Friday, November 26, 2010

The Thievery Becomes More and More Transparent

by Rich Miles

A "boondoggle" is defined as a government program which is claimed to be intended to perform a service for the people of a country, but which in reality is a major waste of government funds with virtually no benefit to the people.

It's also defined as "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security". One of the biggest, if not THE biggest, boondoggle in the history of the world. And I do not exaggerate.

Homeland Security is a conglomeration of some 8 or more Cabinet-level sub-departments which were, before the attacks of 9/11/01, separate departments with their own budgets, staffs, and other levels of autonomy.

However, after the 9/11 attacks, it was decided (by whom, it's hard to trace to this day) that national security, or "homeland" security, would be better served if all or nearly all those who served in that regard were under one legal aegis, rather than 8 separate entities.

One of the ways in which this was supposed to be beneficial to America was supposed to be in the realm of cost savings. Much brouhaha was made of the waste of government resources pre-Homeland Security, and how the combining of all those departments would save billions of dollars each year.

Not very many people believed this, especially Democrats. But those who were old enough to remember, also remember how difficult it was to resist anything the White House was trying to do in this regard. The atmosphere back then gave new meaning to the term "juggernaut".

So, all in all, the Dept. of Homeland Security was destined to be a-borning from the day it was first proposed. There was absolutely no way to stop it once it got underway. And so it was.

I'm sure it was a good idea in fine. But those of us who had any sense of realism about the function of government realized that, far from reducing the costs associated with homeland security, the combined form of the eight agencies were far more likely to cause sharply INCREASED costs.

And so it did.

I had intended to provide some monetary statistics in this piece to demonstrate my  premise: what DHS cost last year, what the same departments cost pre-DHS, etc. But despite the supposed savings due to combining the departments, it's very difficult to pull all those numbers together. Almost as if the departments were still separate, and the government is trying to keep it a secret from us dim, dumb taxpayers.


My friends, my fellow taxpayers - we are being had in the worst kind of way. Obama has not tried to close the cash spigot, no one has even mentioned the possibility, at least as far as I have seen - and I do try to pay attention to such things.

If we wish to balance our federal budget, a good start would be to "undoggle" the boondoggle that is Homeland Security. But it's going to take a brave president to take on that bag of wildcats. Because the Republicans will put on their shiniest patriot armor, and accuse the Democratic president who makes this move - for it will be a Democrat - of being weak on national defense.

And on and on and blah blah blah. One can almost predict exactly what the debate will consist of - and thus it will take many years and many trillions of wasted dollars.

And why say anything else? God help us, if there is one.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


by Rich Miles

Update: As of this date, April 12, 2013, DeLay is, according to Wikipedia, still free on bail while he appeals his conviction. I wonder who is paying his legal bills - or did he steal enough to pay them himself? Nah, these crooked bastards NEVER pay their own way as long as there's some poor sucker to do it for them.

With apologies and thanks to Gary Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury.

But I am delighted to report that Tom DeLay, disgraced former representative from Texas and Majority Leader of the House, was on Wednesday November 24 found guilty of money-laundering charges in a Texas state court.

I mean, this really makes me happy. He's going to appeal the verdict, but the original conviction seems firm enough that the appeal won't do any good. And if it doesn't - TOM DELAY WILL GO TO PRISON!!!

Or most likely will anyway - the judge in the case has the option to sentence DeLay to probation, but even in Texas that would be a bad idea.

So one of the bastards of the Bush administration is quite likely to eat steel for at least 5 years. And my heart could not be gladder!

The only thing that might make me happier than this, in fact the only thing that could make me die happier than this, would be if this same fate befell the Shrub, El Arbusto, the jerk of the century George W. Bush.

Perhaps DeLay's conviction is a step in that direction. One can only hope!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Palins bedamned

by Rich Miles

Edit: It's Bristol Palin, not Crystal. Not that I give a shit. And Jack, you really seem to have some serious negative energy on these women! I mean, I do too, but you really kick ass and take names. Good on ya!

This will be a short post, because I don't want to waste bandwidth on these twits (did I spell that right?)

Sarah Palin has hired a really top-notch PR agent. I am so sick to death of seeing her and her daughter all over TV. But if I ever need a PR agent (God forbid!), I'll get that guy, or lady.

But there may be a downside to this blitz. In fact, there may be several downsides.

First off, it's beginning to appear that there's a fix in for Crystal Palin to win DWTS. In fact, it's beginning to appear unquestionable that this is so. Crystal may turn out to be Sarah's biggest albatross by the time it's over. One thing about that phenomenon will be to see how and how fast she will dump her own daughter if it becomes necessary to do so. And where the hell is her husband, fer cryin' out loud? She'd do better not to have one than to have one so marginal in her life.

Second, this is all happening WAAAAAYYYY too far in advance of the 2012 election. With the insufferably short memory of American voters, by May of '12, the main question in the air may be "Sarah who?"

Third, she's in essence making a fool of herself and behaving very UN-presidentially in her activities. I'll leave that to the opinions of the viewers.

And fourth, she is making the mistake of believing that anyone gives even a remote shit what she does and how she lives her life.

Is this the way we want our president to look? I mean her behavior and demeanor, not her actual appearance, which if I have to admit it is kinda hot and milf-ish. But is that how America wants its president to present? I kinda doubt it, on either side of the aisle.

This is all McCain's fault. He made the mistake of giving her something she could read as evidence that she mattered to America or to anyone who doesn't have the same last name as hers. One more mistake from McCain.

Not as short as I thought. Sorry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My "" Opus

by Rich Miles

I've been meaning to do this for a while now. Below is a link that will take you to the "Other Posts by Rich Miles" section of the archives of Salon magazine online. The dates of the pieces are April 10, 2007 to November 15, 2007 - the latter date being just about the time my brain disorder kicked in and made me stop anything like writing. Or indeed, reading.

I'm putting them up here for several reasons, not least among them that I'm quite proud of some of the posts and don't want them to be lost forever. But also, the posts have attached to them a link that will take you to the Salon article about which I'm writing, so you can, if you wish, figure out exactly what it is I'm commenting about. Most of my essays don't have that info, so you have to remember as well as I do what it is I'm on about with each one.

So - if you really like my writing, here are 68 pieces of varying length from letter to the editor to full essay. Hope you enjoy them!

(I have a similar body of work on The Nation online. I just have to figure out how to access them. Might take a while.)

Letters by Rich Miles

You repugs gotta be kidding!

by Rich Miles

Awright, this shit has got to stop. There's an editorial in today's New York Times in which it is recounted how the repug leadership of the House AND Senate have refused, or in truth simply ignored, a dinner invitation from the President of the United States at the White House.

From the editorial:

It has been more than two weeks since President Obama issued a postelection invitation for Congressional leaders to join him for dinner on Nov. 18 to discuss “how we can move the American people’s agenda forward.

And all of 'em - all 200+ repug members of the U.S. House and Senate - were just too busy. Couldn't make it. Not even a "Sorry, Mr. President" - just ignored him, and didn't show up for dinner at the White House to discuss the people's business.

I mean, is it me, or is this stuff becoming more and more childish as time goes on? Childish AND disrespectful. I mean, is snubbing the Prez like this supposed to make him look weak, and thus hurt his chances for re-election? Does no one in the electorate even notice this kind of behavior? Are repug voters actually PROUD of their leaders for treating the holder of the highest office in the land like a fiel' hand? I mean, why don't they just come out with it, and say "We ain't sittin' down to eat with no n***er"? That would at least be an honest representation of their feelings.

I've said this about other things since Obama became prez, but think of it: can you just IMAGINE the uproar if the Dem leadership had done something like this to Saint George of Bush? I mean, it's just impossible to fathom.

And why can't we on the left use similar tactics? Yes, they're dirty tactics, and yes, we should, just like the repugs, be ashamed of ourselves for using them, but hey! Our opponents have shown repeatedly that anything goes, any tactic is a proper means to an end - so why shouldn't we do the same?

I'd be ashamed, if I didn't have such shit sonsabitches for opponents. In fact, I'm still ashamed. But I think the Dems should do it.

Raise holy hell, Dems! It would happen to you if the situation were reversed! For once, take the low road like your opponents.

Please! I'm getting tired of seeing my leaders gutted and left to die by the side of the road. Let some blood be let on the other side for a change.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Magical Thinking in High Places

by Rich Miles

Have you ever had something - anything, any topic - turn into a virtual obsession? Your mind latches onto a thought, an idea, a question, and you just can't let go of it?

It can be really annoying to the normal mind (the abnormal mind takes this in stride - it's the way things always are for lots of mental patients). But quite often, you just turn the issue over and over and over, with no progress on an answer or resolution for the longest kind of time.

But then, when you DO finally reach something like an answer, it's sort of like an orgasm - a great rush and release of anxiety and tension, and a feeling of real accomplishment in the realm of thought.

Well, I just had one of those. Let me elaborate:

Ever since George W. Bush became a national figure back in late '99, into 2000, I have wondered something. In fact, there were lots of things I wondered about him, but there was this one main thing I couldn't come to grips with, to wit:

How could George W. Bush stand in front of a camera, or in front of a crowd of at least putatively intelligent people, and LIE HIS ASS OFF to them, repeatedly, and in great detail sometimes, and just without any apparent shame or embarrassment - just LIE, say things that were, to most normal human beings, obviously not factual. I mean, how could he do that, day in and day out, and never or rarely get caught in his own lies, and never show any contrition for doing so, and on the occasions when he was caught, how could he simply say that the catchor was wrong, that he either didn't say that, or if he did say it then it was true? How could he do that? Most of us can't, at least not for that long and with that much conviction. We may be able to lie, but not many of us can keep it up for that long without either tripping up on our lies, or having our listeners laugh us off the podium etc.

So how does he do it, I asked myself? And just last night, after he's been out of the White House for nearly two years, and after he's written a book that has served as a forum for even more of his lies, it came to me: Bush lies so effectively because he doesn't know he's lying!

And the reason he doesn't know he's lying is that he is a victim - or perhaps practitioner would be more accurate - of a psychological disorder/phenomenon known in the psych biz as magical thinking.

Yup, it's a real phenomenon - though to refer to this particular syndrome as "real" is almost laughably ironic - and despite this rather lengthy intro to the actual thesis of this essay, I encourage, in fact implore you to read this Wikipedia explanation of magical thinking.

OK, ya back from that? Well, I want to offer this shorter layman's definition of magical thinking: It's when you think that a thing is true simply because you think it's true, without any proof or evidence or reason. It's sorta like what the Xtians call "faith" - which, if one reads the Wikipedia piece above, is exactly what is defined.

But back to the original premise: that GWB engages in magical thinking. How else to explain how Shrub could completely ignore all or most of his military advisors, and insist that we invade Iraq? How to explain his insistence that taxes be severely cut in wartime?

How to explain his new book, and the disagreement of several world leaders with the content of the book? How to explain how he could so thoroughly balls up the recovery of New Orleans after the hurricane, yet believe he was doing a good job at it?

The list could go on forever, but the main premise is: Bush thinks things that no one else in the whole world (or at least no one who isn't as deranged as he is) would believe.

And he was the leader of the most powerful nation in the world for 8 years! And as a result, it's my premise that we are no longer the most powerful nation in the world. We are in decline, and although I'm sure many Republicans and some Democrats will disagree, it's my contention that the decline is directly and specifically George W. Bush's fault. Certainly the Dept. of Homeland Security, one of the hugest money-wasters in the history of the WORLD, is Bush's fault. The ineffectiveness of Homeland Security not only could be predicted, it WAS predicted, by several congresspersons including Russ Feingold (his senatorial career R.I.P.)

But Bush thought, magically, that a single bureaucracy encompassing all the OTHER existing bureaucracies would somehow be more efficient and workable. I think evidence since has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has not and is not so.

No, folks, America is falling apart, and the bulk of the reason for it is the 8 years of GWB's "reign". Even now that Bush is out of technical power, he still has influence over the management of our nation. The new book is proof of that - some people are claiming it's a guide for the new century, and god forbid if that turns out to be an activated thought.

But anyway - now that you're an expert on magical thinking, re-examine the past 10 years, most especially that 8-year Bush interregnum, and see if it doesn't all make more sense if viewed in that light.

Sadly, if you're a sensible person, I think it will.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is it possible? Could we get him?

by Rich Miles

Here's a statement that will cause eyebrows to raise in some quarters of New York City, and perhaps elsewhere:

Jerry Nadler is my hero!

Jerrold (Jerry) Nadler is a short, fat, not terribly handsome little guy originally from Brooklyn, and now the U.S. Representative for, arguably, the most expensive strip of real estate in the United States, and certainly the most expensive in the eastern half of the country: the West Side of Manhattan. His district includes some other areas into Brooklyn and elsewhere, and the 9/11 Ground Zero is in his district.

But that's not why Jerry Nadler is my hero. He's my hero because he is chair of a judiciary subcommittee, and HE WANTS GEORGE W. BUSH PROSECUTED FOR WAR CRIMES!!

And that fact gladdens my heart.

Not that it won't take a lot for this pipe dream ever to come to pass. Not that there isn't a very great chance that it will NEVER come to pass.

No, what makes my endorphins flow in this instance is that a Member of the U.S. Congress WANTS this, and is quite happy to say so in a highly public and highly visible/audible manner.

Way back in February of '06, I wrote a piece called Time to Set a Precedent, in which I propounded that it was time we put the president of the United States in jail, just to prove that we can, so the future sonsabitches in that office are aware that they can't get away with just anything, and that there are very real and personal consequences to their actions. I re-propound that piece today because George W. Bush needs to go to prison, and his own words in his recent book where he admits to ordering waterboarding on a U.S. prisoner, should be used against him.

And to attempt to come full circle, that's what Jerry Nadler wants: to hoist Bush on his own petard, use his own words to prosecute him, and put him in prison.

And despite a number of obstacles to this plan, not least among them the fact that the U.S. Attorney General refuses to do it, I think we ought to go for it. It couldn't happen to a nastier ex-president. And despite my living nowhere near where such a trial would be held, I'd volunteer for jury duty. They wouldn't take me, because I have already made up my mind, but I'd volunteer nonetheless.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Jerry Nadler is my hero!

Remember, they got Al Capone for tax evasion. Maybe we can get Shrub for the unpardonable crime of writing a book.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm back, reluctantly

by Rich Miles

Hewwo, tonstant weaduh - please pardon my absence since the election. My heart has truly been in pain since then. I haven't been able to collect my thoughts or assemble them on the page since then.

But I'll try now. I guess. I'm so demoralized, not so much at what the repugs will do - it's well-known that they're going to fuck up the country as much as possible. No, what really shatters me is how insufferably stupid my fellow Americans and especially Kentuckians have become in a mere two years. I mean, is it really possible that a) most people don't recognize how badly the 8 years of GWB fucked up the country, and b) they also don't recognize that handing power back to the repugs so soon (or really, ever) is just the perfect way to bend the country over and fuck it bloody?

I mean, how can you people do this? How can a majority of Kentuckians choose the clown Rand Paul over Jack Conway, who at least showed some seriousness about him during the campaign? How can a majority have chosen Paul, because his "religious beliefs" were attacked? I mean, when did it become a given that ANY candidate's stated religious beliefs MUST be believed and not challenged no matter what actions he may take in opposition to those stated beliefs? Why is it not possible for a person to LIE ABOUT HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS? I mean, really. Nobody believes US that automatically. Why should Rand Paul be believed automatically?

SO Jack was supposed to be ashamed of what he said about Paul's religion, JUST BECAUSE RAND PAUL SAID SO!!

I don't think so. And in fact, Paul's actions in the campaign and since suggest, once again for me, that if this is how a born-again Christian behaves in the world, then I want nothing whatever to do with being a born-again Christian.

I rather expect Rand Paul to resign as senator when he discovers how little senators earn relative to self-certified eye doctors. If he doesn't, it's a sure sign that senators are robbing us more than we thought.

Because Rand Paul may love power, but I have the distinct impression that he loves money more.

And I'm absolutely certain that he's an asshole.

Now challenge me on that observation, SENATOR Paul. I am as trustworthy as you are. I am as religious as you are. I am as worthy of having my morals accepted unquestioned as you are.

I am no more a lying m-----f----- than you are. So if I get questioned (and I do), then so do you. So shut the eff up, you little weasel

I wandered on this one a bit. I'll try harder next time.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How to restore the Democratic majority

by Rich Miles

“It is absolutely critical that you go out and vote,” Mr. Obama said here in Philadelphia. “This election is not just going to set the stage for the next two years. It’s going to set the stage for the next 10, the next 20.”

Well, lots of political rhetoric can be disputed and turned on its head - but without claiming to be able to see into the future, I think we could reasonably say that the above is a true statement.

I'm grieving already, even though the election isn't for two more days. I mean, I know pundits and prognosticators aren't always right, and they could be dead wrong this time. But if they're right, then the Republicans are going to make major gains in the Congress, and could conceivably take control of both Houses. And for that prospect, or even that of their taking one House, I grieve.

Cuz ya see, I love this country, and its people and its institutions. And seeing the possibility of even one House of Congress falling into the hands of the lunatic fringe just makes me so very sad. Why are our people so ignorant, so oblivious? Why does it appear likely that we'll vote back in the party that nearly destroyed America under George W. Bush? Why does it look like we will be so ignorant that we'll vote for nation-slayers simply because Pres. Obama has been unable to perform the miracle of reversing in two years the damage GWB did in 8 years, while fighting the obstructionism of the opposing party?

I am grieving. Truly.

But I have an idea that might help the Democrats in the future, if not right away. Here's my idea:

If the Repugs win one or both Houses, nothing of President Obama's agenda is going to get done in the next two years, and it's very possible that Mitch McConnell will get his wish and Prosident Obama will be a one-term president. God knows that's what the entire mechanism of the Republican party is aiming for.

BUT! And this could work, folks - think about it: If one or both Houses are lost, then the very next day, November 3rd, the Democrats must start bombarding their respective Houses with every single scintilla of Obama's agenda. I mean everything any of them ever thought of as the Democratic agenda MUST go into the hopper, and it must remain a steady stream for two full years. And each one of those bills must be trumpeted to the skies!!! Every American with a radio, a TV, a computer, or dental fillings that pick up signal must be made aware that the Dems are working for them, and the repugs are obstructing every gahdam thing! For two full years, this must be the message. Most if not all of the bills will die in committee, and never make it to a floor vote. But the repugs will eventually, I'm thinking about July or so of 2011, have to account for themselves. They'll have to tell the American people just WHY they're doing fuck-all to deal with the nation's problems, and WHY they're shitting all over everything the Dems are trying to do in that regard.

And even the most steadfastly stupid and pseudo-conservative among us will have to admit that not a damn thing has gotten done for the American people while the repugs have been in charge. And maybe some of these lunkheaded morons who voted the repugs back in just might change their vote, maybe enough of them will do so to swing things around.

But I mean, it's got to be a constant Niagara Falls of bill submissions, and every single one of them has to be shouted to the rafters. It'll be a lot of work, but hell, the bastards need something to occupy their time for 100-odd thousand dollars a year.

And if this is done with dedication and aplomb, by November 2012, we'll be so effin' sick of the repug bastards and their obstructionism that the Dems will take back both Houses in an unimaginable tidal wave of votes. Even Karl Rove won't be able to steal this one!

And that's what I think the Dems have to do, IF they get their butts kicked as badly as the pundits currently seem to think they will. Of course, if they don't get whupped that badly - well, they need to do damn near exactly the same thing. Only without quite so many trumpets.