Faithful Catholic couple has abortion – finds out their religious friends are fiends

It’s hard enough to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy without crazy zealots accusing you of murder. It’s even harder when those people are your supposed church friends. In this moving article, a couple who received an abortion from murdered Dr. Tiller relate their story.

Paypal: no pal of mine after devastating my bank account

I’ve always been nervous using Paypal. The fear of a hacker cleaning out my bank account arises every time a new phishing email asks me to hand over my Paypal information. I never expected Paypal to be my nightmare-come-true, but they have devastated my bank account and blamed it on me. Be forewarned.

I made a purchase on Ebay a few weeks ago. To pay for it, I chose Paypal’s “other funding” option. The checking account that I use for Paypal does not have any money it. Instead, the account sits open so that I can use the debit card from my primary bank account to make purchases. Call me paranoid, but I made this arrangement when I was getting new phishing emails every hour and I was nervous about Paypal security — back in the days before Google Checkout.

Choose the other funding option, click on next, and the payment screen defaults back to the checking account. You the consumer must notice that your first option has been changed for you by Paypal, and before pressing the button to pay, it has to be changed back to what you originally wanted.

I didn’t notice the change — Paypal is supposed to be convenient — and was conned by Paypal into using my checking account instead of my credit card to pay for the Ebay purchase. Wouldn’t have been a big deal if that checking account actually had money it.

So here’s where the situation went from bad to worse. Paypal purchases attached to a checking account are treated like checks. Subtract $34 for insufficient funds fee from my bank. Since I don’t monitor that bank account, I found out a few days later when by bank notice came. Tack on more fees.

So I got on the phone with Paypal. I hope you never have to experience the Paypal version of customer service for yourself, but take my advice and ask for a direct phone number if you have to be transferred to a supervisor. Four times my call was dropped, and I had to call back, go through the automated system, wait for a long time for someone to answer the call, just to be transferred again and get dropped again. After two hours on the phone, I’m staring at a dead receiver, once again cut off by Paypal, so by the time I got to Sean, a supervisor in “escalations,” I was escalated all right. Downright mad.

Sean fed me the same bull as the people below him, which I refused to accept. They claimed that it was my mistake. They have record that I chose the “other funding” option, clicked continue, but didn’t notice on the payment screen that Paypal defaults back to the checking account option. It was up to me to notice and re-change it back to my original choice.

I compare this sort of slippery deception to ordering a steak and getting fish. Both meals cost the same amount on the menu, but the restaurant is pushing fish because of the higher profit margin.

Paypal makes more per transaction when they can withdraw funds directly from a checking account rather than processing a credit card. Paypal pretends their motive isn’t to design a system that tricks people into using the option that’s better for them. Bullshit. I worked in web development, and I know that every step of the process is analyzed. They know very well that their servers default back to the checking account option. Don’t insult my intelligence by pretending otherwise.

After telling Sean that I’m a journalist and my fiasco dealing with those greedy bastards is making me want to write a story about it, Sean refunded my request for $30. Even though the NSF fee from my bank is $34, I had $5 in the account. As long the balance isn’t below $0, I don’t care.

My balance now is in the negative $50 range, AFTER PAYPAL HIT MY ACCOUNT THE SAME DAY THAT THEY REFUNDED MY MONEY!

That’s right, after talking to their supervisors and getting a refund, they repeated the same mistake for the same transaction. So now I’ve accumulated $68 in NSF fees, plus $7 for my account being in a negative balance. The bank I use is 900 miles away; they don’t take payments over the phone. So I have to wire money to get money in the account. That’s $10 on my end, $10 on their end. Add it up and I’m now $95 in the red.

The original purchase was for $32. I just paid $127 for a $32 item. But wait, the fun is just beginning.

My time is worth $50 an hour at the low end of my billing scale, and I’d already spent three hours on the phone with my bank and Paypal before discovering their continuing efforts to fuck my financial world. Add on two more hours of arguing on the phone with a variety of supervisors, getting cut-off almost every time I was transferred, contacting the corporate office to get someone on-the-record, and they have cost me $250 worth of time, plus extreme aggravation and stress worrying about my finances.

What’s that worth in court? We’re about to find out.

Paypal deliberately setup their system to default back to the option that pays them more money. Usually, people have money in their checking accounts, and whether the purchase is taken from one account or another doesn’t matter. Paypal is like the restaurant that pushes the high profit items. I ordered steak, they delivered fish, but they’re splitting hairs to say it is my fault. Like the server saying, “but you said you like fish, what’s the problem?”

The problem is deception. The problem is I’m out a lot of time and money. Problem is, Paypal acknowledged their mistake the first time, why not the second time? They refunded money for a mistake they made (getting caught was the mistake), then won’t refund more money for repeating the same mistake.

A supervisor named Carrie invited me to report on this story if I felt like it was something that the public needs to know. Carrie, at your request, this is the beginning. Next, every friend of mine in professional journalism and blogging is getting a link to this post and my personal phone number. Then I’m filing complaints with the banking commission in the state where my bank is, filing complaints with the BBB in my state, your state and everywhere in-between, and I’m going to put my legal training to good work. If I can get a lawsuit to discovery, I will uncover the information proving that Paypal deliberately designed a flawed system. I will push for certification as class-action, then I’ll call by old pal Stan Chesley in Cincinnati, who loves nothing more than to run a legal Roto-Router up a corporate ass.

Now to post and call-in some favors. Don’t let Paypal screw you. Don’t think they’re your pal, either. They’re only your pal when they’re making money off of you — any way they can.

Epilogue: A month after Jason found his groove.

Click here to read the original post about defeating generational evil.. This post picks up a few days later.

…Time to get on with the life I left behind at nine years old. Part of the revelation from Steve is a part of me died inside at age four when I deliberately rammed a knife into a power outlet. My shaman read the electrical chaos in my energy field. No wonder I don’t support the death penalty! I died again to myself at the time at 15 when I swallowed handfuls of aspirin and ended up in the hospital, where I met an adult lover who changed my life. A dream symbolized the part of me that had to pass as a young indian warrior lifeless in a canoe. Steve read it from my dream and called upon the image to help me finish grieving the life (opportunities) I lost. The golden boy, nature’s prodigy, had to pass. Generations stood by as we set the boat on fire and gave him an honorable departing.

Life is full of little deaths. If we cling to what we were, we lose who we are. We lose the ever-unfolding moment and hide in the past or the future.

I still have a lot of work to do to deal with my personal shadow. My ego is one tough customer after enduring layers of wounding. Had to be strong, or else I would’ve never survived. Steve saw the secret shame in my energy field, mine and others, and helped me let go – and through me we reached everyone in my direct family touched by the curse. He also saw a baby girl in my mother’s belly who, coming before me, chose to abort rather than face life without the tools to cope. The curse went down the maternal line. A male body was needed for this battle. Steve said that my mother probably wasn’t aware of the miscarriage, perhaps confusing it for menstrual bleeding. But my soul knew better than take that particular opportunity on the wheel of life. Not to worry; my teenage mother soon conceived again and produced a flawed prodigy with a unique combination of intelligence suited for the road ahead.

Trust me, I’m pretty dumb in other ways. My life of love, for instance, is an unending story of forever seeking. I’m too intense for most women (but I’m getting better!). I’m also a headstrong buck with my own ideas about everything, who sometimes has to be shocked back into remembering what’s most important in life: love. Only love is real. Thank you Brian Weiss for that insight. C.S. Lewis said he continually surprised himself by how the daily grind closed his eyes to the world around him, and it took tragedy to shake his complacency, not wake him up. Life is a stage and we are merely players. The stage, however, is the place where we work out our issues. Don’t wait because the afterlife offers far fewer opportunities for passion, growth, and karmic balancing. Face your demons or they’ll be waiting for you the next time you return to this beautifully poignant training ground, Earth.

…..

I spoke about nuggets of insight left by my soul for me to find along the way in my quest to understand my plight. One of the most important was a trilogy of books called The Covenant Saga, by Stephen R. Donaldson. A tormented man is pulled from our world into a fantastical, mirror realm under attack by Lord Foul the Despiser, a character that is perhaps the best literary example of personified hate. Twice Thomas Covenant has a final showdown with Lord Foul. First time, Covenant laughs the evil into a ball of shame to retreat hiding. He realizes that the evil fed off his fears and his fears gave it life. Therefore it was only as strong as his fear. Second time is a tough-love scenario of being so fed up (I imagine Mr. Donaldson was after writing close to 3,000 hardback pages) that Covenant says go ahead, I give in. Lord Foul gets his fondest wish. But the scenario reversed. The more he summons power, the stronger becomes Covenant, now the gate on the cage preventing Lord Foul from leaving his material prison to enslave the cosmos.

Little did I know during junior high how those stories would assist my own confrontation with evil. It only has the power to destroy itself. Destruction is its essential nature. I haven’t seen it offer anything except deceit, envy and malice — warped images of purity. Perhaps evil has to exist to balance truth, generosity and love. That is the most likely reason by my experience. The true God, good, exists above it all. We can’t rely on this experience to answer questions about God. Otherwise, I can only explain evil as something that so many people have believed for so long, it comes true. We make it real by serving a system of institutionalized indifference. Seen that way, it is we collectively who manifest evil by allowing conditions to exist where it finds life – from elite suburbs like Littleton to crack houses to White Houses. And the ultimate reason why it finds life is because some people have twisted the world to get obscenely rich at the expense of the rest of us. Free market capitalism laissez-faire style is essentially institutionalized indifference.

Institutionalized indifference works the same for everyone except for those who can afford to live high above it. It cares not that to get ahead, parents have to trust their children alone to take on a complex world with limited help from home. The Littleton shooters talked about latch-key existence and the sort of cruel detachment it breeds among the materially fortunate. Klebold and Harris would rather go out enacting a dark fantasy than become part of what they despised for its hypocrisy, and failed to see for its beauty. They might have directed their passionate energy into changing the system one person at a time, heeding the call of compassion.

ii – institutionalized indifference – accepts ghettos as the home to the least fortunate, a permanent underclass largely doomed to an existence surrounded by drugs and violence. Equal opportunity doesn’t exist in capitalism’s world of winners and losers. Supplying the guns that multiplies the violence and the drugs that feed addictions: that’s ii.

Going back to the original point about good and evil, ii is the opposite of love, institutionalized. Indifference is the true opposite of love, the greatest crime against humanity. What kind of world would we choose to be born into – this one, or a world where quality of life is shared equally, while people are rewarded for effort through higher opportunity? In an ideal world we all rise and fall together, equal in the quality of our surroundings. An aspiring surgeon doesn’t look ahead at the long, daunting task of learning the job and ask, what’s my motivation, when the job itself is so cool. You get to rush to people’s rescue and sometimes play with really cool machines. You get educated freely in advanced medical sciences. You get to work with other really smart and motivated people doing something you love. Without HMOs, lawyers and insurance companies crawling up your ass, or the requirement of insanely long hours, surgeon would look like a damn fulfilling career worth the aspiration, but in a completely different way than it is sold now to smart, driven people. Privilege comes with the environment worked in. Being a hotel maid is still cleaning up mess so many hours a day, but all sorts of people contribute to creating a world where where some of us can rush off and save lives or make movies or build spaceships. As a society we would define and attach value based upon how something benefits all of us, not just the fortunate few who control most of the wealth and product of all of our labor.

Since publishing the original piece, I’ve been asked if it’s true, and my answer is yes, best to my knowledge. I’m tempted to think that I found meaning in a series of powerful but coincidental events. I’m an author and by nature a journalist; I have a vivid imagination. Also, trance is an inexact science, more an art, and Steve had an outline of my life to go by. But again and again he called forth images from my mind and explained events from various time periods of my life. He validated everything. The shades of ignorance remain open despite hands pulling at the string to convince me that my mind is my enemy. Ha! Tell that to my spirit guides, who are enjoying the new access to my life and leading me every day to further insight, and more….

Another validation arrived when my spiritual counselor recently began work with a client who is dealing with generational tragedy. Ten years of our work together gave him another healing tool. Plus I shared the story with a coffee shop companion and conventional therapist who was also aided in her practice. People are reading about my experience and hopefully learning about their own. I know they are, I see the search engine hits. Bottom line: The greater the sins of the father (and mother), the more imbalanced life gets for future generations. Bad energy accumulates. Patterns are reinforced. Lives are tragically ruined. But by no means is that the rule. Help is out there for anyone else struggling with the same issues. If my story is familiar, you can start by telling me yours. Send it to gmail.com care of groovywriter.

Virus Warning: Web cams hijacked by “The Mary Pwankstas”

Stop right now if you’re doing something in front of your web cam that you’d be embarrassed by, because it could be recording your every move and feeding it to a private network of northern European hackers known as the “The Mary Pwankstas.” Computer security experts have discovered a hijacking program that activates web cams and streams the video to servers in Russia, which in turn make it available to subscribers. Word of the service first leaked when an Oslo, Norway teenager accompanied his older brother to a secret underground wine & cheese party and blogged about watching twenty feeds at a time on an array of wall-size flat screen monitors while enjoying a $10 bite of Nokkelost. The post quickly disappeared from the Internet, but news circulated of the sordid acts witnessed, leading experts to investigate.

What they found is a small program that installs when visitors view streaming video at certain pornographic and explicit web sites. Using a flaw in popular software, the program coops the camera for viewers on the other end, in some cases even able zoom and use other features of unsuspecting computer user’s web cams. Victims’ only hope of knowing their computer is infected, at this point, is activating their cameras and getting an error message that “the device is already in use.” The malicious program does not appear as a process running in Windows Task Manager or as installed software under “add/remove programs”.

As computer security experts race to create a patch, computer users are advised to unplug their cameras. Authorities are monitoring the Internet for sites selling access to the feeds but so far have come up empty, and are unlikely to be successful. “The Mary Pwankstas” are an underground network of hackers who have a private computer network that’s part of the “dark Internet” where search engines cannot go and membership is invitation only. The Pwankstas began in northern Europe as a sort of rental service for rich socialites with exotic tastes who wanted easy access to their perversions without the risk of being caught. Soon, kiddie porn and live S&M shows weren’t enough to satisfy the lascivious hungers of the elite; they demanded ever more audacious acts like mutilation, castration and extreme bestiality involving the sacrifice of the animal. One rumor claims that the Pwankstas arranged for a mass viewing of a zero-g sex on the Russian space station, and while that salacious sip can’t be confirmed, Pwankstas members have been known to brag about arranging well-known and ironic pranks like porn clips slipped into children’s programming and sound effects of vomiting and diarrhea mixed over religious broadcasts.

Groovywriter will keep you updated.

The ultimate porn name: your “former” best friend’s

One can only imagine the level of high school feud that leads to cooping a name to use in making porn films. Remember that friend you fucked over way back when, your former bestest best friend ever? Yeah, well, payback’s a bitch, so says Vivid entertainment star Tara Madden, aka Syvette Wimberly of “Anal Camera 19” and “Big Cocks 5” fame. Madden’s friend in early high school back in Texas was Kristen Syvette Wimberly. The lawsuit Wimberly filed against Madden doesn’t reveal the nature or details of the conflict that tore the two asunder, but the “red-handed” evidence of her revenge is available for public viewing. Wimberly claims the besmirching of her name is deliberate, and we can only hope this case goes to trial to find out the dirt. We know she must have done something Top Ten List like screw Madden’s boyfriend ’cause Syvette Wimberly isn’t the first name I’d think of for a porn starlet. Sounds more like a tennis player, and not one of pretty Russian ones either. Sounds to me like Madden made the punishment fit the crime, so I bet the feud has something to do with a boy. If anyone has ideas about what Wimberly did to incur Madden’s wrath, leave a comment.

Lightning Strikes Twice for Scouts

If gays, the ACLU and abortionists were responsible for 9/11, according to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, whatÆs bringing down divine wrath on the Boy Scouts?

First a scouter leader struck a power line with a tent pole killing four, and four days later, two more dead on July 30th struck by lightning. Five days later, Scouts in Utah got another jolt this time from a lightning bolt, another Boy Scout dead, more injured. Then lightning struck again.áSeven dead in nine days in three incidents of high voltage, a very, very unusual coincidence. Or maybe a message.

The Boy Scouts famously exclude those who do not believe in God, but itÆs foolish to exclude a child who might benefit from exposure to the Scouts and their values, teachings and community. Requiring children to profess belief in a supreme being doesnÆt give them time to make up their minds and discourages free thinking. Besides, ten-year olds have no idea what God is except what theyÆve been told.á Might as well ask a Martian about Michael Jackson.

The YMCA is a Christian organization but doesnÆt exclude atheists.

My suggestion of divine retribution is every bit as ridiculous as Falwell and Robertson’s, but the point is not lost. The Scouts are squandering an opportunity to reach the very people who need them most, kids most likely not being taught about God at home. Seems unchristian-like.

When confronted with the same situation, the Girl Scoutsáthey were flexible and allowed the substitution of a few words to their pledge. They donÆt exclude.

ItÆs an awfully odd coincidence, all this electricity in the air. Maybe the Scouts should rethink their policy. Until then, if youÆre a Scout and a thunderstorm is coming, IÆd put down that golf club.

——

I never understood the French-bashing phenomena. IÆve even heard a few cracks about baguette-eating surrender monkeys on cooking shows. The French are so low on the American totem pole, they’d have less chance of surviving a Marine funeral than a pinada at a baseball game. But wait, didn’t the French come to America’s rescue in the Revolutionary War?

Oh yeah, thatÆs right, the Brits were pretty much kicking American ass until the French started supplying troops and resources. And it was a French fleet that blocked the Brits from resupplying and led to their surrender at Yorktown — to a combined American / French force. HereÆs a quote from a college course on the War:

ôWithout the involvement of the French, the U.S. victory (especially at the time and in the way that it happened) would have been in doubt. But, the Americans almost from the first failed to give adequate recognition to the French for what they had done….The involvement in the American cause turned out to be quite costly for the French government. It was never clearly established that the supplies were loans and not gifts – an issue never settled. As a result, the involvement in America turned out to be one of the factors that soon plunged the government into the chaos that resulted in the French Revolution.ö

Hmm. Flag waving, beret bashing, freedom-fry-flinging fools use history as their justification for the sophomoric characterization of a country — a country that tried to save us from a quagmire in Iraq for HeavenÆs sake! The French said Bush was being hasty and his justifications were shaky, which turned out to be true. Even the Congressman who proposed the freedom fry faux pas no longer supports the war.

YouÆd think the French would get a little more respect in this country — at the very least, on cooking shows.

—–

Under the category of worst excuse to kill your spouse, a Florida man was sentenced to die for bludgeoning his wife to death because she wanted to snuggle following sex and he wanted to watch Sportscenter. The man admitted to the crime and agreed with the sentence.

—–

Bush has done it again. He promised that fighting ôover thereö would prevent terror ôover here,ö but terror is already on American soil, right in the heart of the heartland, exported from Iraq to our sunny shores courtesy of clueless George.

IÆm talking about the thousands of soldiers coming home freaked out from a year or more of hell fighting an enemy that canÆt be distinguished from the population. Two GIs were in the news recently for home town shootings, and scores more have cited combat fatigue as the reason they snapped. TheyÆre coming back terrorized and passing it on to their families, neighbors, co-workers, or random people who donÆt look right.

There are a lot of unintended consequences to GeorgeÆs actions.

What was sold as a six-month breeze in the desert has become a two-years-and-counting slog that is taking a huge toll in lives lost, dollars cost, families disrupted and a White House corrupted. If WMD had been found, or Osama found hiding in Baghdad, or if Bush hadnÆt twisted 9-11 into his own personal crusade and tied it to Iraq, I wouldnÆt lay the blame on him for the costs of the war. But after reading about young soldiers coming home terrorized, possibly looking at another tour of duty coming up, and thinking about all the costs and all the deceptions large and small — yeah, clueless George deserves the blame.

He let Rumsfeld run amock in the early days and field an army too small to finish the job. He rushed to war on a political time line, invading before all resources were in place and all options exhausted so as not to get in the way of his reelection. At every turn he has bamboozled and floundered as commander-in-chief, repeating the old stay the course mantra reminiscent of LBJ and æNam. And he has no clue how to get us out.

And still to come, real live terrorists spread around the world after learning the tricks of the trade in the best simulation possible: an insurgent war on their turf. Brilliant move. We don’t have enough trouble at home so George stirs it up elsewhere.

Why this president is still approved of by 42 percent of Americans is beyond me. Maybe itÆs how he and his brother stood up for Terri Schiavo.

Prevent Terrorism by Staying Away

Originally published Dec 30, 2001

Enough. This is enough madness. If the future is filled with latex and decontaminates and Anthrax, I say enough — no more. Let’s get back to normal, by any means necessary.

But how? With The Red Death knocking at our door, canáwe ever haveá”normal” again? Maybe. The U.S. will have to restrain its collective lust for revenge after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and walk the narrowest of paths. To do what? Nothing less than give the terrorists what they want.

They want to die, and America should oblige if they conspire to attack us. I’m talking about something else they want, something a lot of Muslims want: the U.S.ágone fromáthe Middle East. Good idea. Uproot bin Laden and his network and get out, so fewer weeds pop up on American soil for the next wave of attacks. Prevent the attacks altogether — for good.

How long has the U.S. been fighting Iraq? Come on, we all know where this war is leading and how long it is going to take, and how different the world — America in particular — is going to be afterwards — assuming an after. Whether American involvement around the world is right or wrong, justified or not, is not relevant now. We’ve got an entirely new set of questions to ask ourselves as a culture to prevent a horrible future vision from becoming reality.

The overriding issue is that America is reaping heavier and heavier consequences for its interventions around the world. And the future is pointing toward still heavier consequences: more terror, more security, more brutality and insecurity. A police state in America. Possibly. Or something worse.

Unless America wants terrorism to become a fact of everyday life — like in many other places around the world — we have to try a different approach, something radical, even earthshaking: mind its own business. Why does the U.S. military have to be so spread around the world? What good is it doing — or better yet, what harm? Why invite trouble when we’ve already got enough at home?

By pulling back we aren’t turning the other cheek or giving in; rather reordering our priorities. Besides, turning the other cheek doesn’t always mean non-retaliation. It used to mean I’ve got two cheeks and the other is going to be a lot harder to hit. But a fight is sometimes won by avoiding it, said the famous Chinese war tactician, Sun-tzu, and America can avoid more terror by giving the enemy less of a target, less reason, less motivation. We don’t bother you, you don’t bother us.

Take care of bin Laden and other terrorists who threaten American soil, then get out. Get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Balkans. Turn our sites inward and think more within our own borders. Get this so-called war over with and get back home, to normal, to a place where the violence was relatively predictable.

———

It’s sometimes difficult for Americans to understand why anyone would hate us so badly to die striking at us collectively, but there are reasons that stretch way back. Arabs in particular have long memories, and the story of their last thousand years is popularly seen by them as the fall of a great, cultured, peaceful empire to stinky, violent, greedy, ignorantáEuropean Crusaders. Arab subjugation is complete with their freedom from colonial rule at the price of dependency on the West for oil money and foreign aid. What they want — what might prevent their extremists from lashing out — is to rule their own land without outside intervention, and they deserve the chance. Let them fight their own battles and make their own peace. They don’t need America for either.

Instead, let the U.S. help achieve peace through the U.N. Security Council, flexing other muscles than military to create security. This is a tremendous opportunity to fundamentally change America’s relationship with the world. If we’re cunningálike Sun-tzu and other wise warriors, we can make this war — what President Bush says is the “first” war of the new century — the last war we invite to our soil. Otherwise, prepare for a scary future of Anthrax cultures and security sweeps, rubber gloves and mail scares, suicide bombings and antibiotic runs, news alerts and gas masks….

John Ashcroft’s America: Shut Up and Toe the Line!

If I’m to believe Attorney General John Ashcroft correctly, my vocal and vigorous objections to his dragnet style of justice are unpatriotic, and worse, aid terrorists in their cause. By extension, I abet terrorism, because I don’t go along in lock-step with the AG’s new interpretation of civil liberties.

This sort of crass posturing, which Ashcroft argued in defense of his policies before the Senate last week, fits into a larger Bush Administration pattern of polarizing the world into “us” versus “them,” and could erode support for the war in the long run.Americans hopefully won’t tolerate Ashcroft’s simple arguments to justify extreme uses of power that push the limits of Constitutional authority.

His answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week stirred up the ghosts of McCarthy and Hoover. Arguing that dissent in this “time of war” is unpatriotic is simply the time-honored tactic of muzzling critics for political expediency. In the past, exercising such power meant detentions, blacklisting, and the occasional execution. It’s wrong to stir those specters and use such a big hammer to squash debate. Heaven forbid Jay Leno crack a few jokes at Ashcroft’s expense.

These tactics fit into a larger strategy the scope of which was evolving long before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Bush play book seems to be: deflect criticism back at the source while pushing ahead with a partisan agenda. Bush handcuffed Gore on many fronts this way during the 2000 election campaign, and is now using the war effort as an excuse for everything from corporate tax cuts to arctic oil drilling to mass detentions. Disagree with us and you aren’t supporting the war. That means you must side with the terrorists. Talk about cut-throat politics at its worst, the kind Bush promised to clean up with his pledges to be a “reformer” who would bring “civility” to Washington. It’s becoming obvious that behind the Reaganesque facade is a coarse, uncompromising politician who will exploit any advantage.

No surprise: The President’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, is from the old bare-knuckle school of politics that goes back to Lee Atwater, who apologized to those he attacked and renounced his style of politics before dying young in March 1991 of a cancerous brain tumor. Rove learned well at Atwater’s side –áso did Bush Jr. when Atwater ran George Sr.’s ’88 presidential campaign — and wrote the Bush play book with the same divisive, partisan tactics. It’s us versus them and we will try to win no matter what the cost.

Ashcroft proclaiming that dissent over his policies hinders the war effort and aids the terrorists in the long run is disingenuous considering that it’s Ashcroft’s policies that are the biggest threat to public support for the sometimes extreme measures being taken to prevent another terrorist attack. His attempt to muzzle critics and polarize the public is the sort of tactic for short-term gain that won’t wash in the long run.

He could have scored a few points and helped his cause by taking a more conciliatory tone, by admitting that his policies are harsh but the times require it. He couldve appealed to the public to hold its fire until after he can fully explain himself. He could have smiled, maybe once, during his appearance before the Senate.

But that’s not Big John’s style, or the style of the people behind him.