Friday, December 17, 2004

christmas and cornflour

without being one of those wearisome types who mutter "i hate christmas" under their breath while simultaneously kicking a small child and peeing on your granny's flowerbed- while not in that league, christmas has tended to induce a weariness in me over the last few years.
well, less so this year.
i'll never forget talking to fine new zealand author jack lasenby- an outdoors type now in his seventies. after running down the modern world for while, and bemoaning his physical state, he said with wicked (and humourous) relish- "at least i can still hate!"
he had a point.
there's something uniquely energising about hate.
and while i more-or-less endorse the john lennon/jesus line that love's what's really important, some of the ominous trends worldwide- bush, islamic jihadism, global warming- the list is endless- and here in nz - the maxim institute, puling paul holmes, the dead rat in the heater of our van- well, it's energising to have some decent targets.
so raise a glass, haha-
here's to us-
and those like us-
and to hell with the rest!
merry christmas.
unless yr a supporter/employee/paid liar from the maxim institute. in which case, look out. my trained attack weasels will rip the skin off yr anus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

what's he up to?

this article in the hill, suggests Kerry might have another shot at the presidency.
while i'm impressed by kerry, it strikes a slightly sour note. maybe the vanity and ambition are stronger in jkfII than i'd imagined.
late, but here's some of the new yorker's take on nov 2.

Along with the sadness, there is puzzlement. Incumbents, especially in time of war, have a built-in advantage. But this incumbent had led the country into a war, the war in Iraq, that half the public had come to see as a mistake, and had led the country down what more than half the public saw, in pollster’s shorthand, as “the wrong track.” The election’s outcome defies logic, and perhaps that is the point. The early analyses credited Bush’s victory to religious conservatives, particularly those in the evangelical movement. In voting for Bush, as eighty per cent of them did, many of these formerly nonvoting white evangelicals are remaining true to their unworldliness. In voting for a party that wants to tax work rather than wealth, that scorns thrift, that sees the natural world not as a common inheritance but as an object of exploitation, and that equates economic inequality with economic vitality, they have voted against their own material (and, some might imagine, spiritual) well-being.

here's the full link

Monday, November 15, 2004

it's the oil, stupid.

This New Yorker article, Pump Dreams, by John Cassidy, treads a little delicately around the core reason for the invasion of Iraq and why "retreat is not an option". It's certainly worth a read- the Bush/Cheney oil baron clique- right out of Dallas, in a stupid kinda way- are not about to raise taxes on gas, or mandate better mpg for cars and light trucks. But high oil prices are likely to do what they lack the guts or foresight or common sense for.
Global warning.... what globe? Isn't the earth flat, like texas?

Friday, November 05, 2004


an unfortunate fact of american political life is you run for president as an almost unknown, and if you fail- obscurity.
this is a fault. I'm sure i'm not alone in hoping kerry can play a part in america's future. he's got the mana. and i don't think we can afford to discard this leader.
I'd like tos ee a sort of "opposition" that regularly issues statements and articulates where the democrats would position themselves on policy- over the next four years. we need a relatively uniform and informed and distinguished spokesperson to tell america just how and why and when and where the bush corps are destroying our liberty, prosperity, and happiness.
how about the dems appoint a spokesperson and an "shadow cabinet" and take these issues to the public for the next four years, as happens in democracies worldwide- (like here in new zealand).
the time to do it is NOW!

liberal oasis

is always good. this strategy doc
is worth a permalink though. the left in the us needs to work grass-roots to move the terms of debate.
so we can talk about good government.
so a message of sharing a community means something, so we can articulate some social values that demonstrate our moral positions.
like progressive taxation is in the best interests of everyone.
like the immorality of the world's wealthiest most powerful nation having X million kids growing up in poverty.
like the immorality of the death penalty- something we hold onto in common with china and the taliban- not the civilised nations of the world.
it's a long haul and needs a lot of work.
but while mr bush the "holiday president" moans about how hard it is- we have got to do it and there's no point waiting.
in some respects time is on our side- young people today are more inclined to be progressive on a range of issues.
but if the $400 million plus that right-wing and corporate interests throw at think-tanks and "institutes" is not going to leach through the media and keep the terms of the national debate just where they want it- we have to get moving.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

atheist pacifist liberals

no point being coy. using (for it brings a level of comfort with it even to one of the reality based community) the "royal" we- we are atheist pacifist liberals here, and proud of it. we don't have a happy fantasy about life in the clouds with a perfect father; we do not believe in violence (jesus, we believe, was fully human but also a remarkable moral thinker) and we are liberals- in fact in many respects we are socialists. we believe america is blind to the benefits of socialism, which continuously saves capitalism's arse, by curbing its worst excesses.
and despite the re-election of bush (a deeply undemocratic man, we feel) we believe in democracy, not demagogery, and rationality over faith.
ATHEISTS UNITE! SOCIALISM FOREVER (or at least a little bit of it now and then). And a big up yr nose to those who voted bush whatever their reasons, whatever their excuse. You guys deserve him.
we also want to float another idea- succession. the great cultural gulf is widening. New England could be extended across the noreast and include Illinois Michigan and Wisconscin. It would make a fine country. The west coast would be rather like bangladesh... we jest. But it'd make another fine country, and arnie could fulfill his ambition and become president without messily having to damage the constitution.
Southerners have often floated the idea; now is the time for them to "succeed"- and if they don't WE SHOULD.

four more "yeah?"s

we lost. the forces of intolerence and unreality took a resounding victory.
henceforth we will not be as tolerent of christianlity when it blinds people to reality.
and as a lowly worm on the blogosphere, i promise to turn- nasty, maybe. but certainly to keep up the arguments.
no real reason to hope bush will be reborn as a moderate. the scary scary thing is that rove and cheney and gang have complete constitutional control of the "world's only superpower" for a while at least. (the deficits they're running may actuall bring them down. who's paying for the iraq war? actually the saudis and the chinese are lending us the cash. talk about a "global test"- wait til we have to ask those dudes if it's ok if we have another little war, please).
congress, senate, supreme court, white house. it's a clean sweep. never happened before and you can bet they're gonna play it to the max.
a world-scale distater for- international affairs. the only hope is that the rest of the world will re-unite to bolster the UN. it's our only hope!
-the environment, particularly in the US, but espeically vis a vis kyoto, the whole world will suffer.
-the cause of social justice- tax the poor, elevate the rich. boy am i glad i don't live in the US. it's gonna be vital the sort of policies that have created that mess don't emigrate here via dr brash and mr hide.
i cld analyse all day. but right now i'm gonna go out and firebomb a picture of a church!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

on a knife-edge

there's bated breath all round, but also a sense of optimism in the liberal blogs. some of that is just that finally, after a fever of worry and wait and talk, people are getting to do something- and the volunteers to get out the vote know they can make a difference.
the polls are still too close to call, but i too feel a cautious optimism. kerry will make a fine president- i think the best for many decades. bush- well, if we elect him, we deserve him. but say a long goodbye to democracy, rationality, civil liberty, and peace.
anyway it's a great relief it's almost over. life will go one, whichever way it falls.
just more of us will be alive if kerry wins...

Friday, October 22, 2004


i haven't thought of thomas mcguane for yonks. but this kinda cool story popped up in the world's best magazine (i still can't quite believe it's free on the net). and anyway i wanted to try putting up a link....
anyway, mcgaune also is mentioned in the "talk of the town" section. what a cool guy.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

bad feelings

I've been trolling the blogoshere a little and it's scary.
Right up I should say I think Kerry likely to be a fine president and Bush a scary unthinking man. I'm a new-yorker reading atheist and social democrat who is probably by the standards of the US pretty far to the left of centre. (Of course I think I'm the epitome of sweet moderation and reasonable and considered opinions.)
Both of them have been stretching the truth- ok, lying- on the campaign trail; I hope it's not just my bias that finds the lies of Bush go deeper and to be far more sinister.
That aside, I generally find the lefty/democratic bloggers to be scathing and sarcastic about Bush, but generally more sceptical and thoughtful about politics, the world and -well, reality.
The right-wing blogs are terrifying.
First of all, they've swallowed the "Swift Boat Liars for Bush" character assassination of Kerry hook line and sinker. They regularly quote these lies as if they were incontrovertable, when they've very largely been completely and systematically debunked. So to them, Kerry is a lying, self-serving, opportunistic creep, intent on stealing their money and using it to fund abortion- or perhaps just giving it all to Osama.
And they use the most intemperate hate-language I've encountered on the web.
Second, they live in a world I hardly recognise, where anyone outside the USA is a semi-human, and hardly counts; where tax cuts are automatically good, deficits are something the democrats run, and God is indubitably on their foul-mouthed side.
Scary. Complete conviction mostly based on complete fiction.
If Bush wins, it's a tragedy for humanity (and most other living species).
But if America votes him back in, in some ways I've come to think maybe we've have got the President we deserve.
A right-wing corporate lacky, religious crank of an arrogant, incurious blinkered self-righteous puff-bag.
Did I say the right-wing bloggers use intemperate hateful language?

Monday, October 18, 2004

it's weird this year...

There are a million signs this isn't an "ordinary election". For a start, it's interesting- absorbing- probably costing the nation a mint of lost productivity as people scan the blog-scape daily.
For a second, the media seem- just a little- very slowly- to be cottoning on to reality. All lies are not equal; he sez she sez isn't reporting- especially when he sez the moon is a tangerine and she sez it's not....
Yep, they're starting to call the Bush administration- right to the top- on it's "laxity" with the truth. (Liar liar....oh, sorry, we can't use the "L" word)
And on top of that, everyone seems to be angry as all get-out. I am. I've registered to vote, (in Vermont, it's purely symbolic) because GW and cronies seem to have an agenda that's foolish (iraq) and scary (imperialism, grand hubris, burn the future) and just plain WRONG (using government to redistribute wealth to the wealthy, letting corporations run the EPA, shafting social security).
But the shouting is partof the fun.
And blogs are where a whole heap of this happens.
They probably don't make much difference- who reads 'em if they're not already passionate- but then again, without passion, politics is ditchwater.
Bring on Nov 2- so I can have a life again.
On the other hand, I'll miss it.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Electoral What?

Ever been to electoral college? I think that's where you learn about our weird electoral system. It's not just undemocratic- meaning, fundamentally, that the guy with the most votes doesn't necessarily get elected.
It's also weird and archaic and fundamentally (did I say this before) undemocratic.
In an election cycle increasingly dominated by money, for example, how much is your vote worth? If you live in solidly Democratic Vermont, say, both sides spent under ten cents of their campaign money trolling for your approval. Because they already know where Vermont's electoral college votes are going. (Ok, you miss out on a lot of egregious election advertising, it's not all bad). In Ohio, though, a key "swing state" (there simply ain't enuff swingers in VT, folks) your vote is "worth" about ten dollars in advertising and other spends.
Ok, I made up these figures. But I bet they're not that far off.
So lets get with the twenty-first century. Before we start trying to spread democracy like margerine across the face of the globe, we need a fairer, saner, system at home. Where each vote has equal worth. And here's the kicker- it's very simple, and (unless there's a recount...) probably cheaper.
Now don't get me started on how we count the damn things...