Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Imperial Arrogance Blogging

Happy Anniversary.

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Every now and again, it's worth reminding ourselves that Richard Nixon was a hapless, paranoid racist.

Via Empire Burlesque and A Tiny Revolution, we read of Daniel Ellsberg's posting of Nixon's White House transcripts dealing with him and the Pentagon Papers, which Ellsberg leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post in 1971. Among the highlights:

Nixon: Jewish families are close, but there's this strange malignancy that seems to creep among them - radicalism. I can imagine how the fact that Ellsberg is in this must really tear a fella like Henry to pieces - or Garment. Just like the Rosenbergs and all that. It just has to kill them. I feel horrible about it.

Ziegler: Could make up an English name.

Haldeman: . . . Rosenstein could change his name. . . .

[general laughter]

Ziegler: It is right. It's always an Ellsberg.

Nixon: Every one's a Jew. Ellsberg's a Jew. Halperin's a Jew.

Haldeman: Gelb's a Jew.

Nixon: But there are [unclear] - Hiss was not a Jew. Very interesting thing. So few of those who engage in espionage - are Negroes. . . . In fact, very few of them become Communists. If they do, they like, they get into Angela Davis - they're more the capitalist type. And they throw bombs and this and that. But the Negroes. - have you ever noticed? . . . . Any Negro spies?

Haldeman: Not intellectual enough, not smart enough. . . not smart enough to be spies.

Nixon: The Jews - the Jews are, are born spies. You notice how many of them are just in up to their necks?

Haldeman: A basic deviousness.

Hunter S. Thomspon said it best in 1994, after Nixon died:
If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.

Friday Cat Blogging



Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Right Wing Radio: Two Stories


While driving to softball practice last night, I rewarded myself for a day of pointless slacking by taking in the usual diarrhea-spray coming from the local talk radio station. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I'm pretty immune to right wing radio these days, and I listen to it more than I should. I can't watch Fox News without having a petit mal seizure, but for some reason radio doesn't affect me. I'm almost never surprised by what Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Glenn Beck and the rest have to say, and I can usually predict where the conversations are heading. I'm not being arrogant — I just listen to it quite a bit, and the range of ideas available is pretty limited for these hosts and the pleckos who slip by the phone sceeners and make it on the air. "Yes, Rush, the soldiers at Abu Ghraib could have gotten NEA grants for what they did; yes, Dr. Laura, mothers who work are selfish bitches who deserve the unhappy, delinquent children they create; yes, Glenn, Terri Schiavo is a martyr for the culture of life. Yes, Bob from Indiana, Democrats are godless, gun-swiping faggots. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it."

Every now and then, though, something takes me by surprise and reminds me that my weird fetish is probably more corrosive than it seems. Yesterday evening, for instance, Michael Reagan — yes, that Reagan — was chatting with an animal rights advocate whose organization is calling for a one-day, nationwide boycott of chicken and other poultry, the purpose being to illuminate the plight of birds raised for slaughter. Reagan's sole reason for having this poor, naïve woman on his show was to mock her. (This seems fair enough — if you're running this sort of campaign and you don't know enough to turn down requests from conservative talk shows, you pretty much deserve what you get.) But as Reagan baited her relentlessly and childishly — asking her if chickens had souls, asking her why chicken tastes so good if we're not meant to eat it, asking her if vegans cared about all the mushrooms they slaughtered — the circuit-breaker in his brain suddenly failed, and the political unconscious of conservative radio revealed itself.

"What about all the blacks?" he asked. "Don't they love chicken?"


The summer before I started graduate school, I worked at an AM station in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I punched in commercials and read Studs Terkel books for three hours a day during the G. Gordon Liddy show. I earned $4.50 an hour for this, which supplemented the income I was already earning from working at Subway. It was an influriating summer, listening to that little bald Nazi screech and thunder every aftenoon about "Hillarycare," or gays in the military, or the fact that Bill Clinton — a draft dodger — was going to speak to the nation on Memorial Day. All this from the guy who planned the Watergate burglary. I endured this job five days a week for three months of my life. Sometimes on weekends I'd pull and extra shift and run commercials during broadcasts of NASCAR races, which are even more boring and pointless on the radio. At night, choking on my frustration at Subway, I gave away free sandwiches to the poor kids who lived near Harrisonburg's fast food ghetto; all I asked in return was that they hang out in the parking lot and frighten the customors away.

Everyone at the station thought Liddy was the shit, especially the right-wing handjob who sat in the studio adjacent to mine and read the news at the top of each hour. Our rooms were divided by a small. soundproof window, and we used a less-than-complicated system of hand gestures to cue each other back and forth between the news and Liddy. Most days I was grateful for not having to hear him speak. I could see him nodding and grinning and slapping his hand against his leg whenever Liddy got really worked up, and I was never unsure of his perspective on the day's news. In June of that summer, he rejoiced — thrusting his fist in the air triumphantly — when ABC broadcast the news that a Cuban police officer in Miami had been acquitted of shooting a black guy in the back. This being a little over a year after the LAPD show trial and subsequent riots, a lot of black folks in Miami did not take the acquittal well; in the predictable violence that followed, several neighborhoods were torched. As my colleague finished the newscast and gave me the sign to bring up the satellite feed again, he looked at me through the plexiglass and shook his head. I was a pretty good lip reader by this point. "Fucking animals," he said. Then Liddy started in again.

I spent the rest of the afternoon running the station's commercials through the bulk eraser.

Coming Soon to a Streetcorner in My Neighborhood


Inside Higher Ed has a story this week about the declining value of faculty salaries this year:
Faculty members are getting slightly larger raises this year than last year, but the raises have less buying power.

The average salary increased by 2.8 percent in 2004-5 — weighted across all types of institutions and all faculty ranks — according to data released last week by the American Association of University Professors. That’s better than last year’s increases of 2.1 percent, which was a 30-year low. But inflation was extremely low last year, and rose to 3.3 percent this year. That means average increases lagged behind inflation for the first time in eight years.
Yep, this about describes it. We got a 2.7% raise this year, and we've fallen farther into debt than ever. And with our 9-month contract ending soon, I'll have to break out my...uh...entrepreneurial get through the summer. My only solace is that come October 15, high oil prices over the past year will likely result in a larger Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (the wad of blood money Alaska residents "earn" each year from pillaging our environment, bowing to our corporate masters, and hastening the extinction of life on this planet).

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It's Like They Know Me


A Dagger Pointed at the Heart of Antarctica

Erik at Alterdestiny has a good post pointing out that John Tierney's valentine in the NY Times to the Chile's private pension fund is, to use a term of art, a crock of shit. Tierney, who should not be permitted to share editorial space with Paul Krugman, uses his Chilean friend "Pablo" as a friendly foil to claim that privatized pensions would be just marvelous for Americans. Tierney quotes his friend, an econ professor at the University of Chile:
"I'm very happy with my account," he said to me after comparing our pensions. He was kind enough not to gloat. When I enviously suggested that he could expect not only a much heftier pension than mine, but also enough cash to buy himself a vacation home at the shore or in the country, he reassured me that it would pay for only a modest place.
Tierney notes that most Chileans "don't contribute regularly to their pensions because they're unemployed or working off the books. That's a common situation in the developing world, no matter what the pension system is. But if you contribute for at least 20 years, Chile guarantees you a minimum pension that, relative to the median salary, is actually more generous than the median Social Security check."

This grotesque — and incorrect — perspective excuses the obvious shortcomings of a system that works only for the wealthy. As Erik writes in response:
But isn't the point of social security to help ensure basic survival for the poor? Not if you're rich like Tierney it's not. For the Republicans, the actual reason for social security to exist is lost in the debate over how much money we can move to the stock market. Maybe if you're rich like Tierney's friend--a major economist in Chile--you can make a lot of money through private accounts. But you can do that anyway if you're rich!! It's called investing your money. We can fund social security to provide a dignified life for less wealthy elderly people while still allowing Americans who want to invest all the money they want so that they can buy their ivory-covered backscratchers when they're 85.
But that would only prolong the life of America's Socialist Revolution, as Bush DC Court of Appeals nominee Janice Brown has described it. We gotta gut the beast! For all their failures thus far, the Bushies have already succeeded in shifting the conversation toward terms like "pensions" and away from clunkier, less personal — but more humane and just — terms like "social insurance," which is what Social Security was designed to be. (But what would you expect from a party that tries to saddle contemporary Democrats with the racist, obstructionist work of their Dixiecrat ancestors? It just shows why history matters in all this. All the classic, old school Democratic racists either bolted the party from 1964-1972 or hunkered down with a slab of fatback and a squirrel gun and held out until death or retirement turned their seats over the Republicans.) In any event, the use of Chile as the latest example only goes to show how badly their earlier point of comparison — Britain's disastrous Thatcherite private account system — has failed to enlighten and instruct.

But don't take my word for it. Lets see what another Chilean economist, Manuel Riesco, has to say about his nation's pension system.
Meanwhile, recent studies by the State Regulator of the private pension administrators, Superintendencia de Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones, conclude that over half of the affiliates of the system will never be able to save enough in their pension accounts by retirement to fund even the "minimum pension,” which is currently set at about $130 U.S. dollars a month. Not only that but this majority of the workforce is not entitled to the complementary public social security "safety net" either. Two other studies by the government administrator of the public pension system Instituto de Normalización Previsional conclude that about two-thirds of worker affiliates will be unable to save enough for the minimum pension.

All of the studies concur that the government’s guarantee of a "minimum pension" is ineffective, because very few affiliates in need of that guarantee will qualify for its prerequisite of 20 years’ contributions to the system. Most affiliates do not apply for the non-contributive "assistance pension" offered by the state, which currently amounts to about $65 U.S. dollars a month, because it is subject to quotas and targeted toward the extremely poor. This leaves most of the Chilean workforce with no pension entitlement at all--except withdrawing the meager funds accumulated in their individual pension accounts.

These results have been confirmed by none other than the World Bank, an institution that during the past decades championed Chilean-style pension reforms all over the world. In a recent book, suggestively entitled Keeping the Promise, the bank acknowledges that private pension systems are not able to provide income security for old age for sizable portions of the workforce. It suggests that the state should provide some kind of basic pension entitlement that is not subject to any sort of quotas.
The World Bank, huh? Paul Wolfowitz should really look into this.

Crazy Talk

As if we needed further clarification that Janice Rogers Brown should be prevented from having anything to do with the DC Court of appeals, there's this story from the LA Times regarding a speech Brown gave on Sunday to a group of Catholic lawyers, judges and paralegals:
"There seems to have been no time since the Civil War that this country was so bitterly divided. It's not a shooting war, but it is a war," she said, according to a report published Monday in the Stamford Advocate.

"These are perilous times for people of faith," she said, "not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."

. . . The [Samford, CT] Advocate quoted Brown as lamenting that America had moved away from the religious traditions on which it was founded.

"When we move away from that, we change our whole conception of the most significant idea that America has to offer, which is this idea of human freedom and this notion of liberty," she said.

She added that atheism "handed human destiny over to the great god, autonomy, and this is quite a different idea of freedom…. Freedom then becomes willfulness."
If the Democrats compromise on this nominee, they'll be handing "human destiny" over to the willfulness of the loons who brought us Justice Sunday.

Garbage Day

Tuesday is garbage day in my neighborhood. Time to take out the weekly accumulation of coffee grounds, cat shit, dog fur, and rancid food from the back of the fridge. Time to haul three 50-gallon plastic drums choked to the rim with wilted celery, discarded junk mail, used syringes, empty pill bottles, bags of severed fingers, popsicle sticks and plastic wrapping. God, how I love garbage day — a day of cleansing and atonement. The day we bury the evidence.

Time for you to read some filth.

Start with Coyotelaw, wherein we read of computer hacking, working lunches and S&M in an unnamed Western town that can only be described as a malignant version of Lake Wobegon for lawyers and their self-destructive clients.

Then, move on to this WMA file, wherein we hear a 5-minute string of vile of phone messages left by Pat O'Brien, the nasally obnoxious host of "Insider Hollywood" and other banal atrocities.

If you are so inspired, you might read this story about Biblical porn and a camp counselor with a grudge to bear.

And finally, purge your soul here. Confess. Vent. Write a rough draft of an angry letter to God. Spew your venom. To wit:
It makes me sick at how infrequently you bathe. Sometimes I see you go weeks without a shower, and I wonder how you can stand to even lay naked with yourself. You have to smell worse than anyone I've ever met, or dated at least. And then you expect to touch my face with your hands after they've been digging around in your ass crack, or under your smelly balls? God you have got to be one really self centered cock to think that your stench is something that everyone (especially the person you expect to fuck you and suck your nasty cock) should have to deal with while still worshipping the ground you walk on. News flash for ya, that ground smells better than you do. Wash your fucking hands, wash your nasty fucking ass. But come to think of it, even when you do shower, you still smell like shit. I think you spend so long building up that rotten stench that the only way it's ever going to come off is by sitting in a bath of bleach, salt and lemons - with a grill brush scrubbing away at your lower torso. God you make me gag when I smell you. And then you smile at me thinking I'm going to smile back at you or think lovingly toward you. God damn. I don't even want to be with you anymore over this.
Garbage day is strange and beautiful.

Monday, April 25, 2005



"The world has an opportunity -- and a RESPONSIBILITY -- to help the Iraqi people build a nation that is stable, secure, and free."
— GWB, 16 October 2003

Even in Baghdad it is evident from the hundreds of bodies arriving at the mortuary that this has become one of the most violent societies on earth. The Iraqi Body Count figure is probably much too low, because US military tactics ensure high civilian losses a bizarre aspect of the war is that US commanders often do not understand the damage done by their weapons in Iraq's close-packed cities.

US firepower, designed to combat the Soviet army, cannot be used in built up areas without killing or injuring civilians. Nevertheless, a study published in the Lancet saying that 100,000 civilians have died in Iraq appears to be too high. But the lack of definitive figures continues to dehumanise the uncounted Iraqi dead. As Dr Richard Garfield, a professor of nursing at Columbia University and an author of the Lancet report, wrote: "We are still fighting to record the Armenian genocide. Until people have names and are counted they don't exist in a policy sense."

The immunity of US troops means that there is nothing to inhibit them opening fire in what for them is a terrifying situation. For all their modern armament they are vulnerable to suicide bombers and roadside bombs. In the first case the attacker is already dead and in the second the man who detonates the bomb is probably several hundred yards away and in cover. With nobody else to shoot at it is the civilians who pay the price.
Patrick Cockburn, 24 April 2005

"I'm asking all Americans to examine this plan and I'm asking for your support. The Constitution charges the Congress with the RESPONSIBILITY to write our tax laws. And I respect that responsibility. But it is my obligation to lead, and that's what I'm going to do. My plan is good for the long-term health of our economy. It is good for the businesses that create jobs. It is good for America and for the American families that make our country so unique and strong."
— GWB, 5 February 2001

According to John Snow, the Treasury secretary, the global economy is in a "sweet spot." Conservative pundits close to the administration talk, without irony, about a "Bush boom."

Yet two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup say that the economy is "only fair" or "poor." And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse. . . .

The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II.

The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.
Paul Krugman, 25 April 2005

WTF, God?


While trawling the conservative media today for nuggets of craziness, I happened upon this shocking confession
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he had prayed to God during the conclave not to be elected pope but that "evidently this time He didn't listen to me."

For the first time since his election, Benedict shed light on his feelings inside the conclave during an audience with German pilgrims, who gave a hero's welcome to the first German pope in centuries. . . .

"At a certain point, I prayed to God, 'Please don't do this to me,"' he told the audience, saying he viewed the swelling votes in his favor as a "guillotine." He recalled saying to God in his prayers: "You have younger, better, more enthusiastic and energetic candidates."

"Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me," Benedict said.
That's because he was too busy preparing for Justice Sunday. Somebody had to write Bill Frist's speech.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Idiot of the Day


Steven Hayward, Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute and Weyerhauser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, for this gem in the National Review Online:
It is a great myth that SUVs are greater polluters. True, they use more gasoline, but they now have the same emissions standards as all other automobiles, so replacing your old clunker with a new SUV will actually help clean up ozone smog in America. Because they use more gas, they do emit more carbon dioxide, but remember, carbon dioxide is not a noxious pollutant, but plant food.
Why is Hayward an idiot? Well, because of this, for starters. Signed by two dozen luminaries of the industry-funded critics of the "global warming" thesis, this 2002 letter chided Bush about that year's Climate Action Report, which Bush himself dismissed as a product of "the bureaucracy." Not satisfied with just bitching about the report, Hayward and others recommended that heads be severed and mounted on pikes:
We therefore urge you to withdraw Climate Action Report 2002 immediately and to direct that it be re-written on the basis of sound science and without relying on discredited products of the previous administration. As production and release of this report demonstrates, pursuing your global warming and energy policies effectively will not be possible as long as key members of your administration do not fully support your policies. We therefore also urge you to dismiss or re-assign all administration employees who are not pursuing your agenda, just as you have done in several similar instances.
The Pacific Research Institute is one of dozens of groups receiving money each year ($175,000 from Exxon since 1998) to "discredit" global warming in much the same way creationists attack evolution — by claiming that it is "just a theory," by using inconsistencies to undermine an complex body of scientific research, and by accepting money from powerful groups whose interests are contrary to the entire notion of empirical validity and scholarly ethics. Nothing they say should be taken seriously, and yet a perusal of the list of signatories reads like an index of op-ed contributors to conservative publications like National Review and Weekly Standard.

I'm especially irked by this sort of nonsense today after chatting with a federal USGS employee last night at a dinner gathering. This fellow — a biologist who studies marine life — was describing conditions I've known about in the abstract for quite some time (e.g., that the Bush adminsitration is more hostile to serious scientific labor than any other administration in US history). He was exasperated and exhausted, observing several times that he was ready to quit and join the droves of non-partisan biologists and geologists fleeing the various federal agencies charged with studying the environment and creating decent policies to ensure its vitality. Federal employees, he said, are walking around afraid to use terms like "evolution" and "climate change" in their research proposals and reports, for fear of just the sort of retaliation recommended by the PRI and other groups. It was a depressing conversation, enlivened only by our shared, bitter sense of humor and disgust. Mother Jones has a good series on global warming this month that I recommended to him. I don't imagine it will ease his frustration much, but it just might feed his anger enough to keep him from surrendering quite yet.

Sunday Dickhead Blogging



Saturday, April 23, 2005

Site Meter Support Group

Loretta at Gone Feral has a problem, and its name is Site Meter. Earlier in the week, Loretta explained that
Now I have Sitemeter, and I can see how many people visit my blog per day (about ten) their average length of time spent on the site (about five minutes), what time zones they holler from (Mostly CST and EST, with Paris and Alaska in the mix) and who sent 'em. . . . Delightful info, right? Well, some of it. If you hail from an academic institution, I can see you log in and usually know who you are. I can also see that you left after only thirty seconds. What, did you not like my post? Also, why have you not emailed me in three weeks? You see where this is headed. Should I worry about the fact that someone with an Army email spent eleven minutes on my site? Am I being investigated for subversive internet activity? Are my descriptions of baby shit a little TOO graphic for the Bush administration?
Now, she concedes things may have gotten out of hand:
It's only been a week that I've been seeing Sitemeter, but I think it's fair to say that we've gotten to know each other very well in a short period of time. Sitemeter knows the most intimate details about me - or at least, my blog - and I, in turn, have memorized all of Sitemeter's lovely features, especially all the options for graphing site traffic by hour, day, week, month and year! You know, so that when I close my eyes, I can remember what Sitemeter looks like.
Now, I've blogged a bit about Site Meter before (see here), as has my friend Ann. Lots of good information comes to me via Site Meter. I know, for example, that I get 40% of my traffic from the east coast of North America; I know that there are a handful of people from Finland who check in now and again; I know that getting a link from Jesus' General can bring several thousand hits over the span of a few day. I can also see where Google searches factor into a blog's daily traffic. Yesterday, someone came here because they thought I might have some information on whether Evel Knievel was still alive. Someone else wanted information about "criticism of Evel Knievel." I know that one of my clever readers — I suspect my brother but have no proof — was recently trying to discover the most absurd and vulgar search terms that might to this blog (e.g., "passionate axis of presidential ass fucking," "Karl Rove caressing his groin," "David Noon fondling himself with a long bony middle finger," and so on). Ann, for her part, learned that quite a few hits to her blog were coming from people looking for a porn star named "Ann Angel." And James eventually got so frustrated with the spelling errors that brought visitors to his doorstep that he flew into a rage and lectured them on the difference between "know" and "now."

So like Loretta, I check Site Meter. A lot. And I can't stop. Between the time I started this post and now, five people have checked in. Will they ever come back and see what they missed? It's like it's 1997 and I just opened a fucking Ameritrade account. Part of it I'm sure has to do with the sense of isolation one gets living in Juneau; part of it is my parents' fault (I'm not sure why, but I blame them regardless); part of it is my endless, self-defeating pattern of procrastination that promises to fit my career with concrete shoes. But as I explained to Loretta, she's got quite a distance to travel until she can compete with me in the Site Meter Obsesso-Olympics. So do the rest of you. Until you're sitting in a faculty meeting — as I was yesterday — looking at stupid fucking documents on your laptop (ones you were too lazy to print out), and you decide to "have a little peek" at your Site Meter stats, and you shake your head in disgust because you're "behind" your average for that time of day, and everyone thinks you're responding to the document you're supposed to be looking at, and they ask you right then for your feedback since you seem so goddamn animated about it all, and you have to say, "Oh, sorry, I was looking at the wrong document," and everyone knows you're a fucking liar, and they think you're probably playing solitaire or looking at midget porn or something else, and what you're ACTUALLY doing is so much more embarrassing and pathetic, and you really WISH you'd been looking at a midget having roasted chestnuts shoved up his ass by a monkey instead of obsessing about how many dozens of people in a world of 6 billion are stopping by your moronic blog for 30 seconds... Until you reach that point, my friends, don't talk to me about having a problem.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging



Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not if the Founders Didn't Do It


I'm probably the last person in the world to find out about this, but Sonic Nurse informs us of a recent public exchange at NYU involving Justice Antonin Scalia and a less-than-impressed follower of his career. Scalia had spoken at length about his view of "originalism" — the jurisprudential equivalent of not believing in dinosaurs — and criticized the current Court for "writing a new Constitution." During Q&A, an NYU law student asked Scalia about his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which overturned the Court's 1986 Bowers decision (the one upholding Georgia's sodomy laws). Scalia reiterated his view that he didn't know if states had a legitimate interest in criminalizing sodomy or not — because he doesn't regard sexual conduct as a fundamental right worthy of state protection. The law student then asked the Justice if he sodomizes his wife. (Hey, at least he didn't throw a pie at him.) The student's explanation of the event can be found here.

For those who wonder why Scalia deserves such treatment, here's an excerpt from the Lawrence ruling itself:
Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.

. . . It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as "discrimination" which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously "mainstream"; that in most States what the Court calls "discrimination" against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal; that proposals to ban such "discrimination" under Title VII have repeatedly been rejected by Congress, see Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994, S. 2238, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994); Civil Rights Amendments, H. R. 5452, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975); that in some cases such "discrimination" is mandated by federal statute, see 10 U. S. C. §654(b)(1) (mandating discharge from the armed forces of any service member who engages in or intends to engage in homosexual acts); and that in some cases such "discrimination" is a constitutional right, see Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U. S. 640 (2000).

Tom! Hey, Tom! Look Over Here!

gimme gimme

Why is Tom Delay not all over this story? Surely, the fact that this case is taking place in the UK should not impede DeLay's relentless quest to promote a culture of life. As reported in The Independent:
The parents of the severely ill baby Charlotte Wyatt lost their battle to overturn a court ruling that she should not be resuscitated if she stops breathing.

A High Court judge yesterday upheld a previous order that will allow doctors to let the 18-month-old die if she suffers a respiratory collapse. Medical staff say Charlotte, born three months premature, is in "intolerable" pain, with no hope of recovery and to put her on a ventilator would only prolong her agony.

But her parents, Darren and Debbie, said her condition was improving and she had some quality of life. They are devout Christians who believe doctors should do all they can to keep Charlotte alive. The Wyatts have been to the High Court three times in six months in an attempt to force doctors to resuscitate Charlotte when, as experts predict, she suffers a severe infection that will stop her breathing. In the latest hearing, they presented evidence that she could now respond to sound and light, which she could not do at the first court case last October.

Charlotte has severe lung damage and spends most of the day with her head in an oxygen box to keep her alive. Lawyers for her parents said her lung capacity had improved and the oxygen content of the box had been reduced from 80 per cent to 60 per cent. If it could be cut to 30 per cent, Charlotte could be allowed home for the first time since she was born.

But doctors at St Mary's Hospital in Portsmouth,say she has severe brain damage and problems with other organs, and has "no feeling other than continuing pain". Mr Justice Hedley said yesterday: "I am clear it would not be in Charlotte's best interests to die in the course of futile, aggressive treatment." He said if she did stop breathing, as she has three times, she should be given all available treatment up to, but not including, having a tube inserted in her nose or being put on a ventilator. . . .

He's a Uniter, Not a Divider


This from a longer account in the Washington Post about the feats of strength used to determine the next pope:
Asked when the cardinals began focusing on Ratzinger as a candidate, McCarrick replied with a grin: "When we read the newspapers. Because the newspapers were telling us that Cardinal Ratzinger is the favorite. So we see, the Holy Spirit may speak through the newspapers -- sometimes even the Italian newspapers."
Hmmm...using the press to affirm the inevitable victory of a candidate. Damn, this sounds so familiar... Where have I seen this—oh, wait, now I remember!
Pressing forward with his planning for the presidency, Gov. George W. Bush met for more than three hours today with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader, to discuss a strategy for enacting tax cuts, education measures and other items on his legislative agenda.

The meeting at Mr. Bush's ranch near Waco, Tex., along with arrangements that his aides made for photographs and videotape of the participants, was the latest signal that despite continued legal wrangling over the election, the Texas governor was molding himself as the inevitable president-elect.

A senior Republican aide in Congress said that the meeting was arranged largely to amplify an aura of inevitability around Mr. Bush, and Bush advisers said before the discussion today that it was likely to be fairly broad. . . .

''I'm soon to be the insider,'' Mr. Bush said. ''I'm soon to be the president.''
—New York Times, 3 December 2000

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Who Pays This Man?

I'm not sure which David Brooks I detest more — the man whose weekly pile of vomit I continue to read in the NY Times, or the man who mumbles and grins sheepishly on the Jim Lehrer News Hour every few days, saying dumb things and getting bitch-slapped by Mark Shields. Either way, Brooks is a brightly-colored, low-hanging piñata for those like myself who cork their bats on this end of the blogosphere, for reasons that today's column makes abundantly clear. Posing in both venues as a man of reason — here assessing the predictable venality of educated American elites, there cheering the unrelenting optimism and conservatism of the ordinary American people, who never fail to persevere through it all — Brooks continually disappoints, proving himself at the end of every argument to be yet another devoted, Republican simpleton.

Like most of the neoconservatives who choke the arteries of his former home, The Weekly Standard, Brooks usually prefers to get his history completely wrong before solving our national woe. In today's offering about judicial filibusters, the culture of the Senate, and — you guessed it — the binary political divisions over abortion rights, Bobo lays the blame for nearly everything at the feet of Harry Blackmun, author of the Roe decision. Blackmun's crime was "inadvertent," Brooks observes, but
[w]hen he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.
By making abortion into a matter for the courts rather than a matter for legislatures — no, he actually says this — Blackmun and his colleagues prevented the always-wise, always centrist-to-conservative American public from getting what it truly wanted and deserved, "a series of state-by-state compromises" that would have reflected — however grudgingly for some — the true will of the majority. [As an aside here, Brooks' quasi-sociological method is maddeningly 19th century. Complex sociological analysis is non-existent, as are actual social groups; instead, we get this kind of amorphous homme moyen approach that just slays me. But anyway.]

What's remarkable here is that Brooks actually seems to think that it was only the bungled intervention of the Supreme Court that made abortion a matter for the courts to fuss over. Really? Does he mean to suggest that the whole issue would have just gone away — disappearing into a sweet democratic haze — if we'd only have allowed the great states of Mississippi or Texas or Utah to come up with "centrist" laws reflecting "the true will of the majority?" Oh, come on -- stop bogarting my gravity bong, Bobo! It's not 4-20 anymore! [As another aside here, statements like these are why people shouldn't engage in counter-factual histories when they have a particular agenda to pimp. The problem with historical counter-factuals is that they often produce an alternate historical universe in which the complexities and agonies of the present are magically erased. Counter-factuals tend to produce linear histories (e.g., if this one thing hadn't happened the way it did, then this other would have happened instead, and then that would have produced this circumstance, and on and on and on). And linear histories — even histories of shit that actually happened — tend to be unhelpful oversimplifications in their own right. Again, onward.]

Brooks truly slides off the rails, though, as he explains the actual consequences of Roe:
Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.
Brooks is doubtless correct that abortion rights have become the principle battleground in the judicial nomination procedure. On the other hand, he either doesn't know his history of the New Right, or he's deliberately distorting the entire history of anti-judicial activism since 1954. By the early 1970s, as I will be explaining to my students tomorrow, conservatives of many stripes were furious with the federal courts — and the Supremes especially — for all kinds of reasons. Here, according to my lecture notes, are some of the things that got their knickers in a bundle:
  • constitutional protections for criminal defendants, which were enhanced during 1960s -- protections against the use of illegally-obtained evidence (Mapp v. Ohio), self-incrimination (Miranda), denial of counsel (Gideon v. Wainwright, Escobedo v. Illinois); and protections of the right to silence (Miranda), due process (Pointer v. Texas) and speedy trials (Mallory v. US)
  • the Supreme Court was also backing down from what many perceived as “traditional values” – ruled school prayer unconstitutional in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale); made it more difficult to prosecute obscenity (Manual Enterprises v. Day [1962] and Jacobellis v. Ohio [1964]); recognized sexual privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut [1965]), clearing way for distribution of “the pill” and (later) Roe itself;
  • finally, with the Roe and Furman decisions in early 1970s (the latter declaring capital punishment laws unconstitutional), the Supreme Court had become the most visible and vigorous defender of new forms of civil rights – and the most obvious target for conservative backlash, which was able to take advantage of the Democratic Party’s support for those same rights being granted by the federal bench
  • Note that Roe is just buried in there, one case among many. My point here is not that Roe is an insignificant part of the entire story, but instead to suggest that Brooks is just stupid to explain the looming crisis in the Senate as something that scrolls back to Roe and nowhere else. This showdown over the federal courts has been building since the Brown decision in 1954 and has included dozens of court cases, about which the Right has frothed and fulminated and shaken its fists. Brooks may just as well blame that communist Earl Warren for all this. The New Right certainly did.

    As for Brooks' final bit of incoherence, I'll just offer it without comment and the dumb parts italicized:
    The fact is, the entire country is trapped. Harry Blackmun and his colleagues suppressed that democratic abortion debate the nation needs to have. The poisons have been building ever since. You can complain about the incivility of politics, but you can't stop the escalation of conflict in the middle. You have to kill it at the root. Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better.


    As the New Year's Eve for stoners continues, it's now 4:20 Alaska Time.


    This is where I get off the bus. Happy 4-20.

    Pacific Heights

    It's 4:20 Pacific Time.
    Happy 4-20.

    Rocky Mountain High

    It's 4:20 Mountain Time.
    Happy 4-20.

    On this Date in 1986 (Part III)

    (For background on this feature, I again refer you here.)

    On this date in 1986, according to my Roanoke Catholic High School Calendar:

    April 20. Super boring. Sat in church all day. Went to Putt-Putt with Corndog and Jeremy. No weed.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    How Quaint

    (photo pilfered from Bad Gas)

    Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque offers a great post today on the new Pope, briefly noting — among other things — the contrast between Benny's compliance under the Nazis with the anti-Nazi work of his Polish predecessor. Even better, however, is Floyd's recent commentary on the Pentagon's new "Joint Doctrine on Detainee Operations," which simultaneously reaffirms the US' rhetorical commitment to the Geneva Convention while offering cavernous loopholes in the treatment of "enemy combatants" (a designation that exists nowhere in the laws or customs of war, existing only in the fevered brains of the Pentagon lawyers brigade). Floyd points out that
    Early on in its good-cop cajoling, the Doctrine says that "all the Armed Forces of the United States shall comply with the law of armed conflict during all armed conflicts, however such conflicts are characterized, and" -- wait for it, here it comes -- "unless otherwise directed by competent authorities, shall comply with the principles and spirit of the law of war during all other operations.” [italics added]

    Well, there you are! What else do you need? However "military necessity" is or isn't defined, it doesn't matter: the requirement to treat detainees humanely can always be overridden by "directions" from "competent authorities." Isn't this where we came in? With "torture memos" issuing from the "competent authorities" of the White House and the Justice Department, setting out the "legal" justification for the whole system of death, brutality and degradation in the Bush Gulag. So what, exactly, is different about this new "doctrine," other than a new coat of PR paint[?]
    Nothing, of course. And he's right. In nicer language, this document is merely a restatement — and permanent codification — of the administration's policy holding that the Geneva Conventions are nice but somewhat "quaint," and that international accords must generally be regarded as guides to policy rather than as laws to be observed. Its main virtue is that it avoids the policy-by-legal-brief approach that has helped engender this mess in the first place. And yet the chummy arrogance of this document is just astonishing. On the face of it the JDDO sounds fluffy and generous, but in due time it unleashes the John Bolton within:
    Although [enemy combatants] do not fall under the provisions of the Geneva Convention, they are still entitled to be treated humanely, subject to military necessity, consistent with the principles of GC, and without any adverse distinction based on race, color, religion, gender, birth, wealth, or any similar criteria, and afforded adequate food, drinking water, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment; allowed the free exercise of religion consistent with the requirements of such detention. There is a comprehensive list of terrorists and terrorist groups identified under Executive Order 13224, located at Anyone detained that is affiliated with these organizations will be classified as EC. Furthermore, there are individuals that may not be affiliated with the listed organizations that may be classified as an EC. On these specific individuals, guidance should be obtained from higher headquarters.
    In other words, the international community may keep its quaint classifications — Enemy Prisoners of War, Civilian Internees, Retained Persons and Other Detainees — but the US will retain the right to reclassify anyone an "enemy combatant," for whom the spirit but not the substance of the Geneva Accords applies. So they get the closest thing going to that sweet Geneva love — what with with the water and the jumpsuits and the all-you-can-eat waffle bar and the hand jobs and the medicinal pot — but the International Committee of the Red Cross may not visit detainees to ascertain that the avowedly humane treatment is actually being delivered. Once again, while declaring their fealty to international standards of justice and legal norms, the Bush administration has actually set in place a policy that leans in the opposite direction. And here's where it all runs:
    When Jumah saw them coming he realized something was wrong and was lying on the floor with his head in his hands.  If you’re on the floor with your hands on your head, then you would hope that all they would do would be to come in and put the chains on you.  That is what they’re supposed to do.  The first man is meant to go in with a shield.  On this occasion the man with the shield threw the shield away, took his helmet off, when the door was unlocked ran in and did a knee drop onto Jumah’s back just between his shoulder blades with his full weight.  He must have been about 240 ponds in weight. … Once he had done that the others came in and were punching and kicking Jumah.  While they were doing that the female officer then came in and was kicking his stomach.  Jumah had had an operation and had metal rods in his stomach clamped together in the operation. … the MP Sergeant … was punching him.  He grabbed his head with one hand and with the other hand punched him repeatedly in the face.  His nose was broken.  He pushed his face and he smashed it into the concrete floor.  All of this should be on video; there was blood everywhere.  When they took him out they hosed the cell down and the water ran red with blood.  We all saw it.

    Meet the New Antichrist, Same as the Old Antichrist


    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Poisoning the Culture

    Here's some salacious reading material for Tuesday, which in my neighborhood is in fact garbage day. First, Coyote Law has a story about a blow job. Then, a gal from Florida State has a cautionary tale about masturbation. And finally, a rant from a military wife who's so displeased with her love life that she's decided to blog about it.

    Suicide Watch

    Would somebody please help this guy girl? Holy fucking fuck.

    UPDATE FOR FANS OF CHRIS: Shit's seriously hitting the fan. The devil's after him, he hates his job at Wal-Mart, and he's getting ready for battle!

    Up in Smoke

    Originally uploaded by davenoon.
    (Soft knocks at the door)
    CHONG: Who is it?
    CHEECH: It's me, Dave. Open up, man, I got the stuff.
    (Silence. More knocks)
    CHONG: Who is it?
    CHEECH: It's me, Dave, man. Open up, I got the stuff.
    CHONG: Who?
    CHEECH: It's, Dave, man. Open up, I think the cops saw me come in here.
    (More knocks)
    CHONG: Who is it?
    CHEECH: It's, Dave, man. Will you open up, I got the stuff with me.
    CHONG: Who?
    CHEECH: Dave, man. Open up.
    CHONG: Dave?
    CHEECH: Yeah, Dave. C'mon, man, open up, I think the cops saw me.
    CHONG: Dave's not here.
    CHEECH: No, man, I'm Dave, man.
    (Silence. Sharp knocks at the door)
    CHEECH: Hey, c'mon, man.
    CHONG: Who is it?
    CHEECH: It's Dave, man. Will you open up? I got the stuff with me.
    CHONG: Who?
    CHEECH: Dave, man. Open up.
    CHONG: Dave?
    CHEECH: Yeah, Dave.
    CHONG: Dave's not here.
    CHEECH: What the hell? No, man, I am Dave, man. Will you...
    (Silence. More knocks)
    CHEECH: C'mon! Open up the door, will you? I got the stuff with me, I think the cops saw me.
    CHONG: Who is it?
    CHEECH: Oh, what the hell is it...c'mon. Open up the door! It's Dave!
    CHONG: Who?
    CHEECH: Dave! D-A-V-E! Will you open up the goddam door!
    CHONG: Dave?
    CHEECH: Yeah, Dave!
    CHONG: Dave?
    CHEECH: Right, man. Dave. Now will you open up the door?
    CHONG: Dave's not here.

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    No Spin Zone


    Via Rob MacDougall, we learn about the misfortunes of the UConn College Republicans, who invited Jim Hellwig — wrestling's erstwhile "Ultimate Warrior" — to speak in Storrs on April 5. Much to the surprise(?) of the assembled Republicans, Hellwig departed from his carefully-prepared, philosophical disquisition on the contours of liberty and wandered off into a homophobic and racist soliloquy. The Harford Advocate, describing a videotape of the performance, observed that
    the first 44 minutes of Warrior's presentation were uneventful. He talked of rights and responsibilities, and his definition of conservatism: "preserving traditions that have worked throughout time, beginning with the simple idea that people need to think and provide for themselves."

    Yes, things were fairly calm until Warrior described how liberal thinking has created an "abyss of moral relativity where everything is as legitimate as everything else.

    "The broadest and most despicable illustration of this most destructive consequence of moral relativity," Warrior said, "is that barbarism, today, is as legitimate as civilization."

    Warrior [went] on to provide specific examples that...illustrate[d] his point. He lament[ed] that that "the bum is as legitimate as the businessman ... , that queers are as legitimate as heterosexuals..., that Kwanzaa is just as legitimate as Santa Claus and Christmas."
    Things only slid downhill after that. After explaining to the audience that "queering doesn't make the world work," Hellwig (who has apparently changed his name legally to "Warrior") continued to berate several members of the audience who questioned his supple views on life and politics. Although it seemed that the event might turn into a chair-throwing, turnbuckle-smashing, pile-driving catastrophe, police did not have to follow through on their threats to shut everything down early. To make a much longer story short, the College Republicans apologized, Warrior issued a press release ridiculing their cowardice, and in a completely unrelated story, two entomologists named three new species of slime mold after George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.

    As for the Warrior, though, we really should expect nothing less from a man who greeted his fans on October 13 with the following message:
    Hello warriors. The 13th of October, 13 is my favorite number (not an unfavorable one as many hold) -- who can tell me why? Happy Columbus Day. This White European DID not savage the Indian Savages as revisionist history books tell. Power to Christopher Columbus and his courageous journey.
    Then again, what can you expect from a conservative political mood that froths madly about "activist judges" and declares holy war on Democrats who use the filibuster to block Bush's lunatic federal court appointees? Although the UConn College Republicans apologized for the event and pledged to continue "righting this wrong," their efforts to marginalize the Warrior may seem a little over-anxious given some of the events of the past few weeks.

    Quick quiz for you. See if you can guess which of the following are lines from the Warrior and which are from elected Republican officials or their staff members:

    (1) "I'm a radical! I'm a real extremist. I don't want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!"
    (2) "We will look at an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at the Congress and president when given jurisdiction to hear this case anew and look at all the facts ... The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today."
    (3) "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence."
    (4) "Cause you see, the way the rules are now -- built on the basis that there is a right and a wrong, that there is a true and a false and that there is a good and an evil, that there is civil and uncivil, that there is decent and indecent, that there is reverent and irreverent and all the other alternatives on and on -- society is absent TOTAL anarchy. But if thinking, correct conclusions, and positive outcomes are not part of the equation anymore, at all, those getting away with ignorance and all the other feel-good-isms, today, will not even have a voice, except a quivering one, when all hell breaks loose."

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    "I must stand firm and give it to god"

    Originally uploaded by davenoon.
    Chris, my favorite "Next Blog" discovery of all time, thinks about love.

    What Will Dick and George Buy?

    The NY TImes reports today that Dick and George saved a total of $110,0000 on their taxes this year. Based on a report by Citizens for Tax Justice, located in PDF form here, we learn that
  • President and Mrs. Bush reported $784,219 in total income on their tax return. They paid $207,307 in income tax, $28,846 less than under the pre-Bush tax law.
  • Vice-president and Mrs. Cheney reported $2,173,892 in total income on their tax return. They paid $365,840 in income tax, $81,336 less than under the preBush tax law.
  • In percentage terms, the Bushes paid 12 percent less in income tax due to the President’s tax cuts. The Cheneys paid 18 percent less.
  • How will they spend their savings? A few suggestions:

    Nothing says "thank God for upper-end tax cuts" like a good old-fashioned White House Coke-and-Hooker party! As the stock market swirls toward the drain, the president and vice president can sit back and indulge in the sweet, jittery rush of Washington's finest Peruvian blow. Watch that heart, Dick, you crazy, coked-up motherfucker! C'mon, George, you know the rules — car keys in the dish. Tonight, we're celebrating a culture of life — a swingin' life!

    Nothing says "fuck you" to terrorists and rogue nations like a big ol' throbbing thermonuclear bulge in your pants. With "mini nukes," robust earth-penetrating weaponry — like the Hummer — isn't just for rich military geeks any more. Even the president of the United States can afford it.

    Jesus fish stick_edited
    Nothing says, "I might be high on coke and itching to use my new nuclear weapons, but I still love our Lord and Savior" like a fish stick emblazoned with the face of Christ. It's breaded! It's fried! It's fish! It's Jesus!

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Friday Cat Blogging


    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Hi. I'm Harry Truman, and I Approved
    This Stupid Historical Analogy.

    Harry Truman

    Among the research projects I've stuffed beneath my desk — quite literally; there's an unruly pile of articles and books there, about which my wife berates me periodically — is an article on the ways that some conservatives and even some liberals have reanimated the ghost of Harry Truman and the whole prospect of a "fighting faith," Cold War liberalism to make a body of claims about the war on terror, national identity, and the moral weaknesses of contemporary liberalism in a time of global crisis. Democrats, they say, should reject the outdated anti-Americanism bequeathed them by the anti-Vietnam War movement; they should recognize the parallels between the struggle against communism and the struggle against "Islamofascism"; they should exile the weak from their midst (e.g., MoveOn, Howard Dean), stop being such insufferable wussies, and get down at last with the Pax Americana. Some wingnuts have even claimed that the Democrats have forever severed their ties to that glorious past and that Republicans are the rightful heirs to their cold war legacy. Jeff Jacoby, the conservative columnist for the Boston Globe, has argued this several times, while the slightly less witless David Brooks suggested in his usually dopey way that the Dems had a choice in 2004 to be "the party of Kennedy" or "the party of Carter." (What do you expect from a man who, like Noah, only thinks in twos. No wonder he's so easily mocked.)

    The most recent bit of straw-manhood comes from Joel Engel in the Weekly Standard, who on Tuesday wrote one of those "take back the word" articles entitled, uncreatively, "Take Back the Word." Writes Engel
    In the not-so-distant past, liberal FDR believed that the enemies of other democracies were, by extension, America's enemies--and liberals eagerly joined him in taking on the America Firsters here before fighting fascism over there. In his footsteps followed liberal Harry Truman, whose doctrine reflected the view that Soviet expansionism was insidiously anti-democratic and therefore innately illiberal. Then came JFK, the presidential avatar of modern liberalism, which he defined on his first day in office when he announced that America would "pay any price, bear any burden . . . in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." His statement seemed interwoven into the fabric of the burgeoning civil rights movement that was to become liberalism's high-water mark at home--the one issue that ipso facto determined whether you were indeed a liberal. And it was ennobling to be one, sharing Martin Luther King's dream that "all of God's children" would someday be free.
    Observing that the word "liberalism" has been "perverted to the point of Orwellian inversion" (and then refusing to elaborate on who the perpetrators of this Orwellian inversion might actually have been) Engel proceeds with a list of unattributed attributes of contemporary "liberals." You know, the people who are "rooting" for Iraqi insurgents, cheering on the neck-slicing "Islamofascists," laughing at cartoons of Condoleezza Rice as a "thick-lipped mammy who speaks ebonics," and feasting at the usual buffet of anti-Semitism, PC thuggery, and terrorist apologetics. The ones, in short, who stand against everything that Truman, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and King encouraged. The message, in the end, is that "those of us who consider ourselves classical liberals--and believe that language has power--ought to take back the word 'liberal' from those on the left who debase its meaning."

    Surely, to quote John McEnroe, Engel can not be serious. Leave aside the sloppiness of his accusations (do my objections to the war in Iraq really mean that I'm cheering for more beheadings? In all my reading and writing on the war, I've yet to encounter anyone who is rooting for more death.) Ignore as well the disingenuous and incoherent plea for the Right to claim the word "liberal" as their own (although I'd actually love to see more liberal Republicans out there. Leave it to DeLay and Frist to make someone like me nostalgic for the Eisenhower years.) No, the real howler in Engel's argument — and it is, I've noted, an argument being put forward quite regularly by people who appear serious about it — comes in his baffling historical amnesia. In his silly ode, Engel forgets the complex and ambiguous legacy of Truman and the "cold war liberals" he so admires. He forgets that they eventually brought us the unremitting disaster in Vietnam. He forgets that they presided over economic policies that helped enliven (and not garrote) the middle class. He forgets that they generally wished that MLK would drink a big glass of shut-the-fuck-up. And he forgets that they were skewered by the far right (for "losing" China, for botching the invasion of Cuba, for funding the "socialist" Marshall Plan, and so on) in a way that would have made Ann Coulter proud. Oh wait — it does make Ann Coulter proud! As Coulter writes in Treason, her long, bony middle finger extended in the general direction of liberals and their kin,
    "The portrayal of Senator Joe McCarthy as a wild-eyed demagogue destroying innocent lives is sheer liberal hobgoblinism. Liberals weren't cowering in fear during the McCarthy era. They were systematically undermining the nation's ability to defend itself while waging a bellicose campaign of lies to blacken McCarthy's name. Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie. Liberals denounced McCarthy because they were afraid of getting caught, so they fought back like animals to hide their own collaboration with a regime as evil as the Nazis."
    "Liberals are very big on taking 'the long view' when evaluating their foreign policies. They create horrendous foreign policy disasters, but then eventually, a Republican is elected President and cleans up the mess. They said containment would work and, lo and behold, forty years later -- right at the end of the Reagan administration -- the Soviet Union was stopped dead in its tracks. That's taking 'the long view.' Praise God President Bush is not 'another Harry Truman.'"
    To paraphrase an old episode of the Simpsons, I'm issuing a restraining order: John Engel and the Weekly Standard must keep 500 yards from historical discourse until further notice.

    Gone Feral Celebrates National Poetry Month

    From Gone Feral, truly the funniest Mommy Blogger in circulation, we have the following celebrations of National Poetry Month in Haiku form.

    Give me a donut
    Or teach me to make donuts
    Either way I eat

    Yowling fuckface cat
    Would you like to explore the oven?
    Broken. Lucky you.
    Visit her site for more haiku goodness, not to mention a show-stopping review of "The Passion of the Christ".

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Laura Bush Celebrates National Poetry Month

    Laura Bush

    All over America women are burning dinners.
    It’s lambchops in Peoria; it’s haddock
    in Providence; it’s steak in Chicago;
    tofu delight in Big Sur; red
    rice and beans in Dallas.
    All over America women are burning
    food they’re supposed to bring with calico
    Smile on platters glittering like wax.
    Anger sputters in her brainpan, confined
    but spewing out missiles of hot fat.
    Carbonized despair presses like a clinker
    from a barbecue against the back of her eyes.
    If she wants to grill anything, it’s
    her husband spitted over a slow fire.
    If she wants to serve him anything
    it’s a dead rat with a bomb in its belly
    ticking like the heart of an insomniac.
    Her life is cooked and digested,
    nothing but leftovers in Tupperware.
    Look, she says, once I was roast duck
    on your platter with parsley but now I am Spam.
    Burning dinner is not incompetence but War.

    Christopher Cox, Tom DeLay , Dennis Hastert, and Roy Blunt Celebrate National Poetry Month


    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats' feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
    Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.


    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
    In death's dream kingdom
    These do not appear:
    There, the eyes are
    Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind's singing
    More distant and more solemn
    Than a fading star.

    Let me be no nearer
    In death's dream kingdom
    Let me also wear
    Such deliberate disguises
    Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
    In a field
    Behaving as the wind behaves
    No nearer -

    Not that final meeting
    In the twilight kingdom


    This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man's hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star

    Is it like this
    In death's other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.


    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death's twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.


    Here we go round the prickly pear
    Prickly pear prickly pear
    Here we go round the prickly pear
    At five o'clock in the morning.

    Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow

    For Thine is the Kingdom

    Between the conception
    And the creation
    Between the emotion
    And the response
    Falls the Shadow

    Life is very long

    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow
    For Thine is the Kingdom

    For Thine is
    Life is
    For Thine is the

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    George W. Bush Celebrates National Poetry Month

    I am death, destroyer of worlds

    I am death, the destroyer of the worlds.
    I am now active about the overthrow of the worlds.
    Even without you, the warriors standing in the adverse hosts shall all cease to be. Therefore, rise up, obtain glory, and vanquishing your foes, enjoy a prosperous kingdom.
    All these have been already killed by me.
    Be only the instrument of their deaths, Arjuna!
    Drona, and Bhishma, and Gayadratha, and Karna, and likewise other valiant warriors also, whom I have already killed, now you must kill.
    Be not alarmed. Do right. And in the battle you will conquer your foes.

    Donald Rumsfeld Celebrates National Poetry Month


    "Through me the way is to the City of Woe;
      Through me the way is to eternal pain;
      Through me the way among the lost below.

    Justice incited my sublime Creator;
      Created me divine Omnipotence,
      The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

    Before me there were no created things,
      Only eterne, and I eternal last.
      All hope abandon, ye who enter in!"

    These words in sombre colour I beheld
      Written upon the summit of a gate;
      Whence I: "Their sense is, Master, hard to me!"

    And he to me, as one experienced:
      "Here all suspicion needs must be abandoned,
      All cowardice must needs be here extinct.

    We are come to the place I told thee to expect
      Where thou should see the people whom pain stings
      and who have lost the good of the intellect."

    His hand upon mine, to uphold my falterings
      With looks of cheer that bade me comfort keep,
      He led me on into the secret things.

    Here lamentations, groans, and wailings deep
      Resounded through the starless air,
      So that it made me at the beginning weep.

    Uncouth tongues, horrible chatterings of despair,
      Shrill and faint cries, words of grief, tones of rage,
      And, with it all, smiting of hands, were there,

    Making a tumult that nothing could assuage
      To swirl in the air that knows not day or night,
      Like sand within the whirlwind's eddying cage.

    And I, who had my head with horror bound,
      Said: "Master, what is this which now I hear?
      What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?"

    And he to me: "These miserable ways
     The forlorn spirits endure of those who spent
     Life without infamy and without praise.

    Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
      Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
      Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.

    Heavens chased themm forth, lest, being there, they cloud
    It's beauty, and the deep Hell refuses them
    For, beside these, the wicked might be proud."

    And I: "O Master, what so grievous is
      To these, that maketh them lament so sore?"
      He answered: "I will tell thee very briefly.

    These have no longer any hope of death;
      And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
      That they are envious of all others' fate.

    No fame of them the world permits to be;
      Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
      Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass."

    And I, who looked again, beheld a banner,
      Which, whirling round, ran on so rapidly,
      That of all pause it seemed to me indignant;

    And after it there came so long a train
      Of people, that I ne'er would have believed
      That Death so great a legion had undone.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

    As always, the folks at Gallup have ruined my Tuesday morning . . .


    Gallup explains it all thusly:
    Americans tend to be conscious of the need to separate church and state -- but we're also highly attuned to the power of cultural symbols. The Constitution is a compelling symbol of patriotism for most Americans even though many don't know that the first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights. Similarly, the Ten Commandments are typically placed in public places as a symbol of morality, largely abstracted from the specific trappings of any particular religious tradition. For many, the value of such symbolism may outweigh more esoteric arguments about religious freedom -- particularly because the vast majority of Americans identify as Christians anyway.
    If only the Gallupers had reworded this ever so slightly:
    Americans tend to be conscious of the need to separate church and state, but they also seem vaguely indifferent to the deliberate erosion of that boundary. They're also highly attuned to the power of cultural symbols, although polls like these suggest that those symbols are granted value regardless of whether anyone understands anything about their content, history, and contemporary political uses. The Constitution is a compelling symbol of patriotism for most Ameriucans, with the recent exception of Republicans and other anti-judicial radicals who have set their aim against Article III and several items in the Bill of Rights; they are able to do this because most Americans have no idea what the Bill of Rights actually entails. Similarly, because Americans are unconscious of the fact that while the wording and substance of the Ten Commandments differ from one religious tradition to the next, they do not recognize that the debate over public displays of the Ten Commandments — far from being abstracted from the specific trappings of any particular religious tradition — is largely a debate over the Protestant version of the Decalogue and not the Catholic or Jewish versions. Because we inhabit a political culture defined by symbols, few Americans care about the esoteric arguments put forward by liberal trial lawyers, atheistic members of the American Civil Liberties Union, godless university professors of law and comparative religion, and activist judges who would rather yank a feeding tube or marry two queers than acknowledge the righteousness and sovereignty of God. Because the vast majority of Americans define themselves as Christians, we should accept their views on the Constitution without further query.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    This Just In . . .

    In addition to being a scheming liar, a dry-drunk and an insufferable dope, George W. Bush has generally awful taste in music. Although Bush's iPod includes some of John Fogerty's music, for instance,
    Mr. Bush had not gone so far as to include on his playlist "Fortunate Son," the angry anti-Vietnam war song about who has to go to war that Mr. Fogerty sang when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival. ("I ain't no senator's son ... Some folks are born silver spoon in hand.") As the son of a two-term congressman and a United States Senate candidate, Mr. Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam.

    Meanwhile, [Joe Levy of Rolling Stone] sized up the rest of the playlist of the 58-year-old president. "What we're talking about is a lot of great artists from the 60's and 70's and more modern artists who sound like great artists from the 60's and 70's," he said. "This is basically boomer rock 'n' roll and more recent music out of Nashville made for boomers. It's safe, it's reliable, it's loving. What I mean to say is, it's feel-good music. The Sex Pistols it's not."
    It's probably safe to assume that Bush also does not have the latest release from Bright Eyes, "When the President Talks to God," whose ingenious lyrics include the following musings:
    When the president talks to God
    are the conversations brief or long?
    Does he ask to rape our women's rights
    and send poor farm kids off to die?
    Does God suggest an oil hike
    when the President talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    are the consonants all hard or soft?
    Is he resolute all down the line?
    Is every issue black or white?
    Does what God says ever change his mind
    When the president talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    does he fake that drawl or merely nod —
    agree which convicts should be killed,
    which prisons should be built and filled,
    which voter fraud must be concealed
    when the president talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    I wonder which one plays the better cop.
    "We should find some jobs, the ghetto's broke."
    "No, they're lazy, George -- I say we don't.
    Just give 'em more liquor stores and dirty coke.
    That's what God recommends."

    When the president talks to God
    do they drink near beer and go play golf
    while they pick which countries to invade,
    which Muslim souls can still be saved?
    I guess God just calls a spade a spade
    When the president talks to God.

    When the president talks to God
    does he ever think maybe he's not?
    That that voice is just inside his head
    when he kneels next to the presidential bed?
    Does he ever smell his own bullshit
    When the president talks to God?

    I doubt it. I doubt it.
    UPDATE: Let's make this interesting. Leave a comment that suggests a song or group of songs that George W. Bush should have in his iPod. Pass this link along to a friend by clicking the little letter icon in the "comments" line, and let's compile a lengthy, comprehensive batch of music that might help the President be less of a destructive force in the world. After a week or so I'll make a CD and send it to Blake Gottesman (Bush's personal aide), who is responsible for downloading music onto the president's iPod. The only rule is that these songs can not have already appeared on the "Rock Against Bush" compilations. Go nuts.

    UPDATE #2: Someone reminded me that Bush might have an iPod Photo, so I'll also be sending him an alluring selection of Jeff Gannon photos. Just in case he's into that sort of thing.

    UPDATE #3: Or maybe I should just send W. some photos of his daughter freak dancing at a bachelor party (link courtesy of Sonic Nurse).

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Taste the Lord's Sweet Apocalyptic Kiss, You Heathen Dogs!

    It's spring cleaning time at America's finest lunatic asylumns, and it appears that a swarm of Biblical prophecy writers has been loosed upon us like a plague of toads. With NBC suckling from the same fertile teat that brought us pop-prophecy writers Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins — they of Left Behind fame — the End Times have never sounded so good or seemed so near at hand. And now that Popeapalooza 2K5 has drawn to a successful conclusion, the zealots have set themselves to work, coming to terms with what all this heralds for the rise of Antichrist, the rebirth and destruction of the Roman empire, and the eventual return of Jeebus to set things right at long, long last.

    In the past week two of my favorite internet news sources, World Net Daily and NewsMax, have each run articles reminding us that Christian prophecy has long foretold the emergence of an astonishingly-popular Pope who will unwittingly lead believers astray. Hal Lindsey, one of America's most important prophecy writers, explained in WND that
    Modern communication technology has helped make the pope's death an unparalleled event. The entire world has literally come together to praise this one man. I find that many sense that there will be some important and climactic consequences to follow the death of this pope.
    Reviving the work of a 12th century Irish bishop, Lindsey and others have noted that St. Malachy predicted that 112 popes would lead the Catholic Church before the Vatican fell beneath its promised destruction. In his writings, Malachy evidently offered "prophetically descriptive details" about each of the popes, including astounding details about recent Holy Fathers:
    Pope No. 108: Paul VI (1968-78). The prophecy for the 108th pope was, "Flos Florum", which means "Flower of Flowers." Paul VI's coat of arms contained three fleurs-de-lis (Isis blossoms).

    Pope No. 109: John Paul I (1978). The prophecy for 109th pope was "De Medietate Lunae," which means "the Half Moon." John Paul I was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon) and was baptized Albino Luciani (white light). He became pope when there was a half moon (Aug. 26, 1978). He died the next month right after an eclipse of the moon.

    Pope No. 110: John Paul II (1978-2005). The prophecy for the 110th pope was "De Labore Solis," which means "from the labor of the sun." John Paul II was born during an eclipse of the sun on May 8, 1920. As the sun rises out of the East, so he came to the Vatican from the east. Wherever on the earth the sun shines, he visited.

    Now, if St. Malachy is accurate, there will be only two more popes before the end of this world, as we know it and the Second Coming of Christ. I do know that the whole prophetic scenario of signs that Jesus Christ and the prophets predicted would come together just before His return are now in view. So what St. Malachy predicted is certainly occurring in the right time frame. Pope John Paul II was aware of these prophecies and at least once referred to them with concern.

    According to St. Malachy, there will only be two more popes.
    Then, at least as I understand it, we're fucked. The Antichrist will rise from a reconstituted Roman Empire, rule and then betray Israel, welcome a Russian-Islamic invasion of the Holy Land, and then face ultimate defeat at the battle of Armageddon. Mark Hitchcock, pimp daddy for the "Left Behind Prophecy Club" (a subscription-only website devoted to spreading the literary gospel of LaHaye and Jenkins), explained last week that the outpouring of affection of Pope John Paul II has come perilously close to "deification." Many people, he mused, "are acting like the whole world has stopped since he died. Like we have no one left to provide any leadership." To Hitchcock, this is all to be expected:
    In the end times the Bible says that a man will come on the world scene who will rise quickly to world dominance on a platform of peace, security, and safety. That person of course is the Antichrist. The whole world will follow after him. And what we see happening this past week is a mild foreshadow of what's coming. It's paving the way for this kind of response.
    Lindsey agrees:
    The most important part of St. Malachy's prophecies has to do with the events he foresees happening during the papacy of "Peter the Roman." He foresees great tribulations during his reign, ending with the destruction of the church and Rome. This is will be done by a dreadful judge who will then judge the world. . . .

    John Paul II was a great and good man. But the coming popes will seize upon the popularity he created with the world. With the help of the media, it is easy to foresee how "Peter the Roman" will be able to mesmerize the world to follow his counterfeit of Christ.
    This is excellent. I'm relieved to know that evangelical protestants haven't completely abandoned their view of the Catholic Church as midwife to Antichrist, just like the Catholic Church — papal statements of contrition notwithstanding — still embraces a great many fools who steadfastly hold the Jews responsible for killing Jesus. If we're going to greet the End Times with the requisite viciousness, we need to move beyond the false ecumenicalism promoted by cable news and grind our petty inter-religious hatreds into a majestic shiv of righteousness. Let the stabbing and gnashing of teeth begin!

    On This Date in 1986 (Part II)

    (For background on this soon-to-be-regular feature, see this posting.)

    On this date in 1986, the following entry appears in my Roanoke Catholic High School Calendar:
    April 10. Bought old Blue Oyster Cult album. Got stoned at the quarry with Eric and Jeremy.

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    This Wouldn't Happen if We'd Just Close the Borders, Hire Conservative Professors, and Bomb Other Countries to Encourage Democracy

    this wouldn't happen if we closed the borders
    Well, as expected, the vicious leftist assault on conservative truth has reached appalling new lows with three recent food-related assaults on conservatives. In the past week, David Horowitz and William Kristol have been splattered by pies of indeterminate flavor, while Pat Buchanan has been doused with salad dressing.

    Senator John Cornyn of Texas had this to say earlier today:
    "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of violence against conservative commentators in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of food-related violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions that conservatives are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."
    Many commentators believe the roots of this recent violence can be found in the recent, cryptic remarks of Tom DeLay, who suggested that "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." We're not sure if "this" refers to the catastrophe in Iraq, the racist mobilization of "Minutemen" on the US-Mexican border, or the fallacious assaults on higher education in the name of "intellectual diversity," but it seems clear that these deranged food-tossers are taking their marching orders from someone. A wise use of Congressional resources, I think, would expose the true roots of the problem. We must demand hearings!