Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Jordan and GWB have in common: Power and ulterior motives?

I'm tired of writing about Dubya, Condi, Rummie and Dick. How many different ways can one say that our country has been turned into one massive yard sale so that GWB's cronies can cart off everything that's not nailed down -- and everything that IS nailed down too -- for cheap while "We The People" are not even allowed to attend the sale of our own stuff.

I personally have written over 350 essays on how America is being reemed by the Bush bureaucrats. The internet CRAWLS with facts and statistics backing up my claims -- yet somehow those gangsters in the White House still manage to convince an all-too-large number of gullible Americans that the Bush Mafia family is wonderful, that America is having no trouble and that anything you hear to the contrary is just spiteful lies made up by us worthless bleeding-heart liberals who are merely jealous of their great success.

Yeah, right.

Like thousands of us disgruntled liars just sat down and made up all that stuff up about Dubya, Condi, Rummie and Dick -- stuff like the failure to share their knowledge of a possible attack on America in September of 2001, the fiasco in Iraq, the loser economy, the Katrina FEMA disaster, welfare for the rich, vets, children and seniors being treated like sheep dookie, the national parks give-away, the US-occupied Afghanistan record-breaking opium crops, Osama bin Forgotten, Enron, vote fraud and on and on and on? Like we could even CONCEIVE of all that ineptness and corruption. Like even Michael Moore could dream all that stuff up?

Or else there is the other possibility, as Jane Smiley told us recently, that us liberals are NOT lying and the Bush "government" really IS fouling up -- but they are doing it ON PURPOSE! "The Bushies have a pattern and they stick to it in spite of every apparent reason to change course.... Let’s take a look at the 'mistakes' the Bush administration is said to have made, and, instead, ask ourselves if they are actually realized intentions" -- deeds done on the sly so that what happened in the New Russia and the New China can happen here too. So that in the confusion of a once-great country's disintegration, Dubya's giant American yard sale can be held.

Hey, didn't that Arctic oil supply that I just saw being hauled away in the back of Dickie's pick-up truck used to belong to us? Isn't that OUR army that just got sold for pennies on the dollar to Rummie? Didn't WE used to own Fort Knox?

Or the Bush bureaucracy might be destroying our country simply for the power it gives them. Knowing them, that would make perfect sense -- that they would rather be kings of a devastated America than preside over a thriving republic where "just a piece of paper" like the Constitution ties their hands.

In any case, I am rock-bottom bored with constantly having to spend my valuable time writing about the antics of Bush's carpetbaggers and sadists -- so I thought I'd take a break and write about my second-most favorite dysfunctional family for a change. That would be the family of my daughter's friend Jordan whose life sort of resembles "Malcolm in the Middle" combined with "Veronica Mars".

For those of you who are just tuning in to "The Bizarre Adventures of Jordan," here is the gist of the story so far: Immediately after Jordan and his brother Nathan were adopted, their new mom was forced give up being a drunk when her liver failed. Then the father went into anger management meltdown and started hitting the kids. Then the parents filed for divorce. THEN they reconciled. Then the boys were shipped off to some boarding school for abused children that was run by a child abuser too. Then when the boys came home from that, Nathan tried to protect Jordan and as a result spent the next four years trudging through the brat camps of Utah, California and Colorado. And all this time, the parents called the cops on their kids like they considered the police to be their own personal "Nanny 911".

So here's the latest episode. And trust me, this one does not disappoint!

When we last left young Jordan, he had just run away from his "behavior modification program" in Montana, went back to his parents' home on Wisteria Lane, got thrown out into the street by said parents and came to stay with us. I bet you are thinking, "Now that Jane's in a postition to help, this soap opera is finally going to have a happy ending," right?


After five happy months of staying at our house, Jordan moved back in with his cop-calling, brat-camp-addicted, dysfunctional parents. Why? It seems that young Jordan had also become addicted to living in a soap opera and, frankly, life with us was too calm.

Since Jordan went back to his parents' house, he's been in hog heaven. The police have visited there four different times. The emergency mobile mental health crisis unit has been there twice. The child protective services have done an in-depth study of this normal middle-class American family. There have also been visits from a social worker, two sets of lawyers and a shrink. The household is like a big circus. The brother cusses. The father rages. The mother sobs.

Jordan feels right at home.

But wait. It gets even better. When our Nathan -- after four years in brat camps, this kid hasn't a CLUE about how to behave -- took the family car to go see his girlfriend, the father called the cops and Nathan ended up spending Thanksgiving in juvenile hall. So. There's Nathan, back home with the toxic combination of his volatile parents and an electronic monitoring device keeping him on Wisteria Lane 24/7 -- a toxic combination guaranteed to create havoc. And it did. Nathan got into an argument with the mom and she BIT him.

I swear. This stuff actually happened. I did NOT steal this plot off an episode of "Desperate Housewives" -- or even a White House press conference!

Then what happened? The parents called the cops. Again. You shoulda been there when the cops (and the emergency mobile crisis unit) arrived. Nathan started shouting, "The bitch BIT me!" The crisis unit started screaming that Nathan was lying and how could he say that about his poor sweet parents. And the cops just stood there and shook their heads.

So. Now everyone is happy. The whole family is living the life they are used to. "But," you may ask, "what will happen next?" That's easy to guess. Just ask a cop. Half the local police force knows that, with Nathan forced to stay in that volatile situation by a well-meaning but clueless probation officer, the chances are good that the up-coming holidays could involve a possible homicide attempt (or at least major mayhem) on peaceful, Christmas-tree-light-festooned Wisteria Lane.

Down at the local police precinct, the beat officers are actually running a betting pool on who in that family will draw first blood before New Year. Place your bets early, folks. The odds are on Nathan but the mom's odds are looking good too.

Bottom line: l now avoid Wisteria Lane like the plague -- and I advise the cops to do likewise. If your 911 button lights up involving that address on Christmas, guys, just ignore it and keep passing the egg nog!

PS: Now that I think about it, there are clear correlations between the White House fiasco and the fiasco on Wisteria Lane: Dubya's dysfunctional family has ulterior motives disguised as "Patriotism" and an uncontrolled drive for power -- and soap opera. Jordan's dysfunctional family also has ulterior motives disguised as "Good Parenting" and an uncontrolled drive for power -- and soap opera.

PPS: There is actually another episode of "Brat Camp" being produced for next season and this time it takes place at Aspen Achievement Academy, one of the several brat camps that Jordan was forced to attend. Sorry, guys, he's not in this episode. Maybe next time?

I only wish that they would do an episode of "Brat Camp" where Dubya, Condi, Rummy and Dick are the campers. And the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary Achievement Academy sounds like a great place to film it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The economic collapse of the Soviet Union, er, I mean, the United States

I just started reading Martin Cruz Smith's new murder mystery, "Wolves Eat Dogs". It takes place in Russia after the collapse of the USSR. To quote the cover blurb, "[Moscow police detective] Arkady Renko has survived, barely, the journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia.... Now Renko enters the privileged world of Russia's new billionaire class". By page 55 (where I am now), the author has painted a pretty grim picture of life in the New Russia -- corruption, Mafia-like violence, social disintegration and economic inequity between the new super-rich corporate mafia and the average poverty-stricken citizens who have lost their savings, their homes, their jobs and their pensions.

Many political scientists will agree that the economic collapse and resultant political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was caused by a huge drain on that country's resources as a result of the USSR's occupation of Afghanistan combined with the humongous expense of keeping its super-power military machine running at top speed.

In 2005, the United States of America seems to be in approximately the same position that the USSR was in during the 1980s -- too much money being spent on war; maxing out our credit cards on war toys at the expense of everything else.

I hope that I'm wrong but what if this comparison is valid and there will also be an economic collapse here in the United States too? And will political fragmentation also result? Perhaps the red states will form a new country called Tex-America and the rest of the states will break into West America, Mid-America and America East....

And will US corporate gang leaders take over Houston and New York and DC like they took over Moscow? And will the average person in Chicago and Los Angeles lose their jobs, housing and savings like what happened in Leningrad? Should we study the antics of the New Russia to get a glimpse of how the New America will be?

Or can we learn NOW from the USSR's example and cut down our over-expanded and unjustified military empire before it's too late?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas in Mecca: Are the US occupying forces closing Iraq's borders at Hajj time?

Talk about your insensitivity! U.S. occupying forces have closed Iraq's borders just as Muslim Iraqis are preparing to go on Hajj. Do Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld even know what Hajj is? Even if you don't know how to use America's trillion-dollar information-gathering systems, guys, at least try to Google it.

For U.S. occupying forces to close Iraq's borders at Hajj time would be like the Israeli Defense Force closing down Bethlehem at Christmas. Oops. They already did that -- and discovered it was a bad idea. Now the IDF has just limited Itself to imprisoning Bethlehem with checkpoints and the Wall. But even despite this, going to Bethlehem is always a good idea -- it is the experience of a lifetime for Christians, just like going on Hajj to Mecca is the experience of a lifetime for Muslims.

By the way, going to Bethlehem is absolutely safe. Palestinians -- both Muslim and Christian -- are the soul of hospitality. And they have internet cafes there too so you won't feel lonely. Stay at the Bethlehem Star Hotel. You'll feel right at home. But I digress.

I recommend that every single Muslim in Iraq go on Hajj this year. Just stop killing each other and do it! Even the Kurds. The oil will still be there when you get back.

And as for the American occupying army: Show a little dignity. Offer a truce during this very holy time. Or, better yet, stop occupying Iraq altogether.

PS: If one wants to keep people happy and peaceful, just keep them busy! Jobs, schools, arts and crafts? Whatever it takes to keep their minds off making bombs. Installing electricity in Baghdad would be a great first step!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

All I want for Christmas is the Maudelle Shirek Post Office!

There are buildings in America named after Richard Nixon, famous for the Watergate scandal.

There are buildings in America named after Bill Clinton, famous for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

There are buildings in America named after Ronald Reagan, famous for the Iran-Contra scandal, promoting torture and death squads in Latin America and giving Saddam Hussein access to American-made weapons of mass destruction.

There are buildings in America named after George H.W. Bush, the man who made "Gulf War Syndrome" a part of the English language.

There are buildings in America named after J. Edgar Hoover, a professional blackmailer and alleged cross-dresser.

Yet Congress in its wisdom has officially refused to name a post office in Berkeley, California after Maudelle Sherik, a long-time City Council member who has fed the hungry, fought injustice, fixed our potholes, set us an example of courage and graciousness, funded our libraries, inspired our children and generally made our city a better place.

If instead of serving on the Berkeley City Council, Maudelle had been President of the United States or head of the FBI, America too would have been a better place -- and we wouldn't be struggling with debt, unemployment, senseless "wars" that are draining our country's wealth, corruption in high places, stolen elections and a tarnished world image.

Maybe that's why Congress balked at naming a post office after Shirek. She's not corrupt enough or hypocritical enough or blood-thirsty enough. And she's too honest!

PS: the Berkeley City Council just passed a resolution naming the City Hall after our Maudelle. But I still want the post office named after her. It's the principle of the thing -- that sleazy Congressman King from Iowa can slander Shirek's good name in the House of Representatives, claim Joseph McCarthy was a "hero for America," call Shirek a commie of all things (she's not), block the post office naming and get away with it. Two buildings named after Maudelle instead of just one? Works for me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

My bleeding liberal heart takes a bath: Have Katrina victims followed GWB's example?

I just got an e-mail from a friend in Dallas. It was a shocker. "People need to know what is going on with some of the Katrina evacuees here," she wrote me. "My feelings right now about some of these Katrina folk is that they should be thrown out with the bath water. I WANT THEM ALL TO GO THE HELL BACK TO NEW ORLEANS!" She goes on to detail how some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina are using their access to government funds to go on elaborate spending sprees. And they are also acting like thugs.

Could it be possibly true? My liberal heart is breaking here. Are some Katrina victims following in the footsteps of George W. Bush and the infamous Bush bureaucracy and taking advantage of American wealth and generosity to line their own pockets? Please say it isn't so! And if it is, does that mean that these New Orleans people, like the Bush bureaucracy, will now get fawned upon by the American media ad nauseam and be given the keys to the White House and Fort Knox?

"Some Katrina evacuees are using their money to buy things like jewelery, big screen televisions, etc.," wrote my friend from Dallas. "One woman used her debit card to fly to New York and purchase an $800 designer handbag! Another man purchased Texas Rangers equipment and went on a gigantic buying spree." Yeah. That sounds like they are copying George Bush. Bring it on!

Liberal that I am, it's easy for me to blame this sort of behavior on the fact that many New Orleans people, much like GWB, had rotten childhoods -- but what can we do about that now? You can't just give people back the decent childhoods they should have had in the first place so that they will shape up and act right as adults. Or can you?

Once an apple falls from a rotten tree, is that "all she wrote" for said apple? Do adults who were deprived of good examples when they were children ever snap out of it? Did poor sweet baby Georgie even have a chance at becoming an honorable and honest American? His father sold out to Big Business. His grandfather sold out to the freaking NAZIS. Probably not. But is there any hope of reforming young George now? Don't hold your breath on this one.

Like some of the victims of Katrina, GWB now has billions of dollars of OUR tax money -- and he is spending it even more wildly than my friend says that the Katrina victims are spending it. So. We should crack down on the one but not on the other? Have a double standard -- one that points the wagging finger of shame at the Katrina victims but lets that welfare queen in the White House slide?

"They are turning Dallas into a crime-ridden city," continued my friend. "They are turning the prices of everything upside down." You could say that about George Bush too.

"In school, these kids are way below grade level and they are starting fights in the schoolyard. And the gangs in South Dallas have even called a truce in order to stop the New Orleans gangs from taking over. They beat the hell out of them and for once the police are happy!" Not only does that sound exactly like the results of Bush's "No Child Left Behind" fiasco but our George has also succeeded in uniting the Republican and Democratic gangs against him too.

"Dallas bit off more than it can chew here," said my friend, "but thank God the police chief knows the score. He's had a couple of 'come to Jesus' talks with some of these folk." And a few "come to Jesus" talks with GWB -- preferably in a courtroom -- might work wonders too.

"And don't let me forget the sex offenders who are now running loose in Dallas. There are something like 350 that we know of." Okay. And Bush had Jeff Gannon, a well-known male prostitute, spend the night in the White House 20 different times according to Secret Service records. There's a definite correlation here.

"Now, FEMA wants these Katrina bad apples out of the hotels and the apartment folk want them out of the apartments. Many of them are just sitting around waiting for Texas to support them!" Hell, Texas supported George Bush for YEARS. "Texas can't afford it and Texas won't do it." I guess the people of Texas learned their lesson after being hit by Hurricane Dubya in 1994.

"In the meantime, many Katrina survivors are going to Dallas Health and Human Services to get welfare." George also likes welfare. For example, he's churning out welfare checks to the pharmaceutical companies hand over fist. And he's supporting the military-industrial corporate welfare queens too.

"I consider myself a stone liberal," my friend continued, "but some of these people from New Orleans are turning me into a conservative. I'm having nightmares about it. I called the City Manager and she's having nightmares too!!" I feel your pain. The amount of money those Bush bureaucrats have gouged us taxpayers for is stupendous. That's definitely giving ME nightmares. America has been descended upon by the Bushes like my friend says Dallas has been descended upon by the victims of Katrina.

"I tried to find jobs for several police officers from Orleans parish," my friend told me. "One was a sheriff and the others were police officers. I called my buddy in the police department here and he said, 'sure bring them all and we will hire them if they can show us their badges.' Well not one of them went!" That sounds like all those Bush supporters who LOVE the war on Iraq but refuse to sign up and serve.

It's HARD to be a liberal these days because a lot of low-lifes attempt to take advantage of our "Do unto others..." credo. But I keep on trying because I want to go to Heaven with a clean soul. I do it more for myself than I do it for them.

Bottom line: I will be a Liberal until the day I die -- but having said that, even I realize that it's time for both liberals and conservatives to join together and start separating the wheat from the chaff. It's time for all of us to cut the "evil-doers" out of the budget -- both in Dallas and in DC.

I think everyone will agree on that.

PS: There IS one difference between the Katrina evacuees in Dallas and George Bush. Many of the Katrina victims are spending like drunken sailors because they have never had any money before and don't know how to handle it whereas GWB has always had money. However, he too spends it like a drunken sailor -- especially now, ever since he got his hands on ours.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Attica & Munich: A tale of two SWAT teams

I was watching "Gray's Anatomy" on TV tonight and during the commercial break there was an ad for the new Steven Spielberg film based on the 1972 Munich Olympic hostage crisis wherein "eleven Israeli athletes were murdered" -- presumedly by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Because I usually try to defend the cause of Palestinian freedom, I decided that I had better read up on what happened in Munich because one never wants to go around defending cold-blooded murderers no matter who they are. How can one condemn George Bush for killing so many people in Fallugah but let similar Palestinian behavior slide? One cannot. Killing is bad, no matter who does it.

So I Googled the massacre in Munich and this is what I found out: German police opened fire on the kidnappers and the hostages. Up to nine of the eleven Israeli athletes were "murdered" -- not by the hostage-takers but by the "rescue" squad. The Hebrew daily "Yedioth Ahronoth" even went so far as to state that all eleven of the athletes were killed by German snipers.

Now why does that sound familiar? Hummm....

Isn't that what happened during the 1971 Attica prison hostage crisis too? Attica guards opened fire on the kidnappers and the hostages. The hostages in Attica were also "murdered" -- not by the hostage-takers but by the "rescue" squad. And the New York Times immediately reported that the throats of all the hostages had been slashed by the prisoners.

Before the 1972 hostage crisis, Palestinians in Palestine got a rotten deal. Violently pushed to extremes, they reacted violently. Before the 1971 hostage crisis, Attica prisoners in Attica got a rotten deal. Violently pushed to extremes, they reacted violently too. In both cases, violence was answered by violence. That's obvious. But what is important here in both cases -- and what we can hopefully can learn from -- is the abysmal failure of the policy of answering layers and layers of violence with yet even MORE violence.

In Attica, according to Tom Wicker, it was a "turkey shoot". Untrained and unsupervised guards opened fire on both the prisoners and the hostages.

The same thing happened in Munich.

In both cases, the crisis was immediately escalated by the people in charge of ending the crisis. In both cases, killing people was too quickly chosen as the only solution. Too quickly, things were allowed to go too far. So what have we learned here boys and girls? That the use of force as the only solution to a problem CAN CAUSE THE PROBLEM TO GET WORSE.

It has been in every newspaper recently that the Bush bureaucracy has been playing fast and loose with violence, humiliation, torture all over the world. They have been violently pushing far too many people to far too many extremes. And let us hope that this over-the-top use of force in every situation isn't going to come back to haunt us too.

In international relations as well as in situations like Attica and Munich, you gotta be careful where you point that gun.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Killing is blasphemy: Only God can take a human life

When I was young, adventurous and still willing to sleep in hostels and live on french bread, I went to Florence, Italy -- hitchhiked there from Paris with a very cute International Herald-Tribune newsboy named Trig -- and visited the Duomo, a magnificent Renaissance cathedral that would knock your eye out with its glory and lush decoration.

As I stood there in the center of the church, I was totally overwhelmed. The church's massive and intricate design created within me such a feeling of God's power and awe that I was absolutely dumbstruck. Then it occurred to me. "This effect of awe was created deliberately. The church's architects really put in an effort to make this place overwhelming and to make the power of God seem HUGE." Now why would they do that? Wouldn't they want to do the opposite and make God seem to want to be my savior, companion and friend?

"I bet you anything," replied the scholar/tourist next to me, "that they did it because they were trying to prove a point -- that if God was so all-powerful and yet could stoop so low as to notice the likes of the people who built this cathedral, then the people He noticed must be God-like too." Aha. This cathedral was an ego trip!

I immediately went outside and, like St. Francis of Assisi, began looking for God in the sun, the moon and the stars instead.

I am afraid that modern man is following in the footsteps of the egotists of the Renaissance. I bet they are thinking, "Only God can create a man, true, but if WE have the power to destroy God's ultimate creation, then we must be on a par with God too." No. That's blasphemous. Only God -- or Allah or Yahweh or the Great Spirit or the Tao or string theory or whatever one chooses to call the magnificent power that holds the universe together -- can destroy what only God can create.

Whether one kills by dropping bombs upon people one cannot see from 30,000 feet in the air or whether one kills in the heat of battle or whether one kills while committing a violent crime or when giving a fatal injection to a prisoner on death row, taking another human life is the ultimate blasphemy.

With regard to Stanley Tookie Williams III, who is scheduled to be snuffed by the State of California on December 13, 2005, the same thing holds true. Did he commit the cold-blooded murders that he was accused of? He says that he didn't. But as a lawyer I know once told me, "I gave up practicing criminal law because I got tired of having my clients lie to me." But it doesn't MATTER if Williams committed the crime or not. It doesn't even matter that he has redeemed himself in prison by doing good works. What matters is this: To kill this man is to commit the ultimate blasphemy against the Master of the Universe -- to pretend to be God also.

That's just WRONG.

And God don't like ugly.

PS: These are interesting times that we live in and Judgment Day is on its way -- finally! But it ain't the Armageddon that the fundamentalists thought it would be. Instead, there is gonna be some serious Final Reckoning in Washington DC. The ACLU is calling the CIA to account. Rep. Murtha is finally asking questions on the floor of Congress about the "War on Iraq" scandals. And Americans who have been silent as the tomb up until now are finally waking up from their deadly stupor and demanding the truth about WMD lies, corporate welfare scams, Bush bureaucracy Swiss bank accounts, in-your-face electronic voting fraud, FEMA inefficiency, missing Halliburton/Iraq billions, the demise of our education system and the fine art of feeding our brave troops to the shredder for fun and profit.

People are FINALLY starting to sit up and look around to see whose fingers are in the cookie jar.

And the best thing about this new Final Reckoning to put an end to government corruption is that Americans are staging this much-needed revolution in an orderly and democratic fashion. Whew. I'm a bit old to be taking to the streets.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How to end the war on Iraq: Tax land instead of income!

My friend Alanna just sent me an interesting idea. "America needs to stop paying INCOME tax," she said. "We need to shift our source of taxes to a land-value taxation base instead. This will generate federal income while at the same time promoting a more economical use of our land." Wow! What a great idea.

Let's say that we instigated this policy. What would happen? Major landowners in the United States would immediately start thinking twice about having to pay taxes on their property if they knew that THEIR tax money was being carelessly thrown into that bottomless pit that the Bush bureaucracy erroneously calls the war on Iraq. Plus, if America's fat cats suddenly were forced to start paying the tab for lining the pockets of "Friends of George Bush" instead of just letting us poor working schmucks foot the bill, all the cream and pork and fat in the defense budget would get immediately cut.

I can hear Donald Trump now. "You want me to give you a bunch of MY money so that the Pentagon can build yet another one of those useless billion-dollar Stealth bombers that don't even work? No way! You're fired."

Or what about Warren Buffet? "You want me to pay for that outdated missile system that the DoD keeps trying to foist off on us as something brand new yet after all these years still can't even hit the broad side of a barn? Me? I don't think so." Would Buffet put any stock in that dumb idea? Nope.

Even Fox-TV mogul Rupert Murdoch, the scalawag who talked America into the Iraq quagmire in the first place, ain't gonna put his money where his mouth is. "Why should I pay my hard-earned money to pour billions into the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton Swiss bank account? I got a wife to support! Forget it."

As for Bob Hope, the man who used to own the most real estate in California before he died, I'm sure that he would come all the way back from the grave at the thought of it. "Giving INCOME tax money to the Pentagon to spend on $800 toilet seat covers is okay with me. But to give LAND taxes to them? You MUST be joking."

Or what about all those large corporations who pay no income taxes in America but own tons of land here. Let THEM pay for the war on Iraq. "You can't do that! I only stash my income in the Cayman islands -- NOT my land." Can you imagine them trying to hide all their land holdings on some Caribbean island not even as large as Manhattan? No, they would start economizing on war toys instead.

Let's switch our tax base away from our puny little incomes. On our pitiful salaries, there's no WAY we could ever pay off the trillions of dollars worth of debts GWB's cronies are cranking up. Maybe Congressional salaries might put a dent in these debts but our salaries definitely will not.

If we pay taxes based on how much land we own instead of on how much money we make, then EVERYONE in America will have to pay taxes and shoulder the burden of the Bush bureaucracy's war mania and credit card addictions -- not just the middle class.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Someone please tell Cindy: Bush may be at Camp David for Thanksgiving

I have it on reliable sources (someone who lives in the area and who resents the planes that only fly overhead when Bush is there) that Bush is at Camp David, not Crawford, for Thanksgiving. And apparently, he's afraid to let people know where he is. Quick! Someone tell Cindy Sheehan!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I see a Turkey is still in the White House (or Camp David. Or Crawford). Nice to know that the so-called leader of the greatest power on earth is afraid to let people know where he is.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

After the fall: What will we do after Bush goes to jail?

What will happen to America after George Bush is in jail? And how can we keep our government from being hijacked again?

And what kind of nation do we want America to become? And how can we best use the resources and materials that we still have left to us after having had our treasury, economy and morality systematically looted over the past five years?

These are questions that Americans need to start asking -- and soon.

As a country, we are down but not out. Like the courageous victims of Hurricane Katrina, we still have hope that there will be a bright future ahead of us somehow.

Here are some hints on how America might start to recover from Hurricane George (besides, of course, throwing a fabulous Mardi Gras and inviting everyone in the world come to it):

In Victor Frankl's book, "Man's Search for Meaning," he stated, "No one has the right to do wrong." Not even Christian, Muslim or Jewish fundamentalists. He also said that his experiences in concentration camps taught him that human beings cannot live without hope -- and that we are as capable of performing acts of great goodness as we are of performing acts of great evil.

Frankl also stated that he could tell when camp inmates had given up on living because they stopped trying to survive and started living only for the pleasure of the moment. "When someone started smoking his cigarettes instead of trading them for food, we knew that within 48 hours that person would be dead."

Bob Dylan said, "Those of us who aren't busy living are busy dying." Buying stuff in the mall is NOT a reason for living. Helping others, being kind to children, stopping wars, building homes and schools and generally being a bleeding-heart liberal? These are reasons for living. Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds. Period.

John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."

The Dalai Lama said, "If you view the whole world as a body, destruction of your neighbors takes on a whole new reality." It's time to put an end to war. "Stability and unity cannot be created by force."

Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller said, "It's hard to see the future with tears in your eyes."

But we MUST see our future. And we must see it honestly and clearly. We can't afford to mess up any more or fall for any more con-men or lose our way again. And we must use the best minds of our generation to re-invent our future -- if America is to survive. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

PS: Happy Thanksgiving. Mine is gonna be a little weird this year. My son Joe is somewhere in the Chilean Andes filming a documentary. Daughter Lorraine is off doing things that involve TV commercials and won't be around. Daughter Ruby isn't speaking to me any more -- her exact last words to me were, "Glad to know that you are still a manipulating, backhanded b*tch" -- so I guess that eliminates spending Thanksgiving with the grandchild. (Hell, if families can't get along, how can we expect nations to get along? Which reminds me that I am no longer speaking to my sister Ann either -- after she refused to sign the papers that allowed me to bury my father until she had seen how much he had left her in his will. I swear! We had to fax her the will from the cemetery.)

Daughter Ashley and unofficial son Jordan have moved out and even the foster child is gone -- off to a fabulous new permanent home. And my friends all avoid me because I spend so much time on the computer trying to save the world. So this year it looks like it's gonna be just me and the turkey for Thanksgiving. But I LIKE spending time with myself. That's the ultimate test of one's success as a human being -- or even as a country. If you can stand to hang out with just yourself....

Do we Americans still feel that way about America? That we would want to spend time with ourselves? Probably not. Would YOU like to hang out with a known bully and torturer who steals lunch money from children? No.

But I digress. Back to Thanksgiving. Since life's winners are the ones who do the most good deeds, maybe I'll cook up a turkey (with my infamous brown rice/walnut/butter/sage/apple stuffing), go out and share my turkey with some homeless people and come out a winner after all.

PPS: Over the years, I have taken hundreds of photographs of my friends and family and I finally figured out what to do with them all. I'm stapling them all to the walls of my home. It looks really cool. Send me your photo and I'll staple THAT up too. And when people come over, they are fascinated by my impromptu gallery and spend a lot of time looking at it. Plus it's really colorful too. Housing as art.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Has GWB's spending spree cost YOU PERSONALLY more than your annual salary? Probably.

According to Congressional records, George W. Bush's out-of-control spending spree has cost YOU PERSONALLY at least $27,666 since he took over the White House in 2001 -- and probably much much more (my math skills aren't that good.) That's more than a lot of people (myself included) earn in a year! Imagine working for a whole year FOR FREE so that our George and his colleagues can keep their closets full of Armanis and their Lear jets running.

This is a chain letter. Pass it on.

And like all chain letters, there's always a dire threat attached at the end -- something like, "Send this to ten people or else." Well, the "or else" in this case is that if the Bush bureaucracy spending spree isn't stopped immediately, the amount of money that they will have cost you and me personally will go up and up and up and soon we will be working our entire lives for free.

How high could this debt go? Would we soon be owing a billion dollars each? "Jane, you are exaggerating." Not really. The national debt is now eight trillion dollars but some insiders say that it is closer to $44 trillion. Divide that by 300,000,000 Americans? That's something like $146,000,000 each already. And you KNOW that, while those Wild Boyz in the White House and Congress have our credit cards in their pockets, they are NOT going to stop spending and spending and spending.

We are dealing with LARGE numbers here. Sorry but I've run out of fingers and toes.

When it comes to spending our money, these guys make Paris Hilton look stingy. And this isn't even real money they are spending. It's credit card debt. And we all know how high the monthly interest on THAT is.

Ask yourself this. "Do I really want to go into debt for the rest of my life -- and have the collection agencies calling me and repo man at my door until the Grim Reaper comes for me -- in order to pay back a bunch of 'Friends of George Bush' Mastercard scams?" No!

Send this e-mail to ten friends today -- or else get ready to live in the poor house for the rest of your life.

PS: I wrote the following essay in 2003. Things are much, much worse now:

Having Bush instead of Gore in the White House has cost Americans approximately $39,233 each...so far:

Oh God, I hate math. But let's give it a try. Here's a thought-problem for you: Suppose Al Gore was in the White House now instead of George Bush? How much money would America have saved in the last three years? And how much money has Bush cost us so far?

Let's start with the Afghan war. How much did that cost? "$50 billion." The war on Iraq? "Hard to say. $100 billion?"

Jobs lost? "2.5 million jobs times approximately $30,000 per job equals what?" Gifts to friendly weapons manufacturers and oil execs? "Put down $10 billion although it's probably more."

The Israel/Palestine foreign policy debacle costing the lives of 700+ Jews and 3000+ Muslims? "$20 billion and counting."

If Al Gore had been in the White House in 2001, he would not have ignored the many pre-9-11 warnings. How much did 9-11 cost us? "No idea." Cost at the gas pump? "50 cents per gallon. 25 gallons per car. 100 million cars." I'm out of my league here.

Tax benefits to the rich? "$50 billion?"

I don't know what other costs Bush has accrued. Utilities deregulation pyramid schemes leading to the California disaster and the Great Blackout of 2003? FBI surveillance of our libraries? Anthrax vaccines? Pension plan gouging? Selling off our national parks? Vote tampering? Extra jails? What's all that add up to? I'm not Einstein. You do the math. $980,750,000,000? Close enough.

Now divide that by 250 million Americans. What did you get? I figure that not having Al Gore in the White House has cost every man, woman and child in America at least $39,233...so far.

That seemed like a lot of bucks to plug into a "what if" alternative universe situation so I ran my figures past noted economist Robert Zimmerman. Here's what he had to say: "Remember that there will be interest on current and projected deficits, over $1 trillion over the next 20 years. The costs of new terrorist attacks emanating from the new hatreds resulting from Bush's action -- incalculable. Continuing and future costs of the Bush military build-up -- trillions. Plus you have to add in reduced contributions to our economy from small business as a result of Bush's focus on giant corporations and also our reduced opportunities for legitimate foreign trade resulting from hatreds fueled by Bush military adventurism."

Your list, this list, and the entire list are absolutely mind-boggling.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paradise Found -- in Jerusalem: The Dome of the Rock's big secret

Almost everyone has heard of the holy sites of the ancient walled city of Jerusalem -- the Temple Mount, the Aqsa mosque, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Wailing Wall. And almost everyone has heard of the Dome of the Rock, located just within the walls of the Old City. But let's see a show of hands here. How many of us are aware of the Dome of the Rock's incredibly well-kept secret?

Sure, the Dome of the Rock is an architectural, historical and archaeological wonder -- a beautiful golden dome visible from all over Jerusalem and surrounded by living history -- shrines, palaces and fortifications constructed by ancient Romans, Saracens and Crusaders.

Sure, the Dome of the Rock is controversial. Since the beginning of history, its location has been fought over. In 1004 BC, David conquered it for the Israelites. In 586 BC, Nebakanezer conquered it for Babylon. In 63 BC, Pompey conquered it for Rome. For millennia, this tiny patch of land has witnessed far too many bloody "religious" wars fought over it -- including, of course, the Crusades. And because the Dome of the Rock is built on the place where Solomon's temple was supposed to have stood, Zionists are always dreaming of tearing it down.

Sure, the Dome of the Rock is a popular pilgrimage and tourist destination. Devout Muslims and middle-aged Americans with digital cameras come from all over the world to admire it.

But all this history and beauty and struggle is mere window-dressing and means nothing compared with the Dome's one true defining secret. The Dome of the Rock holds within itself a powerful secret that promises bright hope for the future of the world. Inside the Dome of the Rock resides the very key to world peace.

Inside the Dome itself is an atmosphere of such peacefulness, harmony, cooperation and joy that it brings tears to one's eyes just to be there. One thinks that one has been magically transported back to the Garden of Eden -- back to the days before there were brutal ritualized state murders, euphemistically called "wars".

Inside the Dome of the Rock, the endless battles for world domination, the billions and billions of dollars senselessly squandered on weapons, the laws passed by Congress that "legalize" torture, the rape of the earth, the lies of dictators, the endless genocides, the use of the riches of the world to manufacture radioactive material with a million-year half-life, the stockpiling of money for its own sake...

Pause. Sigh.

...the sexual predation, the use of religion to justify sadism, the death marches, the World Wars, the Shock and Awe, the collateral damage, the sad exploitation of working people in slave-like factory plantations, the gutting of funds for healthcare and education, the outsourcing of American jobs, the use of rape to control women, the holocausts, the governments who prey on their people -- all seem like a nightmare that we once had in our sleep but are now waking up from.

The Dome of the Rock's secret? No men are allowed inside it. Inside the Dome of the Rock is all women.

Perhaps it's time to let the rest of the world follow the Dome's example and give control of the world to us women. Obviously, men have fouled up bigtime. They just can't seem to get it through their thick heads that killing and looting as a life-style choice is simply not good for us -- not if we want to have a future of any kind. You had your chance -- 60,000 years of golden opportunites, all wasted. Step aside, men. Your "Might makes Right" approach to life has failed. It's time to give us women a chance. We can't do any worse than you've done and we probably will do a lot better!

PS: How many times have we opened a newspaper and read stories about men being forcefully held down against their will and brutally raped? And how many times have we heard that this terrible nightmare has happened to women? What is the ratio? Maybe one man for every thousand women? For every million women? For every billion women? Think about it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The reluctant tourist: Is going to Iraq the only way I can find out what's happening there?

I want to rent an RV and tour Iraq. That appears to be the only way I'll ever find out what is really going on over there.

How do we know what really goes on in Washington DC? Do American tourists have to be the world's eyes and ears?

And what about Paris? What the freak is going on there? And what's happening to Brazil's rain forests and was there really a terrorist attack planned for Australia or was that only made up?

Let's send little old ladies from Des Moines Iowa out into the Niger Delta and Yucca Mountain and Lhasa, Tibet. Is it true that the capital of Tibet has been completely taken over by Chinese settlers? And what's happening here at home in the ghettos of New Orleans, Detroit and Chicago? And why do we still have ghettos? And why is 12% of America now below the poverty level? And why are there homeless people on every corner of my hometown?

Who is honest and who is not?

And what, if any, is the good news?

What ideas work and what ideas do not?

Let's send our tourist spies to report back on Finland's full-disclosure, honesty-in-government open-access laws. Let's check on Cuba's fabulous healthcare and education where practically everyone on the island has a university degree. Let's check on solar power in Mexico and Arizona.

And let's resume our White House tours.

"Everyone should spend a few days in jail, just to see what it's like," said a friend who works at the local hoosegow.

Israelis and Palestinians should have mandatory lunch dates together once a month. Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Hebraic scholars should be forced read each others' holy books and compare notes.

How does one get to Iraq? I want to go. I want to see if they are still pumping oil there. I want to see who gets the money from it. As my friend Les said, "They'll never leave Iraq. It's still about the oil."

I want to tour Wall Street. Is the world economy collapsing? The nightly news tells me nothing useful to ME. I want to know. What the freak is going on in my world?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Who's your Daddy: Does Israel pay for Palestine's kindergartens or not?

"The Palestinians can't be too angry with Israel," I told my friend George recently. "After all, the Israelis are paying for Palestine's sewer lines and kindergartens."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" answered George. "Italy helped pay for Bethlehem's sewer line and I think it was Sweden who helped Palestine fund its kindergartens."

What? Huh? That doesn't make sense. How can Israel claim that Palestine isn't a sovereign state when Israel isn't even footing the bills for Palestine's kindergartens? International politics is a mystery to me. That would be like some woman claiming that she is only partly pregnant.

Either you are pregnant or not. Either Palestine is part of Israel and therefore Israel helps pay for Palestine's kindergartens from out of the federal tax base just like in any other normal country -- or else Palestine is a sovereign state and pays for its own kindergartens.

And if Palestine does pee in the cup and the indicator doesn't turn blue and Palestine ISN'T pregnant, er, I mean, IS a sovereign state, then all those settlers, settlement blocks, bypass roads and checkpoints have no business being in Palestine.

And if Palestine IS pregnant, er, I mean, NOT a sovereign state, then Israel had better start coughing up some child support!

PS: What about sewage? Thanks to the taxpayers of Israel (and America), the West Bank settlers' sewage systems are excellent -- except for when it is harvest time on Palestinian farms which are located below the settlements. Then these state-of-the-art sewer systems suddenly begin to have unexplained "breakdowns" that flood the Palestinian village fields with large rivers of settler poop. Yuck!

PS(2): In the nineteenth century, there was a law in Palestine that stated, "If you snooze you lose." Basically, this law asserted that if anyone abandoned their land for over three years, it automatically reverted to the government. And since 1948, Israelis have used this law to claim tons of land for Israel in areas that used to be Palestinian villages -- approximately 418 of them -- that Palestinians have been forced to abandon since 1947.

Does this mean that when the Romans forced the Jews to abandon their lands in 70 AD, Jews became eligible for the "If you snooze you lose" law too -- and lost their claims to getting this land back because it's been over three years since the Romans kicked them out? Or, as usual, are laws being juggled and fudged here yet again in accordance with an even older law -- "Regardless of the merits of the case, whoever has the most guns and money wins."

PS(3): Israel was very cleaver to divest itself of financial responsibility for Palestine back in the 1990s. Now the international communities pay over one billion dollars for Palestinian roads, sewers, school and hospitals. That's money in the bank for Israel. And speaking of subsidies, American taxpayers give every single Israeli in Israel $1,000 each. I wish American taxpayers would give ME $1,000.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Palestine goes to the Olympics: Winning the checkpoint-crossing event

Palestine goes to the Olympics: Winning the checkpoint-crossing event
By Jane Stillwater http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/

"Palestine needs a soccer team so they can go to the Olympics and win recognition as a sovereign state," I told my friend Cathy.

For the last 40 years, Palestinians have tried everything they could possibly think of to stop the Israelis from appropriating their lands. Using legitimate avenues of petition hasn't worked. Appealing to the UN hasn't worked. Asking America to be an impartial referee hasn't worked. Taking their case to Israeli courts hasn't worked. Armed resistance hasn't worked. Non-violent marches, strikes and boycotts haven't worked. Begging the international community for help hasn't worked. Nothing has worked. The Israeli walls, bulldozers, home demolitions and "settlers" just kept on coming and coming. In desperation, some angry youth have even turned to suicide bombing but that didn't work either.

Maybe having an Olympic soccer team would be the way to go -- to make the world more aware of the sad plight of the Palestinians as their land is being invaded and taken over by 450,000 "settlers" illegally squatting in MASSIVE housing blocs that dominate the Palestinian landscape like gigantic malevolent alien androids, stretching as far as the eye can see on the ridges of almost every hill in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

"No," said a friend of mine from Ramallah. "Forget about soccer. The Olympic Committee needs to introduce a whole new sport to the Games -- checkpoint crossing! According to http://www.icahd.org/, there are approximately 750 obstacles to Palestinian movement on any given day. Palestine would surely take the Gold Metal on that one!"

Have you seen the Qalandia checkpoint crossing just outside of Ramallah? My friend described it to me. "Imagine an area approximately four football fields square. The temperature is sizzling and the air is filled with exhaust fumes and dust. There are approximately 200 taxis waiting to get through. All of their passengers have to get out and walk into narrow holding pens where they are thoroughly searched before being allowed to cross to the other side of the checkpoint. The whole area is filled with the noise of construction -- with quarries, earth-movers and dump trucks everywhere. And of course there is the ever-present Wall.

"Poor sweet Israeli soldiers stand out in the hot sun for hours in full riot gear, their Kalashnikovs at the ready as they check passports and papers. Hundreds -- if not thousands -- of people are constantly waiting. People are resigned to spending their whole day at this Disneyland of all checkpoints. Even the babies have stopped trying to cry. It is an unbelievable waste of time and money.

"This is already a billion-dollar checkpoint -- and all the while the Israelis are building, building, building to make it larger still."

"Do you think," I asked my friend, "that getting through the checkpoint at Ramallah should be an Olympic event?"

"Most definitely. It is a sport of skill, patience and luck. But mainly it is a sport of endurance. Yes, it deserves to become an Olympic event."

Why even try to get out of Ramallah and into Jerusalem or one of the illegal settlement blocs? You got a no-brainer question there. Those places are where the jobs are at. With the construction of enough new settler blocs to hold almost the entire population of Los Angeles, getting to the blocs is on every Palestinian's must-do list if they want to work and feed their families.

PS: What about the Wall? Imagine the wall surrounding San Quentin Prison -- only 450 miles longer and two billion dollars more expensive. But this Wall is NOT about security. If it was about security, it would be a simple direct line along the 1967 demarcations. Instead it goes out its way to snag land and resources away from Palestine and to fragment, isolate and disenfranchise Palestinians -- forcing people who have been farmers for thousands of years to move into Warsaw-like urban ghettos where they have no housing and no jobs.

PPS: My friend Mary Ann said, "Palestinians need to put in their OWN checkpoints." That's a wonderful suggestion -- to make the Israelis go through checkpoints too so they too can be ready for the 2008 checkpoint Olympics!

The Olympic committee could also establish a special "home demolishing" event just for Israelis. So far, 12,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished and 40,000 more have demolition orders already issued on them. The Israelis would do really well on this one.

My only concern is that when it comes to Olympic events such as checkpoint crossing and home demolition, the Israelis may no longer be qualified because they are no longer amateurs.

PPPS: But what about the tragedy of the 1972 Munich Olympic games when two Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinians seeking the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and nine more athletes appeared to have been killed by the German SWAT team sharpshooters trying to rescue the athletes? No, this is NOT the kind of Olympic event I had in mind. ANY killing of innocent civilians is an abomination -- be it in the Munich Olympic village or during the destruction of 450 Palestinian villages in 1947-48.

"Why can't we all just get along?"

Friday, October 28, 2005

How to survive 11 years of solitary confinement: Tips from Mordecai Vanunu

"How did you survive seven years of solitary confinement," I asked Mordecai Vanunu this afternoon. Vanunu is an Israeli nuclear whistle-blower who spent 18 years in jail. Considering the way that the Bush bureaucracy is hacking and hewing away at the U.S. Constitution, this is JUST the sort of thing that we Americans need to know about.

"It wasn't seven years," answered Vanunu. " It was 11 years." (I was writing down what he was saying as fast as I could and I hope I wrote down his words correctly. If I didn't, blame it on my leaky pen.) "They kept me in a cell with the lights on for two years. They tried to break me. They took my freedom in the body but they couldn't take the freedom away in my mind. I read aloud from the Bible so that I could hear the sound of a human voice. I structured my day." Gotta remember that one. I would probably just lie around in my cell bunk for at least the first five years. That, and go through internet withdrawal symptoms.

"They allowed me to read books." Whew. I'd go crazy without the latest Janet Evanovich novel. "I read about history, philosophy and health. I tried to stay healthy. If you are weak, you are more dependent on your captors. I thought that after five years in solitary that I was starting to die so I watched what I ate. They were hoping I would die or go mad before I got out but I didn't. I also sang opera." We'd all better start memorizing LaBoheme just in case.

I asked Vanunu if he still kept up on nuclear weapons issues. He has a court date in January and there is a possibility that Israeli judges may send him back to jail, claiming that they needed to protect Israel's nuclear security. "As for nuclear weapons," he said, "I know nothing more than what I learned in 1985 and that knowledge is all obsolete. And if you are looking to find nuclear weapons in Iran, you won't find them. You would be better off to look for them here." In Israel.

One of the conditions of Vanunu's being released from jail is that he would have no truck with foreign journalists. No worry about ME being a foreign journalist -- although I do get an occasional letter to the editor published in my hometown rag, the Berkeley Daily Planet. Does that count?

"I am not allowed to leave Israel but I tried to go to Bethlehem last Christmas," continued Vanunu, "and they arrested me. The charge was that I tried to run away from the state by going to Bethlehem -- as if it was another state." Israelis are always claiming that it isn't. Palestine is a big issue with Israel. It is with Vanunu also. He lives in the Arab part of Jerusalem now. "The Palestinians here watch out for me and protect me," he said -- probably because they too know what it is like to lose their freedom.

Why is Vanunu speaking out even after being threatened not to? Because he is a man of great courage. "They monitor my cell phone and e-mail. They know my every move. They want to keep me paranoid but that is no way to live. And publicity is helping me. That is one reason I'm talking -- to keep my face before the public." I guess he doesn't want to fade way in some unknown cell again. "I am telling you my story in order to come back from my exile from freedom of speech. I want to have freedom of speech." It means a lot to him. Duh.

This may sound old-fashioned and corny but we too need to protect our freedom of speech. Freedom of speech was worth 11 years of solitary confinement to this heroic man. And yet here in America we are throwing it away like the Bill of Rights was some candy bar wrapper.

Hopefully, Americans will follow this man's courageous example and start to stand tall like Mordecai Vanunu. And hopefully it will happen soon -- while we still have some shreds of the Bill of Rights left to stand by. I don't know if I could survive 11 years of solitary confinement in order to defend my right to freedom of speech. But who knows? Could you?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Foreclosing on Gaza: Why Ariel Sharon can't afford the mortgage on his three homes

Why did Ariel Sharon pull out of Gaza? Despite what anyone says, the truth is that he had to leave because he defaulted on the mortgage.

Let's stop looking at Sharon as a head of state and start picturing him as a victim of the immutable laws of property ownership. He's like a man who could afford to own a home in Beverly Hills but then got greedy and started to live beyond his means -- buying a second home in Aspen and then another one up at Lake Tahoe. Then he was forced to give one up 'cause he couldn't afford it. Seen in this light, the situation "on the ground" in Israel/Palestine becomes crystal clear. Ariel simply over-extended his line of credit.

After his family complained about having to give up their lovely second home in Gaza, Sharon explained it to them this way: "Sorry guys but I just couldn't keep up the payments on our pre-1967 home in Israel, the West Bank digs and the Gaza house too. The maintenance on the Hummers and the F-16s alone was killing me -- not to mention all those free-loading settlers plus feeding and clothing the IDF. It all added up. I had to dump the Gaza place in order to keep the West Bank property afloat."

Facts on the ground? After almost 40 years, is the War on Palestine finally making a dent in the limitless Israeli pocketbook? Is this the first hint that Sharon is being forced to -- gasp -- economize?

America can no longer afford to bail out their prodigal son. America can't even afford its second home in Baghdad. What's with this "Gotta have a condo in the Middle East" fad anyway? Can't these people just be happy with a home in one place like the rest of us?

"To keep my three houses running," lamented Sharon, "I had to pay all those settlers. Hey. Settlers don't come cheap. Then there's all that military equipment and manpower. Then there's the cost of importing a couple million tons of cement to build a Wall with. The cost of upkeep was outlandish! And with all those Palestinians going through all those checkpoints 24/7 -- I bet they have people who do nothing all day long but go back and forth through those checkpoints just to cost me money so I'll have to pay the freaking IDF overtime -- I just couldn't afford the Gaza upkeep."

At the rate that Sharon is defaulting on his mortgage, I bet he won't be able to maintain his West Bank money pit for long either. And if he doesn't stop over-extending himself financially, his mortgage company might repossess his pre-1967 home as well.

Ariel Sharon has gambled that he can afford to keep three households running but his creditors are finally starting to wonder if he is a good financial risk after all.

PS: I just got an e-mail from a friend of mine in Israel. "Jerusalem is wonderful -- all the good points of San Francisco, Washington DC and Los Angeles and none of the bad points. What's not to like! It's paradise. But the people here are like the people of, say, Kansas. They don't realize what a good thing they have and are ready to risk losing it all by electing fifth-rate leaders who are endangering them by starting stupid and unnecessary wars that cost too much and put the federal budget at risk." I believe it. Just like the U.S. has elected that idiot George Bush, who is happily squandering all our credit on that money pit in Iraq.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Write THIS on your Absentee Ballot: "Better, safer & more accurate than Diebold!"

For the California residents who are voting absentee this November because we think that the Diebold machines are rigged, here's some good advice: Since we gotta mail in our "Official Absent Voter Ballot" anyway, we might as well let our county Registrar of Voters know why we are doing it.

Please consider writing "Better, safer and more accurate than Diebold" directly after the big red-letter words on the front of your ballot envelope. Note: Avoid writing on the ballot itself because extraneous marking could make it invalid.

Hopefully, the Registrar of Voters will take the hint.

PS: If you also object to having an expensive "Special Election" forced down your throat, I would recommend voting "No" on every proposition except 79 and 80.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Great Depression: What will we do when we no longer have Bush to kick around?

When the kids are acting out and my bank account registers zero and the house is a mess, I can always make myself feel better by saying nasty things about George Bush. But my friend Wendy just e-mailed me the results of a recent AOL poll. "It says that 92% of America thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction and 84% think Bush is doing a poor job." 84%! That man is history! That man is toast. Soon he will be wearing an orange jump suit. Good.

But what will I have to complain about after Bush is off under lock and key and rooming with Gabrielle's husband Carlos? Ohhh there'll be plenty left! Trust me on that one. Bush has made such a hash of the planet that I will be up to my eyeballs in "e-mail therapy" for the next ten years -- but by that time there won't be any more electricity so it won't really matter will it? But I can always go back to yelling at the kids. You don't need electricity for that.

Then my friend Robert e-mailed me that most Americans are in debt way over their heads and that the government is 44 trillion dollars in debt too. And if China ever calls home its markers, our economy is doomed, doomed, doomed. Then I won't have to worry about MY depression. I'll have The Great World Depression Part 2 to worry about.

Then my friend MA e-mailed me an article about how the permafrost in Siberia is melting and releasing methane into the air, causing massive greenhouse effects. "The prospects of a worst case scenario, with a temperature increase approaching or exceeding 5.8 degrees Celsius, are increasing dramatically, with all the attending disasters that would entail -- inundated coastlines, extreme storms and drought, disease pandemics, collapsing agriculture, massive environmental refugee flows."

Then my friend Gary reminded me of the dangers from bird flu and how we are totally unprepared for that -- although there is a lot of anthrax vaccine lying around. But it's the BIRDS we are worried about, FEMA. Not the sheep.

Jeeze Louise. You can see by this only-partial list that five years of absolutely terrible governance by the current [illegal] tenants of the White House have left me -- and all the rest of America too -- with enough disasters to bitch and moan about FOREVER. I won't be dependent on George Bush after all! Whew.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Simpsons: Who will Homer & Marge vote for in 2006?

"Marge, Ned Flanders just told me that we need to vote in the next election," said Homer. Doh!

"Well, Homer, maybe you should consider doing it."

"But Marge, I don't know who to vote for. Lisa! Who should I vote for?"

"I recommend voting for people who are strong on the environment so we will still have fresh air and no more Category-5 hurricanes when I grow up. And vote for people who support labor unions and healthcare and education and debt reduction and world peace," replied Lisa. "That would be voting for your own best interests."

"Don't bother me with all that fancy talk. I'm voting for that guy they show on television." You mean Krusty the Clown? Or Sideshow Bob?

Mr. Burns put in his two cents worth. "Vote for the man in the suit with the most money, Simpson," he said. "Smithers! Get me that list of Congressmen who allowed me to store my radioactive waste in the Springfield municipal swimming pool!"

"Were they Republicans or Democrats, Sir?" asked Smithers.

"It doesn't matter, Smithers. We own them all."

Who will Homer Simpson vote for in 2006? Will he vote in his own best interests or will he vote for Mr. Burns' clones? Or will he vote at all? Or, with Diebold counting the votes, will his vote even get registered?

"Dad," said Lisa, "you gotta stop thinking that voting at the polls is the only way to vote. There are other ways to vote as well. Start voting with your money. Only buy things from local businesses. Demand the passage of election finance reform bills. Send five dollars to every candidate who supports the working class so that the grass roots can buy back the White House and Congress."

"Doh! Can't I just have my Congressperson over to Moe's for a beer? That would be supporting local businesses."

Meanwhile, as Homer continues to struggle mightily in the unfamiliar swamp of election ethics, as usual Bart Simpson has the last word. "Tell those dudes in Washington to eat my shorts."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why is ANTARCTICA is the only continent whose residents are not furious with the Bush bureaucracy?

Since the New Orleans tragedy, there has been a new phenomenon taking place in my inbox. The number of e-mails that I have been receiving lately -- regarding how corrupt, inept, inefficient and/or greedy the administration in Washington is -- has increased by at least 500%. Only these e-mails are all referring to the CLINTON administration.

Like a little kid who cannot bear to face up to the possibility that his abusive father is to blame for making his life miserable, many Americans are also unable to face the fact that the Bush bureaucracy is a total disaster and so they are vehemently blaming someone else for this abuse -- someone who has not been in a position of power for almost five years.

Too bad that the rest of the world isn't blaming Clinton too.

All of Latin America is really really really really angry at us for sending U.S. warships to hover threateningly off the coast of Venezuela.

Two billion Muslims -- along with the majority of the population of Russia, China, Asia and Europe -- think that the Bush bureaucracy is composed of dangerous miscreants intent on blowing up the world and bringing on Armageddon for fun and profit.

In North America -- from Canada to the USA to Mexico to Guatemala -- George Bush's opinion poll ratings are sinking daily. And last month over 300,000 really really really really angry U.S. citizens completely surrounded the White House in order to express their very low opinion of him. That's scary.

There are far too many people in the United States who actually believe -- based on strong evidence -- that 9-11 was an inside job and that things were deliberately allowed to go too far in New Orleans in order to give the Bush bureaucracy an excuse to use occupation troops on American soil. After observing the Bush bureaucracy's track record since the Florida 2000 election theft, Americans are beginning to suspect that the ultimate goal of the Bush League is to re-create the Baghdad model of governance here in America -- with luxuries, bottomless bank accounts, bullet-proof bunkers and five-star hotels inside their "Green Zones" and martial law, misery, poverty, fear and exploitation for the rest of us bothersome "insurgents".

When the Bushies took charge of New Orleans and Baghdad, they followed the same pattern, clearly demonstrating what their concept of good government is -- to set up a catastrophic situation and then get down and dirty: Withdraw humanitarian aid to the point where looting is inevitable, get out the tanks, get everyone under martial law, have their media dehumanize the victims and then -- most important of all -- start sending billions of dollars off to their cronies as soon as humanly possible. And I am beginning to suspect that the initial testing ground for this concept may have been New York City.

No wonder Americans are angry!

Then there's Africa. What was Bush THINKING when he promised a whole bunch of countries there a whole bunch of money to help fight their AIDS epidemic and then delivered absolutely nothing -- except of course to send help to the baby-killing Janjaweed in the oil-rich Sudan area. Did that make him popular in Africa? Not.

Even the average Australian thinks that America is in the hands of crazy bullies with no sense of moral self-control.

19 out of every 20 human beings on this planet actually believe that the Bush bureaucrats are murderous extortionists.

Only the residents of the continent of Antarctica are not TOTALLY PISSED OFF at the greed and ineptitude of the Bush bureaucracy.

Is the Bush League's American fan club at all worried that this intense world-wide hostility -- unprecedented in history except by the antagonism shown to Nazi Germany in the 1940s -- is going to bring down our economy and place America in grave danger? Not at all. Bush fans just blame all this horrible mess on Bill Clinton.

And I have the e-mails to prove it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Flight plan: Discovering that Social Security isn't the parachute I thought it was

"I've retired!" I beamed. "Now I will have lots of time to do all the things I always wanted to do!" Boy, was I wrong.

"When I retired," said my friend John, "We bought an RV and followed the trail of Lewis and Clark -- all the way from Washington DC to the Pacific. It was the dream trip of a lifetime. Then we bought a boat and sailed around the Caribbean." Drool. I wanted to do that sort of stuff too.

Then reality struck. "Your Social Security allotment will be $249 a month," the nice lady at the end of the Social Security 800-number phone line informed me. Hey, that's okay. I still got my pension.

"Your pension plan does not go into effect for three more years," the nice lady at the end of the pension plan 800-number phone line informed me. "And if you take it out early you will lose two-thirds of it." Hey, that was okay. After a week of being retired I was getting totally bored anyway. Sitting around the house all day doing nothing after being an active professional for so long sucked eggs.

I got a temp job in my field. It paid well. My hot-spit job was in a luxury suite on the 45th floor of some building in the San Francisco financial district. They made me wear nylons and heels. They paid me well. I couldn't travel but I could pay the rent, go to the movies, keep Ashley, Jordan, Nathan and our new foster child clothed and fed. And I LOVED my new job. "It's all good," I said.

Then the temp job came to an end. Great. I could hardly wait to see where they would send me next! I called the temp agency's 800-number. "I'm here. I'm back. What else do you have for me?"

"Nothing." Nothing? "We have nothing." Oh.

Hey, no problem. I waited a couple of days before calling them back. "Got any legal assistant jobs lined up for me yet?" Nothing.

I waited a few more days. "Do you have ANY kind of job," I asked, swallowing my pride. "Anything?"

"We have nothing."

By this time a house full of teenagers -- who naturally assumed that, since I wasn't working, I would have more time to cook, do dishes and drive them places -- was starting to drive me nuts! I checked Craig's List. I sent out resumes. I got a couple of interviews. I waited to hear back. Nothing.

Now I started to panic. "With Social Security and any kind of job we'll be just fine," I told the kids. "Just fine." The bakery down the street had an opening for a dishwasher. I applied. Nothing. Now I was seriously worried. Seriously worried. My mood changed. I paced. The kids gave me hugs and told me not to worry, something would show up. Nathan even promised to hook me up with his buddies at the flea market and Jordan told me that he would search for an after-school job -- but even the thought of him toiling away on behalf of our family made me want to cry.

The foster child even offered to give up her cell phone and my daughter offered to buy us all pizza with her after-school job money too (she was realistic enough not to offer to give up her cell phone however.)

So. I'm still looking for work. And I have NO idea how to find a job. I have never had to go look for one before. Today I humbled myself and bravely went off to every shop in the neighborhood. Nothing. What will I do? What will become of me?

Will we all be eating canned cat food soon?

Well, at least I know that I'm not alone. I Googled "Unemployment" and found out that, in my county alone, there are 40,100 other people who are out of a job as well.

"I went out and applied for a job today," said Jordan, all proud of himself.

"We have seen steady job gains for each of the last 26 months and more Americans are working than ever before," said George Bush. But what does he care if this is the actual truth or just supposed to sound good or whether or not people are actually employed or have just fallen into the ranks of the -- shudder -- permanently unemployed? The ones who are no longer counted in the Department of Labor surveys....

Why should Bush worry about whether or not us Americans are actually employed or only representing doctored statistics that make him look good on paper -- as long as his own job is safe. HIS job comes with fabulous heath care, a pension plan like you wouldn't believe, a multi-billion-dollar stock option from Halliburton and a 12-month paid vacation -- no nightmares of having to live off of canned cat food for him!

I am certain that Mr. Bush will totally agree with what they say at my local bakery. "Let them eat cake!"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"How does it feel?" Bob Dylan was right -- we are on our own

After the failure of FEMA, the gift of billions of tax dollars to Halliburton and other Bush cronies, the criminal indictment of the Republican Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the latest grim photos of torture in Iraq by so-called American troops and the appointment of the Bush bureaucracy's very own voice-over guy John Roberts to the Supreme Court, something has been made perfectly clear to those of us Americans who still live, work, love, raise kids and try to be good citizens of our country -- to those of us who don't lie, steal, embezzle or break the law. To those of us who eschew hypocracy and believe in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, the message has gone out loud and clear:


No one wants our contribution to the American Dream. No one in Washington DC gives a damn about us. They just wish we would simply hand over our money, forget our ideals and go away -- and it doesn't matter where. Just as long as our corpses don't stink up the place.

What if those of us who still believe in the U.S. Constitution just melted into the fog and finally gave up trying to stop the wholesale pillaging of our government? Would anybody miss us? Hardly.

"Nobody wants you," mainstream America constantly tells us. "You are wrong, stupid and scum. You have nothing to contribute, you have nothing to add. Go away."

Didn't they tell that to the Jews in Nazi Germany too?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Gangs of DC: The Bush bureaucracy has invaded America's turf & what can we do?

While commuting to my law office temp job in San Francisco the other day, I met a gang member on the BART train. I could tell he was a gang member. He had gang tattoos and gang insignia and a gang Survivor buff. So I started asking him about gangs and turfs and stuff.

"In Oakland," he told me, "in the Twenties" -- that's Twentieth Avenue through Twenty-Ninth Avenue -- "you got the Murder Dubs. In West Berkeley, you got the Nortes and the H2o. Then in North Oakland there's the KOB" -- Knock Out Boys -- "and the GEB" -- the Get 'Em Boys. "Then there's ESO" -- East Side Oakland.

Originally, according to my new gangsta hook-up, gangs were formed to protect the neighborhoods from -- gasp -- the police. "Like in New York when the Italians came over, the police would try to extort money out of them and the Mafia would execute the corrupt cops that preyed on their territory." I didn't know that.

"Then the Mafia got greedy and became corrupt too. But our gang isn't like that. Our gang protects our neighborhood. If some punk comes on our block and tries to rob someone, we take them out." Figuratively? Literally? "You gotta fight violence with violence. There is no other way." Hummm....

"But what about the Bush gang?" I asked him. "The Bush bureaucracy has moved in on America's turf and, like the corrupt police in the old days, are using their positions of power and authority to put the squeeze on us little guys. Is using violence the only way that we can stop them?"

"Yeah. You got to shoot them. You got to take them out." No! The Bush gang is armed to the teeth. They are bullies. They use strong-arm techniques to get their way. I don't want to do that too. I DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THEM!

"There is no other way," said the gang dude. The conversation ended at that point because he got off at his stop but I thought and thought about what he had said. Was there no other way except violence to keep the corruption of the Bush bureaucracy in check? Didn't those dudes in the Washington-Jefferson Gang, the original turf protectors of 1776, give us the U.S Constitution so that We the People could control our own turf nonviolently? Do we have to become as violent and evil as the Mafia in order to keep ourselves safe from being preyed upon?

Then I read an article by an Israeli journalist named Uri Avnery. "On the classical battlefield," he wrote, "the main force was located in the middle, with the flanks secured by lighter forces. The enemy's aim was to break the center, often by turning the flanks. But even if the flanks collapsed, as long as the center held, the battle was not lost." That gave me hope. Because, in America, the Bush bureaucracy's center -- the average American Joe like me and you -- is no longer holding. The Bush bureaucracy can no longer count on rank and file Americans to fight their battles for them because the Bush bureaucracy IS NO LONGER PROTECTING OUR TURF. And, for this reason, the American center is no longer holding.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans circled the White House on September 24, 2005 in order to express their disgust with Bush bureauocracy ineptitude -- an up-to-now un-heard-of situation. Can you imagine that many Americans wanting to circle the White House in protest when, say, Washington or Jefferson was President?

And millions of other Americans are angry too! As my friend Jon told me, "If Katrina had hit Texas instead of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the head of FEMA would have been drag-hanged up I-45 behind a pickup truck if he had dared to acknowledge that he had been unaware of thousands of citizens holed up in a convention center for three days." This isn't very nonviolent-sounding but you can see that the anger is definitely there.

Nope, the Bush bureaucracy's center is definitely NOT holding.

The gangs of Washington DC have become too corrupt and greedy and have gone too far -- and there is a very good possibility that, like the Washington-Jefferson gang did in 1776, we Americans WILL take back our own turf.

Newsflash: Texas just indicted the Bush mob's top bagman, Tom DeLay. That's a great place to start. "Real soon, the WHB" -- the White House Boys -- "are gonna be changing their name to the BHB" -- The Big House Boys!

PS: I just heard from my friend David -- aka New Orleans' famous Flaming Liberal! He escaped the hurricane and the flood okay but is still in grave danger of being strangled by FEMA red tape. Some church group, however, has fixed him up with an apartment in Atlanta, Georgia and the company that makes audio software for the blind is gonna give him a free program so he will be back on line as soon as he gets to Atlanta and gets a computer. Whew! "But I have lost everything I own," he told me on the phone today, "and my apartment is still under four feet of water."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

At the Glock Mall: Shopping for guns with Jordan's brother Nathan

At age 11, Jordan's brother Nathan finally stood up to their abusive father. As a result, Nathan spent the next five years of his young life at various "behavior modification programs" and "brat camps" throughout northern California and Utah. So. What is Nathan like now that he is back?

Here is a kid who has had a goodly chunk of his childhood stolen away from him. What do you think he might be like after experiencing something like that? What would YOU be like if something like that had happened to you? Watchful? Untrusting? Paranoid? All of the above? If you guessed "all of the above" you would be right.

Nathan is always thinking that there is someone out there who is about to jump him. And he is always looking for ways to protect himself.

Me too.

"Look," said Nathan. "If some robber comes in your window, you gotta be prepared. You gotta have a gun. You gotta be able to protect yourself and your family." Nathan, I'm not afraid of robbers. But after I read that the Bush bureaucracy had deployed heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries to New Orleans -- "Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences" -- I started to become more afraid of our own government than of robbers.

Maybe I too should look into getting a gun.

"Just for argument's sake," I asked Nathan, "just assuming that I might maybe want to buy a gun, where could I purchase one?"

"There's a gun shop or a dealer on just about any street in Oakland," he replied. "And they sell them at the Sideshows too. There's a Sideshow tonight. You could get one there...." he added hopefully.

A Sideshow is what we used to call a drag race back in the fifties. No, thank you. I'm too old to be doing donuts, spin-outs and wheelies in my 1990 Toyota Tercel. We went off to a gun show instead.

"Here! Look at this one," said Nathan. It was a 22-caliber pistol dressed up to look like a Glock. "And if you had a Desert Eagle, you could blow someone's arm off." I don't want to do that. What else do you got?

We looked at antique derringers like the kind Mae West used to have. "I want a derringer," I said. "I could wear it in my sock. Then if those Bush idiots start to drag me off to the concentration camp, I could hide out in the hills and shoot rabbits with it." The derringer looked good.

"No, Jane, forget that," said Nathan. "If some dude comes in your window and starts to rob you, you need something like THIS." He pointed to a 9mm Ruger. I reminded him that he had been to my house and I obviously had nothing to steal. But what if those evil Bush bureaucrats stole my identity -- and my Social Security? Would I have to meet them on Main Street at high noon? I'm not afraid of that. Even I could outdraw those weenies. Humph.

Nathan was on to the next booth. "I got to get me one of these," he said lovingly as he held a M-something-or-other in his hands. And he handed me an AK-47. We looked like Grandma and Clyde.

Is being at a gun show going to get me in trouble with George Bush? Nah. He's too busy arresting African-American grandmothers in the Big Easy to worry about me.

But I worry about him.

At the end of the show, we bought nothing. We had both seen a lot of action movies and thought that guns looked cool but we both sort of decided that guns, like children and pets, came with big responsibilities that we just were not ready for yet -- and if our own government didn't know how to use guns responsibly, apparently this was a hard skill to learn!

In the end, we decided that to be in a position to take a human life was entirely too heavy a moral issue for us no matter how many times we saw it happen on the TV news and we let our dreams of Glocks and AK-47s slide.

Nathan and I had a great time at the gun show. And we argued all the way home. "It's the bad guys you have to be afraid of," said Nathan.

"Nah," I replied. "It's the Bush brothers' government."

PS: Unfortunately, Nathan's adventures that day didn't end when I dropped him off home. He got in an argument with his father later that evening -- why do people have to fight with their kids? Can't they just read John Gray's book, "Children are from Heaven" and get parenting right? -- anyway, Nathan ran away from home, Daddy called the police on his son yet again and Nathan turned himself in. Can't anybody get parenting RIGHT around here? How hard can it be? No wonder kids grow up and cause wars and kill people with guns.

PPS: Another reason not to have guns -- if I shot another human being, I wouldn't be able to get into Heaven.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Next year in New Orleans: EVERYBODY needs to go to Mardi Gras on Feb 28

I just got this e-mail from my friend Alice. She said, "Some really GOOD CHRISTIAN wrote to our local paper and said that Katrina's wrath was God's way of punishing New Orleans because they celebrate Mardi Gras." That's like saying that Hurricane Rita is hitting the innocent people of Texas in retribution for all the embezzling and corruption caused by Texas-based Halliburton and the Bush bureaucracy.

Well. There's only one way to deal with that kind of ignorance and intolerance (aside from tossing the Bush bureaucracy out of OUR White House and hopefully avoiding God's wrath on that one.)


Let's make good and sure that Mardi Gras, one of the grandest traditions of anywhere EVER, is not allowed to die. Every man, woman and child in America needs to get up off their keisters, go to Mardi Gras next February 28 and take a stand. And have some fun while we are doing it too.

By going to Mardi Gras, we will save the parade and the tradition -- but we will also stimulate the economy there too. As my friend Juli noted, "Giving a bunch of reconstruction money to Halliburton and fat-cat developers [who are practically peeing their pants in estascy over this unexpected "eminent domain" literal windfall] isn't going to help the people of New Orleans. The Mayor needs to get NOLA's small businesses up and running and the people back into their homes, in order to create commerce for tax revenue."

So. Let's get out our Mardi Gras beads and go eat some king cakes and gumbo. Let's join the krewes, second line clubs, spy boys, jazz bands and Wild Tchoupitoulas -- and let the good times roll! All y'all can have a wonderful time and stimulate the economy too. Like my friend Alice said, "I am 80 years old but next year, if I am still on my feet, I am going to Mardi Gras!!!!!"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Arguing with Allah: How to go on Hajj -- with a little help from Google

"But...but...but...I CAN'T GO ON HAJJ!" There were so many obstacles. My job, money, my family needed me, fear of the unknown.... I kept arguing with God. "Head scarves give me headaches. Two weeks with a scarf on my head? Headaches!" And I was OLD. You could hear my knees creak when I climbed stairs. And all that bowing on wobbly knees? Out of the question. Like a child who is allowed to state its case before a benevolent parent, one is allowed to argue with Allah. I stated and re-stated my case.

"And why in the world would I want to go to the Middle East?"

And how much would it cost?

If God were to speak to me, what would He say? I bet He would argue right back. "If he or she is able, every Muslim must go on Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. And no one knows what the future may bring. Look what happened to poor New Orleans. Stop arguing with me and get it over with, Jane!"

So. How does one go about finding out more information about the Hajj? Would Allah advise me to Google? Why not. This is what I found out:

Going on Hajj ISN'T just a round trip to Mecca with a stop-off for a few days in Cairo and/or New York. Hajj is a whole involved process. It involves camping out on a mountainside and walking through tunnels and throwing stones at the devil and circling the Ka'bah -- and sacrificing a sheep! The whole process takes over a week. And how much WOULD it cost?
I checked out
www.makehajj.com, run by a very nice and helpful man who owns a bookstore in Philadelphia. "$3,695," he told me. That's two years' rent! Or, considering the greediness of the bumbling fools in the White House, maybe gas money for a couple of weeks.

King Tut Tours in California at
http://www.alhodahajjgroup.com/hajj.htm had an interesting economy package for $2,995. That's do-able. Sort of. "But remember," cautioned my friend Bob, "you have to be debt-free to go on Hajj." Gulp. But I called them anyway and talked with a very nice woman named Anna.

At the same time, I found a group in New Jersey at
http://hajjusa.com/ that was also going. I Googled them too. Their price was $2,990. I could save five whole dollars! I debated whether to take Anna's offer -- she DID live in California -- or save the five dollars. Anna got sick and couldn't call me back but the Jersey group had their IMAM call me so I figured they were really trying hard and actually wanted me to go with them. That was a plus.

But. I STILL didn't want to go. It all just seemed like such a BIG PROJECT. I went back to arguing with Allah. "I just can't do this," I said. "I have to stay home and feed the cat!"

Bottom line? I'm going. I tried to weasel out of it but I JUST COULDN'T NOT GO. The presence of three million Pilgrims all praying for peace at one time and in one place was just too much of a temptation for me. Allah must have known that. It was the ultimate carrot. He must have known that I'm a sucker for world peace.

So. Are you also considering going on Hajj? NOW is the time to do it. NOW is the time to make your reservations -- before Allah gets on your case too