Come Join Us Up Here on the Soap BoxPeople like to complain. It's what people do. We lust for fairness and complain bitterly when it isn't forthcoming. This is nowhere more apparent than in our political discourse.
Generally, the first phrase a person utters when they perceive an unfairness is, "There oughta be a law!" That we're already awash in laws makes no never-mind. We've come to a place where we believe we must address everything in court. We even file suit to test the validity of laws before anyone has actually seen a need to contest them. We ofttimes pass them before anyone really knows there's a problem. The maxim seems to be "sue now, ask about fairness later". In the end, many laws become corrupted and fairness is a faint glimmer at the center of the judicial universe.
People also forget. It's what people do. The pay rapt attention as long as a subject holds their attention. Unfortunately, we all seem to be afflicted with ADD these days.
One of the things people sometimes forget is that laws flow from the government. The prevailing idea of "government" is a huge, unwieldy organization populated by liars, cheats, and charlatans. For most people, government is grossly unfair, corrupt in spades, and completely out of control.
If you're of this mind, we direct your attention to the preamble of our Constitution - "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
That short opening sets American democracy apart from all other governmental forms that came before, and to a large degree since. It clearly shows the founders believed that true power doesn't flow from laws, but from the people. It describes a government that is not only for the people and by the people, but IS the people.
It describes a government that is not only for the people and by the people, but IS the people.
Instead of posting the The Ten Commandments in every classroom and courthouse, I think posting those words are much more important. They mean more to the nation than anything that came from the Bible, Torah, or Koran. Because regardless of religion, your sense of fairness, or your moral compass, those 52 words are what make all other things possible.
YOU are the government. YOU directly effect how and which laws are made. YOU shape the democracy every time you discuss an issue with a fellow citizen. Despite the big-money Kleptocracy, YOU are the one who votes and can help direct your elected representation.
So, at the risk of not practicing what I preach, there oughta be at least one more law...if you don't vote, don't participate, don't make your voice heard, you don't get to complain.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 30, 2006
As We See It: The Hummer's Running on Fumes Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, April 28, 2006
What Bill and Monica Taught UsAfter all the heinous things our Ventriloquist-in-Chief has apparently done, I really do wish he'd simply settled for a BJ from his Groupie-in-Chief, Harriet Meyers. After all, they impeached Slick Willy over Blowjobapalooza, how can we not impeach Dub?
Well, there are several reasons why. Tops on my list is that Big Dick, Little Denny the Menace, and about the next 15 morons in the line of Imperial Idiocy succession are as bad, if not worse, than the current Emperor of Dumb. In other words, be careful about advocating impeachment, you might get exactly what you ask for.
There are also other reasons to consider. Contrary to popular belief, they didn't impeach the Comeback Kid because Monica ministered to his minion. Congress impeached him because he lied about it to a grand jury when he was embarrassed - understandably so after that whole cigar thing surfaced. Bill is a little slick, but he's no Warren G. Harding who always forgot to have the hookers wipe their feet before getting beneath his big mahogany desk.
Impeachment is a traumatic thing for a nation. That's why the founding fathers made it difficult. Otherwise, we'd swap governments every six months like the Italians. They envisioned smooth transitions of power from one administration to the next, not the wrenching, crashing, divisive train wreck of an impeachment.
Should Bill have used Monica for a humidor? Probably not, but that's really none of our concern.
Should he have lied about it to the grand jury? Clearly not.
Should he have been impeached? Legally, yes. Practically? Heavens no! That's what censures are for.
Republicans impeached him because they couldn't get along with him and joined forces with an Independent Counsel with too much time, too much money, and too much modesty. Despite the hypocritical, high-handed calls for "the rule of law", it was not much of the sort. You notice there isn't much of a scramble amongst the Repubs to hold George to a rule of any kind, law or otherwise.
However, this is about Dub.
Did he do something against the law?
Well, the jury's still out and yet to be lied to. We give him the benefit of the doubt, but there's an awful lot of smoke in the White House kitchen and you know what they say about smoke vis-a-vis fire. So far, he's not legally guilty of anything other than being a colossal boob, and last time I checked there's no Constitutional amendment prohibiting boobs from holding office as long as they're born in the US and over 35 years old - both criteria that Dubya sadly seems to satisfy.
Should we impeach him? No. There's that whole practical thing we brought up earlier, but there's also the country to consider.
An impeachment trial is the last thing we need with two wars (and a third coming), natural disasters, a crumbling economy, and assorted other apocalyptic events bubbling on the stove. It would distract Dub, and we all know how easily distracted he is. (OOOOO! Look, a bird!) As for distracting Congress, they can hardly keep campaign contributors straight now. This would drive them over the top.
However, the most important people to consider are we. We're already they laughing stock of the world. We already have too many mistakes still in motion to take up more juggling. We'll have to listen to more hubris and vitriol than any human could tolerate. Left and right are already at one another's throats and don't need any more goading from the peanut gallery. And in the end, they won't impeach him anyway.
So, as much as it pains me to say it, I'm firmly in the censure camp. I hate that it would let him off the hook. I hate that the smugly grinning loon would escape responsibility. I hate that it's a mere slap on the wrist. However, what I don't want is to play old political contributor guy to Dub's and Dick's next quail hunt.
I never have liked being plugged with birdshot and I don't think I'll start now.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, April 28, 2006
The Geometry of LanguageMath has a certain concreteness that's attractive. When you say 2+2=4, it's a certainty to everyone except our Budgeteer-in-Chief who thinks 2+2=Eleventyseven. Language on the other hand is a tricky and fickle thing. It has nuance and subtlety, power and majesty, sometimes from the same words.
There's a trick - often employed by advertisers, but equally beloved by politicians - that makes words say anything you want them to say. This trick is to replace negative language with something a little happier. Both sides of the abortion debate are good examples.
Anti-abortionists and right-to-lifers fashioned themselves into pro-lifers. Pro-abortion advocates became pro-choice advocates. Even though this happy talk put a nice spin on things, it didn't change the debate one iota. Abortion is still a thing that almost everyone would just as soon avoid. The difference is in how strongly you want to limit the avoidances.
Or, take old-fashioned liberals who renamed themselves progressives. Progressive has a nice ring to it. After all, who could be against progress? The fact there are still liberal idiots and charlatans doesn't count for much in this name change. Neither does the fact that progress isn't always such a good thing.
Now you conservatives, wipe that shit-eating grin off your faces. This one's for you.
You prefer conservative to right-wing flaming asshat, but you're not conservatives in the sense people used to be conservatives. Conservatives used to be people who believed in low spending, small government, and as little intrusion into people's lives as possible. Today, people who spend like drunken sailors, who want the government to fix everything (or at least what they consider to be broken), and want to legislate every moment of your personal life are conservative. They use the word Moonbat to describe liberals, er, progressives, but if you ask me, it fits them too.
Leave no child behind? Leave every child behind. Contract for America? Contract on America. Patriot? Traitor. Bold leader? Smirking monkey. Negro, colored, black, African-American? (Insert term du jour here). White, whiter, whitest? Aryan Brotherhood. Leak? Clarification.
All of this name changing has about the same effect as seeing signs that advertise, "Going Out of Business Sale" hanging in the store window for years on end. We all know that "Closed for Remodeling" really means we've gone belly-up and you won't be seeing us here again.
So what's the point of twisting words? Stupidity is still stupidity. Racism is still racism. Greed is still greed.
There's a certain geometrical symmetry about that, don't you agree?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, April 27, 2006
Of Sports Cars and Trophy WivesSome people take middle age as a time to panic. They look back at where they've been, and ahead to where they want to go. Many don't think the past looks very pretty and their future is coming up fast - like a big truck with bad brakes. They begin to think, "if only I had..." or "how am I ever going to be able to...".
Then, they fall apart.
They buy a little red sports car, get a boob job, or choose a pneumatic trophy wife. They get hair transplants and work out at the gym. All the while they're trying to figure out how to hide in plain sight - away from the aging process and the death that comes to everyone. They don’t know what else to do beside panic. It seems so natural to them.
It doesn't seem natural to me. I'm not waiting for my sports car to arrive or picking out a new trophy wife or new boobs for Mrs. Poobah or myself. I'm not in a panic. It isn't so bad being grey and nearly bald. My glasses allow me to see 20/40, and I can live with an ever-expanding waistline. I figure that's the way of things so who am I to fight it? Besides, my butt is too big to fit into the finely tooled, but oh-so snug, seat of a sports car. And for the life of me, I wouldn't know what to talk about with a trophy wife anyway. New boobs perhaps?
No, rather than a panic I feel more...suspended.
I'm sure the feeling comes from being in the middle. The classic analogy is a tunnel - far enough from the beginning to lose the light, far enough from the end so I can't quite make it out.
I'm in the tunnel. It's dark and I'm trying to get my bearings. I know from past experiences what things not to do, but like everyone else, I have no experience of the future. The difference is that the young assume the future. In the middle you're old enough to realize that isn't very productive. By the end - at least I’m told - you begrudgingly accept things. Perhaps it's the one truth no one figures out until they die.
Though I'm in the tunnel, I'm not scared. Like a well-trained spelunker, the dark isn't such a mysterious place. I'm used to not knowing what's going on. I'm used to carefully going about my work in the dark, feeling the walls, searching for bits of light to go to, and avoiding the sharp drops in the floor. The dark is where most of us spend our lives. And, like most cave dwellers, our sight eventually adjusts so we can make out enough to pick our way through. It just takes us a little longer.
One of the consequences of getting older is a certain slacking of intensity. I'm not sure that it disappears so much as you begin to take it for granted. When you're young, everything is intensity. You assume that it'll always be there. You don't invent ways to ignite it or sustain it. You just enjoy it and "know" that it will always be there. One day you wake up and realize, "You know, I'm not intense about much anymore. There isn't much to really be passionate about." You see all the things that should breathe intensity, but they're only the outward face, not the intensity itself.
You realize that intensity is an illusive thing. It pretends it's there in the form of some great accomplishment, or a wonderful child, or a great marriage. It throws things out to see and move toward, but it silently steps out of the way just as you're ready to seize it. When it does, you're left feeling a little empty. Not sad. Not happy. Not much of anything. Just empty.
I'm coming to realize the challenge of middle age is how to keep yourself from being distracted from the trappings of intensity. The challenge is how to seize the intensity itself. And, having done that, learn how to process it into something else, something more useful. The challenge is to learn - not take it for granted - but learn the myriad tricks to slow it down so it can’t jump away from you.
As I start that task I imagine myself a little like an empty warehouse. My stock was sold off and there's nothing left but a big, high-ceilinged place. There's a well-worn wooden floor and ancient rafters over my head. In the corners light filters in through grimy windows and dust particles play in the light. My challenge is to sweep the joint out and knock some holes through the old brick to put in some bigger windows. I’ll swing open the heavy front doors and start bringing in the new merchandise. I'll put in new shelves, maybe even a computerized inventory system. If it works it'll let me know when the stocks of intensity are getting low. I can go out and get some more.
That way, I'll always feel a little more full.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Are Little Dutch Boys Good for the Country?Another day, another leak. It seems our society sprouts leaks faster than a hybrid Dutch Boy/bionic octopus could plug them. They come from all sides and each is controversial in its own way. Valerie Plame gets outed. Sherron Watkins tattles on Enron. CIA officers freelance leaks to dampen poor decisions. White House rats on CIA folks for revenge and so on.
This spurting swirl of leaks is full of classic moral questions. When's a leak justified? Does it matter if the leak breaks a law? What do we do when we find a leaker? Does ultimately being correct justify a lenient punishment? I'm here to tell you that even though I'm omnipotent, I' m not sure what the answer is. However, I do know that anyone who sees this as a black and white, merely academic exercise is driving around with the lights off and the blinders on.
The recent CIA leak is a case in point.
The Bushies have repeatedly tried to make the CIA the culprit for bad decisions, and in some cases they may've been right, in others dead wrong. It's a high-pressure pickle no one wants, especially when your job keeps the nation safe from all manner of global bad guys. You're supposed to be on the same team, but the tension between you is like having Terrel Owens in the locker room.
Imagine yourself in the CIA. You've given your life to a job you justifiably consider vital and important. You do your best to give the decision-makers the right answers when they ask for them. However, you get a little miffed when the Decider-in-Chief decides he hankers for a piece of Iraqi Cherry Pie. He hand picks every damn cherry on the tree, but you try to stop him for his own good. First, you try the polite route, "Boss, we know you think there are nukes in there, but we're not so sure. We really think you should hold off on the whole war thing until we figure that out."
To which the boss answers, "Gimme a piece o' that cherry pie. I gots tah have my piece o' that cherry pie."
You dutifully give him his pie and go back to looking at your satellite photos. But, you know more about what's going on than some addled-brained brush-clearer from Texas. Each time a similar instance comes up, you have the same conversation, "Boss, blah, bla, blah. You should hold off."
And, like a Presidential diabetic on a suger high, he says, "Pie! Gotta have me some of that pie. Gimme some more pie because I'm the decider around here. Hmm, cherry cider sounds good. Gimme some of that too!"
That exchange doesn't have to happen too many times before you get pissed. You dwell on the damage that shit-for-brains is doing to the nation's international standing and safety. You think about the damage to your ego and credibility because you know when things explode - and have no mistake, they will - the craven bastard will make you walk the plank for his error.
So you decide that a well-placed leak with one of those nice reporters down the hall would teach the evil bastard a lesson. You begin to think, "Hey. Who's the intelligence expert here - him or me? I have the maps and secret sources, and tiny electronic devices, and he's got no intelligence at all - and I don't mean the spy-fed variety? "
So you accept that lunch date with the reporter, have a nice nosh, and drop some cleverly chosen information that won't actually hurt anyone. It'll just embarrass the boob so maybe next time he listens to you. What could be the harm? The guy's evil, right?
But who appointed the pissed off spygal as political counterweight? Isn't she breaking the law? What happens if she's wrong? What happens if someone does get hurt, albeight unintentionally? What if the sock was on the other foot, like Scooter's little lunch on Valerie Plame's neck?
I'd be the first to admit that many of our nation's greatest shitbirds have been done in by a well-placed leaker. The Enron boys would still look like the smartest guys in the room if Ms. Watkins hadn't blow the whistle. And if Deep Throat hadn't ratted Nixon out, Washington National airport might be named after Dick instead of Dutch.
Don't get me wrong, but I'd be overjoyed if some young thing tattled on Dub for getting blowjobs in the Oval Office. I think he's the scourge of the Earth and deserves to be trampled in much the same way he has trampled others. Ultimately, I do believe in karma.
But, I wouldn't feel good about it.
I wouldn't feel good, because I'd be a hypocrite. I'd be laughing as they rode Dub out of town on a rail, but depending on the circumstances, I might also be praising someone who broke the law. I'd be thinking in the back of my mind, "Ya know. I didn't much like that when they did it to Bill. Who am I to be laughing now?"
And the answer would be, I shouldn't laugh. Someone broke the law and sullied the reputation of an important office. I'm not so sure looking the other way for that indiscretion is either right or damaging.
And that's not something I'm sure any of us will ever really ever know.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Proud ExtremistThe good Reverend Gisher recently awarded us an Extremist rating, and we're very proud. It may not be apparent from our writings, but we're really much less extreme than we appear. By disposition, we're a mixed bag.
We're Libertarian in our opposition to intrusions on freedoms or personal rights. The power of a democracy flows from how it treats its most undesirable elements. It's easy to celebrate diversity, it's harder to support free speech for the KKK. Democracy is a tough nut that's made for cracking.
On social policy we're liberal, but usually give wide latitude to compromise and more conservative notions. For example, we understand that religious people might feel threatened, but we don't think a compromise that allows them to quash non-religious thought or someone else's religion serves anyone - including them. We're also not a big fan of political correctness, in either policy or speech. For the world to function, everyone needs to grow another layer or two of thicker skin. Not everything is an intentional attack fraught with racism, sexism, or any other ism.
Economically, we believe in free markets insofar as they don't give corporations unfair advantage over competitors or customers - our philosophy is, "Let them police themselves, but when they become police, judge, jury, and executioner, it's time to regulate them." Capitalism is a system based on greed and that's not good. We're cool with turning a profit, but we don't see how squashing people and grabbing more cash than a thousand people could spend in a lifetime, is healthy for the society or the squasher/grabbers. We favor a benevolent capitalism based on better economic equilibrium rather than a laser-like focus on more money regardless of the cost.
Our military should be strong, though not overpowering. We are a democracy and not a junta. There are evil people in the world who occasionally need a good, old-fashioned bitch slap. We're under no illusions that incessantly talking peace with the inherently unpeaceable gets us anything save a sore throat. We equally believe in real diplomacy first, followed by violence only as a last resort. Should that violence come, make it overwhelmingly ferocious, singularly crushing, and as quick as possible - and include a plan for the peace that doesn't depend on an armed babysitting service.
We'll generally listen to anyone's opinion and try to respect it, no matter how asshatted we believe it is. Even certifiable idiots come up with something good once in awhile, it's a mathematical certainty. We try not to discard ideas just because they come from known shitheels. Sometimes that's hard with the current herd of shitheels, but that's another post.
We became more extreme in response to the overbearing extremism of the right. We don't buy into the Coulternian idea that your opponents are dangerous nutcases who should be shot before being consulted. We try to follow a policy of listen first, bash later, and then, only if it is truly deserved.
We'd like nothing better than to leave extremism behind and return to a time when moderate discourse was the rule. Where compromise was promising and all the eye-gouging was unnecessary. However, we can eye-gouge with the best of them if we feel the need.
We just want a peaceable place where we can all get along. That's neither a Republican nor Democrat ideal. It's not a conservative or liberal idea. It's a belief that people are people and we should respect them because they deserve it, not because they demand it.
We guess we're just a little old-fashioned that way.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, April 24, 2006
Economic Witch Doctors: The New OncologistsWe heard an interesting radio discussion recently. Several economists pondered the question, "If the economy's perking right along, why are Bush's poll numbers on it so low?" The inanity of the question confirmed a belief we've long held. Economists understand the economy in the same way witch doctors understand oncology.
Economists have such a compulsion to count things they make people with obsessive-compulsive disorder look merely "quirky". From Arthur Laffer of curve fame to John Nash's beautiful mind for game theory, economic theorists try to numerically calculate what people will do with their money. Nearly all the theories don't count the most important measure - sometimes people do what they do just because. There's no mathematical logic or natural law that says people always stay within certain emotional tolerances. Much of what they do is simple knee-jerking to something they perceive, but not easily quantifiable.
For example, during the reign of Greenspan the Great, markets fluctuated wildly on the thinnest of economic news. How many times did we hear analysts say things like, "Alan Greenspan announced his plans to cut his toenails next quarter? Markets are up 60% on the strength of nail clipper sales in this quarter." No logic we can see there - mathematical or otherwise.
The BaBushka gets low economic poll numbers for many reasons other than no one trusts him farther than he can throw a corpulent Karl Rove. Aside from the wealthiest one percent, things aren't perking right along. Most Americans face working more hours for less pay. Economists call this productivity. By its nature, productivity is an anti-labor metric. It means that companies squeezing a little more blood from the human turnip by getting more work while paying less for it.
Economists understand the economy in the same way witch doctors understand oncology.Companies raise productivity in several ways. Most of them look good to the one percenters because their stock value goes up, but not so hot for the 99 percenters where stock options and portfolios are rare.
Layoffs and offshoring are primary tools in the productivity toolkit, but they also instill a sense of instability for the 99 percenters. Those methods also bring a bad side effect that hits the 99 percenters now, but will eventually catch up with the one percenters. Simply, the economy is booming in Bangalore, but in Detroit? - not so much. Who will have the money to buy goods - foreign or domestic - if most of the population isn't working? An economy based primarily on stock brokerages and biz jet industries may not be the best of ideas.
People are also jittery because they can do something that's apparently beyond the math skills of our C-Student-in-Chief - balance a checkbook. Ordinary people understand that cutting income (by way of tax cuts) and spending like a drunken sailor won't balance the checkbook. They see George the Privileged thinks money sprouts from the magic beans you got from Mom and Dad. The only thing worse than a tax-and-spend liberal is a don't-tax-and-spend conservative.
So listen up economists. This Omnipotent Algebra 1 dropout will explain it for you. People in fear of losing their jobs - while CEOs and government have absolutely no understanding of the value of money - don't get all quivery about a perking economy. They don't see how a 2-cent raise in the one percenters' stock portfolio is so hot for them when the 2-cents came out of their ass and not the one percenters' posterior padding.
Now that we think of it, we're wrong about math not being able to predict economic behavior. Here's a little equation to prove it.
More Hours X Less Pay X Shaky Employment = Really Pissed Off 99 Percenters
So here's the simple explanation for the economists' puzzlement - if only 1% of the polling public benefits from economic policies and 99% don't, polls will indicate exactly what they do - lots of people are sitting in the handbasket waiting for the next trip over the hill and through the woods to Satan's house.
And to add insult to injury, they'll probably need to buy the hand baskets from China.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 23, 2006
As We See It: Liz Is Pissed Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, April 22, 2006
A Slippery SituationWhen Bush the Elder invaded Iraq, he had the massive power of public approval behind him. US citizens were relatively happy, he quickly assembled a real international coalition, and managed to get other countries to foot the bill for the war. It was almost enough to make you forget that he and the intelligence services were asleep at the switch and didn't notice the impending invasion of Kuwait in time to quash it before it started.
Things were fine until the final days of the war. Then, Elder Bush - in a foresight his son shockingly shows little of - decided Iraq was a blind alley filled with a quicksand of competing sects, ethnic in-fighting and dangerous thugs. He held Stormin' Norman short of Baghdad and signed a treaty that failed to impose a few additional safeguards to more successfully keep Saddam pinned down - for example, prohibitions against all flights, even the helicopters he eventually allowed the Mustachioed Maniac. He topped off the blunders on the ground by hinting that Kurds should rise up and depose Saddam. However, being a Bush, he conveniently forgot the promises of support when the time for action came. The result was lots of dead Kurds and disgust and mistrust that dogs the US today.
The Bush clan has a special knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With polls riding high, he could have convinced people to make sacrifices toward more energy-independence and they would have gladly gone along. A key part of that solution would have been higher gas prices to force people onto public transportation and provide funding for alternative fuels and infrastructure.
We all know how that worked out.
This morning I heard a near-apoplectic CNN anchor sputtering about $3 gas prices. His complaints sounded more like a migrant farm worker's than a high-buck anchorfella's. His gaggle of talking heads laid out all the usual culprits - war in Iraq (and probably Iran soon), fuel reformulation, Katrina-damaged refining facilities, high oil company profits, increasing demand here and in China, and a plague of locusts descending upon the land (OK, we made that last bit up). However, the anchorfella missed the fact that high prices might not be such a bad thing.
Prices should be higher, just like prices in most other industrialized countries. Three-buck gas is the envy of Europeans who pay substantially more for their go-juice. We've become fat, profligate drivers of SUVs and cars the size of Eisenhower's Presidential limo on artificially low gas prices and Lil' Bush's saber flailing hasn't done anything to entice us to make sacrifices. High gas prices are a huge carrot on a short stick to get people into cars with better mileage than an Abrahms tank. We should seize the chance while it's still there.
We'd advocate jacking up the prices even more, though we would jiggle the current configuration, which doesn't help anyone except oil companies and lunatic speculators.
First, a tax break or other offset for low-income folks who unduly shoulder high gas prices like they unduly shoulder everything else. Mid-to-high income people, your screams about fueling the old stretch SUV don't impress me much. Dump the damn thing and kick in a few bucks per tank for the good of the country. Hell, if you're willing, we'll even work out a flag-burning amendment or something for you.
Second, tell the oil company fat cats there's no more ahi tuna cat food for them. Legislate a nice, equitable profit and skim the rest for energy research, development, and infrastructure improvements. Like most corporate regulation, they'll find a way to skirt the rules eventually anyway. Meanwhile, we're getting the dough and using it for the good of the country, something we shouldn't have to force the greedy bastards into.
Third, make the President travel in something more efficient than a 30-piece, stretch-Hummer caravan. And Air Force One? No more campaigning in that President Dickweed. You campaign; you fly coach like everyone else. We have a fleet of smaller jets. Use them or get a loan from Daddy Warbucks to buy a Business-Class ticket. It's the least you could do after the screwing you've been giving us.
I'm personally willing to pay higher gas prices, even higher than they are now, as long as I'm getting something other a dry hole and broken derrick in the deal. I'm a patriot and I'm for anything that gets us out from under the bejeweled jackboot of the Saudis. Allies? PAH!
I only have one question. What's up with those 9/10 cent increments tacked onto gas? Do they think we're stupid or something?
Never mind, I guess I answered my own question.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, April 21, 2006
Mr. Iceberg, Meet Miss TitanicPoor George. Everyone's beating the crap out of him lately. Not that he doesn't deserve it, but you can almost feel his pain. Even when the Crapweasel-in-Chief reaps what he's sown, it's hard to watch. He's being kicked while he's not only down, but damn near unconscious, and wearing a huge "kick me" sign on his back.
Months of plummeting polls, carping from his own party, and blunder after blunder have forced him to do something rarely seen from this administration - take advice.
We're not sure where he got the idea to shake things up. We're pretty sure it didn't come from the sniveling bastards dedicated to keeping his bubble intact. It couldn't have been from the news because he boasts about not reading or watching news (unless it's on Fox). And there's no way it was his own idea. George never had an original thought in his pampered-ass life.
Maybe it was Laura mumbling in her sleep. "George, you're an idiot. Mama told me so. She never did like you. She told me to dump you like a steaming pile of west Texas prairie dog shit. Dammit! You're not taking me down with you. Get your sorry ass in gear and do something...yawn...mammuph."
"George, you're an idiot. Mama told me so. She never did like you. She told me to dump you like a steaming pile of west Texas prairie dog shit."
So George wakes up and does what he does best, cock things up.
He looks over at Andy Card and says, "Andy, I know you've given me everything you have. Your time, your family, your health. But I'm in a pickle and Presidents can't be pickled. You're fired! And none of that sniffling shit either. Makes me nervous. Just to make it square, I'll pay for half the fare to have you shipped back home."
Then, with Laura's entreaties echoing in his freakishly large ears, he reaches real deep for a fresh-face, an agent of change. He picks Josh Bolten - what is it with Bolt(on)es with this guy? Apparently, Bolten having been in the job as long as Card, is just as burned out, and is a fellow sniveling bastard from across the hall doesn't seem to occur to him. Change is change, right?
So he tells old Josh, "You're my new Numero Uno buddy. I'm the Decider. I'm giving you all the power you want. Shake things up like a paint shaker at the Crawford Home Depot. Fire anyone you want. Betray anyone you want - except Dick and Rummy because they've got those compromising pictures of me with a goat - just as long as I can stick to my vacation schedule. Got some brush to cut back in Crawford you know."
So Josh cranks up the political weedwhacker. Chop, chop, chop. Boxes on the White House org chart start moving so fast it's like musical chairs at the Texas State fair. People are being shit-canned and demoted left and right. OMIGOD! Even the main man, Turd Blossom, gets cut down to size.
But Josh, in his inbred wisdom, doesn't see that political shuffleboard isn't going to hack it. Some say switching people like a demonic three-card monte game without making policy change is like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Of course, that presupposes the Titanic was seaworthy to begin with and we all know how that ended - Mr. Iceberg, meet Miss Titantic.
Judging from all the falderal, it looks like George's bubble has finally calcified into a cast iron shell. Generations of inbred politicians will do that to a bubble.
I'd really like George to succeed, because quite frankly, we can't afford for him to fail. However, I don't think replacing one burned out, cousin-kissing hack with another will result in much except making the iron shell harder.
Clearly, somebody needs to hand him a cutting torch soon or we're all in a world of hurt.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, April 20, 2006
A Very Sad ThingWe last saw our sister at the funeral of our first stepmother nearly 20 years ago. Since then, we've communicated with her twice.
The first was the day after the September 11 tragedy. The phone rang and she casually asked, "So, what do you think about this terrorist thing?" Her voice betrayed nothing of the near-20 year lapse. It was if we' spoken only the day before. The Omnipotent Dad had recently and repeatedly warned her not to call us, but she violated that boundary like every other one in her life. We wormed out of the phone call quickly, extremely uncomfortably, and somewhat politely by telling her we were just leaving the house - which, by happenstance, was true. It was a very unomnipotent experience.
The second time was six months later. That time we were markedly less polite. We simply hung up. A few seconds later the answering machine crackled with the voice of our nephew - recently released from prison, and soon to return for parole violations - begging us to pick up the phone because they loved us so much. Sis cried dramatically in the background. The last time we'd heard from dear nephew was 30 years before. He'd called to berate us for not giving him our drum set and the call ended in a hang up to avoid further abuse.
Some find it odd that we've cut our sibling out of our life and we must admit it sometimes troubles us too. People find it odder still that we can claim to bear her no ill will - not withstanding our ironclad rule to stay incommunicado - but it is true. We love her, though we can't be near her.
The troubles between us came early and often. Our first memory is a hide-and-seek game at age 4. As we counted, Sis grabbed our piggy bank and ran. We last saw the piggy bank on the street and in her arms. We banged on the window to get her attention and her response was to lift the treasured bank over her head, smash it, and grab the money from the ground. She looked us directly in the eye the whole time. There was no punishment because there was no complaint. We'd already learned she lived by her own rules. There were no punishments that deterred her.
The intervening years, were a blur of thefts, ruined holidays, bad checks, violence, and more, stuffed between our mother's psychotic schizophrenic episodes. Sis well-knew how to add insult to injury though. During the Poobah's early teens, she constantly told us she had a vision that we'd die at 21. On our 21st birthday, she called to see if the prediction came true. Her response to the failed prediction, "Hmm, I guess I was wrong. I could have sworn you'd die."
The next week she called threatening suicide because, "no one loved her".
We finally severed contact after she appeared on our doorstep at 3 am, asking for help finding her nominal husband (who beat her, was jailed twice for assault with a lead pipe and knife, and who finally died of AIDS, still threatening to kill her). At the time, we lived 750 miles away and our phone number and address were closely guarded secrets. She was always resourceful, if nothing else.
We think of Sis often. Today she sits in a crumbling apartment 3000 miles away, collecting disability, and in failing mental and physical health. Her paltry checks support her, her frequently unemployed boy friend, her 40-year-old daughter, and her son who's now back in prison.
Seven years older than us, we fully expect to outlast her. The toll of her life is too much for anyone to bear. When we think about her, there is a longing that we had the relationship that adult siblings can have. Sometimes we feel guilty for cutting her out of our life. Other times, when the Omnipotent Dad calls with a new white-trash tale or trouble, we're confident we made the right decision.
But that's the point with Sis, we never knew when it was safe to love her and when it was dangerous to be near her. Distance was a survival instinct, carefully crafted from repeated dreadful episodes. The intertwining of our lives played against an awful backdrop and seemed doomed from the start. The only sane solution was to put space between us, and we, as the sane one, was the one who had to do it. Still, we love her and wish her a best she will never have. We just accept the fact won't be doing anything together until one of us dies and the other attends the funeral.
And that, is a very, very sad thing.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, April 19, 2006
It's a Hard Job Workin' HardThe President sounded more like the "Pressuredent" as he delivered his latest bellicose defense of our lovable Secretary of Offense. The content wasn't very surprising, just another in a long line of, "I like him. He knows what he's doing despite his record and the Generals' comments. And, I'm gonna keep him because I, as always, know what's best for the country", statements.
No, what was surprising was the voice he used to deliver the message. Unusually high-pitched and desperate, he sounded on the verge of tears. It was the voice of a small boy whining about being caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Better, the voice of a singer trapped in his own spotlight, unsure of the words to the song and nervously humming to keep the tune alive. His discomfort was palpable and listening to him was a little like listening to someone come unglued.
We're the first to admit that he's simply reaping what he sewed, but we do find it a fascinating insight into the wear and tear of the Presidency - even on the record-setting vacationing variety.
Bumbler the Clown spent the first four years of his presidency greatly shielded from the vagaries of the presidency by a think blanket of cronies, conservative zealots, and underlings who continuously fed his extraordinarily large ego. Through a series of unforeseen disasters and self-inflicted shotgun wounds to a contributor's face, he finds that blanket getting a little frayed.
He's watched a steady stream of legacy-building projects dissolve into dust in his inept hands. As regular as clockwork, a fresh scandal or amazingly inept decision leaps up to replace the dozens that came before. The number of his cronies skating on the thin ice of politics is growing exponentially. And, all that erosion - natural and self-inflicted - is beginning to wear him away.
The hair is markedly greyer than just a few months back. His wattle is beginning to resemble Michael Douglas'. That irritating smirk is now mostly gone. He no longer leans over the podium like a rancher on his front porch dispatching wisdom straight from the Farmer's Almanac.
With those mental images, it occurs to us that Shrub might not go down in the inglorious blaze he deserves or in the blaze of glory he craves. Instead, he might just fade away, turning into pixels that extinguish one by one until his screen is blank. When there's nothing left but that last lonely pixel, his slavishly loyal cabal will slip away silently. Even the Dark Prince seems more detached than usual. If he were to assume the throne, he'd surely be gone by way of a heart attack within weeks.
So, maybe there will be no apocalyptic moment. Maybe there will be no final straw on the camel's back. Maybe there will be just a whimper and then darkness.
It's probably a better end of term than he deserves, but the end-result will be the same. He will be gone and we can all start the task of putting Humpty Dumptocracy back together again.
Either way, it works for us - as long as he's gone.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, April 18, 2006
As We See It: Easter Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 16, 2006
Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way OutSince our recent post about generals speaking out on Rummy's gross incompetence, several other generals have joined the group bitch-slap. The generals' say Rummy is arrogant, ignorant of military doctrine and tradition, and apt to decide poorly at critical moments. While the recent comments haven't dwelled much on Rumsfeld's "restructuring" of the military, it's well-known that he gets a bad rap from them on that score as well.
With the number of pissed off generals at six and counting, the Error-in-Chief now feels the need to defend his SecDef. His statement of solidarity with Rummy was the usual corn-fed mix of platitude and humble thanks. Something along the lines of, "He's just what we need at a time like this. He has served his country well and I have complete confidence in his abilities". But. what wasn't said will come from the White House any day now, "Rummy, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
Bush's puppy-like loyalty to his staff is legendary and completely undeserved. He has a history of standing behind cronies long-past the point when a sane person would boot them (Exhibit A: Karl Rove), but his loyalty lasts only as long as he can get away with not doing anything. Case in point, Harriet Miers.
He trotted the poor dumb woman around Congress like a poodle at Westminster, saying she enjoyed his "full support" - right up until his own party was going to stage a revival of Mutiny on the Bounty. Ditto "Heckuva a Job Brownie", who he kept only long enough to perfectly position him as designated fall guy for his and Chertoff's gross incompetence. He even pushed longtime friend and confidant Andy Card off the gangplank when howls for staff change became deafening.
Some people like the Rumster have sat on the bubble for years, but somehow managed to survive longer than a Death Row inmate on appeal. For years, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton went off the ranch like a lost steer before going on to pursue other challenges - Bush-speak for "Women should be seen, but not heard".
Commerce Secretary and Bono-buddy John Snow has dodged the executioner since the day he reported to work - and he's still skating the thin ice amid heckles to fire him in the spirit of change.
Former State Department Wizard Colin Powell was isolated from the inner cabal for most of his term and, not-surprisingly, opted out of the loony bin when the second term came. We're sure Dub was as glad to see him go as he was to leave.
So now, it's Rummy's turn. True, he's been on the ledge before, always saving himself with a linguistically-tortured statement and the visible support of a uniformed toady who probably stood next to him on the podium only at the point of a gun. True, he enjoys the support of the Gun-Nut-in-Chief, but even Cheney's seemingly invincible presence is weaker these days. Hell, even Condi avoids him like a She-Devil scorned by Satan himself.
Rummy has spent his term in a McNamaran isolation bubble, busily undoing the business of the nation's defense. His goal to create a nimble, quickly-deployable army now lost in a miasma of faulty bar-charts, bad PR, and a corporate CEO's penchant to constantly overreach and then blame everyone else when the adventure fails. But, even with a knot head like Bush, a day of reckoning comes for the outstandingly incompetent.
Mark our words. Rummy will decamp for K Street very soon. The talk will be about a humble departure that has nothing to do with all the general-borne falderal. They'll say he's been so spectacularly successful that his work is done and he needs a new challenge. And, they'll even say it with such a straight face you'll almost think they believe it.
Immediately after, Bush will nominate some ex-CEO crony or Assistant Undersecretary to the Secretary in Charge of Military Facial Grooming as Rummy's replacement. He'll tell the poor dupe to keep his mouth shut, don't piss off the generals, and be as invisible as humanly-possible until they can all crawl out of office under the cover of night. The Senate will approve they guy because well, because anyone looks good next to Rummy and the nominee will be so squeaky-clean no one will be able to find any information about him - good, bad, or indifferent. Think of a phantasmagorical John Roberts.
So with his departure eminent, sing along with us as a tribute to Rummy-Dummy:
Happy trails to you,
Un-til we meeet agaaaaain.
Happy trails to you,
Don't dare come back agaaaaain.
Happy trails to you,
You stu-pid frick-in' shit.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, April 14, 2006
The Generals Speak OutWe once served in the military. We rose to the exalted rank of Staff Sergeant, a rank in which we made life or death decisions requiring verification by low-ranking officers who were several years younger, graduated from college last year, and ignorant of most of the technology involved. The "Butter Bars" were commissioned by Congress though, so you listened and obeyed because they were "officers and gentlemen". Besides, the young Lts. were mostly rubber stampers, well-versed in their own limitations.
One of the things we learned on the way to our august position was that military personnel are never allowed to carry out an unlawful order. We repeatedly and literally had it screamed into our brains from our very first day in Boot Camp. If you receive an unlawful order you are required to disobey and report it to your chain of command - a chain that usually starts with the person who gave the order. It's all right there in the Uniform Code of Military Justice - the UCMJ - the military's version of the law of the land.
Of course there are good reasons for this caveat. Battlefields sometimes warp people and make them lose sight of the niceties of jurisprudence while they're killing people. If a nut goes nuts, don't follow him or the whole thing becomes a rehash of Mi Lai.
The UCMJ is less clear about how one knows a command is illegal. Battlefields are awfully intense places and what passes as legal or illegal isn't usually distinguished by much that's readily apparent. There's also the other side of the coin to view.
If everyone declared killing people to be illegal, there'd be damn little battling going on. We'd wager that if every soldier could simply declare a command - to say, charge a machine gun nest - illegal at will, the military would become a very large and very expensive door stop.
The UCMJ is a little clearer about the consequences of arbitrarily deciding to get fuzzy about the legality of a command. If the boot on the ground makes a bad choice, he can find himself a guest of Ft. Leavenworth - where he will make little rocks out of big rocks. Or worse, in the case of WWII's Eddie Slovik, on the wrong end of a distressingly short rope.
Officers in the Pentagonal range have other, more vexing headaches. The UCMJ requires them to forcefully voice reservations about a command decision if they truly believe it is a damaging command. However, these reservations must always be voiced behind closed doors and never publicly directed at their superiors - especially their civilian superiors. If they truly believe the decision is damaging national security they are expected, as a matter of honor, to resign.
Again, this is a good rule. It's the one that distinguishes a healthy democracy from a Junta. This is the point the Frat Boy-in-Chief ineloquently tries making when he says dissent is hurting the morale of soldiers in the field. The theory goes that it's tough to ask grunts to go over the top and attack the machine gun if their generals are telling everyone who will listen that the President is a crackhead who shouldn't be listened to - even if it is true.
Again, this is a fuzzy sort of proposition. Suppose you ask Rummy if you can have 130,000 soldiers for an invasion and Rummy says his pie charts, bar graphs, PR flaks, and monumental arrogance and ego say it can be done with 50,000, what do you do? If you resigned every time someone made a stupid decision, you'd never have gotten to the Pentagon. So you argue - and if our experience with senior Generals is an indication - quite loudly and almost to the point of fisticuffs. But at the end of the day, you are sworn to carry out the order as told as long as it isn't illegal but only incredibly stupid and ill-advised.
Rummy has quite the reputation for brow-beating people who aren't normally brow-beatable. He can do this because a complete moron is his boss and the moron pretty much goes along with whatever stupid idea Rummy comes up with because - well, because George can't find his ass with a flashlight. The Generals know this. The troops in the field know this. The public knows this. Hell, even Rummy knows it. George? Maybe not so much, but what's a poor general to do?
He does as he's told, because that's a soldier's lot in life - you follow order whether you're private or a General. You're welcome to fume all you want, just do it behind closed doors and keep it low-profile.
Most of the time this concept works, though it is frustrating to the point of distraction. But, sometimes our incredibly boobific electorate chooses such an equally incredible boob as Commander-in-Chief the normal laws of politiomilitary gravity fall apart. Sort of what Einstein would call an "uh oh" in quantum physics.
We are now ass deep in "Uh oh" and something quite extraordinary tells us so. Over the past few weeks several recently-retired generals have spoken out about how they didn't get all the resources they asked for. They said they weren't listened to. The said Rummy is an incompetent Rummy and should resign. They said this whole Saddamistic adventure has been a fiasco from the get go. That these proud military men would openly speak such things, even if they did wait to retire first, is the rough equivalent of, "Sir, bite me. I'm not going to take your asshattedness anymore."
They may be a little late. They may not have resigned when they should have (although we're sure some seriously considered it). But now they're speaking out for the good of the country and if our sorry-ass politicians had the balls to do the same, we could wrap this whole sorrid affair up and get on with the true business of being a democracy.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Sun Can Rise in Many WaysThe sun can rise in many ways.
On a warm July morning it seeps into the sky in a long and languorous crawl. It's light slowly brightens long before the first arc of the orb slips the horizon. These are the days when the sun is sleepy and ready to hit the celestial snooze alarm just one more time. These are the days when it offers a small, precious respite before it drags itself higher and bakes the Earth for the remains of the day. Later, at its apex, it momentarily hangs motionless in the expanse, too hot to move, yet pulled forward by the hidden strings of the universe. When it sets that night, it sinks peaceably. No fantastic colors. No Promethean light show. Just a long, languid crawl down the wall of the sky before it disappears without a sound below the western horizon.
In spring, when the morning sky is cloudy, the sun rises full of glory. Strong shafts reflect up through cathedral clouds. Unearthly oranges, reds, whites, and blues form a parish-perfect stained glass. The light spring air breathes it higher until it can climb above the mountainous clouds and come to rest on its sure and steady trajectory of light. It works in tandem with the breezy clouds of day, keeping things pleasant and cool. And when it sets, it lights the sky afire in a riot of colors that doesn't blink out until the last possible moment.
Then, there are the overcast days. The days when something in the air tells you it will be all muck and mud. The gray, depressive clouds hang low like a blanket over the east and the sun approaches them only warily. The clouds are lightproof. They only allow the tiniest suggestion of brightness through their thick bodies. For one brief moment, a gap suddenly appears between the horizon and the rain-pregnant clouds. It is there, in that tiny gap, that the sun peaks in like a child searching for monsters beneath the bed. The clouds dip in and out of its view and give it the appearance of a giant blinking eye. Then, suddenly, the clouds clamp shut and deprive the morning of its life-giving light. The sun will travel all day in a running battle with the sky-borne scud, trying to poke through and constantly being beaten to the punch by the unyielding sky. Finally, it will hastily retreat westward and sink sight-unseen below the horizon. The only trace it leaves is a chill in the dark, damp air and a softly spoken encouragement to the moon to beat the clouds at their own game.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 09, 2006
A Three Dot ColumnIn honor of Herb Caen, famed San Francisco bon vivant and columnist, we're doing what's called a three dot column today. Why three dots? Because of this ... If there's one thing that can be said about the Internet, it's that there's a niche for everyone and everything. Like this for example ... or maybe this.
Never Discuss Religion or Politics
While we'd agree there was plenty wrong with Tom DeLay, we don't think letting his staff run amok was the worst. But then, he didn't desert his first wife as she lay in a hospital bed in favor of his high school geometry teacher like his predecessor, Eye of Newt Gingrich ... It's Palm Sunday and time for sustainable palm frond farming. We wonder if the eco-Christians are abandoning their SUVs for the trip to church? What's next? Bibles printed with soy ink on recycled paper? Blasphemy! ... Aside from the funniest name in politics, Zbigniew Brzezinski is making headlines again. This time there's no arm twisting for Brezhnev but a prolonged negotiation of a driveway stalemate. O' how the powerful have fallen! ... The Boss is sinking like an iceberg victim, but Condi still has time to tickle the ivories. We're glad to see the administration still has time for the truly important things in life.
No doubt that cable bad boys Jon Stewart and Steven Col-Bear produce smart and funny takes on the importado events du jour, but leading a humor revolution? OK, we'll go along, but it's the guys like Cheney who really make us laugh ... To prove that math wienies will inherit the Earth, they've now devised as mathematical formula to quantify bodacious butts ... That leg lamp in A Christmas Story was tres fine, but we gotta get us one of these ... We always thought taxidermists were a little creepy, now we have iron-clad proof ... Meg Ryan did it to hilarious effect in When Harry Met Sally. These folks are doing it to hilarious effect quite by accident.
It's a Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog Sphere!
Late word that the Reverend Billy Bob Gisher has issued a statement regarding his capture by the Department of Homeland Security. There has apparently been no abuse by DHS PR flacks, but we are taking up a collection for Imodium to counter his persistent bowel problems ... Blue Gal gives props to Harry Taylor's bitch slap of the month, and we couldn't agree more. Sumo Merriment has also jumped on the band wagon just to keep those bitches slapping ... One Gong Show + one part video blog = GongMe ... As always Dependable Renegade is, well, dependable.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 09, 2006
Just How Stupid is Stupid?There are two types of stupid people in the world. Type 1s are too stupid to know they're stupid. Type 2s are just intelligent enough to know they're stupid, but too stupid to do anything about it. By our reckoning, the Shrub is a Type 1 idiot.
At the height of the Plame affair, Old Type 1 testily explained that he would ferret out anyone involved in leaking information about Valerie Plame. At the time, he promised that anyone involved would be "taken care of". When it became clear there was an ample supply of those needing taken care of, he amended his terms to require the offender commit a crime before receiving his particular brand of cowboy justice.
Now that it looks like Type 1 is the ringleader of Team Not-Taken Care Of, he's flipping like a flapjack on an IHOP grill. Gone are the promises to "take care" of leakers. His new strategy, surely devised by the Amazing Kreskin, goes a little like this, "Just watch over here while I do something over there. If you watch too closely you'll spoil the illusion and ruin the magical fun and that's just dangerous to the country you traitorous slime!"
Now he's faced with the news that he leaked like a baby on a 24-hour fruit juice jag. Fittingly, his new punishment threshold only applies to illegal leaks specifically about Valerie Plame (and only leaked on Thursdays between February 28 and 29 on moonless nights). None of the auxiliary leaks about "nookuler" materials, aluminum tubes, or yellowcake counts. That seems only fair since the cost of Iraq doesn't count as part of the budget.
When his opening gambit failed - as it usually does - he claimed he didn't do anything illegal. Who knew that being the Czar of Crawford allows him to declassify anything he wants? Funny how that never seems to apply to things like the notes from the Energy Task Force.
When Gambit Two failed, he fell back on the, "I released the information in the public interest" defense. About as air-tight as the famed Twinkie Defense, this brand of obfuscation apparently depends on some political geometry suggesting that since George is a member of the public and it was in his interest to selectively release information, it was all above-board. As his budget-balancing acumen suggests, he didn't study math between frat parties and his grueling cheerleading duties at Yale.
So here's our question:
Clearly Mr. Bush has all the perception of your average tree stump. That he is a World-Class imbecile is only a surprise to Harriet Miers. But, he has some smart, albeight incredibly evil and egotistical people, pumping air into that bubble he lives in.
So are those people Type 1s or Type 2s?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, April 08, 2006