What the U.S. government is doing to destroy a legally operating entity—the short list

Federal employees and contractors—including the Dept of Homeland Security!—have been ordered to stay away from the WikiLeaks’ site and from documents made available by WikiLeaks. This prohibition includes the home use of newspapers and personal computers.

The U.S. Army, the FBI, and the Justice Department are threatening to prosecute WikiLeaks for “encouraging the theft of government property.”

The feds have teams of lawyers on the lookout for a pretext to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. The government has not shown a similar interest in prosecuting the scores of right-wing bloggers who have publicly called for his murder.

The Obama administration has asked (intimidated?) Britain, Germany, Australia, and other countries to find ways to prosecute WikiLeaks and its founder.

The Library of Congress has blocked access to WikiLeaks on its computers.

The feds have threatened to prosecute newspapers and websites that have published or posted documents made available by WikiLeaks.

The U.S. State Department has warned Columbia University that diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks are “still considered classified,” and that knowledge of them would “call into question students’ ability to deal with confidential information” should they apply for a job with that agency. (How would the government know that a private citizen had accessed such documents?)

Private people and entities that the U.S. government might have influenced in its war on WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks’ founder is on bail in Sweden after being charged with raping two women. Because there is no better way to discredit an organization than by charging its founder with sex crimes, and because the U.S. government appears to be doing all it can, short of murder, to destroy WikiLeaks, a scenario in which private citizens were paid to make false accusations appears conceivable.

Moneybookers and Paypal, sites that handled donations to WikiLeaks, have ended their affiliation with WikiLeaks.

Visa and Mastercard have stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

Amazon.com has cancelled its web-hosting contract with WikiLeaks.

Several of the above companies violated their contracts with their users and with Wikileaks when they cancelled their services.

However much you dislike WikiLeaks, please remember that it has never been charged with any crime (it is a felony to steal government documents, not to print them), and that the government’s many threats of prosecution of WikiLeaks, its founder, and those who reproduced material that WikiLeaks provided; as well as its attempt to encourage other nations to prosecute WikiLeaks or its founder can best be understood as harassment. Even if the feds can’t throw anyone in jail, they can discredit them or break them financially, and if they are willing to destroy one law-abiding person or entity today, is it unrealistic to worry they might go after another tomorrow?

Support WikiLeaks. Support it against the tyranny of the U.S. government and its lackeys. Support it if for no other reason than that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Support it because no government that uses its vast resources to destroy a law-abiding person or organization is ever your friend.

How America honors the birth of God Incarnate and all that he stood for

America is the most populous Christian nation on earth, so it might well be asked by those of you in heathen lands how we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, who was renowned for his unremitting opposition to greed, wealth, and consumerism; and his insistence on generosity, not to those who are able to be generous in return, but precisely to those who are unable to be generous in return.

First, we show our respect for the penitential season leading up to Christmas by only gaining eight to twelve pounds, which isn’t bad considering how much we weighed going into it.

On November 26 (the day after a major pig-out celebration known as Thanksgiving), we open our stores at 2:00 a.m. so the benefactors of the poor can get an early start on their Christmas gift buying at “Mark Down Prices.” Eager to take advantage of the “Early Bird Specials,” American Christians literally bring sleeping bags and stand—or rather lie—in line hours in advance. You can best understand this seemingly degrading ritual by comparing it to another revered religious practice known as self-flagellation.

The dedication of our citizenry to helping the poor is so intense in the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birthday, that there is a veritable shopping frenzy that continues until the night of Christmas Eve, when most stores close so their employees can go to church in order to be in the right frame of mind for distributing all of those colorfully wrapped packages to the poor on Christmas morning. “Ah,” you ask, “America is a rich country, is it not, so who are these poor people of whom you speak?” Well, sad to say, but America has many who lay claim to Christian Christmas generosity. They consist primarily of one’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, employer, and, of course, oneself.

When the holiday finally arrives, some impoverished children are so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of presents left by Santa, Mommy, Daddy, two grandmas, two grandpas, and assorted aunts and uncles, that they cry in frustration at opening them all. Truly, material excess requires some getting used to. Once all the poor people have gratefully received their holiday bounty, American Christians are so moved by the joy they brought into all those impoverished lives with the latest in Communist manufactured electronic gadgetry, that they just naturally want to go out bright and early on December 26, and give it another go. To help with this, the stores—which are understandably eager to support such a noble crusade—open in the wee hours yet again. This means that store employees have to miss out on time with their families in order to go to work in the middle of the night following two major holidays in a row, but they are only too happy to do it.

“Do American Christians observe Christmas in other ways?”

Oh, yes! Although buying gifts for indigent family, friends, and oneself most assuredly accounts for nearly all of the money spent, many churches do observe Christmas in other ways. For example, in most churches a colorfully robed choir sings happy holiday hymns amidst scores of potted poinsettias. A church near my house features a “living nativity” in which teenage girls and boys dress-up like angels, wise men, and shepherds, and take turns standing mutely around a manger that contains a fluorescently lit doll. Other churches “adopt” an entire poor family and drop gifts off at their house or apartment. Still others cook a turkey dinner for the indigent. And while most churches don’t meet on Christmas Day (making it one of the few birthday parties during which the guest of honor isn’t actually honored by his assembled friends), nearly all congregations listen to an Advent sermon in which they are reminded that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” (at least since the church converted or murdered all those solstice celebrating heathens). They are also told that they really need to give up at least a little of their accustomed holiday avarice, if not this year, then next year for sure. After all, if America’s way of honoring Christ’s birth doesn’t represent the true nature and depth of its religious piety, what does?

The manner of his burial

We brought Baxter’s body home on Friday, December 10, and buried him that Saturday. He lay on his chair for most of Friday, but Peggy put him in a cardboard box with a couple of his toys and moved him to the garage when his body began to smell.

Six of us attended his funeral, but no words were spoken. I took him out of the box, and lowered him into his grave by means of the tablecloth on which Peggy had laid him. I then tucked the tablecloth over his body, and Josh brought buckets of earth that I had stored under the eave of the house because of the rain. I emptied these buckets into his grave and tamped the dirt with a shovel.

I don’t know to what extent getting Brewsky so soon after Baxter’s death has enabled me to avoid—or at least postpone—grieving, nor do I know how much having another dog has helped. I do know that every time I lose a loved one to death, my own desire to live becomes that much less. Of course, I still have a lot to live for.

The state of my health

I’ll be lying awake in pain from osteoarthritis, syringomyelia, chondromalacia, a Baker’s Cyst, and an aching back, but I’ll be high at the same time because I will have taken a few Percocets or a couple of Demerols. Anyway, I’ll be lying there unable to sleep—partly because of the pain, and partly because being high makes my mind bounce all over the place—and I’ll think to myself: “Snow, you really could put yourself to sleep, you know. All you would have to do would be to take a maximum dose of one narcotic or another and a maximum dose of one sleeping pill or another plus three Neurontins, two Tofranils, and one Requip, and wash it all down with a shot of vodka… Okay, forget the vodka, at least until I build up such a tolerance to the pills that they stop working.” Well, it’s tempting sometimes because I’ve been lying awake most nights for years. Of course, the downside would be that I might die, or the house might burn down around me without me waking up until the roof fell on my chest.

I take a fair amount of scary drugs, and sometimes I enjoy them, but I never take more than I need, and rarely as much as I need. I sometimes wonder which would actually be worse for my body, taking enough pills to make me sleep, or the exhaustion I experience from never getting enough sleep. I just know that I take more pills than I ever imagined I would, and, as a consequence of the pills and the pain, I never feel really good anymore, and I never feel really intelligent anymore either. In fact, I worry about how much more I can handle before my organs start to fail.

I got another referral to a neurologist (the same neurologist who did my vertebral biopsy when my C5 turned up osteonecrotic—aka dead), but she won’t see me until I get another MRI, but I can’t get another MRI until insurance okays it, but insurance can’t okay it until my orthopedist submits the proper form. Insurance denied the Synvisc injections, so I have that on appeal, only I have no idea how speedily the orthopedist’s staff is moving on it. I just know that medical staff people tend to thwart a patient at every turn if he becomes impatient. I think this is because overpaid doctors, who are mostly male, treat underpaid staff people, who are mostly female, disrespectfully, so staff people take it out on the only people who are lower on the totem pole than they are, the patients—especially the male patients, although I am not too sure about this part of my theory. But anyway…

The steroid shot I got earlier this month has already stopped working, so I’m positively screwed, pain-wise, until I either get the Synvisc, or the surgical neurologist cuts me open again, or the orthopedist cuts me open again. I’ve been waiting for one thing or another to happen for years, and the glacial slowness of the process really makes me envy people who are so rich that they can get on their Lear Jets, fly to the top specialists, and plop a hundred thousand dollars on the counter and not miss it. They can no doubt get themselves moved to the head of every line too, but I wouldn’t do that, and I wouldn’t mind even a little bit shooting any rich person who did. Of course, that's a politically incorrect thing to say just as saying that I sometimes enjoy being high on narcotics is a politically incorrect thing to say. But, you know, my fondest dream is that I would never need another pill for as long as I live. As for shooting rich people, I think we could do with a few less of those bloodsuckers.

Cat, $35; toys and accessories $783; damage to property $682; playing mean tricks on cat, priceless

Is my cat the feline equivalent of trailer trash if he ignores his new seven-story “cat tower,” but goes bananas over the box it came in?

If my cat hates his new bed and cat toys but loves the worn-out bed and beat-up dog toys that belonged to my recently deceased schnauzer, is my cat possessed by my schnauzer’s ghost?

When my wife and I are reading in bed at night, and we hear claws ripping through leather furniture and knickknacks crashing to the floor all over our house as our cat systematically demolishes everything we’ve worked 39 years to accumulate; would it be an overreaction to shoot, stab, strangle, or immolate our cat?

If I’m unable to wake my cat up to play during the evening hours even if I hold him upside down by his hind feet and shake him, but he wakes me up to play throughout the night by jumping on my face and yowling, does this mean that I adopted a night-shift cat when what I really wanted was an evening shift cat?

When my elderly and blind heeler is trying to make her way to her food bowl, why won’t my young and agile cat move to one side rather than wait patiently for the dog to get within range and then shred her nose?

My cat appears to love me, but I can’t escape the sneaky suspicion that it would kill me and play games with my corpse if I were suddenly reduced to the size of a mouse. Am I simply being paranoid?

Do you know where I can find the book Dogs are from God; Cats are from Satan?

What to name the baby?

Baxter wouldn't understand us getting a cat, and he would be incensed to learn that the cat prefers the chair that he sat in for eleven years, the one that is by the window that overlooks his grave. These things are hard for Peggy and me too.

Peggy "wasn't ready" to get another dog until four years after our last schnauzer, Wendy, died in 1993. That other dog was Bonnie, who is now 13. So, when she suggested going to the humane society two days after Baxter's death to look at dogs, I jumped at the chance for fear that I might not get another one for years. When none of the dogs clicked with us, we visited the cattery--just for the hell of it, you know--and there was a little mellow kitten that, wonder of wonders, we both liked. I want to name him Buzz (he purrs long and loud), but Peggy insists on Brewster, and Peggy usually gets her way. Just between you and me though, isn't Buzz a better name? I won't hate you--and Peggy will love you--if you disagree.

The manner of his passing

Following a pleasant but fatiguing walk and a quiet afternoon that he spent cuddling with Peggy, Baxter began coughing up blood and struggling to breathe last night. Peggy became frantic, and sat on the floor holding him and wailing. She asked me to call two nearby friends, which I did. First Ellie and then Shirley stayed with us until after midnight. Before they arrived, Peggy had said she was going to have the vet come to our house and euthanize Baxter today, but when the normal doses of the medications I gave him proved inadequate, she asked me to euthanize him immediately.

I gave him fourteen times his usual dose of a tranquilizer, but when he was still awake two hours later, I gave him four (human) doses of Percocet, but the entire night passed without him going to sleep, although he was able to rest peacefully in Peggy's arms. He continued to gasp for air, and his heart continued to beat at a phenomenal rate, but he no longer coughed, and he did not appear to be in pain or emotional distress. I saw no point in giving him more pills.

Peggy stayed up with Baxter all night, but I couldn't just sit with him because of his odors and my grief, so I stayed busy doing what I could to provide for his and Peggy's comfort, and I took two naps when there was nothing more to do. I think that, perhaps, Peggy is stronger than I because I couldn't have done what she did. Of course, I suppose it's also possible that she couldn't have done what I did.

As soon as the vet's office opened, I got an appointment to take Baxter in at 8:45 to be euthanized. Ellie went with us. Sean first gave him a shot containing three sedatives followed ten minutes later by an injection to stop his heart. Peggy and I held our hands over his strong little heart until he was gone. Sean was surprised that my own efforts to kill Baxter hadn't succeeded, and he had no explanation why this was so.

The hardest part of the night was to watch Baxter's desperate efforts to live and to think that we hadn't done everything we could to give him that chance. I was all but wild with remorse until Sean said that, if we had treated Baxter, it most likely would have resulted in five months of keeping him alive in pain and misery versus the three months of love and comfort he had enjoyed. Oh, but I want to be with him! Shirley offered that someday I will be, but I can't even begin to accept an idea for which there is no evidence. As I see it, in the entire history of the universe, Baxter existed for 11 years, three months, and three days, and now he has returned to everlasting nothingness. Yesterday at this time, he was taking a nap with Peggy. Now, he is gone, and it's very hard to take that in despite the fact that I have seen more deaths than most people.

As I write, Baxter is lying on the chair that he and Peggy shared for these many years, but he is cold and stiff and his eyes are glazed, so there is no comfort in touching him. Yet, when I look at him, he appears to be breathing. Above his chair is a window and a feeder that I built for the squirrels. Baxter loved to watch squirrels, and I would often hold him in my arms so that he could get a better view. When we brought him home from the vet today, I held him there for the last time. It was a gesture of questionable merit, but I was desperate to do something.

Peggy has been asleep for hours, but sadness kept me awake--that and the fact that I slept, perhaps, three hours last night. I couldn't sleep for the sadness. Ellie's son, Josh, was to dig Baxter's grave tomorrow, but I went ahead and did it. Perhaps, I will be in physical pain a long time for that, but it was what I wanted to do. It was all that was left for me to do. Now, I can be still with my grief.

The following is entitled Baxter's Lullaby. Peggy composed it in 1999, soon after we brought him home:

Sleep, baby sleep, sleep the whole night through.
Sleep, baby sleep, you know that I love you.
And when you wake, the night will turn to day.
Sleep, baby sleep, sleep the night away.

Dream, baby dream, of things you love to do.
Dream, baby dream, dream the whole night through.
And when you wake, your dreams will make you smile.
Dream, baby dream, dream a little while.

This is Baxter's Nonsense Verse that Peggy wrote a few months later:

Baxter-waxter, wally-woo
Best'est dog I ever knew.
Baxter-waxter, wally-west
Best'est dog of all the rest.

Baxter-waxter, wally-wee
Best'est dog for you and me.
Baxter-waxter, wally-wuv,
Best'est dog a girl could love.

Isabella and Baxter

Isabella moved in a few days ago. I took her back out, but it was so cold that I couldn’t bring myself to leave her, so I brought her in again and gave her some fruit. She was quite hungry. She disappears everyday only to turn up again in some unexpected place at night. I let her crawl around on my hand while I watch TV, and then I put her to bed on her fruit plate. I placed an upside-down bowl partway on top of the plate, so Isabella could sleep in the dark, but she prefers to sleep on top of the bowl.

I have a hornets’ nest hanging in the den, and Peggy worried that Isabella was but a precursor to hordes that were about to hatch out, but I assured her that there is no mistaking a yellow jacket for a bald-face hornet, and this made her feel some better, but she still won't cuddle up with Isabella.

Oregon doesn’t have nearly as many kinds of wasps as Mississippi did, and I miss them. One night in 1977 when I was building our house down there, I was smoking pot while painting the upper portion of a vaulted ceiling. A few dozen large red wasps were flying aimlessly in the vicinity of a light that was on the wall above the second floor balcony. They had come indoors that day, had been unable to find their way out, so were now awake hours past their bedtime with no hope of going home again. I was atop a sixteen-foot ladder, a bucket of paint in one hand and a brush in the other, and I was moving ever closer to these wasps.

In my altered condition, I believed I was able to tune into their mental state, and that we were on the same wavelength, this despite their increasing agitation each time I moved in their direction. I kept advancing anyway, certain that their anxiety was not prompted by me but by the smell of paint in the hot, humid air. When I got within five feet of them, they began feinting dives at my head, and otherwise making it clear that they were about to nail me. I finally descended in the belief that my connection with them might not have been imaginary—after all, they had shown more patience than I had a right to expect.

When my father and I painted houses together, he would destroy red wasp nests by dousing them with gasoline. The moment it touched them, the wasps would fall straight to the ground by the hundreds. Then, he would knock the nest down. The rest of the day, the ones who hadn’t been on the nest would fly around aimlessly, but without a family to defend, they seldom stung.

I built a home for solitary wasps, and every year I have a few small nests of yellow wasps in my toolshed. I used to remove these nests, but most years, I would forget to look up to see that they were there until the summer was half over. After a few years of brushing my head against them without ever once being stung, I left them in peace. I think of wasps in the same way that I think of a lot of other creatures that have the power to hurt or even kill me, but don’t go around looking for an excuse to do so. All that they ask of me is that I respect their boundaries.

Unfortunately, this is hard to do with aggressive wasps that I don’t even see—like yellow jackets that live in the ground. There have been years when Peggy and I and both dogs were stung many times because we walked over their holes while hiking. I’ve even seen Peggy stand on top of a hole brushing yellow jackets out of Baxter’s fur while more were pouring out at them. She’s a funny girl when her maternal instincts go into overdrive.

I’ve thought a lot about what is right for Isabella. Her family is dead, and she has no real home and no work to do, so it might be better if I left her to die in the cold. Whether it’s a plant, a dog, or a wasp, once I take something in, I feel morally obligated to care for it, yet I don’t always know what is best.

Night before last, Baxter started moaning and shivering as he struggled to breathe. I have many drugs that might relieve his distress, but which might also kill him. I tried to talk the matter over with Peggy, but she didn’t have much to say, and I concluded that this was one of those situations that she wanted me to handle. I was about to give him a few grains of a Percocet when I remembered that I had a tranquilizer that we give to Bonnie anytime there are fireworks, so I gave a quarter tablet of it to Baxter. That should have been a low dose, but it knocked Baxter on his ass. In fact, I thought I had killed him, and I cried off and on for the next six hours while I waited for him to die. He looked so little and so pitiful that I didn’t know how I could bear it. Every time I thought I had pulled myself together, I would cry some more.

At one point, I tried to rouse him by standing him up, but his every leg splayed out in a different direction. Six hours later, I woke him up enough to pee, but as he was standing in the yard struggling to stay on his feet, Bonnie—who is blind—knocked him over. I couldn’t help but laugh at my two elderly dogs, but five minutes later, I was crying again. Now that I’m getting old and have seen a lot of death, you might think I would handle these things better, but the truth is that death seems even heavier to me now than it did when I was young.

The next day, Baxter was alert and active only to sink again last night. This time, I gave him an eighth of a tranquilizer, and that amount seemed just about right. Peggy suggested that we call the vet to be sure the pills are safe for him, but I told her that I didn’t see any need for that since he’s dying anyway. My only goal is to keep him comfortable. When I can no longer do that, I would prefer to euthanize him myself, but Peggy is determined that the vet do it.

Peggy becomes ever more unreasonable

Peggy went to bed before I did last night because she had a migraine, so I put the dogs out to go potty just before I went to bed. I forgot to let them back in because I’m not used to letting them out, and they froze to death. Of course, I didn’t know this because I was asleep. Anyway, Peggy got up first—having gone to bed first—and couldn’t find the dogs. After she had looked all over the house, it finally occurred to her to look outside, and there they were, two little pupsicles, right by the front door.

Since I could hardly bring them back to life anyway, and since I certainly don’t believe in the “power of prayer,” she could have let me sleep, but, no, not Peggy. She was upset, so, by god, she wanted me to be upset too. Putting that aside, I tried to comfort her in my usual compassionate manner by pointing out that they were old and sickly anyway, so their deaths probably saved us a lot of vet bills and carpet cleanings, but that just seemed to make her madder. I’m really tired of Peggy getting pissed-off over every little thing. To hear her tell it, she never makes mistakes. Yeah, right, when she’s asleep.

That was our second fight this week. The first occurred when she found out that I had invited my EOAWSGI group (Embittered Old Atheists Who Spit on God and Innocence) over to smoke dope and watch porn the same night that her VYCWEEEV group (Voluptuous Young Christians Who Eschew Evil and Embrace Virtue) was supposed to come over to bake brownies and look at pictures of a church they built in Haiti last summer so that all those starving people would have a place to pray for food.

I suggested that we bake the brownies with the dope inside and then watch the porn together, but she said that my idea was asinine because my atheist friends are all foul-mouth jerks who only want to make god-fearing Christians look stupid. She then said that my friends are all idiots, just like me; to which I replied that it takes one to know one and that all her friends are all idiots twice over, just like her. Things went downhill from there. I don’t know why Peggy can’t treat me the way she did when we had our first date in 1971. When you get married, you don’t expect your spouse to go all to hell this way.