••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hope and Fear in Working America

The American Dream Survey of non-supervisory workers conducted by Lake Research Partners shows that the American Dream is as powerful a concept today as it has ever been. America’s workers say the American Dream is not about getting rich or hitting the lottery—it is about achieving the basics of middle-class comfort and security: a good job, owning a home, a secure retirement, quality and affordable health care, and a better life for their children. However, on Labor Day 2006, in the midst of record corporate profits and a purported economic recovery, America’s workers feel the American Dream slipping away. In an America politically polarized into red and blue states, the American working middle class is remarkably united in its view of the American Dream.

A majority of these working- and middle-class Americans do not feel they have obtained the American Dream, though most still believe it is obtainable. In this survey, they tell us that stagnant wages, skyrocketing health care, a rising cost of living and rising debt are putting the American Dream at risk. In a stunning change from past generations, and perhaps for the first time in our nation’s history, a majority do not believe the next generation of Americans will be better off than the current generation.

Whatever the business pages say, workers tell us they are facing tough times in America. Working Americans, though resilient, feel pessimistic about the direction of the country and the economy. They worry that not only their own opportunities, but those of their children, are stagnating or declining. Driving their bleak view of the future are workers’ experience of wages not keeping up with the cost of living, the fact that many must incur debt to pay for basic necessities like food and utilities, and that most are feeling forced to postpone retirement to an older age than they had expected.

These survey results are not only a portrait of stagnation, frustration, and worry, they also represent a call to action. Working Americans believe the American Dream is still attainable and that our country can and should do better. Across partisan and demographic lines, workers believe they can make things better if they become more politically active. Workers believe overwhelmingly in the right to unionize without fear of reprisal, and over two thirds believe joining a union would make things better for working people. In 2006, America’s workers are ready for change and are ready to participate in making that change happen.

lines that stood out for me in the press release:
more than eight out of ten non-supervisory workers in America say that that no matter what you hear about the economy, working families are falling behind.
On the issue worrying most workers, health care, they feel strongly (61%)—and 82% overall agree—that America cannot rely on the marketplace for health insurance; government has a responsibility to make sure Americans have health insurance.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

drugstore tract rack

as i passed thru a supermarket yesterday, a small rack of "inspirational" books caught my eye in front of the pharmacy counter.

god pursues me even here, i thought, glancing guiltily over my shoulder and up at the ceiling as if i might spot an angel hiding or hovering just outside my field of view.

then i recalled where i was. the angel, of course, stood behind the counter, beatifically filling a prescription as she contemplated enlarging her investment portfolio with a chunk of her 6-figure salary.

how fitting to find god-books at a drug store, i thought. religion is still the people's opiate, and church their HMO.

my gaze next went to the base of the rack. i'm tall, so naturally what i seek at the library always rests on the bottom shelf. i'm used to bowing down for information. way down. maybe that's why i saw the 3 books nearest the floor first.

2 were about the da vinci code. the other title was, i think, hitchhikers' guide to everything. i picked it up. for the price of the 96-page trade paperback i could buy 6 24-oz jars of salsa or 12 dozen eggs or 4# of cheese or 2 dozen cups of yogurt, so i knew i could only afford a fast skim.

"42" stood out on page 2. douglas adams' apocalyptic sci-fi send-up gave it as the answer to the ultimate question no one remembers. what's 6 times 7? no, too prosaic. how many gallons in a barrel of crude? an end-of-world jeopardy answer if ever there was, but hardly the meaning of life. how many blowjobs can a teenage hooker do in a 16-hour workday? no, only exceptional ones would attract that much business. how many days did desert storm take? or was that 43? i give up.

further in, the tract-in-disguise demolished darwin. it claimed evolution theory says different groups of humans could have different origins, so people with black skin and white skin might be different species. (i don't think it actually used that word, but something like "kinds of humans" instead.) then it pointed out DNA proves that's false and we all have a common ancestor.

did you get that? DNA contradicts evolution! and darwin's a racist, to boot!

totally shameless. these proselyting jerks will even tell a bald-faced lie to get control of the minds of science-ignorant americans. what hypocrisy!

i moved to da vinci. turned out both books were pro-christian anti-da vinci code. i must be one of very few folk who haven't seen the pic or read the original or seen cable shows about it, but you'd have to be brain-dead to avoid absorbing a sizable smattering [is that an oxymoron?] from the info environment.

short on time, i zeroed in on the last supper. sure looks like a woman to me, but who knows? and i'm pretty sure the gospel doesn't specifically say john's the "beloved." so, again, who knows? and what's the big deal, anyway? and so what if the priory of sion—did i get the name right?—is only a few decades old rather than centuries?

i mean, it's a novel, isn't it? doesn't that still mean it's fiction? or if it's not fiction, at least it's speculative, right?

leonardo was an artist, folks. he expressed ideas thru his work, but no matter how smart he was, he wasn't around to check out mary magdalene personally, so the actual topic of controversy is his interpretation, not facts about jesus. whether the da vinci code is right or wrong, it doesn't change a word of the sermon on the mount.

so why are so many religionists so anxious to rebut it? does the foundation of their faith rest on such shaky ground that it may crumble under the onslaught of such minor criticism?

and speaking of trivia, why don't they attack the left behind series while they're at it? if anything makes christianity seem stupid, it does.

Poverty Levels Stabilize; a First in 5 Years

Census Shows Rise in Nation's Poorest

those last 2 sound contradictory, but they're not. overall poverty actually declined by 90k people (which isn't considered a statistically significant drop), but the number living at less than half the poverty level grew by 300k.

so the poor got poorer. (and, of course, the rich got richer. ralph nader would say poor got poorer because rich got richer.)

From the writers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


It was almost a year ago that the Gulf Coast suffered through the double-blow of Hurricane Katrina, and then the influx of every TV journalist on the planet, the latter crisis leading to dangerously high levels of hairspray.

To commemorate the event, the White House has announced that next week President Bush will mark the one-year anniversary of Katrina with a visit to the Gulf Coast. The trip will include an overnight stay in New Orleans, where Bush is expected to honor several hurricane survivors gone wild with the prestigious "Beads of Freedom."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

from Donald Rumsfeld's February 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee testimony on funding and installing a missile defense system

Sen. Clinton: It strikes me as a little odd that we would deploy a system that hasn't succeeded and expect that to serve a deterrent value.

Sec. Rumsfeld: If you didn't do anything until you could do everything, you probably wouldn't do anything.

and here's a bunch of stuff on missile defense

plus more recent rumdum:

Defending Rumsfeld, Novak cherry-picked from Sen. Clinton's list of past "rosy picture" statements

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Moment of Moral Clarity
by Harry Shearer

i see others are catching on. (1, 2, 3)

welcome aboard, harry. i think the way you put it on le show was pithier tho. what was it you said? something like: right, that's what we do with people we're at war with, arrest them.

early this month i said bush is competent at only 2 things: cutting brush and playing golf.

i left out passing the buck.


it may be literally true that gwb had no war plans on his desk when he said so, but it was equally hypocritical: he knew damn well the war in iraq began that same month, with air raids starting in june 2002.
from facing pages of bartlett's 16th

an emperor is subject to no one but god and justice.
—frederick i [barbarossa], c1122-1190

knowledge is the conformity of the object and the intellect.
—averroës, 1126-1198

anticipate charity by preventing poverty; assist the reduced fellowman, either by considerable gift, or a sum of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood, and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. this is the highest step and the summit of charity's golden ladder.
—maimonides, 1135-1204

when i find the road narrow, and can see no other way of teaching a well-established truth except by pleasing one intelligent man and displeasing ten thousand fools—i prefer to address myself to the one man.

the spiritual perfection of man consists in his becoming an intelligent being—one who knows all that he is capable of learning.

in the realm of nature there is nothing purposeless, trivial, or unnecessary.

do not hold as gold all that shines as gold.
—alain de lille [alanus de insulis], d1202

there are no teachers of japanese poetry. but they who take the old poems as their teachers, steep their minds in the old style, and learn their words from the masters of former time—who of them will fail to write poetry?
—fujiwara no teika, 1162-1241

no freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way harmed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him, except by the legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
—magna carta, 1215

to none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice.
—magna carta

day of wrath! o day of mourning!
see fulfilled the prophets' warning
heaven and earth in ashes burning!
—tommaso di celano, c1185-c1255

an example from the monkey: the higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind.
—saint bonaventure, c1217-1274

Ann Coulter's Beautiful Big Money Smear Machine
by Taylor Marsh

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

know your enemy
i get a strong impression our dear leader is trying to make it look like we played a major role in the brits' arrest of alleged terrorists plotting to blow up planes. at least one report stated we insisted the arrest take place a week sooner than the brits wanted to do it. perhaps that was our contribution.

it looks like we have a tendency to rush into things.

recall the alleged miami terror cell arrest in june. we couldn't wait for them to buy explosives or even try to find a dealer, whom we would've also arrested if they'd contacted one. the group was infiltrated, so we knew what they were up to at all times and could move in if they actually did anything. but no, we had to bust them right away.

we couldn't wait for the inspectors to finish the job in iraq. we had to go to war fast.

oh, and even afghanistan: we couldn't go to the trouble to show the taliban the evidence against bin laden. they had to "just hand him over." when they asked again, we went to war. we'll never know for sure what would've happened if we'd tried.
when cheney or any who agree with him claim or imply that you and those that agree with you help al qaeda or any of our enemies, take it as a compliment, for his is a corrupt value system, and he uses truth only when it suits his noxious agenda.
The Lapdog Press Rolls Over, Again
by Eric Boehlert

this tells how bush "sometimes travels around the country—usually to private fundraisers—without a press plane in tow."

that's not what bothers me. i want to know who's paying for air force one. the press didn't let clinton get away with using it for political trips at taxpayer expense. how about now?

Cheney Hires Clinton Impeachment Lawyer...

this is the joe wilson-valerie plame lawsuit against darth. how come they're not filing criminal charges? if cheney told libby plame was CIA, he broke the need-to-know provision of classified info handling law, which is, strictly speaking, not a statute but an executive order, so it certainly covers behavior of members of the exec branch, including mr dc. (i never noticed his initials before.)

Santorum's Campaign Accused Of Forging Signatures To Take Votes From Democrat Bob Casey...

no comment.

Monday, August 14, 2006

jon stewart will interview thomas ricks tonight on the daily show. watch, especially if you haven't heard him before. he says the same thing in every interview. definitely worth hearing...once or twice. on the other hand, stewart might make it fresh.

the colbert report guest is ramesh ponnuru. what a weirdo! amazing how dumb such a smart guy could be.
Beyond Chutzpah: Cheney Implies Terrorists Are Happy Lieberman Lost
by Arianna Huffington

right. rabid bushites still claim pre-election bin laden tape supported kerry. as if bin laden wouldn't know they'd think that....

Friday, August 11, 2006

If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts thru it will blow up everything in its way.
—Emile Zola, J'Accuse

Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down
—Stephen Stills
next terror threat: diabolical chemist devises method to make human body explode

volunteer "martyrs" drink a precursor chemical before boarding planes. stomach acid interacts with it. alcohol detonates the new compound.

but since good muslims don't drink alcohol....
to bill moyers:

if you seek evidence that at least some of the bible isn't meant literally, you need look no further than jesus' parables.

he even interpreted the imagery in one, at apostles' request. what clearer message could there be that parables are figurative?

and if they're not literal, why not other passages too?

the first chapter of genesis almost looks as if the writer meant to give us a clue by putting creation of the sun, moon, and stars on day four: how did evening and morning come before the sun existed? how did plants grow on day three?

speaking of which, the next chapter contradicts the first. plants grow on the third day and man gets made on the sixth, but in chapter 2 man is made before plants.

but my favorite nonliteral bible story is chapter 3, the "fall" due to disobeying god by eating the forbidden non-apple.

what is that fruit, anyway?

my guess: ever notice that most trees are named for their fruit? apple tree, orange tree, lemon, peach, cherry, walnut, chestnut.... sure, there are exceptions, but it's usually true.

if the general rule applies to a knowledge of good and evil tree—not just "tree of knowledge"—then the fruit is knowledge of good and evil!

when man and woman eat knowledge of good and evil, it becomes inner knowledge of good and evil: the definition of conscience.

so it's really a story on how we acquired conscience, not a fall at all. god fools us into it and playacts rage when he's actually overjoyed at the success of his scheme, the old trickster!

but perhaps i spoke too soon when i called it "nonliteral." isn't getting meaning from the name of the fruit just another kind of literalness?
coulter fusion

she's not just an enabler of levophobes, she's a scientist!

yes, ms coulter doesn't use the bible to refute evolution. she disproves it with SCIENCE!

but if she thinks she's going to trick me into buying her book to read her "proof," forget it.

some library round here will have it.

if it's out, i can wait.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

still wondering

after we fully train iraq's army, how do we know the unintended consequence won't be they go to war against israel?

sore loserman?

after the 2000 election, only gops called him that.

i know he said he wants dems and gops to work together, but....

Friday, August 04, 2006

did you ever notice, if you turn this stamp upside down, it looks like lady liberty is setting the flag on fire?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

have the editorial cartoonists noticed these yet?

a day or two ago tom friedman used almost the same words as joint chiefs chair gen peter pace used at today's senate hearing, but in a different context. friedman, speaking of lebanese who support hezbollah, said "they hate israel more than they love their children." pace was talking about iraqi sunnis and shiites. he said they need to "love their children more than they hate each other."

moktada al-sadr called the US, UK, and israel an "ominous trio" or "diabolical trio," depending on translation. i can see the comic book now:

takes on
more shoutbacks

to "stay the course" say "which course? diplomacy failure, intelligence failure, strategy failure, or policy failure?"

to "cut'n'run" say "cut brush!" that and golf are the only activities i know of that bush hasn't proved incompetent at.

speaking of which, try this all-purpose shout: "admincompetent!"

to "fight'em there so we don't have to fight'em here" say "right! fight on their home ground, not on terrain we know."

to "they hate us because they hate our freedom" say "why single out freedom? they hate everything about us...now!"

miscellaneous response: "are you the guy who 2 years ago told me it was a liberation, not an occupation?"

another: say "iraqis are worse off now than under saddam." if they challenge that with "are you saying we shouldn't have removed saddam?" say "do i hear an echo?" or "now that you mention it...."

to those who gushily praise king georgie, say "how big was your tax cut?" if they actually answer, say "so that's the price of loyalty" or "you sure sell yourself [or "your vote"] cheap."

alternate response: "we're not exactly role models. what's in YOUR wallet?" [sorry for the plagiarism, but i don't recall the name of the card.]

next time boss bush holds one of his selected audience events, comment to anybody within earshot "magic theatre. price of admission: your mind." [thanx, hermann.]

remember when gwb said "i have no war plans on my desk"? it was the equivalent of lbj's "no wider war." but in the sainted imperator's case, it turned out to be true! not only on his desk: no plan nowhere.

but we've got the wider war. iraq now extends from gaza to north korea. and intermittently to various parts of europe.

i just noticed if you run together "condi" and "diplomacy" you get "condiplomacy" which divides into "con diplomacy."

speaking of whom/which, i just heard doctorice say she was talking about "days, not weeks." so, in just 5.5 short years, we've gone from "months, not years" to "weeks, not months" to where we are now. which is where? connecting dots again? or dribbling spit on our crossword?

[want to keep the list going? suggestions welcome. click on "comments." anon ok. non-anon too. just leave al-anon out of it. or is bush off the wagon? i don't think he needs drink: he's got al qaeda to keep him pissing his pants.]
Reflections on Reading the Results of President Bush's Annual Physical Examination
by Nora Ephron

How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine
Peace prize winner 'could kill' Bush

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


so, it looks like cowboy diplomacy is getting dropped in favor of...what? northeast liberal diplomacy? not likely, i guess.

whatever it is, it's not working either.

once you abandon the moral high ground, it's pretty much impossible to take back.
profane honor

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor's at the stake.
Shakespeare, Hamlet, act IV: scene 4

(i sometimes wonder if that quote sums up g w bush's philosophy. it's wrong, of course: hamlet was brilliant but haunted, so he made errors of judgment.)

mark danner, on book tv talking about his latest book, the secret way to war: the downing street memo and the iraq war's buried history, mentioned that a terrorism suspect we turned over to egypt got tortured till he "confessed" that saddam hussein was plotting to give WMD to al qaeda.

it was perhaps the first piece of "evidence" that led to the current mess, and it shows one of the 2 main arguments against torture: its results are unreliable. (i haven't forgotten that bushbots still claim iraq had WMD till just before the war, and rick santorum recently revealed "proof" of it. it turned out the chem weapons he cited were deteriorated 1980s shells found not a few months ago but 2 years and dismissed by everyone still in touch with reality.)

the other, of course, is that it's wrong: it violates the golden rule. (i don't buy the claim that avoiding torture protects our troops from it when they get captured.)

danner also pointed out that, since iraq's population is less than 10% of ours, 2 or 3 months at the current rate of iraqi civilian deaths is equivalent to the whole american death toll in vietnam. (he actually said "3 months," based on 2k/month. i added "2 or" because of the more recent report of 100 a day for 2 months. 6k dead iraqis times 10, roughly equal to 58k GIs dead in vietnam.)

of course, numerical comparisons are flawed—the US population was smaller during the viet war—and essentially meaningless. what counts is that all those deaths were needless: results of going to war on false info.

wars are sometimes said to be "prosecuted." it's an apt word for it: if you don't prove your case beyond reasonable doubt but go to war anyway, you're likely to kill and maim innocent folk.

but that only happens in a kangaroo court, right?

(danner also mentioned in passing that when gops shout "stay the course" or "cut and run," dems don't seem to have anything to shout back. let me suggest "failure of policy," "failure of strategy," or simply "quagmire." and let's not forget "crusade" and "axis of evil"—the 2 terms most responsible for setting the world ablaze.)
it occurs to me that since 9/11 we've seen the resurrection of the crusade and the inquisition, the formation of a new axis, and the reemergence of the nuclear threat.

it's as if the last 1000 years of history have been recapped in 5, and all of it, in one way or another, is the product of george w bush's fevered brain.
real losers

ron steinman, in a televised talk on book tv about women in vietnam: the oral history, mentioned an idea you've likely heard before: that the troops often got blamed for our failure in vietnam.

it's such an odd notion that i feel a need to say something in favor of laying it to rest.

grunts do the hardest and most dangerous work in war, and—when they fight in a good cause—they deserve credit for that. wars couldn't get won without them.

but, win or lose, they're not responsible for the outcome: credit or blame belongs to policymakers and strategists.

they're the ones who train the troops, indoctrinate them, outfit them, and order them into battle. they analyze the intelligence, make the estimates, choose the objectives, and plan the fight.

the grunts are recipients of what they're given: training, equipment, &c. they depend on what they get from above.

and they follow orders.

for over a century, american troops have been as well-trained and motivated as soldiers can be. they've had the best food, the best vehicles, the most advanced technology and weapons (with the exception of the AK-47 and possibly some versions of MiGs).

but they don't choose when, where, or who to fight, and they have no say in the why or the how.

when they don't win, it's not the grunts' fault:

it's the politicians' and the planners'.