APRIL/MAY 2004

Editorial Notices Books Received

Save America, Restore Democracy, Vote for Kerry

Publisher's Note: The personal views of the publisher, expressed here, do not necessarily mirror those of other contributors to this magazine. This is strictly my personal rant.

Another Anniversary! Yes, it's hard to believe, but the world's oldest professional web-only magazine of sf/f/h is now in its seventh year of service to the nation and the planet! Launched in April 1998, and following all the SFWA rules for a professional magazine, we have proudly published such luminaries as Pat York, Andrew Vachss, and Melanie Tem. We discovered fine talents like Dennis Latham and Paul Martens and Vince Cusumano and a whole lot of others, too many to name. We're still publishing wonderful stories that readers at Fictionwise enjoy, though we've changed part of our name (from Deep Outside SFFH to Far Sector SFFH) and part of our game (from three cents a word to a song and a dance and a small advance, leaving the rest to chance). Because we have a realistic plan of operation, and because we're not owned by anyone, and because we believe in serving both writers and readers, we have survived far longer than most publications that were ever launched or ever will be launched. As with the internet bubble, we've heard a lot of hoopla and seen a lot of delirious schemes come and go. I've got news for you. We're not going away. Not ever. We plan to continue thrilling discriminating readers for many years to come. Why? Because we can, and because we like doing it. It's because we're having the time of our lives, and nobody owns us. That's a great feeling. Somehow, this independence is so...well, how shall I say it? It's so very...American.

Another thrill. Ah yes, just when you think I'm done. What a great thing it is to watch the world evolve. Eight years ago, when I first started publishing serial novels (Neon Blue and Heartbreaker, since renamed This Shoal of Space) the very concept of e-commerce was still a dream. There was no Amazon, no bubble, no broadband, no e-Bay, no PayPal, no e-books...there was just a monumental opportunity. We small dreamers didn't have the cheese to make millions, but we had that gleam in our eyes, and in the end, after most of the millions have been lost, that gleam is still there. When the gleam fades, all you have to do is use your elbow for a rag and polish it up again. You see, a dream never dies. It's a little dimmed by some tears at the way the world takes any golden thing and throws dirt on it, but the gleam is still there. After all, why else would grownups spend so much time writing lies and selling them to other grownups under the name of 'fiction?' It's not the destination that counts, my friend, but the journey. I write fiction and nonfiction for a living, as I have for many years, and continue to do. I've learned that some people really like my work, some people think it's okay, and a few actually hate it. All I can do is be the best writer and the best dreamer that I can be. That's a lot, and it's good enough for me. It's all there is.

One more thing (about critics). Trust me, if you're a writer—ignore critics. There are a few decent ones, but all too many are nattering nabobs of negativity who are concerned not about readers or writers but about themselves. You'll find that almost no critics can write, or imagine, or create. Most critics are sophists who content themselves with a finely honed barb or a cleverly turned insult. [Like our local movie pundit, who gives automatically gives five stars to anything made in Europe, and has nothing but stuffed ducks for American art; and it's apparent he doesn't care about viewers or movie makers, but just adores his own tuneless humming]. But you know, it wouldn't matter even if they could sculpt, or make music, or lovingly dance in a ballet. All you need to care about is however many people you can convince to watch your dance, or hear your poem, or have that gleam in their eye that matches the gleam in your eye when you sing a song. Nothing else matters, not even if you're not a really great bard, not even if you're not going to be on some college syllabus 100 years from now, not even if they don't name a street after you in Peoria or hand you the keys to New York. You know why? Nobody has ever built a monument to a critic. It would be difficult to portray a dancer with two left feet, or a singer with lead on his tongue, or a peacock in grayscale. Don't worry about the critics. They will denounce you as being the most un-American thing since French Fries. There was once a little kid on a street corner holding a comic book. That kid's eyes were brimming with joy and creativity. That little kid is still there, inside of you. Don't let that little kid get rolled over by a busload of cynics en route to their next Inquisition. Here, join me as we give them the razberry: "Pppphhhhhhhhhhtttt!"

Yeah, and the bus they rode in on. [Hereforth I digress mightily, but the sum of all that follows is: Vote for Kerry. Dump the Tush. Four years of relentless disaster, hardship, bumbling, lies, recklessness, pretzel-choking, and slurry-voiced misspeaking are enough.] Speaking of nattering nabobs, I see that an unknown number of people think patriotism means showing up one time for a free dental exam at your National Guard unit, missing a year of drills, furthering your own financial and political goals while your contemporaries die in a faraway war many people think was useless (that being Vietnam, not Iraq). Apparently such people—let's call them neo-cons, which stands not for neo-conservative, as you might think, but for neo-Confederate, since the current government appears to be Jefferson Davis's revenge—have serious difficulties with their perceptions and with their moral compasses. Hell, moral compasses come with instruction manuals called Scriptures, but then we know, as the Rev. Al Sharpton has informed us (yes, he is a man of color but that doesn't mean he can't be a man of the cloth, even though he wouldn't be allowed where the gods of media hatred are worshiped) that Jesus Christ wouldn't be welcome in most of the ultra-rightwing institutions of gun-worship known as "churches" throughout the land. Being an anti-health care, pro-war, gun-worshiping, peace-hating "Christian" is kind of like holding your instruction manual upside down. Oh yes, this nation is divided. It's a house divided on itself, and it will fall. It will fall but will it pick itself up? I have news for you. The most dangerous man in America isn't Bush, or Ashcroft, or Cheney, or Hastert, or even that smooth Bill Frist (Senate Majority leader, and owner of the nation's largest HMO). The most dangerous man alive in America is an Australian AntiChrist named Rupert Murdoch. This fellow, unknown to that vast congregation of Americans who can name Homer Simpson or the latest Survivor or the most recent American Idol, but not their owner, is one of the world's wealthiest men, and he owns half of the American media. I always like to point out as an example of his total cynicism and lack of moral center that, while he furthers the slanted, deceitful tabloid style reporting on the Fox network, he also pays to produce programs like the X-Files. What's wrong with that picture? My favorite example is that renowned X-Files episode in which three degenerate young men keep their mother in a box under the bed; she has no limbs; they rape her continuously, and as she continues to give birth to a series of monstrous babies, they kill these children and bury them around town—in fact, this episode begins with a group of innocent young girls at softball practice digging up such a poster child for the fundamentalist campaign against women's choice. Do you see the same thing wrong with this picture that I do? Gee, you don't? So blinded by fanatical devotion to Fuehrer Bush that you can't live without the sound of breaking crystal or that musical tramp-tramp-tramp of boots outside your window? Time to understand that Rupert Murdoch, the shaper of American opinion, does not have a moral compass. He does not care what he says to whom, as long as he continues to build his ratings. His goal is to become the wealthiest and most influential man in the history of the world. He wants to make the already predatory Bill Gates look like a kid with a nickel and a soggy candybar. Rupert Murdoch owns all of the nation's largest Protestant Fundamentalist publishing houses (Zondervan, Nelson, etc) under the aegis of his News Corporation. NewsCorp is a giant anaconda that owns, among other things, the huge HarperCollins publishing conglomerate, which has been churning out its own several religious zealot imprints in recent years. Why? Not because Murdoch has a religious stray hair up his arse, but because it's good for ratings. In other words, a brainwashed population, whether in Mussolini's Italy or Bush's America or Hitler's Germany, will gladly goose-step off to war while paying tribute to this Caesar of media sleaze. Those of us in digital media remember the coming and going of a would-be mogul—Henry Yuen, late of Gemstar and the desecrated Rocket eBook—but Yuen is just managing to stay this side of a jail cell for his monopolistic efforts. Murdoch, on the other hand, is having the American media handed to him in large chunks on a silver platter by Bush, Cheney, & Co. Why? Because—and here is one of the really horrific elements of this story—it was the nonstop ranting and raving of Hannity and other dumb jocks [and one-note sambas about libburruls] on Fox, both male and female, who did more than any other entity on Earth to push this nation, the USA, into war with Iraq. I know memories are short, but how can any person with a brain fail to recall how Fox 'News' ranted day and night for well over a year before our invasion that we must, we must, we must go to war with Saddam? I remember being in the home of a military officer of predictably ultra-rightwing, religious-zealot orientation, and seeing Fox 'News' glittering on at least three different television sets this guy had running all throughout his house like a constant narcotic infusion. Talk about a heroin drip. Yes, folks, in Italy in the 1930s you'd have heard Mussolini on every radio, his voice inescapable, and today it's the proxies of Rupert Murdoch who dominate the airwaves in America. Consider the irony: the conservatively owned media, proclaiming themselves to be the enemy of America because they are owned by Libburruls (a Limbaugh invention). In the 1930s it was the Jews; now it's the Libburruls. Millions of Fox stooges are prepared to march all of you evil Libburruls off to concentration camps and gas chambers. The sad thing is that you probably think it's all a joke. 1930s, redux.

A few more jokes, why not? Part I. Do a search on 'Rupert Murdoch media empire' or 'News Corporation' on Google and see what comes up. To whet your appetite for info about this field marshal of sleaze, read this article from the BBC. Or how about this: Bush Regime Hands Cable Power To Murdoch. Go ahead. Do the research. It's your future. Hopefully you'll find it worth reading about, and dumping Bush before he does any more damage. Even if Kerry gets in, he'll be hampered by a reckless Republican Congress and Supreme Court, and even the Fed Chairman turns out to be a Republican; plus Kerry'll have to undo the enormous deficits, the Unpatriot Act, and all the environmental damage done by Bush. We have to start somewhere, saving the world from Bushism. Or is that Busheedo? Or, using his own alcohol-impaired lingo, Bushity?

A few more jokes, why not? Part II. No future history of our current state of national disaster will be complete without a recounting of the paranoid right wing's Contract On America, orchestrated by Newt Gingrich. Here was an effort by the same millionaire and billionaire families (Ford, Mellon, Scaife, et al) who adored Hitler in the 1930s (they thought democracy dead, Roosevelt a Communist as many conservative Republicans still do, Mussolini the harbinger of a brilliant new corporate world order, and Marine Corps General Smedley Butler a good man to lead their 1933 Putsch in taking over the USA—read Jules Archer's classic book The Plot To Seize The White House). In the 1990s, these same families sought to overthrow the elected president, Clinton, by any means possible. This was patently an attempt at revenge for the demise of Republicans Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Consider this fact: the U.S. suffered half a million casualties in the Vietnam disaster, including 58,000 dead, under the leadership of a president who had to resign rather than face criminal indictment (Nixon) and a vice-president (Agnew) who also had to resign to avoid criminal prosecution for being a Mafia bagman. The American people quickly forget all their disasters, but the Republicans still haven't forgiven Roosevelt for instituting Social Security and saving the common man from the Great Depression. That was during the terrible years when a virulently anti-semitic, openly Hitler-loving Henry Ford was still shooting hungry strikers dead outside his automobile plants. Ah yes, let's hate those unions! Up the corporations! Everyone can't afford a hamburger today, but will be a millionaire next week, so we must think like the wealthy and crap on those evil working guys! In revenge for the Nixon-Agnew debacle, and flush from their victorious Reagan years, the Republicans sought revenge at any cost during the 1990s, even if it meant causing grievous harm to the United States. Yes, it's not nice to have cigar sex with a consenting adult. Yes, it was wrong for Clinton to 'not have sex with that woman,' etc. 71% of the American voters strongly felt he was being unreasonably persecuted by Republican cynics and fanatics, most of whom turned out to be liars and hypocrites and adulterers themselves. The chief pachyderm of the impeachment, Henry Hyde, for example, admitted to having destroyed his own and at least one other family during his adulterous activities. Gingrich is a notorious adulterer, and when he stepped down, his ostensible replacement, Livingston, had to be shamed against his will to step away from the Speakership because of his own adulterous affairs. All of this fake moral uproar, which was simply a cover for political assassination by other than bullets, did immeasurable harm to the United States. Most Americans had the common sense and human understanding to see that, whether one believes Clinton or not, the Republicans gleefully and remorselessly trapped Clinton in a position where any average person (including any of the many Republican adulterers) would have skirted the truth rather than let themselves be impeached. The real question that historians will ask for many years is how much more Clinton might have been able to do against bin Laden, had the Republicans not forced Clinton to devote some significant amount of his time to endless, pointless, stupid legal battles. That was time both Clinton and the Republicans owed their employers, the American public, and failed to deliver. Without making any excuses for Clinton, it's plain to see that the Republicans demonstrated a hatred not only of Clinton, but of the United States itself, in letting their worst neo-Confederate instincts peek forth from their hiding places. It's the Trent Lott line to Strom Thurmond that brings their sleaze and deceitfulness to light: We wouldn't have had all this trouble all these years if we had all elected you president back in 1948. Yeah, in a pig's knuckle, you pathetic demagogues.

A brief interlude, here: As every American would know if they had not slept through their history classes, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Well, back up a step further. The Baptists split over slavery, with the Southern Baptist denomination founded for one specific reason: to preserve slavery in the name of preserving a unique and separate Southern culture. Call it Biblican Slavery, perhaps, along with those fantasies about States Rights and the Second Amendment. The point is, slavery and religion apparently are as Southern as the very gun oil in them Easy Rider Rifle Racks and the very stars on them bars. I'm not setting out to slur the South here, don't get me wrong; I'm just registering the message being sent to us all by our Confederate overlords, in the hope that an increasing number of Americans will start seeing through the lies and the sham in which we live. Thus, after Lincoln and his Republicans defeated the Confederacy and vanquished slavery, no southerner worth his boiled chitlins would ever vote for a Republican. Not until after 1948, that is. That was a year more fateful in 20th Century American history than probably any other, because that was the year Truman (a Democrat) desegregated the Armed Forces. That was more than the segregated Jim Crow South could bear. All sorts of hoopla and outcry followed, with of course all the requisite quasi-religious, pseudo-Christian zealotry. That meant putting Confederate battle flags in the Southern state flags and adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, which had done just fine without that phrase for half a century. It meant that fiery-eyed and ruthless segregationists like Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and 28,000,000 Ku Klux Klan members rallied around the founder of the Dixiecrats, the ultra-racist Strom Thurmond. Yes, the same Thurmond who was our longest serving Senator, by some cosmic joke appointed Chairman of Foreign Relations, culturally an isolationist and U.N.-hater. Same cosmic joke by which Jesse Helms was Chairman of Armed Services, supervising the plundering of taxpayer money that should have been spent on upgrading our services, but when to pork barrel projects. Today, with the Iraq war raging, our humvees and choppers are proving ill-protected against home-made enemy bombs, and the generals are calling for mothballed Vietnam era Sheridans to be sent to support our troops. See the utter corruption of these politicians—like Trent Lott stealing $1.1 billion tax payer money each year for needless shipbuilding in Pascagoula for his personal reelection slush fund. Yes, it's the same Trent Lott who vocalized what apparently many of these Union haters feel when he was overheard at a party telling old Strom "We wouldn't be having all these problems today if everyone had voted for you for President." That was more than even the shameless Part of Jeff Davis could bear, and they sacked old Trent; well, they sent him to the back bench, and I'm sure more ships are being built in Pascagoula than ever, while our troops are dying in Iraq for lack of bullet proof vests (which Rupert Murdoch's sleaze engine blames on John Kerry, somehow).

A few more jokes, why not? Part III. Ah, the humor of it all. The only First World nation in which half the people have no health care, and a large number of children go to bed hungry at night. It's a nation that seeks to export democracy while demolishing essential rights like habeas corpus at home. It's a nation whose undeniably brave and dedicated warriors leave their families to survive on food stamps, welfare, and charitable donations. That, while the likes of Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich steal tens if not hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in pork barrel waste cynically aimed only at their own reelection slush funds. It's not just Trentie and Newtie, and not just Southerners, by the way. It's a majority of both Dems and Reps, the two parties that seized control of this country nearly two centuries ago and won't let go. Well, you know, I could go on, but I'm running out of pixels and fingertip cells. Suffice it to say, you need to educate yourselves to overcome the cancer—no, the flesh-eating bacterium—that is rapidly destroying our nation. I'll recite more horrors in later columns (after all, this is a magazine of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), but let me leave you with this one. In the late 1990s, there was a scandal (quickly suppressed, and one of many swirling around the bombastic oaf New Gingrich, whom even the shameless Republicans had to finally fire. It seems that Newtie, the same chap who demanded that poor people's children be taken from them by the state and put in government orphanages, and who wanted to install the equally noxious Limbaugh in an office next door to his at taxpayer expense, was caught redhanded being given military intelligence information by high-ranking U.S. military officers, information not about foreign enemies, but about the Democratic party. Imagine that. The military of the U.S., which has in large part betrayed it solemn vows to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and aligned itself with the Republican Party (and therefore a new hell and doom in Iraq, which is shaping up to be another Vietnam, since Bush has all the brains of a Caligula, who led the Roman army on an invasion of Britain, but then had the thousands of legionaries stop and pick seashells at the seashore, literally, or litorally, so that they never left Gaul). Naturally, nobody was ever convicted. The whole thing has been swept under the rug. Well, that's nothing new.

A few more jokes, why not? Part IV. I won't carry on much about the stolen election of 2000, but I'll mention a few salient points. First, there is the great lie of states' rights. This is well-known Trentian code for Jim Crow. It's just another name for secession and treason. Where does it come from? Between 1776 and 1789, the U.S. was a confederation of states, loosely organized under a document called the Articles of Confederation. Even then, the divisions between North and South were quite apparent. The Southern plantation owners, who owned both their white and colored folk as quasi-religious chattels, hated the Federal idea because progressive (read: those hated Libbbuurrulls) minds were bent on removing slavery from the law of the land. Spuriously citing New Testament passages like that of Paul, exhorting slaves to obey their masters in this life while awaiting better things in the next life, the Baptists split off to found the Southern Baptist, Slavery Ueber Alles wing of their confession. The Confederation of 1776-1789 was doomed and unworkable, and was replaced by Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and other leading lights of the Founding Father (almost American Apostolic Fathers) era with the Constitution we have today. The pro-Slavery element of the South has hated and fought the principles of the Constitution ever since, I think for reasons they themselves can't fully grasp except for some sort of blind regional chauvinism and of course the cynical opportunists of their corrupt political machinery. Now the point of bringing all this up in the context of the 2000 Selection is what? Bush trumpeted to his Southern supporters about how he is a staunch supporter of this spurious states rights issue. When the Florida State Supreme Court ordered a recount of the ballots (which, if done for the full state, including tens of thousands of deliberately disenfranchised minority voters, would have solidly affirmed Al Gore's popular election victory), Bush overrode this significant states' rights issue, went to the Federal Supreme Court which, to its everlasting discredit and dishonor, was packed with just one stooge enough, and overturned the State Supreme Court's order. What happened to States' Rights? All a bunch of bull, is the plain fact. A bunch of cynical, meaningless B.S.

Speaking of shameless, meaningless B.S. Here's a picture only a monster could love. Check this out. This lawless mob of mostly fat, angry white men are the Republican Party operatives of Tom DeLay, arch-conservative and ruthless Whip from Texas, rioting in a Federal courtroom in Florida because they couldn't get their way. Some of these are prominent Republican footsoldiers, and their disrespect for the law, and their hatred of the U.S. Government, as well as their irrational fanaticism, are clearly visible in this picture. These are the same individuals who spread the lie that conservatives were supposedly disenfranchised because supposedly 1200 military ballots were thrown out for being postmarked later than the acceptable election date. Really? Are we still accepting military ballots for the 2000 election? I'd like to see the Democrat voters in the military, of whom there are quite a few, send in their ballots and maybe we can still push old Al Gore over the top where he rightfully belongs.

You're not puking yet? Here's an interesting article from the Washington Post on Monday, April 19, 2004; Page A01: Bush Plans Aid to Build Foreign Peace Forces . This should scare the pants off us all, even if revelations about the U.S. Army intelligence officers passing info Watergate style to Newt Gingrich about the Democratic Party doesn't. Consider: According to this article by Bradley Graham, George W. Bush and his operatives in the Bush regime plan to create a United Nations Army composed of soldiers from African nations, funded by U.S. taxpayers. Ostensibly, this force would be used to put down insurrections in Africa, but the proposal clearly and unambiguously states that these same African troops could be used anywhere else in the world as the U.N. (or the United States) deems necessary. To quote Graham, "The campaign, known as the Global Peace Operations Initiative, will be aimed largely at Africa by expanding the peacekeeping skills of African forces and encouraging international military exercises in the region, where U.S. officials said much of the need exists. But African forces developed under the program could be used in peace operations anywhere in the world, officials said." We need to all keep an eye on these sorts of slippery slope, mission creep kinds of little nibbling steps, one step at a time, that erode our freedoms and push us inch by inch closer to scenarios our Founding Fathers would have found unimaginable and running counter to all their reasoned designs to preserve liberty.

One last little note. According to reliable news sources other than the Fox Sleazo Network, to wit, The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Associated Press, Charleston, South Carolina (where the biggest of several hullaballoos over displaying Confederate battle flags on the state capitol took place in 2000) was the scene in April 2004 of a huge funeral ceremony for the eight perished sailors aboard the sunken Confederate submarine Hunley. The submarine sank after it torpedoed and sank the United States warship Housatonic with much loss of life. I have some special thoughts about this entire matter, complimentary to both sides, which I'll share in a later editorial some time. However, at the moment, I'd like to point out that there was apparently a major flap in which the same type of people who rioted in that Federal courtroom in Florida attempted to have the City of Charleston or possibly even the State of South Carolina ban any and all displays of the Stars and Stripes on the day of this funeral. Now imagine. This is the supposedly patriotic South that jams its religion, its culture, and so forth, down the throats of all of us, constantly. We are owned and operated by a government that owes far more to Jefferson Davis than it does to Abraham Lincoln, I am sorry to say. We live in a country in which the checks and balances of Government have all but disappeared, since all the branches of our Government are owned by the radical right wing of one party that has brought us nothing but disaster, debt, war, and more disaster since its chief architect Bush seized power in 2000. While we have U.S. (not Confederate, but U.S.) Federal troops fighting and dying under the Stars and Stripes in Iraq and Afghanistan, there apparently was raised a disgraceful, Bush-oriented call to ban the display of our nation's flag while displaying a banner associated with the bloodiest and most tragic debacle in our nation's history. Remember, however, that more than 50% of the Southern Baptists (only group I know thus polled, so I mention it here) voted for Bill Clinton in 1996. Apparently, being from the South and suffering from proximity, they smelled New Gingrich's foul odor earlier than the rest of the country. The same good sensible Americans, without a dent in their Southern pride, squashed the divisive intention of these neo-Confederate flag desecrators.

A few more rug-sweeping jokes, before we go—Part V. In the rug-sweeping department, consider that chronic failure George W. Bush (everything he's ever touched turned into a disaster, including coming home drunk and inviting his old man to go mano-a-mano on the front lawn of one of their many family palaces, as Tush later did to Saddam in the "bring it on!" episode that is costing myriad American lives, alienating the world, and accomplishing nothing) dumped his losing stock twice, but never went to jail as Martha Stewart (that Libburrul) may be about to. That's the influence money will buy. The Congressional investigation was squashed by Bush family influence and payola. Then we have the strange case of Kenny Boy Lay, Bush's best friend and the guy who provided the corporate jet on which Tush jetted around in his failed 2000 election bid; why are all the other evildoers of Enron, WorldCom, etc going to jail, but not Tush's best friend Kenny Boy Lay? Payola, that's why. Why has nobody called Tush on the carpet about the fact he never denied his cocaine abuse? Payola must have gotten to the media. Let's not mention that Tush's brother Neil, reputedly another of the many Bush family members who are close friends and fellow partygoers of Jack Daniels, helped steal a billion and a half dollars in the Silverado Savings and Loan scandal, for which the American tax payer had to ante up nearly a trillion dollars while we all go without health care. Same Neil Bush recently revealed (in divorce court) to be soliciting the services of Beijing whores while pursuing semiconductor business on his family's and Republican Party's behalf (a fact which caused the judge to remark "but you know nothing about semiconductors, do you?" to which old Neil honestly held forth "No, Your Honor, I really don't.") Payola. It's a matter of historical record that a famous earlier Tush, Prescott, founder of the current dynasty, was a banker to the Nazis and in true Bush fashion just managed to bail out one step ahead of the law while his accomplices were nailed by the law. Oh, it goes on and on. What goes on and on even more is the endless foolishness of those poor souls who, in thrall of the Rupert Murdoch Goebbels propaganda machine, are convinced that George W. Bush is somehow, during a sober moment when he isn't misspeaking or falling over Segues or choking on pretzels or vomiting in the Japanese premier's lap (okay, that's his old man's trick) or spilling water glasses on Bill Frist's nuts, a Biblical hero. Shee-yit! Turn your Bible rightside up. Count the letters: George (6) Walker (6) er... Bbbush (6)! If you happen to be gargling ona scotch and soda, like our bbbblibbblicul hero, that Tush-word can easily have enough letters to signal doom for us all.

Well, enough jokes now. Yes, as a veteran (six years, U.S. Army) and one of those odd American citizens who still bothers to vote (I was a Reagan Republican and voted for Bush I the first time around, lest you take me for a wild-eyed Libbururul), I have one more comment to offer here. Yes, there are still American heroes. For example, there is Rep. Steve Largent, a very conservative Republican from Oklahoma and a man with whom I probably wouldn't even agree about the weather, but I strongly admire and support his anti-pork barrel spending stance. I also greatly admire our war heroes like Max Cleland and John Kerry and John McCain, a mix of Dems and Reps, as well as Colin Powell. I do wonder why John McCain and Colin Powell so adamantly support a person I believe in their hearts they most hold in contempt (Bush), and I can only ascribe it to that great quality which is both their strength and their overwhelming downfall: loyalty beyond the call of heart or reason. If John and Colin could just stop soldiering for a moment, and think about the greater good of this nation, they would dump this illegitimate and worthless poser who pretends to be our president. In one moment, the entire house of cards of Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the cynics and opportunists would collapse.

Just one little question before I go. We all know a little something about alcoholics, of which our Guardsman-in-Chief is an admitted member. Here's my question. Remember how we read in the media that Tush famously nearly died while choking on pretzels and beer? Aside from the ridiculousness of everything he says and does, it doesn't make any sense that a supposedly reformed alcoholic sits around drinking beer. It's just not possible. Either he is reformed, or he isn't. My money says that he still drinks. Since he lies about everything else, as does the pirate crew surrounding him, who's to say old Dubya isn't chugging a few cold ones every evening inbetween planning new deficits, new invasions, new wars, new disasters of every kind? If he could be chugging a few cold ones, why not be chugging a few pints of scotch every night? We know for a fact he does not read, as his aides have admitted—neither books, nor newspapers, nor one imagines the labels on whiskey bottles as he tosses them over his shoulder. Then again, since he never came clean on accusations he used cocaine, it's not beyond the pale of reason to expect that one of these days the curtain of secrecy and dishonesty will be lifted from his sleazy regime, and we'll learn he and Condy and the rest of the Fuehrer-Bunker crew are inhaling lines of coke on the Blue Room carpets.

No, no, I can't leave before this one more note. There's a great article about the late Timothy McVeigh, patsy of that "Lee Harvey Oswald Acted Alone" school of whitewashing. Here's our boy posing for those jackbooted Federal thugs. Notice the hand? He's making a secret sign to his fellow gun-nuts, as in "Guns Ueber Alles." Do you know what? Definably the most shameful episode in the long and sleazy history of Republican corruption came not long after McVeigh and his fellow conspirators murdered 168 innocent people including several dozen little babies in the Murrah Building. Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and the rest of the neo-Confederates fought all efforts by reasonable American citizens and opposing legislators to make it the law of the land that taggants should be inserted in all bulk volumes of ammonium nitrate, the main ingredient in fertilizer, which also happened to be the main ingredient along with kerosene in the bomb that McVeigh planted at the Murrah Building. [What are taggants? Chemical markers that would make it easy to trace fertilizer used in a bomb to the place of sale, in hope of catching whoever bought the stuff. Sounds like a reasonable idea, similar to having VIN numbers and license tags on cars, but not in the jihad world of gun fanatics.] This also happens to be the same type of bomb used by fanatical Muslims in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, but that's not quite my main point. My main point is that the Republican Party, that hand-maiden of modern fascism and misplaced religious zealotry matched only by Middle Eastern Muslim fanaticism, rolled over and played dead to the insanity of the National Rifle Association's extremist leadership. Don't get me wrong—I support gun ownership, but not because of the wrong and spurious alleged 'rights' that Heston, LaPierre, Metaksa, and others of their ilk seem to think lies in the Second Amendment (contrary to all the Supreme Court rulings against their position). What is amazing is that, in a time of national grief after McVeigh's crime, the Gingrich-Delay-Lott Congress could so callously and cold-heartedly further such a cynical and wrong-headed cause. Not only is there nothing in the Second Amendment about owning a handgun—even further removed from reality, there is nothing in the Second Amendment pertaining to your rights as a citizen to own fertilizer bombs (with or without taggants) in defense of your home or your liberty; or in defense of someone's right to genocidally and indiscriminately, in the best Al-Qaida tradition, murder hundreds of people in defense of that someone's ludicrous and stupid ideas. This whole thing is just another one of a million obvious signs that the United States has gone down the wrong path and is in the hands of lunatics. There used to be a war of bumper stickers before the election scandal of 2000. Rival parties used to carry bumper stickers with various meanings of the letter W. It is finally clear, as never before, that W stands for Worthless. Or is it War? Or is it, just simply, Why?

Speaking of Why? Did I mention the election scandal of 2000? We live in a fairly balanced political district, as it turns out judging by Congressional elections, but you wouldn't know it, walking around our neighborhood before an election. In 2000, it seemed that every second house or so had its Tush/Cheney placards displayed on the lawn. To really indicate the mentality of that set, consider now: A few neighbors like ourselves decided to display our Gore/Lieberman placards on our lawn. Some Republican operatives came by under the cover of night and tore our placards to pieces. Not just tore them, but ripped them up in Republican, SUV road rage, and threw the large number of resulting shreds all over our lawns. Jawohl, mein Tush: your Frankenstein children are polishing their sabers and jackboots, ready for the big march on Das Krappital. Jawohl. Das ist die Schnitzelbank, you malodorous trashmeat.

THX1138 Our World Before I jotted all those thoughts above, I'd written the following and stashed it, but will share it with you now if you're still reading this through your tears: When I was young and thought I was on the verge of solving the world's problems, I saw a scene that has stayed with me, from a memorable science fiction movie. The scene was of dead bodies being dragged from an exploded reactor building by their heels, by men in leaded suits using hooks. The movie was the first major production by George Lucas, entitled THX1138, and I remember it was one of those textbook portraits painted by every artist as a young man. It was an anti-utopia of some dismal future in which we are all dehumanized but live surrounded by wonderful cinematrography. Perhaps this is one reason why anti-utopias are so appealing, the other being that they seem more exciting than dull, boring, safe times. Ah yes, the ancient Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. It's one reason we continue to be so interested in World War II, with its larger than life villains and heroes. My point though was going to be that the scene I most remember from THX1138 is one in which some industrial accident has happened, and bodies are seen in a grainy news video, being dragged away by ice hooks through the heels. It's an abbatoir of banality. At least that's how I remember the scene, and that's what matters. The question that bubbles up is this, then—on this anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, of the Waco inferno, and of the Oklahoma City bombing, among other days of infamy—is the future here? Is it an anti-future? I don't believe in millennarian claptrap about some alleged end of the world, so flush, out go such ideas—if you need them, find them on some other website. Supposedly we are the world's most "religious" country, whatever that means. I think if you ask people outside our bubble of self-induced propaganda, they might smile and shake their heads at our willingness (in my beloved U.S.A., which I wouldn't trade for anyplace else in the world, and I've lived in many of them) to kid ourselves. Here we are, with an unelected, cheap, mediocre clown in an ill-fitting rumpled black suit, who claims to talk to some fundamentalist deity in his liquor closet in the White House. This is the guy who paid his campaign to destroy the great American war hero John McCain in the 2000 selection by spreading malicious, false rumors that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock and abandoned that child—a total lie, as McCain himself has explained, saying that in fact he and his wife Cindy adopted a black child out of the goodness of their hearts (more than Bush or Cheney could ever imagine doing). That's a far cry from the Caligula-like evil of Bush's slanders and lies. Bush and Cheney also slimed the great American war hero, later Senator, Max Cleland, who as a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam lost three limbs. Not good enough for the ilk of Ann Coulter, who publicly denounced Cleland saying "we lost the war because of people like you," and for Bush and Cheney who managed to use their millions of oil dollars to portray Cleland as less American than Tush, so that old Max was voted out of office. Now we have Bush, Cheney, and the other owners of the extreme rightwing media, slandering and sliming another great war hero, John Kerry—this, from a group of ruthless and amoral oil millionaires who have never seen fit to serve their country, but are willing to steal us blind and send our children to their deaths while they laugh. In that, they join other non-warriors like Newt Gingrich, Trent Lout, Phil Gramm, and in fact virtually the entire Congress. This mantle of chicken-hawkishness (yell loudly that you want to fight, then run away and let others fight for you) includes the drunken, drug-ridden children of the Bush brothers. I could go on with this litany, but the thing that really matters is: the voters need to turn off the Fox Sleaze Channel and its stream of lies, they need to turn of Limbaugh and the other cynics, and they need to ante up to the truth, which is that we are in big trouble due to the historic recklessness of this rogue government, and the voters need to restore democracy in the U.S. by electing a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. We do not need four more years of government for Caligula, by Caligula, and by Caligula. Remember Bush's epic quote, which in his utter disrespect for American values he made on worldwide television as he stole the presidency in 2000: "It would all be so much easier if I were dictator." If you aren't scared by that, and by everything these creeps have done to our country, then what the hell is wrong with you? If you elect Bush in 2004, it means you can't tell right from wrong, and we'll all get what you deserve. Welcome back, Rome. When do the games begin? Good bye, Democracy—it was nice knowing you. We won't miss you until you're gone. Oh yes, it's come to this: the Stupreme Kourt (same crew of flunkies who bumped their boy Georgie in and our elected President Al Gore out) is hearing arguments that citizens should be deprived of their fundamental right of habeas corpus—in English, that means you can be held secretly, with no access to a lawyer, no right to defend yourself, and maybe even without a soul knowing where you are. Suddenly it doesn't seem so ironic anymore that the East German dictatorship referred to itself as a Democratic People's Republic. It may become increasingly hard to tell the difference.

Oh yes, and I started to make a point. Limbaugh claims an audience of 15,000,000 brainwashed weasels, Howard Stern (appropriately named after the rear of a ship) claims 8,000,000 belching bikini fans, the Fox Sleaze Kingdom of lies and Rupert Murdoch ego-worship several million more, and finally the real news channels (NBC when not promoting racist hate-monger Michael Savage; CNN when not promoting that young fool with the bowtie who belongs in a dog food commercial; ABC, CBS, and a handful of newspapers when not jumping on the Murdoch-Goebbels bandwagon) have audiences numbering between 100,000 and 300,000. So you see my point. The numbers tell it all. The numbers tell us why nothing you hear in the news matters (if you are one of the few who do pay attention). It's not about facts or coherent discussions. It's about spin. If Bush accuses Kerry of maybe not having been injured badly enough to earn that first of three Purple Hearts, then thousands of those dumb shits who slept through all their high school classes and hate classical music and think Kulcha is for Kommies will be all the more convinced that Kerry is un-American like that arch fiend and Libburul Max Cleland (as our new Chinese rulers might say, Hu?). Ah, Nero, where is your fiddle? Archie Bunker farted on it and shined it up good for ya. All ya gotta do is play, while Consternation is the law of the land, Constipation reigns, and the Constitution burns.


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Notices

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Pennwriters Annual Conference: Pennwriters, Inc. is a networking organization for writers of all genres, based in Pennsylvania. Has over 400 members across the U.S.A. May 14-16 at Grantville Holiday Inn, near Hersey, PA. Meet award-winning authors like Nancy Springer, Susan Meier, Tamar Myers, Nancy Martin, and Victoria Thompson. See the website at http://pennwriters.org. Email Barbara Lockwood at Barbara@DrLockwood.com. Phone (814) 833-1247.

Comic-Con International: It's called WonderCon 2004 and will be held July 22-25, 2004 in San Diego, California. Read the full scoop at http://www.comic-con.org. We'll be covering this story for the next six months, so stay tuned.

Clarion West: June/July 2004. Pat Murphy, Larissa Lai, Geoff Ryman, John Kessel, James Patrick Kelley, Kelly Link, and Charles de Lint will instruct at the 2004 session in Seattle, WA. Contact Nisi Shawl, nisis@aol.com or (206) 720-1008 or http://www.sff.net/clarionwest/ for info.


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Books Received

Received: Nebula Express Science fiction novel by Terry Sunbord, author of Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D. (April 2004, Clocktower Books). Ridge is a highly skilled engineer on a deep-space cargo vessel (Neptune Express) of the near future--family man, ex-military officer, and cyber engineer-1. The huge ship is on a standard two-year run between Luna and Triton--all very routine. Ridge and seven fellow specialists awaken today in the cozy, home-like confines of WorkPod01. He must lead them out to repair minor foreign impact damage to key ship's systems. Then they step out from their cushy quarters into the reality of Nebula Express...Look for Nebula Express and other great books now at Fictionwise.com