#161 Terrorists and Biker Gangs (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

Biker gangs have been with us since the beginning of history. This was first pointed out to me by my wife when I described the "Comancheros" who used to terrorize the American plains before and after the Civil War, before "civilization" replaced random acts of terror with organized terror (aka "government"). In this context, Viking marauders were boat-gangsters. The Mongol hordes were really big horse-riding gangs. Roaming packs of male chimpanzees are horseless, bike-less proto-gangsters. Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia were nations of biker-gangsters, finally, wearing helmets and uniforms. It's about time a biker gang thought about safety and strapped on helmets.

The basic concept of gangs could be taken from the Three Musketeers, "One for all, all for one."  Of course, when the going gets really tough and individual qualities are required, the members add "and everyone for himself" until the smoke clears. Without loud and clear orders to follow and simple rules to remember, biker gangsters revert to the most human primitive values. 

Years ago, I stumbled into a discussion with a guy who'd spent most of his life in biker gangs.  He talked about "honor" and "loyalty" as if those character traits didn't exist outside of gangs.  I had to comment on the fact that I had a hard time rectifying the habit biker gangs have of ganging up on an outsider who presented some minor challenge to one of their members with the quality of "honor." 

His reply was that disrespecting one member of the gang was disrespect to all.  Any challenge to a single member was a challenge to the whole group, even when the challenge was issued completely out of context to the group.  Honestly, I though that was the nuttiest answer possible.  I am incapable of seeing a gang beating as anything other than group cowardice and incredibly despicable.  But I'm never going to be recruited to be a gang member, partially because I don't think like gang members.  I'm all for "all for one and one for all," but at some point individuals have to accept the responsibility of their own actions.  Gang members are not individuals. They surrender their individuality when they merge their weak personalities into the slightly stronger group-mind.

How does a 12-on-1 gang beating fit into the concept of "honor?" The logical extension of this response is the old 10-for-1 reprisal rule that the Nazi's applied to resistance movements.  Today, the USA and Israel have extended that logic to several thousand for one in Iraq and Lebanon. To me, it still violates my Kansas cowboy sense of justice and fairness and I don't get it. Let's face it, when most of us saw L.A.'s cops beating the crap out of Rodney King we thought "somebody ought to help that guy," no matter what King did to get into that predicament.  At least, I hope most of us thought that. 

Paul William Roberts describes an American Special Forces soldier in A War Against Truth, "He was as alien as the yogis I'd seen up in isolated Himalayan caves - people who have had no interaction with other humans for years, who have forgotten how.  The soldier was both shy and lethal.  He had lost most human qualities. If he married, it would not last: she'd realize eventually that he had no feelings towards her - that he had no feelings at all. The 'company' would never let him go, either.  It might make his leash quite long, but it would always want to know what he was doing, because it had trained him and knew what he was capable of doing. If he turned to crime, no police force on earth would be any match for him. This was The Terminator for real." This is a pretty accurate description of the prototypical biker gang member; with the exception of the Special Forces' exceptional training. Some bikers are ex-Special Forces and the like, however, and we can thank our military for loosing them on the public.

One of the prime faults in biker gang logic is the misinterpretation of fear as respect. Nobody respects bikers, but most everyone from cops to man-on-the-street citizens fear them. Any group inspiring fear creates an equal amount of hate.  Hate and fear create a need for security.  The need for security creates an opposite reaction to the source of the fear and hate.  And arms races are born of thus.

Internationally, we're seeing these qualities displayed by at least two nations: Israel and the United States.  Both nations have decided that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them because . . . those rules are inconvenient. Both nations react to specific acts of violence with random, extended violence disproportionate to the initial event and without any concern for striking the actual perpetrators.  Like drunken biker gangs, Israel and the US blast everything in the general direction of their enemies, creating larger and more sophisticated enemies.  They intentionally pick on small, unarmed or barely armed nations and attempt to "shock and awe" them into submission.  They are careless about the "collateral damage" they cause to both those they attack and the nation (gang) they "represent." 

This is not just Little George's gang, Clinton's gang, Old George's Gang, and Reagan's gang (who have mostly moved on to Little George's gang) all felt the same way.  Remember Madeleine Albright's response to the possibility of 300,000 children dying to effect "regime change in Iraq?" "I think it is worth the price."  That's what she said.  Billy Clinton's Secretary of State was willing to sacrifice 300,000 children to replace Saddam with an unknown (but more compliant) political system. So, we did. 

Things have changed in Iraq, mostly much for the worse.  A few hundred thousand Iraqis have been sacrificed since 1991. We patrol, but don't control, the oil wells that were the real reason for this sacrifice. And we've created an image for ourselves that is equal to the shining aura of the Hell's Angels. We've become a nation of crack-importing, meth-manufacturing, gang-banging bikers who instill fear in every sane nation in the world. 

Any national leader who cares about his country's security is either cranking up the national defense mechanisms, building weapons of self-defense and mass destruction, or is sucking up to Little George in hopes that obedience is all he and his loons want.  In the case of Great Britain, that's probably all that is necessary.  They have used up their natural resources, so there is nothing worth stealing on that pitiful island. The rest of North Africa, however, is scared to death.  South America is bracing for another round of assassinations and invasions. George Pataki, New York's nutty governor and the potential 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, ramped up the hyperbola about to be concentrated against Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in his National Press speech, "Energy Freedom: Putting an End to Foreign Oil's Dangerous Grip on America's Future." "Energy freedom" was a side-issue in Pataki's speech, mostly he used the forum to rant against the elected leader of a country that has failed to allow American corporations unrestricted access to that country's national resources. 

Shame on them. Everybody grab a weapon.  We're gonna go beat the crap out of those disrespectful civilians.

August 2006


#160 Jews Who Hate Jews (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

"Christianity" has confused me since I was a young boy.  In church, the Methodist Church to be exact, I learned that Jesus (the "Christ" in "Christian," as best I understood) was a particularly intolerant man who set out some extremely clear and simple rules to get to heaven.  In his little section of the Bible he supposedly said, "You have heard the commandment, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'  But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury.  When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other. If anyone wants your shirt, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the man who begs from you. Do not turn your back on the borrower. . . If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment. Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you . . . Threat others the way you would have them treat you: this sums up the law and the prophets . . . I have come to call, not the self-righteous, but sinners . . . It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth . . . It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."  And on he goes, condemning public prayer, cathedrals of religion, organized religion in general, prejudice, jealousy, violence, and greed.  Wow! If you can find room in that to be rich, for capital punishment, to persecute anyone for anything, and to go to war, you read between the lines much better than me. If "Christians" actually listened to Jesus, they'd be pretty astoundingly peaceful people.

Nothing I saw from the parishioners or even the pastor of my hometown church, or practically anyone else's church, resembled attempts to live the life Jesus described as "the way" into Heaven.  My country was an even worse offender.  The United States was building and using the world's worst weapons of mass destruction decades before I was born, conducting a horrific war in Korea when I was two, spreading instability and supporting anti-democratic regimes in Africa and South America through my toddling years, and bombing the snot out of a small Asian country when I was a teenager.  Through all of these greedy and violent acts, most US churches argued that "god was on our side," even if his "only begotten son" would have sentenced us to eternal damnation for those sins.  Our current fearful leader actually personally condemned people to death in his old job of Texas Head Executioner and, still, imagines himself to be following Jesus.  He believes his current crusade to enrich the already filthy rich and powerful is, somehow, found in Jesus' teachings.  You'd have to be completely illiterate to read that in Jesus' small portion of the New Testament. 

All these years, I've been unable to figure out why so many people call themselves "Christian" when "the Christ" has so little to do with their behavior.  They could be followers of Moses or any number of hateful, murdering, greedy, child-virgin-raping Old Testament characters or even Islam's Mohammed, but the teachings of Jesus are unimaginably far from their actions and beliefs. 

It's not a matter of failing to act, they are outright proud of ignoring Jesus' instructions. So, if they aren't Christ-followers, what are they?

This week, Mel Gibson the smugly-righteous, deeply-religious conservative, proudly-retro-Catholic, constantly-breeding actor in Hollywood gets drunk, drives down a busy California road, and, when he is pulled over for endangering innocent lives on the highway, flames into a nutty rant blaming Jews for all of his ineptitudes and moral failures.  Of course, having a god-complex Gibson also has to toss out blame for all of the world's problems to this tiny fraction of the world's population. If you're going to be insane, you might was well go for the whole ball of mania. Having read a bit from his roadside rant, it dawned on me what he and the rest of the knee-jerking fundamentalist crowd are; Jews who hate Jews.

The difference between the Old Testament and the Torah is miniscule, I've been told.  That's the best I can do for you.  Both books are so full of murder, prejudice, hatred, mumbo-jumbo, and obscure inconsistencies that I can more easily re-read my old college calculus textbooks than I can wade through the gore and misery found in those giant manuscripts.  College calculus has been a cure for insomnia since I was a teenager.  Suffering the ancient sheepherder ranting found in the Old Testament is as painfully weird as reading the Greek and Irish Ulysses randomly sorted and backwards.

If those two books are fundamentally the same, however, nothing else explains the actions of fundamentalist neocons.  In deed and word, they are exactly like the characters who run modern Israel.  Nobody loves revenge like these folks. They extract thousands of eyes for a single Jewish or US eye. The closest they get to turning the other cheek is when they have to reach across their body for a weapon. They celebrate the death penalty. They covet wealth and abuse the poor, the downtrodden, and the "unclean."  It's hard for them to decide which group they want to persecute next, there are so many to choose from.  If Pat Robertson, Jerry Farwell, Oral Roberts, and the rest were not "self-righteous" they wouldn't have personalities at all. 

And rich?  Man, these folks can't get their hands on enough cash.  The Treasury can't print it fast enough for them. When they aren't grubbing money, they're coveting power.  It's hard for them to keep track of which they desire the most.

All of these characteristics are exactly like the state and the people they love to hate; Israel and the Jews.  Listening to Israel's politicians explain away the inconvenience of all the innocent life they are wasting in Lebanon is "déjà' vu' all over again." I've heard exactly the same words from Bush and CRAP, throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions and occupations. Their exchange rate for eyes must require a dump truck for each US or Israeli optical injury. And they justify it through exactly the same religious context. 

It still remains unclear to me why our fundamentalists have chosen not to call themselves Jewish.  It, obviously, isn't because they have some serious attachment to any part of Jesus of Nazareth.  Maybe they just think "Christian" sounds better than "Jewish?"

August 2006


#158 The Amerika Factor (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

Joe Klein is a funny guy.  I'm never sure if he's trying to be funny, but he usually is (even if it's in spite of himself). He's doing a hard set, too.  Time Magazine is filled with funny guys and girls.  This uber-conservative-trying-to-appear-fair-and-balanced rag is so full of contradictions and irrational statements that it has the feel of a wordy Mag Magazine suffering from absentee editors.  I can never guess what kind of wackiness Time will deliver, but I can always count on it being biased and marginally researched.  Consistency is the spice of conservatism. Klein, still, puts on a consistently funny set.

I bumped into Joe Klein, the Time Magazine commentator, accidentally.  Pretty much the same way I discovered jazz through a childish subscription to the Columbia Record Club in 1957.  After a few years of being nagged by Northwest Airlines to do something with my Frequent Flyer Miles, I randomly checked off a pile of boxes on their magazine subscription option and returned to my life. Most of the rags I picked have been disappointing, which is why I don't spend real money on them.  A couple bankrupted and disappeared before they delivered their first issue.  Time has been an education. 

This month, Klein began his column (titled "The Iran Factor") with this little dialog, "When I visited Iran a few years ago, my favorite question was, 'Who runs this country?' The response often was nervous laughter, followed by a raised eyebrow, a shrug and a stage whisper: 'The dark forces.'"

Klein went on to describe this mysterious country with it's levels and shades of "governmental and religious and bazaari" conspirators and a hilarious quote from a  "senior U.S. diplomat," "We really don't have any real idea about what goes on inside that government."

I'm blowing breakfast cereal milk from my nose and I'm not even half-way through the article.  I'm having recent-news-flashbacks, suffering survivor-syndrome, and post-traumatic-stress episodes.  What country is Klein talking about?  Iran?  Amerika?  Them?  Us?  Both them and us?  Damn this is funny stuff!

Ok, ok, I'm better now.  I put away the cereal bowl.  I'm not sipping coffee.  I'm just going to try to write this rant without letting any complications confuse the issue. 

So, who the hell is Klein talking about?  If it weren't for the article's title and an occasional reference to some Islamic nutjob with a name that appears to be a random list of consonants, I'd have thought he was talking about us.  The USofA.  The country now known as Amerika the Red. 

If there is any country in the world that is being run by mysterious "Dark Forces," it's us.  The neocons think the country is controlled by Satanists, Hollywood, and the totally invisible, amazingly silent liberal MSM.  Liberals think the country has gone to hell and is being disassembled for fuel by shark-mind international corporations, greedy bankers and investment hucksters, neo-Nazi Christian fundamentalists, crooked electronic election machine manufacturers, and disgruntled Cold War military-industrial leftovers.  The Silent Majority, recently more accurately renamed "the TFM vote" (see "Bush Losing Core Supporters"), blames witches, liberals, and Mexicans for the nation's problems. 

The only thing we all agree on is that this is no longer a representative democracy and that the "we the people" opening declaration of the Constitution of the United States is no longer applicable. While "government of the people, by the people, for the people" may be an obsolete concept, replacing "people" with "corporation" might get closer to the truth.  However, corporations are not the living entities that our flawed judicial system imagines.  Corporations are simply shields and tax haves for our elite ruling class.  This group is as theocratic, shadowy, and self-interested as anything the craziest folks in Iran could dream up. 

The incredible effort Republicans and the media have put behind redefining the Estate Tax as the ominous "Death Tax" is a wonderful example of how powerful and insidious our richest few can be.  The fact that the media hasn't laughed this campaign into late night talk show comedy routines tells us all we need to know about the power of our "Dark Forces."  These folks control the country so completely that we've lost our sense of humor regarding their motivations and manipulations.  Damn, that's good propaganda!

Back in Kansas, earlier this summer, I listened to my one of my family's crazies rant about "activist judges" describing the unknown Dark Forces that loosed the terror of lawlessness on the country.  Casually, I asked for an example of judges making law, knowing full well the answer would be "Roe vs. Wade." I wasn't disappointed, but the explanation was so filled with right wing MSM misrepresentations that I was amazed that even my foolish Kansas relatives could be so easily duped.  In some states, apparently, for practical purposes you can "fool all of the people all of the time." 

The Iranian Dark Forces are not particularly clever and either are ours.  The fatal flaw in democratic government is that an open government has few defenses against an uneducated and ignorant public.  The easiest way to overthrow a democracy is to, first, damage public education.  Follow that by turning over the nation's information systems to corrupt interests and you have a simple blueprint for transferring power from the citizens to the Dark Forces. 

The fact that a popular magazine like Time can publish an article like Klein's "The Iran Factor" without a hint of irony, expecting no blow-back and no outrage, is a sign of the times.  Simply by wiping out the free press, eliminating quality public education, and handing over the reins of power to corporate interests, we've given up any hope of democratic reforms.  Apparently, we're content to worry about other nations' paranoid hysteria while tolerating our own. 

July 2006


#157 Where Did the Creativity Go? (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

The nation's head doofus, G.W. Bush, and his band of merry Mayberry conservatives have suddenly discovered that the nation is short on "nerds and geeks."  After thirty years of ridiculing anyone with a talent for math, science, and engineering, the crazy right is in a panic because this nation is producing an economy-stifling, constantly-shrinking minimum of youth with skills in math, science, and engineering.  Again we hear the plaintive cry of the double-breasted conservative pundit, "nobody knew this would happen!"

While they've put some effort into turning education institutions into centers of superstitious and political fantasies, conservatives been blindsided by the fact that those concepts are in opposition to the needs of a technical and scientific nation and world.  It even seems to be something of a surprise to these folks that importing a plentiful supply of menial labor has not produced intellectual stimulus to the nation's "melting pot."  The best and brightest of the immigration class are going elsewhere; where their talents will be appreciated, rewarded, and utilized.  All the sleaziest Republicrat and Demolican efforts have produced a nation that is poised on the edge of technical collapse.  Still, they wonder why.

For three generations, the Bush family has labored under the unfounded delusion that pampering the nation's elite class would produce creativity, economic stability, and national brilliance.  Yeah, that's worked out really well for the Family, hasn't it?  Can anyone in that pack of inbred mutants say "nuclear" without a lisp?  The Bush family is an established gang of dysfunctional, dyslexic, hedonistic, technically challenged, intellectual midgets who desperately rely on mommy's money, daddy's connections, and a long history of corruption and nepotism for their survival and success.  Now that is an inspirational role model, don't you think?  I'm sure every Rockefeller wants to grow up to be a Bush, but that model doesn't do much for the children of the productive working class.

The foolishness behind this sudden movement toward encouraging practical technical skills is a textbook example of "do what I say, not what I do."  The dumbest folks in the nation think they can con the smartest folks into working harder for no apparent reason.  If the most powerful, richest people in the country earned their golden spoons through inheritance and/or corruption, why would anyone pick a different route? 

Most working class kids are not that stupid.  When minimal skills will provide a doorway to corporate success, very few of us have chosen the more demanding math, science, and engineering path.  Trust fund  babies, lawyers, MBAs, economists, politicians, actors, and pro athletes are the most successful, most powerful people in the country.  The are also the least technically competent.  Why would an enterprising, creative, intelligent student pick a different career (especially one steeped in difficult concepts and long, mostly unsuccessful, hours of study followed by a career of hardship and instability) when there are so many easier ways to succeed? 

Reagan was the watermark for the latest phase in the decline of the United States' technical base.  Reagan, the ignorant Hollywood conservative, ridiculed Carter, the engineering "egghead," publicly and often for "overcomplicating" the nation and world's problems.  Reagan simply represented the lowest common denominator's belief that "somewhere there is a simple solution to every complicated problem."  There usually is, but that solution rarely works. 

Reagan's simpleminded "trickle down" economics didn't work and we suffered twelve years of recession while he and his goofy elitists proved and re-proved that point.  In the meantime, Reagan and Bush I cut back funding for education, scientific research on everything from alternative energy to medicine.  They promoted the export of technical jobs, manufacturing, and skills while obsolescing those skills in the USA by exporting industry to Asia.  After a brief revival of a few of those critical proficiencies during the Clinton years, Bush II is back in the export business with the single-minded focus of someone who is serious about the damage he wants to do to this nation.

Let's face it, a country governed and managed by characters like Ken Lay, G.H.W. and G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Carl Rove might as well skip the pretense and nominate, appoint, and promote Tony Soprano and his family.  With mobsters like ours in charge of the country's present and future, we're as bound for decadence and humiliation as were Great Britain, Spain, France, Rome, Greece, and every other fallen nation in human history. 

A system designed to reject and neglect the best and the brightest is bound to be limited by the worst and the least capable.  This country's nerd and geek shortage is just beginning.  While colleges are building stadiums and cranking out bushels of useless lawyers and MBAs, the rest of the world is producing the future scientists who will drive the world economy for the rest of this century and beyond.  But we'll be prepared ask them if they "want fries with that."

May 2006


#158 The Class Tax (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

Way back in 2002, the Trent and Bill Republican comedy team, Lott and Frist, were pissed.  This was the dark days of when their previous attempt at making a royalty class permanent failed,  Phil Gramm threatened "this will be a campaign issue..  Frist could hardly breathe after this year's 57 to 41 Senate vote turned against the Paris Hiltons, the Bush girls, the Rockefellers, Jeff Shilling and Kenny "Boy" Lay's precious offspring, and the elite trust fund babies who are the core investors of the Republican Party; "my base," as George II often calls them. 

Lott and Frist were barely able to deliver their usual Washington comedy routine to the waiting press drones.  It was that depressing to be them on this sad day for the nation's elites.  And don't let these ruling class representatives fool you, this piece of legislation is intended to be a gift to a very few of the very few.  Even by their own admission, the estate tax (or, more honestly, the inheritance tax) only applies to "less than 1 percent" of family estates. 

It's less than 1 percent, alright.  More accurately, the current federal estate tax only affects about 1 percent of the nation's richest 1 percent.  Currently, an inheritance has to exceed three million dollars ($3,000,000), after estate planning has eliminated a substantial portion of the booty, before any of it is subjected to taxation.

The comedians are back again.  Working their fat asses off for the nations' fattest cats.

Hiding three million bucks from taxation is not enough protection for the nation's elite who want to pass on their royalty to generations of Hiltons, Bushes, and the rest of the freaky-looking inbred offspring of our ruling class.  Republicans, who represent the richest 1% who own more than 90% of the nation's assets, were rightly disappointed that they weren't able to stand up and deliver for their "base." The elimination of the "death tax," as Republicans so cutely describe the federal inheritance tax system, would go a long way towards creating a permanent royalty class in the United States.  Once this passed-down wealth and power is made absolutely secure, nothing stands between the nation's trust fund babies and absolute power over the country's economic and political system.  The counter-revolution would be complete and all that would remain would be for our government to apply for readmission to the British Empire.  I'm sure Paris Hilton can hardly wait to be called "Princess Paris."

Back in the 1980's, Sony's founder, Akiro Morito, reminded us ("Made in Japan," 1986) that inherited industries are, by nature, decadent and doomed to failure because "second-generation industrialists" are not as competent, motivated, creative, or hard-working as first generation founders.  He was trying to be consoling, by reminding his readers that Japan's first generation of industrial giants and geniuses were old and retiring, leaving that country to the pitiful future of mismanagement by the offspring of the original industrialists.  I think one of his great examples was his speculation that Henry Ford VI probably couldn't even drive a car, let alone design one.  He fully expected that Soichiro Honda VI would be just as incompetent.  We can only hope. 

Apparently, Japan's second generation of industrialists are quick studies.  Hirotoshi Honda was recently forced from heading his racing division and his company auditor will be spending a few years in prison for tax evasion.  Like his American corporate-exec counterparts, Honda claimed that he only signed the troubled tax documents and was too dumb to know what he was signing.  However, Honda has his inherited wealth to fall back on, so he won't be expected to work for a living. 

We have enough of that kind of system in the US.  Current law allows two-million for an individual and four-million for couples to pass un-federally taxed and that amount will increase until it vanishes in 2010.  But it will return to original status in 2011.  Obviously, smart little rich kids ought to seriously consider patricide, big-time, in 2010.  Maybe that's the real reason that the ruling class wants this law made permanent, they're terrified of their spoiled-rotten offspring. 

They ought to be afraid of the rest of us. 

June 2006