Friday, September 24, 2004

Bush flip-flops

In 2000, the Democrats were wrong to treat terrorism as a major threat. In 2004, it is Bush's number 1 priority.

In 2000, the Democrats were wrong to have US troops overseas. In 2004 Bush says that it is absolutely necessary.

In 2001, Bush thought that cooperation with our allies was a mistake. In 2004 Bush is begging them for help.

In 2000, Bush thought that the Star Wars missile defense program was a top priority. In 2004, it no longer matters.

In 2001, Bush was courting the Taliban with gifts. In 2002, he attacked them. In 2003, his mind wandered elsewhere.

In 2001, Bush thought that the best way to fight the threat of terrorism was to ignore it and go on vacation. In 2004, Bush thinks
that the best way to fight the threat of terrorism is to ignore it and attack uninvolved countries. And go on vacation.

In 2000, Bush claimed that education was a top priority. In 2004, George W. Bush proposed drastic cutbacks in education spending.

In April 2001, George W. Bush claimed the bipartisan anti-terrorism bill was a mistake. In October of 2001, he complained that it needed
to be implemented immediately.

In April 2003, George W. Bush claimed that Iraq was mission accomplished. In 2004, 600 dead American soldiers later, George W.
Bush claims that Iraq is mission accomplished.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

We're not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

If you can't trust Garrison Keillor to talk straight... who can you?

We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

By Garrison Keillor

August 26, 2004


Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element.

The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today's.

Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.


In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, too k a pass and made training films in Long Beach.


The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.

Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires!

Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy the single greatest fai lure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this.

The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours.

The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear --- fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence he opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint mullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the end of innocence, or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the Constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Acts of Creation

I love watching the cd come together under my hands. It's such a rush to have all the elements in my head become reality on the screen. I wish I had that same luck with writing. I see pictures, and I have trouble translating them to words... but given the right tools, the pictures in my head do come to life.

I think everyone is going to be very pleased with this new iteration. I'm forging ahead without the full team, because I don't want to waste my time catherding.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Abyss

The idea that suicide is selfish has always, honestly, made me feel sad for the people who say it. That's the (understandable) anger and hurt response of the people left behind.

Having been at that point myself, and talked with many other near-suicides, I can safely say that being selfish is the last thing on your mind. For most of us, dying was the most *selfless* thing we could think of doing. Not only were we trying to end our pain, but the pain of the people around us who had to 'deal' with us. How much better the world would be, were we not in it!

Suicide is a breakdown of the self-preservation instinct. How a person gets to that point varies, but I've explained it like this...

Imagine you're walking a road, and the road leads to an arid, barren land. There is nothing but dry, empty wasteland as far as the eye can see. Occasionally, unexpectedly, there is an oasis, and you can rest there, but eventually the call of the road always sets you to walking.

So you walk, focused on the empty landscape streching out endlessly before you. You grow thirsty, hungry, weak. Every step is a struggle for body and soul. Suddenly, without any warning at all, you find yourself steps away from a bottomless chasm. You turn to go back, and are confronted with a seemingly endless wall that has spring up behind you. You may hear voices urging you to safety, feel hands reaching to pull you over the wall, but to you they are ghost sounds, mirages of the heat and your mind.

Trapped between wall and chasm, you must chose...claw your weakend self over that wall, or step into the abyss.

That's suicide. And really, only someone who's been deep into that wasteland can understand it. Some people come back and fight against anyone else wanting to die. Some of their methods are effective, some of them aren't, and hold echos of the hurt they felt, and the anger that was projected onto them by the people around them.

And some of us see somoene wanting to die, and nod, and say "We know how you feel. We can't stop you, it is your right, but know that you aren't completely trapped." Maybe they will hear our voice as they stand by the chasm. Maybe we can find the sledgehammer that will break through their wall.

Suicide is selfish? Sometimes my response to that is mindnumbing *anger*. How dare they judge us that way. How much more selfish is it to tell someone they must be in pain, they must ache, body mind and soul, just so you won't lose them? Are you at the core of their hurt? Do you know why they want to die? Then don't presume to know what motivates them into that chasm. Do everything you can to help them back from the edge, but guilt and blame and anger is *not* the way to be heard.