject to constraints as the Founders envisioned. He must come under oversight. He must be checked and balanced. Once we lift these constraints, he can do whatever he wants and becomes a king.
Of course, he’s right. And the counter-argument might go something like this–there will always be people, i.e. “terrorists” that want to harm Americans, so the President should have whatever authority is necessary to stop such people.

OK, not a terrible counter-argument, but here’s the counter-argument to that–America needs to ask itself why people would want to harm it and once it knows the answer (which, if it isn’t already painfully obvious, can be found be simply asking or listening to those who want to harm us), take steps to stop doing the things that aggrieve these people, i.e., stop overthrowing governments, invading countries without provocation, etc.

Because you get what you deserve. Oh horror–am I suggesting that America “asks for” terrorism? In a word, yes. It’s very clear why “terrorists” want to harm us–we keep our boot on the neck of large parts of the world to feed our military-industrial complex. And we’ve got to stop doing that.

Yes, all the defense contractors and oil companies will lose money if we stop doing that. But if we don’t stop meddling around the world, we soon won’t even have what sets our country apart (in theory, anyway) from all the others–our civil liberties.

In other words, we have a choice–keep our military-industrial complex or our civil liberties. Which do we want to keep more?

The Crux of The Biscuit

Here's the crux of the biscuit: We wouldn't need warrantless wiretapping if we weren't provoking the world into wanting to do us harm. Y'see what I'm saying? So rather than allow Bush to break the law and have so much power that he's more king than president, we need to go about getting people to like us more. Then there would be no "war on terror" and hence no "need" for domestic spying.

And a good way to do that is to stop starting wars of aggression. And torturing prisoners. And destabilizing democratic governments. It's really very simple. To have a friend (or at least avoid having enemies), you gotta be one. No one likes a bully and the U.S. is being and has been a bully for quite a while.

See, the people we call "terrorists" are fighting their own war on terror--against us. "Terrorism" is nothing more than a point of view difference: to us, "they" are terrorists and to them, we are. So our "war on terror" fuels their "war on terror" and it goes on and on with no end.

Why can't we be the bigger country and say, you know what? We ain't gonna study war no more. We're gonna do what Bill Hicks said: Love all the people. In his cool book that bears that title, he imagined a better scenario for America:

"The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns,
close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.
Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride.
Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace. [p. 135]"

So let me get this straight. Regarding countries (i.e., Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc.) that spawned or aided (or both) the so-called 9/11 hijackers, we not only don’t invade them, we approve of them controlling port security in 6 major American cities. Regarding countries that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 (i.e., Iraq, Iran), we invade and/or rattle sabers at them.

Does that make a ball of shit’s worth of sense?

Frankly, this state of affairs just gives more ammunition to the so-called 9/11 conspiracy theorists (9/11, by the way, DID involve conspiracy–it’s just that the Bushies want you to believe it was a conspiracy among Middle Easterners rather than among neocons). I mean, 15 of the 19 purported hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and to this day, when Saudi Arabia says jump, we ask how high. And as Paul O’Neill has told us, Iraq was on the Bush agenda from their first Cabinet meeting.

So if you buy the idea that 9/11 wasn’t perpetrated by Middle Eastern terrorists at all, this UAE port security deal makes perfect sense. What I mean to say is, Saudi Arabia and the UAE don’t get attacked or invaded by us because the Bushies know that Middle Eastern terrorists really didn’t pull off 9/11. And Iraq does because that’s the country the neocons have been wanting to knock off since Gulf War I.

And people ask what could possibly be going on behind the scenes, what sort of tit-for-tat arrangement has been work out between the Bushies and the UAE? Obviously I have no idea, but this deal makes sense as hush money for not revealing details of 9/11 and/or other terror plots.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Besides bringing the troops home so that they can stop killing and being killed, the next best reason to end the war in Iraq is so that Bushistas will no longer be able to justify everything bad they want to do (domestic spying, torture, suspension of habeas corpus, contract cronyism, etc.) as being necessary because we are "in a time of war."

Those five words or some variation thereof are like a magic spell for Republicans...and those who nuzzle their taints. We must break the spell!!

I'm reading this book about the media and the war and was struck by this quote:

"Given the conformism and obedience of the media during this crucial period, when the basis for U.S. aggression was firmly and irrevocably laid, it is small wonder that public concern was so slight, and that opposition was so negligible as to be entirely without significance. Only the most ardent researcher could have developed a moderately clear understanding of what was taking place...we see very clearly the consequences of mindless media obedience in a state with enormous resources of violence. [pp. 192-93]"
Unfortunately, this is not a recent book (but with a new introduction) and not about a recent war. The quote is from "Manufacturing Consent" by Herman and Chomsky, first published in 1988, and the above quote comes from an examination of the media record on Vietnam.

Nice to see history repeating itself...

Rockzilla, the cover band I play in (that's one of many names we go by), has been playing in the Krewe of Nereids (NAIR-eeds) parade for 5 or 6 years now. We didn't know if they'd have the parade this year, given the devastation down there, but to our delight, they did, and it rolled yesterday.

Here are some pictures from the parade:

This is the Super Kmart, in whose parking lot the floats always line up.

Both shopping center parking lots that the parade uses as end points looked like this...

I couldn't stray far from the float we were on, so these pictures aren't great, but all the stores were gutted or boarded up.

And I couldn't get close enough to this float to get a good shot, but these guys used the ubiquitous FEMA tarps as decoration on the roof of their float...

And then here's a couple of shots of the boys...

It was cold, but not so bad once we started rockin'...

But Waveland was a mess. The only stores that seemed to be open were Wal-Mart and Rite Aid. And six months after the hurricane, there are still so many buildings that are just standing in ruins, not being fixed or demolished or what have you.

So we've all heard by now that Bushco has approved the sale of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to Dubai Ports World (a company owned by the United Arab Emirates), giving this UAE firm control of many operations, including security, at the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Does such a move ring a bell?

Anyone remember who "backed" Securacom (now Stratesec)--the company in charge of electronic security for the World Trade Center, Dulles International, and United Airlines--for which George W.'s brother Marvin sat on the board of directors?

It was the Kuwait-American corporation, another Middle Eastern-related company.

And we know how well security was handled at Dulles, WTC, and on United Airlines...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Saw the big Daniel Lanois show in Hattiesburg this past Friday...he played at a club that holds 125 or so people a week after he played Carnegie Hall and two days after hanging out at the Grammys with U2...His show was really good, and it was interesting to watch his technique...he never used a pick on either the Les Paul or the pedal steel...when playing the LP, he playing single notes with his fingers all against each other, like his whole hand was a giant flipper-pick...

I was intrigued by that because that sort of technique guarantees you're not going to be ripping hot licks, which is good. I tried it myself when I got home, but I don't know if I can pull it off--the flipper-pick, I mean..


And at the Lanois show, I talked to a friend of mine who lives in another town and it turns out he did some odd jobs for Jack Abramoff 3 or 4 years ago. This friend prefers not to be named, so I'll call him No Name. No Name lived in D.C. during this time and was hooked up with Abramoff jobs through a friend of his that worked full-time for Casino Jack.

There's nothing juicy to tell really--No Name just organized Abramoff's books, cleaned out his garage, and helped organize some files. No Name said there was what seemed to be some unsavory stuff in those files, but nothing obviously incriminating.


And No Name was telling me that he didn't like Air America maybe as much as he wanted to because he felt like they were just engaging in the same kind of smearing and name-calling that the right wing engages in, which is a criticism I've heard a lot. But I think if you actually listen to Air America, particularly my favorite show the Majority Report, you might feel differently.

I mean, it's one thing to tune in for a minute or two and hear Sam Seder refer to Sean Hannity as a "pig," or whatever, but if you hang around and listen for a while, you'll realize that for the most part, they are fair. For example, they don't smear all Republicans and conservatives--they acknowledge that not only is it permissible to have an opinion different than theirs, it's healthy and useful. But they do direct name-calling and derision toward people that really do deserve it--i.e., the neocon gang that lied us into the Iraq war.

But I say all that to say that I'm glad the Dick Cheney shooting spree is such a big story. Not that there aren't more important stories to discuss, but I think the left-wingers should always take anything that happens and say "how would the rightwingers mock us for this if this had happened to one of ours" and then do that times one hundred...

In other news, my father says he is becoming increasingly apolitical because the "two sides" are just so nasty to each other, and he may not even vote anymore. WTF?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This was the caption to a photo of Dick Cheney on the AFP site in a slideshow of pictures of Muslim protests about some cartoons I've never even seen:

US Vice President Dick Cheney, seen here in January 2006, said in a television interview that Muslim violence in response to newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was not justified(AFP/File/Don Emmert)
You read that right. Dick fuckin' Cheney has the nerve to suggest that violence is not justified when "cartoons" or "caricatures" are printed in the newspaper. But I seem to remember him arguing for, and then engaging in violence when caricatures of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi WMD program were printed in American papers. Dick even came up with the caricatures himself. Here's a really memorable one:

“...we believe that he [Saddam Hussein] has in fact reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
This is the entire problem in a nutshell--the Muslim world feels it is under attack, and they jolly well should feel that way, because it is. Not necessarily for being Muslim--that's not the stated reason, anyway--but the people who are under attack do have that one thing in common.

But that's not what I was really trying to say--Cheney's comments about violence not being justified in this case illustrate very simply the rest of the world's problem with us, and that is, we require behavior from others that we do not adhere to ourselves. In other words, we fly into a (seemingly) unthinking rage after 9/11 and direct it mainly against a country that didn't even have anything to do with 9/11 yet argue every day that that was somehow justified but when they feel their religion is being shat upon by infidels and fly into a blind rage, Dick has the gall to say "your violence based on a caricature is not justified, but ours is."

And really this controversy sheds light on Republican/Rove/conservative methodology, which is to caricature everything. The caricature of John Kerry: French-looking flip-flopper. The caricature of tax cuts: "[B]y far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum."

On that note, the Wikipedia definition of "caricature" seems particularly apt:

A caricature is a humorous illustration that exaggerates or distorts the basic essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness.
Humorous distortions of the basic essence of something: sounds like everything today's Republicans stand for.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Just got back from a bread run to the grocery store...

Saw a bumper sticker I hadn't seen...tried to take a picture, but it didn't come out well in the dark.

But it was on the tailgate of one of those dually pickup trucks with a deep purple, tricked-out paint job. The back window had the slogan "Silly Boys Trucks Are For Girls" in silver lettering, it had the obligatory "Support The Troops" yellow ribbon magnets, and a Mississippi National Guard license plate.

The sticker said:
Silly Iraqis, Weapons of Mass Destruction Are For Americans"

Yes, those silly Iraqis and their silly IEDs and their silly insurgency. And the silly fact that they um, kinda sorta actually didn't at all have weapons of mass destruction. And all those silly dead and wounded Americans and Iraqis. It's just silly, is all it is...

Who is the silly one, I wonder? Them or us?

Thursday, February 02, 2006


This--Bush to seek $120 billion more for wars--is why this--the largest cut ever in the student loan program--is happening.

But don't worry if you can't afford to go/send your kid to college. There'll always be a cannon fodder slot open for them.

And how do Bush and the Grim Reapublicans plan to pay for these wars? Make the tax cuts permanent!!

It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Maybe to a psychopath...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


So here's something funny...a letter to the editor in the Hattiesburg American that was published on their website this past Sunday was re-published today with a little tweaking...

And the interesting thing about it to me is that when it mentions me, it is referring to a letter about Bush's warrantless wiretaps that appeared only two days before...

My letter appeared Friday, Jan. 27, along with another from Dustin Keys, both about warrantless wiretapping. I had sent my letter in at least a week prior to its appearance in the newspaper, which is typical. Then a letter responding to my letter and the Keys letter appeared just two days later on Sunday, Jan. 29 and then was reprinted yet again with some editing today!!

WTF? As I said, I have to wait at least a week to see one of my letters in the paper, and this guy (who is actually the father of one of my friends from high school) gets a letter printed in two days and gets to have it reprinted a few days later with some edits?

Here are the two letters from Kenneth Hall, Sr.

From Sunday, Jan. 29:

Bush surveillance not against law

I just read the letters from Messrs. Keys and Kirby, both of which claim that President Bush has broken the law with his authorization of electronic surveillance of people with known and/or suspected terrorist connections. You'll be glad to know that I won't write about this again.

Let me say unequivocally that I am convinced that the president has not broken the law and I am glad that hearings will be conducted into the matter. I can only hope that Messrs. Keys and Kirby and others who feel that Bush broke the law will diligently keep up with those hearings. If they do, they'll find that the president is doing the right thing.

I'm personally grateful that Bush has authorized the NSA (National Security Agency) to conduct this surveillance. I have children and grandchildren who I hope will have a long life in the pursuit of happiness, not to be interrupted by terrorists who have committed their lives to killing us by the most violent means possible.

It is important to note that the very provision of the law that Mr. Keys cites is precisely what Attorney General Gonzales has done. It's also important to note that members of both U.S. House and Senate Intelligence Committees from both parties have said that they were briefed on the matter, that they did not object & that they in fact support the concept.

Kenneth Hall Sr.


Originally published January 29, 2006

From Wed., Feb. 1:

Bush is doing the right thing

I read the letters from Dustin Keys and Clinton Kirby, both of which claim that President Bush has broken the law with his authorization of electronic surveillance of people with known and/or suspected terrorist connections. You'll be glad to know that I won't write about this again.

Let me say unequivocally that I am convinced that the president has not broken the law, and I am glad that hearings will be conducted into the matter. I can only hope that Mr. Keys and Mr. Kirby and others who feel that Bush broke the law will diligently keep up with those hearings. If they do, they'll find that the president is doing the right thing.

I'm personally grateful that Bush has authorized the National Security Agency to conduct this surveillance. I have children and grandchildren whom I hope will have long lives that will not to be interrupted by terrorists who have committed their lives to killing us by the most violent means possible.

It is important to note that the very provision of the law that Mr. Keys cites is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has done. It's also important to note that members of both U.S. House and Senate Intelligence committees from both parties have said they were briefed on the matter, that they did not object and that they in fact support the concept.

Kenneth Hall Sr.,


Originally published February 1, 2006

Really the only changes in the second version are that instead of referring to me and Keys as "Messrs. Keys and Kirby" we are now "Mr. Keys and Mr. Kirby" and that the word "convinced" is italicized.

But what is up with that?

My thinking about the Cindy Sheehan incident throughout today, with my latest thoughts first....

Did Beverly Young really wear such a shirt to a formal event?

I have yet to see a picture of Beverly Young, the wife of Republican congressman Bill Young, in a T-shirt that said "Support The Troops." In contrast, photos of Cindy Sheehan's shirt have been widely posted, and there's even a picture of her wearing it in the Capitol building.

I'm still skeptical about this incident--do spouses of members of Congress typically wear T-shirts to formal government events? Wouldn't Young's husband have talked her out of wearing such a shirt, if only because of the formality of the event? If she was being hassled by Capitol Police, would/could she not have told them who she was and who to call to verify her identity? Could she not have just put on a jacket?

Bev Young A Plant (or would the R's even go to that much trouble)?

Just a thought...could it be that the REPUBLICAN congressman's wife wore her "Support The Troops" shirt precisely so she could be thrown out so that media stories would then mention two ejections from the SOTU, one on each side of the partisan divide. Was Cindy Sheehan thrown out before Beverly Young (the congressman's wife), did it happen simultaneously, or was Young thrown out before Sheehan.

The possibility that Beverly Young might be a plant would help explain why she wasn't hauled off to jail in handcuffs as Sheehan was. In fact, why wasn't Young "taken downtown?" Is it because she's the wife of a REPUBLICAN congressman? Or because she was merely a plant and her job was done?

Also, the story about Beverly Young being thrown out didn't seem to surface until today (unless I just missed it)...did Young actually get thrown out at all? Did the Young incident even happen? I mean, it probably did, but you never know...

Sheehan's Ejection > Young's "Ejection"

This story attempts to show that SOTU ejection was "bipartisan." The lead sentence says:

"Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn’t the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave."

They undoubtedly were both "ejected" from the gallery (a security guard says in this story that the congressman's wife left of her own accord), but with a crucial difference: Sheehan was led away in handcuffs, booked and jailed. The congressman's wife argued with police, according to both stories. There is no mention of whether or not she went to jail, so presumably she didn't.