Wednesday, May 31, 2006

O shame! where is thy blush?

Today is Wednesday, 31 May 2006.

"O shame! where is thy blush?" Hamlet, III, iv, 82

The Museum of the Bourgeois, the Blog of Record for all things bourgeois, inducts the following United States Senators into the Legislative Branch Hall of Ill-Repute for their votes to confirm General Michael Hayden as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

DEMOCRATS Voting “Aye”

Daniel Akaka, Max Baucus, Joseph Biden, Jeff Bingaman, Robert Byrd, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, Tim Johnson, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Joseph Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jack Reed, Harry Reid, Paul Sarbanes, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow


Lamar Alexander, Wayne Allard, George Allen, Robert Bennett, Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Jim Bunning, Conrad Burns, Richard Burr, Lincoln Chafee, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, William Cochran, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Larry Craig, Michael Crapo, Jim DeMint, Mike DeWine, Pete Domenici, John Ensign, Michael Enzi, Bill Frist, Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley, Judd Gregg, Chuck Hagel, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Jon Kyl, Trent Lott, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Roberts, Rick Santorum, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Ted Stevens, John Sununu, Jim Talent, Craig Thomas, David Vitter, George Voinovich, John Warner


James Jeffords

Reasons for the induction are found in MoB posts on Gen. Hayden on May 12, 15, 18, and 22.

Well done, Senators: may you be the first to suffer the consequences of your shameful vote. You certainly won’t be the last.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day (Actual)

Today is Tuesday, 30 May 2006.

“Viva la Muerte!” “Long live Death!”

The motto of a Spanish army division which implemented the Fascist coup of 1936. Irony was not their strong suit.

Whatever individuals may mean by their observances of Memorial Day, the truth is, that as a component of nationalist pseudo-religion, Memorial Day is a celebration of death, of dying “in the service of one’s country,” the essence of which is “Befehl ist Befehl,” “orders are orders,” “Mine is not to question why, Mine is but to do and die,” … because armies are dictatorships, and the soldier is meant to be the dumb extension of a dumb weapon, killing where it is pointed.

Death is not our friend. Even if one believes that death is the way station to eternal life, one may not lust after death, for that devalues and degrades life, which is supposed to be the gift of a divine creator. (Note that those, such as W. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, who are so keen on the sacrificial deaths of others, always run like hell from any situations in which they personally might suffer demise.)

It is in this sense of reality I meant yesterday’s quote: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." (attributed to George S. Patton; June 1944)

There is no glory in dying, in war or elsewhere, just as there is no glory in killing. There is only agony and loss.

Sufficiently socialized, however, ‘though one ought truthfully to say “anti-socialized,” it is possible, as Napoleon observed, to lead people to their deaths in return for the word “glory” and a posthumous scrap of ribbon.

Contrast Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who took part in the attempts to kill Hitler. He believed that killing, of anyone, was a crime and a sin. He took part in the plots against Hitler because he believed his class had failed in its duties to its society, and made Hitler’s ascent possible, and that the only way to open a path forward in history was to remove Hitler once and for all.

BUT: Bonhoeffer did not succumb to the false reasoning, that the killing is necessary, therefore it is good. The killing was necessary, but it was still a crime and a sin, and he gave himself up to the consequences, and was hanged after the plot of 1944 failed. He also believed he would have to answer to his deity for his deed, and that no false claim of goodness could be advanced.

Contrast this with nationalism, which elevates killing, dying, and death to the summit of human values.

As for me and my house, we shall not honor death, but mourn all whom death devours.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day (Observed)

Today is Monday, 29 May 2006.

"To kill one person is to kill the whole world. To save one person is to save the whole world." (The Talmud)

"Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." (attributed to George S. Patton; June 1944)

The Paris Commune

Today is Sunday, 28 May 2006.

Due to a phone company malfunction, MoB was unable to post on Sunday. Herewith is your regularly-scheduled diatribe.

In July of 1870, the buffoonish Emperor of France, Napoleon III, declared war against Prussia. His armies were soon defeated, he was captured, and Paris came under siege. The French bourgeoisie, led by the scoundrel Thiers, collaborated with the Prussians in order to seize power for themselves. Workers and professionals in Paris successfully resisted this treason, and, on 26 March 1871, established a social democracy known to history as the Paris Commune. Wikipedia has a good summary of the changes they sought to implement:

• the separation of church and state

• the remission of rents owed for the entire period of the siege (during which payment had been suspended)

• the abolition of night work in the hundreds of Paris bakeries

• the granting of pensions to the unmarried companions of National Guards killed on active service, as well as to the children if any

• the free return, by the city pawnshops, of all workmen's tools and household items up to 20 francs in value, pledged during the siege as they were concerned that skilled workers had been forced to pawn their tools during the war

• the postponement of commercial debt obligations, and abolition of interest on the debts

• the right of employees to take over and run an enterprise if it were deserted by its owner, who was to receive compensation.

The forces of Thiers, the so-called Versailles Army, lay siege to Paris, and, on this date in 1871, succeeded in forcing their way into the city. In the aftermath, they summarily butchered at least 25,000 Communards, and perhaps as many as 50,000.

The Museum of the Bourgeois salutes the vision, courage, and sacrifices of the Communards.


Today is Saturday, 27 May 2006.

Due to a phone company malfunction, MoB was unable to post on Saturday. Here now is your regularly-scheduled diatribe.

Two perspectives on Enron, Kennie Boy, and Jeffie the Skell.


Many right-wingers purport to be “orthodox conservative Christians.” In this capacity, they would need to believe in the doctrine of Original Sin: humans, as a whole and individually, are born with an innate bent toward choosing sinful behaviour. Even “accepting Jesus” does not expunge this fact, this bent, in human activity in this world; it only means the acceptor has received pardon from eternal damnation for Original Sin.

Right-wingers are also known for a deep commitment to “law-and-order”: clear and strict laws, enforced rapidly and with scant leniency. It is also a hallmark of right-wing values to oppose governmental regulation of economic activity. They make no coherent argument why the warping effects of Original Sin should be present in, say, armed bank robbing, but not in energy trading.

Were these folks to really believe in “making Jesus Lord of everything,” they would clamor for more laws and regulations, not fewer, regarding human activities, such as the economic, in which overwhelming temptation is so eternally present. Could it be their creed is not “WWJD,” but “What Would Mammon Do”?


After the American Civil War, and largely as a direct consequence, the American economy entered a period of explosive growth which came to be known as “The Gilded Age” (approx. 1865-1901). Its hallmarks were extensive growth of heavy industry, rapid expansion of the railroad network, complete subjugation of the West, and unprecedented economic volatility.

A main cause of this volatility (in addition to the boom-and-bust irrationality genetically encoded within capitalism, and more politely known as “the business cycle”) was the failure of laws and regulations to keep pace with the evolution of economic forms. For example, corporate boards had a free hand to “water” stock, that is, to issue new stock far beyond what was justified by the net worth of the company, thus diluting the value of the existing shares. These boards granted access to the lion’s share of this new stock to themselves and co-conspirators, dumped it on an unsuspecting public desperate to share in the stock market boom, then walked away as the share price crashed.

It would not be until the Great Depression and the New Deal that those who commanded the heights of the American economy could be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a legal and economic world wherein every investor had at least a fighting chance to be treated as fairly as the great magnates treated themselves.

When the Soviet regime collapsed in 1991, the Yeltsin regime began applying the “shock therapy” prescribed by a prominent American economist: dismantling the great state-owned industrial and commercial combines, with the excuse that this would make a return to “communism” impossible. Of course, since there was no new, capitalistic legal framework to govern these fire sales, most of the great enterprises ended up in the hands of their former Party bosses, or their friends, or those politically-connected to the new regime. Should one have been surprised? Your author wasn’t: this is exactly what he anticipated at the time --- the names over the doors would change, but the basic elite domination of the society wouldn’t.

There have been two presidents of the Russian Federation. Yeltsin was once number three in the Communist leadership; he fell from that position when he failed in an attempt to purge and supplant the number two. Putin was a minor KGB thug bureaucrat who wormed his way into the Leningrad “democratic” leadership, and thence to Moscow and a career as Yeltsin’s enforcer, and then heir.

Given the history of the Gilded Age, how could one have expected post-1991 Russian history to take any course but the one it did?

Given these historical examples (and there are many more, such as savings and loan deregulation in the 1980s, and the subsequent looting), how could one reasonably expect that deregulation of energy trading, and letting the industry “police itself,” result in any other outcome but an Enron?

Friday, May 26, 2006

President Gone Rogue: Part II

Today is Friday, 26 May 2006.

“In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.” (Tom Paine, Common Sense)

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” (James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 47)

“When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal.” (Richard M. Nixon)

In this Nixon quotation, in a nutshell, as it were, is the essence of the anti-Constitutional interpretation known as the “unitary theory of Executive power.” This theory is the “intellectual” foundation of the Bush regime’s attempt to subject the Legislative and Judicial branches to the absolute power of the Executive.

Wikipedia, in the article “Unitary Executive Theory,” provides a good summation of the Unitary Theory: “The theory relies on the Vesting Clause of Article II which states "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Proponents of the unitary executive use this language along with the Take Care Clause ("[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed...") to argue that the Constitution creates a "hierarchical, unified executive department under the direct control of the President."”(quoted from "The Structural Constitution: Unitary Executive, Plural Judiciary" by Calbresi and Rhodes, 1992)

In practice, this means that the president is absolute master in his own house: any Congressional interference in the Executive branch is prohibited. Should the Securities and Exchange Commission report to the president that it has evidence of massive fraud by a publicly-held company, one whose executives have raised tidy sums for the president and his party, the president is within his rights to quash the investigation and order all evidence turned over to the supposedly-offending company. Again, the president could order the Federal Communications Agency to revoke the license of any broadcast outlet whose journalism had criticized him.

A second component of Unitary Theory is that the president holds “plenary” powers. Under American constitutional law, the best definition of “plenary” may be found in Black’s Law Dictionary: “Full, complete, absolute, perfect, unqualified.” Adherents of Unitary Theory pretend this is particularly the case in the president’s role as “commander-in-chief.” They claim that, if the president invokes national security, his powers as commander-in-chief are absolutely unfettered by the Legislative and Judicial branches. (They ignore the fact that the president is commander-in-chief only of American military forces, and not of the government as a whole or the nation as a whole.)

A third component is “coordinate construction,” which “holds that all three branches of the federal government have the power and duty to interpret the Constitution.” (“The Unitary Executive in the Modern Era, 1945-2001” by Yoo, Calabresi, and Colangelo, 2004) “According to this theory, the president may (and indeed, must) interpret laws, equally as much as the courts. The coordinate construction theory counters the long-standing notion of “judicial supremacy,” articulated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, in the famous case of Marbury vs. Madison, which held that the Court is the final arbiter of what is and is not the law. Marshall famously wrote there: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”” (“The Unitary Executive: Is the Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?”, by Jennifer Van Bergen; 2006;

(Thanks of your author to Van Bergen for this perceptive and lucid essay; it captures what he thinks in a more rigorous legal approach. Every citizen should read it.)

Now, of course, when executing the laws the president must determine what he believes it is the law requires of him, and then do it. However, it has been settled law for more than two centuries that the president’s interpretations are subject to Constitutional determinations by the Judicial branch. If the Judicial determines that the presidential understanding of a law is wrong, then it is wrong, period, game over. It is this settled law the coordinate construction theory defies and seeks to overthrow.

More than any other president, W. Bush as made use of so-called “presidential signing statements” (at least 750 times). These statements are promulgated when the president signs a bill into law, giving his understanding of the meaning of the law. Bush’s statements, as in the case of the recent so-called McCain Anti-Torture Bill, often assert that the president is free to ignore and violate the law.

It is of course of interest what a president thinks a law means. However, for the purpose of Constitutional law, it is only what the Legislative intended the law to mean that is relevant. The Judicial may consider what a president thinks a law means, as it may consider what you or I think a law means, but the president’s opinion is no more decisive than your opinion or mine. Again, it is the opinion of the Legislative which counts. (And, if the Judicial determines the law as intended by the Legislative is unconstitutional, game over.)

Again from Van Bergen:

“Another early American, George Nicholas, eloquently articulated the concept of "power divided" in one of his letters:

“The most effectual guard which has yet been discovered against the abuse of power, is the division of it. It is our happiness to have a constitution which contains within it a sufficient limitation to the power granted by it, and also a proper division of that power. But no constitution affords any real security to liberty unless it is considered as sacred and preserved inviolate; because that security can only arise from an actual and not from a nominal limitation and division of power.“ (G.N.)

"Yet it seems a nominal limitation and division of power - with real power concentrated solely in the "unitary executive" - is exactly what President Bush seeks. His signing statements make the point quite clearly, and his overt refusal to follow the laws illustrates that point: In Bush's view, there is no actual limitation or division of power; it all resides in the executive.” (V.B.)

King George III is dead; long live King George II.


Tune in tomorrow when the MoB pauses in its series on the Unitary Theory of Executive Power, as we remember Enron.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

President Gone Rogue: Part I

Today is Thursday, 25 May 2006.

In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.” (Tom Paine, Common Sense)

Did the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the creature of unelected faux-president W. Bush, subvert the Constitution when it searched the Congressional offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D, LA) this past weekend?

For the separation of powers to long endure, for checks-and-balances to work, it is required that the three branches of government be co-equal. How can this be, if the Executive branch can send its agents to spy out the offices of the Legislative and Judicial, for reasons legitimate or illicit, when the Legislative and Judicial branches have no minions to do the same to the Executive?

It seems this is the only time in the history of the Republic that Congressional offices have been searched by agents of the Executive branch. Given the high value the W. Bush regime claims to place on strict and originalist interpretation of the Constitution and precedents, it seems peculiar it would cavalierly throw overboard some 217 years of practice. Especially given that many members of Congress have been investigated, and some convicted, without need of ransacking their offices.

That the offices of the Legislative and Judicial branches should be immune from invasion by agents of the Executive in no way means that the former are “above the law.” Their position is like that of spouses in a marriage, who cannot be compelled to give testimony against one another, since society judges that preservation of confidentiality within marriage is a greater priority than testimony. Likewise, society has judged that preserving the independence and co-equality of the Legislative and Judicial is a higher good than the evidence which might be obtained from violating their offices and records.

Ah, some would say, but there is equality: the Legislative and Judicial have the power of subpoena to compel the Executive to testimony and production of evidence. But who can enforce those subpoenas, if the Executive resists? How many battalions have the Legislative and Judicial?

Let us recall one of the great lessons of 1776: in the final analysis, the power of the State rests upon the power to coerce obedience to its dictates, which is to say, on the viability of police and military power. It is for this reason that the Constitutional Convention hedged in the powers of the Executive so closely, for the Founding Fathers had seen what had been done when absolute police and military power rested in the hands of monarchs.

Do we really want the FBI to have carte blanche to ransack the offices of Federal legislators and judges, with ample opportunity to spy on political opponents of the regime or plant fabricated “evidence”? The same FBI which has proved time and again cringingly subservient to the illegal political machinations of American presidents, going back to J. Edgar Hoover assuming command of the Bureau in 1924. (Cf. COINTELPRO, the FBI's 1960s-70s Counterintelligence Program which conducted illegal surveillance and disruption against political dissidents.)

This is, of course, only one skirmish in a far larger war: the Bush Junta’s war to emasculate the Constitution and subvert the Republic into a society dominated solely by the federal Executive power. A society in which the Executive is free to go to war on personal whim, without a Constitutional declaration of war, and on fabricated evidence, free to illegally wiretap, kidnap, and torture, free to sign bills into law while simultaneously issuing public statements boasting of his “right” to ignore those laws, etc.

Tune in tomorrow for “President Gone Rogue, Part II: The Theory of the Unitary and Plenary Power of the Executive.”

In the meantime: Quis custodit ipsos custodies (Juvenal). “Who shall guard the guardians?”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Tragedy of Congo

Today is Wednesday, 24 May 2006.

Your author saw a CNN report yesterday on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the widespread campaign of rape continuing to be perpetrated by the government army and various rebel factions.

How did it come to this? Who is responsible?

The modern history of the Congo, more properly the modern tragedy of the Congo, begins in 1870, when Leopold II, King of the Belgians, assumed de facto control of the area. At the Congress of Berlin in 1885, the area became his de jure, and he ruled it as personal property, not a colony of Belgium. The original moneymaker was ivory, which was supplanted in the early 1890s by rubber, used first for bicycle tires and then automobile tires. To force the Congolese to harvest the rubber from wild vines, Leopold mobilized a private army: hundreds of thousands of wives, children, and the elderly were held hostage under the most brutal conditions, forcing husbands, fathers, and sons to work the harvest or see their loved ones die.

During this period, which lasted until 1908, when Leopold ceded the colony to Belgium, the best estimates are that at least 10,000,000 Congolese were exterminated by exploitation and disease, some 25-30% of the population.

The Congo was ruled from Brussels from 1908 to 1960. Conditions were brutal, but not as genocidal. Few Congolese were permitted to advance beyond elementary school, or to acquire skilled vocations. When the Belgians left in 1960, in an orgy of destruction, they even took care to smash the toilets in government buildings and private dwellings.

In 1959, the Mouvement National Congolais won the first free parliamentary elections, and Patrice Lumumba was selected prime minister. He was overthrown within the year by an alliance of the Congolese army, the CIA, the Belgian intelligence services, and American and Belgian corporations. Lumumba was murdered in January 1961. After years of chaos, the army chief of staff, Joseph Mobutu, seized supreme power in 1965 and renamed the country “Zaire”. Lavishly supported by the United States Empire/United and Subject States (USE/USSA), since he was after all “anti-Communist”, Mobutu looted and murdered until forced from power in 1997 by the army of Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Civil war ensued. Kabila was assassinated in 2001, and succeeded by his son Joseph. The civil war theoretically ended in 2003, when a Transitional Government headed by J. Kabila was formed. By this time, at least 3.8 million Congolese had died, most from disease and starvation. The civil war actually continues, mostly in the east of Congo, at the cost of more than 1,000 dead per day, again mostly from disease and starvation caused by widespread disruption of systems of production and distribution.

Given the role played by Belgium and the USE/USSA in Congo, exploiting and destroying the economy and civil society, is it any wonder that Congo is as tortured as it is today? For over a century, first Leopold, then the Belgian State, then Mobutu and the USE/USSA ruled Congo by the most terrible violence, seasoned by endemic corruption. Is it any wonder that only corrupt military dictatorships continually arise out of such ashes?

One sees this pattern repeated throughout sub-Saharan Africa, its terror now augmented by widespread HIV/AIDS.

Consider: what would be the situation of the USE, had its people been subjected to the same history?

When will the peoples of Belgium and the USE/USSA, and the other terrorist colonial powers, acknowledge their guilt, and their responsibility to restore the treasures of life, resources, and decent society, which they have stolen from the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa? (And, for that matter, peoples on every other continent save Antarctica.)

Or do the Commandments, "Thou shalt not kill", “Thou shalt not steal”, only apply when pinkskins are the victims?


Further reading: King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner; paper ed. 1999.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Guest Flogger

Today is Tuesday, 22 May 2006.

Corrected to Today is Tuesday, 23 May 2006. [Thanks to Short and Sweet; see Comments.]

Your author decided to give his lash a rest today. Please welcome the Museum of the Bourgeois guest flogger, Samuel Clemens --- Mr. Mark Twain.

“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

“Adam was but human --- this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden.”

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it --- and stop there, lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again --- and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more.”

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

If You've Nothing to Hide ...

Today is Monday, 22 May 2006.

“If you’ve nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care if the government spies on every aspect of your life.”

This statement, often presented as an “argument”, floats to the surface of public discourse every time the government is caught spying on the citizenry.

This statement assumes that the natural social order of things is that every aspect of every citizen’s life is, and of right ought to be, the continuously- and perpetually-scrutinizable property of the State.

This notion contradicts the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which requires that, prior to any search (and this has been repeatedly held to mean physical, electronic, or otherwise searches), a warrant may for same be issued only upon showing of “probable cause.” (Note to Constitutional “originalists”: while you generally lust after extending the powers of the State, the foregoing is the only possible literal reading of this Amendment. Live your principles or concede your immorality.)

As Black’s Law Dictionary properly notes, “probable cause” means “having more evidence for than against.”

This means, constitutionally, that government surveillance of the citizenry is the exception rather than the rule. (Unless one assumes, in contradiction to American values, that all are guilty until judged innocent.)

“If you’ve nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care if the government spies on every aspect of your life.”

This statement, this attitude, is not only profoundly anti-American, if one believes that the rhetoric of freedom should be substance, not mere rhetoric, but is also a brutal assault on basic human rights, particularly as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and legally binding upon Federal, state, and local governments.

This statement is the craven whimpering of a subject, not the proud boast of a citizen.

“Subjects” are those who forfeit to the State the right to decide; citizens are those who are “the deciders”.

Around 1900, on the Russian census form, Czar Nicholas II recorded his occupation as “owner of Russia.” The idea that the Federal government, and The Decider George Warlord Bush, are the “owners of America” is repugnant to the most basic ideals of humanity.

Limitless government spying on American citizens, in the style of Bush, Cheney, Hayden, etc. must be vanquished forever!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cruelty Isn't Freedom

Today is Sunday, 21 May 2006.

It’s long past time to recognize horseracing for what it is: cruelty to animals. Torture of animals for human “pleasure.” It’s long past time to make horseracing a crime, like bullbaiting and cockfighting.

I suppose one either gets it or not, depending on the quality of one’s ethics. Either one defines "pleasure" as watching horses being flogged so they run as fast as possible in a circle, or one doesn’t. Either one takes "pleasure" from a race, where horses might stumble or fall, break a limb, and then be “put down” (c’mon, macho boys and girls: murdered), or not. Just as one takes "pleasure" from watching human beings being tortured, or not.

Beyond the ethical cruelty of this vicious “sport,” is the prodigious waste of unrecoverable natural resources. Horseracing is an industry which is capital- and petroleum-intensive. In a world in which over 2 billion humans, 1/3 of the world’s population, don’t have consistent access to clean water, the ethical cruelty of wasting precious resources on the sadism of a few is prodigious cruelty itself.

To change gears (ha ha): Auto racing should be outlawed as well. To see “sport” in watching overpaid fools with a deathwish drive as fast as possible in circles, while many in the crowd lust after a good crash …

Some will cry, “Don’t tread on my freedom!” “It’s a free market! My choice for my money is my vote!”

Well, in a truly free market: there are parents who would gladly sell their children to rapists, there are rapists who would gladly buy, so, in a truly free market: deal. However, only child rapists and abusive parents believe in a truly free market in these circumstances. This is where politics comes in.

A political, or social, choice is made that some transactions must not be allowed: the selling of children for sex, sale of crack cocaine, etc. The "freedom" of the market is curtailed, because some transactions are inherently and inescapably wicked.

No one would suffer a diminishment of freedom were horseracing and autoracing to be outlawed, except those who savor cruelty. (And there is no "freedom" to be cruel.) The Museum of the Bourgeois believes that society should never cater to cruelty and its acolytes.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Borrow and Spend

Today is Saturday, 20 May 2006.

President Bush and the Republican Party are this week celebrating sticking the USE (United States Empire) with a $70 billion tax hike.

But wait: Doesn’t the Republican Party tout itself as the party of tax cuts, not hikes?

Depends on your generation and income level. According to a nonpartisan study, if you earn $30,000 a year or less, you might see a $9 savings. If you make $1 million or more, wallow in a $40,000 plus rebate. In any case, just "charge it" to future generations.

It’s said that Democratic Party policy is “tax and spend.” This is fiscally responsible: choose to spend money, come up with the cash.

Since at least the days of Reagan, who burdened future generations with $1.4 trillion in debt, Republican Party policy has been borrow and spend: “put it on the card.” Bush and the GOP have overspent the Federal revenues by $1.1 trillion and counting, in five years, borrowing like there's no tomorrow.

Much of this money is borrowed by selling Treasury securities to the government of the People’s Republic of China. Those low prices on the “Made in China” goods which flood Wal-Mart, etc. are made possible by this borrowing, which in turn enables the American public to drown in credit debt, achieve a net savings rate of virtually zero, and spend, spend, spend.

Now ain’t that a caution: the Walton family and BushCo are making their profits on the Commies’ dime!

The Republican policy, “live high on the hog and screw our kids with the check”, is short-sighted, immoral, and fiscally-irresponsible.

During a late session Wednesday night, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made a stunning claim on the House floor:

“Well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two children, you don’t pay any taxes. So you probably, if you don’t pay any taxes, you are not going to get a very big tax cut.”

While someone with a $40,000 salary and a family of four paid little or no federal income taxes last year, Hastert ignores various other taxes paid by all Americans — payroll taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, etc.

Consider payroll taxes, which go to paying for Social Security and Medicare. Assuming their entire $40,000 in salary came from wages, this family paid $3,060 (7.65 percent of $40,000) in federal payroll taxes last year.

[from Think Progress, 17 May 2006]

[Note: Hastert’s salary is $212,010 a year.]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Unfit for Command

Today is Friday, 19 May 2006.

Officers receiving a commission in the armed forces of the United States must swear an oath.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Note that “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States takes absolute precedence over obedience to orders of the President of the United States. Thus must it ever be in a government of laws, not persons. The opposite is the Third Reich, in which officers swore an oath to Adolf Hitler the person, not to the German Constitution.

General Michael Hayden, Director-designate of the Central Intelligence Agency, swore this oath.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 provides for two avenues to legally secure electronic surveillance of suspect persons. One: application to the FISA court for a warrant before surveillance begins. Second: application to the FISA court for a warrant within 72 hours after surveillance begins.

Nearly a half-decade ago, George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency, through its director, General Hayden, to commence warrantless surveillance of suspect persons’ electronic communications. This was a patently criminal act, since the Constitution nowhere grants to the President the power to suspend any law as he sees fit. (This is, of course, a high crime and misdemeanor, and thus an impeachable act.)

By carrying out the order, by failing to refuse the order and resign, General Hayden betrayed “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution, betrayed his sworn oath, and dishonoured himself.

An officer who betrays the Constitution is unfit to be an officer, let alone director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

All senators who vote to approve Hayden’s appointment as director of the CIA likewise violate their oath to obey the Constitution; they betray the Constitution; they are unfit to be citizens, let alone senators.

Enough of high treason against the Constitution! Reject Hayden! Impeach the president who betrayed the Constitution and his country!

Imprison Hayden and Bush for their crimes!

Jail to the Chief!

CC: G.W. Bush, United States Senate, NSA, FBI, Department of Justice


On this day: Ho Chi Minh born (1890); Malcolm X born (1925)

On "Marriage"

Today is 18 May 2006.

As the November Congressional elections approach, it seems probable that an increasingly-desperate Bush Junta, as well as the larger conservative movement, will again attempt to inflame ignorance and bigotry by playing the same-sex marriage card.

For the sake of beginning discussion, let’s assume that “marriage” is a long-term commitment between two persons to share their lives. It seems obvious: once humans began to coalesce in more-or-less permanent communities, before the rudiments of what we now call “the State” existed, “marriage” was the product of local social custom. In some cases it was probably formalized by some sort of shaman or “religious” figure, in some cases probably not.

Once society began to evolve more formalized rules and hierarchies, the rudimentary “governments” began to regulate marriage, for the purpose of enforcing social conformity and economic stability. Eventually, only “marriages” were recognized which were formally licensed by the State and solemnized according to prescribed forms. That is, “marriage” was the intrusion of the State into personal relationships.

Hold your horses, some will say. “Marriage” is the creation of a deity. This only holds true in a functional sense in theocratic societies, or societies which employ religion to help underpin larger power relationships. The exact parameters of “marriage” will be determined by the concept or flavor of deity which holds sway in a particular society.

There are those in the United States Empire (USE) who argue that the USE is a “Christian” nation, and that “Christian” norms about marriage must dominate. Of course, the exact content of “marriage” then depends upon which flavor of “Christianity” one wishes to have dominate.

It is patently obvious that the USE began and continues as a secular nation, within which many flavors of “Christianity” struggle to dominate. The Founding Fathers, for example, were predominately deist, believing that a deity created the Universe, set everything in motion, and then left it to its own devices. (The attempts of fundamentalists, evangelicals, etc. to claim the USE was founded in their own image is non-historical: simply self-serving mythologizing propaganda.)

(The contemporary Protestant heresy known as Dominion Theology is perhaps the most extreme example of the latter. Dominionism holds that the God of Abraham and Isaac, as mediated through their version of Jesus Christ, has commanded “Christians” (read :adherents of Dominion Theology) to rule over the world with an iron fist according to their interpretation of “the Bible.” The most extreme of the extreme Dominionists hold, for example, that homosexuals and disobedient children should be stoned to death. Of course, their self-proclaimed literal and absolute obedience to “Biblical” principles is a fraud: none of them advocate obedience to kosher laws and circumcision, for example. In actuality, they see the Bible as a menu from which they pick-and-choose, the precise sin for which they condemn “liberal Christians.”)

At any rate, the wider faction of “fundamentalist Christians” holds that marriage must be defined as instituted by “God,” and consist of a permanent union between one male and one female, the male ruling absolutely over the female. The problem arises in that there are many flavors within this faction, each striving to impose their particular nuances about “marriage” (and everything else!) on everyone else. It is thus reduced to a question of which flavor will hold the dictatorship over all others.

Two options seem to present themselves.

First option: re-organize the USE as a theocracy. Let the various flavors of the various religions fight it out to the death (literally), until one, by force of superior violence, establishes a dictatorship over all the others. To the victor belongs the spoils, including defining and regulating “marriage,” as well as dictating every other element of human life.

Second option: recognize that the USE is a pluralistic, secular society. Let consenting adults define “civil unions” as they freely and mutually wish, so long as they are non-exploitative and non-harmful. Those who choose to enjoy certain social and economic rights (inheritance, common property, for example) would officially register their relationships with the State, defining the terms of their relationships as they will. The purview of the State would be limited to acting as registrar; to adjudicate, according to equity, any disputes arising out of those registered relationships; and to safeguard any minors associated with these unions. Those within these relationships would be free to solemnize them with religious ceremonies, other rituals, or not at all.

People would be free to label their relationships as they wished: marriage, permanent commitment, or a fried egg sandwich. In the eyes of the government, they would all be “civil unions,” and all equal.

Naturally, the contours of some of these civil unions would be repugnant to some: same-sex unions, plural unions, etc.

But this is what it means to live in a free society, rather than a dictatorship.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

B'rer Snowjob and the White House Horrors

Today is 17 May 2006.

In his first televised press conference yesterday, new Wbush flack-in-chief Tony Snow said:

"If you go back and look through what he said, there was a reference of foreign to domestic calls. I am not going to stand up here and presume to declassify any kind of program. That is a decision the President has to make. I can't confirm or deny it. The President was not confirming or denying. Again, I would take you back to the USA Today story to give you a little context. Look at the poll that appeared the following day [...] something like 65% of the public was not troubled by it. Having said that, I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program... the alleged program, the existence of which I can neither confirm or deny."

Is Tony so thoroughly Fox-washed that he doesn’t recall “tar baby” has often been used in this country as a racist slur on Blacks?

Or does it just mean Tony’s the right man for the job?

Hint: Tony worked at newspapers in North Carolina and Virginia. He was editorial page editor of The Washington Times, a newspaper controlled by the Unification Church of Rev. S.M. Moon, the self-proclaimed Messiah who is fulfilling God's plan where he alleges Christ failed.



Curious: Tony Snowjob used this problematic term the day before the anniversary of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board, which outlawed the white supremacist doctrine of “separate but equal” schools.

Also on this date:

In 1974, the televised hearings of the Senate Watergate Committee began their run. They would reveal all manner of "White House Horrors" and play a major role in forcing Richard M. Nixon to resign the presidency in perpetual disgrace.


Let Them Eat Oil

Today is 16 May 2006.

With the lion’s share of concern about $70-a-barrel oil focusing on automobile gasoline prices, an excellent article in The New Yorker by Steven Shapin about organic farming (“Paradise Sold,” May 15, 2006) leads me in another direction.

Consider: “… a Cornell scientist’s estimate that growing, processing, and shipping 1 calorie’s worth of arugula [from California] to the East Coast costs 57 calories of fossil fuel.” If this arugula is organic from Earthbound Farm, an organic giant, shipped to Whole Foods, “ … the whole supply chain from California to Manhattan is only 4 per cent less gluttonous a consumer of fossil fuel than that of a conventionally grown head of iceberg lettuce …”

In most of the First World, it is now taken for granted that virtually every fruit and vegetable is available year-round, at prices affordable by the middle class and much of the lower class, regardless if they are in season in the consumer’s country. (This was not the case a generation ago.)

I usually shop at a giant supermarket, part of a small chain, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some gourmet items, but decidedly not gourmet chic. But, one commonly finds fruits and vegetables from Mexico, Canada, Chile, Argentina, and Israel. The seafood department regularly features fish from Lake Victoria in east central Africa. As at a Wal-Mart, most of the kitchen towels, gadgets, flip-flops, etc. are made in China.

At a local gourmet market I find sparkling and still waters from Germany, Poland, Wales, and Fiji. My kitchen counter features olive oils from Italy, Spain, and Morocco, plus vinegars from Germany, Austria, Italy, and the United Kingdom. My refrigerator hosts cheeses from Italy, France, the UK, Greece, Bulgaria, Switzerland, etc.

Mass global trade, globalization itself, depends on one thing: petroleum products. Without oil powering gigantic container ships, there would be neither flip-flops from China nor asparagus from Argentina. Without diesel locomotives, there wouldn’t even be strawberries from Mexico.

Consider: during the first 125 years of the Petrocene (a word I may just have coined, on analogy to the Holocene, the present geological epoch), humanity consumed a trillion barrels of oil. The next trillion will vanish in 25 to 30 years. After that, slim pickens.

Oil is also crucial to the manufacture of synthetic fertilizers. Again, Shapin: “At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was a serious Malthusian crisis: the world’s rapidly expanding population was coming up against the limits of agricultural productivity. The Haber-Bosch process [which “synthesized ammonia from atomospheric nitrogen, [leading to] the commercial production of enormous qualities of nitrogenous fertilizers] averted disaster, and was largely responsible for a fourfold increase in the world’s food supply during the twentieth century. … According to a more recent estimate, if synthetic fertilizers suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, about two billion people would perish.”

As to the future, I'm put in mind of a passage in Foundation and Empire, the second volume of Isaac Asimov's great Foundation Trilogy. (The "Trantor" referred to is the former capital of the Galactic Empire, languishing in ruins after the Empire's collapse.)

"Artificial farming in chemicals, I think? No, not on Trantor. This hydroponics requires a world of industry --- for example, a great chemical industry. And in war or disaster, when industry breaks down, the people starve. Nor can all foods be grown artificiallly. Some lose their food value. The soil is cheaper, better --- always more reliable."

I fear the moment is too swiftly coming when, unprepared, humanity will face the conclusion of the Petrocene, the end of the age of synthetic fertilzers and cheap global transportation, and there will be no oil left to eat.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blowback 101

Today is 15 May 2006.

One of my favorite terms is "blowback."

In the "intelligence" community, it means an operation whose negative and unintended consequences rebound upon the head of its creator.

In 1969, Nixon and Kissinger came up with the strategy of turning the Shah of Iran into America's gendarme in the Middle East: a Muslim (but non-Arab) ally who would throw its weight around on America's behalf. To this end, from 1969 to 1979, the United States Empire (USE) showered the Shah's military dictatorship with billions in foreign aid, particularly military assistance, helping him create the 4th or 5th largest armed forces in the world.

Unfortunately, this was one of the straws to break the camel's back. After the Oil Crisis of 1973, the Shah had spent billions in windfall oil revenue on his dreams of becoming, not only a gendarme, but a true emperor. This naturally inflamed the population even further than had decades of the Shah's regime's ccorruption and misappropriation of natural resources.

The result was the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the Shah was forced to flee. There was to be no third act for the Shah; the CIA could not, as in 1953, organize a coup to return him to power. After factional struggle, the government was seized by the faction of reactionary mullahs led by Ayatollah S.R. Khomeini. The arrogance and blunders of the USE ruling elites had made the Khomeini regime the present of billions of dollars in taxpayer funded armaments.

Perhaps the most salient incident of blowback is CIA creation and funding of the mujahedin as proxy warriors against the USSR in Afghanistan. The propaganda line was "Kill the infidels." USE taxpayer dollars gave many warlords their starts, including a little-known Saudi named Osama bin Laden. Once the Soviets had been vanquished, is it any wonder that bin Laden would turn his efforts to killing other infidels?

According to the latest public opinion polls, 2/3rds of USE citizens support National Security Agency spying on their phone records. Blowback, anyone?

Once having these records in hand, the NSA is free to abuse them in any way its masters in the Bush Junta see fit. Already, two ABC news reporters have been contacted by a patriot within the federal government, advising them that their phone records are being analyzed in an attempt to discover who in government is leaking facts about illegal Junta operations. One must assume this is happening across the board.

Blackmail, anyone? For example, phone record analysis could determine a certain government or corporate official, or journalist, was making repeated calls to a person not their spouse, and physical surveillance could determine if the relationship were sexual. J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI regularly blackmailed with the results of investigative methods far less sophisticated.

The Bush Junta is using "national security" in the way that white Southern politicans once used "n*****," or Hitler once used "Jew."

Those who surrender their freedoms in a foolish attempt to protect their persons and prosperity cease to be citizens, and become mere subjects.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Empire Day 399

Today is 14 May 2006.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Unhappy birth of the United States Empire Day!

Time to take a ride into the past on one of HH’s favourite horses.

On this date in 1607, three ships (financed by the Virginia Company of London) anchored off what came to be known as Jamestown Island, up the James River in what is now Virginia. (The ships were the Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery.) Settlers being put ashore, they founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States Empire.

The true birthdate of the USE is 14 May 1607, not July 4th 1776. The latter is merely the anniversary of a hostile takeover, a change of rulers, a shuffling of cards.

(E.g.: Before July 4th, females and African Americans were property of white males; after July 4th, females and African Americans were … )

So, today is the 399th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Empire (USE).

Your official MoB position on Empire Day 399:

"O, that my head were waters,
O, that my eyes were a fountain of tears,
That I might weep for the slain ..."
Jeremiah 9:1

Today is also Gibbs, Green, and Che Day.

See our comrade blog,


Saturday, May 13, 2006

USA/Mexico & Iraq/Kuwait

Today is 13 May 2006.

As early as 1811, John Quincy Adams, later President, expressed the essence of what came to be known as "Manifest Destiny": The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.

(As Secretary of State, Adams later helped President James Monroe formulate the infamous "Monroe Doctrine," which warned continental European powers not to meddle in the Western Hemisphere, which was reserved for United States Empire (USE) hegemony. Or, as the Monroe Doctrine may be expressed in contemporary slang: "The bitch is mine.")

This vicious megalomania conveniently ignored the fact that "the whole continent of North America" was already peopled by many nations, which would have to be liquidated or exterminated, in order for the USE to extend from "sea to shining sea." Not a problem.

"They have it, we want it, we're stronger, we'll take it." (From a lapel button in your author's collection.)

(At the moment, this murderous megalomania is embodied in W. Bush's fantasies of bringing the entire world to heel according to the Mission of the USE to spread "freedom and democracy" over the entire world, like a shroud. (Ask the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.)

In 1835, pro-slavery Americans who had settled in northern Mexico, including what is now “Texas”, who had sworn allegiance to their adopted country of Mexico, traitorously revolted and proclaimed the “Republic of Texas.” By force of arms, they made their treason stick. “Texas” was absorbed into the USE in 1845.

On this date in 1846, the Congress of the USE declared war against Mexico, with the purpose of conquest. (The war was opposed by persons as varied as Henry David Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln.)

The USE of course vanquished Mexico. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on 2 February 1848, ratified the USE conquest of what is now California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

The reader’s attention is directed to the corresponding attempt of Ba’athist Iraq to conquer Kuwait.


A fine irony of history. Also on this date, in 1933, Nelson Rockefeller caused the destruction of a mural(by Mexican artist Diego Rivera) at the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Titled Man at the Crossroads, it included a portrait of Lenin.

Who says the ruling class don’t learn from repeating history?

Friday, May 12, 2006

No Such Agency

Today is 12 May 2006.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! The National Security Agency (often known in-house as No Such Agency) is datamining America’s phone records.

Anyone with knowledge of NSA’s capabilities and past exploits could have told you this. (Background on NSA: James Bamford's Body of Secrets (2001) and his earlier The Puzzle Palace (ca. 1980)

The technique is simple, if you have, as NSA does, the world’s largest stash of supercomputing power. Begin with a suspect phone number, find all numbers which received or made calls to that number, examine all phone numbers associated with the second number, and repeat ad nauseum. The practice is known as “spiderwebbing” or “chaining.”

This sort of thing has been going on, with increasing sophistication, since NSA’s predecessor agency was founded in 1949. One must be unbelievably naïve to imagine these techniques have been exercised only on communications with at least one foot abroad. The history of CIA, etc. shows that agencies originally tasked with working abroad find excuses, sooner rather than later, to target American citizens in their domestic lives.

Blatantly unconstitutional, of course, but Congress has always approved it by tolerating it. Even if all the bluster now occurring produces new laws to rein in NSA, Bush’s claim that his authority as commander-in-chief entitles him to override the Constitution and specific statues would render those laws moot, unless Bush were impeached and removed. In which case, Cheney would start the whole process over.

In these days of modern times, it is best to assume that any form of communication is being “shared” (the delicious term invented by Ira Levin in his marvelous dystopian novel, This Perfect Day).


Intelligence Report: According to, two more aircraft carriers are steaming toward the Persian Gulf to join the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Upon arrival in June, they could provide a platform for bombing Iran. Such an attack would probably include B-2s flying out of Missouri, and B-52s flying from bases in the UK and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Nuclear Age

Today is 11 May 2006.

HH rates The Nuclear Age(1985) by Tim O'Brien as one of the top ten Cold War/Nuclear Age novels. (Also great are Going After Cacciato and If I Die in a Combat Zone, both about the Vietnam War.)

Following is the conclusion of the novel:

"One day it will happen.

One day we will see flashes, all of us.

One day my daughter will die. One day, I know, my wife will leave me. It will be autumn, perhaps, and the trees will be in color, and she will kiss me in my sleep and tuck a poem in my pocket, and the world will surely end.

I know this, but I believe otherwise.

Because there is also this day, which will be hot and bright. We will spend the afternoon in bed. I'll install the air-conditioner and we'll undress and lie on the cotton sheets and talk quietly and feel the coolness. The day will pass. And when night comes I will sleep the dense narcotic sleep of my species. I will dream dreams that suppose awakening. I will trust the seasons. I will keep my wife in my arms for as long as she will stay. I will obey my vows. I will stop smoking. I will have hobbies. I will firm up my golf game and invest wisely and adhere to the conventions of decency and good grace. I will find forgetfulness. Happily, without hesitation, I will take my place in the procession from church to grave, believing what cannot be believed, that all things are renewable, that the human spirit is undefeated and infinite, always. I will be a patient husband. I will endure. I will live my life in the conviction that when it finally happens -- when we hear that midnight whine, when Kansas burns, when what is done is undone, when fail-safe fails, when deterrence no longer deters, when the jig is at last up -- yes, even then I will hold to a steadfast orthodoxy, confident to the end that E will somehow not quite equal mc squared, that it's a cunning metaphor, that the terminal equation will somehow not quite balance."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Giving the Devil His Due

Today is 10 May 2006.

Here at the Museum of the Bourgeois, we never shrink from giving the devil his due. Today, we're paying tribute to Ben Stein.

I enjoyed the silly dry wit of Win Ben Stein's Money, until I found out that he was that Ben Stein. (When he was a flack for Nixon, he was humorously known as the "house fascist.") Given that Ben's career has continuously mixed opportunism and loathsome reaction, it's a shock to the system to discover that, on one point at least, Ben Stein agrees with the Museum of the Bourgeois.

Your attention is directed to the Business Section of The New York Times for Sunday, 7 May 2006 (p. BU4 in the National Edition). The following is from the column "Everybody's Business", by Ben Stein: "You're Rich? Terrific! Now Pay Up."

"What Congress can do, and should do is address the stunning underpayment of military men and women and the staggering budget deficits that will be a burden on our posterity for decades, by raising taxes on the rich. It's fine that there are rich people. It's even fine that there are superrich people.

But if they are superrich, they derive special benefits from life in the United States that the nonrich don't. For one thing, they can make the money in a safe environment, which is not true for the rich in many countries. It is just common decency that they should pay much higher income taxes than they do. Taxes for the rich are lower than they have been since at least World War II - that is to say, in 60 years.

This makes no sense in a world at war, in a nation with so many unmet social needs, in a nation with so many people without health care, in a nation running immense and endless deficits. ...

Whatever rationale there may have been in 2001 for lowering their [the rich's] taxes is long gone. It's time for them - us, because it includes me - to pay their (our) share. ... It's about fairness."

Now, as a democratic anarcho-socialist, I can't agree with rich and superrich being a fine thing. I would cap net worth out at no more than $1 million, and that's for the start of the process.

But, Ben does seem to get the basic principle your author has been pushing for decades: the greater the net worth, the more resources of all kinds consumed, and thus the higher the bill, the tab, the tariff, the taxes must be. That's why that tax is "progressive."

It's called "justice."

Note: MoB will be sending this post to Ben at Dear readers might want to chime in also.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Plague on Both Your Houses

Today is 9 May 2006.

On this day in 1945, the Allied war against Germany concluded, and The Cold War began. Happy Cold War Day!

As an historian of The Cold War, your author knows that the brand name, The Cold War, is as truthful as the average “New and Improved!” claim.

On this date in 1945, the US Empire (USE) and the USSR no longer shared a common purpose. The threat of the German Empire was gone, the threat of the Japanese Empire was mortally wounded, the threats of the British and French Empires were jokes.

Last man standing: USE and USSR.

Branding the USE/USSR struggle as The Cold War served both evil empires well.

Do the little people ever really want to die for the profit of their respective ruling classes? Wool must be pulled over eyes.

“The [USE or USSR] is fighting the good fight for all of humanity. WE are on the side of the angels; THEY are on the side of the demons.”

Case in point. First, the USE supported the Ethiopian dictatorship, and the USSR supported the Somali dictatorship. Then, a coup in Ethiopia. “Change partners and dance.” Now: The USSR supported the new Ethiopian dictatorship, and the USE supported the old Somali dictatorship.

Result: several millions dead, both countries still devastated.

The list of similar victims extends to nauseating length.

But wait! Special interests object: our empire wasn't as evil as their empire.

As if "less evil" were a synonym for "good." As if one who pretends to be less evil should be crowned the King of Glory! More than enough blood to go around.

The Cold War was nothing more than a new brand name for an ancient wickedness: the clash of empires, and the profit of the few harvested from the suffering of the many.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Sentimental Education

As expected, Field Marshal Bush has nominated Gen. Michael Hayden as director of the CIA. Most criticism has focused on putting a military person in command of a civilian intelligence agency.

Given that ca. 85% of monies budgeted for intelligence are already controlled by the War Department, it does seem overkill to put the only remaining major civilian intelligence agency under military control. (TV talking heads say the inside scoop is that Hayden and Rumsfeld despise one another. However, since both are creatures of Duce Bush, I don't see how that helps.)

The real problem lies in mindset and values, not the cut of clothes. Yes, Gen. Hayden criminally conspired with Bush in overthrowing the Constitution by conducting warrantless wiretapping. But, so did many civilian employees of the NSA. (One might argue that military persons, conditioned to operate within what amounts to a dictatorship, are more likely to have mindset and values consistent with unquestioning obedience to criminal orders. Perhaps, but it is also the case that many civlians cheerfully offer the same blind obedience --- from opportunism, or 'cause they genuinely believe the president is an elected fuhrer.)

I suspect this teapot tempest is, meant or not, a red herring, perhaps just more turf wars. (As the old saw goes: the real enemy of the Army isn't communism, it's the Navy.)

I believe this is all a distraction from something far more insidious.

When the CIA undertakes a covert operation, The Company must by statute report the operation to the intelligence oversight committees of Congress. A weak reed, this check-and-balance, but at least it means more people know about it, and, if the operation is sufficiently repulsive, at least a slight chance more that it will leak.

The Bush Junta (e.g., Admiral of Space and Time Rumsfeld and his boyz, "forward-leaning" (a JFK regime term - be proactive, be aggressive, be touch [meant "tough" --- was I unconsciously thinking of famous Hyannis Port touch football games? --- don't forget that St. Jack was an Ivy thug too, just more polished], nip the problem before the bud) had a Better Idea.

If military intelligence assets conduct a covert operation for the purpose of prepping the battlefield ("just checking out where we might have to fight, shit happens, we were forced to kill and blow things up") or force protection ("there's a chance those people might sometime attack the Army/Navy/AirForce/andMarines, so we took out them and theirs in a preventive strike"), same falls under authority of commander-in-chief, and no notification to pesky oversighters is required.

This is a swell fit to the overall militarization of the Executive Branch which is a Bush Junta priority. As Attorney General Gonzalez has repeatedly argued, the authority of the president as commander-in-chief trumps mere laws and Constitutional provisions, such as requirements for search warrants.

And, after all, we're fighting World War III. In an interview on CNBC on 5 May, Bush said of the United 93 passengers: “I believe that it was the first counter-attack to World War III. It was unbelievably heroic of those folks on the airplane to recognise the danger and save lives.”

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --George W. Bush, on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, 7 May 2006

Spouse of HH, upon reading this: "He is so stupid."

HH: "No! When he says something like that, he is expressing his rich boy's contempt for the rest of us. As when Bill Gates recently lamented the burdens of being rich. (Bill: HH is an humanitarian. E-mail me at MoB and I'll send you my Swiss bank account info, wire it all to me, and I'll take up your burden for you.)

And why do they call it, "intelligence," anyway?


1880 - Death of Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, A
Sentimental Education
, etc. All honour.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bonus: Short Story by HH


Leading his platoon to the barbed gates of the German extermination camp, fifteen years later, Lt. Kane remembered his father and the morning of his first Hunt.

Awakening the morning of his first Hunt, Kane was, as ever, delighted by the white trails of snow sifting down the red-brick walls of his great-grandfather’s pentagonal barn, the Seventh Wonder of Oolitic County, Ohio.

Kane had turned ten the week before, barely qualifying for the Hunt, but insuring himself place of pride as the youngest. After farm chores and breakfast, Kane worked at nonchalance, bumping with his family in the old Model T, disdaining his younger sister’s pokes in the side. (Something from school about Orion the Hunter: Kane the Hunter sat like a constellation.)

The County Fairgrounds was filling up when they arrived. Editor-Publisher-Owner Webb of the Oolitic County Herald-Examiner Enterprise was positioning his giant view camera. Snow had fulfilled itself a yard deep; thick now the haze of leashed and chained dogs, quickened by the scent drifting from the wire cages in the County Extension Agent’s Pavilion.

Kane stood shivering with the other Hunters (by custom, the oldest not yet fifteen), and made the jokes of males or boys in final moments before battle or Little League games.

The prayer was offered by the pastor of the First Oolitic County Community All-Faiths [meaning Protestant] Church, the Reverend Dr. I. Mather Milhous, B.A., B.Div., M.Div. (Hon.), Doctor of Divinity (Hon.). (The good Rev. drank; Mrs. Rev. had money.)

“Almighty and Everlasting God Who hast commanded us to be Fruitful and Multiply and Bring Forth the Grains of the Field in season and For Thy Sake Subject the Beasts of the Field to Us, we do therefore pray …”

Seems the dogs always barked when the Good Rev. prayed.

“Grant them therefore the Strength of thy Might Right Arm. Amen!”

And all the people said, “Amen.”

The crowd formed a circle three dozen feet across. Mothers clutched Brownie Box cameras as knots of sisters were suddenly and unexpectedly proud of brothers. Every two or three feet around the inside of the circle, stood males with leashed dogs, shuffling cold feet and sharing nips.

The Master of Ceremonies, the Hon. State Senator Ulysses S. Grant Brooks, slyly oiled a few choice and mirthful remarks into the crowd, then introduced the Master of the Hunt. With a palsied twitch of hand, the Master decreed a small gap in the circle, through which fifteen fathers entered, carrying fifteen cages, Kane’s father last.

The fathers arranged the cages in a circle, in the center of the larger circle, Kane’s father’s cage alone at the center. The fathers withdrew for a moment, then returned with their fifteen son. They arranged themselves, two-by-two, as if in parody of The Ark, within the ring of dogs.

Ceremoniously, piously, in the spirit of civic ritual immemorial, the Master of the Hunt opened fourteen cages.

Fathers couldn’t assist in kills, only shield their sons from harm. The clubs their sons of Orion wielded were home-fashioned, many handed down by generations, handles stained by generations of frightened sweat.

Four would appear in the Warhol auction.

Always a few minutes, but then finally one the red foxes released from the cages broke true, clean, and fast for the circle and the freedom and life beyond, stopping and dodging only as the screaming dogs converged. The fox began his run.

A boy advanced from the right, his club harvesting the first kill. (Eddie Brooks took the first prize.)

The other Hunters then also; general streaking of frantic, hopeless bodies, and hopeful, inevitable clubs.

Kane, as customary, stood aside, basking in the masculine glow of the nips of whiskey shared with his father.

The year was 1930.

Soon, fourteen pelts hung from fourteen hands.

Breath steaming, the Master of the hunt again raised his hand, and Kane and his father strode to the center of the circle. The final door was raised.

An old fox proudly marched from the cage. Ragged and patchy of coat, clouded eyes, disdaining to cringe before the screaming crowd of civilization, sniffing the frozen air and his chances.

Kane saw it was good.

“Picture!” shouted Editor Etc. Webb. Kane and his father looked up, father resplendent in Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff’s dress blues, sam brown cross-over leather belt, motorcycle-cop-style soft cap, revolver on his hip. Kane in red Mackinaw, plaid scarf, hat with tied-up earflaps.

(This is a short story, based on a cruel civic ritual practiced somewhere in Ohio until at least 1944, since this slaughter appears in a LIFE magazine feature in that year.)

Much gambling; no sport.

Hemmed by a converging shallow curve of boys, fathers, and clubs, the old fox, after pivoting and jumping to his extent, expressed his contempt: ran straight to Kane, who smashed in his skull with a solid practiced swing of his cut-down, lead-filled, Louisville Slugger.

Fifteen years later, at the gates of the German extermination camp, Lt. Kane watched as incredulous prisoners, surviving bodies parchment stretched over bone, stumbled toward the wire.

Kane smiled, turned away from the living dead, and led his troops on toward Berlin.


Copyright 2006 by HH his mark


Today is 6 May 2006.

The Museum of the Bourgeois is honoured to present our compliments: "Happy Birthday, Skyler."

Sharing this day:

1758 - Great French revolutionary Maximillien (The Rights of Man) Robespierre is born.

1856 - Sigmund Freud is born.

1862 - Henry David Thoreau dies.

1915 - Orson Welles born.

Hope change comes, and Skyler never has to face the dilemma of Thoreau.

As Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience, regarding his imprisonment for refusing to pay taxes which would have supported the illegal United States Empire war against Mexico, back in the mid-19th century day:

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man
is in prison.

Word. Word up.

Goss the Friendly Spook

Boo-hoo-hoo, for that sad little casper, Porter Goss.

CIA officer, Congressman, CIA Director, unemployed.

Why is Goss gone?

On CNN today, Ronald Kessler gave his pitch. Now, I am an admirer of R.K.'s books on "intelligence" matters, several of which I own. I'm willing to think that his explanation for The Boot fo Goss is politic: i.e., not mentioning the real politics.

R.K. notes that Goss had an abrasive, high-handed management style, and, as a result, a number of talented, high-ranking CIA goons and stooges retired. Now, according to R.K., President and Mrs. Bush put a high premium on treating people (like butlers, maids, Secret Service: you know, The Little People --- servants) respectfully, and so Bush gave Goss The Boot over Emily Post/Miss Manner issues.

As Jack Benny famously said, "Well."

This would be the same W Bush (The Butcher of Crawford), who can't seem to treat the people of Iraq with no respect, or the Constitution, or the USE people ... (And Mrs. Butcher of Crawford, ditto.)

Official MoB reality check.

The CIA is directly responsible to the president. However, there has always been a great divide and tension within The Company between those who will tell the president any damn thing he wants to hear, and those who demand telling the president what they honestly believe the evidence and analysis mean.

For example, back in the 1980s the CIA produced an NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) about USSR military strength and capabilities. (An NIE is a periodically-revised analysis of the data regarding a particular country or threat, and represents (theoretically) the finest consensus of the "intelligence" community.)

That NIE wasn't threatening enough for the Reagan Junta, so go to Plan B. Set up an alternate group (I believe Bush Daddy headed it) to massage the data, and produce the proper threat level. (Scare the suckers, spend foolish billions on war products.)

Turned out the CIA was closer to truth all along. (Quoth Gomer Pyle: "Surprise, surprise, surprise!")

So. A large CIA faction would not roll over and play dead in fabricating "evidence" for the Iraq Conquest. As a result, Rumsfeld established, within the Pentagon, an alternate "intelligence" analysis cell, and for sure was fed the slop on which he wanted to gorge, which the mainstream USE media swallowed like a duck on a junebug.

Porter Goss was sent to ramrod the CIA for the express purpose of breaking it to WWW's will, by any means necessary. Abrasive, high-handed management style? Just reflecting His Satanic Majesty's Request.

Problem was, King George's policies didn't work. Many CIA stars left rather than kiss his feet.

What a Junta leader to do? Don't change policies or blame The Divine WWWWWWW: blame the guy who was just following orders.

NOTE: This is post 1 of 2 for 6 May 2006.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Let Us Now Praise Famous (II)

Today is 5 May 2006.

[This is the second of two posts for 5 May. Suggest read below first, but don't let Moi trample on anyone's right to ketchup in the wrong way.)

1813 - Danish philosopher/theologian (the first existentialist?) Soren Kierkegaard born.

1818 - Karl Marx born.

1972 - Legendary blind blues guitarist Rev. Gary Davis dies.

What I dig most, perhaps, about existentialism (and marxism as I understand it) is the assertion that human beings are subjects, not objects. We are not like stones, with no possibilities: absent wicked socialization and degradation of personalities to become slaves to Power (SEE ALSO Fight the ...), and even then, when we're lucky, we can develop the autonomy to become the subjects, the actioners in History.

Of course, in America, most are bought off into being stones, seeing the murders of worlds of subjects with eyes of stone.

This is connection between the two posts. Michael the waiter from post one: he could have been a stone, and said, "We don't deliver." He chose to be a subject in History, and do something practical to Make the World a Better Place.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Let Us Now Praise Famous ...

Today is Friday, 5 May 2006.

[This is the first of 2 posts for 5 May.]

If y'all don't know the great book by James Agee and Walker Evans ... run, don't walk: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Last night, your MoB executive director and his spouse, the MoB's Enforcer-General of Aesthetics, had dinner at one of the world's great spots, St. Michael's Alley, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma at 3324 E. 31st Street. Tulsa's oldest surviving coffehouse/cafe, since 1960. (Five stars; be there or be ...)

As we lingered over coffee (E-G) and a triple espresso (E.D.), our waiter, Michael (no known relation to the saint, save as you'll see below), brought us our check.

M: "Not to rush you, of course, but someone else will have to cash you out; I've got to make a delivery."

MOI: "Since when do you deliver?"

M: "Well, we don't, but one of our regulars called. She's been coming in three nights a week for the past 20 years, and she fell in the shower and broke her hip, and called and asked if we could deliver dinner. I'm getting off soon, so I thought I'd drop it by for her."

The MoB has taken no position on the phrase "Random Acts of Kindness." Does seem a little too cutesy. (But then, the MoB being all about the B, it's sort of hard to explain the Gallery of 1970s Giant-Eyed Children in the new Dallas Wing, isn't it, except that MoB be comprehensive and exhaustive.)

Well, if what Michael did doesn't count, who or what does?

As we aging but still-troublesome New Leftists have been saying for years: Live like him.

5 May in History:

1813 - Soren Kierkegaard born.

1818 - Karl Marx born.

1972 - Death of genuis blind blues guitarist, Rev. Gary Davis.


Today is the fourth of May.

On this date in 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen murdered four students at Kent State. Best book on the subject is The Truth About Kent State by Peter Davies (1973). By careful analysis of photographs taken that day, Davies proves the killings were both unprovoked and premeditated.

On this date in 1991, Joseph died of AIDS. Joe was your author’s wife’s best friend in New York City. A prince among us.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy B'Day to Pete Seeger

Not one damn thing today on this site but PETE SEEGER, who is 87 today.


Reply to a question when Pete was hauled before the inquisition known as the House Unamerican Actitivities Committe in 1955:

Dumb Rep.: What is your profession?

MR. SEEGER: It is hard to call it a profession. I kind of drifted into it and I never intended to be a musician, and I am glad I am one now, and it is a very honorable profession, but when I started out actually I wanted to be a newspaperman, and when I left school --

Woody Guthrie's guitar had a slogan on it: "This machine kills fascists."

Pete's guitar: "This machine surrounds hate with love, and forces it to surrender."

In the spring of 1972, your author was soon to be busted by the FBI for pacifist draft resistance. Your author visited friends in Okemah, OK, where Woody G was born. They offered to hide him out. Thank you again friends, but you know I had to go to trial.

My friends took me that Friday evening to the location Woody was born.

Many years later, when I met Pete, I told him that, and he laughed and said, "I've been there too. It's not the place is magic, it's what we make of our lives, like Woody did."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Happy birthday, Pete.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Today W/O Fascists

2 May in History.

1957 - Senator and would-be fuhrer Joseph McCarthy dies.

1972 - Director of the KGB --- oops --- FBI John Edgar Hoover dies.

Ain't that a pair of bookends.

Let's reprise yesterday's Carlos Fuentes Macia quote: "It's Moby-Dick. The genius of Melville is that he saw that this is a country which needs a monster."

Commie-ism was the monster-under-the-bed-that-wasn't-there that these two and their ilk (ain't that a grand word for their ilk) bamboozled a nation with. (And yes, never end a sentence with a yada yada, but today is Colourful Word, Sin-tax, and Venting Day; youse could look it up.) Not that this shinola is peculiar to USE; same old same old whenever folks want to fake the little people.

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it." (Y. Berra)

Perfect segue for following, the great Yogi.

Jean-Francois Revel died last Saturday. He was one of the 40 "Immortals," the members of the Academie Francais, who guard the French language. How they let him in ... that's enough to cause your auteur to call them "Belgian Fries," which is in fact where they come from, and they slather them with mayonaisse, not catsup. [The word "Ketchup" is banned on this site, unless used in an ironical sense.]

It's never too late to settle scores. Your author, the Executive Directoire of the Museum of the Bourgeois, has had it in for "Revel" for 36 years now, ever since "Revel" published his dumb dumb book, Without Marx or Jesus in 1970. The obit in the NYT called him a "French philosopher." Back in the old days, "Revel" billed himself as the hottest journalist on the block, not a philosophe. "Revel" (his real name was Ricard) opposed American imperialism in Indochina, but liked it elsewhere. That was his idea of "progressive."

Well, boy howdy, howdy boy.

Sort of a grab-bag today.

Tomorrow: MoB goes wild --- it's the birthday (1919) of PETE SEEGER.

Monday, May 01, 2006

(May)Day Without Immigrants

Here at the Situation Room at MoB, so much data and flotsam arrives in a microsecond-by-microsecond torrent, that our crack staff of analysts, archivists, researchers, fact-checkers, gardeners, dog-and-cat wranglers, writers, and chefs can't keep up in real time. MoB is currently at work implementing the introduction of the new Shalmaneser Micryogenic computer, with SCANALYZER, but still a few bugs in the system, and all is not yet on-line.

Which explains why it was only about noon CDT today, when your Executive Director of MoB read, in yesterday's (Sunday's) The New York Times Magazine, the feature "Questions For", with esteemed Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes Macias. The following quote has a direct bearing on "Day Without Immigrants."

"U.S. foreign policy is Manichaean. It's like a Hollywood movie. You have to know who has the white hat and who has the black hat and then go against the black hat. It's Moby-Dick. The genius of Melville is that he saw that this is a country that needs a monster. The delusion of one madman, Captain Ahab, meant that the white whale had to go. But as Katrina showed, there are great, great problems within the U.S. without it constantly having to create crusades against the rest of the world."

Let's drop the dreck about "those illegals are overloading our social benefit systems." For more than a century, the United States Empire, through various corporations, etc., has robbed the people of Latin America blind of their natural resources, resulting in hyper-profits. ("Can you say Anaconda Copper in Chile? United Fruit wherever banana republicans rule? I knew you could.")

Immigrants from the neo-colonies south of the Rio Grande have had their way pre-paid, thanks to exploitation of their preceding generations by the USE.

This "we're being over-run by THEM" Nazi-style falsehood ain't new. Beginning about 1840, it was the Irish who were shiftless, promiscuous, and drunk. Next, it was African-Americans and Jews. Now it's "The Great Brown Whale."

It's time to deep-six this "New World" dreck. New World, same as the Old World. One empire is just like the other.

All empires export their misery and oppression to their colonies. All empires import the prosperity and freedom of their colonies.

USE: Get over it and get with the program. USE is the Whale. USE is monsters from the id. (Fantastic Planet) "We have met the enemy, and it is US." (Pogo)

My esteemed high school teacher of Ancient and Medieval History, Mr. ODB, had a parable.

"Imagine a long, narrow room. At one end, the developed nations sit at a table groaning under the weight of too much food. By their sides, nuclear bombs.

At the other end of the room, the majority of people in the world: some barely making it, some malnourished, some starving.

For a time, the dispossesed will be deterred by the nuclear bombs. But, at a certain point, if the developed nations don't give up part of their wealth, make a fair share ... ... ... well, someday, maybe the dispossesed will reach such a moment of desperation that they say, "Better die today at once, than tomorrow by inches.""

And it's not as if the USE population shared equally in the spoils of empire. Given the rate at which the USE is hoovering the world's natural resources (5% of the world's population consumes 25% of world oil production, e.g.), shouldn't the USE toiling masses expect, not suicidal SUVs, steroid-screen TVs, the next gen of Playstations, etc., but, e.g.:

* free state-of-the-art universal healthcare

* free world-class education from K to Dr.

* every adult employed full-time guaranteed an income sufficient to support
(for a benchmark) themselves, a spouse, and two offspring?

The MoB believes that these are necessary and practical goals. Society must not be a mechanism for concentrating the majority of prosperity in the laps of the few, but an engine for universal compassion. And the MoB means universal: The MoB believes that nationalist membership is nothing compared to our common humanity.

Solidarity forever!