Thursday, December 30, 2004

Popeye's Declaration

Did you ever see the movie "Popeye," starring Robin Williams? A live-action version of the old cartoon? In it, one of Popeye's defining moments is during a musical number when he asks, "What am I?" He examines himself, he reflects upon his values, and he arrives at a conclusion.
What am I? Some kind of barnacles on the dinghy of life?
I ain't no doctors but I knows when I'm losin' me patiensk
What am I? Some kind of judge, or a lawyers?
Aw, maybe not; but I knows what laws suits me
So what am I? I ain't no physciscisk, but I knows what matters
What am I? I'm Popeye, the sailor!

And I gots a lot of muskle and I only gots one eye
And I never hurts nobodys and I'll never tell a lie
Tops to me bottoms and me bottoms to me top
And that's the way it is 'till the day that I drop
What am I... What am I?

I yam what I yam!

I can open up an ockean I can take a lot of sail
I can lose a lot of waters and I'll never have to bail
I can pushk up Madagascar grab a whale by the tail
What am I... What am I?

I yam what I yam!

I'm Popeye, the sailor
I'm Popeye, the sailor
I'm Popeye, the sailor
I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam
I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam
I'm Popeye the sailor man!
Why am I telling you this? Because the coming new year brings with it the opportunity for me to reflect upon the same question that dogged Popeye. What am I... what am I?

Someone who reads what I write may think they have me pegged. After all, I've freely admited that I am a liberal, but being liberal allows me the freedom to choose liberally from all the colors in the ideological palette. I'm a lot more than just that one thing. Aren't most of us? In my next blog entry, I'll examine my own values, and if it requres inventing a new ideology for the new year, then we're off to a good start 8^)

The Tsunami

Although this weblog is mostly political, at least for now, I would be remiss if I neglected to address the horrendous tragedy of the recent disaster. The loss of life, the levels of destruction as a result of the tsunami are staggering. The incident also serves as a reminder that natural disaster can occur anywhere (meaning, here). It's not something that one can "be ready for." You can have a house full of supplies in preparation for disaster, but that only helps if all goes according to plan, which natural disasters rarely do.

Life is a calculated risk. To be alive is to be subject to the forces of nature. To be human is to have compassion toward those against whom those forces seem insurmountable. Our hope is that the worst is over. Most of us will offer what help we can. And life on this tempestuous planet will keep struggling onward... in spite of the risk.

P.S.: Amazing though, isn't it, how life seems all at once to be so delicately fragile, and at the same time tenaciously adaptable?

Monday, December 27, 2004

One Is Not Necessarily The Other, Pt.2 (extra link added)

In my archives of 11/23/04, you'll find my rap about (basically) pigeonholing liberals-conservatives-democrats-republicans-etc., and the folly of same. Now, I seem to find more information demonstrating my point that the conservatives were betrayed by the neocons, who are not true conservatives, nor do they represent conservative values or interests. I offer as an example The American Conservative. Click on their "about us" tab to see what they are about. And here is an interesting interview with their executive editor.

I might not agree with everything they have to say, but they are anti-war and anti-bush, and that marks a dramatic departure from neocon thought. Their anti-bush sentiments include both foreign and domestic policy issues. They even endorsed Kerry for president because, even though they are conservative, they are so disillusioned with Bush's failures as president. They criticize the neocon foreign policy "...where America threatens and bombs one nation after another, while the world looks on in increasing horror." They go on to state:
We believe conservatism to be the most natural political tendency, rooted in man's taste for the familiar, for family, for faith in God. We believe that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist. So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism--fantasies of global hegemony, the hubristic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, a hyperglobal economy. In combination with an increasingly unveiled contempt for America's long-standing allies, this is more a recipe for disaster. Against it, we take our stand.
The description of conservatism as "man's taste for the familiar" is really the textbook definition of conservatism and there's nothing wrong with that. In a live-and-let-live world, liberals like me have no problem with people who "like things the way they are," as long neither of us tries to force our beliefs on the other, or deny the other their rights. In fact, a nation of cooperating, live-and-let-live, left-and-right, checks-and-balances ideologies who respect each others' rights and opinions would be a very successful one indeed, for all concerned... even liberals like me.

And hold the phone! Here is something I never, ever, thought I would hear myself say: I actually agree with Pat Buchanan in this article, a totally great condemnation of Bush's warmongering. Who would have thought? The guy is right on the money on this one. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Oh well...

...what's a couple of million votes, more or less?

Voter Fraud in Florida and Ohio: Kerry Won the Election by at least 1.7 Million Votes by Brad Menfil.

Added Bonus track: Kerry Won by Greg Palast.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Chri-- oops!

Ho Ho Ho! Here is a fun news item for King George's pious subjects:

Bush White House's Christ-less Christmas.

While his media-mogul ministers of information are busy showing their "goodwill toward men" by spreading more of their ridiculous LIES about liberals, saying that we "hate Christmas" and that we are "taking Christ out of Christmas," and so on, their king, Hypoctrites Rex, demonstrates his will that no other king should be worshipped but him. As the Anti-Christ, Bush is careful to remove such references from his presence, similar to the way that mirrors and crucifixes are kept from Rumsfeld's sight and references to Rasputin are hushed around Cheney and Rove. Well, after all, their "base" believes that Santa Claus is the Devil!.

It's a wonderful life :)

Wassail* !

Happy whatever to everyone!

It's unusually difficult to find good concise descriptions about the holiday, but here's one I borrowed here (all credit goes to the original author):

Thousands of years before Christianity even appeared, cultures all around the world were celebrating a similar holiday, with many of the traditions that we now associate with Christmas.

What these cultures celebrated was the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year. This usually occurs on December 21. For various reasons, ancient cultures celebrated this holiday at different times in December or early January.

Why did these many cultures celebrate the Winter Solstice? Because from here on the days will get longer and warmer. It is a holiday of optimism, that the sun will win in its battle over darkness. It is also a holiday of rebirth and fertility, for the lengthening sun will eventually allow farmers to plant their crops. Light is an intrinsic part of most of these celebrations, whether it be sunlight, candles, bonfires, Yuletide logs… or today’s Christmas lights. Not for nothing do most cultures start their New Year about this time.

The first evidence that we have of a Solstice celebration is Mesopotamia from 4,000 years ago. Solstice celebrations have been found in every part of the ancient world, from China to Native America.

The Solstice celebration that Christianity drew on was the Roman holiday Saturnalia. During these celebrations, people suspended all work and indulged in great feasts and drinking. They decorated their homes with greenery of all sorts (for greenery was the product of sunlight, of course). This ranged from wreaths made of laurel to trees adorned with candles. Gifts were sometimes exchanged, especially with small children. But the most interesting aspect of the holiday was the reversal of social order. Wars were suspended, quarrels forgotten, debts forgiven. Slaves exchanged places with their masters, and children became head of their families. In fact, the Romans went so far as to crown a mock king — "the Lord of Misrule." The holiday, needless to say, was extremely popular with the people.

In 274 A.D., the Roman Empire was still "pagan" (that is, not yet Christianized). In that year, the Emperor Aurelian proclaimed that December 25 would be the birthday of the "Invincible Sun."

In 336 A.D., Emperor Constantine Christianized this holiday, proclaiming it to be the birthday of Jesus. The date is almost certainly wrong; the Bible doesn’t say when Jesus was born. However, it was most likely in spring, the only time that ancient shepherds ever watched over their flocks by night.

It is interesting to note that as Christmas spread throughout Europe, it absorbed the Winter Solstice customs of other countries. For example, when Christianity spread to Scandinavia, it found Scandinavians celebrating the Winter Solstice with Yule logs, mistletoe, holly, legends about elves, and Yule goats who carried presents from the gods.

If I find something better, I'll let you know, but this does a pretty good job. A lot of Christians are discouraged by this sort of narrative because their religion says that they thought of everything first. On the other hand, I like it because it helps show why the holidays can include lots of people all over the world, no matter what they believe in. And doesn't that seem more consistent with the spirit of the holiday?

*Go here to learn about the wassail tradition

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Our first lady, Mrs. Bush (I still chuckle when I say that) sure knows how to put on a lip-smackin' holiday spread:

First Lady's Recipe Box

Pass the gravy!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Love It Or Leave It?

From the following links, a few kindred spirits address life in modern America:

Rude Rich

Mark T

Whatever good things used to be associated with America are rapidly being replaced by neocon horrors. Dickensian workplace standards, Taliban-style Christianity, no middle class, no labor unions, no healthcare or education for anyone who is not wealthy. Worst of all, the cult-like devotion of their dedicated followers, willing to surrender all the rights, liberties, and securities that Liberal Americans fought and died for; willing to trade those for more of the cheap crap they need to fulfill their infantile, materialistic needs. Willing to be used as cannon fodder for neocon corporate impirialism, and to hand over their children and ours to be abused as well.

I can hardly believe it has happened in my lifetime.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Follow The Path

The following is reproduced from, which created a lot of amazing and informative material relevant to the 2004 election (they are still going, don't worry). Their archives are highly recommended :). The following example is one of my favorites:

"The Tax Cut. It's All About You.

"The government gives you a tax cut. You’re happy. The government’s happy because when you’re happy, you vote for the government because, let’s face it: it’s all about you. And that’s okay. Because why shouldn’t you get money back? You pay your taxes every year, sometimes even as much as you owe. And really, what does the government need all that money for anyway? Nothing that concerns you. They’re using it for interstate highways and homeland security and health care and education programs and veteran’s benefits and... Wait a minute. If they’re using your tax money for all those things, then why are all those things broken? Did the government not really use that money for what they said? How could that be? They said they would, and yet there doesn’t seem to be enough money for the gazillion things the government needs money for. And if there’s not enough money for all those things already, then how can the government give you a tax cut?

"Wow! That’s a lot of hard questions in just the first paragraph!

"And here are some answers. You won’t like them, but here they are: The tax cuts are mumbo-jumbo, smoke-and-mirrors, a ruse, a ploy, a parlor trick. They’re pulling the wool over your eyes, pulling your leg, pulling a fast one, pulling your financial future and your children’s future and your grandchildren’s future into an endlessly spiraling whirlpool of debt.

"You see: the government is running on fumes. It has no money to spend. It’s broke. It gave you back money it didn’t have in the first place, so it had to borrow and borrow and borrow — from foreign governments (the Saudis for example) trust funds (Social Security for example), anywhere it could go to drum up the cash for your tax cut.

"Because it’s all about you, isn’t it?"

You see, so many of the people I know who voted republican in 2004 did so largely because they wanted their tax cuts. Blood money, in my opinion. That part of their vote was entirely greed-based. I feel that I made a huge mistake by not trying harder to make them understand the message that BigPath articulates here so well. I don't want to make that mistake next time.

Link-O-Rama Update

Well, disgruntled fellow citizens, I just added a whole bunch of links to the list, so linkoholics rejoice!. I gotta say, there are enough there to keep one busy for quite a while. I even alphabetized 'em, but you don't have to start at the beginning. I recommend you start in the middle and work sideways in a reverse zig-zag pattern, alternating directions according to the number of vowels in that particular day of the week.

And just to show that I am constantly adding to this list, here is one I didn't include yet but should. It isn't political (surprise!), it's the John Entwistle Foundation. Even death couldn't stop John Entwistle from being the most amazing bass player in the world, and his name lives on doing good works. Their mission statement: Dedicated to helping underprivileged children in their pursuit of originality and excellence in the field of music. Too cool.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Winning Hearts and Minds

Sometimes it's easy to forget what America is fighting for. Those who support Bush (heretofore known as the "topsoil") should have some good visual aids at their disposal to remind themselves and those whose opinions are being provided for them. So, here they are:

1. Here's Bush!
2. Our President
3. Friends and Family
4. A Bush Salute (allow a minute to load)

There you go, conservative patriots. Take these, and go "spread freedom and democracy," bring "peace and prosperity" to, and "win the hearts and minds" of...

...whoever is left alive.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Why Do They Hate Us?

One of the biggest misconceptions people seem to have is the reason that fundamentalist muslim terrorists act against America. The BushCheney regime has successfully brainwashed their followers into believing that they do so because they "hate our freedom," or are otherwise jealous of us because we have a lot of cool stuff. Wrong.

They do it because the west (us and other countries, too) have been messing with the middle east for centuries. Ever heard of the crusades? Wars have raged back and forth between east and west for a long, long time. The main reasons that, for example, Al Qaida has it in for us include A) we support Israel and B) we have troops, etc., in Saudi Arabia (their turf).

As a culture, they do not envy our freedom (fundamentalist muslims do not value the vice and decadence which goes along with it), or our stuff (they can get their own stuff if they want too, and since a lot of that stuff is made from petroleum products, they make money off of our consumption of said stuff, anyway).

I happen to like the way it is addressed in this article: Why Do they Hate Us?. If terrorists are our enemy, then it is important to remember one of the fundamental rules of war: You must understand your enemy in order to win against them. And obviously, those who are in charge of our current "war against terrorism" either don't understand their enemy, or they are lying to us all about what they are trying to achieve by invading the middle east.

Which do you prefer: Ignorance or Deception?

I'm Coming Back!

Okay, I restored some, but not all, of my incredible, amazing list o' links. I am still a linkoholic, and it is still a work in progress because the information that exists detailing the criminal occupation of our country is quite voluminous, and I think that it is vitally imporant to keep shouting it from the rooftops as loudly and as often as we can. Here's an example that will be added to the list: Bush Family Values Photo Album. It's a particular favorite of mine :) Anyway, I am overdue to submit a post of substance.

I guess it is becoming more apparent that I am one of those who is convinced that the Bush regime did not simply manage to win the 2004 election. I believe that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are part of a greater criminal empire that is operating on a grand scale (please read the brochure What Is PNAC). The fact that it sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory is their first and best line of defense. That, and widespread ignorance and apathy.

But make no mistake about it: Just because it sounds incredible, doesn't mean it can't be true. Remember the old Monty Python line, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Well you know what? The Spanish Inquisition was real, too.

Stay tuned, and we will explore the horrible truths together.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Oops! Damn!

For some reason, I woke up this morning and my blog was comletely blanked out... I had to rebuild it again, and now have to put my links back in (again!) Damn! Hey, never fear, because next time I'll be prepared. Until then, the best link on the web for my book is still buzzflash -- they not only have a ton o' great stuff themselves, but they have a plethora or great links, too. As for me, I'll get those links back up soon*

*Currently in progress.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Those Darn Neocons...

Okay, so you want to know what the Neocons are up to? What they're after? Well, if you go here you can see that their goal is nothing short of world domination.

What, don't believe me? Think I'm another conspiracy-theory crackpot? Dig some of their phrases: "American leadership is good both for America and for the world... such leadership requires military strength," which is another way of saying, "America should rule the entire world, and we'll bomb it back to the stone age if we have to." It is the justification for their ongoing attempt to overthrow the middle east, seize power and resources, and claim it for their own. The only thing "terrorism" has to do with America's war in Iraq is the fact that America is both encouraging terrorism and using it for it's own ends. That's right, the American government is using terrorism to achieve its goals. Make you proud?

Also, they use the extremely disturbing phrase "advocacy journalism," which is their new term for PROPAGANDA. Does anyone really think Fox "News" was just a lucky coincidence for them? No, it is their carefully crafted outlet of disinformation and propaganda designed to control the citizens whom they use alternately as wage-slaves or cannon fodder.

This is just the tip of the iceberg... the depth of their depravity and crimes against humanity will be revealed. Stay tuned.

P.S. Progressives have a satire version of the above site, called After you check out the one above, then dig this one. Especially, check out their downloads page, it has some amazing stuff. Here's a sample: What Is PNAC.

The Grand Old Party's Same Old Propaganda

Want to know why my blog is titled "Constantly amazed, yet never surprised"? It's because of the paradox where I am well aware of life's irony (thus nothing surprises me), yet I am constantly amazed by certain things. For example, the fact that people en masse swallow the ridiculous falsehoods spon-fed to them by their favorite propagandists.

One of the propaganda messages that never ceases to amaze me is that liberals and/or democrats are the "elite." This couldn't be further from the truth, yet it is embraced by legions of people who never paid attention in history class, or (more likely) were never taught history to begin with, or don't know what the word elite means, or only stop watching Jerry Springer long enough to let Rush Limbaugh "tell [them] what to think."

Simply put, the democrats are the party of the working class, of trade unions and labor, of the poor and the disenfranchised, of minorities of all kinds, of anyone not blessed to be born into priviledged circumstances. The republicans are the party of big corporations, old money, class-warfare, inheritance, greed and corruption, plutocracy, and self-righteous superiority. In other words, the "elite."

The amazing and sad thing is that the GOP has convinced the working class to vote entirely against their own interests. They've done this by using the same old tried-and-true propaganda tools used by controlling rulers for centuries to whip their minions into a frenzy and secure their allegiance by appealing to their most base fears and predjudices, along with a little greed thrown in for good measure. Sadly, my observation has been that there are as many in the working classes who are racist, materialist, etc., as there are in the neocon elite; thus the appeal.In 2004 I saw people who gladly reaped the benefits of liberal democrat policies (overtime pay, health benefits, union benefits, federal housing programs, etc.) to the point where their very lives had been not only enhanced but actually saved by those very benefits, and yet they voted republican because A) they were racists who believed the republicans would close all borders; and b) they believed that the republicans are going to give them a huge tax break. As one fellow I know who screams from the wilderness would say... IDIOTS!

Monday, December 6, 2004

Aesop Would Agree

My spouse and I lived with relatives for a few months. We have cats, and they have cats. An interesting observation we made, though, was the comparative social order the cats established for themselves.

You see, the relatives we stayed with were real right-wingers, xenophobic dittoheads, and so on. My wife and I, on the other hand, are both progressives. Interestingly, the two cat factions could be described thus:

1. Their cats: paranoid, suspicious, defensive, reactionary, violent, and ruined their environment by pissing on everything. In general, right-wing, er, paw.

2. Our cats: tolerant, respectful of diversity, friendly and outgoing, clean in their habits and gentle in manner. In general, left-paw.

Each family's respective cats were products of their environment. It told me a lot about the world the neocons are forming as we speak.


"Christmas time is here," the chorus sings as A Charlie Brown Christmas welcomes, for me, the holiday season. I've always loved the Christmas holidays. I've always loved the festivity. Even more as I have learned about it's pagan origins, which are no secret today. The fact that today's Christian holidays are a mish-mash result of a variety of cultural contributions, only serves to endear the holiday to me even more. For in spite of ancient conquerors' attempt to crush pagan religions by adapting their rituals and painting them Christian, they have only served to perpetuate pagan symbolism and turn it into an American institution. I'll bet that the opening celebrations at Stonehenge included a druid who looked just like Santa Claus, and a tree, and holly, and...

Of course, the druids may have included actual human sacrifice, which we have replaced with patronage of places like Wal-Mart, where we sacrifice our values instead. But no matter, for Wal-Mart will never have my soul, and no matter how much merchandising assaults my senses and offends my sensibilities, I will always love the holidays.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

What Am I, Some Kinda Radical!? (pt. 2)

Here's another of my radical ideas: I believe that education and healthcare should both be provided free of charge. In today's society, they are no longer something to be reserved for the privileged. They are a basic human right that should be available to all who want them.

"WHAT!?" they scream. "You commie !@#$%!"

Now that that's out of your system, let me explain. First of all, I do not advocate the elimination of private medical practitioners or educational institutions. They can do what they do and charge whatever the free market will bear. However, I beg the reader to calmly and objectively consider, what is the purpose of government? Most people immediately answer that government's first duty is to protect our borders. Okay, and after that? The consensus for priority two is usually to maintain an infrastructure that meets our needs (good roads, etc.). Priority three might include local objectives such as police and fire protection, decent schools, and public utilities.

I would like to include healthcare and education on the list. Why? Because, first of all, they are certainly as important as those things mentioned above, arguably more so. It should be obvious, regardless of ideology, that a healthy and well educated population is more desirable than a sickly, ignorant one.

Secondly, we waste millions (or billions or trillions) of dollars on things like "pork-barrel" spending, corporate welfare, and other such things, and that's just the "legitimate" stuff, without even including the corrupt payoffs to organizations like Halliburton and Enron, etc., so the cost is not really the issue (please feel free to prove me wrong about this, someone).

Thirdly, it would be so beneficial to our country to provide free healthcare and education. As an investment in the future, it would ultimately pay for itself. We could compete in the job market more effectively both at home and abroad. We could release the burden of employer-provided health insurance from businesses (as with my "radical pt. 1" entry, something that should appeal to the right as well as the left).

Finally, getting back to the purpose of government, one of the reasons it exists is to benefit our lives. Both the right and the left demonstrate their belief in that idea, no matter how loudly the right claims otherwise. Both sides use government as a means of legislating their values in order to shape society as they see fit. Why not do something that will benefit all of us?

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

What Am I, Some Kinda Radical!? (pt. 1)

Some of may opinions are considered radical, even unthinkable. So why not put 'em on dislay here? Today's radical thought from SheaNC (by the way those are my actual initials... I wouldn't want to offend North Carolina... anyway, back to business):

I think that the founders of our country made a big mistake by setting it up as a group of united separate states instead of one big country. I'm talking about no states at all. One Country.

I ask you, what's wrong with our country being one big country? Every time a crisis occurs, everyone encourages everyone else to "unite as one," they say, "united we stand," etc. It would simplify so many things. We would only have to pay federal tax instead of both state and federal taxes; no more double-taxation. And no more divisive arguments about one state receiving more federal goodies than another. No more time wasted by politicians tossing back and forth the issue of "states' rights," as one nation we would all receive equal rights and equal protection. And, those republicans who claim to support smaller government should be pleased to discover that, as one country, there would be a whole lot fewer politicians! Less beaurocracy!

The whole idea of a "united states" is obsolete. Remember, the word "state" as you learned it in school is not the word "state" as the founders knew it. Today, to most Americans, a "state" is basically a "region." But to the founders, a "state" was a country or a nation, truer to its historical definition. To them, the states were more probably defined as a group of separate countries; not unlike Europe, and probably conceived as a "New Europe" of little countries cooperating for the good of all. But all of this was happening at a time when distances were greater, population was fewer, and the world was basically limitless. But now, with the benefits of human connectivity on a grand scale, there's no need for America to be a bunch of little kingdoms.

Of course, it is too late to change what is so entrenched in power. The kings of those little kingdoms won't give them up... too much money flows in too many directions. But oh, imagine the possibilities. One nation, indivisible. Call me crazy.

Some Quotes from Thomas Jefferson

The following quotes were made by one of my favorite statesmen, Thomas Jefferson:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. ...If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake. "

Thomas Jefferson helped define the liberal ideal. A nation free from religious intolerance and oppression, free from corporate plutocracy, free from war-mongers' terror, where the advantaged care for the less-advantaged, for the good of all.

We can win this. If we don't, the worst parts of history will repeat themselves.