Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Essence of Bushism

With all due respect to Scott Lemieux, I think "the essence of Bushism" is best imagined as a play in two acts:

Act I. In which the protagonist feigns literacy and simulates the pose of a concerned member of the human race. Protagonist invites John Stossel's literary doppelganger to office for deep conversation of indeterminate substance and duration. Protagonist expresses great admiration for and agreement with author's pseudo-intellectual, contrarian views on matters of great existential consequence.

Act II. In which the protagonist applies his newly-affirmed theories to the operations of the state.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hunting Humans

Jesse Ventura, my old governor in Minnesota, once quipped that a man hadn't hunted until he'd "hunted humans," a sport he apparently enjoyed during his days in Vietnam as a Navy SEAL. Ventura, we now know, has nothing on Dick Cheney. Via Matt Yglesias, we learn of this staggeringly bizarre tale:
Dick Cheney, then White House Chief of Staff to President Ford, later Secretary of Defense to President George Bush, documented member of the Council on Foreign relations (CFR), and Presidential hopeful for 1996, was originally Wyoming's only Congressman. Dick Cheney was the reason my family had traveled to Wyoming where I endured yet another form of brutality -- his version of "A Most Dangerous Game," or human hunting.

It is my understanding now that A Most Dangerous Game was devised to condition military personnel in survival and combat maneuvers. Yet it was used on me and other slaves known to me as a means of further conditioning the mind to the realization there was "no place to hide," as well as traumatize the victim for ensuing programming. It was my experience over the years that A Most Dangerous Game had numerous variations on the primary theme of being stripped naked and turned loose in the wilderness while being hunted by men and dogs. In reality, all "wilderness" areas were enclosed in secure military fencing whereby it was only a matter of time until I was caught, repeatedly raped, and tortured.

Dick Cheney had an apparent addiction to the "thrill of the sport." He appeared obsessed with playing A Most Dangerous Game as a means of traumatizing mind control victims, as well as to satisfy his own perverse sexual kinks. My introduction to the game occurred upon arrival at the hunting lodge near Greybull, Wyoming, and it physically and psychologically devastated me. I was sufficiently traumatized for Cheney's programming, as I stood naked in his hunting lodge office after being hunted down and caught. Cheney was talking as he paced around me, "I could stuff you and mount you like a jackalope and call you a two legged dear. Or I could stuff you with this (he unzipped his pants to reveal his oversized penis) right down your throat, and then mount you. Which do you prefer?"

Evidently, Harry Whittington chose Door #1.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Hazel


Hazel (a.k.a., "Beenie Weenie," "Jabberjaw," "Dim Bulb," "Nut Job," "Dipshit," "Loose Cannon," "Big Fat Girl," "Chubby," "Pig-Dog," "Hazelnut") joined our menagerie exactly one year ago today, taking her place within a mostly fur-bearing ecosystem that included three cats, two humans, and another Newfoundland. Tipping the scales at 110 pounds, Hazel is a big girl with a big personality and very little going on in her avocado-sized brain. With exceedingly long back legs, oafy paws, a crooked tail, an extra-wide rib cage, and a tremendous snout that only a mother could love, Hazel is an undignified, awkward-looking creature who would have been laughed out of charm school. If the Westminster Kennel Club featured canine rodeo clowns at its annual competition, Hazel would be an appropriate candidate. She is unpredictable in her affections toward strangers, as likely to tackle them with glee as she is to charge at them, bellowing insanely, swiveling her mighty lumbering frame, loosening the bowels of even the most toilet-trained adults. At home she is immensely clumsy, as her massive skull and prehensile tail cut a pitiless wake of destruction throughout the house, scattering cats and upending glassware; on at least one occasion she has accidentally tumbled down the main stairwell, having rolled unwittingly over the threshold during a dream (I suspect) about plunging her face into a mound of cheeseburgers.

At bottom, however, she is a sweet and jolly hound who has brought tremendous glee to our lives while driving down the property values in our neighborhood. This is her third home, and while two of our three cats would gladly help to find her a fourth, Hazel is here to stay. Happy anniversary, Hazel, you stupid, glorious beast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life in the Last (Heterosexual) Frontier, Part II

Stewing over the openly stonehearted elements in my state legislature [see previous post below], I wrote a letter to the editor today, blowing about an hour of time that could have been better spent refreshing my knowledge of LBJ's War on Poverty. Thus it went:
To the Editor:

Ordinarily, I disagree with everything Rep. Bob Lynn has to say. However, I must acknowledge the truthiness of his logic in proposing to amend the state constitution to exclude same-sex couples from receiving domestic partner benefits offered to state employees. As the Empire reported -- appropriately enough on Valentine's Day, a day when we all meditate on the profound gift of heterosexual love -- Lynn and others have realized that same-sex domestic partner benefits "diminish the institution of marriage."

I could not agree more vigorously. If history has taught us anything, it is that equality and economic security are more valuable -- and more dearly appreciated by upstanding, normal people -- when certain others are excluded from the full consideration and protection of the law. Would anyone deny that the extension of voting privileges to blacks diminished the institution of whiteness forever? I don't think so. And as a man in his mid-30's, I can only imagine how sturdy the institution of male economic privilege must have been before women were unwisely granted equal employment protections in 1964. And don't even get me started on Social Security. When I see elderly people living comfortably and eating three meals a day, it really chaps my hide. I think to myself, "Doesn't the institution of youth mean anything these days?"

Are there no limits to equality? Well, Rep. Lynn and I believe there are. And the only reasonable solution, of course, is to etch our zero-sum equation in the granite of the state constitution. After all, if everyone is free and equal, then freedom and equality ultimately mean nothing.

A friend accused me today of committing the reductio ad absurdum fallacy; my only defense was that Bob Lynn himself is an exemplar of absurdity, and it may not be possible to reduce his foolishness even further.

The sad thing is, some people won't detect any of the irony here. Even sadder, those people would probably agree with the substance of the letter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Life in the Last (Heterosexual) Frontier

Lest anyone fail to detect the awesome duplicity inherent in the bullshit, faux-compromise, "anti-gay marriage/pro-civil union" position, we turn our attention to the latest misadventures of the Alaska legislature, whose dominant party is proposing to rewrite the state's constitution to formally exclude gay couples from receiving public employee benefits as domestic partners.

In October, the Alaska Civil Liberties Union won a case before the state supreme court, which ruled that the exclusion of same-sex domestic partners violated Article I, Section I of the state constitution, which guarantees equal rights, protections and opportunities to all citizens under the law. That constitution, amended in 1998 to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, now denies same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and (in so doing) receive the benefits available to wholesome breeders like my wife and me. The court ruled that by prohibiting those benefits to state employees in same-sex relationships, the state was clearly discriminating against gays and lesbians as a class -- by "absolutely precluding them" from ever acquiring those benefits -- while furthering no conceivable state interest. The court even made a point of dismissing the ludicrous claim that any meager extension of equal protection to same-sex couples "diminishes" the institution of marriage, as if stained by a loathsome pox.

In response to this grave ruling, a crew of Republicans has lept into action, vowing to raise a vast army of the righteous to smite these "activist judges" at the ballot box this fall:

Proposing an amendment to the section of the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to marriage.
* Section 1. Article I, sec. 25, Constitution of the State of Alaska, is amended to read:
Section 25. Marriage and related limitations. To be valid or recognized in this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman. No other union is similarly situated to a marriage between a man and a woman and, therefore, a marriage between a man and a woman is the only union that shall be valid or recognized in this State and to which the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage shall be extended or assigned.
* Sec. 2. The amendment proposed by this resolution shall be placed before the voters of the state at the next general election in conformity with art. XIII, sec. 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the election laws of the state.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? The proposed amendment has to clear both houses by a 2/3 margin before being approved by a majority of voters in the fall. It looks prettly likely at this point that the Family Values Party, with its yawning ignorance, will have its way with this one as Alaska continues to nose up the ante in the National "My State is More Deeply Embarrassing and Regressive Than Your State" Sweepstakes.

In closing, I offer you the deep thoughts of a man who once accused yours truly of speaking in a way that was "subversive of the government" (in a radio debate about the Patriot Act):
Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, signed the resolution as a co-sponsor. He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court decision because giving the same benefits to unmarried couples would diminish the institution of marriage.
"Go get health care on your own," Lynn said.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thanks for Sharing

This just came across the wire:
Hi doctor XXXX. I have to miss class today because I have a Doctors
appointment for a skin infection - Gross! I'll see you on Wednesday.

I dunno. I'm thinking, why not just take the rest of the week off?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Public Relations 101

Nestled within a larger story about my governor's proposal to spend several million dollars refurbishing the state's image in the Lower 48, we discover the root of the problem:

Gov. Frank Murkowski says it is time for an image makeover. He wants the state to hire a public relations firm to change the perception of Alaska and its people as greedy for federal dollars and all too willing to plunder the environment for profit.

Ultimately, he wants to sway public opinion in favor of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Next up: George W. Bush hires a public relations firm to remake his administration's image as a pinwheel of incompetent warmongers; the first task is to galvanize world support for a preemptive strike against Iran.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two Thoughts

I have nothing original or enlightening to add to the discussion of the NSA surveillance program -- a brief trip to the land of Glenn Greenwald is all anyone really needs these days -- but I will offer up two stray observations that I'm pretty certain will not be duplicated elsewhere:

(1) I was delighted to hear that my father (unintentionally) scheduled a colonoscopy to coincide with "General" Gonzalez's appearance yesterday in the Senate. (As a brief aside, I'll note that I don't recall anyone ever referring to "General" Ashcroft or "General" Reno, but I could be wrong. Then again, I suppose every junta needs as many generals as possible, so I'll forgive the disintegrating Bush administration for choosing to highlight its strongman credentials.) Regardless, my father is a genial crank who has evidently decided to squander his golden years by watching C-SPAN all day and throwing his flip-flops, in Elvisian fits of rage, at the television. He was profoundly irritated that he missed the hearings, though he conceded that the plastic tube was an appropriate substitute.

(2) A quick survey of the Devotional Media (PowerLine, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online) has brought to mind the egregious work of Dr. Welsey Fishel, the political science professor from Michigan State who -- with the aid of the CIA -- helped engineer the operatic corruption of the Diem regime in South Vietnam during the 1950s. So rapturous was Fishel's affection for Diem that he warbled his praises to whomever would listen. In an infamous 1959 article in the New Leader, Fishel observed that
Diem has all the authority and all the power one needs to operate a dictatorship, but he isn't operating one! Here is a leader who speaks the language of democracy, who holds the power of a dictator, who governs a Republic in accordance with the terms of a Constitution. . . . Ngo Dinh Diem did not have to do this. His authority and power at that moment were so absolute.
To paraphrase Frances Fitzgerald, it's as if Bush's stated affection for constitutional order relieves him of the burden of actually abiding by one.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How'd That Happen?

For reasons that evade comprehension, this blog has been nominated for a Koufax Award in the "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" category. The field is huge -- about 300 blogs -- and filled with offerings that are much more intelligent and seditious than mine (and that's just among those competitors whose blogs also begin with the letter 'A'). Not to poison the well or anything, but I might observe that my inconsistent posting over the past several months should probably disqualify me from too much consideration. And since about 90% of my hits on any given day come from people looking to find this picture -- which I stole from this guy -- I can't imagine I'll crack the top 250.

But thanks to whoever nominated me. I owe you a shiny new nickel and a signed copy of my (as yet unwritten) memoir about working at Subway in 1993, a project that I will pursue with renewed devotion after my university administrators discover this blog and fire me.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Life of the Mind: The Unreleased B-Sides

"Rate My Professor" has generally been quite kind to me. Aside from having my US survey class described as a "good GPA raiser" on two separate occasions, the commentary has so far refused to call attention to my glaring flaws, including my staggering ignorance of US history, my arbitrary and patently unfair grading policies, my unpredicable outbursts of verbal abuse (usually aimed at the weakest, most vulnerable students in the class), and my casual endorsement of suicide bombings and political assassinations as legitimate gestures of discontent with the status quo. I have also received an inexplicable chili pepper, even though I rarely shave and usually enter the classroom with my (always filthy) pants buckled around my ankles. It's only a matter of time before my university wakes up, smells the ammonia wafting from my urine-soaked knickers, and fires my ass tout de suite. For the time being, though, none of my online student evaluations have tipped the balance against me, so I carry no grudges.

But I really wish I had thought of this. Then again, the proprietor of "Rate Your Students" already has tenure. And I do not.

Here's brief sample of the archived delights:
I thought that, like a partner in an arranged marriage, I could learn to like, or at least tolerate, a well-paid, secure, unionized teaching position with excellent benefits. But no, not here. At the Wisconsin college where I teach, the collective density of our students creates an intellectual black hole where anything resembling brains is sucked away through a rip in space-time. By summer, I feel dumber. And to those who’ve contributed to my malaise (since I got a late start, some past transgressors included):

To E: As an English teacher, I’m not sure of the precise clinical term. You’re nutso. Barmy, daft, dotty, bats, loony, loopy, spooky-crazy, crackers, or bananas. Take your pick. If caught with you in my class again, I would chew my leg off to escape.
Density: Uranium.
Hotness: -20 (you could scare the maggots off a gut-wagon).
Your opinion of your abilities: 3 (to write a novel, you should first read one).

To G: My pity. I truly doubt that you could read this. In fact, I truly doubt that you have opposable thumbs.
Density: Off-scale; skull has its own gravitational field.
Hotness: -2.
Your opinion of your abilities: 1.

I couldn't have said it better, um, myself.