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Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's The Harm?

I am amazed the the lower house has managed to hold the warrant-less wiretap FISA act at bay without their usual craven immediate surrender to the Bushies. I heard from more than one liberal writer that if it makes us safe, "what's the harm?". Well, I'll tell you what the harm is. In my youth the FBI wiretapped citizens regularly for political purposes. Dossiers reminiscent of those collected by the secret police in East Germany were held by director J. Edgar Hoover's office. The CIA ran clandestine operations against leftists all up and down both coasts. The NSA developed the capacity to monitor all phone calls, and uses better versions of the software to this day. People lost their jobs because of government meddling in legal political acts. Perhaps the most famous warrant-less wiretap was used against Martin Luther King, but there were thousands who paid the price of holding some ideas that the permanent government found unacceptable. Conservatives seem to embrace and promote the concept of the security state. A security state is by definition inefficient, and  anathema to market economics. What killed the Soviet economy was as much the drain of resources used to keep an eye on everyone and everything as was central planning. The record keeping was staggering in East Germany and it seemed as if every other citizen was a Stazzi agent, drawing a salary. The police states of Europe never had the technical advantages we have in 2008. With almost infinite space for digital storage and online webcams available to everyone the mind staggers with thoughts of the capacity available to the National Security Agency. 

Anyone who thinks a police state can't happen here just hasn't been playing attention. To turn the right to abrogate the fourth amendment over to the policing agencies is foolish. The secret FISA courts are bad enough, but do allow some oversight that takes the final decision out of the hands of the unaccountable and anonymous agents of an increasingly bully boy government.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome Back Writers

Those of us who live or die by the light of the great goddess Television are about to be restored. Colbert and Jon Stewart are technically back yesterday, but obviously didn't have a bag o' bits to pull up. Recovery will take time. Lost will be even more incomprehensible because the writers have forgotten where they were in the plot line. The lack of writers actually made Leno more tolerable. The Oscars will still be unwatchable. My son has a big box of Anime DVDs in his old room, I think I may just crack it open between now and Baseball's opening day.

Your Oil Money At Work

George Bush's bestest buddy, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is about to execute a woman for witchcraft. Check out the BBC's website for the whole story. Apparently her accuser was made impotent by her ju-ju, and then thumb printed a confession (did I mention she is illiterate?) sealing her fate.
I can't believe we are still financing these jokers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Shame Of Seattle.

In downtown Seattle, between I5 and the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal sits The Discovery Institute, a pseudo-science think tank and right wing lobbying organization. Discovery Institute plays a sort of clearing house for unbranded creationism and anti-evolutionist propaganda. Perhaps the DI didn't invent the concept of "intelligent design" but they sure have become the marketing agency for the concept of an unnamed (but suspiciously exactly like the god of the bible) as the creator of immutable animal forms we see today. The DI doesn't stop at evolution. The DI fellows will supply you with a pro-war, pro-imperial foreign policy speaker for your Chamber of Commerce meetings. To prove that they are not totally evil they do support solar energy, but turn around and promote the "paving only" solution for traffic gridlock.

Such an organization should feel more at home in Dallas or  Houston, and not in notoriously liberal, unchurched Seattle. The Disco Institute is largely funded by the weird millionaire recluse George Guilder who is currently in the running for the  coveted title of "The New Howard Hughes".

Monday, February 11, 2008

Twilight Of The Gasbags.

I'm not predicting the AM radio bloviators are done. Limbaugh and company aren't going anywhere. Boomers are aging, and a good percentage of the males are certain to turn into grumpy cranks, the natural audience of the reactionary right broadcasters. I am predicting larger audiences and more money in the wingers' pockets. It's all about entertainment and reinforcement of prejudices. The Twilight of the gasbags refers to the public opera  that we are watching. Like all entertainment there is shorthand that allows the directors and actors to move the plot along. If you see a guy in a TV drama with squinting eyes, tattoos, a shaved head and short goatee, we're looking at a villain. No need to take time to explain his biography. In romantic opera the eighteenth century audiences understood that if the Queen put on an ornate shepherdess costume, nobody would recognize her. Mozart didn't have to tell people that her lover wasn't a total retard when he couldn't see who she was. The opera that is opening on Amplitude Modulated electromagnetic wave emanations will be filled with the cultural short hand of the right that many folks don't understand. 
First a few definitions: Border fence = No Mexicans, Crime = Put all the "N-word boys" in jail,   Push one for English = No Mexicans,  Socialized medicine = medical care everywhere else,  English only = No Mexicans, Tax cuts = no taxes for me, 
Regulation =  you can just breathe that smog.  McCain = Traitor,  Democrat Party = traitors,  Liberal Republicans = traitors, Elites = anyone I don't like.

The Opera "Twilight of the Gasbags" opens with the procession to the Republican convention across wasted farmlands and emptied cities by auto-flagellating  conservatives The wailing of Ann Coulter can be heard above the clank of the chain whips shredding the backs of the delegates. From his throne overlooking the procession the Great Rush glowers and mutters to his sycophants  that he has washed his hands of this impure party, wandered so far from the dogma of the Holy Ronald.
The party marches into sure doom, and the losses are legion. The Republican Congressman and Senators have been driven into the wilderness. The beast Hillbama rules from the house of white and slowly begins to pry the accumulated wealth of the long pampered overlords from their claws and apply it to the long neglected national needs.

In the second act King Rush has set up a gripeocracy in the radio waves belonging to the American people, and attracts millions of listeners to his daily regurgitation of resentments. The Handlers of Snake cultists have withdrawn to their megachurches and their priests live on in luxury. The few guerrilla libertarians found camps in the jungle and dream of perfection. The Republican Party no longer exists, and the Whigs are re-established.

In the last act King Rush, slowly dying of AIDS caught on sex tourism excursions to the Dominican Republic and oxycontin poisoning, bathes in dittos from his adoring fans and cash from his advertisers. His eighth wife, curiously named Anne Boleyn, has him carried to his seventy foot yacht to be burned at sea. The police inform her that she should have waited until he was actually dead, and the insurance company probably wouldn't cover the boat because she, you know, set fire to it. Millions of true believers mourn and pray for the return of Reagan.  Bitterness and anger reign.

I'm enjoying the show so far.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

NEWS: The Head Dies. The Body Lives On!

Ron Paul has called it quits according to the DC Wonkette.  That shows me his not quite as disconnected from reality as I thought. He realized not only was he not going to get the nomination (Duh!), but he is in serious danger losing his house seat. Que Pragmatiqué!
OK. That kills off the head, now if the body will just get the massage. A couple of posts ago I think I called Ron Paul a walking temper tantrum. Anyone who ever had a three year old knows that talking or bargaining a toddler out of a fit is an exercise on futility. I suspect the Paulistas are plotting a coup de état.
Calling Blackwater......