#115 Cowardice or Insanity? (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

Most humans despise cowards. In politics or religion, we're a lot more lenient, apparently, toward cowards but as a group of humans we're fairly consistent in our disgust towards people, especially men, who act in cowardly ways for selfish purposes.  For some reason, our legal system works specially hard to delineate crazy cowards from the "sane" ones. 

Cowardice is a sort of insanity, isn't it?  A coward is someone who is afraid of, and over-reacts to, an overstated or non-existent threat.  Being afraid of a real threat isn't cowardice, it's "discretion" as a famous beer drinker once claimed. 

Most humans are able to overcome their fears to do the things that need to be done.  Performers and public speakers are regularly victims of stage fright.  Soldiers are almost always terrified of flying bullets.  Voters are always scared shitless of voting for the "wrong" candidates.  But we get past it and make our best shot at doing the right thing.  Most of us do, anyway.

Some of us do extraordinary things because of, or in spite of, our fears.  Sometimes those extraordinary things should have never been done, sometimes they are the acts of heroism.  The line between fear-induced viciousness and bravery is a fuzzy gray mark in the sand.  In war, one man's bravery is another man's horrific act of terror. 

Somehow, in politics one man's act of cowardice can often become a large group's rallying cause.  George Bush's timidity as a young man, for example.  Little George, as his friends called him, away from the protection of his parents was terrified of just about everything.  He crawled under his mother's skirts to avoid the Vietnam War.  But delivering flowers to generals was too much for him, so he went AWOL for the last year and a half of his safe and protected National Guard obligation.  Nothing happened, but he was still terrified of life in general, so he hid in a martini glass and behind the haze of coke smoke. 

Finally, in his mid-40s he realized that he was about as safe as a human can be on this planet and he decided to peek out at the world without the protection of drugs and booze.  Still too scary.

So he invented a personal god with whom to communicate his fears, insecurities, and paranoia.  With the help of a squad of personal religious advisors, Little George invented a universe that centered around his fears and nutty drug-induced belief system.  Being the most susceptible of men, Georgie's "religion" made him a simple-minded tool of the folks who wanted a Stepford President.  For some reason, millions of conservative American voters fell in love with the idea of a cowardly kitty Presidency. 

From the mouths of children may come truth, but what comes from the mouths of fools and cowards?  I fear that we're going to find out in the next four years.


In Case You Think being A Christian Is Easy, or Possible

76 Things Banned in Leviticus

Here’s chapter and verse on a more-or-less comprehensive list of things banned in the Leviticus book of the bible. A decent number of them are punishable by death.

Unless you’ve never done any of them (and 54 to 56 are particularly tricky), perhaps it’s time to lay off quoting 18:22 for a while?

1. Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)

2. Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13)

3. Eating fat (3:17)

4. Eating blood (3:17)

5. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)

6. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)

7. Touching an unclean animal (5:2)

8. Carelessly making an oath (5:4)

9. Deceiving a neighbour about something trusted to them (6:2)

10. Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3)

11. Bringing unauthorised fire before God (10:1)

12. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)

13. Tearing your clothes (10:6)

14. Drinking alcohol in holy places (bit of a problem for Catholics, this ‘un) (10:9)

15. Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (cf: camel, rabbit, pig) (11:4-7)

16. Touching the carcass of any of the above (problems here for rugby) (11:8)

17. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)

18. Eating – or touching the carcass of - eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)

19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

20. Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27)

21. Eating – or touching the carcass of – the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)

22. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)

23. Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)

24. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5)

25. Having sex with your mother (18:7)

26. Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8)

27. Having sex with your sister (18:9)

28. Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10)

29. Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)

30. Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)

31. Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)

32. Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)

33. Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)

34. Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (bad news for Alan Clark) (18:17)

35. Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)

36. Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)

37. Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20)

38. Giving your children to be sacrificed to Molek (18:21)

39. Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22)

40. Having sex with an animal (18:23)

41. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)

42. Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9)

43. Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10)

44. Stealing (19:11)

45. Lying (19:11)

46. Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12)

47. Defrauding your neighbour (19:13)

48. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (not well observed these days) (19:13)

49. Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14)

50. Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)

51. Spreading slander (19:16)

52. Doing anything to endanger a neighbour’s life (19:16)

53. Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18)

54. Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)

55. Cross-breeding animals (19:19)

56. Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)

57. Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20)

58. Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)

59. Practising divination or seeking omens (tut, tut astrology) (19:26)

60. Trimming your beard (19:27)

61. Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)

62. Getting tattoos (19:28)

63. Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)

64. Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)

65. Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)

66. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34)

67. Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36)

68. Cursing your father or mother (punishable by death) (20:9)

69. Marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21:7,13)

70. Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11)

71. Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)

72. Working on the Sabbath (23:3)

73. Blasphemy (punishable by stoning to death) (24:14)

74. Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)

75. Selling land permanently (25:23)

76. Selling an Israelite as a slave (foreigners are fine) (25:42)


#114 No News is the Usual News (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

Back when he was funny, before he became a paid Republican shill, Dennis Miller commented that the news was nothing more than a litany of catastrophes, natural disasters, and crime events. He called the news the "thank God that shit didn't happen to me" show.  Mostly, he's right.  The news tells us nothing useful about the state of the nation or the world.  We don't learn what's going on in our communities or home states.  After an hour of network news, we won't have learned anything new about the world or the economy or science.  We'll have been entertained by crimes that are solved or unsolved, big winds that have blown down other people's homes, and a car crash or two.  Today's news programs are more like reality TV than information sources.  Because of that, fewer and fewer Americans are turning to television or newspapers for information.

In a last minute bum's rush, the media is pretending to have suddenly realized there is stuff to report about the Presidential race this year.  Don't let that fool you into believing that the news is becoming more relevant.  It's just a marketing tactic. 

Bush has been given a free ride for four years, plus.  Long before he ran his first race for public office, Bush was a drunk and a doper with a criminal record.  He was a spoiled rich kid draft dodger who went AWOL from a safe and pointless rich kids' National Guard job.  He failed at every job he'd had and, because of his stupidity and incompetence, Republican power brokers picked him for their puppet candidate for Texas governor and, later, President.  His one and only claim to competence came when he was given a token position for a baseball team whose new stadium was built on seized private land and paid for with public financing.  This is a dedicated capitalist?  Sounds more like a corporate commie, to me.

Bush's handlers ran vicious, amoral, lying campaigns for every office he won and the media let them get away with it.  Why?  Because the media expected corporate and ruling class tax breaks from a Bush Administration.  And they got what they expected and a whole lot more.  Bush has handed over the environment, ownership of public airwaves, national natural resources, and the federal reserves to his corporate criminal buddies. 

All of this went on without a whisper from the national media, who are the same folks who received many of the benefits of Bush's corrupt administration.  These people are so counterfeit that they have absolutely no difficulty taking advantage of the awful catastrophe of September 2001 for their own financial gain.  As long as they were raking in bushels of cash from the ineptitude and corruption of the Bush Administration, they were happy to avoid doing the job they pretended to be doing. 

Suddenly, the golden goose appears to be dying.  Publishers are amazed to find that they had been losing money for the last several years because the only way they can attract readers is to offer their newspapers at a loss.  Because so few of their subscribers actually read anything more than the sports page, advertisers found the effectiveness of their ads had declined to near-uselessness.  Television networks are experiencing the same problems.  Their "hard hitting" bobble-head reporters and their grinning talking head anchors weren't attracting viewers.  For the first time in modern history, the major media had become the minor source of information for the majority of citizens. 

Young people and literate older folks get their news from a variety of internet sources and public television and radio. The illiterate youth and old folks get what little they know from Oprah and Letterman and the Late Show.  The really stupid get their misinformation from talk radio or, worse, Fox News.  Hardly anyone looking for information reads their local papers or watches network news.  This has left a major corporate force looking at vanishing income and influence. 

Their cure for this loss of credibility is to pretend that they have relevance in the final moments of the 2004 election.  Suddenly, the major media is lightly reporting on a few of the many defects in Bush's "character" and an equally small number of the administration's failures of competence.  They've waited long enough that they won't have a significant effect on the election, but they've done just enough actual news reporting to have created a little spin for themselves.  They have enough fingers in other pies that they don't want to mess up the good thing Bush has provided them, but they need to hang on to their core, media business.  Hoping to eat their cake and eat it too, the media is trying to walk a fine line between actually reporting the facts and only reporting enough of the bad stuff that they can pretend to be "fair and impartial" without pissing off the Bushies or throwing the election to Kerry. 

Will it work?  For the short term, probably.  For the long term, not a chance. 

The characters fronting the media have earned a national reputation slightly below used car salesmen and politicians.  Nobody with half a brain believes anything they hear on the tube and damn few people take the time to read "news" that isn't sports related.  We might be entertained by their minimal attempt to shed some light on Iraq, the President's lies, or some other insignificant bit of actual news, but I can't imagine how the media can ever win back the trust of the American public.  Now that it's obvious to even the dumbest of Joe Public that the media doesn't make an effort to be "fair and impartial," we're all looking for media sources that reflect our own take on the world.  Big media can't provide something for everyone because there isn't anything that we all want. 

The country has been split into dozens of special citizen interests and we are never again going to be able to say, "united we stand."  We stand as individuals in a Babylon of a country with only our friends and neighbors (at best) to share a small speck of culture. We can thank corporate media for their part in disintegrating America into such an insignificant and disorganized mess.  We are thanking them by ignoring their newscasts and by hanging up on their telephone solicitors.


#113 Defining Swing Voters (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

The two political parties are hard at work defining and trying to attract the 2004 election's swing voters.  I thought I'd help.  There are some single issue voters who are so easy to define that they are laughable.  If they weren't actually going to cast their votes, I would be laughing a lot more these days.  These simple-minded folks think that the office of President is completely oriented around decisions regarding gays, guns, abortion, oil, and Israel. 

The J. Eddie Hoover homophobe crowd is desperate to keep itself in the closet.  GeeWiz Bush, Jimmy Swaggart, Patty Robertson, and the rest of the redneck closet queens are terrified that, if homosexuality becomes less stigmatized, the odds that they'll meet a man they can't resist will be raised to an intolerably, irresistibly high point.   Just like their cross-dressing FBI hero, they want to keep their orientation behind locked doors.

Passing a Constitutional Amendment to protect those wimps from themselves is a waste of Congressional effort.  Passing a Constitutional Amendment to limit the rights of American citizens is a terrible desecration of one of the world's rare sacred documents.  Pretending that this is a critical issue at this point in our country's history, is nothing more than a distraction. 

The NRA is still bleating the old Second Amendment misinterpretation and pretending that assault weapons are used for hunting deer and other scary prey.  In a rational nation, the endorsement of the NRA would be as powerful as the support of the White Power folks.  Of course, a rational nation would be carefully considering the causes of so much loss of life due to guns.  A really rational nation would be upset that most of the gun fatalities are caused by the victims' family members.  There are more than enough guns in the country to eliminate every life form in North America.  Kerry hasn't advocated collecting civilian weapons and beating them into plowshares.  He has recommended removing fully automatic weapons from the hands of nutcases, most of whom are Bush fans.  The NRA represents gun manufacturers, the most vile corporations among a country full of vicious and amoral corporations.  Anyone who gives a damn about those folks is not capable of making moral decisions for themselves, let alone casting a vote for the most powerful office in the world. 

Much of the Midwest and even more of the southern vote is wrapped around another single-issue; abortion.  Again, you're either for it or against it.  Supposedly, that makes it a Kerry or Bush issue.  Kerry is hardly "for" abortion, but he's unconvinced that a Constitutional amendment banning abortion would be any wiser than the Constitutional amendment that banned alcohol.  Making ordinary citizens into criminals because they do things to themselves that others disapprove of is usually poor government practice.  Bush, on the other hand, would add any number of dumbass amendments to the Constitution; from banning flag abuse to abortion to prayer in public schools to a meaningless, easily circumvented balanced budget amendment.  Bush's list of idiot Constitutional amendments makes it obvious that he does not view the Constitution as the basis for our country's past success.  He thinks it's a coloring book for idiots.  So, the folks who think this single issue is critical to the life of the nation can be classified into the "dumb as a brick" category.

Another single-interest group is the cheap oil crowd.  A huge number of urban folks commute hundreds of miles a week and they believe the most important thing government can do is to keep fuel prices low so that they can afford their driving addiction.  This group is solidly among the bunch of folks who believe that a lack of planning on their part constitutes an emergency for the rest of us.  Not only do they drive a lot of pointless miles, but they drive huge, inefficient vehicles and expect manicured highways for their driving pleasure.  Everyone who has designed a sane, low mileage, moderate energy lifestyle is subsidizing these overweight energy sinks and the commuters believe they deserve their particular form of welfare.  I can't explain the logic behind that assumption.  I don't understand the existence of country music or Harley Davidson motorcycles, either.   However, I think I can accurately put this group into a "I want my MTV" category, folks who can't tell the difference between the words "want" and "need."

Apparently, the orthodox Jewish vote is among the current swinging crowd.  In the past, Jewish voters, especially orthodox Jewish voters, have been traditional, almost universally Democrats.  Today, their focus has narrowed.  Civil rights is no longer on their radar, anti-Semitism in the general population is not a big deal, and they're left with one election issue; Israel.  Either you're for Israel or you're again' 'em.  Obviously, this is not a US national security issue.  Israel falling or standing has no long range value to US interests.  We pump billions of support dollars into Israel and receive nothing of value in return.  Yeah, yeah, Israel is "an oasis of civilization in the middle of a continent of heretics."  Outside of superstitious fantasies, Israel is pretty much a black hole in which we've been pouring US tax money for fifty years.  Voting the interests of a foreign country is treason, at best.  So, we can group the orthodox Jewish vote into the un-American activities category. 

I suppose there are a few dozen other single-issue voter groups that I haven't identified.  The fact is, single-issue voters are citizens who are not sophisticated enough to be allowed to play with sharp objects.  Voting for an office as demanding, and vital to the world's safety, as the US Presidency is a complex and mature activity.  Picking one issue as most important, out of the hundreds of critical issues the President will address, is a childish view of the world.  Children shouldn't be allowed to vote and age isn't the only criteria that defines a child.  People who want the world to wrap around the only issue with which they've managed to form an opinion are not capable of making adult decisions.  They're definitely not capable of making decisions for the rest of the world.  They are absolutely incapable of making decisions for me. 

I think it's time that we consider reinstating some sort of intelligence test at the polls.  I understand that concept has a racist history and I also understand that, statistically, it's possible that a political awareness test might remove a larger percentage of voters of color than white voters.  On the other hand, there seems to be an excess of dumb white voters and they still make up the majority in all national elections.  Establishing a minimum standard of comprehension voter standard is a concept whose time has come.  A national political comprehension test would disallow the stupid, the senile, and the single-issue voter from the political system.  A little testing could go a long way toward protecting democracy from despots and corporate corruption.


#112 The Lesser of Two Evils (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

Since 1968, every election in which I've voted, for every significant office, state or federal, the choices have been the selection of the lesser of two evils; Demolican or Republicrat, conservative or less conservative, Tweedly Dee or Tweedly Dumb.  Since I began my voting career writing-in my Presidential candidate, Eugene McCarthy, I pretty much did the same for every other office on the ballot.  Except for the rare exception of a local candidate who I know and believe might be uncorrupted enough to do some good in political office, I have written-in a candidate for almost every office for which I've voted in the last 36 years.  If I didn't write-in someone I thought could do the job, I voted for one of the alternative party candidates.  Maybe that's a wasted vote, but I don't think so. 

The only vote I feel I ever wasted was in 1996, here in Minnesota, for the office of state governor.  The race was tight, too close to call between the Demolicans or Republicrats.  An alternative party was fronting a complete political unknown, Independence Party candidate Jesse Ventura, for the office and while I thought Ventura would make a terrific governor I thought the Republicrat, Norm Coleman, would be a disaster for the state.  Coleman was a corporate welfare promoter for sports teams and crooked construction companies as the mayor of St. Paul and I thought bringing that attitude to the state government would be a disaster.  I voted for Hubert Humphrey II, the Demolican, a candidate I despised from his pitiful performance as the state auditor. 

I was disgusted with myself as I cast my vote.  I wasn't voting for someone I respected, for the first time in my life, I was voting against someone I despised.  Even more disgusting, I had a choice on the ballot.  I had a choice that I thought was better than anyone I could have written-in for the office.  Out of cowardice, fear of the more obvious evil, I voted for someone who I thought had no chance of doing the job well, but who had a chance of winning. 

As if fate was trying to teach me a lesson in civic responsibility, Jesse Ventura won.  For the first time in my life, I had a chance to vote for both someone I respected and someone who had a chance of winning and I missed it.  For a brief moment in my life, I was a conservative, a political coward, and I was rewarded for that failure when I watched Jesse's election celebration and knew that I'd had nothing to do with that success.  I never felt less of an American than the evening of Ventura's inaugural celebration.  I will never again vote for the lesser of two evils.  A recent bumper sticker reads, "Kerry sucks less."  I'm not convinced that is a terrific endorsement.  Bush, on the other hand, sucks more.  That doesn't make the choice much easier. 

I'm an American.  I don't give a damn about the "rights" of international corporations, dictators, kings and queens, the idle rich, or any other piece of worthless human crap.  The positive history of this country is all about the battle between the middle class and the inherited power class.  I'm back in the war and I don't care if we win it this year or any other election.  If I do my part, the rest is up to you.


#111 The Liberals in Congress (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

To explain the many stupid things done in Washington, Bush often blames "the liberals in Congress."  The four-legged fools who think that Bush could identify a problem if it was pecking a hole in the top of his head repeat the chant "the liberals in Congress" as if it was actual information.  You could count the liberals in Congress on the fingers of one hand.  If there are that many.  Many real liberals thought the one and only liberal left in Congress, Paul Wellstone, died in 2002.  If John Kerry and John Edwards are examples of what passes for a congressional liberal today, then this country has a severe liberal leadership deficit. 

For the last two decades, counting the number of liberals in Washington has been a grossly overrated activity.  Democrats are not necessarily liberal, regardless of the ignorant and boneheaded claims of the Bushies.  Those fools think anyone who isn't to the right of Adolph Hitler is a liberal.  Their definition of "conservative" is so simplistic that it resembles a meaningless chant, "pro-life good, pro-choice bad."  On every issue of government action, the neo-cons are radically socialist. 

Remember, Nazi Germany was called The Socialist Republic of Germany.  The definition of socialism is "a social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community."  We have allowed our government to redistribute national wealth to less than 1% of the population and we have allowed a tiny number of international corporations to absorb the majority of the nation's economic activity.  In our case, the production and distribution is exclusively within the means, and under the control, of a socialist elite, just like the old Soviet Union.  Just like the Soviet Union's nomenclature, that elite is uninterested in the welfare of the nation, its security, or the future of its citizens.  If things get bad enough, they'll move to a country they have yet to wreak.  They are no more the loyal citizens of the United States than were the mobsters who destroyed the Soviet Union.  Who knows, when it gets bad enough here maybe our mobsters will move to Russia?

The Bushies would like you to believe that anyone elected as a Democrat is a liberal, for the sake of their simplified, inaccurate political propaganda.  The reality is that very few southern or western Democrats hold a single liberal political view.  Outside of Teddy Kennedy, it's hard to find a northern Democrat who could be seriously defined as "liberal."  Leiberman, Gore's running mate in 2000, is more consistently conservative than anyone in the Bush Administration.  Those of you with a few functioning memory cells might remember that Gore was a good deal less than liberal, to the point that Frank Zappa suffered a trip to Washington to argue that Gore's attempt to censor music lyrics violated the First Amendment.  Gore's wife, Tipper, is as radically socially conservative as any Republican. 

Since the definition of conservative is someone who is limited to "traditional views and values" and tends "to oppose change," it's hard to imagine anyone who isn't conservative getting elected in the current US climate.  The current voting generation of Americans is timid, unimaginative, politically ignorant, and under serious economic pressure.  That is not a formula for electing people who are "not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded."  That is the definition of "liberal."  If you can find fault in any of those characteristics, you will be happy to be called a conservative.  Most intelligent humans, especially Americans, would be happy to aspire to be liberal, knowing that it is nearly impossible for a human to consistently hold to those values.

Today's problems were created by conservatives of both parties.  In fact, various flavors of conservatives are all that either party is capable of producing.  Conservatives sponsored by labor unions, conservatives sponsored by corporate executives, conservatives sponsored by government employees or government agencies, or, worst of all, conservatives sponsored by religious organizations.  Anyone with a lick of sense would be desperate to see a liberal find a position of power in this stagnate society.  Unless we all have to suffer years of another Great Depression, I don't see it happening.  We are not experiencing desperate times and without desperation humans never resort to creativity.