Monday, July 31, 2006


It may seem to some readers that I'm biased against Israel and prejudiced in favor of the Palestinians. They'd only be partially correct. Let me explain. When a criminal commits an atrocity it is one thing, when a government committs an atrocity, it is an entirely different thing. Why? Because the criminal presumes no moral authority and the government does. When a government behaves as a ciminal, it forfeits its moral authority and becames the equivalent of the criminal. And that is why I despise Isreal in the fashion that I do, because they have forfeited their moral authority in responding in an atrocious manner. How you do something is at least as important as what you do. Isreal, by forgoing the rules of laws, by (repeatedly) executing extra-judicial death warrants (assassinations), by intentionally (and repeatedly) killing unarmed, international peacekeepers, by (repeatedly) targeting civilian populations, has ceased to be a government and become instead merely a murderous mob. Israel is no longer a government, it is a mafia, a terrorist organization, and all U.S. support should be immediately withdrawn forthwith.

So how should Isreal have responded? In the same fashion that the U.S. should have reponded to 9/11. They should have placed a very significant price on the heads of the responsible parties and when, if, that didn't work, they should have very publicly given the citizens of Lebanon a 30-day warning to hand over the kidnappers and to disarm Hezbolah, or that they would invade and do it themselves. Again, I have no problem with Israel defending itself, it's how it defends itself that I object to.

Meanwhile, on the Front of another war...

The right-wing news networks are reporting that a Dutch political party wants to "normalize" pedophilia. Oh, the reports seem accurate enough, it is the significance that's blown out of proportion. This is a political party that most likely could index its membership on cards; they're hardly leaders of a popular revolution--even in liberal Holland. What is impressive however, is that Holland appears to have a truly open political system where any minority opinion can get on the ballot -- unlike our own closed system where it is difficult, if not impossible, for minority political parties to fairly field candidates. The Dutch should be applauded for allowing a pro-pedophilia party on their ballots, not because we support pedophilia, certainly not, but because it is the perfect true measure of the openness of their political system.

Word from the Front

"I want to tell my president Mr. Bush to tell Israel to please stop destroying the roads in Lebanon. I don't know how we can come back home with all the roads and airports destroyed now. Please Mr. President I know you can help the people here in Lebanon." --Saleem Baltaji, Age 12

The Blame Game

Of course the United States has a large population of arabic immigrants who have sought refuge here from totalitarian regimes and oppressive sects that have gripped their homelands. As is required of most immigrants, they've sacrificed much of themselves in their attempts to integrate into American society, often biting their tongues and sitting on their hands rather then reacting. So it's worth noting that a line appears to have been crossed, with the Washington, DC-based Arab American Institute (AAI) blaming President Bush as well as Israel for what it calls the Qana massacre. "Not only is the Israeli government at fault, but blame also must be laid at the foot of the Bush administration for its failure over the past two and half weeks to demand any serious restraint of Israel," said AAI President James Zogby. He said the attack on Qana, which killed 57 civilians, 37 of them children, was tragic but predictable, since "massive and indiscriminate attacks on the south of Lebanon are bound to result in such massacres." Zogby criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for expressing regret at the loss of life - but then failing to call for a ceasefire. "U.S. behavior in the wake of the Qana Massacre will be interpreted in Israel and the Arab World as giving a tacit green light for Israel to continue its attacks on Lebanon," Zogby said.

Accident Prone

Israel's repeated claims that civilian deaths are accidental needs to be called into question. The list of "accidents" is unreasonably long, including last week's targeting of a United Nations outpost (4 dead), this weekend's targeting of a building full of women and children in Qana (57 dead, including 37 children--in some revised reports only 28 dead,19 children), Monday's targeting of Lebanese noncombatant soldiers (number of dead unknown), as well as the largely forgotten targeting of another United Nations refuge encampment in Qana 10 years ago (106 dead). Either Israel is lying about its intentions in targeting, or its targeting is so error prone as to be reliably incompetent. Would we let a driver who repeatedly ran over innocent people at the side of the road keep their license? I would hope not and we shouldn't let a nation who can't seem to reliably (or honestly) use its weapons of defense continue to receive our support.

Or, maybe we would...

An 85-year-old man in el Monte, California last week ran over a sidewalk of patrons at a Starbucks cafe. Ten were injured, but fortunately no one was killed -- this time. It will be interesting to see if the man, who reportedly got confused about which pedal was the brake, will be allowed to keep his license. Early reports indicated he wouldn't be charged, presumably meaning he will be allowed to keep driving. One has to wonder why he was allowed behind the wheel in the first place. Probably because American legislators have shown an alarming unwillingness to place driving restrictions on their aging well-heeled, constituency.

Liars Club

Israel friendship with the Bush regime seems a match made in heaven (or more likely the other place), they both seem to find it absolutely impossible to represent themselves honestly or to keep their word. An example: despite an agreement to stop air strikes for 48 hours following Sunday's Qana "accident", Israel almost immediately starting dropped bombs again on Monday. This time they "accidentally" struck a truckload of Lebanese soldiers. Remember, Lebanon, has so far remained non-combatant, standing by with amazing self-restraint (read inability) as a foreign nation with infinitely more firepower (provided by U.S. support and tax dollars) tries to bomb them back into the stone-age.

Smelly Fish

President Bush's position that he will only support a "sustainable ceasefire - a ceasefire that will last," is a red herring if there ever was one. It is his way of sabotaging the process while appearing to support it. This is one smelly fish, reeking of the rotting corpses of Lebanese civilians, many of them children. Our, so-called, Christian president is stretching to guarantee his place in hell.

No One Left to Speak Out

First they bulldozed the homes of Palestinians
and we did not speak out
because our Book said they were God's children.

Then they slandered the dissenters
and we did not speak out
because we felt that Holocaust victims should be cut some slack.
(And besides, we were afraid they might slander us also.)

Then they murdered the Peacekeepers
and we did not speak out
because we weren't big on the United Nations anyway.

And then they massacred the children of Qana... again.

And when, at last, we realized that God's children are individuals, and not a rogue government, well, by then
there was no one left to speak out,
most especially not for us.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Words from the Grave...

Michael Holroyd, writing recently in the London Times Literary Supplement online edition (,,25338-2277082,00.html) makes some interesting observations about what Bernard Shaw might have had to say about the current world politic. How much is Holroyd and how much is Shaw can probably only be determined by a literary scholar, which I am not, however, either way, the article offers value. Consider this paragraph: By the same token Shaw believed that the only revolutions which would not lead to counter-revolutions, landing us back to approximately where we had begun, were bloodless revolutions, revolutions that arose through changing the mind of a country by its writers, philosophers, thinkers, men and women of imagination. If you are bombed, for heaven’s sake, do not go blindly bombing back – unless you actually want more bombing, more deaths, indiscriminately all over the place. The way to judge people’s motives is to look at the results of their actions: that is the pragmatist’s philosophy. One of the ironies of history is that in most wars both sides eventually come to resemble each other and impose defeat on themselves. Or as Shaw succinctly put it: “A victory for anybody is a victory for war”. (Copyright 2006 The Times Literary Supplement Ltd.) What the Israeli's (and the Palestinians) couldn't learn from that! Thanks to Arthur Silber's excellent blog, Once Upon a Time (at for bringing this interesting article to my attention.

Moderation or WWIII?

And speaking of growing support for moderation, world condemnation of Israel's outsized response to Hezbollah appears to be having results. Israel now says it doesn't want an expanded war and that it will settle for a buffer zone rather then total annihilation of Hezbollah. Unless Bush and his End-day's cronies can quickly drag Iran and Syria into the shooting, they may have missed their chance to start World War III. Of course, it won't take much more then a dime-a-dozen suicide bomber in an Israeli cafe to whip up renewed support for a full-scale invasion of Lebanon. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm projecting this brief appearance of rational thinking in Israel will have a limited engagement.


It turns out that several newspaper's cancelled Ann Coulter's columns during her recent, several weeks-long promotion of her new book. Ann was repeatedly making an issue of accusations that her book unfairly bashes the widows of 9/11 victims -- thereby drumming up interest in the book itself.

The column cancellations represent a victory for journalistic standards (and decency), but are now being called censorship by the Radical Right. How strange... a free press for me, but not for thee? More likely they don't mind censorship, as long as they get to control the censoring.

Some newspapers are now holding local polls asking readers whether to continue Ann Coulter's column at all. In Decatur, Illinois, where they have recently published a(n extreme) weekly Right/Left face-off, with Molly Ivins on the left side of the editorial page and Ann Coulter on the right, the editor is now asking his readers whether he should cancel one or the other, neither, or both. Canceling them both is currently leading the pool with 36%.

Support for canceling both Ivins and Coulter may indicate a sea change in what ails America; a renewed effort for a more moderate political environment in the making.

Not all victims are innocent...

While I deplore Hezbollah's actions in targeting Jewish citizens, those evils do not provide justification for the government of Israel to in turn target the uninvolved citizens of Lebanon. Israel's actions are increasingly adding to the definition of barbarism. However, the Lebanese must take some responsibility as well. They need to start rounding up and prosecuting those members of Hezbollah who will not abide by a peaceful political process. Those members of Hezbollah who are targeting Israeli citizens are indeed terrorists, and the Lebanese should have enough integrity to police them as their own.

Consequences of Competition

Another causality of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is the miraculous Lebanese economy that was stealing business and investment from northern Israel. Can’t we steal from this playbook and start bombing Bangalore?

Friday, July 28, 2006


Blackouts in New York and Missouri and elsewhere, collapsing tunnels in Massachusetts, it seems the government can't very well run things here at home. No wonder they can't seem to get it right in Iraq.

More Government

George Bush signed a new law this week creating yet another expensive (and possibly expansive) Federal bureaucracy. This one for a national database to keep track of the "sex offenders." Seems that most of the states have similar lists, so establishing a federal version is just a power grab, brought to you by the same people who campaigned on limiting the role of federal government.

Those Greedy Pharmaceutical Companies are at it Again!

Good news this week, as a private-sector company in Britain reported development of an effective vaccine for bird flu. Its amazing how fast things can happen when a profit motive is involved.

Smile! You're on E-mail.

A Canadian friend points out an international movement to e-mail private photos of the carnage in Lebanon to Americans, and citizens of other Israeli friendly nations, where such photos aren’t making it onto the nightly news. Many Americans will protest, but we see pictures of bombed out buildings every night, which naively assumes that the most tragic victims of Israel’s out-of-proportion response are empty apartment buildings and luxury condo towers. Anyone with half a brain would know that people are being killed -- and would therefore wonder where those pictures are. Well, those pictures are apparently being published elsewhere. More protestations will now ensue about the implication that America doesn’t have a free press; they’ll claim that those photos aren’t censored, but rather edited because children might see them (and because they might actually provide the emotional impetus for otherwise apathetic Americans to start questioning their support for Israel.) [Oh, by the way, the friend in Canada is no anti-Semite, but rather the son of Jewish Armenian refugees.]

Hezbollah has become quite popular with the Lebanese due to its activist care of orphans and the poor. Israel has a solution for such popularity; it has targeted and destroyed in recent weeks a student financial aid office, schools, charity offices, and an orphanage. It’s best to kill them while they’re still too small to carry around those rocket launchers.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. is the only country still putting conditions on a ceasefire.

Dissension Observed, finally

David Broder writes this week about his surprising discovery that "Old-Right" republicans have nothing but disregard (to put it tactfully) for the Bush administration and its backers. I dare say he is not alone in having not gotten on to this fact much earlier. Most of the country hasn't bothered to notice that the people currently running the Republic Party are more theocrats then republican (real republicanism being a very mild form of libertarianism, in the same way that democracy is a very mild form of socialism.) The terms republican and democrat, as used by the current parties, have about as much value as the penny, and for the same reason; there is nothing of value backing them up. Which probably explains why they've made ballot access so difficult that anyone trying to offer real political value can't get on the ballot. They couldn't stand the competition.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Law & Order

The law-and-order Conservatives in the Bush administration are being accused (by Democrats, of course) of failing to enforce, you guessed it, the law. Apparently, having been unsuccessful in modifying Environmental Protection and No Child Left Behind rules, they are simply refusing to enforce the rules or prosecute violations. Law-and-order for thee, but not for me!


In only a short number of years, Condoleezza Rice has gone from being one of the most respected academics in the country to a striving bureaucrat of only middling success. What a waste. While Colin Powell had enough integrity to realize he’d made a mistake in aligning himself, and to withdraw as quickly as possible, Condi appears perfectly willing to sacrifice her sharp mind (and soul) on the alter of the Bush administration's foreign policies.

The True Cost of Government Roads

A $14.6 billion, 20-year public-sector roadway project in Boston remains closed after faulty, though inspected, construction resulted in the death of Milena Del Valle two weeks ago. She was killed on July 10 when a section of tunnel roof collapsed on her automobile. Apparently, one inspector had done his job and reported the flawed construction seven years ago, but in typical bureaucratic fashion, the government agencies responsible for the project had suppressed the memo and allowed the faulty construction to continue. Cautious Bostonians would undoubtedly be taking privately owned roadways as an alternative, if they existed or were even legal.

Super-size it, please.

And, speaking of out-of-proportion responses, police in Illinois shot and killed yet another person with a knife early this Wednesday. As in the many similar cases now occurring throughout America each year, it apparently would have been impossible for them to have shot the man in the leg or to have otherwise non-fatally disabled him.

And especially not for thou...

Meanwhile, another judge ruled this week that it is okay for her state to ignore the federal Constitution’s “privileges and immunities” clause (and presumably the "equal protections" clause also) because limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the state’s essential interest in procreation -- more babies mean more canon fodder for war and more tax payers for growing government. Perhaps marriage licenses should be made renewable, annually, dependent on pregnancy and child residency. Surely this would both create a valuable revenue stream for government and increase procreation -- or at least attempted procreation.

Protections for Me, but Not for Thee

In unrelated rulings, Federal and State judges ruled this week that citizens’ need for privacy are outweighed by the government’s need to poke around in their telephone records, but that legislators’ need for privacy outweighs the need for the press to investigate the accuracy of claims regarding a legislator’s health claims. (Of course, the press doesn’t need to investigate; we all know that legislators don’t lie!)

Blame the Victim

Jewish and Christian Conservative opinion writers continue their denunciations of the United Nations in the wake of Israel’s likely intentional bombing of a UN observation post in Lebanon. Most are now responding to Kofi Annan’s statements regarding Israel’s actions by implying that he himself is responsible for the Peacekeepers’ deaths because he refused to pull them out of Lebanon. This sounds suspiciously like something that Saddam Hussein would have said, but of course, since these writers are Christian and Jews, rather then Muslims, we aren’t supposed to point out the absurdity of their claims. Meanwhile, the rest of America continues to pretend the imbroglio in Lebanon, and our own fiasco in Iraq, isn’t about religion.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

See a Penny...

Cartoonists continue to take delight in the proposal to scrap the American penny. They all seem to miss the point though that the proposal reflects the fact that the American dollar has been so devalued by the inflationary practices of the Federal government that 4 of every 5 cents in a dollar are now worthless. It would be more accurate to say those 20 cents on the dollar aren't really worthless, they've more precisely been stolen...

Worthless pennies. That's what happens when you let the government eliminate a standard for your currency and sell the precious metals backing up intrinsically worthless paper bills and alloy coins. That's right, first they convinced Americans to trust them with their "cakes," to put the cakes in a Federal banking system, and that all we needed were receipts for the cakes to trade among ourselves. Next they suckered us into believing that the cakes weren't really necessary to give the receipts value, that we could have our cakes and eat them too, so to speak. (Of course that was only an excuse for the government to sell the cakes and line their pockets with the proceeds.) Finally, they starting flooding the system with duplicate receipts for the cakes that had already been eaten (or which never existed in the first place), bringing down the value of the receipts for the (now eaten) real cakes. Now, we're waking up to the fact that we've been using receipts for pretend cakes as currency, and that there isn't much value left in this fraudulent system. If you still don't understand what I'm talking about, go back and reread this again, but substitute the world "gold" for "cakes."

Maybe rather then getting rid of the penny, we should go back to the gold standard and give the pennies some value again.