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Saturday, August 06, 2005
HIROSHIMA NON AMOUR
or, HERE WE GO AGAIN
I am about to broach heresy, so be warned.
The dogma of the Left is and has been that the bombing of Hiroshima, using a nuclear weapon was 1) Unnecessary, 2) Against Innocent Civilians, and 3) an Atrocity.
The dogma of the Right has been that the bombing of Hiroshima was to 1) Save lives, 2) Justified in time of war, and 3) The Left is KRAZEE.
Unfortunately, the simple fact is that Hiroshima is a fact. The "what ifs" are of academic interest, but we cannot know: we can only speculate. The question becomes: what are we going to do about the fact of it?
But let's return to Hiroshima, and today's commemoration of sixty years, because, if nothing else, Hiroshima forced all of Mankind into a new phase of either a whole new responsibility, or else an irresponsibility without precedent in human experience.
Since 1945, the Japanese have taught their children about the atrocity at Hiroshima. This is understandable. But they have not bothered to place it in historical context. Most Japanese have no idea about Pearl Harbor, Manchuria, or the Rape of Nanking. Neither have they any knowledge of Unit 731, Saipan, Peleleiu, Iwo Jima or Okinawa. Which is, again, understandable, but eventually the whole story will need to be known.
We did not engage in a war crimes trial on the order of Nuremberg, but that was not for a want of evidence or charges: it was political. We did not want to embarrass the Japanese in the face of the Soviets, and the United States government was equally complicit with the Japanese in sanitizing their history. What the ultimate consequences of salving the national ego will be, no one knows.
Nor do they (or we) seem to understand the alternative to that bombing. MacArthur was, reportedly, disappointed that he wasn't allowed to mount his massive invasion of the Japanese Mainland: Operation Olympic.
The savagery of the Pacific portion of World War Two was almost unimaginable. The Japanese did not surrender, not did they follow any of the "rules" of warfare that Allied armies were used to. Torture and mistreatment of prisoners, and, obversely, the stubborn insistence of Japanese soldiers to never surrender were the hallmarks.
In the last year of the war, the Japanese resistance had become suicidal. There was a fanaticism about it that can be explained over and over by historians and soldiers who fought, but can't really be comprehended. Peleleiu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa were bloodbaths of what the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu called "killing ground" -- the only way to take each island was to kill every Japanese on it. On Okinawa, even the Japanese civilians had jumped from cliffs, rather than surrender. The Japanese were steadily and stealthily preparing for the inevitable invasion.
Let's pretend for a minute. Let's pretend that no bombs were dropped, and that the Allies invaded the Japanese mainland.
In the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C, thousands of pages of yellowing documents -- now declassified -- comprise the formerly "Top Secret" plans for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan during World War II.
Finalized during the spring and summer of 1945, Operation Downfall called for two massive military undertakings to be carried out in succession against the Japanese Empire.
According to OPERATION OLYMPIC (An Invasion Not Found in History Books) -- Editor: James Martin Davis, details supplied by Lt.Col.A.E.Roberts, ret.
"In the first invasion, - code-named Operation Olympic - American combat troops would land on Japan by amphibious assault during the early morning hours of 1 Nov. 1945 - 52 years ago. Fourteen combat divisions of soldiers and Marines would land on heavily fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the Japanese home islands after an unprecedented naval and aerial bombardment.Unfortunately, the Allies were almost completely wrong about the Japanese defenses. For months, the Japanese high command had been furiously planning for the inevitable invasion. They had dispersed their manufacturing into "cottage" industries, with lathes, drill presses, etc. etc. spread into every house and block of the cities. It had become impossible to bomb the Japanese factories, because all of Japan WAS a factory.
Worst of all, the planners of Operation Downfall seriously underestimated Japanese defensive capabilities. They had honeycombed their shores with massive cave complexes, learning from the defenses of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and were prepared with mines, spider-holes and chemical weapons.
According to "Operation Olympic":
"Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more than 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed 300 would be deployed in suicide attacks.Casualties that were estimated (for Allied troops) were one to two million. But it is almost impossible to believe that they would have been that low. There is little doubt that the Japanese civilians were prepared to fight to the death. To that end, the Japanese Government propaganda endlessly hammered the national slogan: One Hundred Million Will Die for the Emperor and Nation.
Their slogan may well have been self-fulfilling prophecy. And, of course, this presumes that Japan's defeat was a foregone conclusion. After a long, bloody campaign, bogged down by staggering losses, the Soviets might have rolled over Western Europe, as we sent more and more European units to fight in Japan. Perhaps the Japanese might have concluded an alliance with Stalin, and a wholly different war emerged, with Japan and the USSR agreeing to conquer and sharing China.
War is an insane business, and as long as it burns out of control anything is possible. But the invasion would have been a bloodbath, and there is virtually no doubt whatsoever of that much.
I commend the article referenced above, which is fascinating reading, but this conclusion is still chilling:
"Intelligence studies and military estimates made more than 40 years ago, and no latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle for Japan might well have resulted in the biggest blood bath in the history of modern warfare.We are about to enter another phase of nuclear proliferation. Had there been an opportunity during the 1980s arms limitations treaties to raise the issue that it was in the best interests of BOTH the Soviet Union and the United States to use their combined nuclear superiority to force the rest of the world to nuclearly disarm, that opportunity was wasted. Nuclear proliferation is the genie that has escaped the bottle. We now fight against the inevitable.
If there has been a lesson learned from nuclear science, it is that nuclear science is fundamentally deadly, impossible to contain, and burdens generations unborn with the horrendous consequences of nuclear waste.
Consider that our nuclear waste will be dangerous for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. If we consider that "civilization" has only existed for perhaps ten thousand years (even "Creationists" will admit this), it is a monstrous presumption to unleash a problem that will last far longer than we've been raising plants for food!
Nuclear power is every bit as dangerous as nuclear weapons, and it distresses me (especially since Three Mile Island) that anyone in their right mind would RE-raise the subject as any sort of sane solution for an energy crisis.
To place nuclear reactors as targets for terrorism and war is as insane as it is dangerous. Yet, we presume that merely because a reactor is not a bomb, that we are talking apples and oranges.
Here's a little thought experiment: Consider every nuclear reactor to be a potential Hiroshima. No, not the initial blast, that killed about 70,000. No, the AFTER-blast radiation effects that killed almost as many, if not more.
One Hiroshima for every nuclear reactor that exists, or is sited, or planned to exist. If they want to keep their bombs, let's take those away last. But let's stop nuclear energy right now. We can always discuss bombs, later.
What's the most important thing to understand about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Well, critically, that you END wars with nuclear weapons exchanges; generally you don't start them that way, any more than domestic disputes don't generally start with shotguns, but sometimes end with them.
And you don't leave shotguns lying around, loaded and unattended, either. Even if the room is "locked." Sometimes, locks fail.
What we need to understand is that we have passed the time when we can start "limited" wars, period. The Japanese thought they had learned that when they adopted their post-War constitution. And, since 1945, Japan has neither started nor defended itself in any war. But the United States sure hasn't learned that lesson, and it is imperative that they do. And soon.
Friday, August 05, 2005
MY BLOG ATE MY HOMEWORK
or, A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,886 WORDS
Thursday, August 04, 2005
MY FAVORITE WINGNUT
or, WHAT WOULD JESUS LIE ABOUT?
Here's a little secret: for several years now, as I have written my regular iconoclastic letters to the REGISTER-GUARD, some local yokel has felt it important to save my eternal soul, and correct me in the error of my ways.
There are two things I know about him/her: first, he/she is heavily into fairly radical fundie/politico-"Christianity," and, secondly, he/she is a coward.
The letters always arrive, stuffed with several pages of 14 point Macintosh printout, yellow-highlighted with what I take to be his/her "points." Sometimes, pithy passages are carefully underlined using a straight-edge.
They never include a return address. And they are never signed.
Now, I've been in this writing business for too long to take them as anything other than a compliment: people usually don't say anything if they agree with you (I've received fewer than ten letters and post cards of "fan mail" in three decades), but I've gotten a lot of hate mail over the years -- which means that I made them think. Whatever I said was SO threatening to their reality that they felt obligated to respond. And that's the name of the game. If you can't touch your readers, then you're in the wrong game, kiddies.
So, I had a letter in the paper last week, and on Monday, I received my semi-regular wingnut letter, postmarked from Eugene 97402. They don't do time stamps anymore, which is too bad, because I don't know whether it was because of my KOPT appearance with Mac on Nancy Stapp's show Friday morning (least likely) or my Wednesday letter in the R-G (more likely) about KOPT morning host Dave Wooton's Op-Ed in the R-G the previous week.
The reason that I was on Friday morning with Nancy, ironically, was that, following Wooton's kind of over-the-top op-ed, the morning show with Liz and Dave was cancelled. (Don't worry, the Management are decent folks: Dave has a job with another FM station in town, and Liz moved over to their kewl jazz station, KLZS-AM -- or KLSZ, I forget which -- so nobody lost their livelihood, which seemed apparent in what had become Dave's regular screeching at his audience who disagreed with his pro-war position: "You're THREATENING MY JOB!")
So, the wingnut sent me five single-spaced pages "correcting" me on my letter.
OK: Here's my 241-word response to Dave's 596-word screed (Yeah. I was edited from my traditional 250-words-exactly letter. I'm growing rather tired of the new letters person at the R-G diddling my prose, which is something they never used to do. The hallmark of the newbie editor is changing an author's work arbitrarily, just to "prove" that they're doing their job. But that's a snark for another day.)
Here's the pithy part of Dave's guest viewpoint that you'll need for my letter:
What exactly is progressive? What does it mean? Everyone seems to have a different opinion. I decided to pull out my trusty, corner-crumpled edition of the New Merriam-Webster Dictionary.And here's my letter, that I wanted to pull, when on the previous Friday, July 22, I learned that Dave had been released from service. Recall that I wrote this letter on July 20, two days before Dave was let go. So, I wondered if it would seem cruel, were it published afterwards. Still, the Rubicon having been crossed, I let it go, wondering if they'd publish it anyway.
Note also that I refused to speak ill of a KOPT employee (Dave) ON KOPT. But I felt that I'd been a regular in the R-G (paid and pro bono) for over eleven years now, and I had a right to respond to his essay in the R-G IN the R-G.
Wooten's definition confusing*There you go. That was it. And now, the five-page wingnut letter appears anonymously:
Entitled "REBELLION," I'll just hit the high points of the highlighted points. I do this so that we may, together, analyze my wicked and Satanic ways of Iniquity, and profit thereby in learning EXACTLY what circle of Hell I'm going to be inhabiting in future Eternal/Infernal Existence -- which may well prove a boon to those of you who'd like to have your ectoplasmic mail forwarded to my FPO address in Hades, later on. Onward, as Mort Sahl used to say.
It begins with point "4" so I assume it's cut and pasted out of a longer wingnut piece. Heck. Hold on a minute and let's see if I can Google it. Might be nice to know WHICH Fire and Brimstone Fundie Fundraiser penned my latest damnation tract. (Found something LIKE IT, see below.)
Here's the parsed pith'ed off portion of point four, in yellow, condensed a bit:
"It follows from this that the punishments he (sic) [God, which SHOULD be uppercase in the pronoun aforequoted] exacted of old from the ungodly and the wicked he will also exact nowadays from others of their kind. He cannot deny himself (again, sic), nor does he have respect of persons that he should pardon the same offense in one case, and punish it in the other. He hates unrighteousness equally wherever it may be found."
(I leave out the stuff about Sodom also underlined out of respect for the delicacy of my readership, all of whom are extremely bright, sensitive and intelligent persons of superior perspicacity and most excellent taste.)
Now, dear reader, what wisdom may be gleaned from this? That God cannot make himself into a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it? Well, no, although it does seem to be a corollary.
What we have learned is that Your Humble Correspondent is not only unrighteous, but also wicked and ungodly, and that God won't be able to help Himself when it comes to Smiting me. (Which, I suppose, having called someone those names, would explain why the letter sender would prefer to remain anonymous and let God do the Smiting.) I presume with great and terrible Wroth, but such is not explicitly stated.
I would presume (for reasons that will be later revealed, Gentle Reader) that it is my opposition to the War that engendered this "love" epistle from our anonymous apostle, and not Dave's exalted transcendence, although the latter might well have factored into the equation.
We return to our text:
from point 5: "The meaning of the words is that after God had submerged the human race he (sic) founded as it were a new world over again." This turns out to be plagiarizede straight from John Calvin (founder of Calvinism.)
Here's the quote in its original form: "As Calvin commented:510 "After God had submerged the human race, He founded as it were a new world over again...." Calvin's Commentary on Second Peter (2:5), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1948.
So, our wingnut is either writing or quoting a plagiarist. (no citation within the screed, the author acts as if the words were the author's own! That's "Godly" right?)
But here's the part that relates to me: "a crowd will not be any kind of shield to protect sinners before God. As many as have sinned will pay the penalty, whether they are few in number or many."
I don't know if this part was plagiarized too, but clearly I am being warned that me and my scum buddies will all be punished and smited and/or smote, no matter how big our club is. Alas, I have never given a fig for popular opinion or peer pressure, so this threat is entirely lost on me. I am self-damned all on my own, without any help from any other sinners.
Point 6. "The Cities of Sodom." Which is, of course, subliterate. Anyone who's read the actual Bible (as opposed to cribbing Calvin) knows that it was the sister cities Sodom and Gomorrah, kind of the anal/oral sex versions of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota -- unless the analogy is exact. I have been to the Twin Cities, but how much they emulate Sodom and Gomorrah, I couldn't hazard a guess.
Here's what I did wrong there: "This is what Jude has expressed in speaking of the punishment of eternal fire."
So I guess I'm DEFINITELY heading for Brimstoneville, so remember to write your letters on non-flammable paper.
The Epistle'd-off anony-Mouse thence skips to point number 9:
"This clause is to show that God adjusts his judgement (sic) so as to bear with the wicked for a time, but not leave them unpunished."
I think we all get the gist of this legalistic assertion, so let's just skip on to point 10, wherein our secret admirer pulled out the old straight edge, and UNDERLINED (which I'll flag with *asterisks* here) certain yellow-highlighted stuff:
"After saying that they hold authority in contempt, he [sic: He, if referring to God, but whom 'he' is, I cannot divine -- pun intended] goes on to show that he (sic) source of this evil is that they are *'daring and self-willed'* Finally to heighten their pride even more, he says that they do not tremble even to rail insulting dignities."
I have no idea what "tremble even to rail insulting dignities" means. I only speak English, and this formulation, while SEEMING to be English doesn't parse worth doodley-squat. Sadly, the insult and reprimand intended by our Anonymous-Smiting-Harbinger-Person is lost in an arcane and meaningless formulation.
Still, perhaps he/she/it means that Bolton-esque ambassadors traveling via railroads don't make me shiver. And this is certainly the case, if the writer meant "dignitaries" rather than "dignities." Given their slovenly writing style, I think that this might well be the case.
We move on to the most damning (or, given its scattershot nature, "darning") implied accusation against Your Humble Correspondent in the entire yellow-highlighted and underlined Calvinist tract (which, referencing Peter, suggests that this is a hideously transcribed version of Calvin's commentary in its entirety, else it is heavily cribbed from same. Fine by me: I have always thought that Calvin was an asshole, anyway. Still, Bush seems to trace his religious lineage from the harshness of a Calvinist sub-theology, and it would be, therefore, appropriate, given what follows).
Read carefully, because while what follows is, frankly, insane, it gibes perfectly with Mad King George's statements that God put him in office, that he consulted God about going to war (and was evidently spoken to, in turn) and that God gave us our freedom and God wants us to spread that freedom all over the world.
Take a deep breath. Here goes:
"It is a monstrous presumption to hold in no regard the prestige which adorns those set in high positions by God (Romans 13.1-5). There is no doubt that he mans emperors and magistrates, *who, at God's command, in governing the human race, they act as viceroys of God.* [grammar = sic] Thus the second clause of Peter is namely, that *those men of whom he speaks were madmen*, stirring up troubles and creating confusion, because no one can bring anarchy into the world without introducing disorder. [NB: Duh. Anarchy is, by definition, disorder. This is the fallacy of the tautology.] *These men unblushingly belched forth abuse against the magistrates to take away all respect for public law and order, and this was openly to attack God with their blasphemies.* [NB: Sound familiar?] There are many turbulent men of this kind today who boast that all the power of the sword is heathen and unlawful and who busy themselves furiously to overthrow the body politic. *Such ravings are stirred up by Satan.*
Get it? I'm against the insane, illegal and fraudulent war, but because Mad King George is "God's viceroy" I'm evidently impelled by Satan and an anarchist, to boot.
Well, that as well may be, but I despise anarchists, so I'll just stick with Satanic blasphemy, thank you very much.
But, really, this is the crux: Our anonymous Inquisitor has laid at my doorstep monstrous charges of acting monstrously because I have dared to oppose murder in the name of the Divinely appointed King.
I do not use the term "Mad King George" hyperbolically, Gentle Reader. Since the Enlightenment, we have, UNIVERSALLY, in Western Civilization, dispensed with the ancient lunacy of "Divine Right" i.e. that a King is appointed and anointed by God His-Own-Self, and is answerable ONLY to God His-Own-Self.
But, if that line of reasoning WERE true, then no "true" Christian could have opposed Saddam Hussein (God's Viceroy), Idi Amin (God's Magistrate) or any other tyrant.
And this, Dear Reader, is sheerest fanatic lunatic horseshit. [Synchronicity: Bush is soundbiting on CNN News as I write this: "We have prevailed because what we did was right." Which is, of course, unBiblical as hell: compare with Solomon (attributed) Ecclesiastes 9:11-12, "I returned and saw under the sun that - The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all." Whoops!]
Besides: Trial by Combat went out at the end of the Middle Ages, no matter how much Mad King George would like to bring it back.
The other "viceroys" and "magistrates" of God are the Congress and the Supreme Court, in our little government, and Mad King George is currently defying them BOTH.
So, all branches being equal, how can it be argued that (which is the actual assertion here) disagreeing with Mad King George is blaspheming God?
Somebody's doing the work of Satan, for damn sure, but I have this nagging feeling that, unworthy and sinful as I am, I'm not the guilty party here.
Our Craven Churchly Accuser concludes with additional yellow-highlighted allusions to "debased morals," "impure wickedness," "audacious," "perverse," "scurrilous," and "so utterly stupid that they are indistinguishable from cattle," all of which are rather childish slurs, but the essential point has been made, finally:
In rebelling against Mad King George, I have rebelled against God.
True in the former case, utter falsehood in the latter case.
But look: this is a window into the insane workings of the collective mind of the Rapture Right, or the Religious Right, or the Fundie Fanatics, or whatever else you'd like to call the wingnuts that are trying to run this country.
And, as long as I'm damned to hell anyway (or, indeference to sensitive inner ears, "darned to heck"), let me just say this: this kind of thinking is not merely Satanic, it is criminal, it is indefensible, and we must spare no effort to bring this Reign of Terror (which it LITERALLY is) to an end.
Were he watching this stuff today, Jesus would probably say: "Wherefore, by their fruitcakiness, ye shall know them." notMatthew 7:20
But here is what he DID say: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Matthew 7:18
And, as long as the secret accuser insists on slandering me via Second Peter, allow me to introduce a quotation from that text of MY choosing:
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you." -- 2 Peter 2:1 [NIV]
But then, Gentle Reader, as we all realize by this point: I'm in "rebellion" and will end up in -- as my correspondent notes in a cramped hand in the marginalia -- "The Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:15."
Anybody know where I can pick up some asbestos waterskis, cheap?
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
ANOTHER CASUALTY IN THE CHINESE WAR
or, PUTTING THE "MOCK" IN DEMOCRACY
One of my oldest friends lost his job last week. He lives in the Old South, and was working as a designer for a textile company. A couple years ago, he realized that the job he had with another textile company was a dead end, and he started looking around for another job.
I remember when he found it: he was moving to the outskirts of a Southern city, suddenly with access to movies, libraries, museums, and all the other stuff that had been missing in his life in a smaller town. Moreover, because of the low interest rates, he and his wife were able to buy a home -- something that he'd all but given up on ever owning.
He and I are the same age as John Roberts, but our journey through the Post-Watergate world has been quite different than cozying up with the Republican power-elite. He's just trying to survive, even though he's a talented artist, and has some amazing book covers to his credit.
Here's a piece of his letter:
I got laid off from my job, yesterday.There it was: short, simple, tragic.
And, ironically, CAFTA squeaked through the House of Representatives within the same 24 hour period -- the Senate had already approved it -- by two votes, 217 to 215. I've been listening to a Republican Congressman from North Carolina on the Ed Schultz show, talking about how NC has lost 200,000 jobs to NAFTA (many in the textile business) and I couldn't help but link the two.
China isn't Guatemala, but it might as well be.
But, just for fun, pretend that he lives in North Carolina, and multiply the following by 200,000.
Nothing I say or do, as an emotional response, will change anything, anyway.Now, multiply that by 200,000, and then go back and multiply it by a couple million. Because that's what NAFTA and outsourcing have done to us.
According to The Economic Policy Institute:
The rising trade deficit in manufactured goods accounts for about 58% of the decline in manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2003 and 34% of the decline from 2000 to 2003. This translates into about 1.78 million jobs since 1998 and 935,000 jobs since 2000 that have been lost due to rising net manufactured imports.(http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/briefingpapers_bp149)
The report cited also notes that US demand has remained essentially flat: no rise or fall.
But let's just look at the Chinese textile industry:
Yes. And it's a war that we're losing. Mr. de Stefano notes that China has seen its vast pool of cheap labor as its "ticket into the world economy of the 21st century" and has invested huge amounts of cash into capital improvements (to create pens for that labor to labor in).
And even though their government is massively subsidizing the assault (perhaps the FATAL assault) on our textile industry, our government does what?
Gives massive tax breaks and subsidies to an energy industry wallowing in the largest profits ever recorded in human history.
Let me reiterate that: the largest profits ever recorded in human history.
And they continue to attempt to institutionalize gargantual tax breaks, and GENERATIONAL tax breaks (via the killing of the Estate Tax) for the wealthiest generation since the Age of the Robber Barons.
Let me reiterate THAT: the WEALTHIEST generation since the Age of the Robber Barons. The S&L bailout of "great" President Reagan was the largest single transfer of human wealth in history, and it's now followed by huge tax breaks and a roadmap for a heriditary oligarchy the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Age of the Medicis.
And, let's face it, the Bush clan has been obsessed with obtaining wealth for three generations at least -- ever since two of the grandfathers were found guilty of doing business with Adolph Hitler under the "Trading with the Enemy" laws in 1942. Bush himself was a "made" man after the citizens of Arlington, Texas were blackmailed (or wouldn't it be "white-male"ed?) into building a new stadium for the pathetic ex-Washington Senators baseball team, netting Dubya a cool $18 million.
That's the business model that is being protected.
And people like my friend are exposed and sacrificed to the interests of folks like Bush (the Waltons of Wal-Mart come to mind), who are interested in making a pile of money in a hurry, and never mind who you step on. (The citizens of Arlington are, no doubt, STILL paying for that stadium, even though Bush cashed HIS check long ago).
So, they aren't interested in protecting our citizens and our workers in the trade war, even though China is funding it directly via their government.
And, as the Japanese assault on our automobile industry wasn't a random choice, so, too, the Chinese "war" on our economy isn't random either.
But what the hell, right? It's not you having to suddenly consider having to move to an entirely different industry on the eve of your 50th birthday, right? It's not you who, just as you were contemplating actually having scraped your way up the unyielding face of the ever growing mountain to the "ownership society" now are staring at a fraying rope and a long, long fall to the valley floor below.
It's a hell of a hit to take on the cusp of middle age. Where the hell do you go? What the hell do you do? How do you stave off despair? Put yourself in his shoes for a minute.
But *you're* safe, right?
Well, here's something to help you with your insomnia:
from the Financial Times (UK)
China and Russia joint exercises to strengthen tiesThe "trade war" may give way to other sorts of wars. If China invades Taiwan, we're so over-extended there really isn't a lot we can do about it. ("Peace Mission 2005"? Don't make me laugh. Orwell's got to have calluses on his ass from spinning so rapidly in his grave these last few years.)
But at least the idiot-king has managed to unite the Chinese and Russian militaries, right? Good show, George. Brilliant damned move.
And CAFTA will tap into another source of cheap labor, virtually none of which will be buying US goods. Just taking US jobs. Good show, George. Brilliant damned move.
These are the people who put the "mock" in "democracy," the fellows who put the "thug" in "republican."
[I'll pass over the typical media coverup: the vote was a loss at the end of the voting period, so the Republicans in the House decided to cheat, to change the rules, as they did in the "Prescription Drug" so-called benefit, and kept the vote open for another 47 minutes to twist arms until they could win 217-215. This little "nuance" was conspicuously missing from the vast majority of all major media reporting. "Free" press? Don't make me laugh.]
But my friend has just passed through his own, personal Pearl Harbor, thanks to the short-sighted greed of the crooks who are now running the government, and I don't know how to feel:
I wish I could express the rage and sorrow I feel, but it's as if a relative died. This isn't a cheap TV movie. This isn't the cliche of the bad actor: You don't break into tears. You don't smash stuff.
You just continue living your life and a state of numb shock. You continue moving through the minutiae of your existence, as if encased in Plexiglas, your emotions oddly Novocained, your perceptions oddly distant, as if suddenly run through a reverb unit. But you feel nothing, except a silent guilt that you feel nothing.
Later, the grief and rage will sink in.
But meantime, I only have the memory of reading the note: another casualty in the trade war with China. And there will be more.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
or, THE FLAT EARTHERS STRIKE AGAIN
Well, I'm going to talk about Incurious George's assertion that the Intelligent Design "theory" should be taught along with evolution in public schools. But there was a talk show "interview" this afternoon with an ID spokesman (a "constitutional lawyer" who mostly handles big coal and big oil cases) who has been a big advocate in the Kansas ID wars over the past few months. After listening to him for two hours, I offered the following rebuttal (which is what I read on the air):
1. He punts on evolution: e.g. we are ONLY arguing as to whether evolution is random or intentional. he is arguing with nineteenth century Darwinism.
2. He mischaracterizes evolution as 'random' and makes the sneaky presumption that all "non-theistic" belief systems are scientific, humanistic, etc. Counter-example = Buddhism.
3. Given his analogy that the Mars Rover's reprogramming was altering the "genome," I would note that, in fact, the genetic information of any given species is, in fact, a set of instructions. According to his paradigm, then, the genetic instructions, via evolution are SEEKING a solution to changing conditions.
4. The concept of gradualism is a nineteenth-century geological construct. but, given the modern understanding of the catastrophic nature of geological changes -- earthquakes, climate change, etc. the genetic code "seeking" solutions to sudden changing conditions is a natural outgrowth of his own paradigm of "adaptive programming."
5. But you don't need a designer. The fact that life forms change in a direction during climactic or environmental change is well established: the white and black moths in England's industrial areas, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, even the well known ability of cockroaches to adapt to new poisons -- all are examples of the "genetic program" "seeking" a solution to an altered environment. The moths did not evolve randomly, some colored, others plaid, some polka-dotted, some checkered. They adapted to the change in their environment by mimicking that change. The programming moved in a direction. But that does not require a creator.
6. The "Intelligent design theory" is merely a renaming of creationism with a pseudo- scientific bias. But they still"know" the conclusions at the outset, and reason backwards to find the evidence to support that conclusion. the conclusions are only more guarded
The irony being that for evolution to be "true" in the Intelligent design paradigm, it has to be perfect, even though it explains the data very well, and even predicts fossil discoveries (ie. cetacians and whales, sea-going mammals) and the "creationist" theory requires NO such perfection: only the old, discredited aristotelian argument for the prime programmer un programmed. And the infallibility of the bible. But science is turned on its head in this whole intelligent design theory: cause precedes effect.
OK. Got that?
Let's look at the underlying presumptions here.
First, George claims that this way you're providing "alternatives" and, therefore are being, by implication, "open-minded."
This is sheerest bullshit. Intelligent Design is a repackaging of the old "Creationism" carefully avoiding the unavoidable religious implication that the Genesis (Biblical) interpretation is, in fact, the only correct version. The giveaway is when you ask whether it might be space aliens altering or seeding our DNA (an old Science Fiction cliche). They freak. They deny, or, in the case of our lawyer/ID advocate, they slither.
The concept that "it's only a theory" is intellectually bankrupt. Science is predicated on NOT ever achieving ultimate "truth" and, therefore anything is "only a theory." To claim otherwise is to deny science itself.
On the other hand, the unstated notion that we HAVE an ultimate truth (the "Designer" or, God in rhetorical drag) is a RELIGIOUS conception. Religion claims to have absolute knowledge of ultimate truth. Therefore, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, the Grand Canyon was carved by the flood, Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, and came back from the dead.
Well, from a scientific point of view, this is nonsense. We have never observed a virgin birth (as described), a walk on water, or a resurrection -- in the faith sense of the word. We are, therefore, dealing with two entirely separate and MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE types of knowledge. One is based on observation of events, and attempting to best describe them, based on observation (science); the other is based entirely on unseen and unobserved "miracles" (i.e. events that DEFY observed events) that are ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
Note St. Paul's definitions of FAITH: "Because we walk by Faith, not by sight" -- II Corinthians 5:8
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -- Hebrews 11:1
These are the opposite of science, BY definition.
And it is in this tension that both Creationism and "Intelligent Design" inevitably fail. Because, if scientific criteria are applied to the REAL AGENDA, religious faith, then Christianity crumbles. We cannot, scientifically even prove the existence of a soul.
This fundamental dichotomy was the basis of the ultimately futile ontological argument: the "proof" that God exists, from Aristotle's Prime Mover Unmoved, through St. Anselm's Four Ontological Proofs for the existence of God.
After a thousand years and more, philosophy finally had to concede that the process of reason COULD NOT prove that "God" exists, or DOES NOT exist.
So, we are dealing herein with a shuck. A con job. Any decent understanding of the nature of science or philosophy rapidly exposes the specious arguments involved, and the circular reasoning that Creationism and ID represent.
Begin with the "faith knowledge" in a God, and then proceed to "prove" that "god" created the Universe. Well, you can always find evidence, or, INTERPRET evidence to fit with your conclusion, as long as you know the truth in advance.
A great example is this: until well after Kepler (who showed that planetary orbits are elliptical and not circular), old Ptolemaic astronomy (based on an Earth-centered universe, with "perfect" circular orbits, with "epicycles" -- planets rotating around nothing to explain retrograde motion) gave BETTER predictions of planetary motion than did heliocentric astronomy! The old, flawed model, gave better predictive evidence, even though we knew that it was based on false premises.
OK: what does that mean? It means that you can jigger the evidence to prove what you want to prove -- and our ID advocate wanted to rely HEAVILY on statistical analysis and probability, even though Einstein pointed out, in rebuttal: "God does not play dice."
Well, the universe does play dice, and the "theory" of evolution explains the observed data FAR better than the phony Creationist and ID constructs do. In science, we never know "perfect" truth, which always creates a disadvantage in dealing with true believers. They "KNOW" it all! We science folks believe that which we can observe and repeat.
But it's funny. I can't recall a single saint flying to the moon and returning with rocks. On the other hand, I can't recall any of them walking on water, either. Belief is fine. Faith is fine. But it is dishonest when it attempts to pretend it is "scientific," and that is what they want: they want to teach their beliefs in "science" courses and pretend that they're being "open-minded."
Satan himself would be impressed with THAT reversal of fact. It is such a slick, slithery lie, but it IS a lie, and one MUST ask: if "faith" is so perfect, then why lie?
Isn't the lying a prima fascie argument that it IS NOT "Godly"?
They don't want "equal time." They want to repudiate all science, and they want to walk us back down to the dungeon of the Dark Ages, stretching scientific inquiry on the rack of prejudice, turning the thumbscrews of bigotry, squeezing shut the Iron Maiden of intolerance for their heretic hunting parties.
But, as noted in my rebuttal above, they've pulled back from a lot of their stuff, because the facts are just to damning (pun intended) to ignore. They ONLY argue that evolution isn't UTTERLY random, which is a red herring, a straw man argument. Evolutionary science has long accepted that natural selection moves in the direction of solutions.
The ID proponents, however, have to argue with an evolutionary model that hasn't been used in a LONG time, because a fair fight would surely lose.
Their great weapons? The same weapons that Mad King George uses everywhere else: the non-sequitur, the astonishing lie, the outrageous distortion. Not exactly what you'd call a "godly" approach, is it?
Because these yahoos, these gomers, these jethros are actively ANTI-science. Oh, sure, they'll USE it, but fundamentally, the fundamentalists only want the answers to be found out of context in an anthology of literature written by Jewish mystics over several thousand years.
Magically, they claim, this book is not only infallable, but internally consistent and ABSOLUTELY TRUE, word for word.
OK, then. What is the explanation of Jesus' recorded statement (post-resurrection) that he would return "within the lifetimes of those present"?
And they cherry-pick their science, too. They grab a verse from Leviticus about homosexuality, and ignore the surrounding verses outlawing eating shellfish, pork, and explaining how to sell one's daughter into slavery.
They grab a verse from Paul written in, say 50 AD, and create a logical construct with a verse from 2000 B.C. and thence 200 B.C. proving that such and such is so and so.
Well, they've been doing this for a LONG time, but it is not science. It's not even religion, actually.
And Mad King George -- who may or may not believe any of this stuff, else why did he "flip the bird" at the press a few nights ago? -- loves to broadcast this lunatic fringe stuff to placate his gaggle of hard-core fundamentalist supporters.
Here's the quote:
Bush Enters Universe Origins ControversyAnd here's the picture:
Yeah, I know, I ignored the cheap, easy shot: Bush is the proof that there's NO Intelligent Design, but, really, if every other "clever" monkey is coming up with the same, lame joke, why add my one-liner to the humoral pyre?
Monday, August 01, 2005
DUMB, DUMBER AND DUMBERERhart williams
or, KISS UP, KICK DOWN, GOMER
John Bolton is a thug and a bully. He's a gomer and a jethro, but a little too intellectual to serve in the Bush Administration -- his box of crayons isn't used for most of his memos.
This would disqualify him for any government service in virtually all civilized countries; fortunately, he's an American. This would surely disqualify him from diplomatic service virtually anywhere. Anywhere, that is, except for the imbecile administration of the idiot-in-chief, George W. Bush.
Condoleeza Rice is utterly unqualified to serve as Secretary of State -- a blatantly self-apparent fact, sadly, never voiced during her confirmation hearings, even while she insulted one Senator, claiming that no one had a right to question her.
(Rice is an "expert" on the Cold War Soviet Union, and a whore to the oil industry, who named an oil tanker after her -- think of what she must have done to earn that sobriquet. But diplomatic experience? Zilch. Arrogance and refusal to listen TO diplomatic experience? Infinite. This is the woman who read the memo entitled "OSAMA BIN LADEN determined to strike inside US," and, after perusing its contents -- stating that the terrorists were planning on using hijacked aircraft as bombs -- had the temerity to tell the US after 9-11 that we couldn't have expected it, because they weren't "traditional" hijackings, as though hijackings came with decorations, place mats and holiday games and celebrations. "Traditionial"? And we now know it was an outright lie to boot. No, she's not qualified for anything outside of a prison uniform. But THIS is what's representing the United States to the world? Good ghod.)
Karen Hughes is moving through the rubber-stamp process of the Senate, equally unqualified for diplomatic service -- strike that: even LESS qualified than Condeeeee. This lying weasel, whose political service consists entirely of hand-crafting lies and smears is now supposed to work her "magic" on improving the USA's image in the Middle East?
Hughes, you will recall, left the Bush Administration to return to Texas because she was homesick. And now she's going to suddenly "understand" the Middle East well enough to "McDonify" our image there? Hell, the woman probably doesn't even understand Hobbs, New Mexico, thirty miles across the Texas border!)
Good lord. As evil as it is clueless, as insulting as it is malevolent, it pales in comparison with the Bolton nomination.
But wait, it gets worse.
Bolton was given a "recess appointment" today by Incurious George and the idiot opposition could only whip up wimpy words of vitriol.
Let's get something straight: recess appointments exist only as "emergency measures" in case Senate inaction creates a critical gap in a position. This may be the argument used, along with the classical fallacy that "Clinton did it" (the "Clinton did something so We can do ANYTHING" fallacy, as noted in Aristotle), more commonly known as the "two wrongs don't make a right" fallacy.
Without cooperation, this constitutional republic doesn't work. If you'll note, Article I of the Constitution isn't about the President. It's about the Congress, which predates the Constitution by some years, and was considered, by the founders, as the first among three equal branches of government.
Well, today Mad King George decided "piss on Congress" -- sort of exactly like he did with the UN in the runup to the war. Then, he claimed that we had a duty to enforce UN resolutions, whether the UN agreed or not, which is, of course
And now, to "reform" the UN, screaming about $500 million in potentially misconstrued funds in ten years of the "Food for Oil" program (and continuing to ignore the $8.8 billion missing in the Iraq procurement/Halliburton NON-scandal), Bush decided that the Senate had debated his thug long enough. This attitude was apparent in his nomination of John G. Roberts, as he all but challenged the Senate to hurry up and rubber stamp his selected prig/liar.
In Bolton's case, as with the U.N., Bush lost his patience: How DARE they not instantly approve his thug? How DARE they question his judgment? Forgetting, conveniently, that his judgment has, in less than five years, wrecked the long-term economy, put us into a quagmire in the Middle East, and killed well in excess of 100,000 INNOCENT Iraqis and nearly 7,000 US soldiers, destroying the lives of countless others.
All over "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that were never there.
The U.N. told him that, but he didn't like it, and cooked the information so he could kill all those people.
And John Bolton was there, front and center, trying to get anyone in the UN and the CIA fired who disagreed with the Idiot King's "facts" justifying war.
So, the Senate was uncomfortable with rubber-stamping Bolton. But the Idiot King didn't care. Didn't take the time-honored route of withdrawing the nomination and putting forward another, less-indictable nominee.
I guess there's a real dearth of qualified Republicans, given the Bush Administration's peevish insistence on nominating incompetents and thugs, and the Senate's willingness to allow the United States of America to be represented by said incompetents and thugs. We used to have a tradition that we were Americans FIRST, but that quaint relic of civilization has fallen in the assault of the Republican Vandals and Visigoths.
"Shut it down! Shut it down!" Newt screeched (and doomed his own Speakership). But the sentiment hasn't vanished. After Trent Lott openly mourned Strom Thurmond's loss as the Segregationist Candidate in the 1948 presidential election, Republicans have recognized that there are SOME few limitations on speech.
Scott McClellan claims that the "Democrats were playing politic" -- as though Republicans NEVER play politics, and as if "playing politics" were something that Senators never ever should do. McClellan himself, playing those very politics that he claims are so bad, claims that the Bolton nomination was being "held hostage," as though our civil liberties, future, economy, deficit, and, in the case of Social Security depredations, our PENSIONS weren't being held hostage by this misadministration.
As is my son's life being held hostage in Iraq to the idiot king's venality and ego. I hope that his very body betrays him. I hope that the circle of Hell that he so richly deserves is being readied for him. I hope that mad king George first lives a long life with his cowardice, and that he has plenty of time to hear history's verdict: he is the worst president in American history.
And to that growing mountain of missteps, mistakes and insults can be added the thug John Bolton.
Doesn't it bother anyone that we are shoving Bolton up the ass of the world?
Doesn't it bother anyone that Bolton is a conscious and calculated insult to the entire world community?
Well, after all, during the election, the Bush Thugs screamed that John (clueless) Kerry was asking for a global test, and that asshole Kerry and his dimwit advisors so little understood US history that they never noticed the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence:
"WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation."
Hear that? "a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires ..."
Well, shoving Bolton into the UN is the exact opposite of that statement: it is an IN-decent respect of the opinions of both the Congress AND the United Nations. Bush has thumbed his nose at the rest of humanity, and at half of his "fellow" Americans.
So F*** you, George. One of us ought to have the balls to say it explicitly. You've pussy-footed around the term, while saying it to ME in a thousand other ways. Why should I show civility to a barbarian?
Well, I do. I don't want anyone to kill him. I don't want him to lose one single moment of the disgrace and contempt of humanity that he has so assiduously cultivated and earned.
I would spare him not a nanosecond of his harvest.
If he is so stupid politically as to appoint John Bolton, and Bolton turns out to be -- as it now seems increasingly likely -- a player in the Treasongate mess, then the political fallout will only be the worse for Bush. I thought that these Mayberry Machiavellis were supposed to be clever monkeys. Turns out they're short-sighted and stupid, to go with their arrogance in the should-have-never-been-born trifecta.
Bolton will prove an embarrassment to an Administration with no sense of shame. He is the capstone of the Bush Regime's Philosophy: The unqualified leading the uncivilized.
He's another bully in a gaggle of wussies, another tormentor in a convocation of thugs.
But listen to the spineless as they try to say what I've just said, incapable of being less than diplomatic about the ultimate less-than-diplomat, anointed less-than-democratically:
"Making this recess appointment is certainly the president's right, but it is not right for America. Appointing John Bolton to the United Nations sends a terrible message to our intelligence professionals. It is the wrong signal for our intelligence reform efforts. ... I believe it was wrong to appoint him to that position over the Senate's objection." -- Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
"My doubts about his ability to protect and advance U.S. national security interests at the U.N. are simply too strong to support his nomination. John Bolton is the wrong person for the job and the decision to appoint him today will not serve American foreign policy well at all. ... His history of inflammatory statements about the U.N. will also make it difficult for him to effectively advance U.S. security interests in New York and bring about necessary reforms to that institution." -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"It's sad that even while the president preaches democracy around the world, he bends the rules and circumvents the will of Congress in appointing our representative to the United Nations." -- Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.
"The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues. ... It's a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N." -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
"I am truly concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton's baggage and his lack of credibility with the United Nations. That said, the president has made this decision, and I will do everything in my power to support Mr. Bolton as he takes this new position." -- Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio
"The president has the right to make this recess appointment, but it's the wrong decision. It only diminishes John Bolton's validity and leverage to secure America's goals at the U.N. John Bolton has been rejected twice by the Senate to serve as our Ambassador to the United Nations. This is not the way to fill our most important diplomatic jobs." -- Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
"At a time when we need to reassert our diplomatic power in the world, President Bush has decided to send a seriously flawed and weakened candidate to the United Nations. It's an unnecessary result, and the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House. ... Bolton arrives at the United Nations with a cloud hanging over his head." -- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
I would include the shameless lies of the Frists, the Hatchs and the other demonic familiars of the Burning Bush Maladministration, but why waste the electrons? They have a well-oiled machine (think Kafka's "In The Penal Colony") to spew their offal. Let Faux Nooz do the Linda Blair Exorcist thing with puking green soup and rotating the head 360 degrees. I'm sure that they and their Catholic allies will revalidate Aristophanes' observation of sophists and sophistries. ("The Clouds")
But what is the sound-bite that CNN is running? Is it an American bemoaning the trampling of American principles in appointing the unprincipled by the unprincipled appointed? Naww. It's:
"We look forward to working with him as I do with the other 190 ambassadors and we will welcome him at a time when we are in the midst of major reform. I think it is the president's prerogative, and the president has decided to appoint him through this process." -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
Courage (you're gonna REALLY need it).
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