Monday, October 30, 2006


Tonight my wife and son and I went to the Zoo Boo, a Halloween carnival in Hattiesburg. We were riding the train that goes around the park when I felt someone touching my back. I was wearing my "Imagine" T-shirt that has John Lennon's face on the front with a peace sign for each of the lenses in his trademark round specs and a giant red peace sign on the back with "War is over if you want it" and apparently the kid behind me was attracted to the big red peace sign and was poking at it.

The kid's father said "I think he likes your peace sign," and I just kind of smiled and said "Yeah, no big deal." I thought that was that. Then, as the train pulls into the station, he says "Wish we saw more of those around."

Intrigued, I turned around and said, "Yeah, it's kinda creepy seeing that some of these kids' Halloween costumes are like soldiers in Iraq." He said "Well, I haven't seen any George W. Bush masks..." and I kind of completed his sentence--"...that'd be real scary."

Anyway, it was nice to talk to strangers in Mississippi that like the peace sign. We talked with him and his wife a little more over Sprite and a cupcake, and it turns out that he is now what he called "a sobered-up hippy." He talked about evading the Vietnam draft and finally getting out of it because a dog had bitten off part of his thumb in his childhood.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Picked up John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" from the library. It's very enlightening and somewhat frightening. The authoritarian impulse is strong in modern conservatism, and Dean refers to the groundbreaking work of Stanley Milgram and of Bob Altemeyer to shed light of how this authoritarianism threatens American democracy.

Which, by the way, Dean and other conservative thinkers he quotes admits that American democracy grew out of liberal, not conservative values.

But the main point he seems to be making so far is that obedience is not necessarily a good thing. More specifically, obedience to authority is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, I guess one could say that the only thing to which one should give unquestioning obedience is morality.

And that's why the Golden Rule is so important. If one is unfailingly obedient to the command "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (and you're not a psychopath), you can't really go wrong.

I've been reading about obedience and its relation to child-rearing over at Arthur Silber's blog "Power Of Narrative." And he has done a series of essays on the work of Alice Miller, a Swedish psychologist who teaches that corporal punishment is cruel and ultimately breeds unthinking obedience through violence. Very chilling yet accurate stuff.

And I love that Howard Zinn quote about obedience (that I first read on "Historically, the most terrible things--war, genocide and slavery--have resulted from obedience, not disobedience."

OK, I'm rambling...I was gonna quote from Dean's book, but maybe later...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


So I discovered that my Claritin had been accidentally thrown away last night. It was 12:15 a.m. when I discovered this. Rather than go without it, I ran to Walgreens to get some more.

However, when I got to the pharmacy, their registers were down. Therefore, even though they had the medicine and the front register was open, I couldn't purchase the medicine because they couldn't punch my drivers' license number in and check me against the database to make sure I'm not a meth-head. Because the law now states that you have to buy products with ephedrine in them from the pharmacy, even though just last year you could get them off the shelf yourself and walk to the counter and pay for them.

So I went back home empty-handed.

So I got to thinking--"I hope crystal meth is a giant problem that this law really solves," because supposedly crystal meth is a so pervasive that a law had to be passed requiring ephedrine products to be sold in limited qualities from behind a pharmacy counter, etc.

59 Meth Arrests

Well, come to find out, Mississippi's second most populous county only arrested 59 people for using crystal meth for the 2005-2006 period:

By the numbers

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department reports increased arrests for 12-month periods, these statistics for the period ending Sept. 18, 2005, in comparison with the period ending Sept. 18, 2006:

• Total arrests: 685 to 1,212; up 76.9 percent

• Marijuana arrests: 278 to 429; up 54.3 percent

• Cocaine arrests: 51 to 155; up 203.9 percent

• Meth arrests: 36 to 59; up 63.9 percent

Is that worth it? To inconvenience law-abiding citizens trying to purchase legal medicine to arrest 59 people? That's the big meth threat?

Monday, October 23, 2006


Don't have much to say today that I haven't already said in the forum of
the Hattiesburg American.

I am curious to see how this story of 65 active duty soldiers will play out:

"Active troops ask congress to end Iraqi occupation
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sixty five active duty service members are officially asking Congress to end the war in Iraq -- the first time active troops have done so since U.S. invasion began in 2003.

Three of the service members will hold a press conference Wednesday explaining their decision to send "Appeals for Redress" under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act to their members of Congress. Under the act, National Guard and Reservists can send communications about any subject to their member of Congress without punishment."

Also interesting in that little tidbit is that it was written by "ticker producer" Alexander Mooney. I never gave much thought to the production of the ticker or crawl at the bottom of the screen in a lot of newscasts, but there you go--the ticker has its own producer.

Here's a forum exchange I found interesting, in which a fellow poster accuses me and another poster of not having "new" views that are supported by facts. Then he doesn't give any facts, protesting that he, unlike anyone else on the forum, must work for a living.

Fleming-Lott Mock Debate

I also wrote to Erik Fleming to suggest that he film mock debates with Trent Lott (who has refused to debate Fleming) in which a Lott stand-in reads from Lott's voting record or floor statements or transcripts of his appearances on cable shows or his "Herding Cats" book, etc. Then he should put that film up on YouTube and have the Jackson Free Press and others hype it up. The effect is twofold, I guess--1) let Lott know that he will be debated, whether he's there in person or not, and 2) call attention to the fact that he's a big pussy for not debating Fleming. And then maybe Lott will actually agree to appear in person with Fleming.

And maybe a Lott stand-in wouldn't be as effective as actual video of Lott saying things on these cable shows, but I have a feeling that securing the rights to that footage and tracking it down would be time-consuming and possibly expensive. But Lott would be easy to spoof--big, sprayed hair, wire-framed glasses, and a drawl from hell...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bush claims he needs NSA wire tapping to break up terrorist networks but terrorists are not using the phone network Bush is tapping. They are using private voice over IP internet phones (VoIP) that can't be tapped. This video explains how it works.

This guy makes great points, unfortunately it goes on a little long and has zero production values. But the points are stellar and boil down to these:

1. Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping can't penetrate properly encrypted calls made to private VoIP networks, because a) the calls are encrypted and even though they could probably be decoded, it would take a while and a huge backlog would develop, and b) the calls don't go through regular telephone networks, like certain cell phones and land lines do.

2. Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping program isn't designed to catch terrorists. As this gentleman says and as I and many others have said, the NSA program is about creeping fascism. It's a way to get the weak-minded and fearful among us (i.e., a lot of people) to allow invasion of privacy as a matter of course. It's the American Big Brother in operation, right now!

Remember, terrorism is a problem Republicans do not want to solve!

In this case, the excuse of "terrorism" allows the Bushies to claim a need to spy on you and me and anyone else they feel like, not terrorists. As this guy points out, terrorists are not going to go sign up for a cell phone account with Cingular and an Internet connection with Comcast and then try to call and email each other. Terrorists are going to go with the most impenetrable, encrypted option they can get their hands on, which is something exactly like what this guy is describing--a private phone network set up with off-the-shelf components. And as he points out, if they can figure out how to detonate an IED with a cell phone, they can figure out how to set up a private network to make calls that can't be bugged.

Please--don't think that Big Brother is something that "can't happen here!" It is happening here, right this moment! Is this the kind of country we were brought up to believe we live in? One where the government can spy on you and the President or his deputy can have you carted off in the middle of the night (or whenever) at thrown in jail for the rest of your life?

This is the situation we now face! It is dire and the bad guys are hoping we don't take it seriously. They hope we watch one or all of Entertainment Weekly's "5 New Shows To Watch Now" and just forget we ever heard about the Military Commissions Act or NSA wiretapping...

Other links I didn't work in:

"Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases"

"Military Commissions Act Does Affect US Citizens"

Friday, October 20, 2006


Saw Bill Maher's show about an hour ago. Barney Frank, Jason Alexander, and Stephen Moore were on the panel. Barney Frank kicked Stephen Moore's ass. I mean, up and down the line. It was thing of beauty.

One of the best parts was when Moore suggested that a lot of gays agreed with the Republican agenda, Frank pointed out how that is a load of bullshit. The hardcore, neocon, "Christians" would make homosexuality illegal if they could and Frank reminded everyone of that fact and recounted the time when a Texas court said sodomy shouldn't be illegal and Scalia lost his mind when dissenting in the Supreme Court affirmation of the Texas decision.

David Kuo

And David Kuo, the "Tempting Faith" author, was really good in talking about real Christianity. He pointed out how simple the Christian idea is--love God, love your neighbor as yourself, i.e., do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's it! If the uber-Christians really practiced loving their neighbors as themselves, they wouldn't be trying to prevent gays from getting married, because presumably they don't want people trying to prevent them from getting married.

Kuo was agreeing with everything Maher said about Christianity and current Christian leaders, and Kuo made a good point about Christians and power. He said that power does seduce everyone, but it seemed to have a particularly perverting effect on Christians.

Kuo also copped to the fact that Republicans have sold Bush as basically an American Jesus--the Prince of War, I suppose--and that's why even now, after all that's gone on, i.e., Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Mark Foley, Military Commissions Act, etc., the Republicans still won't poor-mouth Bush. It's because they've set him up as the next best thing to having Jesus as President.

That's why they can't let go of their illusions and realize he's fucking everything up--they think Bush is like some Pope of politics, infallible and chosen by God. And if they let go of that comforting idea, then they have nothing except deficits, death, and scandal. And we all know everyone wants to have something to believe in that comforts them...

Why was Kuo a Republican in the first place?

I also liked that fact that Maher said "Jesus was a liberal" and would've been a hippie and Kuo did not disagree with him. I haven't read Kuo's book, but from all his TV appearances, he seems to indicate that he was very concerned about helping the poor and was seduced by Bush's promise to devote $8 billion/year to the faith-based thingy which Kuo thought would be a boon for the poor.

Which is great and everything, but it occurs to me now--why was Kuo a Republican to begin with? He doesn't come across this way in his TV spots, but was he just naive? To think that a post-Gingrich, post-Limbaugh conservative Republican president would actually help the poor?

Not that Democrats are a paragon of virtue by any means, but Jesus Christ, they did implement Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid over vehement conservative/Republican objections. The Democrats and Republicans are, as Maher said, two wings of the same party--the Greed Party. But if either one could be said to have historically done more for workers and the less fortunate and the poor--my God, the Democrats stand head and shoulders above the Republicans, especially pre-Clinton.

So why was Kuo a Republican? Not sure, but his Maher appearance made me want to read his book more than I already wanted to read it. Read it, as opposed to buy it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I wondered out loud on this blog a week or so ago about whatever happened to Anna Diggs Taylor's decision that the NSA wiretapping program is unconstitutional. Well, I guess if I read the Washington Post every day I would have known. The headline to its article says it all: "Court Allows Wiretapping During Appeal." And just in time for the election, don'tcha know!!

There was something I forgot to mention about the Hagee broadcast we watched this past Sunday--when they did "God Bless America," lots of people in the congregation were doing the whole Pentecostal-one-arm-lifted-in-praise gesture, as though "God Bless America" was some deep religious song. It was kind of frightening to see that--no wonder so many people buy the argument that church and state should not be separate.

My wife and I were talking about that last night and I noticed for the first time how much the "one arm in affirmation" resembles a "Sieg Heil!" Here and here are pictures of the one arm gesture.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


And by “it,” I mean our freedom–with today’s signing of the purposely blandly named “Military Commissions Act of 2006.”

No great fanfare, really–not any more so than any other bill-signing ceremony.

No long, transfixing, vigorous debate on the terms of the bill so that everyone, even those who don’t pay attention to politics know the basic idea behind it.

No recent catastrophic event that sent out a call from the American people, clamoring for legislation like this.

No, they just pretty much slipped it in right under the wire. Exactly the opposite of how most people assume the theft of our freedom would have taken place.

No Conquering Armies

There were no conquering armies parading through our streets, having taken our leaders as prisoner.

There was not another 9/11-type event.

There were no invading hordes of Muslims chanting “Death to America”–but they got it anyway, didn’t they?

Why should they bother to invade–we killed America for them today. We have done this to ourselves.

And to think, we all thought that America would always be a free country–after all, we have a Constitution, don’t we?

So we thought we didn’t have to read the newspaper anymore and we didn’t have to seriously challenge the hatemongers and we could just choose not to listen to Rush Limbaugh. Because America would always be free.

We are moved to tears when we hear Niemoller’s warning that there may be no one left to speak for us, but some of us argue that Jose Padilla must’ve done something wrong and isn’t being truly “tortured,” so we don’t have to worry about or speak up for him.

It Can’t Happen Here

I once believed that a bill such as this would have no possibility of becoming law in the United States. You probably thought the same thing. We all thought “that can’t happen here–this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The former part of that well-worn statement may no longer be true, but I hope the latter part still is. Because that’s the only option we have, is to be brave.

Brave enough to say that the Military Commissions Act is wrong.

Brave enough to protest in writing, in public, in a non-violent manner.

Brave enough to get our freedom back.

So I was staying in a hotel this weekend with the band in Tuscaloosa, AL (we played a frat gig there that night). On Sunday morning, we watched good ol’ John Hagee.

He was talking about terrorism and the correctness of the war on terror and had a giant billboard behind him that said “World War III has begun” and showed Israeli and American flags with targets over them.

He kept saying Ahmadinejad is a madman and that we can’t appease Hezbollah and that terrorists hate us because of our freedoms and what not. That last part isn’t a paraphrase, by the way–he actually said the words “they hate us because of our freedom.” It was hard to believe that he was trotting out that old canard in this day and age.

He repeatedly said that we’re at war and that the war is just and we have to fight it and so on. The congregation seemed to be very appreciative of his propaganda. The “altar call” consisted of Hagee leading the congregation in a rendition of “God Bless America.” Hagee said that the lyrics were written “as a prayer.”

The Thing Is...

As we watched this spectacle, we criticized each little Republican talking point he brought up. For example, he said that Muslims want to conquer the whole world and subjugate it under sharia law. It struck us that if that’s true (which it isn’t), we don’t really have any good options. I mean, with the signing today of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, it’s either live here under martial law without habeas corpus, or live here under sharia. Of course, that’s what we call a “false choice.”

Then our drummer had a good point–if Hagee is so concerned about the supposed threat of the “Islamists”–why doesn’t he advocate simply nuking them? Why must we fight this long and costly war when we could just take care of the “problem” right now–or as soon as Dear Leader can get “the button” under his hot little finger?

Not that I (or our drummer) am actually for that option–just the opposite is true. I’m violently opposed to nuking “the Muslims.” But the point is, if people like Hagee think that Muslims are such an existenial threat to the United States, why do they advocate fighting a more or less conventional war with them when we know we don’t have to do that?

Would the answer to that question be that if you eradicate the supposed problem with a few mushroom clouds, you suddenly lose the threat that allows a)Bush to keep taking away our liberties and/or b) people like Hagee to keep making money ($55 for a DVD set of his terror sermons)? Why yes, I think we’re on to something here.

Of course, Hagee and his ilk would say that they don't want to simply nuke our supposed antagonists because doing so would prevent the onset of the Rapture. But keep in mind, Hagee divorced his first wife and is married to a woman 12 years his junior. Don't evangelicals despise divorce, or is it just gay marriage that they don't like? Also, the Bible says that no one knows when Christ will come back and so it would seem to me to be the definiton of "a fool's errand" to try to hasten the Second Coming.

One other thing--as our drummer pointed out, there was nothing in Hagee's sermon (the part we saw, anyway) about loving God or loving your neighbor as yourself, which everyone knows is the entire point of Christianity. How 'bout them apples?

Terrorism Is A Problem Republicans Do Not Want To Solve

That is to say–terrorism is a problem Republicans do not want to solve, just like gay marriage and abortion and what they see as the general problem of “the culture.” Republicans (should I say “conservatives”?) feed off of these problems and use the promise of solving them as a way to get people like those in Hagee’s congregation to vote for them and support them. Why then would Republicans ever actually fix such problems?

It’s kind of like this crazy woman who keeps writing our local paper to say that Bush should be allowed to stay in office until the war in Iraq is over. What she doesn’t seem to understand (or thinks that other people don’t understand), is that if we tied the progress of a war to the length of time a person could stay in office, the war would never end. In other words, there’s no incentive to end wars or reduce/contain presidential power if we say to the President “You must be our leader until the war is over.” Then we’ll have a dictatorship for sure.

So this crazy lady is basically begging for a dictatorship, because she thinks Bush is such a good Christian man and by golly he’s doing the best he can to help our country. Meanwhile, Bush and company are insulting these theocons and their supporters behind theirs backs (according to “Tempting Faith”) and merely paying lip service to their causes while forging ahead with their real agenda, which is making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I was on Mike Malloy's site just now, seeing what his status is and noticed that he had "Support Judge Anna Diggs Taylor" on the top right-hand side of his page. That got me to thinking, as I have off and on over the past several weeks--has the illegal Bush wiretapping been stopped, as per Taylor's decision? I doubt it, but I haven't really seen any stories about it.

But what's to stop the NSA from just saying "Yeah, we stopped the program," and then just going right ahead with it. I mean, what's to stop them from just, you know, lying about stopping the program.

I took a cursory look over the information about the case posted at the ACLU site, but I don't see anything that leaps out and says that the program was stopped. Anybody know anything about that?

February 2001

And then there was the news that Bush may have started the NSA wiretapping program way before 9/11. From what I had read, the program may have begun as early as February 2001. I haven't heard anything about that in a while. This link is what I wrote about that news back in July.

So after writing the above, I looked around for a little more info on the case, which is: McMurray v. Verizon Communications Inc., 06cv3650. Didn't really find anything about the progress of the case, but I did find this stupid comment from one of my stupid senators, Trent Lott (referring to the supposed harmlessness of the NSA program):

"What are people worried about? What is the problem?" asked Lott, a former majority leader. "Are you doing something you're not supposed to?"

Apparently, Pat Robertson said the NSA program was a "tool of oppression." Well, I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day...oh, and I can't find anything new about the case.

Two Letters To The Editor I'm Not Sending

Because they probably won't print them anyway. They didn't print my last one that I sent them (with a week between each sending), so I figure these won't make the cut either, even though they've published my letters as recently as July of this year.

Oh well, whatever...the first one is finished and was tossed off as fast as I could do it. The second one was more carefully considered and left unfinished because I wanted to be able to say that Democrats would get us out of Iraq if they take the majority in the mid-terms. But then I looked up the official position, which is some mumbo jumbo about "success" in Iraq. So then I just got disgusted with the whole thing...


Well, hooray for our great "Christian president!"

Thanks to his illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq, he's not only succeeded in creating more terror (as per the recently declassifed National Intelligence Estimate), he's made us all complicit in the deaths of over half a million Iraqis. Are we even yet for 9/11 (which Iraq wasn't involved in)?

The British medical journal "The Lancet" recently updated its study on Iraqi deaths since the invasion and what they found does not paint a picture that Bush's favorite philosopher would be proud of--655,000 more deaths than there would have been under normal circumstances (i.e, Saddam's reign of terror) since the beginning of our illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There are fewer and fewer people who continue to support this president or his horrible, unprovoked, and outrageous invasion of a sovereign country. But if you still do support Bush, please realize that you bear responsibility for the evil, unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Don't like to hear that? Too bad--until the passage of last month's Military Commissions Act (which eradicates the writ of habeas corpus and legalizes torture), this country was a constitutional republic, which means that we choose our leaders to create the policies we want them to. It then follows that if you voted for Bush, you voted for the Iraq war and its accompanying wanton slaughter of our fellow human beings.

But we have a way out--it won't absolve us of our sins, it won't make everything all hunky-dory, but it'll be a start. And that way out is to vote the Republicans out of power this November 7. If you're truly concerned about children and freedom and democracy and "choosing life," you will help turn the Republicans out of office.


If the recent news that 655,000 Iraqis have died due to conditions created by our illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq doesn't convince you to vote for someone besides a Republican on November 7th, then nothing will.

Granted, not all of these deaths are from our bombs and guns, although many of them are. However, they are all directly attributable to Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq, a country which didn't attack us and didn't even threaten us to begin with. In other words, if we hadn't gone into Iraq, those 655,000 Iraqis would likely still be alive, as would our thousands of troops who have died.

Bush's Iraq policy has been aided and abetted by the Republican congressional majority at every turn. To be sure, far too many Democrats have also agreed to go along with Bush's Iraq disaster. But it is the Republicans who have been in control of both houses of Congress for the entire duration of this debacle and therefore, the blame for it rests squarely on their shoulders.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Why should anyone in the U.S. give a second's thought to whether or not North Korea has a--that's "a" as in "single" or "only one"--nuclear weapon?

The United States has enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world many times over and is the only country in the world to have ever used them against another country--a Southeast Asian country, at that.

Why do the media in general and even the "liberal media" consistently give this non-event so much press and label it "a threat?" How in God's name is North Korea a threat of any kind to the United States?

Why are we expected to fear this? I thought those of us in the "liberal media" were trying to keep people from living in fear.

Is this just further evidence of the pervasive, all-consuming influence of the military-industrial complex?

Pakistan is a country run by a dictator that has nuclear weapons and according to some reports, is currently providing safe haven for Osama bin Laden (speaking of which--the FBI says they don't have enough evidence of bin Laden's involvement in 9/11 to submit to a grand jury in order to obtain an indictment of him). Yet we let the leader of that country come promote a book (?) and appear on the Daily Show like it's all just peachy.

Not only are we the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons against another country, we also have recently shown ourselves willing to invade and occupy sovereign nations on pretexts supported by flimsy and/or nonexistent, make-believe "evidence." Every other country in the world has to see that as threatening, even our allies.

North Korea is not a threat to world peace and security, WE are. Don't buy into this idea that every "rogue" country is somehow a terrible, grave and gathering "threat" to the United States and that we therefore have to go to war with or at least bomb them. It's completely ludicrous. It's farcical, even--imagine how we might react to a movie or a play about a giant country that lets its imagination run wild and wastes its blood and treasure trying to put out the burning matches of smaller, less powerful countries with firehoses until the giant country is bankrupt, friendless, and a shell of its former self. We'd most likely think the giant country was overreactive, overly defensive, wasteful, and just plain stupid.