Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Analysts now predict gasoline will go to $4 per gallon in the near future. The oil companies apparently are not hurting. Why do all of us have to sacrifice, and not the oil companies? Why indeed!

Save Me From Tomorrow

Neil Shakespeare is at it again. His latest creation “Ship of Tools” saved me from having to write a real post today, as it reminded me of this gem from World Party, released in 1987. Extremely relevant.

"Save me from tomorrow. I don't want to sail with this ship of fools."

Ship of Fools
By Karl Wallinger from Worldy Party’s “
Private Revolution.”

We're setting sail to a place on the map
From which no-one has ever returned
Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool
By the light of the crosses that burned
Drawn by the promise of the wormen and lace
And the gold and the cotton and pearls
It's the place where they keep all the darkness you need
You sail away from the light of the world on this trip, baby

You will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow

Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this Ship of Fools, no, no
Oh, you've got to save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this Ship of Fools
I want to run and hide
Right now

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
Drowning in the oceans of history
Traveling the world, you're in search of no good
But I'm sure you'll build your Sodom like you knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves
As your little boat struggles through the warning waves
But you don't pay

You will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow

Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this Ship of Fools
Oh, you've got to save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with no Ship of Fools

[Damn. It appears to be OUT OF PRINT! Figures...]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Some Bon Mots from H.L. Mencken

Shakespeare’s Sister, through no fault of her own reminded me to compile a list of my favorite H.L. Mencken quotes. The man had his flaws to be sure, but did he have a way with words.

The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is
no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong
probability that yours is a fake.

The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is
yielding to ignorance and false pretenses, and as certainly as if he
granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a

The God business is really quite simple. No sane man denies that the universe presents phenomena quite beyond human understanding, and so it is a fair assumption that they are directed by some understanding that is superhuman. But that is as far as sound thought can go.

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and
omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of
gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the
board of a corporation that is losing money.

What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world?
Answer: he gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them
from an imaginary hell. It is a business almost indistinguishable from
that of a seller of snake-oil for rheumatism.

The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most
that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one
delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked.

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind -- that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I am unalterably opposed to all efforts to put down free speech, whatever the excuse.

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

Life may not be exactly pleasant, but it is at least not dull. Heave yourself into Hell today, and you may miss, tomorrow or next day, another Scopes trial, or another War to End War, or perchance a rich and buxom widow with all her first husband's clothes. There are always more Hardings hatching. I advocate hanging on as long as possible.

No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure."

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

The men American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try and tell them the truth.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.

Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

If after I depart this vale you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner, and wink your eye at some homely girl.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sick of Them Whining About Taxes

Some of my compassionate conservative friends and relatives who mistakenly believe that I am either misinformed, misguided, brainwashed or maybe just plain stupid continue to send me their insipid e-mails under the false impression that I will suddenly see the error of my ways.

One that I have gotten numerous times that really infuriates me is the bogus restaurant /tax analogy. If you are unfamiliar with it, you can review it here.

Like much of the propaganda that comes out of the right wing spin machine, it is rife with hyperbole and fallacious reasoning, and it completely ignores pesky reality.

Here are the facts.

You don’t have to be a communist or a socialist to see that when 70% of the wealth of a country is owned by 10% of the population, (and of that 10%, 1% owns 38% of the wealth,) that the only way to manage the country’s finances is to impose higher taxes against the richest people. It is not “punishing” them. Is not “unfair.”

Proponents of the flat tax say, "Rich people would still pay more than the rest of us." True, but imagine if you earned $30,000 per year. What if the flat tax was 18%? This amounts to $5400 in taxes. So now you have $24,600 to live on for the year. That is a devastating blow to your quality of life. Difficult to live on 30k if you kept all of it. Now imagine you make $20,000,000 per year. 18% = $3,600,000. May make you angry, but paying that amount has no effect on your quality of life. At all. You still walk away with $16,400,000. Even with 3 big houses, 5 expensive cars, lavish vacations and a boat, you get to bank much of that money. Besides, income represents a much smaller percentage of the richest people's wealth than the rest of us.

I'm tired of the myth that the richest people simply "work harder." Consider the people who sit on the board of directors of Exxon. How hard do they work? How is it that they get to make so much money given the fact that the oil was in the ground, just waiting for whomever was lucky enough (more than likely, ruthless enough!) to claim it first? Do even the middle and upper middle classes work harder than the working poor? The minimum wage is what? $5.15 per hour? Many of us sit in air-conditioned offices, go out to lunch, write e-mails, talk on the phone and pound the keys on our computers. Compare that to the jobs that pay even $10 per hour. What do they do for that money? I think anyone reading this knows that they work very hard for that little bit. Those people lead difficult lives, and there often is no viable way out for them. Don’t they deserve at least minimal health care, decent schools for their kids, and safe neighborhoods in which to live? And who hasn't noticed how fashionable it has become to deride these people, to patronize these people, and to blame them for their lot? One only needs to flip on the talk radio station to find out.

America comprises all of us. The single most significant aspect of our country is that we are not monolithic. America is Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Wicca, Agnostic and Atheist. We are Black, White, Asian, Native American. We are rich, middle class and poor. We are intellectuals, anti-intellectuals, idealists, realists, philosophers, hedonists. We are entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, laborers. We are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual. This is what makes us great. While it often goes against our nature, we are supposed to try to tolerate those who believe and live differently than ourselves. Schools are there to teach us practical knowledge, and churches exist to teach spiritualism.

Our blood comprises both white and red blood cells. The human body can only survive with the delicate balance of their coexistence. I hear people often say, “Did you ever see a poor person give someone a job?” The answer to that question is obvious, but it is asked to make a point. The question that ought to be obvious, but is not often asked is, “Could wealthy people be wealthy without the rest of us?” Wealth has no meaning, no opportunity without middle class and poor, therefore, wealthy people have a responsibility to those who enable their lifestyle. True, the wealthy provide jobs for the rest of us, but those jobs are a contract. They pay us for our labor, and our labor increases their wealth. People do not provide jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. Rich people could not be wealthy in a vacuum. Yes, the wealthy do provide jobs for the rest of us, but, the rest of us provide the means and the benefits of wealth. Who protects their wealth from theft? Who protects their freedom? Who buys and consumes their products? This is in essence, the argument for a progressive tax system. On the surface, it seems unfair to tax the wealthy at a higher rate than the rest of us, but indeed it is ultimately to our collective benefit.

The fact is, I believe in capitalism, but in order for it to thrive, it must be regulated by the government. We must have a progressive tax structure, and it makes me feel sad ashamed when I hear people of means whine about it.

Don't forget this week's Top Ten!
Update 30-Aug-2005 - The Viscountess weighs in with this.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Masters of War

"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" was released in 1963. I was 6. My older brother, who went off to Viet Nam in 1966 and returned in one piece in 1967 was a big fan. I was a big fan of my brother. He played the guitar and turned me on to lots of good music. And, he bought me ice-cream from the Good Humor Man when my parents said "no."

I didn't really like Bob Dylan when I was still in the single digits, but I knew he must be good because my brother said he was. Today, I know he was right. He was the conscience and the reluctant spokesman of a generation, and still speaks volumes to me today through his classic records from 1962 to about 1966. I listen to his early records, and I marvel at the depth of his insight and wisdom at such a young age, and his ability to say it. His lyrics remain unequaled in the genre.

I have a distinct memory of my brother playing "Masters of War" for me, and talking to me about it. It was probably about 1965. I used to go into his room a lot to talk to him, and he always had music on. I knew it was Dylan. He told me that the song was about the bad men who make money from wars.

Bob Dylan spoke directly to an 8 year-old boy. I could see the old men in their suits sitting behind their desks and smoking their cigars, smiling, and sending boys off to die so they could get rich. I hated them. I could hear the anger and pain and the feeling of powerlessness in the music. It was chilling.

It still is.

Masters of War
by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music


Sort of reminds me of these people.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Deliverance From Evil

Few people know this about me, because I am embarrassed to speak of it openly. I was born into a family that was a member of a secret cult. I was raised blind to the evil of the cult, and was assured that these were good people who only cared about my welfare, and the welfare of the world at large. It is with much consternation that I reveal now some of the deeds of this cult, because they seem so outrageous as to be not credible.

The cult would accuse people of some bogus crime, apprehend them, torture them until they “confessed” to the crime, and then execute them.

The cult would visit wealthy members on their deathbeds, and through fear and coercion have them sign over their property and money. This happened to my great-grandfather in Sicily.

During World War II, the cult was either silent, or complicit with Nazi Germany, depending upon whom you ask.

For centuries, there have been rumors of senior members engaging in child molestation. Indeed, in 1962 there was an internal memo that threatened senior members should they decide to go public with evidence. When the leaders of the cult were informed of any molestation by a senior member, they would immediately transfer the accused to another location instead of turning them over to law-enforcement for prosecution, where the accused would be free to prey upon more innocent children, all because the cult feared loss of financial assets and reputation.

Today, the cult is active in Africa. A campaign is currently underway to misinform Africans who are at high risk for contracting the HIV virus. Against all scientific evidence and the outcry of the medical community and charitable organizations, the cult is telling Africans that condoms will not protect people against the HIV virus. Instead, condoms actually help spread the virus.


Okay, so I lied. This is no secret cult. This is the Catholic Church.


I was fortunate in many ways. Firstly, my parents didn’t have the money to send me to a Catholic school, so I was spared the trauma that many of my recovering Catholic friends had to endure. Moreover, my mother, while a devout member, did not believe the church or the Pope to be infallible. She had her own views on birth control, ("There are too many people already!") and believed that non-Christians could go to heaven if they were good people. She did see that I attended Catechism in order to make my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation.

One story the nuns told us in Catechism was of two little boys (just about my age) who decided to run away one Sunday morning. Little Tommy wanted to go to church but Little Joey scoffed at the idea, saying, “We are running away, we don’t HAVE to go to church!” So Little Tommy went by himself and met up with Little Joey after mass. They ran down to the river and hopped aboard a makeshift raft and floated away. Soon, they ran into rapids and the raft broke apart. Little Tommy prayed and managed to grab hold of a rock and was later rescued. Little Joey’s body was found days later. He had died and went straight to hell.

The nuns also told about “Original Sin.” Apparently, we are all born with these pure white souls that have a big black mark on them. This mark is “Original Sin” that we inherited from Adam and Eve. Fortunately it can be erased by Baptism. If a baby dies before he is baptized, he couldn’t go to heaven because of that black mark. They go to a little room outside of heaven where they are cared for but are never allowed to see God or anyone else who makes it into heaven.


They told us about “mortal” and “venial” sins. A “Venial” sin wasn’t so bad. It was like a brown mark on the white soul that could easily be erased by confession. “Saying bad words” was a venial sin. “Not saying your prayers” was a venial sin. “Thinking impure thoughts about girls” was a venial sin. If you didn’t confess your venial sins and you died suddenly before confession, you burned for eternity, so you better go to confession as often as possible.

I was 7.

“Mortal” sins however, were different. These were the really bad things that people did. A mortal sin was like a black mark on your white soul. You could confess them and probably be forgiven if you were truly sorry, but if you continued to commit mortal sins, you’d get to a point where you could no longer be forgiven, and you would go to hell. Mortal sins consisted of things like Murder, Theft, Bearing False Witness, and …

Missing Mass on Sunday!

That one really got to me. “Missing mass on Sunday” was as bad as killing somebody? “How could THAT be?” I wondered. I would lie awake nights, trying to make sense of all the things that they were telling me. I knew that I wasn’t going to go to hell. I didn’t want to kill anyone or steal, or lie about what my neighbor did, and I really didn’t like going to church, but compared to burning in agony for eternity, I could go every Sunday.


Still, it really bothered me that God thought that missing mass was as bad as murder. I asked my mother about it, and she said that it was okay to miss mass if you had a good excuse, like you were sick or your car broke down. When I asked her, " know, what if you just didn’t want to go?" she told me to ask a priest.

That was a mistake.

I went to confession, and at the end of the confession, before he gave me my penance, I said to him, “Is it true the missing mass on Sunday is a mortal sin?” He said “yes.” I said “Is it really as bad as killing somebody?” and he said, “Yes it was,” and he went on to tell me “not to think about it because it was sinful” and I might even go to hell for just thinking about it!”

Now I was screwed.

I would lie awake at night, and think about all sorts of thing. I would think about God and “always was.” “Always was? How?” Black mark. I would think about “missing mass and how could it be as bad as murder?” Black mark. Only Catholics can go to heaven, but other people in other religions believe they are right just like we think we are right. Black mark. Then I would think that maybe there isn’t a God at all. Maybe they just tell us that there is a God so we won’t be bad.

Dum, de dum dum!

“Now I am definitely going to burn,” I told myself, because the more I tried to ignore these things, the more I thought about them. I tried confessing these “sins,” but the priest told me to “grow up and stop thinking about it.” Fat chance.

Well, I did grow up, and I did think such things and many more. I could no longer accept the teachings of an entity that told me to believe things that my mind told me could not possibly be true.

And then I got angry. Angry that I was made to feel guilty and threatened with eternal punishment for mere critical thinking by an organization that was capable of such unspeakable evil acts as torture, murder and child molestation. In spite of all of this, I am supposed to be respectful of the Catholic Church? I am supposed to pretend that they are force of good in the world?

And they continue to condemn the likes of me to hell.

Related Post:

“ ‘Four Small Lives' Again: Part Of My Mother's Story” by Simon Knight


Condoms Don’t Stop Aids

The CDC Disagrees

Vatican Told Bishops To Cover Up Sex Abuse

Church Treatment of Heretics

The Church says “It Wasn’t That Bad”

Photo Ops with the Third Reich

Excerpt from Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World

Papal Infallibility

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last Plane Out

There is a man who works for my company, who from all previous casual encounters had left me with the impression that we was sensitive, intelligent and reasonable. He made no secret about the fact that he was active in his church, but he didn’t make a big deal about it. He has a reputation of being a top-notch technician, a fine musician, and has been described as “extremely intelligent.”

Somehow, yesterday, we started speaking about Christianity. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught. He went off on Muslims, talking about Jacob and Esau, and God choosing Jacob, and the Jews (and by association) the Christians being “the chosen people.” He went on to the crusades not being such a bad thing, and how the war in Iraq was an extension of that, of Christians defending themselves against Islam who’s goal is to eliminate all non-Muslims.

I respectfully suggested that perhaps Muslims might believe the same of Christians. I informed him of the fact that I worked along side a Muslim in England who sounded more like Joe Strummer (of the Clash) than Osama Bin Laden, and that he was just like a lot of us – loves his wife and kids, goes to work, plays racquetball, goes out to lunch and doesn’t mean any harm to anyone.

He told me that there were no Christian terrorists. I asked him what if he was judged by the actions of (abortion clinic and Olympic bomber) Eric Rudolph, who claimed that he was a Christian? He hemmed, hawed and snorted something under his breath that led me to believe that he doesn't consider Eric Rudolph a terrorist, but knew better than to admit that to me.

I also told him that the Jesus I knew spoke of peace and loving thy neighbor, of turning the other cheek, of offering your shirt when they take your cloak, of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. He urged us to be kind and generous to the poor. He was tolerant of Mary Magdalene and instructed those without sin to cast the first stone. I told him that I didn’t buy the whole book of revelations picture of Jesus returning on a horse, visiting pestilence and death upon all who opposed him. None of that came out of Jesus’ mouth.

Again, he hemmed, hawed and muttered, and I inferred that he didn’t agree with me.

Then he went on to tell me that he believed in a flat-tax.

I reminded him that Christians are supposed to be tolerant, and he told me that wasn’t so. He told me that indeed he is extremely intolerant against the things that he knows are wrong. He knows that only Christians are going to be saved. He knows how God wants us to live. He knows that all the other religions of the world are wrong. He did admit that as a Christian he was supposed to spread the word of God and leave those alone who rejected it, but it seemed disingenuous and inconsistent with everything else he was telling me.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I was consumed by it last night, and still am this morning. Trying to reconcile what I think is right and what I believe needs to be done with the fact that so many people of faith believe as he does.

I grabbed a mix CD of Kevin Gilbert, and blasted “Last Plane Out” and “ All Fall Down” on the way to work this morning. I wish there was a way that I could sit all of us down and listen to these songs together, and remind myself that there are many people in this world who share my beliefs, who want to work for peace and understanding, and who want to base decisions on logic and reason, and not some dangerous interpretation of a book that was written 2000 years ago.



by Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt from the Album "Toy Matinee"
Greetings from Sodom
How we wish you were here
The weather's getting warmer
Now that the trees are all cleared
There's no time for a conscience
And we recognize no crime
Yeah we got dogs and Valvoline
It's a pretty damn good time
Men of reason, not of rhyme
Keep the spoils and share your crime
Goodman, Badman, lost without
A hope for passage on the last plane out
There was one repressed do-gooder
And a few who still believed
Yes I think there were five good men here yesterday
But they were asked to leave
So we've kept the good old vices
And laboured to invent a few
With cake in vulgar surplus
We can have it and eat it, too
Men of reason, hide your face
Walking backwards, plays his ace
Goodman, Badman, lost without
A hope for passage on the last plane out
Here's a concept you can't dance to
An idea you cannot hum
There may not be an empty seat
When all is said and done
I'm not the guy who sings the hymns
No bleeding heart to mend
But I like the part where Icarus
Hijacks the little red hen
Someone said the Big Man
May be joining us soon
But I never was the type to hang
With the harbingers of doom
And this party is addictive
Self-destructive, no doubt
So I hope that someone saves a seat for me
On the last plane out

"All Fall Down"
By Kevin Gilbert from the album "Thud"

I guess this is it
Time for what's been called the finale
And this one comes as no surprise
One of a kind, you'll never see this anywhere else, friends,
Sort of brings a tear to your eye
So be watching closely and you'll be impressed
An order is given and a button is pressed
Then a light that is blinding and a sound that is shrill
Don't blink or you'll miss it, it's the end of free will

So turn the radio up and pass the bottle round
And then we'll have one more drink before we all fall down
I'll wear my favorite tie, you can wear your wedding gown
And then we'll both look real sharp when we all fall down

Look at them now, drawing little lines with their speeches
Each daring the other to cross
It won't be long now, one will make a stand he believes in
Believing it's well worth the cost
Then the other gets angry refuses to budge
Fueled by some understandable grudge
And now we wait quietly till the missile arrives
There's no need to shout about the end of our lives

So bring your friends now, and we'll laugh at all the clowns
Who think there'll be a better world when we all fall down
And we can sing this song, we'll make a joyful sound
We'll be singing na na na when we all fall down

Buildings and bridges all leveled to the ground
Cities and nations and we just stand around
Someone unlocked the big cage
and the beast cannot be found
So strike up the music and we'll all fall down.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gimme Some Truth!

I’ve been saying it everywhere but here. The ‘crats blew it. Karl Rove and the Oil Mafia outsmarted the “liberal intellectuals.” Here is how it went:

Sometime in 2002, Howard Dean started to hint at a candidacy for ’04. Two years before a presidential election, only the political junkies and party strategists are paying attention. The first time I noticed Howard Dean, he was on one of the Sunday morning talking head shows, and he said something that must have struck fear in the heart of Rove. He said something like the following, which are actual Dean quotes, but probably not that particular day:

“I come from a rural state with a very low homicide state and no gun control other than the federal laws. I support those federal laws vigorously. Hunters don't need AK-47s to shoot deer and most hunters I know don't believe that it should be easier for criminals to get their hands on guns, but I know that states like California and New Jersey want more gun control than that. I believe that they should be allowed to pass what gun controls they think they need, but that it is unreasonable to apply laws that may be necessary in California to rural states like Montana or Vermont. The cross border issue has been resolved in one case: Virginia now limits the availability of gun purchases because so many Virginia guns were turning up in New York City illegally.”

“I support the assault weapons ban. I do not support the elimination of liability for gun owners. I support background checks. And I support background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows. I come from a rural state where people hunt. We have the lowest homicide rate in America. So my attitude is, let's have those federal laws and enforce them. And then let every state make additional gun control as they see fit.”

Dean realized that the gun control issue was a big loser for the democrats. Many people who by all rights should vote democrat were voting republican for one reason: Guns.

Dean came up with workable position for the democratic party that would take one of the big three divisive issues (the other two being God and Choice) off the table. Dean is a Christian, and professes his belief in God, but he keeps that part of his life private. 2nd issue addressed.

He wasn’t going to budge on Choice, but that was ok because a conservative estimate of the statistics indicates 48% of the US population are pro-choice.

All the above aside though, the thing about Dean was that he told the truth. He was his own man. He answered questions off the cuff, he was unapologetic for his brashness. In a world where career politicians worry about the tiniest of details, Dean was a breath of fresh air.

And make no mistake, Rove was terrified of him. They needed someone with a long voting record behind him. Dean was a governor and his record was like Cascade; “Virtually Spotless.”

The first part of the Rove strategy was to pretend that Joe Lieberman was the front-runner. They had him on Fox News, and they were nice to him. They treated him as if he was Dick Cheney. They spoke of him as if he was the one true chance that the democratic party had of defeating Bush, which was absurd because the man is thoroughly unlikable, and sorry to say, wayyy to Jewish for middle America to accept as president, and had no appeal for moderate and progressive democrats. He was Republican lite. Against Lieberman, Bush would have cakewalked into back into the Whitehouse. When Gore decided to back Dean instead of his ex-running-mate, the conservative pundits kicked and screamed as if Gore had gone and enlisted in Al Qaeda. It was a joke.

So, what did they do then? Well, for one thing, their job wasn’t really that difficult, because the democrats had problems with Dean. The DLC thought he was “too liberal” and the progressives thought he was “too conservative.” Still, Dean was gaining in the polls and collecting large sums of money through small donations on the internet. He even got some of my money.

So, the next idea was to pretend that they wanted to run against Dean. All the paid shills in the media feigned an attitude of, “Oh please please please nominate Dean! If you guys are THAT stupid, all the better for us!”

Oh really? Is that what you do when you want a particular candidate to run against? Hmm. Seems to me that you don’t tell the opposition what you want, and you work behind the scenes to get what you do want. If they really wanted Dean, why didn’t they claim they wanted Kerry or Gephardt, and quietly support Dean behind the scenes? I think they knew that Sharpton, Kucinich, Lieberman, Wes Clarke and Carol Mosely Brown had virtually no chance. They already had their strategy against Kerry in case he got the nomination, which we all witnessed. “Liberal from Massachusetts,” and “Swift Boat Veterans.” Gephardt was a hack with a long record that could easily be attacked. And Edwards looked like a college student. Any one of them would be just fine.

So they continued to pretend to "want Dean," publicly and privately started to spend money to defeat him. I’m sure that the other democratic candidates saw right through the strategy, but it was to their benefit, because a Dean candidacy meant that they would not be president, and most politicians care about winning more than they care about what is best for the country, so they were all too happy to play along. They ganged up on him during the debates. They bellowed in outrage at his remarks about the Iraq war and about trying to appeal to the southerner with the pickup trucks and confederate flags. Didn’t matter that he was right on the money. Dean was a threat to the entire democratic establishment in Washington, and they did not want an outsider.

Then two things happened. The first one was the video tape showing Dean deriding the Iowa caucuses from a few years back. The airwaves were flooded with this meaningless sound byte. I don’t want to offend an entire state, but those Iowans turned against Dean because of that one statement, which had absolutely no meaning in context with the trouble this nation was in because of the policies of President Farquaad and Vice President Wormtonguue.

Then, “The Scream.” How many people know that the sound of that clip was “filtered” to make the crowd sound subdued and Dean sound like a raving lunatic? How many people know that his supporters were actually very vocal at that rally and that his “scream” was not the shriek of a madman? Doesn’t matter. The “liberal media” wall-papered the airwaves with that doctored scream for the next 24 hours. The statistic I heard was that CNN showed it almost 900 times in the 48 hours immediately following Dean’s loss in Iowa.

And then it was over. Two meaningless video-clips killed the one chance that we had to get these jokers out of DC. It didn’t matter that Dean was “too liberal” for the DLC and “not liberal enough” for the progressive wing of the democratic party. Dean had the core issues right: Healthcare. Foreign policy. Progressive Taxes. Jobs. Choice. It was all there. But the most important thing that Dean had was integrity. Nobody is right all of the time. Almost all politicians filter every word that they say, and then pretend that they are never wrong. Dean was one of us – he answered questions honestly, and he aggressively defended himself against the lies and the smears. He had the ability to bring people back to the polls who stopped voting because they felt like it didn't matter. He knew that the democrats real chance was to unite everyone who was against these neocons, and he also knew that trying to lure the conservatives away from the Republican party was futile. Howard Dean told the truth, and had he won the nomination, the truth would have been blasted all over airwaves and everything would have been different.

Please read the speech that I think was one of the most important speeches Howard Dean ever gave, and one that most people never got to hear.

“Gimme Some Truth”
By John Lennon

I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
Money for dope
Money for rope

I’m sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mama’s little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

I’ve had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
It’s money for dope
Money for rope

Ah, I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

GM Minivans Chinese Style

Tuesdays are rough for me because of circumstances in my personal life. Not much time to do anyting I want to do, let alone spray my blog with my usual vitriolic synaptic activity.

A good friend of mine alerted me to this travesty, and I figured Kevin Wolf needed his blood pressure boosted (see his comment!) to counteract his medication.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Who is Certain?

I had a thought yesterday. Why do religious people get bent out of shape by people who don’t share their beliefs or have no specific religious beliefs? Ask a religious person, “Are you certain there is a God?” In my experience, most of them will emphatically state that they are certain. If you then ask them, “Do you believe in gravity,” while you might get a quizzical look or sarcastic comment, if you press them they will admit that yes, they believe in gravity.

Tell them, “I think gravity is superstition. There is no evidence that there is a gravitational force attracting objects to each other.” Does this anger them? Does it create doubt in their minds?

Not usually. They walk away shaking their heads, thinking, “what a nut!”

However, if you tell them you think their religion is superstition and there is no evidence to support their beliefs, many of them get angry. Why? Is it because they are not certain? It can’t be because we are a threat, can it? I mean, who’s bigger, God, or me? Who’s going to hell, them or me? Who is certain?


I watched a Bill Hicks performance video over the weekend (a bit disappointing, I might add. I think his “Rant in E Minor” is better.) He told a story of where he did a bit that bashed Christianity and after the show some men confronted him and said, “We don’t like what you said!”

He responded, “You’re Christians?”


“Then forgive me.”


Don’t forget to check out this week’s Top 10.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Duchess LaCarte's Political Cartoon

President Bush's Journey to Britian
President Bush: "Hey, isn't that Big Ben?"
Secretary: "No President Bush, that's the Statue of Liberty."

Back in '02, when the Duchess Verilnikoff LaCarte was in the 6th grade, she was given an assignment to create a political cartoon. I was very proud at the result. My friend, Xtcfan pointed out how she has Airforce One ready to crash into the Statue of Liberty symbolizing this administration's impact on our basic rights. I'm not sure that bit was deliberate, but I was still delighted to hear that interpretation. I don't think she got the deserved "A" grade though. The schools and teachers down here in the land of Intelligence Resigned are extremely conservative, and the teacher's comment was the typical, "I don't get it."


Check ME out!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Voting For Pirates

How old were you when you realized that most politicians have the moral fiber of Jack Sparrow? Like Jack, they might have some charisma, some humor and some charm, and they might even do the right thing if it serves them, but you wouldn't turn your back on them with your wallet on the table. I was just a kid of 16 when Spiro Agnew’s cry of "damn lies!" turned out to be the damning truth. There are things that you just accept as you get older.

F’rinstance: A religion that demands celibacy from its priests attracts child molesters. Rock stars are exposed to and often abuse illegal drugs. Pious preachers that constantly rail against pornography usually have a secret collection of the filthiest enema porn that most of us would prefer to not even know about. And, politicians are usually crooks, liars and hypocrites. You accept it and move on.

Now, we can choose not to go to a church that turns a blind eye to molestation, we can avoid driving with a burnt-out rock star, and we can ignore the strident pleas of a closet pervert. But we have to have politicians. We must vote. So, when we vote, we say, “Ok, both of these knuckleheads are at least as sleazy as Danny DeVito in “Ruthless People,” so which one is more apt to advance an agenda that is most like my own vision?

Which is why I get so angry with the imbeciles in this country who get seduced by the rhetoric of the Republican party.

As a result, I am linking here to Issue 198 of The Democratic Underground’s Top 10 Conservative Idiots, just to remind all of us what a load of bloody bollocks is The Republicans’ claim to the moral high ground and family values.


While searching for links to augment this post, I came across THIS!!!!!!!

“And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”

- Roger Waters

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Neil Shakespeare

I needed the day off anyway. Mr. Shakespeare dropped by chez Viscount and left a nice comment vis-à-vis “Lush Rimjob.” It only took a couple minutes to realize this gentleman has it right!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Wit and Wisdom of Rush Limbaugh

"We couldn't destroy the ozone layer"

"[Global warming is] one of the biggest hoaxes being perpetrated on the people of the world"

"I think the modern environmental movement is simply the latest refuge for communists and socialists who are opposed to capitalism."

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."

"Wouldn't it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country?"

"Why should Blacks be heard? They're 12% of the population.
Who the hell cares."

" It's beyond me how anybody can look at these protesters and call them anything other than what they are: anti-American, anti-capitalist, pro Marxists and communists."

"If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people--
I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely
no knowledge whatsoever to do--let the stupid and
unskilled Mexicans do that work."

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get
a liquor store and practice robberies"

"We have alcoholics and drug addicts in our society, don't we? And what do we say about them? 'Well, they can't help it. Why, it's genetic. Why, they have a disease. Why, put one thimbleful of scotch in front of them and they can die.' We totally exempt them from any control over their lives, do we not? Some athlete will spend two years snorting lines of coke. 'He can't help it. You know, it's -- it's just -- it's not -- it's -- it's genetic. These people -- they're predisposed to having this addictive syndrome. They -- they can't help.' Yeah, like that line of cocaine just happened to march into the hotel, go up to the athlete's room and put itself right there in front of him on his blotter."

"And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs,
using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good
because we know what happens to people in societies and
neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if
people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought
to be accused and they ought to be convicted and
they ought to be sent up."

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."

"I am addicted to pain medication."

- Rush Limbaugh

For more information see the following links:


Media Matters

Take Back The Media

Rush's 35 Undeniable Truths

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Are we heading toward fascism?

Are we already there?

Check this out.

Or watch this video.

Another reason why I don't like modern country music. Iraq and Roll!.

Monday, August 15, 2005


“It’s ironic, given the attacks leveled at me recently, how some in the media are so quick to scrutinize -- and distort -- the words and actions of a grieving mother but not the words and actions of the president of the United States.”

Cindy Sheehan

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Myth of the Liberal Media

Noam Chomsky is featured in this documentary made in 1997. It can be seen in its entirety here. It is 60 minutes long, but definitely worth it. The film is a bit dated, but the major point it makes is even more valid today then it was in 1997, which is given the fact that the major news agencies are owned by a handful of mega-corporations, it is absolutely absurd to label the media in the United States as "liberal."

26-Aug-2005 Update: I was delinquent in my responsibilities by not mentioning the full-length feature documentary about the life and media theories of Noam Chomsky, "Manufacturing Consent," which a couple of visitors have been quick to point out. This is an excellent and clear depiction of how the corporate ownership of the mainstream news media has control over what we hear and how we hear it. This film (unless you have an agenda other than the finding out the truth!) quickly dispels any modicum of doubt that the media in the USA is not in any way, shape, or form, "liberal."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Goodness Gracious

Kevin Gilbert may be the best musician that you never knew existed. He has a voice that cuts right into you. I was stunned into silence the first time I heard him sing. He died in 1996 a virtual unknown. Some people live in a town that has a station that might play “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” or “Last Plane Out” from the eponymous “Toy Matinee” album. He was the lead singer, principle songwriter and creative spark behind that album that is known in the business but seldom heard by the general public.

He worked behind the scenes with Madonna and Michael Jackson. He formed a band called The Tuesday Night Music Club and brought his yet-undiscovered girlfriend into the sessions. Many believe he was the creative force behind that record.

In 1994, he recorded “Thud,” a personal, devastating document exploring the dark side of relationships and his own painful visions. He recorded a brilliant cover of “Kashmir” that was intended for the Led Zeppelin tribute, but rejected because he was a “nobody.”

He was working on a classic rock opera titled “The Shaming of the True” at the time of his death in 1996. The album was completed and released by his friend and musical collaborator Nick DiVirgilio. This is a brilliant album that is both an indictment of the music business and a document of an artist on the edge. You can hear bits of Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant and Elton John.

He wrote and sang the song Goodness Gracious in 1994, claiming it was just a member of generation X complaining about how the baby-boomers made such a mess of things, just like the boomers complained about the WWII generation. The words ring true today.

Goodness Gracious
From the album “Thud” by Kevin Gilbert

Goodness Gracious is there nothing left to say?
When the ones that get to keep looking
are the ones that look away
It's pabulum for the sleepers
in the cult of brighter days

Goodness Gracious at the mercy of the crooks
We're broke and stroking vegetables
and there's way too many cooks
In every pot a pink slip, In every mouth a hook

Goodness Gracious I'm not listening anymore
Cause the spooks are in the White House
and they've justified a war
So wake me when they notify
we're gonna fight some more

Goodness Gracious not many people care
Concern is getting scarcer
true compassion really rare
I can see it on our faces. I can feel it in the air
Goodness Gracious me.

Goodness Gracious my generation's lost
They burned down all our bridges
before we had a chance to cross
Is it the winter of our discontent or just an early frost?

Goodness Gracious of apathy I sing
The baby boomers had it all and wasted everything
Now recess is almost over
and they won't get off the swing

Goodness Gracious we came in at the end
No sex that isn't dangerous, no money left to spend
We're the cleanup crew for parties
we were too young to attend
Goodness Gracious me.

Goodness Gracious my grandma used to say
The world's a scary place now,
things were different in her day
What horrors will be commonplace
when my hair starts to grey?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Louder Than Noises of Hatred

Beating of Hearts
By Andy Partridge

Do you know what noise awakes you
Every morning from your bed
A coming from the farthest hillside
A coming from inside your head

You have heard
You have heard the loudest sound
In this and every world you can think of

Louder than tanks on the highway
Louder than bombers in flight
Louder than noises of hatred
Dancing us from darkest night is the rhythm of love
Powered on by the beating of hearts

And did you know you had this power?
Drumming on it always stays
Never try to use it badly
Tunes of good are all it plays

You have heard
You have heard the loudest sound
In this and every world you can visit

Louder than tanks on the highway
Louder than bombers in flight
Louder than noises of hatred
Dancing us from darkest night is the rhythm of love
Powered on by the beating of hearts

For a heart without love is a song with no words
And a tune to which no one is listening
So your heart must give love and you'll find that
You shine like rain on the leaves you'll be glistening

You have heard
You have heard the loudest sound
In this and every world you can think of

Louder than thoughts of dictators
Louder than rattling swords
Louder than loading of rifles
Louder than screaming warlords
Louder than tanks on the highway
Louder than bombers in flight
Louder than noises of hatred
Dancing us from darkest night is the rhythm of love
Powered on by the beating of hearts

© 1983 Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd.

From The XTC album Mummer

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not This Time

1980. I was 23 years old. I remember watching the presidential debates with my father, and thinking, “Is Reagan serious?” My father, who was a genuine cynic said, “This guy is going to win! People love this kinda bullshit!” I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’m sure it was a sarcastic remark.

The day after election day, my father said, “I told you he was going to win.” Well, I was young, no wife, no kids, in a band that was going to “make it big!” I didn’t worry too much about it. So what if a “B” actor got elected? So what?

I was vaguely aware of some of the stupid things that were coming out of his mouth. I remember some time in about ’82 or ’83 people were starting to use the word “Liberal” in a sneering, mocking, derisive tone of voice. So what?

I also remember not wanting to reveal how I felt about it all. The conservatives were loud and bold. They aligned themselves with red, white and blue, patriotism, and Mom and apple pie. I felt very defensive, and didn’t want to be perceived as against those things. I slowly began to shy away from the term “liberal.” So what?

The 80’s began to fly by. I wasn’t very political. I started my family. I gave up my dream of being a full-time musician. We invaded Grenada. Hippies oddly morphed into yuppies. Ketchup was redefined as vegetable. Evolution was openly being questioned. The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Bad Company faded away and were being replaced by Huey Lewis, Robert Palmer, Journey, and all those English synthe bands. And conservatives continued to label anyone who disagreed with their pernicious agenda as “liberals.” So what?

1988. Michael Dukakis, a Massachusetts intellectual, secured the Democratic nomination. Surely the nightmare would be over now. George Bush was such a loser! He was unlikable. Then the smear machine started up. Willie Horton TV commercials. Pictures of this scary man and a story of how he terrorized a couple because Michael Dukakis let him out of prison. Then that stupid tank ride. Then the debates.

BERNARD SHAW: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?

DUKAKIS: No, I don't, Bernard. And I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent, and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime. We've done so in my own state. And it's one of the reasons why we have had the biggest drop in crime of any industrial state in America; why we have the lowest murder rate of any industrial state in America. But we have work to do in this nation. We have work to do to fight a real war, not a phony war, against drugs. And that's something I want to lead, something we haven't had over the course of the past many years, even though the Vice President has been at least allegedly in charge of that war. We have much to do to step up that war, to double the number of drug enforcement agents, to fight both here and abroad, to work with our neighbors in this hemisphere. And I want to call a hemispheric summit just as soon after the 20th of January as possible to fight that war. But we also have to deal with drug education prevention here at home. And that's one of the things that I hope I can lead personally as the President of the United States. We've had great success in my own state. And we've reached out to young people and their families and been able to help them by beginning drug education and prevention in the early elementary grades. So we can fight this war, and we can win this war. And we can do so in a way that marshals our forces, that provides real support for state and local law enforcement officers who have not been getting that support, and do it in a way which will bring down violence in this nation, will help our youngsters to stay away from drugs, will stop this avalanche of drugs that's pouring into the country, and will make it possible for our kids and our families to grow up in safe and secure and decent neighborhoods.

SHAW: Mr. Vice President, your one-minute rebuttal.

BUSH: Well, a lot of what this campaign is about, it seems to me Bernie, goes to the question of values. And here I do have, on this particular question, a big difference with my opponent. You see, I do believe that some crimes are so heinous, so brutal, so outrageous, and I'd say particularly those that result in the death of a police officer, for those real brutal crimes, I do believe in the death penalty, and I think it is a deterrent, and I believe we need it. And I'm glad that the Congress moved on this drug bill and have finally called for that related to these narcotics drug kingpins. And so we just have an honest difference of opinion: I support it and he doesn't.




Dukakis’ response was intelligent, cohesive, and measured, but devoid of any passion. He lost the “Average Joe’s” attention by the third or fourth sentence. This was the defining moment of clarity for the neo-conservative movement. An average candidate who talks like the guy down the block can beat an intellectual every time.

Imagine if this was Michael Dukakis’ response:

Bernard, what an awful thing to say. I love my wife, and I would be heartbroken and angry if that were to happen to her. Emotionally. I would want to kill the guy myself, but we are a nation governed by laws, not by emotions. The rate of violent crime in Massachusetts has gone down without a death-penalty, and in the end that is what we all want. "

Then The Gulf War. Unlike many liberals, I was for the gulf war. We didn’t need another ruthless dictator using military force to increase his influence and power. The thing is, I was appalled at the attitude of President Bush. The night that he announced that we had invaded Kuwait to repel the Iraqi forces, he was not somber. He was gleeful. He had this menacing grin on his face. I was further appalled at the attitude of many fellow Americans. They were thrilled at the prospect of war. They acted as if it was a football game, seemingly oblivious (even callous) to the fact that many innocent people were dying. It was disgusting. There was also the disturbing, orchestrated backlash against the Americans who opposed the war. People were saying that the protestors should be thrown in jail. Huh? This is America. This is a free country. I did not agree with the protestors, but didn’t they have a right to their opinion? Isn’t the democracy healthy when all opinions are allowed to be expressed in an open debate?

A lesson was learned from the Viet Nam war, but it wasn’t the right lesson. The lesson the government learned was, “The press reported the war accurately, and this turned people against the war. The people rose up and convinced the government that it was finally time to leave Viet Nam. We must control the press and the message so this does not happen again.”

After the war though, something happened. The country was in a recession, and the President didn’t notice. The Democrats finally got it right again and nominated someone with charisma. He spoke to the people in a universal language. He was good, and he was also lucky, because one Ross Perot had a personal grudge against George Bush, and he entered the race as a spoiler. Most people who voted for Perot would have voted for Bush, and this helped to put President Clinton in the Whitehouse.

Here is where the story really starts to get creepy. From the moment that Clinton was inaugurated, the smear campaign started. The neo-cons knew that they could not defeat the policies of the left based on principal.

Enter Rush Limbaugh. I believe, more than any other politician, artist, or journalist, Rush Limbaugh is responsible for the predicament we find ourselves in today. He figured out that since he was not a journalist, he did not have to tell the truth. He got on the air, and lied, joked and spun the opinions of millions of Americans away from real issues and toward invented bogus ones. He tapped into the anger of the white man. He railed against feminists, blacks, the ACLU, and of course, “LIBERALS.” He did it with lies. He was able to do it because he controlled the debate. He used fallacious arguments. He argued against a straw-man liberal that never existed in this country. He turned America’s focus away from the deeds of the richest people, and blamed liberals for any and all problems of the middle class.

This is where the fear started. Anyone who dared to disagree with the policies of the conservatives was immediately labeled “LIBERAL.” “Liberals” were soft on crime, they were against hard work, they were against the nuclear family, they were accused of hating the rich because liberals were for a fair and progressive tax structure. Liberals were the “communists” of the 90’s. All lies, but the lies stuck. The lies worked on me. I would express an opinion, and I would be called a “liberal.” It would immediately put me on the defensive. “I’m not a liberal!” Before and after Monica, people would talk about Clinton’s sleazy character. My attitude was, “So? Who do you think runs for president? Mother Teresa?” It still irks me to this day that the Republicans have convinced people that their sleazy characters with their shady skeletons in their closets (usually related to weapons deals and oil money) are somehow morally superior to their Democratic counterparts. When one woman once complained to me about Clinton lying about oral sex, I said to her, “You love Ronald Reagan. He lied about ‘Iran-contra.’ Clinton lied about his sex-life. Which is worse?” With a straight face and a tone of incredulity and condescension she said, “Clinton.”

I have to remember my Jonathan Swift quote at the top of this page.

It worked on the media too. The term “liberal media” put the news organizations on the defensive. If you told the truth, but the truth was in conflict with the government’s story, then you had a “liberal bias.” Outrageous, but it worked!

In 2000, 8 years of a Democrat in the Whitehouse gave us peace, prosperity and a budget surplus. They proved that higher taxes on the wealthy were good for all. This infuriated the neo-conservatives, because they do not want what is good for all. They want a plutocracy. They want to go back to the pre- labor pre-New Deal America. Sadly, Clinton also gave them a sex-scandal, which gave them the country. Bush did not talk about the real issues. He talked about an imagined decline of family values. He wrapped himself in a flag and talked about God and Jesus. And we denied that we were liberals.

Next, the War in Iraq. This time I was with the protestors. Aside from all the bogus reasons they gave us for this war, there was also the “Bread and Circuses” tactic that told people to “blame” the French and turned the public’s attention toward the Dixie Chicks on the first day of the invasion. Worked again.

Limbaugh on the protestors:

"It's beyond me how anybody can look at these protesters and call them anything other than what they are: Anti-American, Anti-Capitalist Marxists and Communists."

Not this time. This time I spoke up. Someone reported me to human resources at my company because I dared to speak out against the war and the Republican administration. Fortunately, HR and my manager were steadfastly on my side, and just explained to me that there was a complaint but that I had a right to my opinion and that there was no problem.

By being on the defensive, we helped them. By being afraid to speak up, we helped them. By not admitting we are liberals, real liberals, we helped them. That was a mistake that I regret, that all of us who are guilty should regret. We should never have let them bully us like that. I don’t anymore. I admit that I am a liberal. I say what I believe. I do what I can to dispel the myths of the likes of Limbaugh. I tell them, “If you want to know what a liberal believes, ask a liberal. Don’t ask Rush Limbaugh because he is a lying drug addict who can’t be trusted.” People need to know that liberals are not the “straw men” that have been invented by the conservative think tanks. We need to tell them at every opportunity. Liberals are not communists. We love America. We believe in the Constitution and The Bill of Rights. If we do not speak up, we are destined to live in an oppressed society of lies.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Four Small Lives by Simon Knight

I read this today, and decided that it is more relevant than anything I had to say.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Gott Mit Uns

This article from USA Today, brought to my attention by Shakespeare’s Sister here, tells us the following:

Pastor Russell Johnson paces across the broad stage as he decries the "secular jihadists" who have "hijacked" America, accuses the public schools of neglecting to teach that Hitler was "an avid evolutionist..."

Maybe someone should remind Pastor Johnson that Hitler claimed he was a Christian, and “Gott mit uns” was one of the mottos of the Nazi regime.

Friday, August 05, 2005

What Are You Reading For?

The late comedian Bill Hicks related an experience that happened one late night at a Waffle House in Alabama. The story goes that he was at the table reading, and the waitress asked, “What are you you reading for?” After he discussed the absurdity of that question, he told us one of the patrons chimed in, “Welllll! Looks like we got us a reader!”

I think that patron was in a Waffle House this morning here in the Atlanta area, sitting in the booth adjacent to mine. He was on a rant. A genuine, southern, right-wing, conservative, ill-informed angry rant. He referred to the ACLU as the “A-C-L-L” twice. He whined about the Brits. He decried the evils of welfare and the welfare state. At one point, I had the urge to get up and tell him, “You don’t know me, but you know everything about me. All you have to do is think something, anything, and then think of the exact opposite of that thought, and that is me.”

Of all the stupid, angry, twisted, anti-intellectual bile that invaded my greasy yet tasty breakfast, the one thing that he said that really disturbed me went something like this:

“When we was young, we didn’t try to understand the stupid kids. We didn’t bring in counselors, give them extra help. We believed they were stupid because they didn’t work hard enough. They were ridiculed by the teachers and the other students, and that made them work harder. I think we should go back to that.”

I got up, walked over to his table and said, “What? The world doesn’t have enough aggressively ignorant imbeciles like you? We need more?”

Well in my mind I did that. In reality I pretended I didn’t hear a word he was saying, I finished my breakfast, and walked back to my car thinking, “I don’t want to die here in the south.”

Thursday, August 04, 2005

None of You Stand So Tall

A few years ago, I noticed that people started to talk about Nick Drake. I had never heard of him. It was odd, because I kept hearing and reading his name. I went to All Music guide and read this. I was intrigued. My sister-in-law stopped by the house and told us, “You guys have to hear this CD,” and gave us a copy of “Pink Moon.” Odd again. I put the CD aside and figured I would get to it soon.

At the time, I was a trainer for a software company, and I often had to leave on Sunday afternoons for a week-long gig wherever. It was a great job but the traveling was quite difficult and it was hard on all of us. I told the Viscountess this one Sunday afternoon that I wanted to rest before I hit the road, and went up to the bedroom. I slipped “Pink Moon” into the CD player, turned out the lights and hit “Play” on the remote.

I was not expecting it. The song starts with this solo acoustic guitar that is haunting from the first strum. And then this sad, expressive, resigned voice filled the room.

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink Moon is on its way
None of you stand so tall
Pink Moon gonna get you all
And it’s a Pink Moon,
Yeah it’s a Pink Moon
Pink Pink Pink Pink Pink Pink
Pink Moon

Then, this very sparse piano part that has its roots in the melody. Devastating.

After that, he just sings the first verse again.

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink Moon is on its way
None of you stand so tall
Pink Moon gonna get you all
And it’s a Pink Moon,
Yeah it’s a Pink Moon
Pink Pink Pink Pink Pink Moon

And then it was over.

I ran downstairs and grabbed The Viscountess. “You have to hear this song. Now.”

She is used to this. Another day I will talk about how lucky I am, from the minutiae to the fundamentals, The Viscountess is everything I wanted and everything I never new I needed. Before we ever met she developed a taste in music that is almost identical to mine, and knows exactly what I am talking about when it comes to the music that I love.

We sat down and listened together.


The album clocks in at about 28 minutes, and it is an aural representation of real, honest, depression. Not Sting bragging about being “The King of Pain.” Not the blues. Not John Lennon. It is a quiet acceptance, a resignation. He seems to be saying, “Pain is part of my life, and I accept it. It is just the way things are. “

From track 3: “Road”

You can say the sun is shining if you really want to
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
You can take the road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through.

You can take a road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through.”

It was the Viscountess this time. When I went on the road that week, she took the CD and listened to it. When I got back she said, “Listen to this one again. It may be the saddest song that I ever heard. (Quoting the lyric.)

You can take the road that takes you to the stars now
I can take the road that’ll see me through
.’ ”

“How SAD is that?” she said. “He has given up on any dream. He just wants to get through the day.”

The record is eerie. You feel like he is in the room. You feel like you know him. You feel like you can see a hint of a smile on his face as he sings, almost whispers to you the depth of his experience in a world that is just so painful, just so dark and so dreary. Not asking for your pity or your remedy. Just informing you. The smile is not ironic. It is an indication that he has found some respite, some peace inside these songs.

One can imagine how I must have felt when I found out that the title track was featured in a Volkswagen commercial! I HATE it that my songs, MY SONGS, the soundtrack of my life are used to sell things. I remember back in the 80’s, there was a furniture store that took Beethoven’s 5th and touted their $999 sale. ”Nine ninety NINE!
Nine ninety NINE!”

Oh the rage and rancor that swelled inside my 20 something idealist consciousness! I’d be driving along, and I would hear the theme, and I would picture Alex with his eyelids held open by the alligator clips crying, “Not the lovely Ludwig Van!”



I never saw the Volkswagen commercial aired, except on a VH1 show about Nick Drake. One of life’s many contradictions is that my mind has not changed one degree away from the fact that corporations should not use art to sell their stuff, but the fact is, the Volkswagen commercial was directly responsible for the resurgence of interest in Nick Drake, and who knows when I would have heard this beautiful record had they not besmirched its artistic value?


“None of you stand so tall.” Man, I love that line.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I Kicked

I thought I didn’t have anything today, that is until I read Blue Girl’s post, and what started as a comment turned into this…

I was severely addicted to the TV’s dissemination of the “Official Government Story,” but like the heroin addict who has been mainlining too long, who both loathes and loves his habit, I would kid myself saying, "I'm not going to watch it today! Not today!" and I would go through this panicky feeling, pick up the guitar for 5 minutes, check my e-mail for the 90th time, give the dog a treat then I would grab the needle, er, remote, and take my hit of putrid air. After a few minutes I would feel all dirty and such because even those nasty anti-American commie-liberals over at CNN would be spinning some obvious "Farquaad and Wormtongue just screwed us again” story to the right of Pat Buchanan and I would stand up and start yelling, "Liberal media my ASS! WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? LIARS! LIE ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRS!" and the Viscountess would be look at me and say firmly and gently, "Will you turn that off already? You are going to give yourself a HERNIA, and me a headache…!"

DOH! I would feel like my dog after he got yelled at for trying to get into the garbage.

So we disconnected the cable in February this year and increased our Netflix membership to 4.

Best decision we made in a long time. Instead of surfing passed "Who Looks Like an Airbrushed Plastic Playmate but Wants to Marry A Trailer Trash Moron With No Teeth for A Lot of Benjamins, " and HannityO'RiellyScarboroughNovackCarlson spewing the official talking-points of the day just like all of the other minions of the plutocratic propaganda machine with this condescending and yet patronizing tone implying how lucky we are that they are so astute at wading through all of the liberal-lies that are rammed down our throats by Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and getting to the truth -----! Instead of being treated to THAT every night, we watch "Upstairs Downstairs," (which so totally rocks that I might one day have to evangelize about that for a few paragraphs!) "Star Trek TOS," (last night we saw the “Arena” with The Gorn which is freakin’ hilarious nowadays!) "Nova," and old movies like "The Bicycle Thief" and “A Trip to Bountiful,” and we get our news from all over the world via the net.

I admit though, that I miss the hell out of Jon Stewart and especially Lewis Black ranting, like the time when they had a clip of LaPierre on from the NRA, and he was trying to defend the bit about how guns had been sold to over 50 members of the CIA terrorist watch-list by saying, "What is a watch-list anyway?" and Black stopped the clip with that maniacal gleam of incredulity in his eye and his unkempt shirt and tie, surpassing even Peter Finch in “Network,” and he yelled "IT IS A LIST OF - KNOWN TERRORISTS - THAT THE CIA IS WATCHING!" and I turned to the Viscountess and said, "This is the damn real news now. It is all we got."

There is always a price, and “The Daily Show” is the one that was exacted on us. Still, about once a week we got the comedy central website and catch up.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Coincidental Quotes

"What a Coinky Dink!"

"Education is dangerous - Every educated person is a future enemy"
Hermann Goering

As people do better, they start voting like Republicans - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.
Karl Rove

Somebody gets to be smart and somebody gets to be dumb. If we win, it'll be because of the president. And if we lose, it'll be because of me.
Karl Rove

"The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over"
Joseph Goebbels

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
Joseph Goebbels

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush

Monday, August 01, 2005

Will They Smear Him Again?

Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the US Invasion of Iraq and the treatment of the terrorists suspects at Guatanamo Bay.

This is what newsmax said about him last time. Ann Coulter accused him of treason.

I am going to monitor media matters this week and see what President Farquaad's minion's talking points will have to say about the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president.