Date: Monday, June 4, 2007
Dateline: Brussels, Belgium
According the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (the tax man) 90 percent of Americans made less money in 2005 than they did in 2004. However there was a 9 percent increase in income in those two years and it went to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. What's more, 9,677 Americans earned more than $10 million in 2004, $26.5 million each according to IRS arithmetic.
Military spending with Iraq alone costing around $1 billion a month, is bankrupting lower and middle class Americans. The other 10 percent couldn't care less. Total appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are approaching $600 billion and President Bush is asking for $120 billion more to spend on his folly. Then there is Dick Cheney's pet company, Halliburton, which picked up $27 billion from contracts in Iraq paid for with U.S. taxpayers money. With too much heat in Baghdad, they are moving their headquarters to Dubai. As eighteen coalition countries have withdrawn their troops, more departures are scheduled. But not U.S. troops. According to Texas presidential candidate Ron Paul the U.S. is 'building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican [and] we're building 14 permanent bases.' Call it a serge in construction.
New news is another weapon on the Pentagon's drawing board. It's called Airborne Laser (ABL) and will cost $3.6 billion. Yes, this is the Star Wars beam, perhaps they lifted the idea from Evgeny Podkletnov, but I don't know, the project is Top Secret. Anyway the beam is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in flight. Technical challenges are said to be formidable. It could well be another waste of money, something the Republicans are famous for.
Back in Afghanistan, another war that can't be won, two of our finest journalists in the field are Christina Lamb and Nicholas D. Kristof. They report that last year 4000 lives were lost. About a quarter of those were civilians. More disturbing is that 18,000 women die annually in childbirth according to the Kristof report.
Last year in April I reported that troops from five countries were being sent to Helmand province in Afghanistan to battle against 300 Taliban. This year in April the Taliban control 'ninety percent of the area' according to an Afghan member of parliament. I personally hate the Taliban and have never forgiven them for blowing up those ancient Buddha statutes in the country but they are regretfully winning the war of minds.
Around the world, 27 countries participated in a pole to judge which countries haves the 'most negative influence.' The top three in order of votes were Israel, Iran, and American. That changes the axis of evil a bit and with the departure of Donald Rumsfeld in America the axis also changed. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales now joins Bush and Cheney as the evil axis. Holy frijoles, a Tex-Mex Fascist. This little prick was nicknamed Fredo by Bush and anyone who knows his record wonders when he's gonna get wacked. A long time cog in the George Bush wheel he served as general counsel when Bush was governor of Texas. On his watch no condemned prisoners received clemency, 57 were executed. When Bush was elected president Gonzales assumed the same position in Washington. On his appointment to attorney general in 2005 he has ruled that Bush could ignore the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. Constitution, and he justified illegal wire taps. His recent meddling saw the firing of eight U.S. attorneys because they disagreed with some of Bush's policies. Not only should he be kicked out of the government, he should face criminal charges on treason, perjury, obstruction of justice and whatever else. Send him back to Texas, execute him.
Meanwhile I have received a fax from my colleagues in Morocco and they are still tinkering with the beam. There might be a camel on Mars but everything is 'hush-hush' as British bigwigs like to say. Spare me, that's almost as infantile as the American 'bye-bye.'
Date: Saturday, June 30, 2007
Dateline: London, England
I'm not fond of nationalism, it brings out too many patriotic idiocies and deprives us of viewing the world as one. But it is not unusual, as the Welch coal-miner sings, when you consider that football has always threatened to be the opium of the people.
The London Sunday Times used to be a pretty good newspaper until Rupert Murdoch took over but he successfully turned it to profits with writing talent behind the tabloid like commercialization. He didn't fire erudite columnist Godfrey Smith and an excellent art critic, Waldemar Januszczak, joined the team. Compared to most newspapers the Sunday Times is better than average. I know I hate it but I keep reading it and I know there is a better newspaper in Alaska than the Times of London but on Sunday the New York Times is still heavier. Murdoch has always rubbed me the wrong way and I can't forgive him ruining sports viewing on television for low income people with his pay-for-view programing. He needs a lot of bodyguards.
His chain of newspapers have often reflected his right wing views but it is more about making a buck. That's why he immigrated from Australia to the U.S. and became a citizen. The Sunday Times is more balanced now than previously. Smith has retired but Januszczak is still there along with on the edge humor columnist and sports writer Rob Liddle and just as scathing, editorial writer, Simon Jenkins. On the international front there is Christina Lamb, Marie Colvin, and Jon Swain. Their reporting from the field is gripping stuff. The newest international correspondent, Uzi Mahnaimi, is an Israeli sympathizer and hard to believe but he writes well on the war front.
There have been more than a few writers for the Sunday Times who annoy me but two will do as the restaurant and TV critic writer is not as provocative as Andrew Sullivan and Jeremy Clarkson.
Sullivan is a well educated English Catholic homosexual who has worked as a right wing journalist in the U.S. for many years. In 1992 he was appointed editor of The New Republic, a sad day for American journalism. During the Clinton administration he flipped out over Bill and Hillary and his column was subsequently banned from the New York Times. He continued to work for right wing periodicals and after becoming a columnist for the Sunday Times had further success as a blogger. Meanwhile it took him four years of Yankee flag waving for the Bush administration to regain some of his sanity. Now he is in limbo, he can't support Bush but as long as the next president is a republican I suppose he would be pleased. So what about these Hollywood starlets that send him e-mails? Did he make that up? I'll bet Milly Jackson never sent him one. I used to send letters to the editor of the Sunday Times about Sullivan and until I referred to him as fascist faggot they acknowledged receipt of my e-mails. Now nothing. Family newspaper, give your readers a break.
I'll be the first to admit that Sullivan's new found scorn for the Bush administration since 2004 is on target but he still has flippy do-da lapses when he thinks of democrats and Hillary. So in In his June 3rd column in the Sunday Times he takes a potshot at Al Gore but only Andrew knows what he is on about. His writing becomes psycho babble about rationality and 'some collective, irrational unhinging' and he tries to tie that up with Hollywood celebrities and the collective conscience of American voters and claims that Gore 'misunderstands the genius of constitutional democracy.' It's all bull shit. What he hasn't got the balls to say is that Americans voted for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush to eight year terms because they are stupid. There. I hope Sullivan suffocates on something he puts in his mouth.
Jeremy Clarkson has been a long time correspondent for the Sunday Times and reminds me of why I distrust Englishmen, they aspire to be conservative. He doesn't sound posh but he fits the model of a social climber with a hollow laugh. Clarkson achieved notoriety when he became a TV presenter on the automotive show Top Gear. His taste in music was always close to the elevator but as a Top Gear motor head he just had to visit Motor City and there befriended Bob Seger, the singer in the Silver bullet Band. He probably chatted with Mitch Ryder of the Detroit Wheels too as Jeremy was suddenly a fan of roots rock with a touch of blue color. But he never mentioned heavy metal guitarist Ted Nugent Why? Because Ted said he could shoot the balls of a rhino at three hundred feet with a bow and arrow. Iggy Pop? No way. Not posh, not family entertainment. Think like Rupert.
On returning to London Jeremy soon presented a documentary series on BBC about transportation and speed. For that exercise he rode in various vehicles including a tank, a formula I, and a jet that made him heave his cookies. That documentary was followed up by another mini-series featuring his hero Isambard Kington Brunel. This was fairly serious stuff for Clarkson because the civil engineer Brunel was a designer and builder of railways, bridges, and steamships. Much of his humor was gone and humor is what the English audience was looking for on the tube.
Yes, Clarkson has a keen since of humor. One of his colleagues on the Sunday times, India Knight, once wrote that only conservatives have a sense of humor. Of course she has her shit on backwards but Clarkson is capable of a very funny turn of phrase. He occasionally made me laugh out loud and that's my highest praise for a writer. I'm not a weepy, let the good times roll. However, when Jeremy became a motor head his bright guy views changed and everything green became a communist plot for him. His contempt for the Green Revolution is on record and he has to recant or be swallowed up by the truth. Playing dice with the planet, ignoring the warnings, is political and religious ignorance.
Jeremy's not seen the way. He was born to be an Englishman, 'to hunt down game and blast away, to shoot what ere' you can' just like the American, Yosemite Sam. As student he was probably too afraid to explore his mind with an hallucinogen, to experience an overview of the planet we live and breath on. And that brings me to his June 10th column in the Sunday Times entitled 'Stuff the tiger- long live extinction.'
He's trying to be provocative. No one believes he means what he is saying because he's such a bright guy, even smarter than Andrew Sullivan. And he's trashing endangered species because like tigers they are 'as irrelevant as the death of a faraway star.' Did he consider that tigers are apart of human history. In India during the course of the 18th and 19th Centuries tigers are claimed to have killed 100,000 people. Then the English came with their shotguns and slaughtered them. I've seen a photo of these Victorian hunters standing and beaming over a pile of tiger carcases and thinking how pleased the wife and mistress will be with a skin and head on the carpet. This photo (circa 1890s) was in the Sunday Times, maybe it accompanied a hunting article by former columnist Godfrey Smith. If it did Mr. Smith must have mentioned the only Englishman, probably the only man in the world who cared about the plight of the tiger, Jim Corbett. He was a professional hunter and bagged around twelve before turning his attention to tiger protection in India. If he hadn't acted the tiger would have been extinct in the 1800s. He also played apart in establishing India's first national park in 1934. In 2007 there were no more than 3,500 tigers left in the wild. They are still being poached and their body parts are shipped to China for medicinal remedies of questionable value. Not the trade, the remedies.
Another 19th Century photo accompanying an article by Godfrey Smith showed Victorian English conservatives at their best on home ground slaughtering ducks, pheasants, grouse, what ever, probably a brace of coots out of camera range, by the hundreds, a thousand or more birds on a Sunday safari, anything that moved in the bush, too bad Dick Cheney wasn't there. Now here's a rub, Cheney probably bosses the U.S. Interior Department and while that government agency is in charge of overseeing the Endangered species Act, it issues exemptions for super- rich hunters to bag a dying species. So if you want to shoot a big horned Argali ram in the Mongolia neighborhood and beyond, contact Safari Club International and they'll get the necessary paper work done for you courtesy of the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service. Meanwhile you can stuff Jeremy Clarkson.
And remember, you're not over the hill if you can keep a grip on your dentures. P.G.
Date: Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Dateline: Outside Town
On the sixth of July I ran a search on the Internet for George Bush's highschool grades. Not even close, all I got was a bio on Bush written by the White House. Top secrecy, you see, they don't want the public to know how stupid he really is. Then I ran a search on his wife and this is what I found:
Laura Bush on LSD
Would her new found awareness
Turn her husband around
She ain't from Texas
U.S. military policy since Vietnam has been characterized by wrong decisions, bungling, genocide, chemical crimes against humanity and, in side the Pentagon, massive mismanagement. All true, alas. Of course not everyone agrees but I think the first Persian Gulf War, the liberation of Kuwaiti in 1991, became a mistake when coalition troops didn't go onto Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein. Not to dwell on what didn't happen, the second Persian Gulf War continues when it should have never started. Everything has gone wrong and is going wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bungling is entirely the fault of the Bush administration, given normal military blunders. Weapons like cluster bombs and bomb busters contribute to the genocide but if those weapons were approved the authorization came from the White House, probably suggested by the neocons in the Pentagon who mostly had Jewish interests at heart. And it was that heartless group that formulated the policies in Iraq that didn't work. They are on their way out for bungling, misrepresenting facts, downright lying and, if I'm not surprised, forgery. Unfortunately, neocon policies continue in Iraq to the determent of reality. The scenario from the beginning was to colonize the country turn it into a Christian democracy, and steal it's oil.
While that policy has failed the construction of permeant military bases continues. Again, old time colonization history complete with missionaries and Bibles. A little history lesson tells you that--foreigners who don't assimilate don't stay long unless by force and force won't work in Iraq because it's a conflict of no surrender like Vietnam. Unless they are welcome, and they are not, Western forces must leave. Since 1953 American troops have been stationed in South Korea but they are appreciated. Attempts by the Bush administration to draw Korean parallels with policy in Iraq doesn't wash.
Meanwhile Bush and Cheney have isolated themselves from what most people call reality and are behaving like wild ducks instead of lame ducks, They are totally unpredictable and continue to subvert constitutional processes while politicizing the federal government. That means their dangerous. When a National Emergency is declared, Americans will wake up with a president for life.
I wonder if Americans know that its government leads the world in weapons sales? Those sales since 2001 round the planet were between $10 to $13 billion. In 2006 that figure increased to $21 billion. Crimes against humanity? Consider that when you are brushing your teeth tonight.
NOTE: To preserve the intergrity of the story, blog entries are in chronological order. First post first, last post last.