Neocons: The Cicadas of PoliticsIn a recent Guardian article, Richard "Prince of Darkness" Pearle claimed to have "no regrets" about his part in starting and conducting the War of Error. Other neocons involved in the debacle (including the Decider Guy) have issued similar pronouncements. Their amazing hubris shows just how deluded they are and that delusion has offended many. Even Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) jokingly said, "I would like to suggest ... that maybe we give Paul Wolfowitz a new job and send him over there as mayor of Iraq, since the neocons got us in over there. And maybe Mr. (Richard) Perle could be co-mayor or co-chairman."
A Breed Apart
It seems neocons consider themselves a breed apart. Their unshakable conviction resemble an infallibility suitable for a Pope. They seem genuinely confused that the flock sees a much different picture. They see the tumult and carnage as merely the early shoots of a burgeoning liberty tree and are quite offended that Americans and Iraqis force-fed their bitter fruit aren't on their knees kowtowing to their obvious brilliance.
One by one, the neocons are going on to spread their brilliance across the land. Rummy plans a neocon think tank to show the world he's right and they're wrong. Wolfie departed the administration with an unnecessarily divisive assignment to the World Bank. Showing his brilliance, he made a hash of it. Bound for the streets - with his $400K "performance bonus" in hand - he's taken to the airwaves to shed any personal responsibility. In his mind, the entire world is in on a plot to think of him as a blithering idiot instead of the Einstein he fancies himself. John Bolton is also part of the elite Club Neocon Ninny. He replays his repetitive rejoinder of, "you're wrong" - followed by film clips showing just the opposite - in every interview.
Hubris of the Month Club
Their hubris is also amazing given the phalanx of reports that they cooked intelligence and poo-pooed anything that didn't match their well-developed theories. It's striking just how conceited their view of their fellow humans was. They were always right. Everyone who disagreed was always wrong. And each disagreement was justification to call people traitors, terror-supporters, and wild-eyed lunatics. The neocons not only mixed the Kool-Aid, but drank it as well. It's not surprising that with all those super-sized egos bunched together in their ignorance, we ended up with the worldwide debacle we have today.
Pfft to the War on Terror. It's a really a World War Error.
Of course, the neocons didn't do it alone. There are many - on both sides of the aisle - who drank from the poisoned Chalice of Conceit. They've similarly turned a blind eye to their own share of the debacle and continue - even as they blame the neocons - to do anything about it. It's one of the few times in history one could say the voters didn't get what they deserved. No one deserves the concrete ineptitude of the neocons and their enablers.
Cicadas to the Core
Soon - either by ejection or election - the neocons will run to ground, leaving us to right their "right" path. But as they've shown before, they'll be the political version of cicadas. They'll lie quietly for 17 years and emerge again in some future conservative administration to muck things up.
And, of course, they'll be completely right as they are simultaneously completely wrong.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, May 31, 2007
Commuting with the Cockroaches and AntsI remember a painting by my cousin that hung in my aunt and uncle's living room in Conda, ID. It was a long, thin, vertical painting with a frame and background of black. A stream of white ants crawled up the middle in a uniform line toward some picnic just off-canvas. The second ant from the top had escaped the line, turned red, and was targeted with a white circle.
The symbolism was clear, we have met the enemy and we is ants.
I thought of the painting this morning during my commute. I looked ahead at the uniform lines of cars, punctuated by the occasional ant acting more like a cockroach - that's another post. Embedded in the mechanized ant line were several cars that I recognized, not because I personally knew their drivers, but because our commutes are all so perfectly timed that we're guaranteed to see each other almost every day - sort of the mobile equivalent of that person you always see in the elevator, but that you don't know from Adam.
But We Shared More
More than likely, several of us listened to the same radio station and laughed at the same stale jokes from the same stale jocks. We all saw the car fire in Fremont. The foggy sun looked the same. Several of us drank identical cups of coffee - although probably from different Starbucks - in identical cups, with identical tastes, and identical exorbitant prices. More than a few of us flipped off the more aggressive cockroaches as they weaved in and out of our orderly line.
It struck me that we live in a society where even a solitary pursuit like commuting is invested with a certain communality. Few of us spend our days completely out of contact with others. Aside from a few Nevada ranchers, we see other people every day and interact with them, even if we don't notice or imagine otherwise.
A Good Thing, A Bad Thing, or Just a Thing
I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. On the down side, it's dehumanizing and the tight schedules, I'm sure, induce stress. On the plus side, everyone has someone else and is never really alone (whether their emotional response believes that or not).
I can see a tremendous untapped potential in this situation for both good and bad, but it's a tough ant to dig out and I expect it would be exploited for profit, only increasing the alienation many already feel. One need look no farther for proof than the new programmable billboards that switch content based on the demographics for radio stations that passing cars are tuned to.
I gave it some thought, but I was distracted by a cockroach who nearly took my bumper off. The thought died on the tread of the cockroach's tire and I never did finish it.
Now you'll have to excuse me. If I don't get back, I'll lose my place in line.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 30, 2007
As We See It: Plame's Revenge Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Memorial Day Redux
We've come to that holiday that half the population mistakes for a sale at Walmart and the other half just forgets. Unless the horror of war has touched you in some personal way you may have forgotten the purpose of the day too - to honor our nation's military dead.
That's what makes Memorial Day the second most American holiday after Independence Day. On one, we celebrate sacrifice and on the other we forget about what sacrifice costs. Either way, we celebrate both days in exactly the same way - with apathy and ignorance of our history.
I'm a Cold Warrior. I served during one of the few, distressingly brief periods in which we've not been at war. I've known many people who were not so fortunate and I've participated in enough realistic military exercises to see the power of fire and the rain of death up close.
The Hell of War
I believe I have some small idea of the hell of war. However, I'd never pretend to know it like someone who's been there. In that respect, I have much in common with most Americans - including our President (who fought his war in Texas - when he felt like showing up) or our Vice President (who had "more important priorities").
These men responsible for sending people off to die should have it weigh heavily upon them. But, they don't seem to have given it much thought until their polls went south and we began calling for their heads.
Perhaps they've been too busy justifying their costly adventure. Maybe they were simply overwhelmed by handling something so tragic and complex as a war. I'm not sure. But I do know this - neither of them know the meaning of sacrifice.
For those with a short memory, let's remember that one of the first pronouncements Mr. Bush made after 9/11 was to encourage people to shop. He said this while the embers of the collapsed buildings still glowed. That was his idea of sacrifice.
The War of Error
Since then, he cravenly connects his damnable War on Terror to Iraq in every speech. Not once has he asked anything of this country save forgiveness of the many mistakes he never admits. Meanwhile, Americans have sacrificed. They've offered up their sons and daughters and thousands of them have come home broken or in flag-draped boxes.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to do something President Bush seems unable to do on yet another hallowed day. I call on all Americans to work together to end this bloody war. One of the few liberties we have left is dissent and we must respect it more than we do ourselves. We must keep healthy dissent alive for it is what our military fights for and what keeps us free.
A Legacy of Death
Mr. President, I hope you take a few minutes away from impeaching our freedoms to think about those dying at this moment half a world away. I hope you can once - perhaps for the first time in your coddled life - understand the gravity of sending men and women to die.
Unless you want your legacy to be many more despicably overcrowded Memorial Days to come, it's time for you to make a sacrifice. It's time for you to stare at your overwhelming hubris and cast it off before it ruins us all. And while you stare into the mirror, look closely.
In the background you'll see a nation teetering on the brink.
Editor's Note: I'd planned to write a special post for this Memorial Day, but I found that last year's post, with some minor updating, said it better than I could say it again. Last year at this time I also took the opportunity to thank my nephew, who was then serving in Iraq, for his service. His tour was eventually extended and he came home four months late. He will go back to Iraq again later this summer and possibly be extended yet again.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, May 28, 2007
Fight Theocracy, Be a RandomistAtheist Analysis - If God made everything in the world, did he make atheists too?
Save the Simians - It's silly, but someone has to watch out for our simian friends...eh, Dr. Z?
Offering Her Flower - Sure, Always Aroused Girl (NSFW) test-drives sex toys and writes about her amorous adventures, but her flora photos are the bee's knees!
Campaign 2008 - Even though Bill blazed the trail for this (NSFW), let's hope Hillary doesn't make the same offer during her campaign.
What's Next? - What's next, Broccoli Coke?
"We're Here to Pomp You Up!" - It also comes in a Schwarzenegger autographed model. But, there is a danger if you use steroids.
Flush Your Cares - There's something strangely arousing about this.
Hotter Than Gazpacho - OK girls that's enough snickering in the back there.
Run Stinky, Run! - Yeah, but will it need a rhinoplasty one day?
God's Everywhere You Want to Be - Your purchases earn points so the pontiff can buy new shoes or see Harry Potter, Revenge of the Nerds.
1001 Uses for a Stray Cat - Wouldn't locking them up be easier?
Eeeeew! - Remember that time you syphoned some gas out of your tank and sucked too hard? (H/T to Tits McGee)
They'll Always Have Baghdad - Was Wolfie kicked to the curb?
Tree Victim of Bicycle Crash - Clear the Path! George has been out cycling again.
Homeland Insecurity - These are the people guarding our streets and these are the people they're guarding us from.
I'm a Little Bit Rock & Roll - Time sure flies. It's already been a half century, yet it seems like so much more.
Ahhh, the Stench of It - Next Up, Britney Spears Rancid, a heady mixture of sweat, cigarette smoke, stale diapers, bikini wax, and tequila.
Attention Mitt Romney Supporters! - A little sumpin' sumpin' for the lil lady. (H/T Gangstas & Hugs)
Useless Invention #1316 - Why?
People Will Steal Anything That Isn't Nailed Down - This is obviously not a lesbian wanting to have kids.
How Much is the Placenta in the Window? - The testicle of a right whale is to a midsized car like a human eyeball is to a male polar bear.
We Must Eat Them Over There Before We Have to Eat Them Over Here - George called and wants his freedom fries back.
Honest, I Was Just Self-Medicating - Yeah. I'm not buyin' it.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, May 26, 2007
Teaching the Elephant to Eat ItselfIt figures that one of the few pieces of legislation garnering support from both the new Congress and the White House would be the immigration bill Minority Whip John Boehner describes as "a piece of shit". Rather than being the "everyone gets a little something" compromise that supporters claim, it's instead a "glass fully empty" compromise where no one gets anything except a morass of confusing and unenforceable rules that benefits no one.
There's near-universal agreement that our complex immigration policies are broken. Nearly everyone agrees it's a problem ignored too long and covered with enough patches to keep a retread bicycle tire spinning. There's also great support for beating the problem into submission now, rather than waiting for another administration.
But that's where the agreements end.
The Same Old Same Old
The current bill follows the same pattern as previous failed bills. Despite the complex task, lawmakers tried to solve the whole mess in toto rather than breaking it into smaller initiatives that would be easier to implement. In business, they call this eating the elephant one bite at a time.
In government, they call it screwing the pooch.
Illegal immigrants don't leave their families because they like July forth fireworks or love apple pie. They come here to find work. They trade one poverty-stricken existence for a not-quite-so poverty stricken existence so the family can eat. They do backbreaking work that Americans won't do (at least at the sub-poverty slave wages offered by agribusiness and one-percenter families needing maids and pool boys). Top that with the complicity of the US and immigrant nation governments and you guarantee an illegal immigrant tsunami that easily overwhelms unarmed National Guardsmen and fences in the middle of nowhere.
Illegal Immigration Reduction is Job One
Priority One should be reducing the tsunami to a more manageable trickle. We need tougher labor laws and enforcement coupled with helping immigrant nations boost their own economies so their economic woes aren't offshored to America. Fewer immigrants will come if they can make a living wage back home and everyone would be better off.
Lawmakers could tackle the thornier problem of what to do with the millions already here as a separate debate. When they do, they must see that putting those masses yearning to work almost free onto Tijuana-bound Greyhounds isn't logistically practical, amnesty be damned.
Sadly, this pickle shows the futility of it all. The same lawmakers that complicate matters now will resist cutting the elephant up. Even if Congress and the Decider Guy could agree on doing it, the needed economic legislation would look like Dasani in deference to powerful lobbies that benefit from an indentured servant labor pool. And even if lawmakers rammed through the economic reforms, deciding what to do with the immigrants already here would bog down in academic arguments about the "rightness" of amnesty and how steep the fine would be. Oh, and word to the pols - it doesn't matter if the fine is $50 or $5000, when you have no money you can't pay either one.
Simply put, a rational response simply ain't gonna happen.
Teaching the Elephant to Eat Itself
This debate is a microcosm of the myriad national problems that go unaddressed or are hidden by the real reason for their failures - a lack of foresight and dedication to what's best for the country. In a very American twist, it appears there is no workable way to eat that elephant one bite at a time.
Because the elephant would need to eat itself.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, May 25, 2007
Spy vs. BlogCheck the traffic statistics for any blog or site and you'll see plenty of curious things. Every site has it's share of mysterious daily visitors who never seem to comment. Every site gets visits from far away or obscure places. Every site has its share of confounding searches displaying downright odd tastes in everything from sex to coffee. It's even odder to know your blog actually touches on some of the weirder topics.
Some of my mostly puzzling visitors are with the US government. I had a spate of visits from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms last year. Ditto for visits from the IRS. I get the occasional drive by from the Commerce Department and even a single visit from some poor troll in the basement of the White House. With all the reports of wiretapping and clandestine blog visiting, it's easy to see a conspiracy behind every IP address, but visits from a series of US Navy addresses are a bit worrying.
And the Hits Just Keep on Comin'
For approximately 6 months last year - around the time when news surfaced about governmental blog tracking - I began to get daily visits from:
- gate4-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (188.8.131.52)
- gate2-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (184.108.40.206)
- gate5-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (220.127.116.11)
- gate6-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (18.104.22.168)
- gate1-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (22.214.171.124)
- gate3-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (126.96.36.199)
- gate8-sandiego.nmci.navy.mil (188.8.131.52)
I also got a few visits from similar "nmci" addresses with "gates" labeled Norfolk. The visits eventually tapered off, but they're still a regular occurrence.
There were several things that made these addresses stand out.
Dateline: San Diego, NY
First, even though the server names indicated San Diego or Norfolk, the server locations were in New York. Sometimes, I also got visits from 3 or more of the gates at the same time on the same day and the number of past page loads and visits from each one (even now) are identical whether there is a record of them in my site logs or not.
Curious about the "nmci" identification, I found that it stands for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, an Intranet developed by global contractor EDS to provide, "secure, universal access to integrated voice, video, and data communications." According to the EDS, NMCI will eventually "link more than 400,000 workstations and laptops for 500,000 Navy and Marine Corps users across the continental United States, Hawaii, Cuba, Guam, Japan, and Puerto Rico."
I've tried to log on to NMCI, but as you might expect, I'm not authorized. I'd think a typical sailor or marine would have little or no reason to visit my blog - much less know of its existence.
Now, I'm not alleging some nefarious plot. There may be some valid reason for my sudden popularity with sailors and Marines - perhaps they love the same witty punditry that so entranced the Sergeant-at-Arms and the White House troll - but it still makes one wonder. Perhaps the most troublesome thing about this issue is this. We now live in a county where the possibly of government plots is more than just the thought of a crazed conspiracy nut.
And that gives me the willies.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Passing of the Slow News DayThere used to be such a thing as a slow news day. They were days when local news or man bites dog stories carried the day. They were days when minor bad news got some coverage - a government official helping a vendor for example.
But no more.
The past six years have wrought an ever-strengthening storm of big time stories that have all but eradicated slow news days. Each day brings some major new example of malfeasance, ineptitude, or graft. The stories burst forth like water from a leaking dam, threatening to overwhelm the 24-news cycle. Journalists rush to keep up with the floodwaters, but end up missing or short-shifting stories that would have been big news in another time. The same stupid behavior that keeps soldiers past their time in Iraq is the same stupid behavior that is wearing down and desensitizing the press corps.
Like a Burn Patient
It's wearing down and desensitizing the rest of us too.
No one is immune. Even hardcore news junkies read the paper or stare at the television in shell-shocked fatigue. Bloggers and political pundits can't decide on subjects because the target environment is so rich and they must write their posts and pieces quickly before the story moves on. The general public - never enamored of paying much attention to politics - is also overwhelmed. They are so battered by the relentless bad news and conflicting versions of events they've simply given up. The great middle of the political spectrum is no longer divided so much as bludgeoned into a unified, zombie-like state.
Of course, none of this is good for the country. America has become a burn patient - numb in all it's charred places - and way beyond the physical ability to feel pain. Also like a burn patient, we've realized we'll carry the scars of this awful time for the rest of our lives.
Throw in the Towel?
There's a great temptation to throw in the towel and not post about such things anymore. What used to be a pleasure to write about has become an interminable slog through the muck. I look at my posts and think they aren't nearly as good as they used to be. I read the fatigue in the words. They lack verve and have taken on a droning tone.
Bit I slog on because someone has to do it and that's a damn shame.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 23, 2007
How Impeachment Alters the Universe
Salon columnist Gary Kamiya recently weighed in on impeachment for Uncle George. His verdict? Ain't gonna happen because the American people don't wanna. "There's a deeper reason why the popular impeachment movement has never taken off - and it has to do not with Bush, but with the American people. Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche."
Apparently it also spoke to the 88% of respondents to an MSNBC poll who said they "believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment." It said, "YOU ASSHOLE!"
Americans are generally hesitant to impeach and that's a good thing. If we were always yelling, "Off with the bastard's head!", Washington would be nothing but a collection of monumental coups filled with headless chickens. Frankly, the chickens who still have their heads are doing damage enough running around.
Iraq has pissed off an electorate famously difficult to piss off, the proof being the six years of relentless bad news it endured before finally saying "enough". But, if there is an impeachment - and my money is on Dilbert Dillhole's time running out before it comes - it won't be for the cluster coitus that is Iraq. Iraq is much too inconvenient and untidy. Those who bringing the charges would be much too embarrassed to confess to their own complicity. Too many people would have to recuse themselves for supporting the disaster to begin with. There wouldn't be enough free range politicians left to raise a quorum.
If an impeachment comes, it will be for the standard illegal activities that usually bring down administrations. Just like Bill's Clinton's impeachment was about lying to grand juries and not blowjobs, the collapse of the Bush administration will come courtesy of the growing number of scandals multiplying like paramecia in stagnant water.
Incompetence Begets Evil
Attorney firings begat Gonzo's still evolving comeuppance. His arm twisting of Ashcroft kicked off fresh questions about illegal wiretaps. Those questions resulted in subpoenas for documents the administration won't cough up. Connected to those documents are other batches tied to Karl Rove and Monica Goodling - one taking the fifth and the other hiding behind his desk in the White House. As those subpoenas make the rounds, another Rove aide is pleading the fifth and angling for immunity for documents related to Jack Abrahmoff, who in turn ties to Libby, Rove, Cheney, and a good number of Congressothieves.
The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone...
No. Impeachment, if it ever comes, won't be from one clearly defined mess like Iraq. It will come from the thousand self-inflicted cuts George made while cutting his nose despite his face. If there is a Bush impeachment it will be more like the death of Enron. The administration will implode into an infinite loop of lies, back stabs, poor judgment, and moral turpitude not of the sexual kind and as it does, an evil black sun will appear to suck all matter in the American political universe right into a massive and dead black core. But regardless of how this administration ends, its black hole will rival anything in the natural universe.
It will skew the orbits of all our political planets and swallow all light for years to come.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Random RandomnessLaura B. Fights Back - Slap some tits on her and she could pass for Dolly Parton. (H/T to Debsweb)
That God Sure Knows His Houses - I may not believe in God, but he sure can put up some fancy digs.
As If The Real Things Weren't Scary Enough - A rogue's gallery so strange you might find them in a video game.
OMG! I'm My Mother! - Fearing becoming your mother seems to be more a female thing, but here's help for any gender. And if you don't want to cut the, er, strings...
Take a Chill Pill - Or any other kind of pill for that matter. If the insurance companies and drug companies get a load of this, there'll be hell to pay in Drugtowne.
Ted is My Copilot - Certainly the best teddy bear project I've ever seen. We're even prepared for the eventuality the plushies might crash.
I Wonder Where They Go When You Flush? - Yes, I admit to a tiny little obsession with urinals. It might be the increasing amount of time I spend in them as I get older...or it could be how much I love the smell of urinal cakes in the morning. TMI?
Holy Burritos Cap'n! - One can never have too many burritos nor too many places to store said burritos.
Little People in Space - There are a plethora of reasons to love local TV commercials and this is one.
Lesbian PSA - And now, presented for the benefit of our lesbian readers...
Why Do They Do It? - Because they can.
Buy the NEW Swiffer! - Have dog, will mop dust. Handy as a throw rug too.
Froggie Goes A'Hoppin' - It's a French site...get it? Frogs? French? Aw, come on. That's hillfrickenlarious!
YIKES! - If I see one of these babies, I'm not hanging around to take pictures. There's aliens in them damn things!
Break Out the Red Noses - Bush is a bigger joke, but then he doesn't mean to be. Parump-puhm.
Seven Cum Eleven - I'll never be able to get a Slurpee again.
Why? - Another product in search of a market. Make that two. No, make it three. Oh hell, let's just go for an even four. OMG, there's more!
Carpal Tunnel Anyone? - "The next one who calls me a secretary instead of administrative assistant is gonna get a March 6, 2007 between their eyes. I've got talent you know."
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, May 18, 2007
George is Still Supportin' the TroopsSome things just chap me raw, and the latest is the White House's opposition to a 3.5 percent pay increase for the military. The modest increase would narrow the gap between private sector jobs - that presumably don't require getting shot at - and the military. Military pay habitually lags the private sector by significant amounts and even in peacetime there's plenty of justification for giving them anything we can spare.
As a part-time Commander-in-Chief sharing his job with a new War Czar, it's the height of hypocrisy for Yosimian Sam to fight a pay raise for the very troops he claims to support. Is it not enough to shorten the time between extended tours? Is it not enough to send them off to war poorly equipped and then reward them with substandard medical care and pitiful death and disability benefits? In what world is this acceptable treatment for the sacrifices of those who defend our country and even those that should be doing it for themselves.
His opposition is in synch with his increasingly bizarre behavior. He no longer attempts to make his asshatted actions look good. He simply says "screw you" and does what he wants, when he wants. He isn't a lame duck, he's a quite healthy smirking bull in a china shop. This latest affront to the nation is akin to the captain of the Titanic running into the iceberg, backing off, and intentionally ramming it again and again.
Apparently, living in Texas gave him little knowledge of icebergs, governing, or common sense.
It's no longer a question of when the Idiot Savant-in-Chief will leave, it's a question on whether he'll take the whole country down with him. The nation is bleeding from the thousand cuts of his abysmal administration. Our military is nearly destroyed, our Justice department has become a nest of incompetent snakes, and our Bill of Rights is shit-stained from the furious wiping of his arrogant ass. The Executive is no longer a co-equal branch of government, it is a robust and mutated cancer on the ass of society.
Many pundits talk about his legacy. It's a vision in which he is pilloried in the present and waiting for that far-off day when historians forget just how worthless he was. If that happens, I expect it will come when the final flickers of the sun go dark.
I recently wrote that I'm not much of a hating man, but I do have my exceptions and he is the most odious of them. I may have had some trepidation over pissing on Jerry Falwell's grave, but I have no inhibitions against whipping it out and pissing on George's head. There is only one thing that gives me pause.
The skeevy bastard probably loves a golden shower.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Falwell ConundrumThe post I wrote when Jerry Falwell died presented a bit of a conundrum. I intensely dislike some people, but I'm not much for harboring true hate - especially when the person is no longer around. I heard my mother's admonition to not say bad things about the dead as I tried to find a way of expressing the intense dislike I had for the man.
Some would say the post was too strong, others that it wasn't strong enough and they'd both be right. I didn't unleash the full measure of anger I have, but I also didn't let him off the hook. That's why I settled on the idea that it wasn't my job to judge him. I figured that if he believed in God, a fit dispensation was his God's problem.
When Jerry and the other purveyors of hate take their anti-social positions, they believe they're doing God's work as they see it. I don't think they get up each morning and say, "How can I condemn homosexuals to swimming in an eternal lake of fire." They get up and say, "How can I save homosexuals from swimming in the eternal lake of fire."
Whether you agree their demonization tactics are right, they nevertheless are their convictions. Those convictions - however misplaced I think they are - are what allows Jerry and his ilk to stick to their twisted ideas in the face of damning condemnation from decent people. We usually think of strong convictions as something admirable, but even crapweasels have them and when they do, they're bad for everyone.
From what I know about religion and the opinions of many deeply religious people, the interpretations Jerry made were wrong, but I also acknowledge that the Bible is more metaphorical than precise blueprint. That perception gap is precisely why mankind has fought over religion for eons. The Bible can simultaneously represent everything or nothing depending on a reader's point of view.
I'm an atheist - a "pagan" in Jerry's words - but I can't prove there is no God just as Jerry couldn't prove there is. It all boils down to a subjective choice, based on how we interpret the "evidence" of our beliefs.
Many of Jerry's obituaries were much stronger than mine. Those writers rightfully ascribed to him the injustices he'd perpetrated and felt all that pent up anger burst forth when he died. I agree with the strength of their dislike for the man. People have every right to be pissed off by his saying innocent people caused 9/11 - it pissed me off too. Had he been around, I would have had to fight a powerful urge to take a poke at the despicable simpleton. I can even understand the temptation of many people to "piss on Jerry's grave". Jerry did no worse himself, although I'm sure he would have made it sound a little more socially acceptable.
The man is dead. I'm glad the attacks he launched on decent people will be no more, but I'm not glad he's dead. I would have been equally pleased - and quite shocked - if he'd simply seen the error of his ways and repented in life. I can't see that flogging him after he's gone accomplishes much. I don't think there's an afterlife, so I don't think he's going to hell or heaven. Neither will dying reverse the hate he spewed. There are plenty more bigots where he came from.
So my conundrum is this - what's the best way to show my mighty disagreement with the man without turning myself into the very same hate mongers he was?
I'm still not sure I know the answer.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Jerry Meets St. PeterJerry Falwell is dead.
Since 1979, he made his living as the mouthpiece for the Moral Majority - a group which, in my opinion, is neither. From his bully pulpit, he preached the evils of a secular society. Although he resembled your cuddly old uncle, his attacks on those who didn't share his beliefs were legion. To Jerry, the list of dangers to his world was long and varied and he never tired of condemning them.
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America," Falwell said after 9/11. "I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen."
For the record, I fall into the pagan category and I sympathize with several other enemies of Jerry. But, as far as I can tell, none of us had anything to do with helping 9/11 happen, his holy middle finger notwithstanding.
To Jerry, no enemy was too small. Teletubbies were plush toys del diablo, hell-bent on homosexualizing kids. AIDS victims were experiencing, "the wrath of a just God against homosexuals." Believing in Darwinism put you in the express line to hell and the UN was creating a global, "cashless society" that was a harbinger of the rapture.
Who knew God didn't want Visa to be everywhere he wanted to be?
Even though I'm atheist, I've always believed that if there is a God, He would be the just, benevolent, and tolerant spirit I learned about on my Mother's knee. I grew up listening to Falwell dominate Sunday morning with his Old Time Gospel Hour. I've heard him deliver hundreds of sermons and screeds - nearly all of them filled with some level of hate against his fellow men. And, I've always wondered what judgment St. Peter would deliver when old Jerry came a-knockin' on the pearly gates.
My guess is the Big Guy might want to talk to him dio a mano about what a complete ass he's been during his time on Earth. I'd imagine that God might be a little curious as to how Jerry could pervert His message so completely and then have the audacity to shield himself with God's book and wrap himself in God's cloak of righteousness. Since I'm an atheist who doesn't believe in heaven and hell, I have no dog in this hunt, but I still wonder about where Jerry will end up.
I think I know the answer.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 15, 2007
POP! Goes the BubbleIt's time to rethink this whole Bush in a Bubble metaphor. Bubbles are fragile things borne on feathery puffs of air, changing course on a whim. They're also transparent, so if President Guy was inside one he'd see what was happening outside. Instead, we can't change George's course with a Force 5 hurricane and if he's looking outside, he's doing it through three feet of steel-reinforced concrete - and let's not get started on what the Big Dick's undisclosed location must be like.
Let's view the course change first. We can sum it up in one word - surge.
It's true it's still early, but it seems the only ones confident in the surge are George, the Big Dick, and the Twins. Death squad killings are up, Barney and Mrs. Beasley are out tracking kidnapped soldiers, and retired Generals continue to rip George a new one every few weeks. Even when he does change course - as with his recent decision to talk with Iran - he denies it's a change, but an "amenable conversation".
A real bubble would have long since popped.
Bubble-like transparency is a joke too. There are so many scandals Congress can't direct the heavy traffic. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will postpone its own "amenable conversation" with Condi Rice to make room for a deposition from George Tennet on the evidence that got us into this bubbly Iraq mess. They're apparently setting up an Attorneygate carpool to move that scandal along.
Scandals, Scandals, Scandals
Hydra-headed scandals never elicit more than a yawn from the White House, so they've sparked a growing insurgency within the ranks of the Kool-Aid drinkers. Last week's Republican congressional delegation stopped by for tea, cookies, and a little ass-reaming and George made it sound like a love fest rather than the smackdown it was.
They weren't alone. Heretofore hardcore conservatives are getting fed up too. RedState.com editor Erick Erickson is, "tired of defending a party that continually puts into positions of power known perverts, louts, and corrupt common criminals." He's drawing up a "battle plan" that aims to, "wage war upon them until they bend to common sense and decency."
Well, ain't that just enough to frost a President's bubble?
Even the "bidness" guys are turning on him. Bloomberg News said, "While the other major democracies have, or are about to have, new leaders, America is mired in a rudderless status quo. A new embarrassment or scandal...seems to surface daily - the only good news for the White House is that occasionally these stories overshadow the bad news coming out of Iraq. Private conversations with Republicans throughout America reveal doom and gloom about a politically paralyzed presidency and party."
Ken Lay Returns From the Dead
What's next, is Ken Lay going to return from the dead and bite Decider Guy's ankle?
No, a bubble is not what we have here folks. What we have is a train on the wrong track and headed for the washed out bridge.
We should be so lucky that he lived in a bubble. If he did, we could simply pop it and make him go away.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, May 14, 2007
A Good Walk Spoiled
I've somehow reached middle age without taking up golf. I don't see the appeal of doing something so damnably difficult for recreation, but there you go - "different strokes for different folks" as they say.
When she was younger, I took the Omnipotent Daughter to mini-golf a handful of times. Aside from breaking a window in the miniature Dutch windmill with an errant putt, not much good came of it.
I also allowed co-workers to drag me to a golf scramble in mid-February on the frigid, blustery plains of Ohio. We shivered and played with an orange ball so we could find it in the snow. My slow pace kept everyone waiting way too long and several of us missed the next week of work with severe colds.
Golf at Goose
My only "real" game came in Goose Bay, Labrador. Braving swarms of mosquitoes and black flies, a friend and I borrowed a putter and a driver and went to play the now-defunct course on the Canadian Forces Base where we were staying. We got an idea of just how challenging the course would be on the first hole.
We teed off from a 12' round slab of cement covered in moldy Astroturf. It was equipped with a permanent steel tee jutting up in the middle. Our first shot was down a long "fairway" choked in weeds and sporting hundreds of pine tree stumps cleared for the second coming of Arnold Palmer. On the left was a large water hazard about the size of Lake Michigan. A moose grazed in the reeds along the shore.
Because I'd always heard it in the movies, I yelled FORE! and smacked the ball as hard as I could with my borrowed putter. "Nice shot," my friend said as my ball caromed off a granite boulder.
Mind the Moose
He lost his first shot in the lake after it bounced off a 2-ton moose ass. "Can I have a do-over on that," he asked?
"Yes. Please. That moose looks a little pissed."
We merrily chased the balls down the fairway, chopping and hacking as we went. We covered our huge divots by pushing knee-high weeds over them. Occasionally, we lost our balls in the rough (no pun intended). It was hard to tell where the fairway ended and the rough began. So, we agreed that when a ball went far enough into the head high weeds that you couldn't see the other golfer, it was officially in the rough.
If you had to call for a wilderness guide, it was a two-stroke penalty.
A Little Juice
After an hour, we arrived at the Hole 1 putting green. It rose about 4 inches above the veld on a square concrete slab covered in the best Astroturf the Canadians could provide. My friend putted first.
"Guess I'm going to have to give this a little juice to get over that lip on the green," he said as he thwacked the ball with his driver. And thwack he did - so hard the ball struck the concrete lip and rebounded into his forehead with a solid POCK.
"Nasty break on that one," he said. "Be careful."
I prepared my putt by yanking a handful of reeds out of the ground and throwing them professionally in the air to test the wind. They fell with a thud because I'd neglected to shake the muck off them before casting them aloft.
"Hmm, looks pretty calm," I said knowledgeably.
The Ungloved One
I lined myself up and wiggled my ass as I'd seen professionals do. I was confident I'd make the putt. There were no windmills with broken windows to block my way. I only wished I had one of those single gloves the pros wear - maybe a rhinestone one like Michael Jackson's.
I wasted six strokes before getting up onto the elevated green. When my friend's ball joined mine, we wasted another five strokes playing croquet and knocking each other's ball away from the hole.
Eventually, I managed to accidentally hit my ball into the iron pipe hole and it disappeared into the bowels of the earth. My friend's ball also disappeared, although we did hear his gurgle when it hit water a few feet down.
We'd played one hole. It took close to two hours. We tied at 60 strokes each and felt quite proud of our accomplishment. As we drank the celebratory beers we carried on our pockets and slapped at the huge insects sucking us dry. We wondered what par was for the hole. We looked for the sign, but it was laying in the grass, apparently shredded by a passing bear.
"Good game," my friend said.
"Yeah, same to you," I replied. "Maybe we can go on tour next year."
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Writing LifeI write a lot. It is both my vocation and avocation. I'm not sure how many words I've put to paper, but I'd guess it is well into the millions. I've written everything from newspaper articles to button labels on websites. I've written instructions that could have meant death if not properly understood. I've written words into the mouths of powerful people. Mrs. Poobah and I met through writing - we were pen pals before we were a man and wife. And, of course, I write this blog - every word of it.
I first became aware of my talent for writing in the third grade. As a class assignment, I wrote a science fiction story about astronauts traveling to Mars. As the teacher handed our papers back, she told the class that one story stood out in particular. I drowsily half-listened to her ask the writer to come read the story in front of the class. As a mediocre student at best, I knew it couldn't be me. I was never recognized for anything. I was so convinced it couldn't be me, the teacher called three times before I heard her.
A career was born.
When people compliment my writing I feel exactly the way I felt in that classroom 43 years ago. Who, me? I'm still astonished when people are moved by what I write. I've swayed opinions and evoked powerful emotions with my writing, yet I feel a little guilty when people tell me about it. I think about how easy it was for me to write the piece. I often feel I've cheated the person in some way. Isn't power like that supposed to come from dead-hard toil where every word sweats out like perspiration in a sauna? How could I have so cheaply changed a mind or evoked an image? It's quite baffling really.
I don't see my writing as world class. There are millions better than me. I know, because I've read many of them. At the same time, I recognize I'm serviceably good at it. Nothing flashy. Solid. Yeoman-like. I just write down what I think and leave it at that. I have a tenuous connection to my work. I never save clips or articles. That seems conceited to me - like the Happy Painter saving his happy little tress and happy little mountains to remind himself how good his mediocre work is. I don't fight my editors or clients tooth and nail over every changed word. When my thoughts reach paper, I figure they no longer belong to me so readers have every right to change them or take them however they want.
A woman once told me I was her favorite author - right behind Stephen King. I didn't know if I was complimented or insulted. King and I both have our shtick. His is books. Mine are anonymous pieces that are invisible and so seamless the reader doesn't recognize it as writing. I succeed when a tiny voice leads them were they want to go. We are both commercially successful in our own ways, but that doesn't mean either of us are in line for a Pulitzer of Nobel.
The Attention Span of a Gnat
Many people have told me to write a book. I answer that my attention span is that of a gnat. I could never muster the requisite discipline and patience that writing a book would entail. But there is another truth I don't usually discuss - there simply isn't anything that interests me enough to sustain a book.
Discipline of mind is not one of my stronger points.
Unlike those who consume my words, I often find what I write embarrassing. When people tell me my words have touched them, I generally see my words as overwrought. If a compliment says I write clearly, I see all the edits I know could make it better. I don't often read what I write, but when I do at arms-length, I become a little less critical of myself. But, I'm never heartily pleased with my production. That idea of perfection is about as close as I come to being an artist rather than a word grinder - someone whose biggest asset is the ability to uncover things readers already know or feel.
It's Not a Bad Life
So, I've written enough for this morning. I must leave for my day job, where I'll write a few hundred new words. It pays well and I find it creative within the bounds of its structure. I'll attend meetings and pull facts from my teammates. I'll face an occupational hazard - people who tell me how to write based solely on their ability to operate a keyboard. Forty-three years of writing experience boiled down by someone who can't see the difference between their writing and John Steinbeck's. I'll write more when I return home. You might see it. You might not. I am the editor of my own work when I write for pleasure, and hopefully yours.
All in all it's not a bad life.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, May 11, 2007
As We See It: Benchmarked Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, May 10, 2007
Work is the Root of All EvilWork is decidedly not one of humankind's best inventions. Money is not the root of all evil, work is. Work's the egg that comes before the chicken and requires vast amounts of effort not repaid in kind.
Not so long ago, work meant, well, work. You toiled in the field or braved a dangerous steel mill. People produced tangible products of intrinsic value. Work was often backbreaking, hot, smelly, or dangerous, but at the end of the day workers looked upon a warehouse full of steel and felt they'd actually done something. Something important.
Intrinsic to Who?
Eventually, workers realized their products had intrinsic value and that value bore little relation to the value of their backbreaking labor. They became angry that robber barons wrote off severed limbs as just one more cost of doing business. They tired of making less money than needed to buy the objects they made. They fought back in many ways, large and small, and managed great gains for those making things instead of money. In short, they moved the intrinsic value of their products closer to the middle. One worked for more money, in a safer environment, in a way that made the robber barons even more money than before.
Business people call that a win-win.
But the robber barons were a cagey and greedy lot. They installed machines to supplant troublesome human workers. A machine operator could produce more coal at a cheaper cost than the old crew of 50. Robots could cobble cars together at fantastic speed with fewer workers. These moves made money for the top cheeses and stockholders while workers became less valuable.
But machines are expensive. In fact, more expensive than the low-paid wrench jockeys they replaced. So, the titans of industry looked for places that could use machines run by lower-cost, compliant human labor to make even more money. Places like Malaysia or Korea. It was the perfect idea.
Invasion of the MBAs
Business people call this maximizing profits.
And then a new class of business honcho emerged - 20-something MBAs whose sole tangible product to that point was a science project in elementary school. Raised in an era where shirts appear in Brooks Brothers like magic from Malaysia, they had little understanding of the working class. For them, a Malaysian sweatshop insulated them from the reality of workers and families cast aside like worn out machines. In their world, making things with intrinsic value became a burden not worth their effort. Besides, they believed their actions didn't put well-paid steel workers out of jobs. The workers were interchangeable and found plenty of opportunities to get new jobs - at McDonald's.
In short order, the US went from a country that made intrinsically valuable things to a country producing intangible products called "services." No more machines, very few troublesome workers, and no way to judge the value of what they sold. It's hard to calculate the value of IT support by the pound. It's equally difficult to define what service actually means. Banks and HMOs sell service, but it is service often symbolized by telephone hells that prevent consumers from ever reaching the three people still employed at the place.
A Paltry $30 Million
Now, the US is entering another phase. The 20-somethings are now 40-somethings and quite a bit wealthier. Living above their means for years, they dearly love making money and will do virtually anything to show that living on $30 million a year is so much tougher than living on $40 million. They control the mechanisms of capital and production and give themselves huge bonuses supported by fellow robber barons making similar demands at their own firms.
The working class is slowly dying, replaced by an uber-wealthy ruling class that offsets the loss of working class consumers with purchases of yachts built in Korean shipyards. Since they are at the top of the pyramid, the new era robber barons still make money on their ponzi scheme while those lower in the scheme are cashed out into the cold. But like any ponzi scheme, the collapse eventually comes and it hurts even those on the top. One day, the latter-day robber barons will find themselves in the ruins of their greed and avarice, wondering how come they weren't as smart as they thought.
It will be a sad day when karma visits their mansion door, but not in the way you think. They'll find themselves standing on the street corner begging for brothers who can spare a dime.
And sadly, you'll be long gone before you see them.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Is Fred Thompson Live or on Memorex?The LA Times recently carried an article about actor and would-be Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson. The article questioned whether a 19-year old TV roll as a hate-spewing bigot will hurt him if he decides to run. The blog Whizbang calls the article a "stupid smear piece". However, it seems more a story about why such "stupid" worries happen in the first place.
The Times wonders if clips of the show - taken out of context and downloaded to YouTube ad infinitum - might prove embarrassing during a possible run. Sure, that sounds stupid, but it's a valid fear in an age when voters can't tell the difference between life and Memorex. Republican strategists are little worried and probably have every right to be.
Are They Live or on Memorex?
When voters can't tell the difference between real people and TV characters we're in trouble, but that's not where the trouble ends. Our electorate also expects candidates to have detailed opinions or plans about every conceivable issue. You're a catfish farmer? "What's your position on EU price supports for imported catfish." You make shoelaces? "Imported Brazilian shoelaces are killing us here. What's your bailout plan" Your pet project provides sleeping quarters for wayward deep-space aliens? Well, you get the idea.
Voters also expect total consistency on every issue, regardless of whether new questions reveal aspects the candidate has never considered. None of us are ever totally consistent no matter how hard we try, nor should we be. Absolute consistency suggests a serious deficiency of critical thinking skills and an aversion to tweaking your opinion on complex issues as the situation evolves. Show me a candidate who refuses to consider new information or look at the same problem from different angles and I'll show you a glossy 8x10 of a smirking cowboy.
We expect angelic morals and "presidential" behavior devoid of any human characteristic. We want political robots of infinite capacity who magically make decisions completely simpatico with our own without having ever made the tiniest misstep.
You forgot to pay Social Security taxes for the kid down the street who mows your lawn? Why, you're a non-tax paying scofflaw who isn't fit to set foot in the White House.
Cutting Our Noses Off to Spite Our Faces
That totally unrealistic expectation powers the tsunami of gotcha episodes that put the fear of Zeus into regular people who think of running. Some who decide not to run have the smarts and talents we need to solve issues larger than catfish subsidies or flag-burning amendments. Through our ham-handed demands, we've cut the viable field of candidates down to an ever-shrinking pool of idiots, gangsters, and self-aggrandizing bints, equally hated by right and left.
We've cut our noses off to spite our faces.
Just what the hell are we doing?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 08, 2007