SCOTUS and Guantanamo Bay, Friday Noon

[This is only a tiny victory from our side, because we're on the side of truth and justice. It is a major rebuke to the administration, because they are doing a bad thing, and when when someone is in the wrong, they cannot afford even the slightest derivation from their party line. We question ourselves as a matter of steering our course. They do not dare to question themselves about anything, because once they do, their intellectual conceit crumbles like a house of cards.]

everything below copyright the AP

In Loss for Bush, Supreme Court Blocks War-Crimes Trials at Guantanamo
The Associated Press

Thursday 29 June 2006

Washington - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and Geneva conventions.
The case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan, 36, has spent four years in the U.S. prison in Cuba. He faces a single count of conspiring against U.S. citizens from 1996 to November 2001.
Two years ago, the court rejected Bush's claim to have the authority to seize and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or lawyers. In this followup case, the justices focused solely on the issue of trials for some of the men.
The vote was split 5-3, with moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court's liberal members in ruling against the Bush administration. Chief Justice John Roberts, named to the lead the court last September by Bush, was sidelined in the case because as an appeals court judge he had backed the government over Hamdan.

How Blue (or Black, or White) Can You Get?

My father, who is in his 80's, grew up 2 miles off Highway 61, plowed with a mule that died every two weeks because my grandfather was a shitty trader, cropped a cane lot till he ran away to live in the woods, got an orange for Christmas, heard Peetee Wheatstraw in a blind pig, knew the field hollers, has forgotten the names of a dozen musicians down the road that Blind Possum AND Alan Lomax would give anything to record, hummed the sound to me when i was a baby, the whole nine yards.

And is white. Remembers a lynching victim hung from a bridge girder down there that was left to hang 2 months as a warning to teach them all How Things Were. Hates the south. (For future reference, this is all getting worked into a novel called either "Cypress Grove" or "Don't Let the Sun Set on You Here".)

I introduced him to reggae week before last, and we were talking about why we liked about the sound, and that turned into a conversation about country being ruined by Vegas and Top 40, and he (not the most introspective man) said of reggae and blues, "you can't fake it,", i.e., you can't add Vegas and studio production and caesuras and 'sweetening' to an inauthentic sound and retofit it into an authentic sound. Think of Pat Boone trying to sing Little Richard, or Elvis doing Hound Dog-- five seconds of Big Mama Thornton's version knocked all the Elvis out of my head (okay, okay, 'he was great before he went in the Army', can we give it a rest? Jeez.)

Funny sidebar story: when I was helping with a community theatre production of a play called "Ladyhouse Blues", they needed a street vendor calling off stage-- and because I could mimic the "black" sound I'd heard from my father (and Leadbelly, and the folks picking cherries next door until they were replaced by mechanical shakers), the play's director recorded me selling vegetables and for the run of the show I was Kalamazoo's Elvis, a white boy singing black. if I'd stepped from behind the curtain, it would have destroyed the illusion, because in person I look like a long lost Clancy Brother. Maybe when I'm so old and wrinkly that I've moved beyond categories, I'll put on a panama hat and sing the blues in public-- I kid, I kid. I'll have to learn the piano first. Another nice thing about "authentic" musics-- you just get better as you get older.

That being said, I DO cringe at a lot of white-boy-garage-band-blues, but it's because of the sound and the too-many-notes suburban lyrics that whinge instead of howl, not the color of the musicians. Eric Clapton fans, he's very nice-- now give it a rest.

And I've also seen more than one plump pale white boy step in fron of a skeptical audience and rip a sound out of his guitar or his voice that has everyone in the audience murmuring, "Shiiit.." and the black blues fans in the audience lean forward with a little open mouthed smile. The best version of "God Bless the Child" I ever heard was an impromptu performance by a Little Stoner Hippie White Chick that shuffled in to a New Orleans bar (Storyville) after hours. And I've seen black musicians fake it, and black folks dismiss Muddy Waters as "that old country music" in favor of forgettable pop vocalists with lots of faked caesura.

The cry from the heart in the Caucasian sea chanty "Venezuela", or an honest version of "The Parting Glass" can hold it's own with Keb Mo's version of "Love in Vain" (my current favorite), and the pain in that sound earns a respectful hush from Robert Johnson up in Heaven. It's in the color of the sound that comes out of the musician, not the melanin in his skin: Blue in all its shades. Otherwise we're going to have to come up with a new category for Fate Marable.

The War Against WUXIA

(rough notes-- rewrite to follow)
"Down these mean streets a man must walk who is not himself mean." -- Raymond Chandler

Christopher Frayling is a cultural historian (Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone).
While talking to Terri Gross on NPR about his book Once Upon A Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone.talking with a guy about Sergio Leones westerns, how they broke away from the 'code of the west' kind of hero, and he let ddrop a pearl of wisdom in passing: for better or worse, when the hero lost his code in these movies, he became all about style, "looking good" while killing, and the hero's goal (rescuing the peasant farmer's kitten from the burning orphanage) became incidental.
hey, i'm a guy, and i love a certain amount of that (Bogart in Casablanca, or Sigourney Weaver in Aliens 2, or Roddy Piper's immortal warning to aliens: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm alll out of bubble gum.") And no one looks better than Chow Yun Fat when you need ten thousand bullets delivered.
but each of those is a "code hero", fighting FOR something other than their own aggrandizement.
the shift in movie heroes away from the code gives us the vicious pornography of Arnold Swartzenegger, current governonr of California USING AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER AS A HUMAN SHIELD (the audience is supposed to laugh when the body jerks) or Sylvester Stallone, the 5'" bodybuilder who bravely defended a Swiss girl's gym class against the Vietnamese, using an explosive arrow to turn an enemy soldier (enemy soldier? did anybody actually bother to declare war here? whose back yard was it, anyway?) into a bloody mist and the audience is supposed to cheer.

" Need I look upon a death’s head in a ring, that have one in my face?" John Donne

John Donne,
"DEVOTIONS UPON Emergent Occasions and seuerall steps in my Sicknes."
from XVI. Expostulation:

But, O my God, my God, do I that have this fever need other remembrances of my mortality? Is not mine own hollow voice, voice enough to pronounce that to me? Need I look upon a death’s head in a ring, that have one in my face? or go for death to my neighbour’s house, that have him in my bosom?

Robert Graves, back and front cover to Penguin paperback of GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT
IMOGEN AND TWINKA, Imogen Cunningham and Twinka Thiebaud, 1981, by Judy Dater
Michael Fountain in June of 1975 and June of 2005


[ED. NOTE: Author Wayne Allen Sallee (bibliography here), a friend (or at least, not a mortal enemy) of this institution, has been absent from his unusual haunts such as the Red Lion pub, and the Twilight Tales writers' group. Several offshore pornography sites have expressed concern about his credit card status.
The mystery has deepened with the discovery of these disturbing images and the following obscure message posted to Mr Sallee's own web log, Meanwhile, @ Stately Wayne Manor]:

"I might as well be on the run seeing as how I've been out of contact with just about everybody for the past three and a half weeks.
"... how humorous it might seem that I am the only passenger the bus driver leaves off at the I-94 interchange, as if I was hastily avoiding a roadblock further up near the Cal-Sag Bridge. The top photo shows how I then descend to the street below and walk towards my job at a dead end street in an industrial park.
"... and the cars driving along I-94 towards Indiana still scratch their heads at the guy with the satchel and jacket, most drivers not know there is a bus stop sign there."

The Commonplace Book-- Excerpts from my reading in June

“... We're recasting the Bizarros as a frightening, unstoppable zombie-plague style menace. The Bizarros are a lot more predatory in All-Star and their touch is infectious. It's a 'zombie apocalypse' approach to the Bizarro concept and the idea of an unstoppable plague of backwards-talking idiocy sweeping across the globe seems ironically amusing right now.”
-- Grant Morrison on writing All-Star Superman

It's like, "Hey, ever heard of a little thing called 'resolving issues through unconscious acting-out of a maladaptive fantasy-life manifesting itself through inappropriately weak personal boundaries'?" Hello? -- “Becky OFlanahan” interview for The Onion

“This book augments the portrait of Mr. Bush as an incurious and curiously uninformed executive that Mr. Suskind earlier set out in "The Price of Loyalty" and in a series of magazine articles on the president and key aides. In "The One Percent Doctrine," he writes that Mr. Cheney's nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen), casting Mr. Bush in the puppet role of Charlie McCarthy, and cites one instance after another in which the president was not fully briefed (or had failed to read the basic paperwork) about a crucial situation.”
---book review for THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE by Ron Suskind in The NYT 6/20/06
“During a November 2001 session with the president, Mr. Suskind recounts, a C.I.A. briefer realized that the Pentagon had not told Mr. Bush of the C.I.A.'s urgent concern that Osama bin Laden might escape from the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan (as he indeed later did) if United States reinforcements were not promptly sent in. And several months later, he says, attendees at a meeting between Mr. Bush and the Saudis discovered after the fact that an important packet laying out the Saudis' views about the Israeli-Palestinian situation had been diverted to the vice president's office and never reached the president.
Keeping information away from the president, Mr. Suskind argues, was a calculated White House strategy that gave Mr. Bush "plausible deniability" from Mr. Cheney's point of view, and that perfectly meshed with the commander in chief's own impatience with policy details. Suggesting that Mr. Bush deliberately did not read the full National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was delivered to the White House in the fall of 2002, Mr. Suskind writes: "Keeping certain knowledge from Bush — much of it shrouded, as well, by classification — meant that the president, whose each word circles the globe, could advance various strategies by saying whatever was needed. He could essentially be 'deniable' about his own statements."

"Whether Cheney's innovations were tailored to match Bush's inclinations, or vice versa, is almost immaterial," Mr. Suskind continues. "It was a firm fit. Under this strategic model, reading the entire N.I.E. would be problematic for Bush: it could hem in the president's rhetoric, a key weapon in the march to war. He would know too much."

“After all, there’s a reason they call it the mass market. It’s massive. It’s fat, it’s big, and it’s dumb as a post.”
“The Direct Market is about as hale and hearty as a beached whale, and Marvel Comics has spent the last few years muttering to itself and pushing around a shopping cart. So failing to look for new readers and new venues would be eight kinds of stupid. We gotta shop around.”
-- Frank Miller, speaking at the Harvey Kurtzman awards


• "These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing bush was part of the closure process. These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much." --Ann Coulter
• "We have been slandered. Contrary to Ms. Coulter’s statements, there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive. There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day," -- Kristen Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza of New Jersey

“I got in a lot of trouble a few weeks ago for being disrespectful toward Ana Marie Cox. I have no intention of being disrespectful now. I think it's just terrific that she's become a full fledged member of the mainstream media and is covering bloggers as if they are pod people from mars. It's the smart career move. Still, it's quite a transition since for several years she represented the liberal blogosphere on countless blogging panels and media appearances. It's a testament to her faking skills that she could convincingly be a blogging pioneer one minute and a befuddled mainstream journalist the next. It's trailblazing, actually.”
-- digby on the shark-jumping Wonkette

“Favorite complain about contemporary world: the facetiousness of ‘respectable’ people... who, because not taking anyting seriously, are destroying old human feelings older than TIME magazine... Dave Garroways laughing at white doves.”
-- Jack Kerouac, in the introduction to “Lonesome Traveler’

“For there is something new in the Reign of Terror, and that is its absolutism. You couldn’t escape it. In the old regime, if you were determined to stay out of politics, politics could stay out of you. In revolutionary France, the modern development was that you could not withdraw, or go into self-exile—you could not even repent or adopt the other religion. You could only wait and hope not to die. When the Abbé Sieyès, asked what he had done during the Terror, answered, “I lived,” he was making more than a mordant joke; he was identifying the new thing that had come into the world, which was a will to killing that made merely living achievement enough.
“The bloodlust of the time makes the attempt to trace the Terror to any single intellectual source, or peculiar circumstance—to Enlightenment rationalism gone mad, or to the paranoia of the encircled Republicans—feel inadequate to the Terror’s essential nature, which was that it didn’t matter what the ideology was. The argument that a taste for the ideal and the tabula rasa leads to terror, after all, would be more convincing if its opposite—a desire for an organic, authentic, traditional society—didn’t lead to terror, too. The Red Terror led to a White Terror; Robespierre’s head had hardly fallen before the Gilded Youth were attacking the now helpless Jacobins. It sometimes seems as if history had deliberately placed Hitler and Stalin side by side at the climax of the horror of modern history simply to demonstrate that the road to Hell is paved with any intention you like; a planned, pseudo-rationalist utopianism and an organic, racial, backward-looking Romanticism ended up with the same camps and the same carnage. The historical lesson of the first Terror is not that reason devours its own but that reason cannot stop us from devouring each other.”
The Reign of Terror Revisited
The New Yorker, 6/5/06

"How can one wonder at any number of strange assertions from men whose whole lives were devoted to mockery, and who were ready at any time to sacrifice the reputation of their superiors to vulgar envy and spite, as to some evil genius."
-- Pericles
(quotation included in a birthday letter written to Eleanor Roosevelt by Harry Truman)

“You’ve got some kind of adolescent infatuation with the idea of gallantry and fair play,” she said. “He was doing what he thought was right. Damn you, why have you got me defending him? Would you leave? Please?”
-- from THE EMPTY COPPER SEA by John D. MacDonald

Students will contrast and compare the following excerpts from THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINEby Ron Suskind with THE EMPTY COPPER SEA by John D. MacDonald:

I. (From Suskind): “As for Mr. Tenet, this book provides a nuanced portrait of a man with "colliding loyalties — to the president, who could have fired him after 9/11 but didn't; and to his analysts, whom he was institutionally and emotionally committed to defend." It would become an increasingly untenable position, as the White House grew more and more impatient with the C.I.A.'s reluctance to supply readily the sort of intelligence it wanted. ...While many C.I.A. analysts were deeply skeptical of the imminent danger posed by Mr. Hussein and simultaneously worried about the fallout of a possible invasion, the C.I.A., paradoxically enough, would become a favorite scapegoat for the administration's decision to go to war against Iraq, thanks in no small measure to Mr. Tenet's remark (quoted in Bob Woodward's 2004 book "Plan of Attack") that the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk." ...He depicts the former C.I.A. director as frequently being made by the White House "to take the fall" for his superiors, on matters including the administration's handling of prewar intelligence to the 16 disputed words in the president's State of the Union address, regarding Iraq's supposed efforts to obtain uranium from Africa. Because it was Mr. Tenet "who brought analysis up the chain from the C.I.A.," Mr. Suskind writes, he "was best positioned to assume blame. And Rice was adept at laying it on Tenet."
At the same time, Mr. Suskind suggests that Mr. Tenet acted as a kind of White House enabler: he writes that in the wake of 9/11, Mr. Tenet felt a "mix of insecurity and gratitude" vis-à-vis George W. Bush, and that eager to please his boss, he repeatedly pushed C.I.A. staff members to come up with evidence that might support the president's public statements.
In the days after 9/11 Mr. Bush defended the embattled C.I.A. chief to angry congressmen, and at that point, Mr. Suskind writes: "George Tenet would do anything his President asked. Anything. And George W. Bush knew it."

II. (From MacDonald): “It’s hard to find very much about Van from Van. As a young man he was a notorious drunk. He broke places up and was thrown in jail dozens of times. You knew him in Lauderdale after he’d sobered up and became a respectable citizen. A reputation hangs on. For example, when he lost his shrimp boat, there was talk around Timber Bay that he’d been at the helm, drunk, when it happened. When Hub hired him at Hula Marine, people said Hub would live to regret it. Hub Lawless enjoyed hiring... misfits. I think he enjoyed gratitude.”

“Then it was pretty damn cruel to feed Van a mickey.”

“It was wicked the way the word is used in the Bible.”

“Whatever academic scholarship may insist, surely a sense of proportion is the last thing we want from history—perspective, certainly, but not proportion. Anything, after all, can be seen in proportion, shown to be no worse a crime than some other thing. Time and distance can’t help but give us a sense of proportion: it was long ago and far away and so what? What the great historians give us, instead, is a renewed sense of sorrow and anger and pity for history’s victims—for some luckless middle-aged Frenchman standing in the cold gray, shivering as he watches the members of his family being tied up and having their heads cut off. Read Gibbon on the destruction of the Alexandria library by the Christians, or E. P. Thompson on the Luddites—not to mention Robert Conquest on the Gulag—and suddenly old murders matter again; the glory of the work of these historians is that the right of the dead to have their pain and suffering taken seriously is being honored. It is not for history to supply us with a sense of history. Life always supplies us with a sense of history. It is for history to supply us with a sense of life.”
The Reign of Terror Revisited
The New Yorker, 6/5/06

"Damn, girl, this goes way past kink; you're in love."
-- Bob Vickery


"I'm a big fat mama, got the meat shakin' on my bones;
I'm a big fat mama, got the meat shakin' on my bones.
And every time I shake,
Some skinny gal lose her home!" -- Ida Lee

Nowhere is the distance more evident between what Hollywood thinks is sexy, and what men really want, than in the career of Danni Ashe. Her status as most popular internet pin-up has been documented and audited by three independent agents before being confirmed by Guinness.

The females listed by magazines and television are at least ten pounds underweight, little more than boys with bumps. Danni Ashe is all boobs and butt and hips and aquiline nose, broad cheekbones and smile. Her most common expression is not the gasp of an oriental temptress in the throes of artificial ecstacy, but the happy smile of an affectionate wife or girlfriend when she knows you're aroused. Man, I do love her in a suit jacket. She is a bountiful goddess to every lonely man, and a reproach to every anorexic on the cover of People magazine. [In fairness, it should be noted that sans makeup, lighting and wardrobe, Miss Ashe bears a strong resemblance to a significant other of the editors at OEE.]

We see the same cognitive dissonance between the body type lauded in the runway model and the goddess archetypes popularized in the fantasy paintings of Frank Frazetta. The heavy, muscular thighs (I should be ashamed for even writing that phrase, but can you describe them any better) and wide-beamed hips are symbolic of feminine power, the equivalent of broad shoulders in the male.

The double domed stomach of a healthy female body has almost disappeared from American advertising. That is all well and good, in a lad's magazine aimed at twenty-year-olds, but a culture that insists on this model of feminity into its thirties is in trouble. This is the visual equivalent of television studios that only hire writers under thirty to write their sitcoms, with a predictable drop in the quality of work produced, and the limiting of the American imagination.

Frazetta made his living as an illustrator for fantasy novels, but his nude models, ironically, were close to home, and grounded in the reality of his wife Ellie, as we learn from recently released portraits. It's his mental landscapes that wander far from reality-- imagine the Poconos with cavemen, tyrannosaurs, and barbarian queens with psychic control over sabertooth tigers. To make the esthetic circle complete, Frazetta was not himself a scrawny fellow imagining the superman, but startling handsome, dark and fierce eyed. And he loved his work.

BLUE-EYED BODY COUNT: sponsored by Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica: call on our friendly team of demonologists for all YOUR unpleasant details!

Hm, Zarqawi killed...
Laurence Foley
Nicholas Berg
plus 700 killings in Iraq during the invasion, and the attack on that NATO summit 2004 in Istanbul..
about 70 more people in three hotels in Amman, Jordan... 22 UN people killed by the bomb in the Canal Hotel...
So, rough numbers, that's almost 800 people that somebody loved, dead because of an abstract idea. He killed those people like they were things, objects unlucky enough to be included in whatver crazy personal drama al-Zarqawi was playing out in his head.
Second battle of Falujah--? FUCK, Jamie was in that... what would we have done if this pinwheel eyed motherfucker had gotten off a lucky shot and killed James? And would have felt no worse about that you would feel taking the arms and legs off a Barbie doll.

Funny thing is, there are still people in the Middle East who think al-Zarqawi's a hero, because he was "fightin' for Palestine" you see, and that forgives a lot of sins in the Arab world. Makes him a resistance fighter not a terrorist. They BELIEVE that crazy shit over there. That's it's okay if someone you don't know gets killed for someone else's reasons.

Ken Bigley, the Zarqawi beheaded him, poor fella. Sergio Vieira de Mello, perfectly nice guy, much loved apparently in UN circles. You and I, we're just obstacles in the great struggle. What kind of monstrous self-importance would someone have to have to do this to other people? The son of a bitch had a 14 and a 16 year old "wife" with him when the bomb hit. And he wore New Balance shoes.

Hm, Samarra, Iraq. Five American soldiers and one Iraqi soldier were killed. "Appointment in Samarra", eh? With John O'Hara dead, I wonder if anyone else remembers that story besides me and Idries Shah? Okay, I'm coming up with one thousand people, tops, killed by this fantasist who saw himself as a hero.

Okay, now, MR. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH'S TURN TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED, the face our society wears on television:
hm 38,475 minimum civilian deaths, maximum 42,889 reported civilian deaths, add in 2,500 American soldiers...

Oog, as Pogo used to say.

“We don’t do body counts” General Tommy Franks, US Central Command, and I can see why. It's insulting; at this level, comparisons are odious. WE burn down the motherfucking BARN to get those rats! And Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt's advice to Iraqis who see TV images of innocent civilians killed by coalition troops? “Change the channel.” Fucking amateur night, Abu Musab the Zarqawi the fuck indeed.


"Five others died in the airstrike, including Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman, al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, who died of head wounds and a massive skull fracture, Caldwell said Saturday. The total casualties included three males and three females; one of the females was a child between the ages of 5 and 7, he said." -- CNN June 11, 2006

What kind of human being is this, that the world is made better and not diminished by his death? What a horror is this, that a little girl were killed alongside him-- but the menace you pose to other women, other children was so great that the cost of collateral damage was not considered too high?

This has me thinking about that scene in "Night of the Shooting Stars" (La Notte di San Lorenzo), when the villagers are trying to decide what to do about the schoolboy son of the town fascist, a pretty blonde child in a tiny black uniform who practically froths at the mouth with the poison bred by his father in his fangs. Then one of the men makes a decision for the sake of all the children of the town, and does what has to be done. "Who Must Do the Terrible Things?" asks a Japanese proverb; "He Who Can", comes the answer.

And the mad pain of the father, chewing at his own flesh and crawling like an animal in the dirt to see his child killed, a grotesqe, demonic, almost comic display. Then someone remembers that for ten years this pitiable creature felt not a drop of pity for thousands of pretty little children being sent to their death by the carload, and they end the animal's torture with a bullet.

Did Zarqawi had a moment of regret for the death of his own child, or was he still calculating his options and thinking about how to escape this attack?

Evidently Zarqawi spent the wonder years in and out of Jordanian prison for a variety of crimes, then found God and politics in jail. This is an old story, this prison recruitment of stone killers. Sure, you like killing folks in horrible ways, but you're not to blame-- "they" are, they ones who who locked you up in here. The King of Jordan, the Jews in Palestine, the Americans, the Saudi paarty boys. My brother, I offer redemption. You can still kill people in horrible ways, but now you're killing for the Cause, killing for God, and can saw away at infidel necks with a righteous glow.

I wish I could say that this kind of bug only rises to the top in fanatical Islam, but we've heard enough smug boasting from G. Gordon Liddy, from Oliver North and his Contras, from Bill Casey and his Phoenix Program in Vietnam-- to know that this kind of useful sociopath is always going to be around waiting for someone to give them permission to hurt their fellow human beings. Tim McVeigh and his war on day care centers could have had a sterling career at CIA if he'd had just a little more discipline. Gangsters used to call them "bugs", meaning a useful but not terribly reliable tool for setting fires or committing murders. You gotta wonder if Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, Arthur Bremer-- or Lindsey Englund-- were such as these.

And now as an example to the children, we have Barbara and Jenna Bush's Daddy; an affable stooge who has arsfardled his way into spending 2,500 American lives, billions of dollars and thousands of people dead that I never even knew existed. But Daddy's not a monster, because his road to Hell was paved with words like Freedom, Liberty, Democracy and "Patience" that he doesn't understand.

I have no conclusions about any of this; just idly doing some dark math, one of those silly little mental games demonologists play.

No wonder the girls drink.

"FOUR COLOR LOVE" by The Metasciences of Chicago

Another day at work is nearly over
You must've seen the whole thing on T.V.
Seventeen more city blocks and I can almost smell you
Waiting at the windowsill for me.
It's our 41st anniversary
But we don't look a day over 23
Not in this life
Not in this universe

We were still in high school when I met you
If you believe the continuity
I rescued you from robots and untied you from the tracks
You pretended not to know that it was me
We didn't even kiss until issue 26
This world still feels like 1963
I love this life
I love this universe

You'll keep my identity a secret
And you will know the touch beneath my glove
I may go out every night and risk my life for strangers
But you're the only girl I'll ever love.

Gwen Stacy isn't dead, she's only sleeping
And Elektra isn't evil or insane
Those bastards in the Pentagon can't really kill Sue Dibney
No more than they could kill off Lois Lane
And I swear to God that there'll be Hell to pay
If anybody tries to take you away
Forget this life
Forget this universe
You're everything I need

You are my life.
You are my universe.

They'll have to go through me.

Four Color Love Story, from "Pencils Down" by the Metasciences (Ruth Barabe and Daniel Kibbelsmith).


Cross your fingers that no lonely soul in a clock tower does anything stupid today, or we're never going to hear the end of it.

I'm not talking about reasoned discussions of evil by Malachi Martin, or the demon-as-metaphor found in my own fiction, or the 68% of 2,201 adults surveyed online who told the Harris Poll they believe in a devil. I'm not even talking about the objective evidence before our eyes of demonic possesion: three minutes of gibbering from the Bizarro President, for example, or the Vice President barking and growling on Sunday morning TV with his hands clenched together to appear reasonable while barely suppressing the urge to tear his questioner's head from her shoulders, or almost anything that comes out of the mouth of John Gibson or Anne Coulter.

I'm complaining about people who ascribe significance to the number "666", waiting for mischief to occur on June 6th, 2006. Some of them read a book once, or stood next a book while someone else told them what it said.

Evidently, no one ever told them that the Gregorian calendar, rolling around to 6/6/6, is not the same calendar used in "biblical" times. I wonder how they count to 700? Do they skip a floor, like people avoiding the Thirteenth floor in a hotel? What happens if their purchases at Wal-Mart total up to $6.66?

Remember when everyone had to sit and nod and be polite about the most appalling nonsense, from Erhard Seminar Training to your stoner roommate droning on for hours about the dangers of mucus in the diet, or what your horoscope meant?

I remember my friend Dan Daniels trying to defend Truth from a superstitious crowd in a bar in Grand Rapids: "So if what we believe to be "true" is a bead on a wire, and "objective reality" is a spot at the center of that wire, and we can never quite balance the bead exactly at the center because of our own imperfections-- still, isn't it true that the bead can either be closer to the center or farther away, so that if I say, 'We're sitting in a bar in Grand Rapids', and you say 'This is an illusion, and our physical bodies are really spirit messages being beamed to us from Angels on Mars'-- well, isn't one of us going to be a little closer to describing reality than the other?"

"Oh, no," answered the woman he was questioning, "both interpretations of reality are valid and true."

That generation of tolerance for every opinion, being so open minded that our brains fell out, helped give us the dream world of Karl Rove and the Bizarro President, where "we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

We now have a culture so full of credulity and manipulation that actual events, real conspiracies, real massacres, real evil is disguised behind a hundred distractions and superstitions. Today the Bizarro President evaded his prom date with reality by proposing a constitutional amendment to protect us all from gay marriage, and everyone in the chattering class felt compelled to stop what they were doing and pretend this was important enough to talk about. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you a vital issue of Manufactured Importance.

That's something that drug addicts, and alcoholics, and persons possessed by minor devils do so well-- change the subject away from themselves, whenever the conversation gets too "real".


"Bizarro... what's happened to you? I can't believe you've really destroyed your homeworld!"
"Ha! That am only the beginning! Next, me realize that Superman never kill, so me kill lots of people! Them very grateful! Scream with happiness!"
-- from "Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" by Alan Moore

It's a strange business, inhabiting an archetype, and George W. Bush has found his: he fully embodies the Bizarro Superman, that seriocomic villain who causes havoc by doing exactly the opposite of what Superman would do.

This apotheosis is so terrible to behold that the creator of Bizarro Superman, Alvin Schwartz himself, now recoils from his creation with the kind of loathing not seen since Victor Frankenstein's wedding night: "Last week, I wrote about my creation of Bizarro way back in 1958. This week, I find myself writing about another Bizarro, writing in anger and anguish over what has happened to my country. For it is now in the hands of Bizarro-Bush who has turned everything upside down..."

I'm hardly the first to make the connection (see below), but this may be the tipping point where the phrase "the Bizarro President" permanently replaces "President Bush" as our identifier for this person who causes so many wicked things while convinced he is an avatar of virtue. With his head full of half-truths and right-wing cliches, he lurches from crisis to crisis, and then bawls and pouts when his impulses blow up in his face.

The children of the world are his pet mice, and he is their Lenny, smashing them instead of petting them, angry and hurt when criticized, then baffled and sad when the children stop moving.

But never sad for long. Since he cannot be wrong, and his policies have failed, it must be the world that has failed him, not the other way around. The Bizarro President dusts off the wreckage, adjusts his suit with a comedic shrug, unfurrows his brow and finds his smile again.

HELP SPREAD THE MEME! Forward this and other references to a "Bizarro" presidency:
"What a great United States Senator Rick Santorum is. (Applause.) He and Zell [Miller] serve in the Senate together. I'm proud to have Rick Santorum as my campaign manager for the state of Pennsylvania. I'm proud to have -- call him friend, and I know you're proud to call him Senator." (Applause.)
Bizarro Bush:
He's the exact opposite of what a president should be

"Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled."
"The use of federal dollars to destroy life is something I simply do not support."
Bush to Bring Troops Home, Resign on Bizarro Earth
"The Defense of Marriage Act declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. If that act is overturned by activist courts, then marriages recognized in one city or state might have to be recognized as marriages everywhere else."
Bizarro Bush Apologizes
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Under Bizarro Bush America has a failing economy, a huge budget deficit, high unemployment and is a country scorned around the world.
Bizarro Bush Movie
"I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.
Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?

Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.

I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!"

Why We're Losing the War on Terror: #370,001 In a Series

For those of you who missed early episodes in the series, here is a recap:

Reason # 1: Calling it a "war". If we had taken a law enforcement approach to hunting down Osama bin Laden, with military backup as needed, we would still have the support of civil societies around the world.

Reason #2: Caribbean piracy was virtually eliminated in the late 1600s when the competing countries of France, Spain, Britain and the Netherlands finally got sick of pestering each other and agreed to take away the pirates' safe harbors. Instead, the Bush administration has expanded the territories where terrorists might find eager recruits. The administration's short attention span in Afghanistan has given the Taliban time to catch its breath, instead of crushing the dictatorship with our heel.

Reasons # 4-560: the current White House Office staff (support personnel excluded).

Reasons # 561-569 Why We're Losing the War: The eight people on the White House Office staff who know what they're doing, but who are constantly undermined by the other 458.

Reasons # 570- 668: Everyone who works in the Office of the Vice President. It is the policy of the office of the Vice President to refuse employment to anyone who might tell the current Vice President something he doesn't like to hear.

Reasons # 669-857: At least 188 members of the current National Security Council staff.

Reasons # 858-860: The two members of the National Security Council staff who were kicked out of meetings because of their fancy talk about reading maps, learning a foreign language, studying local history and "trying to understand how the enemy thinks." Weirdoes.

Reasons # 861-350,000: Kerry voters in Ohio whose ballots were stolen after being forced to wait in line 12 hours or more by Ohio's Secretary of State.

Reason # 350,001: Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State and co-chair of President Bush's re-election committee. Not to be confused with Mr. Blackwell the fashion maven, but we'll take humor where we can get it.

(Personal note to Mr. Blackwell: As the country doctor said to the patient with gonorrhea, I hope that piece of ass was worth it-- because you're certainly going to regret it when someone you love comes home in a box, as a direct result of your diddling with the vote in Ohio. Sleep well tonight.)

Reasons # 350,002-370,000: The 2004 count in Florida that showed 20,000 more votes for Bush than there are registered Republicans in the state. Can it be, as Bart Simpson warned, that "the dead have risen from the grave and are voting Republican"?

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica, fearless in matters of the occult, interviewed all 20,000 of these zombies and determined that they had, in fact, voted for Harold Stassen.

Finally tonight, we offer Reason # 370,001 Why We Are Losing the War on Terror: the inability of the global culture to examine itself with any sustained effort. What is it about this international culture, that it produces dissidents of such vileness, they feel real joy in blowing up themselves and hundreds of innocent victims?

Instead of asking that question, the dominant culture demands that we spend all our time and money "hunting down the terrorists"-- a hopeless effort, if we never address conditions that encourage the terrorist to not just imagine, but act out his rage. You tell me that Islamic countries encourage extremism, and I agree absolutely. Why, then, do we help them exterminate their moderates, until we have a climate where only fanatics can grow? More pie, Bandir?

Should anyone wilfully misinterpret these questions as sympathy for the devil, ask them this: if you have rats in your backyard, and the rats carry disease, would you spend all your effort in shooting the rats-- or should you clean up the garbage that's attracting the rats?

If you're George W. Bush or the irascible Donald Rumsfeld, you blow up your neighbors' houses, then shoot at the rats as they run out, inadvertantly killing the neighbor's dogs and small children. When the neighbors complain, accuse them of ingratitude. Like Tom and Daisy Buchanan, "careless people, who smash things up and retreat into their wealth and let other people clean up their messes", leave the garbage for someone else. Pose for photos with the Saudi prince of rats. And act surprised when the older children want revenge for their dog and baby sister.

THAT'S ALL for today; be sure to tune in for Episodes #370,002 to #99,005,385-- as we lay the dead at the doorstep of the 98,635,383 Americans who think two more years of the Bush administration couldn't possibly do any more harm.

(Figure obtained by calculating 33% out of a population of 298,895,101. There ain't no flies on me.)

A Little Touch of Hotspur in the Night
A Thankless Task for Diogenes
Why They Voted for Hamas
The Mummers' Play