Saturday, December 31, 2005


A list of words to be banished from the English language.

You're not going to believe this

Forty-four percent of those polled by Rasmussen responded that 2005 was a "good" year (or better than "good" because many of those rated it "the best ever" or "excellent").

On what planet do those respondents live? Or could it be they lived only during 1929 and 1941?

Good news

I suppose the fact that the Justice Department has opened an investigation into NYT's publication of the existence of the administration's domestic spying operation should be bad news, showing how quickly an investigation can be started if it suits the administration, as opposed to how languidly the administration reacts to other leaks, such as the Plame case. But for me, this DoJ's decision is good news, ensuring that the story of the clandestine, illegal bugging will remain in the MSM spotlight for months, maybe years, to come.

Quagmire defined

This is how our nation will ensure that it gets dragged into Iraq's civil war.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Who's on first?

Abbott and Costello couldn't create a more comical routine.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Letter to the editor

Some weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that wasn't published in the letters section but in the "Voices" section, so I didn't realize it had made the cut. Recently someone told me they read it and a friend downloaded it for me. (This is in addition to the letter I wrote two days ago.) Here's the earlier letter:

New awareness prompts talk of withdrawal
Voice From Santa Barbara: Erik O'Dowd

With increasing frequency, Americans are asking, "Why are we in Iraq, anyway?"
It is to diffuse this growing doubt about the rightness of our mission there that the administration is now making mutterings of withdrawal.
Twenty-nine months after Bush/Cheney's invasion and occupation of Iraq, after untold thousands of deaths and maimings of Iraqis, Americans and others, and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, we are hearing suggestions from some in the Bush administration that "withdrawal" or "redeployment" of some coalition forces is likely, even imminent.
These utterances are no doubt prompted by the growing rejection by the U.S. public of our continued presence in Iraq, which is in turn based on a new awareness among the majority of our citizenry that the reasons the administration gave for the invasion were false: No weapons of mass destruction, no connection of Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda, no "imminent threat" by Iraq to the U.S. or its allies.
With increasing frequency, Americans are asking, "Why are we in Iraq, anyway?" It is to diffuse this growing doubt about the rightness of our mission there that the administration is now making mutterings of withdrawal.
Don't be fooled. The Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was always about establishing U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, and so when they speak of withdrawal or redeployment of forces, they don't mean our troops will come home, or even leave the area. They'll be ordered to stay indefinitely in the region to show U.S. power -- and use it if necessary -- to enforce U.S. interests (read access to oil and natural gas by our corporations). Indeed, we are presently building four "enduring" bases in Iraq to ensure our permanent military presence there.
These bases will only ensure continued attacks on U.S. targets in the region and throughout the world, by those who've long demanded that we give up our designs on the territory and resources of the Middle East. We'll continue to spend billions of dollars and risk innocent lives, just in slightly different locales.
We mustn't grow complacent. We must keep up the drumbeat, continue to demand to "support our troops" -- not by moving them a few miles farther into the desert, but by bringing them home. Home to the United States. Now.
The author
lives in Santa Barbara.

To which I would add, as I've noted before, don't be fooled about the recently-increasing US bombing of cities in Iraq, which may lessen our casualties, but will increase Iraqis', and is equally, if not more, outrageous.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rogue Nation

Check out this list of international treaties that the Bush administration refuses to honor.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Letter to the editor

Herewith a letter I wrote to the SB News-Press. I've had passable luck getting them published, so long as I adhere to the 250-word limit, as--by 2 words--I've done in this piece. A muted statement, I agree, but what the hell.

Many Americans are in despair, having given up on the political system that twice (maybe) elected Bush/Cheney, resulting in a growing chasm between rich and poor, between ideology and humanity, between truth and lies, between war and peace. But now Bush has gone too far, uniting in outrage both liberals and true conservatives (not, however, their evil cousins, the cabal of neo-cons that have Bush’s ear).

The straw that broke Bush's back?: His secret order authorizing warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency of Americans’ private communications; and, once revealed, his unfounded assertion that the “war on terror” grants him that unprecedented power, followed by his obdurate insistence that he’s entitled to maintain the surveillance, unchecked by courts or Congress.

The Liberals' outrage is predictable, but no less so than that of true conservatives because of their innate distrust of federal power, particularly executive power, power that’s expressly limited by the Constitution’s reservation of lawmaking to Congress and oversight by the federal courts.

To be sure, the Bush/Cheney administration is in for a rough 2006. “Plame-gate” will expand; DeLay and other scandals will ripen; the occupation of Iraq will become even more poisonous; and the economy, now that the real estate bubble has popped and interest rates are rising, will slide into mediocrity.

But Bush’s Achilles heel is his arrogant assertion of executive (read dictatorial) power to intrude, unchecked, into the private communications of Americans. All sensate Americans know where this leads, and they won’t be led there.

Democratic presidential candidates in 2008

Here's a quick analysis of the status of various Democratic candidates for the next presidential election. God, how ugly. Except for Feingold (who's unelectable), the field is awful. Is there no such thing as a charismatic, strong "progressive"?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Meanwhile, back in Iraq

Check out these numbers of Iraqi casualties from our invasion and occupation.

The birth of Jesus

Okay, all my life I've thought about Christianity--Roman Catholicism, mostly, but the other Jesus-based religions, too--and I now conclude that as fine a message as that young man preached (and I suppose he actually walked on the planet at about the time it's said he did), the idea that he was the son of God is a crock (even assuming there's a God, or a god.) The whole tale is absolute bullshit, just as the notion that Muhammed is divine or any other human being has been placed on Earth for some divine purpose.

Indeed, it's more than that I don't believe it, I find the notion abhorrent to the concept of humanity, mean of purpose (to rob humans of their essential human condition), and ruinous in effect.

And the celebration of Christmas--the idea that for a couple of days we should sing and pray and be of good will--it's worse than the recent idea of "black history month." Why is there a weekend for acting benignly, when Christians, as an historical group, are essentially a murderous group of zealots abetted (now, as much as ever) by wimpy believers who do nothing while Jesus' name is used to justify killing of persons all over the world.

Religion, in my mind--and Christianity is as bad as any--is a curse, an evil force.

Who's counting?

Ya know, with Rummie's recent announcement of a withdrawal of some troops from Iraq, I got to thinking. We'll have about 140,000 soldiers there afterward (if you believe the Pentagon), and I got to thinking. Does that count the sailors on board ships in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf? What about the soldiers stationed in Kuwait and Qatar and other nearby sites? And what about this: Now that we're using thousands of "private contractors" to perform services that our military used to do--KP, transport, security operations--our soldiers are freed to perform truly military duties, right? Unlike Vietnam, where our 550,000 troops (at the height of the war) were doing all such things.

It's possible, by such reckoning, that our total military commitment to the outrageous, illegal war is comparable to the outrageous illegal war in Vietnam, only, so far, not quite as long.