Saturday, December 09, 2006


It's just past 3am in the morning. I really should be asleep. But I can't sleep. My chest hurts and my stomach is churning. It was the same last night when I stayed up til 3:30am reading something that disturbed me so profoundly that even as I lie in bed I could not close my eyes. My mind would not cease.

I have devoted a short rant here and there at the 'Reverend' Fred Phelps Baptist Church' in Topeka Kansas. He is the patriarch of a large brood of hateful children/lawyers best known for picketing at the funerals of famous gays and more recently, dead U.S. servicemen and women. His trademarks are the brightly colored "God hates Fags", "God Hates America" and "Thank God for IED's" signs.

His actions so outraged veterans that the Patriot Guard Riders were formed. They are motorcycle enthusiasts, many veterans, who show up (if invited) to funerals targeted by Phelps. They gun their engines to drown out the Phelps clan and hold up large American flags to obstruct the view of the hateful signs.

Recently the Phelps clan was forced to make a hasty retreat when a large crown turned hostile. They were ushered away in a van to the taunts of the crowd, a window broke from some object thrown at the van. You can watch the video here.

In reading about the story at I scrolled through the comments section. The reactions ranged from the logical "Ignore him, its what he wants" to the "Someone should kick the crap out of these asshats" to the defenders of free speech "He isn't breaking the letter of the law and the Bill of Rights specifically protects unpopular speech". The debate is heated, and like most Internet discussion, it did nothing to change the facts of the event. Just as I was about to click away I saw a post:

If you want to learn about what a psycho Fred Phelps is, and how horribly abusive he has been to his family (who constitute his entire "Church"), read Addicted to Hate, a journalist's account of life growing up with Phelps, based on the testimonial of two of his estranged kids.

The whole thing is online.

It will send chills up your spine.

The man is Satan incarnate.
I clicked the link and spent the next few hours falling into the dark pit that is the story of this mans life. I want you to read it. It's long. I know that I try to keep things pretty light. I enjoy talking about gadgets and travel intermixed with humor and occasional witty observations. Not this time. This is a journey into the Heart of Darkness. Into the life of a deranged and abusive man of god. How he came to be and how he twisted his faith. How he created his own world with himself at its center and how he abused his wife, his children, his community, the legal profession and the name of the civil rights movement all in the pursuit of his sick, hurtful, greedy desires. My words cannot begin to describe how fucked up this man is and what he has done to his own family and to those around him.

I tend to fall pretty strongly into the "Rule of Law" camp. Several states have tried to create laws that are targeted directly at Phelps group and the ACLU has filed several suits challenging the constitutionality of these laws. The part of my brain that lets me walk upright understands that you can't just make up a law because you don't the message of a particular group. A lot of whites didn't like the message of Martin Luther King. To paraphrase Voltaire:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

But I ask you, would our founding fathers have considered the words and actions of Fred Phelps even remotely defensible? If, in the time of Lincoln, a proto-Phelps had stood at a street corner as the assassinated president's funeral procession passed and held up a sign that said "Thank God for John Wilkes Booth!" Would his message have been very vigorously defended? I doubt it. In fact I suspect that such a man would have been roundly thrashed for such a horrid breach of common decency. But we have become somewhat immune in our modern age to outrageous displays in public. And in many ways it is better that way.

But there is another part of the brain, the primitive little lizard part. It is a part that many pretend doesn't exist. When man reflects of the barbarity of War, when he thinks about it he sees its futility. he understands that violence is not the answer. But it isn't the higher brain that makes war. It is that lower, baser part. And pretending it isn't there doesn't make it go away. I understand and accept that it exists. I believe in civility and acting civilized, but I know that we as a species are not even close to civilized.

And what if he showed up and the funeral of a friends kid, killed in Iraq? A kid I saw grow up? What if he protested daily at the small shop where our surrogate daughter Lindsey works? What if they showed up at my parents funeral? I do not think that I could 'just ignore them'. And despite all the pleading of the higher brain functions I think that I would be sorely tempted to strike out at these brainwashed morons. Their twisted bible-hate is enough to make even me ignore my upbringing and my moral code. And that says a lot.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

He who lives by the sword....

So the local fundies in Virginia wanted to get their message out to kids and parents in the public school system. But the bad people running the schools said "We shouldn't be promoting religion or politics" Fundies threaten to sue. School relents and lets flyers go home with kids. Now fundies are unhappy that pagans are using the system. Suck it fundies, you made the bed, you lie in it.

This is why we have separation of church and state people.

Hi Def violence and punk gypsies

Last night I caught V for Vendetta at the Dale's. Ed had downloaded the movie onto his X-Box 360 and I must say that it looked freakin gorgeous. Super clear. HD is the future there is no doubt. The only real downside is that the 360's hard drive is only 20 gigs or so. Downloading a hi-def film means you have to delete most of your demos and videos to make room.

After the movie Ed introduced us to Gogol Bordello a 'Gypsy Punk' group who's 'Start wearing purple' just rocks. You find yourself yelling the lyrics like a drunk Kossack half way through. They're infectious. They do to hungarian music what Floggin Molley did to Irish ballads. Tons of energy. I highly recommend you take a listen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Snap Preview

I'm playing with a keen new Web 2.0 technology on the sight. It's called Snap preview. Basically, when you mouse over a link, a tiny preview of the linked website pops up. You can click the link as normal if you wish. Let me know what you think about it.

Monday, December 04, 2006


So according to Yahoo news, there is a brand spankin new poster that shows the '26 faces of global terrorism'. Sweet. This is a handy thing, a good thing. It even tells you about how you can get up to 25 million dollars for helping to prevent terrorist attacks or bring Osama to justice. Damn! That's a lot better than a 20k bonus for signing up with the Army to get blown up in Iraq and I can just sit on my ass. I'll take me some of that action! The news article even showed this thumbnail:

Check it out, stacks of money! Getting paid to fight evil? It's a no brainer. A click of the picture brings a slightly larger thumbnail. Hmmm, not much detail. I can't really tell one evil blob from another. Back to the article. Let's see, the State Department seems to be behind this. Lets check them out. Hmmm, nothing on the front page. Lets check the press room. Hey secretary Rice hosts 29th annual Kennedy Center honors dinner. I wonder if she'll grace us with a piano recital? Ok, this must be covered by the Department of Homeland Security. You know, the guys who's did such a great job in New Orleans and have made the airports safe from toothpaste. Lets check them out. Huh, nothing on the homepage or in the press or media sections. It's almost like they don't really want to let us know who these bad guys are.

Look, I'm not naive. John Q. Public isn't going to capture these guys. These guys aren't in the US most likely. But would it kill these guys to put up a pdf file?


On Saturday Rossana and I drove downtown and joined an anti-war march. It's my second protest ever (the first being in New Orleans when the city decided to tear down structurally sound public housing).

I found out about it through an email. I keep a gmail account that I use for signing on line petitions etc. The descision to go was somewhat impulsive. The event was sponsored by the local AFL-CIO. When we got to the outskirts of the city there were long lines of cars. There are never lines of cars on Saturdays and my heart swelled with pride in my native city. That is, until I saw that the vast majority of these people were going to some kind of sporting event. Par for the course really. Bread and Circuses is what keeps the citizens happy.

We met up in front of the Crown Plaza Hotel. There were, I don't know...maybe 5-600 people. We were handed a flyer with the chants we would be saying. Make shift drums made from plastic drums kept up a steady rhythem. There was a squad of young folk decked out in black and balaclavas or scarves to hide their faces. These were the agitators. Among them were several people with arm bands with a red cross to indicate they were 'medics' in the event of..well unpleasentness. The crowd was a mix of the college hippie types and long time peaceniks. There were a few 'Veterans for Peace' members from the Vietnam era most likely. But there were also high school aged kids. There were Moms. Faces you wouldn't expect. And of course the Union folks.

The march began on time and headed out down St Clair. We were flanked by several police cars that acted like sheep dogs, hearding us to the right whenever we took up too much of the road. A city ambulance followed behind. It was an upbeat crowd. These were not angry people, or at least they did not act hostile, except for the black clad agitators who occasionally rushed at SUV drivers just to scare them. Way to make yourselves look like assholes, guys. The march took two turns and ended up in front of the Federal building. Rossana and I carried a banner the length of the march whch was difficult because it was a) large and b) not well made. It was cold and despite the urging to the megaphone wearing chant leaders I never really screamed our chants. Its not that I disagreed with them, but I guess I was overcome by a bit of shyness. Plus there was the fact that there just weren't a lot of people in that part of Cleveland that day. Drivers would holk their horns and wave in support. People waved from office building windows. But the masses were near the stadium waiting to be entertained by our modern day gladiators. The local news showed up, which is something, but it was Fox news so I can only imaginbe how the march was portryed at 10pm "Filthy hippies run rampant in city! Terrorist sympathisers cause mayhem!".

When we arrived at the federal building there was a small stage and a woman was playing a guitar and singing what I imagine are traditional pro-union songs. There were several short speaches, most were not great or impassioned. Only three were of interest, one by a Union chapter leader from S Carolina who spoke clearly and with feeling and got the crowd worked up. The next was a union organizer from Argentina who talked about how America 'helping'countries has led to widespread problems in South America and elsewhere. The third was an Iraqi workers organizer. I can tell he was passionate about his work and had hope for his country, but his grasp of English was poor and thus it did not convey that passion very clearly. The only non-union type was the wife of a National Guardsmen who was there because her hurband had been called up to serve in Iraq again. She read a speech he had intended to give about how he is proud to serve his country and he is happy to help others in need, but he questioned the justification and logic that led the U.S. into this quagmire.

That says a lot really. He knows its a clusterfuck, he knows the danger, he knows it's based on (at best) faulty logic (or as I call them 'lies'). But he'd going back to do what he can.

The march broke up after that. There were several workshops planned at the hotel later that night and Cindy Shehan was scheduled to speak the next day, but my back was killing me and I had done what I set out to do. I was not too disapointed, this is Cleveland after all. The march was well organized and executed. It was peaceful and the police were calm and non-confrontational. When I got home I looked through the various other flyers we had been handed at the march. There's another protest in January, this time in D.C. That's where the action is. That's the big show. I'm thinking of going if we don't have any shows. Anyone interrested?